Thursday, April 2, 2009

Erie Sauder

Erie Sauder (1904-1997) was a very successful business man, founding Sauder Woodworking Company in 1934, now the world's leading manufacturer of Ready-To-Assemble Furniture. But today, we honor him not for his woodworking company or for inventing the first assemble-it-yourself pieces of furniture, but rather for the historic village he founded.

Sauder founded Historic Sauder Village outside of the town of Archbold in northwest Ohio in 1976. He developed the idea for the historic village while giving a tour of his woodworking company. While explaining the automatic machines in his modern factory, he considered how easy new technology had made our daily lives. Not wanting people to forget the hard work of their ancestors in this new age, Sauder decided to create a historic village to pay tribute to those who drained the Great Black Swamp, farmed the land, and worked in northwest Ohio during the 1800s.

Sauder bought new land and worked towards creating his village. He began collecting and purchasing cabins, tools, and farm implements left behind by those who had transformed the swamp. Historic Sauder Village was opened to the public in 1976.

Today, families and school children visit the Village to get a taste of the past. Workers dress in historic dress and explain the process of sheep shearing, farming, cooking, blacksmithing, and old printing techniques to those who want a hands on experience to history. The Historic Sauder Village is now run by third generation of Erie Sauder's family and has continued to expand and grow over the years.

Sauder not only created wealth for himself and others through his factory, but also through creating a living museum of an area's history. The Historic Village was my favorite field trip spot when I was in grade school. My classmates and I were definitely enriched as we learned about Ohio's history. Sauder embraced new technology in his business dealings and knew new technology was vital to his continued success, but he also honored the work and entrepreneurship of his ancestors through his village.

Historic Sauder Village

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