GLMS 94 - Lay Brothers Fisheries, Inc.
|GLMS 94 - Lay Brothers Fisheries, Inc.
|Business & Commerce
This 6.5 cubic foot collection was donated to the Historical Collections of the Great Lakes on November 7, 1989 by Edward C. Lay of Sandusky, Ohio. Additional transfers were made by Mrs. Patricia W. Lay on October 8, 1990 and July 30, 1991. Literary and property rights were dedicated to the public. Photocopying is permitted for the purposes of conservation and research. The collection was processed in September 1996 by Mark J. Barnes.
The company known as Lay Brothers Fisheries, Inc. began as a one-person operation in Sandusky, Ohio in the 1860s when John Lay, Sr. launched and crewed his first fishing boat. Lay was born December 4, 1849. Jacob Lay and Mary Bolzmeyer were born in Germany and migrated to Ohio before their son John was born. John Lay began his career in the fish industry in 1869. In one year business was sufficiently good to make adding a partner necessary. John's brother Jacob Lay joined him in the trap net boat and Lay Brothers Fisheries was inaugurated. John Lay's participation in this company lasted until his death on February 23, 1937.
Lay Brothers, Inc. grew rapidly in terms of new boats and employees. A third Lay brother, Henry, joined the management of the expanding company in 1881. The fleet reached a peak size in the 1930s at approximately thirty vessels.
Management began to shift to a second generation of Lays when Jacob Lay retired in 1902. John's sons John Jr., Oscar, and Charles began to assist in running the business.
The business was so successful, even during the Great Depression, that fish products were sold to an international market. Expansion into subsidiary companies before the 1930s helped the Lay brothers keep their business in sound condition. Albert Matt managed the Huron Fish company for the Lays as of 1906. John Lay, Jr. began operating the Port Clinton Fish Company in 1910 and the Ashtabula Fish Company was founded in 1915. As late as 1942, Charles Lay was a partner in the Lake Manitoba Fisheries, Ltd. of Winnipeg. This company provided winter harvest catches to be distributed by the Lays.
The 1950s marked a severe decline in the fortunes of the Lay Brothers Fisheries. Several factors were identified as the causes. A decline in the pickerel population decreased a prime source of profit. Competition from Canadian fleets that fished on a full year schedule with no winter layup cut down catch totals for the Lay company. Improved freezing and shipping methods allowed more distant companies to compete in the Lay Brothers' market. John Lay Sr's. grandson, Jack Lay, stopped using the company fleet in 1957 and closed the business in 1961. The Port Clinton Fish Company was used to provide fish to the processing part of the company.
|Scope and Content
This 6.5 foot collection allows researchers to examine the operations of a Lake Erie fishing company from 1889 to its closing in 1961. The Lay family of Sandusky, Ohio retained ownership throughout the company's history. Series on financial and legal papers form the largest part of the collection.
Financial records for the Lay Brothers company (2 cubic feet) cover the years 1889-1956. Account ledgers, payroll information, sales figures and fish catch data give a detailed view of the growth and decline of a Great Lakes fishing company over nearly six decades.
Scattered financial information on other businesses (one-half cubic foot) owned by the Lay Brothers or with whom they transacted business dates from 1893-1951. The Ashtabula Fish Company, Huron Fish Company, Port Clinton Fish Company, and the Stockholm Fish Company are represented here.
Legal files for Lay Brothers Fisheries (.66 cubic feet) are present for 1910-1970. Deeds, leases, bills of sale, family estate files and stock certificates are found in this series.
A drawing series (three cubic feet) contains items from 1894 to 1960. The drawings show plats for Lay Brothers property and plans for company buildings. Eighteen diagrams of trap nets record how their fishing industry tools were constructed and used.
A set of 70 photographs was separated from the collection and placed with the port files of Sandusky, Ohio, under the heading Lay Brothers Fisheries.
LEGAL FILES, A-Z
LAY BROTHERS FISHERIES FINANCIAL PAPERS, A-Z
FINANCIAL PAPERS OF OTHER COMPANIES, A-Z
1-9. Correspondence, A-Z, 1931-1953
Box 2: Lay Brothers Fisheries, Financial
1-7. Account Books, 1922-1924, 1938-1942, 1947
Box 3: Lay Brothers Fisheries, Financial
1-2. Expense Ledgers, 1936-1944
Box 4: Other Companies, Financial
Box 5: Drawings, Newsclippings
Box 9-10: Rolled Drawings
Lay Brothers Fisheries Artifacts
Box 7: Artifacts - Taffrail Log
Box 8: Artifacts - Assorted dials and equipment parts