Steve Carroll of South Hill, Virginia, found this merry-go-round made in Delphos in a yard in Virginia. (Photos submitted)
Steve Carroll of South Hill, Virginia, found this merry-go-round made in Delphos in a yard in Virginia. (Photos submitted)

SOUTH HILL, Virginia — The Bending Company in Delphos closed its doors nearly 30 years ago but remnants of its products can still be found throughout the country.

Steve Carroll of South Hill, Virginia, is now the proud owner of a fully-restored pony merry-go-round manufactured in the late 1950s at the Delphos factory.

“I found the ponies while traveling around in the countryside. They were in someone’s front yard. I took a picture of them and later my wife and I thought about inquiring if they were for sale,” Carroll said. “We did and so now they are at our house.”

After some diligent research with the assistance of a torn label on the base of the merry-go-round, Carroll found out where it had been made — at the Bending Company in Delphos.

“Turns out it was made between 1957-1960, so they are clearly old like me,” Carroll, who is retired, said with a laugh. “I called the Delphos Public Library and they sent me catalog pages they had in their archives. I have not been able to find this play set anywhere on the Internet, so I think they may be very rare.”

Carroll wanted to restore the set for his granddaughters. The horses were worn from years of wear and had physical damage. The base also had issues.

“I took it all apart and began by cleaning and sanding all the algae, dirt and grime off the ponies,” he said. “Several of the ponies needed surgery (bondo-fiberglass repair) before I could paint them. I rebuilt the angle iron metal stand that holds the platform. All the bolts broke off so I had to drill them out and retap. I found a new thrust bearing, which goes on the top of the pole to support the platform and upon which the platform travels around on and the legs were completely rusted. Then I primed and hand-painted each pony. I also built a new platform. Then I replaced the supporting hardwood, foot and hand posts and purchased all new metal hardware.”

The merry-go-round now sits in Carroll’s yard and is enjoyed by his grandchildren.

The Delphos Bending Company was founded in 1900 by Louis Justus, the father of L.N. Justus. According to an article in the Delphos Herald newspaper dated October 1899, L. C. Justice, A. J. North, both of Bluffton, Indiana, and E. G. Ungerer of Celina purchased a saw mill in the south end of Delphos, owned by E. E. Hooker. Justice and North had recently sold a hoop company in Bluffton, Indiana, known as the Bluffton Hoop Company. The new business was named The Delphos Hoop Company and they manufactured barrel hoops. In 1912, the name was changed to The Delphos Bending Company. The company was owned by Charles Obermeyer and Louie Justus from the late 1940s until Obermeyer’s death. In 1980, Orbritron Corporation bought the company and in 1993, the company closed their doors.

The company started making children’s furniture in 1934. It’s growth was such that by 1951, it was the largest such company in the world. The products were bent and straight wood parts, juvenile furniture and toys.

The Delphos Bending Company also manufactured plastic materials, such as traffic cones, chemical tanks, ring molds, juvenile furniture and much more. Some of the juvenile furniture was made with part plastic and part bentwood.