Although of English birth, and clinging affectionately to all that reminded him of his native land, he was a thorough supporter of American institutions, and an admirer of the American character. Deeply and warmly as he loved the land of his birth, his affection was even stronger for the land of his adoption, and it was his purpose to have returned from his visit to his boyhood's home and settle down in peaceful content in the chosen home of his manhood, until death should lay him in an American grave. When the war broke out he was an earnest and unshrinking supporter of the Government, and his means were freely used for its support, and for the comfort of the soldiers who were fighting its battles. Though alien born, and associated intimately with people of like birth, there was no native American that could surpass him in love for the Union, and few that exceeded him, in proportion to his means, in contributions to the defence of the Union.
In the language of his favorite Shakespeare, it might be said of him
His life was gentle, and the elements So mixed in him, that nature might stand up And say to all the world, This was a man!
Prominent among the business firms of Cleveland, is that of George Worthington & Co., a house which stands in the front rank both on account of the business done, and of its integrity and honorable dealing.
Mr. Worthington, the founder and head of the firm, was born in Cooperstown, N. Y., September 21st, 1813. He received a good common school education, and then entered on a business career by becoming clerk in a hardware store in Utica, in 1830, remaining in that position until 1834, when he came to Cleveland and commenced business as a hardware dealer on his own account. His first store was on the corner of Superior and Union lane, on the site of the clothing store of Isaac A. Isaacs, and the first goods received by him were drawn by oxen owned by a man who did all the carting at that time. Cleveland was then but a small town, and most of the trading was done with the teamsters that came from Wooster and other points south, bringing pork, grain, and other products, and taking back merchandise. Trade was brisk, but cash scarce, nearly all the operations being more in the nature of barter than of purchase and sale.
After remaining three years in his first store, he removed to the corner of Water and Superior streets, on the site of the present National Bank building, and in that location he remained thirty years, during which time he witnessed the growth of Cleveland from a small town to a large and prosperous city.
When he had been established about fifteen years, Mr. Worthington began rapidly to enlarge his business, and he associated with him Mr. James Barnett and Mr. Edward Bingham, at present members of the firm. About that time they commenced wholesaling, and gradually built up a business from five thousand dollars the first year, to a million dollars. This, however, involved a vast amount of labor, and an indomitable determination to succeed by driving business. Mr. Worthington, in the absence of railroads or other public conveyance, traveled through the adjacent townships and counties on horseback, introducing his wares, and obtaining orders which would be filled by the carriers' wagons.
Railroads revolutionized trade and gave an impetus to everything, and establishments that were on a firm footing before were prepared to take advantage of circumstances. This was the case with Mr. Worthington. His wholesale business has grown enormously, especially since 1860.
About 1862, Mr. Worthington projected the Cleveland Iron and Nail Works, and, in connection with Mr. W. Bingham, matured the plans and got the works into successful operation in about one year from broaching the project, the work turned out being of the best quality. The owners of the works can sell readily all they make, and furnish active and steady employment for about two hundred men.
Mr. Worthington has also been extensively interested in blast furnaces and coal mining, in the vicinity of Cleveland, and has been very successful in them also.
At the present time the Cleveland Iron and Nail Company is erecting the first blast furnace within the city limits, calculated for a capacity of about three hundred tons per week. The firm have also built works on their grounds for the manufacture of gas pipe, which have been in successful operation for about a year, with the exception of a delay caused by a fire. This is an important work in a city so rapidly growing as Cleveland, and will retain many thousand of dollars formerly sent to Philadelphia and other points.
On the passage of the National Bank Law, Mr. Worthington and a number of other capitalists of the city, organized the First National Bank of Cleveland, with a capital of four hundred thousand dollars, which has been very successful. Mr. Worthington was elected president on its organization, and still retains the office. He is a director of the Ohio Savings and Loan Bank, of this city. He is also largely interested in the local Insurance interests; vice-president of the Sun, and also interested in the Cleveland and Commercial, and is a director of the Hahnemann Life Insurance Company. He is also president of the Cleveland Iron Mining Company, one of the most successful organizations of the kind in the country.
No one man, probably, has done more towards building up the business portion of the city than has Mr. Worthington. His first building was erected on the corner of Ontario and St. Clair streets, now occupied by H. Johnson. Since that time he has erected fifty dwelling-houses, and fourteen stores.
In 1840, he was married to Miss Maria C. Blackmar, of Cleveland, by the Rev. Dr. Aiken. Of the marriage six children have been born, two sons and four daughters, all living. The oldest son, Ralph, is now a member of the firm.
In 1862, Mr. Worthington became interested in the wholesale dry goods business in New York City, and has been quite successful in the enterprise.
Mr. Worthington is a good specimen of a self-made man, who was not spoiled in the making. Hard work did not harden his character, nor has prosperity turned his head. Coming to Cleveland without a dollar, he has built up a large fortune by sheer hard work, close application to business and strict business habits. He at the same time built up a fine reputation by his integrity of character and scrupulous honesty in his dealings. At fifty-six years of age, his health is now, as it has always been, remarkably good; he has never been detained from business on account of sickness.
N. E. Crittenden.
One of the best known names in this city, to new as well as old citizens, is that of N. E. Crittenden. For very many years his jewelry establishment has been a landmark in the business district "on the hill," and the greater part of the population, for about forty years, have taken their time from his clock.
Mr. Crittenden is a Massachusetts Yankee in birth and pedigree, having been born at Conway, July 25th, 1804. In his earlier years he received a good common school education, and at the age of eighteen was bound apprentice to the jewelry and watch-making business, serving four years at Geneva, N. Y., and then removing to Batavia, where he was employed two years at the trade, and in Albany one year. In the latter city he married Miss Mary A. Ogden, soon after the ceremony moving to Batavia, where, however, he made but a short stay. He had determined on setting up on his own account, and Batavia presented no opening for him. That land of hope and promise, the West, tempted him as it had tempted others, and with five hundred dollars in jewelry, purchased on credit, he started westward in search of a place in which to turn his jewelry into cash.
Taking vessel at Buffalo he came to Cleveland, but there was no harbor, and the vessel stopped outside to land any passengers for that place, and then resumed her trip. Mr. Crittenden concluded not to end his voyage until he had gone farther, and stuck by the ship until he reached Detroit, where he landed and investigated with a view to settling. The prospect was not inviting. In order to do business there it was necessary to understand and speak Canadian French, and Mr. Crittenden's acquirements in that direction were not extensive. Detroit was clearly no place for him.
Whilst roaming around the place he fell in with Mr. Walbridge, who was seeking a location to open a dry goods business. He too was dissatisfied with the inducements Detroit offered, and had almost resolved to abandon the attempt and go home. Mr. Crittenden had reached the same conclusion, and the two took the boat on the return trip, thoroughly disenchanted with the business prospects of the West. When the boat reached Cleveland they concluded to land and take a look at the place before they utterly turned their backs on the western country.
It was in September, 1826. The village was pleasantly situated, and the location impressed the strangers favorably. The houses had an appearance of thrift and comfort, and there was an air of New England enterprise about the settlement that confirmed the good impression formed at the approach. Mr. Crittenden turned to his companion and announced his determination to go no farther; he had found the object of his search. That he might satisfy himself of the probable future of the settlement he got a conveyance and rode into the country to see what were the surroundings of the embryo city. As he passed up through the street his ears were saluted with drum and fife, the people were all out in their holiday clothes, and teams, loaded with old folks and young folks, were coming into town, for it was "general training." The farther he rode and the more he saw, the more firmly he became convinced that here was to be his future home, and before long his five hundred dollars' worth of jewelry found purchasers among the lads and lasses, and some of the older folks, of Cleveland.
His first store occupied the site of his present store on Superior street, and here, in a little building, he opened his original stock. The land he subsequently purchased of Levi Johnson, through the medium of Leonard Case, the purchase money being one thousand dollars for twenty-eight feet, with three years' time in which to make the payments. The exorbitant price horrified some of the old settlers, and one of them gravely shook his head, announcing his firm belief that such a sum of money for such a bit of land would turn Levi Johnson's head with unlooked for prosperity. The price would scarcely be called high in the present day, when land then considered far away in the distant country sells readily at higher rates. In the spring of 1827, having secured his store and sold out most of his original stock, he started East to make his first purchases and to bring his wife to Cleveland. His friends were surprised and gratified at his early return on such an errand. With his wife he brought some housekeeping articles, among other things the third carpet ever brought to the settlement.
In 1833, he had so far succeeded in business as to warrant his tearing down the old store and building in its stead a store and dwelling combined. Great was the admiration of the people at this building and it was considered a just source of pride by the people of Cleveland, for to the store was an open front, the first seen in the place, and to the private entrance to the dwelling was attached the first door-bell in Cleveland. The glass front and the tingling bell were unfailing sources of attraction until others adopted the novelty and public curiosity became sated. The building was well known to all who lived in the city previous to 1865, for it remained until, at that date, it had to give way to the larger, more elegant, and far more costly structure.
In 1843, Mr. Crittenden purchased the Giddings place, on the north side of the Public Square, with the stone residence on it, then considered an elegant mansion. The price paid for the lot, house and furniture was ten thousand dollars—a high price as rates then were, but marvellously cheap now. To that house he removed his family from over his store, and lived there twenty-five years, when it was turned over to business purposes.
About the year 1853, he erected the fine business block on Water street, now occupied by Stillson, Leek & Doering, at a cost of fifteen thousand dollars. In 1868, he put up the handsome block on the same street that is occupied by Childs & Co. The cost of this was not less than forty thousand dollars, and it is a decided ornament to the street. The purchase of the land and the erection of those elegant blocks, in addition to the one occupied by his own business, furnish sufficient evidence of the prosperity of his jewelry business, the regular stock of which has grown from an investment of five hundred dollars to one of more than a hundred and twenty-five thousand dollars.
But it must not be supposed that this prosperity was uninterrupted throughout Mr. Crittenden's business life. There were dark storms which threatened disastrous wreck, and nothing but stead-fastness of purpose and force of character brought him through. In 1836 the financial tornado swept over the land and stripped nearly every business man bare. When the storm was at its height Mr. Crittenden found himself with fifty thousand dollars of New York debts past due, and without the money to pay them. Collections were cut off, and whilst he was thus unable to raise the means from his debtors, his creditors were likewise stopped from pouncing upon him. Other men in like condition were compounding with their creditors, and thus getting out of their difficulties by partial repudiation. Mr. Crittenden declined to avail himself of the opportunity, and, in course of time, his creditors were paid in full, though that result was brought about by years of toil, of steady, persistent application to business, of shrewd financiering, and of rigid economy.
In his early days in Cleveland he was chosen one of the village trustees. In 1828, when he held that office, and Richard Hilliard was president of the Board of Trustees, the members gathered one afternoon in an office and voted an appropriation of two hundred dollars to put the village in proper order. Great was the outcry at this wastefulness, on the part of some of the tax payers. One of the old citizens, who yet lives, met Mr. Crittenden and wanted to know what on earth the trustees could find in the village to spend two hundred dollars about. At a later date, when Cleveland was a city and Mr. Crittenden a member of the Council, it was voted to appropriate ten thousand dollars to protect the lake front from encroachments by the lake. Again was Mr. Crittenden met and upbraided for his extravagance in municipal affairs, such conduct tending to bankrupt the city.
It is Mr. Crittenden's pride that he has had no serious litigation, his care in making contracts having saved him the unpleasant necessity of resorting to legal means to compel his debtors to fulfil their obligations. But whilst looking thus sharply after his own interests, avarice or parsimony has formed no part of his character, and he has been liberal according to his means.
William A. Otis.
William A. Otis was one of those pioneer business men, who settled in Ohio during the dark times which followed the war of 1812. He was one of those to whom we owe much, but of whom the present generation know little; who without capital or education gave an impetus to the Western settlement, by integrity, personal energy, economy, and good sense. By force of character alone, which was their only capital, they wrought such wonders that the wilderness was literally transposed into fruitful fields.
Mr. Otis left his paternal home in Massachusetts, about the year 1818, on foot, to seek a home in the West. Having reached Johnstown, in the Allegheny Mountains, he hired for a few months as man of all work, in an iron establishment, and thence set forward, travelling as before, by way of Pittsburgh, to the township of Bloomfield, in Trumbull county, Ohio. His physical constitution was equal to the labors of a new country, which had nothing to recommend it but a rich soil, and which required above all things perseverance and hard work. He cleared land, furnished the settlers with goods, for which they paid in ashes, or wheat, and kept a comfortable tavern for the accommodation of travelers. The ashes were manufactured by himself into "black salts" or impure potash, more often styled "Pots," which was the only strictly cash article in the country. It was necessary to haul the casks of potash to the mouth of Beaver river, or to Pittsburgh, from whence they drifted on flat boats down the Ohio and Mississippi to New Orleans, and from thence were shipped to New York. Much of the teaming he did himself.
The "Pots" were exchanged at Pittsburgh for goods, or if shipped furnished a credit for the purchases, with which his wagon was loaded, on the return to Bloomfield. Currency did not in those days enter into the course of trade, because there was barely enough of it in the country to pay taxes. Mr. Otis was frequently obliged to furnish his customers with cash for this purpose. When the Erie Canal was finished to Buffalo, the wheat of the settlers on the Reserve, for the first time, became a cash article. They had an abundance of grain, which they were glad to dispose of at twenty-five cents a bushel, payable principally in goods. The canal furnished a better outlet for potash than the river. Mr. Otis determined to try a venture in flour at New York, which he considered the first lot sent there from the Reserve.
There were no flour barrels, and no coopers, at Bloomfield, but a few miles north towards the lake there was a good custom grist mill. He went into the woods, cut an oak tree, set his men to saw it into blocks of the right length, from which the rough staves were split. The wheat which his customers brought in, was stored at the mill and ground. When the cooper stuff was seasoned, the barrels were made, rough enough, but strong, and his stock of flour and potash hauled through the mud thirty-five miles to the mouth of Ashtabula creek. A schooner was at anchor outside, and as soon as his venture was on board, he took passage with it to Buffalo, and by canal to New York. The New York dealers were surprised and gratified, for they perceived at once the capacity of a new country on the shores of Lake Erie, of which they had hitherto only known in theory, not in practical results. In quality the flour was not behind that of the Genesee country, which seemed a wonder in their eyes. They purchased it readily and offered every encouragement to the trade and the trader. In process of time, wool and pork were added to the staples for the New York market. It was by this course of incessant activity during near twenty years of country business, coupled with a sure judgment, that Mr. Otis gradually acquired a moderate money capital. In 1835 or 1836, he came to this city, with his hard earned experience in traffic, and with more ready cash than most of our produce dealers then possessed, and entered upon a wider field of enterprise. He continued to purchase and sell the old class of articles, pork, flour and potash, to which iron soon became an important addition. His capital and experience brought him at once into connection with many public enterprises, which became necessary to an expanding country, especially such as relate to transportation. One of the earliest tumpikes in northeastern Ohio was made through Bloomfield, from Warren to Ashtabula. Steamers made their appearance on Lake Erie, and the Ohio canal extended navigation into the interior. In all these auxiliaries to trade in the heavy products of the country, Mr. Otis had a friendly interest, and when railways began to be discussed he saw their value at once. Finally, after his usual deliberation, he decided that the manufacture of iron was a safe and profitable business at Cleveland; he became the pioneer iron master of the place, with the usual result of his operations—a large profit on his investment.
This example and success laid the foundation of iron manufactures here. It required something more than the talents of a shrewd country merchant, or of a mere money lender, to foresee the coming wants of trade in a growing State, to invest in its banks, railroads and manufactures, and to render all these investments profitable. With his increase in wealth there was in Mr. Otis no increase of display, and no relaxation of the economy of early life, but an increasing liberality in public charities, particularly those connected with religion. When compared with the briskness of modern traffic he was slow and cautious; but having finally reached a conclusion he never flagged in the pursuit of his plans. He belonged to a past generation, but to a class of dealers whose judgment and perseverance built up the business of the country on a sure basis. In the midst of a speculative community in flush times, he appeared to be cold, dilatory, and over cautions, but he saw more clearly and further into the future of a business than younger and more impulsive minds, who had less experience in its revulsions.
For a number of years previous to his death Mr. Otis was largely interested in the banking business of the city. He took a prominent part in the organization of the State Bank of Ohio, was the originator of the Society for Savings in Cleveland, and was for thirteen years its president, and at the time of his death was president of the Commercial National Bank. He was also connected with the banking firm of Wicks, Otis & Brownell.
In connection with a notice of the originator of the Savings Bank in Cleveland it is appropriate to briefly sketch the history of that organization, which has worked so much good and which ranks to-day among the most important and most valued institutions in the city. The suggestion was first made by Mr. Otis in the Winter of 1848-9, and its organization was advocated on the ground of public benevolence. At the request of several prominent persons, Mr. S. H. Mather, the present secretary and treasurer, examined the character and practices of several eastern institutions of a similar character. A charter was drafted, principally from those of two well known institutions of the kind then in operation at Boston and Hartford. In the New England States every city and many villages and country towns have organizations of this character.
In March, 1849, the Legislature granted corporate powers to W. A. Otis, H. W. Clark, L. Handerson, J. Lyman, M. L. Hewitt, N. Brainard, Ralph Cowles, J. H. Gorham, A. Seymour, D. A. Shepard, James Gardner, J. A. Harris, J. H. Bingham, J. A. Briggs, S. H. Mather, J. A. Foot, and C. J. Woolson, and their successors, to be appointed by themselves, the corporate powers to continue thirty years. The corporators appointed John W. Allen president, S. H. Mather secretary, and J. F. Taintor treasurer, and commenced business in August, 1849, at the rear of the Merchants Bank, on Bank street. Mr. Taintor was at the time teller in the Merchants Bank, and it was supposed that he could attend to all the business of the Savings Society outside of banking hours. This was soon found to be impracticable, and at the end of about two years Mr. Taintor withdrew, leaving to Mr. Mather the joint office of secretary and treasurer.
At the end of three years the deposits were only $100,000. In the latter part of the year 1856, the society became able to have a better office, and moved into 118 Bank street, corner of Frankfort, under the Weddell house. The deposits in 1859, after ten years of business, were only about $300,000, but the concern had been so closely managed that a surplus was accumulating from the profits on investments over the six per cent. interest paid to depositors. From that time the business of the institution steadily increased until on the 1st day of January, 1869, its deposits considerably exceeded two and a half millions of dollars, and out of a large surplus had been built one of the finest and most substantial buildings in the city, on the north side of the Park. Such have been the fruits of the suggestion of Mr. Otis; such the success of the organization in which he took so deep an interest during his life.
On the announcement of the death of Mr. Otis, a meeting of bankers was immediately called for the purpose of taking some action in testimony of their respect for the deceased. All the banks were fully represented, as were the private banking firms. T. M. Kelly, of the Merchants National Bank, was called to the chair, and J. O. Buell, of the Second National Bank, appointed secretary. Appropriate remarks were made by the chairman and others, after which a committee, composed of T. P. Handy, H. B. Payne, Joseph Perkins, Henry Wick, and E. B. Hale, reported the following resolutions, testifying to the respect and esteem felt for Mr. Otis as a man of business, as a good citizen, and as a Christian:
It having pleased God to remove from our midst, on the morning of the 11th inst., Wm. A. Otis, who, for more than 22 years, has been associated with many of us in the business of banking, and has occupied a prominent position both in the early organization of the State Bank of Ohio, and of the Society for Savings of Cleveland, of which latter Society he was for thirteen years president, and at the time of his death was the president of the Commercial Bank of this city, and who by his wise counsels, his high regard for integrity and mercantile honors as well as by an exemplary Christian life, had secured the esteem and confidence of his associates and fellow citizens, and who, after a good old age, has been quietly gathered to his rest, therefore,
Resolved, That while we deeply mourn the loss of our departed brother, we commend his virtues, and especially his high standard of Christian integrity, for the imitation of the young men of our city as the most certain means to a successful business life, and a fitting preparation for its final close.
Resolved, That we deeply sympathize with the family of our deceased friend in the loss that both they and we are called to sustain, feeling assured that after so long a life of Christian fidelity this loss, to him is an infinite gain.
Resolved, That a copy of these resolutions, signed by the Chairman and Secretary, be furnished the family of the deceased and be duly published in our city papers.
J. C. Buell, Secretary. T. M. Kelly, Chairman. Cleveland, May 12, 1868.
E. P. Morgan.
"He who works most achieves most," is a good motto in business, and in pursuits of all kinds. This has been the principle on which E. P. Morgan has acted throughout life, and a faithful persistence in carrying it out has resulted in building up a mammoth business and the consequent possession of a handsome fortune.
Mr. Morgan was born in New London, Connecticut, in 1807. His early years were spent at home and in attending school, where a good common education was gained. In his fifteenth year he was taken from school and placed in a store, where he acquired those business habits which have made him a successful and wealthy merchant. At the age of twenty-one, he set up in business for himself, at Middlefield, Massachusetts, carrying on a store, and at the same time engaging in the manufacture of woolen goods. In this store he continued twelve years, doing the whole time a thriving and profitable business.
In 1841, he bade adieu to Massachusetts and came west to Ohio, taking up his future home in Cleveland. He plunged into business immediately on arriving, opening a store on the north side of Superior street, in the place now occupied by the store of Mould & Numsen. In 1857, he saw what he believed to be a more eligible site for business in the corner of Superior and Seneca streets, and to that point he removed in 1858. At the same time the firm of Morgan & Root was formed by admitting to partnership Mr. R. R. Root. To the retail dry goods business was now added a wholesale department, as also a millinery department, and subsequently a grocery. The business was vigorously pushed and every department grew with remarkable rapidity, until store after store was added to the establishment. The "corner store" became known far and wide, and a very large country trade was built up in the jobbing department. During the last three years of the war, the business of the firm reached an amount greater than had ever been anticipated by its members, and the old quarters, capable no longer of extension, became too strait for the expanding operations. A number of lots on the east side of Bank street, between the Herald building and Frankfort street, being purchased by Morgan & Root, were speedily disencumbered of the drinking saloons and petty shops that covered them, and on their site soon arose one of the finest business blocks in the city, estimated to cost sixty thousand dollars in addition to the cost of the land. When the block was finished the wholesale department of the business was removed to the new building, leaving the retail department to be carried on in the old store. In February, 1869, the retail business was sold out to new parties, and thereafter the firm of Morgan & Root confined itself exclusively to the wholesale trade.
That Mr. Morgan is one of the best business men of the city is proved by the fact that he has failed in no one of his undertakings; not that he has always sailed on a smooth current of success, but that when difficulties arose his indomitable perseverance enabled him to overcome them. He engaged in no enterprise without its having been based on good evidence and sound judgment; he never wavered in his adherence to it, nor slackened for a moment his endeavors to prove his faith sound; nor has he once been disappointed as to the result. Few men have shown a like perseverance. His habits of keen investigation and strict attention to his affairs, enabled him to do a very safe, though a very enterprising business, and consequently he had little occasion for professional acquaintance with lawyers.
In addition to his mercantile business, Mr. Morgan has interested himself in insurance matters, being president of the State Fire Insurance Company, of Cleveland, which position he has held since the organization of the company in 1863. Under his presidency the company has done a safe and successful business, and has extended its operations so that it has offices in Connecticut and other parts of New England. He is also connected with the banking affairs of the city. In the earlier years of his business in Cleveland, he became interested in the construction of the canal around the rapids of Saut St. Marie, and during the progress of the work had a store open at the Saut.
In 1864, he built his residence on Euclid street, near the corner of Huntington street, where he has resided since that time. Though sixty-two years of age, he is still as active and vigorous as ever, and bids fair to long be an active member, in fact as well as in title, of the firm of Morgan & Root.
In religious principles Mr. Morgan is a Presbyterian. For a long time he was a member of the Second Presbyterian Church, but of late has been connected with the Euclid street Presbyterian Church.
In 1832, he was married to Miss Laura Nash, of Middleford, Mass., by whom he has had seven children, all but one of whom still live. The oldest son, William Morgan, now thirty-one years old, is engaged in the manufacture and sale of lubricating oils. The second son, Edmund N. Morgan, is an assistant in his father's store. A daughter, Helen, is the wife of Mr. J. B. Merriam, of Cleveland.
The commercial interests of Cleveland and of the Lake Superior mineral region have for many years been intimately connected, several of the now prominent citizens of Cleveland having been attracted to Lake Superior by the reports of its mineral riches at the time those riches were first made generally known, and Cleveland being found a convenient base of supplies for the mining enterprises on the shores of the "father of lakes."
One of the earliest to take an interest in this trade was Robert Hanna. Whilst living in Columbiana county, Ohio, where he had been brought up, he was attracted by the representations of the mineral riches of the far off northern lakes, and in 1845 he started off to see for himself what was truth in these reports, and what exaggeration. Traveling and exploration in the wilds of the Lake Superior country were very difficult in that day, and those who were anxious to make a fortune out of the bowels of the earth had to rough it, pretty much as the seekers of gold have to now in the tangled wilderness to the west of Lake Superior. Mr. Hanna spent four months in careful exploration, and at length becoming satisfied that there was something in the rumors of mineral riches, obtained from the department, in whose charge the territory then was, a permit to locate three square miles of copper lands. This being accomplished, he returned to set about the organization of a company to work the prospective mines.
Whilst at Marquette, on his return from exploring the copper region, Mr. Hanna fell in with a man who had been exploring the country back of that place, and who brought in a specimen of iron ore which he had come across in his search. The ore was so heavy, and apparently rich in iron, that it was taken to a blacksmith, who, without any preparatory reduction of the ore, forged from it a rude horseshoe. The astonishment of those hitherto unacquainted with the existence of raw iron so nearly pure metal, can be imagined.
But Mr. Hanna's attention, like those of most of the searchers after minerals in that region, was absorbed in copper, and as we have seen, he located his copper tract and returned home to provide means for working it. A company was formed, materials purchased and miners engaged, and the work pressed forward vigorously. The question of forwarding supplies being now an important one, Mr. Hanna removed to Cleveland, that being the most favorable point for the purchase and shipment of the articles needed, and opened a wholesale grocery establishment in 1852, combining with it a forwarding and commission business. At that time the wholesale grocery business was in its infancy, there being but two or three establishments of the kind in Cleveland.
For some time after the establishment of Mr. Hanna in the wholesale grocery business, the carrying trade between Cleveland and Lake Superior was mostly in the hands of the Turner Brothers, whose one steamer, the Northerner, was able to do all the business that offered, both in freight and passengers. Mr. Hanna's firm, then composed of himself, his brother, Leonard Hanna, and H. Garretson, under the firm name of Hanna, Garretson & Co., decided on the bold step of competing for the trade by building a steamer of their own. The City of Superior, a screw steamer, was built in Cleveland, under the especial supervision of Dr. Leonard Hanna, and the most scrupulous care was exercised to make her in all respects a model boat for the trade. Great strength of hull and power of machinery were insisted on, in order to withstand the dangers of the formidable coast when the fierce storms of the Fall season rendered navigation hazardous. Accommodation for passengers on the voyage, which took several days for its full extent, had to be provided, and great care was taken in this respect to make the voyage as attractive as possible, attention having been somewhat turned to the Lake Superior country as a Summer resort, where the sultry beats of the "lower country" could be exchanged for pure air and cooling breezes. When launched, the City of Superior proved a complete success, and her first voyage up was a perfect ovation, a new era having been opened in the history of travel between the upper and middle lakes. But, unhappily, this fine steamer was lost in a storm after a few voyages, although the great strength of her hull kept her intact, though lying across a rock, until she could be completely stripped of her cargo, furniture and machinery.
No time was spent in fruitless lamentations over the destruction of the work of which they were so proud, and about which so many anticipations for the future had been indulged in. No sooner had the news been confirmed, than a contract was made for the construction of another steamer, larger and better in all respects than her unfortunate predecessor, and the result was the Northern Light, which proved a great favorite, and is still running. Other steamers were chartered to run in connection with her, and their success caused rival lines to be run, thus building up the Lake Superior trade to dimensions exceeding the most sanguine expectations of the pioneers in it. To this house belongs a very large share of the credit due for bringing such an important proportion of this trade to Cleveland. When Mr. Hanna first endeavored to interest the people of Cleveland in Lake Superior matters, he was frequently met with inquiries as to the whereabouts, not only of the copper region of Lake Superior, but of Lake Superior itself, about which very confused notions existed.
The copper company organized by Mr. Hanna expended over half a million dollars in developing the deposit, and produced several hundred tons of ore, but it was not a financial success, the fine copper not being in paying proportion in the ore. After a few years Mr. Hanna sold out his interest in this company, but has retained interests in other enterprises in that region, some of which have been very remunerative.
By the death of Dr. Leonard Hanna, and the withdrawal of Mr. Garretson, the firm of Hanna, Garretson & Co. became dissolved, and was changed to Robert Hanna & Co., the younger members of the Hanna families taking interest in the firm. Recently Robert Hanna has retired from active participation in its affairs, having turned his attention in other directions. During the past four years he has been engaged in the oil refining business, having a refinery with a capacity of a hundred and sixty barrels a day, which has proved very successful. He is also president of the Cleveland Malleable Iron Works, the first of the kind in this part of the country, and which at present promises well. The gentlemen associated with Mr. Hanna in this enterprise have united with him in the determination to make it a successful enterprise, and have such management for it that it can scarcely fail to meet their expectations.
In 1868, Mr. Hanna projected what resulted in the organization and establishment of the Ohio National Bank, of Cleveland, on January 1st, 1869, with an authorized capital of one million dollars, and with a paid up capital of six hundred thousand dollars. It was organized with more especial reference to the interests of merchants, mechanics and manufacturers, and men representing these respective interests are the principal owners of its stock. The institution thus far gives promise of complete success. Mr. Hanna is the president; A. Cobb, vice-president; John McClymonds, cashier.
Still in the prime of life, Mr. Hanna has the satisfaction of knowing that he has been very successful, has built up a large fortune for himself and done a very important work in building up the material interests of the city, both commercial and manufacturing. Although well able to retire from active life, and live in ease at his fine residence on Prospect street, he prefers to do what yet lies in his power to build up the prosperity of Cleveland still higher.
S. F. Lester.
Samuel F. Lester was born in Albany county, New York, in 1818. His youth was spent under advantageous circumstances, and he obtained a good education. At the age of fifteen he left the Academy where he had been studying and entered on his commercial education by becoming clerk in a country store, where he remained five years. Having reached his twentieth year, he bade adieu to home, and came west to seek his fortune. His first stay was at Clinton, Michigan, where he carried on business successfully for three years, and married Miss Cornelia Eliza Brown, of Tecumseh, daughter to General Joseph W. Brown, and niece of Major General Jacob Brown, of Brownville, N. Y., the hero of Chippewa, Fort Erie and Sackett's Harbor.
At the expiration of the three years Mr. Lester's health gave way, through his assiduous devotion to business, and he returned to his father's house in Albany county, New York, remaining there a year, unable to engage in business of any kind. For the two succeeding years he worked on his father's farm, and in this way succeeded in regaining his health.
In March, 1845, he again turned his face westward, and landed at Cleveland, where he became a member of the firm of Hubby, Hughes & Co., remaining in it until its dissolution. The house of Hubby, Hughes & Co. carried on a very extensive business on the lakes and canal. The firm, in connection with J. C. Evans, of Buffalo, projected the first line of propellers between Buffalo, Cleveland and Toledo, and the line was a decided financial success. It continued to do a steadily increasing business until the consolidation of most of the independent lines into the American Transportation Co.'s line. A number of lake vessels also belonged the house, and a line of canal boats belonging to the firm ran between Cleveland and Portsmouth, and between Cleveland and Pittsburgh.
In connection with the firm of William A. Otis & Co., the firm built the first elevator for railroad business in the city, the elevator, at the foot of River street, being now occupied by W. F. Otis & Son. Subsequent to this the firm erected the National Mills, at the heavy cost of seventy thousand dollars, it being then, and now, one of the finest and most costly mills in the State of Ohio.
In 1858, the firm of Hubby, Hughes & Co. was dissolved, and the business was carried on under the firm name of Hughes & Lester, which was continued successfully until 1862. In January of that year, Mr. Lester went to New York on the business of the firm. Whilst there he was suddenly stricken with paralysis, and lay unknown and helpless for sometime. He was at length identified and cared for, but for a long time was in great danger, and for a still longer time utterly unable to do business of any kind. His serious and continued illness necessitated the breaking up of the firm, and accordingly on the first of January, 1863, the firm of Hughes & Lester was dissolved. On the following March, his health having been partially restored, Mr. Lester once more entered into business, opening a produce commission warehouse, and meeting with success.
It is the just pride of Mr. Lester that he has always escaped litigation It is also a fact worthy of notice and imitation, that Mr. Lester has always given strict personal attention to all the details of his business knowing them all from the cellar to the counting-room, in the latter of which places he is most thoroughly at home.
Mr. Lester was one of the original stockholders of the Commercial Insurance Company, and a director and member of the executive committee for several years. He has twice been elected Commissioner of Water Works. Mr. Lester has, all through his commercial life enjoyed to an unusual degree, the confidence and esteem of his fellow citizens.
To the very many who see for the first time the name of Alva Bradley, the question will naturally arise, "Who is he?" and some wonder may be expressed at finding a name so little known to the general public on the list of those who have contributed largely to the commercial prosperity of Cleveland. And yet Alva Bradley is one of the largest ship-owners of the city, and his name is well enough known among those interested in the shipping of the western lakes. That he is no better known outside of his peculiar circle of business men is owing solely to his modest and unostentatious character, he preferring to pursue the even tenor of his way and confine himself strictly to his own affairs.
Captain Bradley was born in Connecticut in the year 1814, and lived in that State until his ninth year. Then his father emigrated to Ohio, taking his family with him, and settled in Lorain county. Young Bradley had few advantages in early life. He earned his first pair of boots by chopping wood, and when the first suspenders, knitted by his mother, were worn out, the next pair were paid for by chopping hoop-poles.
Until his twenty-first year he worked with his father on a farm, and then left to seek his fortune in the world, with all his effects carried under his arm, wrapped in a cotton handkerchief. His first entry on independent life was as a deck-hand, before the mast of the schooner Liberty. In that capacity he remained two years, and then, having acquired a good knowledge of seamanship, was made mate, holding that rank two years. In 1839, he rose a step higher, and for two seasons was master of the Commodore Lawrence.
Captain Bradley now commenced his career as an owner as well as master of vessels. In 1841, he had built for him, in company with Mr. A. Cobb, then a merchant at Birmingham, Ohio, the schooner South America, of 104 tons. When she was completed he took command of her and sailed her for three seasons. In 1844, in company with Mr. Cobb, he had built the schooner Birmingham, of 135 tons burden, and taking command of her himself, sailed her three years. In 1848, the same parties built the Ellington, of 185 tons, which Capt. Bradley sailed for one year. The following year he shifted his command to the propeller Indiana, 350 tons burden, which he and his associate, Mr. Cobb, had built for the Buffalo and Chicago trade. Capt. Bradley ran her himself three years and then returned to a sailing vessel, having late in the season of 1852, turned off the stocks a smart new schooner, the Oregon, of 190 tons burden, which he ran to the end of her first season, and then bade adieu to sea-faring life. During his many years' life on the lakes, in various craft and under all kinds of circumstances, it is remarkable that he never met with a serious casualty; he was enterprising, active, vigorous in mind and body; a prudent business man and at the same time a thorough sailor.
In the spring of 1853, he resumed his work of increasing his lake navy by building the Challenge, of 238 tons, followed by one or more vessels yearly. In 1854 was built the Bay City, 190 tons; in 1855 the C. G. Griswold, 359 tons; in 1856 the schooners Queen City, 368 tons, and Wellington, 300 tons; in 1858 the schooner Exchange, 390 tons. At this point he rested three years and then resumed work.
In 1861 was built, in company with other parties, the S. H. Kimball, 418 tons; in 1863 the Wagstaff, 412 tons; in 1864 the J. F. Gard, 370 tons; in 1865 the schooner Escanaba, 568 tons; in 1866-7, the schooner Negaunee, 850 tons, a splendid vessel, costing over $52,000, which has been running in the Lake Superior iron ore trade, and which has proved a very profitable investment; in 1868 he built the schooner Fayette Brown, 713 tons, and the tug W. Cushing, for harbor towing; in 1869 the S. F. Tilden, 1,000 tons, was launched from the yard of Quayle & Martin, completing the list of vessels built by or for Captain Bradley, making a list of nineteen vessels, and a tug, besides a number of vessels purchased. The present fleet is composed of nine vessels, with an aggregate tonnage of nearly five thousand tons, besides two tugs, one plying in Cleveland harbor and the other, in which he has half interest, at the Sault.
The record of the vessels built for Captain Bradley, and their respective tonnage, given above, shows at a glance the gradual development of the lake shipping commerce. The first of his fleet, the South America, 104 tons, built in 1841, was a very respectable craft in her day. From that time there was a steady increase in the tonnage of the vessels built, until it culminates in the S. F. Tilden, with carrying capacity of a thousand tons burden, but just launched from the stocks.
Though owning at one time or another such a large fleet of vessels, the casualties to them were very few, and the enterprise has proved steadily remunerative. The schr. Dayton, Maria Cobb, Oregon, South America, and Queen City, is the complete list of vessels lost.
Though shipping absorbed the greater portion of Captain Bradley's attention, his interest was not wholly confined to this branch of business. His time, means, and energy were largely employed in the manufacture of iron, and in other commercial interests. It is his pride that though so largely interested in business of different kinds, he has had but one case of litigation, and that with an insurance company. His record needs no eulogy; it speaks for itself as the record of a man of energy, enterprise and prudence.
Captain Bradley's health had for some years not been good, but is now improving, and there is a reasonable prospect that one who has done so much to develop the shipping interest of the port will live for some time yet to enjoy the fruits of his energy and industry.
Mr. Bradley was married in August, 1849, to Ellen Burgess, of Milan, Ohio, who is still living. Of the marriage, four children have been born, three girls and one boy.
Wellington P. Cooke.
The history of W. P. Cooke is an instance of what can be accomplished under the most adverse circumstances, when to persistent energy and laudable ambition are added the patience and faith born of religions training.
The parents of Mr. Cooke were pioneer settlers in Otsego county, New York, where his father died whilst Wellington was quite a small boy. His mother removed to a still newer country, Macomb county, Michigan, and there died, leaving the lad to fight his own way through the world without the advantages of either money or education. In the year 1838, being then but thirteen years old, he became a printer's apprentice. Subsequently he removed to Chagrin Falls, Ohio, where he secured some educational privileges at a seminary, obtaining the money for his necessary expenses by working early in the morning, at night, and on Saturday. He found employment in the village and among the neighboring farmers. But with all his efforts his lot was a hard one. He often needed the necessaries, to say nothing of the comforts of life, frequently making his morning and evening meal out of potatoes and salt, the former being of his own cooking, as he boarded himself. These articles were purchased in many instances by money received for sawing wood on the school holiday of Saturday.
In 1843, he came to Cleveland, tramping in from Chagrin Falls on foot, and having half a dollar as his sole capital with which to commence life in the city. His first attempt to gain work was in a printing office, where he succeeded in getting a case, receiving his pay, according to the custom of the times, in orders on grocery and clothing stores. After this he was foreman and compositor in the office of a monthly publication, called the Farmers' Journal, where he continued to devote his spare time to reading and study. Subsequently he became a clerk in a grocery store at a salary of ninety-six dollars a year. With this small sum he not only supported himself, but gave pecuniary aid to a sister, and something to the church.
In 1848, he obtained an interest in the business, and the partnership thus continued for three years. His reputation as a moral and religious man, together with a great spirit of enterprise, rapidly enlarged his business, and pointed out new channels for money-making.
In 1850, he disposed of the grocery business, and directed his whole efforts to the hide and leather trade. In this he showed much judgment, for the business he selected has proved to be one of the most extensive and profitable of the West. A nephew, since deceased, about this time became a partner. The premises occupied became too small, and a lot on Water street was purchased, where a fine store was erected, which is the present place of business.
The firm, which for some time existed as W. P. Cooke & Co., has been changed to Cooke & Denison, the junior partner being a former clerk, and under that name it is well known throughout the country, and especially in the West, as one of the largest establishments in the West dealing in leather, hides, wool, pelts and oil.
Mr. Cooke joined the Methodist Church at a very early age, and to the religious influences with which he was thus surrounded, he attributes much of his success in life. As a Church-member he was led to avoid all places of doubtful morality, and thus escaped the temptations and vices which destroy so many young men. He has always been strictly temperate, and does not use tobacco in any form. He is now prominently connected with the First Methodist Episcopal Church of Cleveland, and is noted as a zealous laborer in the Sunday School cause.
Mr. Cooke's religion is not of that kind that is left in the church pew on Sunday night, to remain undisturbed until the next Sunday morning, but is carried into all his relations of life and influences all his movements. The principles of justice and charity taught by the Christian faith are by him carried into his business dealings and social relations. Strictly just in business transactions, liberal in his charities to worthy objects, and generous to the church, he exemplifies in his life the fact that true Christian principles are not incompatible with strict business habits, and conduce to commercial success. Remembering his early difficulties, he takes particular interest in young men, sympathizing with them in their struggles, and aiding them with counsel and timely assistance where needed.
The firm of Hanna, Garretson & Co. has already been mentioned. The second member of the firm, while it existed under that name, Hiram Garretson, came like the others from Columbiana county, where he had been brought up, although not a native of the county. Mr. Garretson was born in York county, Pennsylvania, his parents being respectable members of the Society of Friends. When he was very young the family removed to Columbiana county, Ohio, where the senior Garretson opened a country store in New Lisbon. Hiram was sent to school, receiving a good district school education, and was then taken into his father's store as clerk, in which occupation he remained until he was nineteen years old. At that age he left home and engaged in trade on the rivers, taking charge of a trading boat running from Pittsburgh to New Orleans. This class of boats has not yet entirely passed away from the Ohio and Mississippi rivers. The villages along the river banks were small and badly supplied with stores, depending mainly for their supplies on the coasting boats. These are rudely constructed craft, well stocked with merchandise of all kinds, that drop leisurely down the river, tying up at every village or place where there is probability of a trade, and remaining there as long as the stay can be made profitable, then passing on to the next. When New Orleans has at last been reached, the boat is sold to be broken up for its materials, and the trader returns by steamer to get ready for another voyage down. It was in business of this description that Mr. Garretson engaged for a time, and in his voyages down the river and dealings with all sorts of people in different States, he acquired a valuable knowledge of business and men that has stood him since in good stead.
At length he tired of this kind of trading and returned to New Lisbon, and carried on a moderately successful business until the Winter of 1851. At that time a marked change came over the fortunes of New Lisbon. Up to that period it had been a flourishing business place, its advantages of location on the canal in a fertile district, making it one of the best places of trade in that portion of the State. But the construction of Fort Wayne and Cleveland and Pittsburgh Railroads effected a great and disadvantageous change in the business of New Lisbon. The Fort Wayne road passed it a few miles north, and the Cleveland and Pittsburgh road ran about an equal distance west. Thus New Lisbon was cut off from all the commercial cities, and found its sources of supply tapped at every point by the railroads. Realizing the fate that had overtaken the town, Mr. Garretson, at the opening of the year 1852, closed up his affairs in Columbiana county and removed to Cleveland. There he became associated in business with Messrs. Leonard and Robert Hanna, and the firm of Hanna, Garretson & Co. was established.
The successful operations of that firm have already been chronicled in these pages, and it only remains in this place to note the fact, that to the success achieved, the energy and uprightness of Mr. Garretson contributed in full proportion. The partnership lasted nine years.
On its dissolution Mr. Garretson established the house of H. Garretson & Co., on Water street, with a shipping house on the river. The business of the new firm was exactly similar to that of the old one, including a wholesale grocery trade, with a Lake Superior commission and shipping business. A line of fine steamers was run to Lake Superior, and the high reputation Mr. Garretson enjoyed among the people of that section of country, enabled him to build up a very large business in supplying their wants. In addition, the new firm found customers rapidly increasing in northern and western Ohio, in Michigan, and in other adjoining States. The operations of the firm extended rapidly until it stood, at the close of the year 1867, among the very foremost in the amount of its annual sales, whilst the business was eminently a safe and solidly successful one.
On the first of November, 1867, Mr. Garretson sold out his wholesale grocery business, and thus closed a mercantile career extending in this city over sixteen years. His attention was then turned to banking. No sooner had he retired from mercantile life than he projected and organized the Cleveland Banking Company, which went into operation under his presidency February 1st, 1868, with a capital of three hundred and twenty-five thousand dollars. It immediately found all the business it was able to do, and under the skillful management of Mr. Garretson it has become one of the most reliable and important financial institutions of the city.
It can truthfully be said of Mr. Garretson, that his success in business has been owing not more to his shrewdness and foresight than to his mercantile honor and social qualities. He made personal friends of his business customers, and by courteous attention, as well as by scrupulous regard for their interests, retained their good will and secured their custom. In all the relations of business and social life, Mr. Garretson has uniformly borne himself in such manner as to win the respect and confidence of those brought into contact with him.
John Barr was born in Liberty township, Trumbull county, (now Mahoning,) Ohio, June 26th, 1804. His ancestors, on both sides, were from Westmoreland county, Pennsylvania, though on his father's side they originally came from the north of England, in the days of William Penn; and his mother's, from Germany.
His grandfather, Alexander Barr, was killed by the Indians, in 1785, on the Miami, a short distance below, where Hamilton, in Butler county, now stands. His parents removed from Westmoreland county, Pa., to Youngstown, in 1800; and his father settled as the Presbyterian pastor of a church in that place, and resided there till 1820, when he removed to Wooster, Wayne county, in this State. The subject of this sketch was raised on a farm, literally in the woods, and experienced the usual privations and vicissitudes attendant on pioneer life. The new country and poverty of his parents prevented his receiving a common English education, and it was not until after he was of age that he mastered Murray's syntax and Daboll's arithmetic.
On leaving home in 1825, he repaired to the Ohio canal, (then in process of construction,) where he labored for two years, at various points between Boston and Tinker's creek; where, with hundreds of others, he was prostrated by the malaria of that unhealthy valley.
In 1828, he settled in Cleveland, and acted as deputy for the late Edward Baldwin, sheriff. He took the census of the county in 1830, and was elected sheriff that year, which office he held till 1834. Cleveland city at that time, contained one thousand and seventy-one inhabitants; its northern boundary was the lake, Erie street on the east, and the Cuyahoga river on the west.
In 1835, when the idea of connecting Cleveland with other places by means of railroads, was conceived by John W. Willey, James S. Clarke, T. P. Handy, Edmund Clark, R. Hilliard, O. M. Gidings, H. B. Payne, Anson Haydn, H. Canfield and others, Mr. Barr joined in and spent a good deal of time in furthering the project. Late in the Fall of that year, he visited Cincinnati, distributing petitions along the line of a proposed route to Cincinnati from Cleveland, and spent most of the Winter at Columbus, during the session of the Legislature. A charter for that road, and one for a road to Pittsburgh, being granted, Mr. Barr brought the first copies of them, duly certified under the seal of the State, to this city.
During 1836 and 7, Mr. Barr devoted a good deal of time in collecting statistics of this port, the business of the city, its population, &c., &c., and also of the west generally, and laying them before the public in the papers of Philadelphia and other eastern cities. In company with Mr. Willey and the late Governor Tod, he visited Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York and Boston, endeavoring to enlist the attention of capitalists to aid in those enterprises. But the crash of 1837, and the general prostration of business, that followed all over the country, rendered it unavailing. In the Winter of 1838, Mr. Gidings, S. Starkweather, Frederick Whittlesey, Wm. B. Lloyd and Mr. Barr were appointed a committee to attend a railroad convention at Harrisburgh, Pa., to promote the project of the railroad from Cleveland to Philadelphia, by way of Pittsburgh. In 1838 and 9, at the request of John W. Willey, he still spent much of his time in sending a series of articles on the importance of the project, that were published monthly in the North American, a paper in Philadelphia devoted to such projects.
Through the disastrous state of the times, these various measures had to yield, and become, for the time being, failures; but time has shown that those who were engaged in them were only in advance of the spirit and means of the age.
In 1844, when this subject again arrested the attention of the Cleveland public, Mr. Barr, although crushed by the storm of 1837, again resumed the subject with his pen, and gave to the public in the National Magazine, published in New York, quite a history of the city, its early settlement, &c., together with a full description of the shipping on their lakes, tonnage, trade, &c., that cost weeks of hard labor and patience, more particularly to place our city in a favorable view before the eastern public.
In 1846, a friend of Mr. B. sent him a petition to circulate and send to the Hon. Thomas Corwin, one of Ohio's Senators, asking Congress for aid to survey and establish a railroad to the Pacific.
In circulating this petition, Mr. Barr was gravely inquired of by one of our citizens, "if he expected to live to see such a road built?" Mr. Barr replied, "if he should live to the usual age of men, he did expect to see it commenced, and perhaps built." The reply was, "If you do, you will be an older man than Methusalah!" Both have lived to know that great work has been achieved.
Mr. Barr procured over six hundred names to his petition, which was duly presented by Mr. Corwin. Cleveland has now reason to be proud of the interests she manifested in that great work, at so early a day.
In 1857, Mr. Barr brought the first petroleum to this city, made from cannel coal, to be used as a source of light. This was new and regarded as utopian. The article was very odorous, and failed to be acceptable to the public, but as time rolled on, improvements in refining were made, and now the largest manufacturing business in our city is that of petroleum.
Few, if any, of citizens have spent more time and pains in collecting and giving to the public reminiscences of early days and early settlers—those who located in this region, and who under such privations, trials, hardships and sufferings commenced levelling these mighty forests, erecting log cabins, and in due time made this formidable wilderness "bud and blossom as the rose." In that respect Mr. Barr has done much to preserve and lay before the public from time to time, brief histories of many of those brave men and women who left their homes and friends in the east, and comparative comforts, to settle in the western wilderness, to build up homes for their children and future generations. Howe's history of Ohio, and Col. Chas. Whittlesey's history of the city of Cleveland, bear witness that his generous heart and gifted pen have furnished tributes of respect to the memory of the noble pioneers, after the battle of life with them was over, and thus supplying links to our historic chain that makes it comparatively perfect.
Among the many reminiscences of early times related to us by Mr. Barr, there is one we cannot deny ourselves the pleasure of relating, and preserving: William Coleman, Esq., came to Euclid in 1803, selected a lot of land and with his family settled upon it in 1804. For several years the few settlers experienced a good deal of inconvenience in having only the wild game of the country for meat, and which, at certain seasons of the year, was unfit for the table. In the Spring the streams that put into the lake abounded with excellent fish, and the season lasted about four weeks. The question arose, "could these fish be preserved in salt for future use?" The universal answer was No! The idea of preserving fresh water fish in salt seemed incredible; the red man was appealed to, but he shook his head in contempt at the idea, and in broken English said, "put him on pole, dry him over smoke." One Spring Mr. Coleman repaired to Rocky River, famous for its fine pike and pickerel, and laid in his stock, carefully laid them down in salt, which cost him over thirty dollars a barrel, (at a great risk, as his neighbors thought,) and watched them carefully from time to time till harvest. Much to his own and his neighbors' satisfaction, he found it a success, and proved not only a happy change of diet for health, but also a luxury, unknown before. From this circumstance, small at that time, originated a new source of comfort, which proved, in time, a mine of wealth to the West, and a luxury to the persons who located in the interior of the State. Well was it said by the school boy of Massachusetts about those days, "Tall oaks from little acorns grow, large streams from little fountains flow."
Mr. Barr says he made this circumstance a matter of much research and inquiry, and fully believes that to William Coleman belongs the credit for so useful and important a discovery.
J. B. Cobb.
The oldest bookselling house in Cleveland is that of the Cobbs, now existing under the firm name of Cobb, Andrews & Co. It has grown with the growth of the city, from a small concern where a few books and a limited stock of stationery were kept as adjuncts to a job printing office, to a large establishment doing an extensive business throughout the northern half of Ohio and north-western Pennsylvania, and in parts of Michigan and Indiana, and which has planted in Chicago a branch that has grown to be equal in importance with the parent establishment. Through financial storm and sunshine this house has steadily grown, without a mishap, and now ranks as one of the most important and staunchest business houses in the city.
The head of the firm, Junius Brutus Cobb, was born in 1822, received a good common school education, and was then sent to learn the trade of a cabinet-maker. When his apprenticeship expired he worked for a short time as a journeyman, but was dissatisfied with the trade, and for a year or two taught school. In 1842, he decided to try his fortune in the West, and reached Cleveland, where he found employment as clerk in the store of M. C. Younglove. Mr. Younglove was then doing a job printing business, and kept in addition a stock of books and stationery. Opportunity sometime after offering, two younger brothers of Mr. Cobb followed him, and were employed by Mr. Younglove. In 1848, the three brothers united in the purchase of an interest in the establishment, and the firm of M. C. Younglove & Co. was formed, the store being located in the American House building. Here the firm remained some years, the book trade steadily increasing, until the old quarters were too strait for its accommodation.
In April 1852, Mr. Younglove parted with his entire interest in the concern to his partners, and the firm name of J. B. Cobb & Co. was adopted. Before this the printing department had been abandoned, and the concern was run as a book and stationery store, with a bindery attached. The old store being too small, new and more commodious quarters were found further up Superior street on the opposite side, and with the change the business increased with greater rapidity than previously.
In February, 1864, it was decided to open a similar house in Chicago. A store was engaged, and Mr. J. B. Cobb went up to open it, taking with him a relative of the firm who had formerly been their clerk, Mr. Daniel Pritchard. The business of the new establishment instantly became large and remunerative, the jobbing trade commencing auspiciously, and rapidly increasing to extensive dimensions. At the same time the parent house in Cleveland added a wholesale department to its former retail trade, and this grew rapidly, the need of such an establishment being keenly felt by the numerous small stores throughout the country that had hitherto been dependent on Cincinnati or the dealers at the East. The rapid growth of business in the two establishments necessitated a new arrangement of the firm, and Cobb, Pritchard & Co. took charge of the Chicago house, whilst Cobb, Andrews & Co. manage the Cleveland establishment. The latter firm was made by the accession of Mr. Theodore A. Andrews, who had been brought up as a clerk in the house, taking his place as a partner in April, 1865. Mr. J. B. Cobb took up his residence in Chicago, leaving his brothers, C. C. and B. J., in Cleveland.
The Cobbs have maintained for themselves a high reputation for honesty, fair dealing, and courtesy in business, and in this way have secured prosperity. The trade that, when they first took it, amounted to about $25,000 a year, had grown, in 1868, to over $200,000. The qualities that gained for the head of the firm so many valuable business friends, was shared in by his brothers, and these again impressed them on the young men brought up under their control. The result is seen in the large number of customers frequenting the store daily, and in the extensive wholesale trade done.
A. G. Colwell.
Mr. Colwell is a native of Madison county, New York, and came to Cleveland in 1852, soon after the opening of the different railroads had given the city an important start in the road to prosperity. Mr. Colwell immediately engaged in the hardware trade, on Ontario street, where he has continued to the present day. As the city grew in size, and its area of commerce extended, the business of Mr. Colwell steadily increased. The retail trade gradually developed into wholesale, and this grew into important proportions, pushing its ramifications through northern Ohio, Michigan, and north-western Pennsylvania.
Mr. Colwell has attended closely to his business, taking no other interest in public affairs than is the duty of every good citizen. But whilst carefully conducting his business he has found time for the gratification of a cultivated taste in literature, and has taken pleasure in participating in every movement designed to foster a similar taste in others. In a recent tour in Europe, undertaken for the benefit of his health, he visited the principal points of literary and artistic interest, and brought back with him many rare and curious souvenirs of travel.
Whilst few men, if there are any, in the city of Cleveland are more highly respected than William Bingham, there are none less desirous of notoriety in any form. To do his duty to himself, his family, and his fellow men, and to do it quietly and unobtrusively, is the extent of Mr. Bingham's ambition, so far as can be judged by the whole tenor of his life. Did the matter rest with him, no notice of him would have appeared in this work, but to omit him would be a manifest injustice, and would at the same time render the volume imperfect.
Mr. Bingham is a native of Andover, Connecticut, and on his arrival here from the East, became a clerk in George Worthington's hardware store. After a few years' service in this capacity, he set up in the same line for himself, and for about a quarter of a century has carried on business with marked success. The operations of the firm of William Bingham & Co., though at first small, have grown to large proportions, and Mr. Bingham has grown rich, not through lucky operations, but by steady, persistent application to business, aided by sound judgment and powerful will. In addition to his hardware business, he is interested with Mr. Worthington in the Iron and Nail works, and has furnace interests in the Mahoning Valley.
In all his dealings, commercial or otherwise, he has been strictly conscientious, and this has secured for him the esteem of all with whom he has come in contact, and the respect and confidence of the general public. His word is inviolable, and no one has ever uttered a whisper against his unsullied integrity. In all works of genuine charity, his aid is efficaciously, though unobtrusively given, whenever required. To the young men in his employ, he is as much a father in his care of their interests and conduct, as he is an employer.
In politics, Mr. Bingham has steadily acted with the Republican party, but he is in no degree a politician. He has been chosen by the people to places of municipal trust, but always without any desire on his part, and solely because those selecting him considered his services would be valuable to the city; and whenever selected as a candidate, he has been elected, the opposing party having full confidence in his ability and integrity. In his case, the place invariably sought the man, and not the man the place; and it has always been with great reluctance, and because it seemed the good of the people required it, that he consented to hold public office. It would be better for the people were there more men like William Bingham, and sufficient wisdom among political managers to invoke their services on behalf of the public.
William J. Gordon.
A history of the leading commercial men of Cleveland, with no mention of W. J. Gordon, would be not much unlike the play of Hamlet with the part of the Danish prince omitted. Few men in the city have occupied so prominent a position in its mercantile history as has Mr. Gordon; but, from a natural distaste of public notice of any kind, on the part of Mr. Gordon, we are comparatively without data, and obliged to depend upon what we know of his history in general.
Mr. Gordon was brought up on a New Jersey farm, on which the battle of Monmouth was fought, and that had remained for generations, and still is, in the possession of his family. His earliest recollections were of rural life, its boyish enjoyments and boyish tasks. He obtained a good common school education, such as could be obtained in that neighborhood. Whilst yet a lad he manifested a strong taste for business pursuits; and to gratify and develop that taste he was sent to New York, where he became a clerk.
But, young as he was, he reasoned that there was a better chance for a successful struggle in the new West than in the already crowded marts of the East, and that for the young man of energy and enterprise, there was every prospect of achieving distinction and fortune in assisting to build up the business of the new western cities. With this impression he bade adieu to New York in 1838, and started westward on a tour of observation, he being then in his twentieth year. He reached Erie without stopping, and remained there for some time, carefully observing its commercial facilities and its prospects for the future. Not altogether satisfied with these, he moved farther west, and made his next stay in Cleveland. Here he speedily became convinced that a great future was before that city, and he determined to remain and share in its benefits. A wholesale grocery establishment was opened, small at first, as suited his means and the limited requirements of the place, but which more than kept pace with the progress of the city.
Mr. Gordon believed that to shrewdness and persistence all things are possible. His constant endeavor was to discover new avenues of trade, or new modes of doing business, and then to utilize his discoveries to the full extent, by persistent energy and unwearied industry. He was always on the alert to find a new customer for his wares, and to discover a cheaper place to purchase his stock, or a better way of bringing them home. Whilst thus securing unusual advantages in supplying himself with goods, Mr. Gordon was losing no opportunity of pushing his business among the buyers. His agents were diligently scouring the country, looking up new customers, and carefully observing the operations of old customers, to ascertain how their trade could best be stimulated and developed, to the mutual profit of the retailer and the wholesale dealer from whom he obtained his supplies. Men of pushing character and large business acquaintance were sought out and engaged, that they might aid in developing the business of the establishment. As these withdrew, to set up in business for themselves, others took their place. It is a noticable fact that no house has sent out more young men who have achieved success for themselves; and that success was undoubtedly in large measure due to the training received under Mr. Gordon.
He tolerated no sluggards around his establishment. A hard worker himself, those around him were stimulated to hard work. He was at the warehouse with the earliest clerk and left it with the latest. He demanded unflagging industry from his employees, but asked no more than he manifested himself. It was through this persistent energy that he achieved success where others might have failed.
When Mr. Gordon's capital had increased to such an extent as to warrant his employment of some of the surplus in investment outside of his regular business, he made some highly profitable operations of this kind. Among them was his uniting with some others of like foresight in the purchase of a tract of mineral land on Lake Superior, and the formation of iron mining companies which, though not immediately profitable, eventually yielded an enormous percentage on the original outlay, and bids fair to be equally profitable for many years to come, besides being a source of immense wealth to the city.
In 1857, Mr. Gordon's health failed, and since that time he has paid but little personal attention to business, but by an extended tour to Europe, it has been in a great measure restored, and being still in the meridian of life, he has the prospect, unless some mishap occurs, of long enjoying the fruits of his far-sighted intelligence and unwearied industry.
Lemuel Wick, the father of Henry, was among the early settlers of Youngstown. The Rev. William Wick, his uncle, preached from time to time as a missionary of the Presbyterian church, in the settlements on the border of Pennsylvania and Ohio, as early as 1779. Henry's father was a merchant, in whose store be became a clerk at the age of fifteen. At twenty-one he engaged in the project of a rolling-mill at Youngstown, which proved successful. In company with a brother, his father's interest in the store was purchased, and, having a successful future in prospect, Mr. Wick married, about that time, Miss Mary Hine, of Youngstown, whose father was a prominent lawyer of that place. In 1848, he became a citizen of Cleveland, disposing of the rolling mill to Brown, Bonnell & Co., who have since become leading iron men of the Mahoning Valley.
After a few years of mercantile business at Cleveland, the banking house of Wick, Otis & Brownell was formed, and was successfully managed for two years, when the brothers Wick purchased the interest of the other partners, and continued together until 1857, when the firm name was changed to Henry & A. H. Wick, father and son, and has thus continued until the present time.
Mr. Wick is a man of more than ordinary business ability, and has, throughout his long commercial life, so directed his talent as to preserve an unsullied character, and enjoy the unlimited confidence of his fellow citizens, in addition to a handsome competence. Speculations were always avoided by him, because he believed that, in a young and healthy country like this, men may accumulate property fast enough in the legitimate channels of trade, coupled with frugality, temperance and industry. Many of his employees, by following his example, have become eminently successful in business.
Mr. Wick was born February 28, 1807, and, consequently, is in his sixty-third year, although he has lost little of the elasticity of his step or his business faculty.
The firm of Edwards, Townsend & Co. now ranks among the leading houses in the city, doing an enormous business, and respected everywhere for its enterprise and integrity. The head of the firm, William Edwards, was born in Springfield, Massachusetts, June 6, 1831. At the age of fifteen, he entered mercantile life as a clerk, and remained in that position in Springfield six years. In 1852, he came to Cleveland, that year having brought many New Englanders here on account of the recent opening of the railroads. His first year was spent in clerking for W. J. Gordon, who then had by far the most important wholesale grocery establishment in the city.
At the end of the year Mr. Edwards, having two thousand five hundred dollars capital, resolved on setting up a jobbing grocery establishment for himself, and in company with Mr. Treat, opened a store on Canal street, doing business in a small way, and being their own accountants, salesmen and porters. The first year's business footed up sales to the amount of thirty-seven thousand dollars only, but the young firm was not discouraged. The next year opened with brighter prospects. The first year's customers were pleased with the firm, and satisfied that they were honest, as well as active and energetic, they returned to buy again and brought new customers. Orders came in rapidly, and by the middle of the third year the sales had grown to the rate of sixty thousand dollars per year. At that point, Mr. Edwards purchased the interest of his partner and looked about for a new associate in business.
Mr. Hiram Iddings, of Trumbull county, became partner, and with his accession, the business increased more rapidly than before. Both members of the firm used every honorable means to push their business, and with almost unvarying success. New fields were sought out and the old ones carefully canvassed. As before, nearly every new customer became a constant purchaser, being thoroughly satisfied with the treatment received, and new customers were added. The territory served widened, and the reputation of the house for enterprise and fair dealing spread. In 1862, the sales had grown to two hundred and forty thousand dollars. More aid was necessary to attend to the business of the firm, and on the first of October, in that year Mr. Amos Townsend was added to the firm, which then became Edwards, Iddings & Co. A year from that time Mr. Iddings died, and on the first of January, 1864, a change was made in the title of the firm to Edwards, Townsend & Co., Mr. J. B. Parsons being admitted as the third partner. Under that title and organization it still continues.
The business of the firm has kept fully abreast with the progress of the city. The members are shrewd, enterprising, always on the lookout for new openings for trade, and ready to take instant advantage of them. They each have a happy faculty of making friends, and still happier faculty of retaining them. The proof of this is seen in the increasing sales, which now amount to one million dollars a year, the customers being scattered through northern Ohio, Pennsylvania, and a portion of Michigan. Their extensive stores on Water street are constantly busy with customers and with the receipt and shipment of goods.
Mr. Edwards has attained prosperity, not by the favor of others, but by fighting his own battle of life with indomitable perseverance and imperturbable good humer. He has worked hard and persistently, but at the same time acted on the belief that "care killed a cat," and that "a light heart makes work light." His hearty good humor has had no small share in attracting and retaining customers, and has at the same time enabled him to rationally enjoy the prosperity his labors have brought him. But his good humor never leads him to abate a jot of his shrewd watchfulness in business matters, and to his prudence and keen observation are owing the fact that he has almost wholly escaped litigation. At thirty-eight years old he takes rank among the foremost and most successful marchants of Cleveland, whilst his frank, hearty manners, his warm friendship, and his liberal unselfish benevolence which distributes charity with an unstinting, though intelligent hand, rank Mr. Edwards among the most valued and most valuable of citizens.
Amos Townsend was born near Pittsburgh in 1831, and received a good common English education. At fifteen years old, he left school and entered a store at Pittsburgh, in which he remained three years, and then removed to Mansfield, Ohio, where, young as he was, he set up in business for himself, retailing goods, and remaining a citizen of that town during the greater part of nine years.
During his residence in Mansfield, the Kansas troubles broke out and arrived at such a pitch that a Congressional committee, comprised of Messrs. John Sherman of Ohio, W. A. Howard of Michigan, and W. A. Oliver of Missouri, was appointed to proceed to Kansas and investigate the facts in regard to General Stringfellow's opposition to Governor Reeder's administration. Mr. Sherman procured the appointment of Mr. Townsend as United States Marshal, and he accompanied the commission to the scene of disturbance. He was on a hill near Lawrence when he saw the passe comitatus of the United States Marshal of the Territory batter down the Free State Hotel, it having been indicted as a nuisance by the Grand Jury. Shortly afterwards, Mr. Townsend was taken prisoner by General Stringfellow, but on ascertaining his position he was released.
In 1858, he came to Cleveland, having been engaged by Gordon, McMillan & Co. In that establishment, he remained nearly five years, and then became partner in the firm of Edwards, Iddings & Co., which, on the death of Mr. Iddings, became Edwards, Townsend & Co. The operations of that firm have already been spoken of.
Mr. Townsend has served a full apprenticeship to the business in which he is now engaged, and is familiar with all its details from the cellar to the counting-room. As a skillful financier, he has few superiors, and the large operations of the firm bear evidence to this in the regularity and safety with which they are conducted.
In 1866, the Republicans of the Third Ward chose him as their candidate for member of the City Council, of which he was afterwards chosen president. He not only polled the full vote of the party, but drew a large number of Democratic votes, and was elected by a good majority, although the ward has generally been considered Democratic, and has retained his seat to the present time, his personal popularity among all classes, combined with the unexceptionable record he made in the Council, overcoming all opposition. At the organization of the new Council for 1869, he was unanimously re-elected president, a fact as complimentary as it is rare, it being the almost invariable custom for each party to vote for its own candidate, even where the result of the election is a foregone conclusion. He was in the same year suggested as the Republican candidate for Mayor, and would undoubtedly have been chosen to that office had he not considered it incompatible with proper attention to the large and rapidly increasing business of his firm.
David A. Dangler.
David A. Dangler, like scores of other successful men in Cleveland, is a conqueror of adverse circumstances. In taking a cursory glance at the early history of representative Clevelanders, noticed in this volume, it will be readily seen that our business firms are largely composed of men who, in early life, were compelled to divide their time between work on the farm and attendance at the district school. Much of the debilitating dissipation common in cities has been escaped by them; and hence, they have both sound minds to project, and vigorous bodies to execute.
Mr. Dangler found it necessary, at the early age of seven years, to do something towards carrying on his father's farm in Stark county, Ohio. During the Winter months, he had the benefit of a district school until 1838, when, at the age of fourteen, he was employed in a dry goods store at Canton, as boy of all work. Here, he won the confidence of his employers, and by closely saving his limited wages, was able to attend school six months more, which completed his education. With this exception, he continued to serve in the same store until 1845, when, with a very limited capital, the savings from his wages, he commenced on his own account, in the same business.
In 1850, he left the trade in dry goods and took up that in hardware. The late Mr. John Tennis, who was also a Stark county man, and Mr. Dangler, in 1853, formed a partnership for jobbing in this line at Cleveland. The success of the concern was all that reasonable men could expect. Their connection continued until 1867, when it expired by limitation. They were among the first wholesale firms on Water Street, and this enlarged field of commercial operations gave full exercise to the talent and energy of Mr. Dangler. Trade was pushed in all directions, and in a remarkably short time they succeeded in building up a lucrative business.
Success did not make a miser of Mr. Dangler. On the breaking out of the rebellion, he entered with all his native enthusiasm into the home duties of the war. In August, 1862, he took a prominent part in the organization of ward committees for raising recruits and providing for the familles of soldiers. A large part of his time during the war was devoted to this work, and will ever be remembered with gratitude by scores of families for timely assistance rendered during that trying ordeal. In the Fourth ward, where he lives, there never was a man drafted to fill its quota.
In 1864, he was elected a member of the City Council, and in 1865, a member of the House of Representatives for Cuyahoga County, by the Republican party. These public trusts were so well filled that in 1867, he was returned to the Senate, representing the most important commercial district of the State except one, and at all times being watchful and active in the interests of his constituents. Among the important measures originated by him in the Legislature, are the Metropolitan Police, State Charities, State Gas Inspection, and the Building and Loan Association Acts. The last mentioned act has been very extensively taken advantage of among his immediate constituents. No less than ten societies have been organized in this city, under it, and have already been productive of much good among the laboring class, by enabling them to obtain homesteads on easy terms. The capital stock of these societies amounts to over three million dollars, and if the act is as highly appreciated throughout the State as it is here, the benefit accruing therefrom will be almost incalculable, inasmuch as the monthly payments would, in many cases, be squandered; whereas, now, they are not only saved, but secure a share of the profits of the association in proportion to the stock held. The successful working of these institutions must be exceedingly gratifying to Mr. Dangler. He is an active, energetic and impulsive member, though not without considerable tact, and generally successful in putting his measures through. As a speaker he is clear-headed, terse and forcible, and on subjects appealing to patriotism, really eloquent.
Mr. Dangler is liberal with his means, with broad plans, not for himself alone, but for the public; indeed, we have few men among us more public spirited than he. To this new element of self-made and successful men, the city owes much of the unparalleled development of the few past years. Their energy and commercial intelligence have inaugurated a new order of things here, placing Cleveland in the front rank of western cities.
Mr. Dangler has recently formed a new partnership, and is again engaged in the hardware business, having established the new firm of Dangler & Bowman, on Superior Street. He is still young and vigorous, and has it yet in his power to accomplish much.
T. S. Beckwith.
In speaking of the mercantile interests of Cleveland as developed by her prominent operators, it is with pleasure we produce a brief notice of Mr. T. S. Beckwith, one of our well known and most successful merchants. He was born in Lyme, CT, Jan. 11, 1821. Until he was fourteen, he remained on the farm with his father, at which time he commenced clerking in a store in Brownville, Jefferson Co., N. Y., and remained four years. He then came to Cleveland and at once engaged as a clerk with Alexander Sacket, who was then carrying on business on Superior Street, precisely where Mr. Beckwith's carpet store now stands. After two years with Mr. Sacket, he went as clerk with P. M. Weddell & Co., in which capacity he served four years, when he was taken into partnership with P. M. Weddell, Dudley Baldwin and W. E. Beckwith, his brother, and in this firm did business in the dry goods line for about four years, when he and his brother, alone, carried on business several years, and finally Mr. Henry Wick became associated with them and another store was started. Both stores were continued about four years, when the firm dissolved, and another formed under the name of Beckwith, Sterling & Co., composed of T. S. Beckwith, F. A. Sterling and G. Clayes. This firm was dissolved after two or three years and the subject of this sketch left the dry goods business and opened the first store for the exclusive sale of carpets in Cleveland. After five or six years, his former partner, F. A. Sterling, again became associated with him. The firm of Beckwith & Sterling existed three years when they admitted two young men in their employ, O. Baker and W. R. Havens.