Greenfield's development from a "Greene Countrie Towne" to a thriving little city can be traced in large part to the vision of one man: Edward Lee McClain.
In 1881, the 20-year-old Greenfielder founded his own manufacturing company that was destined to provide employment for many of the townspeople and help him amass a fortune. The grateful McClain later gave the community a wonderful gift - a unique high school - that is still a great asset to the city, half a century after his death.
In November 1881 the E.L. McClain Manufacturing Co. opened in a back room of the Citizens Bank. McClain had worked at his father's harness shop since age 13, and he decided to enter the market for horse collar pads. He set out to design a pad which was not circular in form, as others on the market were, but open at the bottom so that it could be easily fitted to the neck of the horse.
McClain personally cut and sewed the first collar which was the first of many millions to be made by his company. As news of his timely idea spread, the business outgrew its office. In 1882 the firm moved to the Odd Fellows building, and three years later another relocation was necessary to the old Seminary building on S. Washington St.
Business was booming by 1887, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled a patent McClain held on his hook design was invalid. McClain responded by buying out his competitors and marketing products under their former names. By this time, 250 employees were turning out 3,600 pads each day.
The locally-made products went to war in 1898 as part of the uniform on Army horses and mules used in the Spanish-American War.
In 1903 the company was incorporated as The American Pad & Texitle Co. (Tapatco) with the principal stockholders being McClain, his brother A.E. McClain, and Charles Mains, one of the first employees of the original operation. Also that year, Atco, Georgia was created. Atco (an abbreviation for American Textile Co.) was McClain's solution to a shortage of cotton material needed for his pads. He built a village centered around a three-story cotton mill. Employees' homes had running water and electricity, free garbage pickup and paved streets. Rent was a dollar a month per room. McClain also built a non-denominational church, a company store, and a private school.
The above summary appeared in Greenfield, Ohio 1799-1999, 2000.