Thursday, August 2, 2012

A Bicentennial Moment: E.E.Lawrence & Morris Toubman - Fairport Merchants

                                               E.E. Lawrence Sr.
                            Fairport Marine Supply House circa 1890

Edward E. Lawrence Sr. was one of Fairport's leading businessmen and citizens.  Born in Finland, he arrived in Fairport in 1890.  He became engaged in the meat business and quickly built a large local trade store.  In short time he added a marine supply company to his assets.  The store was located on Water Street and was the first and largest on the Great Lakes of its kind.  The 'company store' as it became known was the lifeblood of the foremen and dock superintendents who served as stockholders.  Lawrence's store supplied the ships that plied Fairport with cargoes of iron ore.  Villagers also knew his store as the local grocery.  In the early years E.E. Lawrence was even known to wield a pick and shovel during the winter months to keep his company alive.  In time, he built the largest business block in Fairport.

Lawrence found time to serve the village as a member of the local board of education for 17 years.  He was a township trustee for nearly 50 years, the longest term in recorded history.  E.E. also served as President of the Lake County Savings and Loan Company, Vice-President of the County Board of Health, and president for many professional and civic minded concerns, i.e., butcher's association, waterway commission, local chamber of commerce, board of trade et al.

                                           Morris Toubman - 'The Big Store'

Morris Toubman was proprietor of 'The Big Store'.  Born in Sweden, he arrived from Finland in his youth and at the turn of the 20th century opened a clothing store on High Street.  A business visionary, he believed in the future growth of Fairport.   Like E.E. Lawrence, Toubman built the largest business block on the corner of High Street and Fourth.  His daughter Ruth became his assistant and was charged with managing the women's department of his store.  His tenure as local businessman spanned the transition of Fairport as a raucous ship's era port town to the modern times of Lake County's commercial growth.

Toubman was yet another resident with strong civic mindedness.  He served numerous terms on the Fairport Board of Education as well as being a member of many county / civic organizations.  Toubman's passing in June 1946 was noted in the village's sesqui-centennial a month later.  His name like that of Lawrence remains permanently etched into the fabric of Fairport's early history.

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