For any business longevity is the goal. Lasting through the hardships, enjoying the highs while also pushing through the lowest of lows. Although this isn’t always the case for every business that opens its doors, this has been nothing but a reality for Morris Hardware in McConnelsville, Ohio. Opening its doors in 1845, Morris Hardware has earned the title of the longest, family owned and operated store in the state of Ohio.

One hundred and seventy five years ago George Morris, the first of the six generations to have the business in their hands, erected the then three-story building where the hardware store is located today. Starting mainly as a tinsmith shop, Morris also offered a small assortment of hardware goods to the people within the area. As the years went by, and the area began to develop, George Morris and his sons expanded upwards adding a fourth floor to the building in 1894. Known as the “Morris Block” to many locals, the hardware store as well as adjoining stores cover much of Main Street in downtown McConnelsville, wrapping around one of the corners of the central square within the village. Boasting a beautiful wrought iron fire escape on the façade of the building, along with its large storefront windows, Morris Hardware is a picturesque, well-known spot not only in McConnelsville, but throughout the county as well.

Pictured is the storefront of Morris Hardware, the same storefront that is accessible on Main Street today. Employees from the past can be see posing on the brick-lined sidewalks (Photo courtesy of Morris Hardware)

Although George Morris has his fair share of historical importance in the county, the third generation of the Morris family is where even more interesting information comes to fruition. Speaking with Shayna Roberts, an employee of Morris Hardware, she explained how the entire Morris family tree was full of innovators but mentioned that George Scott, the third generation, was always at the top of the industry. Scott would travel the country looking for the new and exciting things that he could bring back to McConnelsville, a place that at the time was a rather slow growing area where these new and exciting things usually took quite some time to arrive to the residents. Another important piece to note in this intricate puzzle is the connection of the third generation of the Morris family to a famous hymn writer, Leila Morris. Charles Morris, a member of the third generation, married Leila after her family moved to Pennsville, a small area located roughly fifteen minutes from the Village of McConnelsville. Leila went on to write many hymns even after becoming blind and is well known for the ever-loved tune, “Sweeter as the Years Go By.” This connection just goes to show how this family is packed full of history and why their connection to the area is so strong.

Tom Schanken, the current owner of Morris Hardware, pictured receiving an award for “Outstanding contributions toward the protection and enhancement of local history and culture” from the Southeast Ohio History Center. (Photo courtesy of Morris Hardware)

Fast forwarding through many more years of history and different branches of the family tree, the year 1976 has some significance today. This was the year the current owner, and sixth generation family member, Tom Schanken took the reins of the then hundred and thirty one year old business. Taking a family tradition, Schanken has continued to ensure that Morris Hardware has held the same values since it’s opening day almost two centuries ago. Adding new items all the time, the current Morris Hardware is the go-to for the locals when looking for that one item to complete their at-home project. Since taking over, Schanken and his employees have always been more than a benefit to the community that they’ve grown up with. Whether they’re hosting one of their famous Ladies Nights, an event that typically brings in hundreds of women to enjoy discounts, hor d’oeuvres and wine, or if it’s simply helping others out on their “Morris Hardware Presents” Facebook group when it comes to at-home DIYs, the group at the local hardware has shown was community support truly is.

Shayna Roberts said this year has been nothing new for Morris Hardware. “This place has been here for such a long time, going through other pandemics, the Great Depression and many other tragedies, but the hardware has always come out stronger than before.” Roberts went on to explain how Morris Hardware has handled the current pandemic. One of the favorite implementations throughout the area is that of curbside service. “This was something we did before, just not quite as much. We’ve had people who sometimes aren’t able to wear a mask in the store due to pre-existing conditions or are high-risk that have taken advantage of this service.” Roberts said that this service has been so beneficial to many and has been helpful in continuing to serve the community.

The well-known Morris Hardware sign that hangs on the facade of the “Morris Block” on Main Street in McConnelsville. (Photo courtesy of Morris Hardware)

“We just want to continue to ensure our community members shop local, whether that’s with us or one of the many other small businesses in the county.” says Roberts. “Truly from the bottom of our hearts, we are so grateful for the continued support from everyone. This year has been tough, but our community has helped lessen the burden of everything going on in the world today.”

Although COVID-19 has been more than harmful to businesses nowadays, Morris Hardware is proud to power through the best that they can. Serving the community is what they’ve done since 1845 and they don’t plan to stop that service anytime soon.

To stay up-to-date with all the happenings at Morris Hardware or to learn more about the history of the business, they can be found on Facebook and Instagram or by calling 740-962-4261. Morris Hardware is located at 50 E. Main Street, McConnelsville, Ohio.