- Amish Country
Named after David Wooster, an American Revolutionary War general, Wooster was established in 1808 by John Beaver, William Henry and Joseph Larwill. After the Civil War, the Presbyterian Church established the Wooster University which is today known as the College of Wooster. Besides being the county seat for Wayne County, Wooster remains a big agricultural center for the area.
Back in 1847 as the cold, grey days of winter had settled across Wayne County like much of Ohio and the rest of the country. It was Christmas eve, yet the streets of Wooster were just as grey as the sky.
August Imgard, a young immigrant from Germany who was working in Wooster as a tailor, felt sad and a bit homesick. Back in his hometown in Germany, the homes and streets would be decorated with candles, ornaments and evergreens to celebrate the birthday of Jesus. Yet here in his newly adopted land, those traditions were missing. He decided to change that.
As Christmas approached, August decided to brighten his brother's lodgings where he had been staying. He went out to the edge of town and cut down a small pine tree and carried it back to town on his back. He convinced the local tin smith to fabricate a metal star that he affixed to the top of the tree. He then convinced his sister-in-law to back a batch of German Christmas cookies that he used to trim the tree. Tradition has it that pine tree became the first Christmas tree in Ohio, or at least Wooster, Ohio. Whether or not that was true is difficult to tell. What we do know is that Christmas trees at that point in time were not a common sight anywhere in America.
For young August, as word spread through the little village, many of the Germans living there flocked to see the decorated tree that looked so much like the ones they remembered from their homeland. August Imgard lived out the rest of his days in Wooster and when he died in 1904, he was buried in Wooster Cemetery where a pine tree is decorated near his grave site each Christmas.
In 1920 a group of men formed the Wooster Rubber company and their main product was making children's toy balloons. In the early 1930s, one of the founders came upon a rubber dustpan for sale in a New England department store. Intrigued by the new product, they sought out a merger between the two enterprises and the result was the formation of the Rubbermaid brand that manufactured numerous household items that became world famous. Rubbermaid products were manufactured in Wooster until the company was moved to Atlanta in 2003. There still remains a distribution center and the former headquarters.
The College of Wooster
1189 Beall Ave.
Wayne County Historical Society and Museum
546 East Bowman St.