Mr. Beckwith is a thorough business man, quick to form judgment and quick to act upon it. He is among our best financiers, nearly always makes an investment pay. When he was regularly employed as a salesman, he was hard to match, and one great secret of his success as such was his courteous demeanor to all, whether rich or poor, and an industrious effort to please. We recommend those of our young men who desire to succeed in business to study one of the principal keys to T. S. Beckwith's success—a polite attention to all. It will pay.
Mr. Beckwith's business has grown with the city, and the profits with it, and although he has only attained to the meridian of life, and in the full enjoyment of mental and physical energy, he has acquired a handsome competency.
Besides his mercantile interest, Mr. B. has aided in giving to Cleveland the character of a manufacturing city, having invested largely in the white lead factory of this city, which is under the management of Mr. J. H. Morley, an account of which will be seen in the Manufacturing Department of this work.
Business has not, however, engrossed the whole of Mr. Beckwith's time and talents. He is as thorough a worker in the cause of religion, morality and benevolence as in trade. For a number of years, he has been an active member of the Second Presbyterian church of this city, always taking a lively interest in the Sunday school connected with the church. He was also as indefatigable in the interests of the Bethel Church and Sunday school of this city, and which is now doing a noble work in the city.
Mr. B. was married in 1849, to Miss Sarah Oliphant of Grandville, Washington Co., N. Y. Two children of this marriage are living and a third dead.
Although Mr. Sims has not been strictly a man of commerce among us, his life labor has been one wholly devoted to enterprises that are strictly conducive to that foundation of a commonwealth. Properly placed, he would be with general contractors, but as we have not material sufficient for a department under that head, he must take rank among the men whose trade has been facilitated by his enterprise.
Elias Sims was born at Onondaga, New York, August 4. 1818, and is another striking instance of the value of early dependence on one's own resources. Until he was fifteen years of age, Elias worked on a farm, when he concluded to leave it, and strike out for himself on another line. He worked as a laborer on the New York canal for some time, and being a lad of great force of character with a keen eye to business, he was very soon selected as an overseer. He held this situation for about two years when he became deputy superintendent of the works, being at the time only in his eighteenth year. After considerable experience in this business, he concluded there was an opportunity to make more money by contracting than by working on a salary, and consequently resigned his office and commenced on a work for which he was eminently adapted by nature, and one in which he subsequently became remarkably successful, as, indeed, was his first contract, for it resulted in a profit of several thousand dollars. Men did not become millionaires in such short order then as now, and so much money so easily obtained almost unbalanced the young contractor. It made him less careful in his estimates, and, as may be easily judged, his next job swallowed the whole of his capital, and compelled him to become overseer again.
The next speculation he engaged in was the building of a tug, in connection with two others, and which proved a success. After some time, he obtained a dredging contract at Port Stanley, Canada, and being very successful in this he entered into it as a permanent business, and appeared among the live men of Cleveland in 1856, as a contractor for dredging the "old river bed". From year to year, this contract for dredging at Cleveland has been continued, and in addition to this, he has executed some immense jobs at Grand Haven, Mich., Erie, Pa., and Milwaukee, Wis., in which he has been uniformly successful. He also contracted largely in the construction of the Great Western Rail Road, in Canada, and canal locks in Iowa. He is interested in propellers on the lakes, and has two tugs and three dredges in this harbor.
Mr. Sims may well be styled a pioneer in the system of dredging, by means of which all the lake harbors have been able to receive vessels of double the old tonnage. Although of a quiet, he is not by any means of an indolent temperament, and has exhibited business energy in a way that did not make much noise, but which led to sure results. Mr. Sims was one of the contractors and one of the proprietors of the Rocky River Rail Road and Hotel. He is also interested in the People's Gas Company of the West Side, and we are driven to the conclusion that such a long series of successes in such undertakings cannot be due to accident; there must be for foundation, a clear, calculating mind, and the ability to execute well what is well planned. Projects in which others had failed became profitable under his management. He is still in the vigor of life going on as usual with his contracts.
In 1838, Mr. Sims married Miss Fosburgh, of Onondaga Co., N. Y.; of the marriage three children were born, Mrs. Sloane of Buffalo, Mrs. Evatt of Cleveland, deceased, and Mrs. Wm. Starkweather of Cleveland.
One of the most noticeable mansions on the north side of Euclid Avenue is the tasteful and substantial stone building a little west of Sterling Avenue, which, from its general style of architecture and its handsome surroundings of lawn and shrubberies, resembles the comfortable country home of a family of wealth and taste in England. This is the residence of Joseph Perkins, and in its neat, home-like beauty, gives at once a good idea of the character of its owner, and a perpetual invitation to repose.
Mr. Perkins was born July 5, 1819, in Warren, Ohio, his father being Simon Perkins of that place. His educational advantages were food, and after leaving school he entered his father's office. Born to comfortable circumstances he never had occasion to struggle for an existence as have so many of the now wealthy citizens of Cleveland, but, on the other hand, the acquisition of riches without hard labor for it did not, as in so many other cases, prove his ruin, nor did he spend his days in idleness. On his father's death, he was one of his executors and gave his whole attention to the task of closing up the estate. That duty performed, he came to Cleveland and found abundant occupation in managing his own estate and in executing the duties devolving upon him through his appointments to places of trust in banks, railroads, and other organizations. For several years, he was a director of the Cleveland and Mahoning Railroad Company and took an active part in its affairs. On the death of Governor Tod, he was chosen president of the company, a position he still retains and the duties of which he performs with scrupulous fidelity. He is also president of the Second National Bank. During the building of the Euclid Street Presbyterian Church, he was a member of the building committee, and has taken an active interest in the affairs of that church for many years. He was also a member of the building committee of the Savings Bank Society and of the building committee of the National Bank Building.
In 1837, Mr. Perkins united with the Presbyterian Church, of which he has since remained an active and influential member, the scene of his profession being in Marietta, where he listened to the teachings of the Rev. Mr. Bingham.
In October, 1840, he married Miss Martha E. Steele, of Marietta, by whom he has had six children, four of whom still survive.
Mr. Perkins is a man of no ordinary character, and it is unfortunate for the world that there are so few of his mould in comparison with the whole number of people. The governing principle of his life is religion, his actions are directed by his conscience. Although rich and controlling large means, he is utterly free from the sin of avarice, and, though fully appreciating the value of money, he respects it mainly for the power of doing good it gives the possessor. His liberality is great, but is guided by a wise caution instead of being squandered indiscriminately. He dislikes being imposed upon by unworthy petitioners, and therefore narrowly investigates alleged cases of distress before relieving them. When satisfied that the object is worthy, his aid is generous and ungrudging. His ear is ever open to the tale of distress, his hand ever open when the distress is found to be real instead of simulated to impose upon the charitable. He has been known to leave his mails untouched all day that he might trace out and relieve cases of genuine affliction or suffering. His time and best judgment are given to the widow and fatherless, nor is his counsel empty-handed. In business matters, the rule of his life is not to claim the lion's share, although furnishing the means for an enterprise, but to deal with others as he would have done by him under similar circumstances. He believes that by pursuing this policy, he has reaped greater material advantages than if he had pursued a grasping policy, whilst his conscience is the easier for his forbearance. His firm determination to do right in every transaction and under all circumstances has in his case given fresh proof of the truth of the adage that "honesty is the best policy."
Nor, though among the wealthy of the city, is he an aristocrat in feeling. To him, the poor soldier's widow, the laborer's wife, and the wife of the millionaire are equal in their claims upon his courtesy and his attention. He is in feeling one of the people, yet utterly innocent of the arts of the demagogue, and repudiating with firmness any attempt to bring him forward into political life, against the heats and confusion of which his modest and quiet character revolts.
Although not of robust health, he is enabled to get through a large amount of work by methodical habits and by a strict avoidance of injurious haste and worry. His leisure is spent in the enjoyments of his beautiful home and in the cultivation of a fine artistic taste which has been developed and gratified by a tour among the principal art centers of Europe.
Hinman B. Hurlbut.
Himnan B. Hurlbut, a lineal descendant of Governor Hinman, of Connecticut, was born in St. Lawrence County, New York, July 29, 1818. In his boyhood, he received such education as the common schools provided, and the time not spent in the school room was employed on his father's farm, he being the youngest of a large family and required to help along with the others.
At the age of fifteen, he left the farm and engaged as clerk in the mercantile business in Washington, St. Lawrence County, where he remained about three years.
In 1836, he removed to Cleveland and commenced the study of law with his brother, H. A. Hurlbut, then practicing law here. On August 7th, 1839, he was admitted to practice, and at once went to Massillon, Stark county, where he opened an office for the practice of his profession. His cash capital when he started for his prospective field of labor, consisted of three dollars and twenty-five cents. The disbursement of this sum was as follows: three dollars for his packet fare to Massillon; twenty-five cents for three sheets of paper and two packets of tobacco. His worldly goods were all contained in a hair trunk; the most valuable item of which was his law library, comprising two volumes, Blackstone and Kent's Commentaries. Our readers may well be assured that Mr. Hurlbut was dreadfully in earnest about that time to commence business. He soon succeeded in making a commencement; his talent and industry were rewarded by one of the largest and most lucrative practices in that section, extending through Wayne, Holmes, Tuscarawas, Carroll, Columbiana, and Summit counties. As a lawyer he was very successful. He continued the practice of his profession until 1850, four years of which time he was the law partner of Hon. D. K. Cartter.
Some three years before retiring from his law practice, he became interested in banking at Massillon, and in 1850, organized the Merchants Bank, of Massillon, with a capital of $100,000. This was in connection with Dr. I. Steese, who is still president of the bank, with the capital increased to $200,000. It was and is a very successful enterprise.
In 1852, still retaining most of his interest in the bank at Massillon, he came to Cleveland, and commenced a private banking business, under the firm name of Hurlbut & Go., under the American House, and continuing about one year, when he purchased from the directors of the Merchants Bank the charter of the Bank of Commerce, and at once commenced business under it, with Mr. Parker Handy as president, and himself as cashier. About a year afterwards Mr. Handy resigned, and Mr. Joseph Berkins became president. The stock was increased from time to time till it reached $250,000, and then reorganized under the name of the Second National Bank of Cleveland, with the same officers, and nearly the same board, with a capital stock of $600,000, and its success may be judged when we say that it has a reserve fund of over $400,000, and it may well be characterized as one of the strongest, if not the strongest bank in Ohio.
Mr. Hurlbut was cashier from the commencement, and labored assiduously in its interests, so that the Second National Bank of Cleveland is eminently the fruit of his labor and skill. Mr. Hurlbut was obliged to resign his position January 1, 1866, on account of failing health, induced by excessive mental application, and was succeeded by the assistant cashier, J. O. Buell, who still retains the office. On resigning, he was made vice president, which position he still retains. He took a trip to Europe, where he remained two years, returning much improved.
Besides his official duties here, in 1864, in connection with Messrs. J. Perkins, A. Stone and S. Witt, he purchased of the Board of Control, the charter of the Toledo Branch of the State Bank of Ohio, which also proved a great success, paying in the neighborhood of twenty-five percent per annum. It was reorganized under the National Bank Law. Mr. Hurlbut held no official position in this bank, but assisted in its management.
For some years, he has been a director of the Bellefontaine Railroad Company, and on the consolidation of that company with the Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati Railroad Company, was made a director of the consolidated line. He has added to his interests in banks and railroads some important investments in the iron interests of the city, and through his shrewd observation and extensive business knowledge, has managed to make his investments profitable. For fifteen years, he was a member of the State Board of Control of the State Bank of Ohio. From the organization of the Protestant General Hospital of Cleveland, he has been its president.
Mr. Hurlbut's sole official connection with politics was his serving as a delegate from the Seventeenth Ohio District in the Philadelphia Convention that nominated General Taylor. He is in no degree a politician, but always takes an active interest as a private citizen and voter, in the discussion of political questions. His tastes are elegant and refined, and since his virtual retirement from the pressing duties of business, he has found enjoyment in the cultivation of those tastes. His manners are affable and genial, his disposition frank and generous. In business matters, he has always been prompt, and has never allowed his engagements to lie unfulfilled or be postponed.
Elbert Irving Baldwin.
The dry goods establishment of E. I. Baldwin & Co. is one of the best known business houses of Cleveland. Its reputation extends widely beyond the limits of the city, and throughout a large portion of the State it is known as one of the places to be visited whenever a shopping excursion is made to Cleveland.
Elbert Irving Baldwin, the founder and head of the firm, was born in New Haven, Connecticut, May 13, 1829. He received excellent early educational advantages, in preparation for a literary life, but as his health was not equal to this, he turned his attention to mercantile pursuits, when about eighteen years of age, by engaging as clerk in the dry goods house of Sandford & Allen, in his native town. With the firm he remained several years, and then engaged for about two years with a dry goods firm in New York city.
In October, 1853, Mr. Baldwin came to Cleveland, and on the completion of Northrup & Spangler's Block, commenced the retail branch of the dry goods business, his father, S. I. Baldwin, being a partner in the business for the first three years. Mr. Baldwin opened out with a stock of goods costing sixteen thousand dollars, and at the close of the first year had made sales to the amount of forty-three thousand dollars. This was an encouraging result for those times, and he correctly judged that it was but the foundation of a large and lucrative business. Each succeeding year, without any exception, has brought an increase of business, till the annual sales of the firm are in the vicinity of a million dollars, which, in a retail business, in a city of Cleveland's size, is very large; and fairly entitles him to be regarded as the most successful dry goods merchant Cleveland has ever had. Having from the first conducted business in a strictly honorable manner, selling only good articles at reasonable profits, and allowing no misrepresentations, the result is, that many of the customers of the house are of fifteen years' continuance. This, in conjunction with the natural growth of the trade growing out of an increase in the population, now gives his house the appearance of a central dry goods market.
Besides endeavoring to deal faithfully with customers, he inaugurated the one price and cash system of trade, so as to be faithful to himself and his creditors, and the result of all is—immense success.
To meet the demands of trade, in 1868, his firm purchased a piece of land whereon stood part of the well known City Buildings, on Superior street, and erected the elegant store now occupied by them, at an expense of over one hundred thousand dollars. It has been selected by us as a symbolic title page, representing Cleveland present, and is at once an ornament to the city, and a monument to untiring industry and integrity. The building has a frontage of forty-two and a half feet, a depth of one hundred and fifty feet, and a height of eighty feet, overtopping all the blocks in the city. The front is of Amherst sandstone. The building is divided into five stories, with a basement; the ground floor, occupied by the store, having five hundred feet of counter-room. Without, the architectural taste displayed was unexceptionably good, the building having an appearance of lightness and elegance, whilst at the same time conveying an idea of strength and solidity. The store is fitted up in the most sumptuous manner, and is of itself an attraction to visitors, to say nothing of the rich wares always there displayed.
On the retirement of his father, Mr. Baldwin associated with himself his brother-in-law, H. R. Hatch, and in 1863, Mr. W. S. Tyler, an employee, was admitted to an interest in the business, and in 1866, Mr. G. C. F. Hayne, another employee, became a partner. This is an excellent custom, and we are glad to see so many of our heavy merchants acknowledging the integrity and ability of their clerks in the same way.
Mr. Baldwin has now the general superintendence of the whole business; and, although he is not, nor ever has been, physically strong, is very active, and there is little that escapes his observation.
He was married, August, 1855, to Miss Mary Janette Sterling, of Lima, Livingston county, New York. The fruits of the marriage were three children now living, and one daughter who died.
Mr. Baldwin has been connected with the Second Presbyterian church about thirteen years, and has taken an active interest in the Sunday school. He was trustee of the church for several years, and has always been found ready to aid in the furtherance of every good work.
Grove N. Abbey.
The trade in stoneware is a very important branch of the business of Cleveland, and this lies in the hands of one firm, of which Grove N. Abbey is the leading member. As the West generally is supplied from the parent house of the Abbeys, or from one or other of the branch establishments through the West, in which Mr. Abbey holds an interest, it would be manifestly out of place to omit, in a work of this character, a reference to him and his operations.
Mr. Abbey was born in Portland, Connecticut, August 19th, 1818. He was the eleventh of a family of thirteen, of whom seven yet live. The father, Asaph, died at the age of fifty-five. The mother, Ruth Hollister, survived her husband thirty years, the last twenty-two of which were spent in the family of her son Grove N., and died February 20th, 1868, at the advanced age of eighty-six. As before said, she had thirteen children, twelve of whom married, and thus enabled her to remark, as she repeatedly did, that she had had twenty-four children. Before her death she had seventy-one grandchildren added to the list of her descendants, besides fifty-seven great-grandchildren, and one of the fourth generation, making in all one hundred and forty-two descendants.
At the age of sixteen, G. N. Abbey bade adieu to his New England home and set out for the West. A good portion of his first year after leaving home was spent in Pittsburgh, which he then left for Ohio, where he has since resided; twenty-one years in Akron, and the remainder of the time in Cleveland. His first experience in Akron was as a clerk, from which he rose to the position of merchant on his own account, carrying on business until 1856. In the Spring of the preceding year he commenced business on River street, Cleveland, in the sale of Akron stoneware, in which he had become interested, and in 1856, removed his family to Cleveland, where he has since that time resided, retaining his mercantile interests in Akron until 1858.
When Mr. Abbey was carrying on a mercantile business in Akron, his attention was called to the growing importance of the manufacture and trade in stoneware, made from the clay of the Springfield clay-bed, which has since become famous for the superior quality of stoneware made from it. The pioneer in the business was David Abbey, a brother of Grove, who died in Chicago, in 1856. The extension of railways to Akron rapidly developed the trade in stoneware, and the Abbey family turned their exclusive attention to it. The trade grew to importance wherever the articles found their way. To obtain greater facilities for sale and distribution, Mr. Grove N. Abbey came to Cleveland and obtained storage privileges in a warehouse on River street, at the foot of St. Clair hill. Soon the increase of business justified the engagement of the whole building, and from that time the growth of the trade has been rapid and permanent. Brandi houses were established in Chicago, Indianapolis, and St. Louis, and the parent houses in Akron and Cleveland have been kept busy in supplying the needs of these branches as well as of their own. The character of the article dealt in became known throughout the West, and wherever introduced the trade soon increased in importance. The result has been a gratifying success to the Abbeys, and the addition of a large revenue to the county of Summit.
In all their various ramifications of business, Mr. Abbey has occupied an important position. In addition to providing for the home trade, he has exercised constant personal supervision over the supplying of the western branches. The negotiations between dealers and manufacturers have mostly been managed by him, and the importance of these negotiations may be judged from the fact that the requirements of the customers of Abbey & Co. regulate the amount of stoneware manufactured in Summit county, and thus affect the business and revenues of the county.
The business of the Cleveland house of G. N. Abbey & Co. has gradually been increased by the introduction of other articles of a kindred nature, such as the brown and yellow ware, manufactured at East Liverpool, Ohio, glassware from Pittsburgh and New York, and fire-brick and fire-clay. The position of Cleveland renders it the natural distributing point for those wares, and the extensive facilities possessed by Mr. Abbey, and his long experience in the business, place the monopoly of the trade in his hands. That nothing but good has grown out of this virtual monopoly, is seen in the fact that the business is steadily increasing, that no dissatisfaction is expressed by the customers, and that no litigations have taken place during the long business career of the house, extending over a hundred years in Cleveland.
During the last six years the firm has had some interest in vessels on the lakes, and these interests have been carefully watched by Mr. Abbey, who has entire control.
It will be rightly inferred from what has already been said, that Mr. Abbey has achieved success in business. That success is due to no lucky accident or extraneous circumstances, but is the natural result of devoted attachment to business, keen insight, and a determination to follow, as far as practicable, the golden rule of doing as you would be done by, and of a desire to avoid all misunderstandings.
If there be one business faculty more than another, prominent in Mr. Abbey, it is that of ability to do a large business, on a small capital; having, like nearly all of our merchants, commenced business with nothing that his own hands had not earned, and passing through all the trials incident to mercantile life in a young country, he has become an excellent financier. Naturally of a genial temperament, and inclined to look on the bright side of things, he glides over reverses and difficulties easier than some people, yet he has always keenly felt, and often deplored, the want of such early advantages as children of the present day possess.
Being early interested in the cause of temperance, he has persistently endeavored to spread its beneficial effects by means of temperance organizations, and in April, 1869, he was nominated as temperance candidate for Mayor on the first strictly temperance municipal ticket ever put in nomination in Cleveland. The result was the polling of a temperance vote of about ten per cent, of the whole vote cast.
Twenty-seven years since, whilst in business at Akron, he was induced to make a profession of faith and be received into the Congregational church. The faith then professed has never been renounced, and he is now an active member of Plymouth Congregational church in Cleveland.
On November 4th, 1844, Mr. Abbey married Miss Sarah Goodale, of Kent, Ohio, but who came originally from Massachusetts. Of this marriage there were four children, three of whom are still living; the oldest being married to Charles H. White, of Chicago, Illinois. The other daughter and a son remain with the family at home.
B. W. Jenness.
Mr. Jenness was born in Deerfield, New Hampshire, July 14, 1806, received a good academical education and in 1823 removed from Deerfield to Strafford, in the same State, where he engaged in merchandizing, continuing in that occupation for thirty years, and finding it reasonably remunerative. In addition to keeping his store he filled the position of postmaster of the town for fifteen years, being appointed under several successive administrations. He represented the town in the lower branch of the State Legislature, and held the office of High Sheriff for over five years, the county which he officiated in having since been carved out into several counties. On leaving that office he became Probate Judge, which position he retained five years and then resigned, although the terms of office were such that he could have retained his position until he was seventy years of age. He was nominated by the Breckenridge party for Governor of the State, but declined. In 1845-6, he was appointed to the Senate of the United States, to fill out the unexpired term of the Hon. Levi Woodbury, who was appointed to the Supreme Court of the United States. In 1850, he was a member of the Constitutional Convention to revise the constitution of New Hampshire, after which he retired to private life, and has allowed politics to take their own course without his aid.
Mr. Jenness came to Cleveland seven years ago, but immediately after his arrival started into the lumber business here with vigor, and has followed it up in the same way, until now he has become so intimately connected with Cleveland commerce that he seems like an old settler who has grown up with the city. He superintended the whole business here from the first, whilst his partners attended to the manufacturing department at their mills in Michigan, until May 1st, 1869, when Mr. Jenness bought out their entire interests. He has succeeded in building up a business equal to the best in that line in the short space of seven years, which speaks well for the energy and business ability displayed.
In addition to his lumber business Mr. Jenness, in connection with three others, built the propeller B. W. Jenness, for carrying lumber and trading from Buffalo to Chicago and intermediate ports. She carries about 330,000 feet of lumber, and cost $50,000. He has also been part owner of several other vessels since he has resided here.
Mr. Jenness is a man of the most active temperament, he no sooner decides that a thing has to be done than he does it with all his might. One may form an idea of him by seeing him write his name; as quick as the pen touches the paper it is off like a flash of lightning, with the signature complete. He is broad and powerfully built, and to all appearance can endure as much as most men, although sixty-three years of age. Like other successful men, he attributes his success to strict attention to business in person. In politics he has always been a Democrat. In religion he is very liberal, favoring Baptists, Presbyterians, Congregationalists and Unitarians when occasion serves. He is held in esteem by all who know him, and we trust he may have many years of usefulness before him.
Mr. Jenness was married in 1827 to Miss Nancy Shackford, of Strafford, New Hampshire, whom it was his misfortune to lose in May, 1868, leaving two daughters the sole survivors of a family of five, the three sons being dead.
John Fletcher Warner.
The late J. F. Warner was a native of Burlington, Vermont, on the border of Lake Champlain. His parents were poor, and his early advantages were limited. At an early age he became a sort of cabin boy on one of the Lake Champlain steamers. Mr. Warner came to Cleveland in 1833 or 1834, and went into the employ of Wellman, Winch & Co., who then kept a warehouse near the present site of the Erie elevator. Mr. Warner often related to his friends with much glee, a little incident that occurred in connection with his engagement to labor for this firm. It appears that it was represented to him that he was desired to travel for the house; and he, with visions of a span of white horses, elegant outfit, and an easy time, readily accepted the proposition to travel for them. But his bright expectations were soon clouded; his horse was shown him and his course of travel was the circle around a horse power used for elevating grain from vessels, prior to the erection of any steam grain elevators in the city. He saw he had been the victim of a practical joke, and commenced his travel with as good a grace as possible, under the circumstances.
Mr. Warner remained with this firm for about two years, and then became warehouseman for Ransom, Baldwin & Co., which was composed of John G. Ransom, now residing in Hamilton, Canada, Stephen A. Baldwin, deceased, Charles M. Giddings, deceased, and William H. Bruce, then residing at Green Bay, and, we believe, now deceased. In 1838 or 1839, this firm was dissolved, and merged into Ransom, McNair & Co. Mathew McNair, Jr., the junior partner of this firm, whom the older residents will recollect, is now residing in California. Mr. Warner continued with this firm until they retired from business, and then he formed a business connection with Augustus Handy and Ralph H. Harmon. We do not know whether it was prior or subsequent to this partnership that he lived for a year or two at Tonawanda, but are under the impression that it was prior; but at the time of the Tonawanda speculation, gotten up by Clevelanders, he was induced to go there.
After about two or three years, the firm with which Mr. Warner was connected, moved to Chicago, but being all Clevelanders, and Chicago not being congenial to them, the firm soon dissolved, and the members of it moved back to Cleveland, since which time Mr. Warner was employed in no active business. At intervals he had made investments that proved profitable, and not being in very robust health, had but little ambition, and lived in comparative retirement. He was one of those who loved to talk over old times, and never forgot old faces. He was as charitable as his means would permit towards worthy objects, and preserved through all his business relations a character for strict integrity. He was a man of strong friendships, frank in his avowals, and left a circle of business and social friends who will remember him as an upright, warm-hearted, and public spirited man, who lived in good report, and died sincerely lamented.
For many years Mr. Warner had been more or less an invalid, though not often confined to his house, with Bright's disease of the kidneys. In November, 1868, it assumed a more serious phase, and on December 19th, 1868, terminated his life. About eight months previously, he suffered the loss of his beloved wife, while spending the colder months in Florida, which had a very depressing effect upon him, and took from him a very necessary incentive to life.
A. V. Cannon.
On the 10th of July, 1867, died, after a very short illness, A. V. Cannon, one of the most promising of the young business men of Cleveland, beloved by his intimate associates, and esteemed by the whole business community brought in contact with him, and thus able to learn his worth.
Mr. Cannon was a native of the Western Reserve, having been born in Streetsboro', Portage county, in 1834. On leaving school he entered the store of Babcock & Hurd, in Aurora, in that county, and when those gentleman removed to Cleveland he accompanied them and remained in their establishment some time, making a twelve years' stay with them altogether.
He then went into the produce and commission business, and one year later formed a partnership with Mr. J. F. Freeman, which existed until dissolved by death. For two years before his death his health had been impaired, and he had been confined to his house for about eighteen months with an affection of the leg, but had recovered sufficiently to attend to business, and was in a fair way of perfect recovery. As a relaxation from business, he visited some friends in the West. On his return he was seized with inflammation of the bowels and died after a very brief illness.
Mr. Cannon was one of the kindest of men, universally respected in business circles for his integrity and probity, and in the social circle for his mild and gentle manners and Christian spirit. He died at the early age of thirty-three, without an enemy, and with the confidence, the esteem and the love of all who knew him. On the announcement of his death the Board of Trade passed resolutions of respect and sorrow, paying high tributes to his business, social, and Christian qualities. He was buried with full Masonic honors, being a valued member of that order.
Mr. Cannon was married June 8th, 1863, to Mary, daughter of the late David Morris, and left one child, a daughter, now five years of age, very bright and promising.
At the meeting of the Board of Trade, the announcement of Mr. Cannon's death was made by Mr. H. S. Davis, in the following terms:
It is with feelings of profound sorrow that I announce the decease of A. V. Cannon, Esq., a much respected member of this Board. He has been stricken down suddenly, in the hour of his manhood, and in the midst of his usefulness. I have known Mr. Cannon from his early manhood, and can bear testimony to his untiring industry, strict integrity, and the purity of his character in all the relations of life. He was earnest in business, pleasant and affable in his demeanor, beloved by all who knew him, and it is not too much to say that in his death the Board has met with an irreparable loss.
We cannot lose such men without feeling that it comes very close to ourselves, and let us pause in the midst of our daily avocations to pay our parting respects to the memory of one who, were he living, would be first to recognize it as being due to others, and I would therefore suggest to the meinbers of this Board, that so far as possible they attend his funeral.
Mr. R. T. Lyon offered the following resolutions, which were unanimously adopted:
Resolved, That we learn with much regret and sorrow the death of our esteemed friend and member of this Board of Trade, Mr. A. V. Cannon, noted for his modesty, honesty, business qualifications, strict integrity and moral principles, and worthy of the imitation of us all; and in these manifestations of our respect and regard we sympathise with the family and friends of the deceased in their sorrow and affliction.
Resolved, That we will make it our duty to attend the funeral of the deceased at the appointed time.
Resolved, That the daily session of this Board be suspended on the day of the funeral of the deceased.
Resolved, That a copy of the above resolutions be transmitted to the family of the deceased, by the Secretary.
H. F. Brayton.
If there be a business man in Cleveland without an enemy, we think it must be H. F. Brayton. He has been connected with various branches of business in this city for thirty-three years, and enjoyed to an unusual degree the confidence of his fellow citizens.
H. F. Brayton was born in Jefferson county, New York, November 22, 1812. He obtained a good academical education, and at the age of eighteen went to New York city and engaged as a clerk in a dry goods store, where he remained six years. During that time he became secretary of the first total abstinence society ever organized in that city. He was also treasurer of the Young Men's Anti-Slavery Society in that city, so far back as 1834, when Abolition doctrines were very unpopular. He it was that engaged the noted Theodore D. Weld and sent him out to the Western Reserve to lecture on the subject, and who succeeded in a very marked degree in bringing the masses over on to Abolition ground, and from which, in this section, they never receded until every bondman's fetter was broken. John Jay, our present minister to Austria, was, at the same time, one of the directors of the Society. He also connected himself with the Liberty party, being associated with Salmon P. Chase, in its early history. He next glided into the Free Soil party, and from that to the Republican.
In 1836, Mr. Brayton left New York and came to Cleveland, and very soon became book-keeper of the old Bank of Cleveland, and remained in the same position three years. He then went to Columbus and became cashier of a bank. After one year he resigned and came back to Cleveland, where he engaged in private banking, and continued the same for about ten years.
In 1850, Mr. Brayton became the first agent of the Continental Insurance Company, in this city, and still retains the office. This has been one of the most successful companies in the country. He is also the agent of the Washington Insurance Company, and the peculiarity of the two companies is, that the assured participate in the profits.
In January, 1869, his son, H. G. Brayton, became interested in his father's business, under the firm name of H. F. Brayton & Son. H. F. Brayton is also a partner in another insurance agency in the city. About six years since he went to New York and took charge of the agency department of the Columbia Insurance Company, and continued in the discharge of the duties of the office for one year, when the agency business was discontinued in that company, and Mr. Brayton accepted a like situation in the Resolute Insurance Company, where he remained about two years, and then returned to Cleveland, where his business had been carried on as usual during the three years of his absence.
Mr. Brayton has not devoted his entire attention to banking and insurance since his residence in Cleveland. From 1854 to 1857, he was connected with the firm of I. C. Pendleton & Co. in the coal trade, and previous to this he was the secretary of the Ohio Coal Company, which dealt principally in Pittsburgh coal for gas purposes. He is also at present engaged in the foreign passenger and real estate business.
Mr. Brayton was for a number of years president of the Cleveland Board of Underwriters, but resigned on leaving the city for New York, as already narrated.
On coming to Cleveland Mr. Brayton united with the First Presbyterian church, and has continued his connection with that denomination in the various societies in the city until the present time, and has been a worthy and consistent member.
The first impression a stranger receives of H. F. Brayton is, that he is a high toned gentleman, and every subsequent interview is certain to confirm it. He is a man of strict business habits, and expects his dues, and yet his large benevolence and goodness of heart not only prevents the slightest approach to meanness, but often causes him to suffer wrong rather than be thought to be doing wrong himself. Were it otherwise, he would have been one of the richest men in Cleveland to-day, for he posseses both the ability and energy.
O. A. Childs.
Among our most energetic firms is that of O. A. Childs & Co., manufacturers and wholesale dealers in boots and shoes, Water street. It was commenced by Messrs. Seymour & Crowell near twenty years since. It became Crowell & Childs in 1856, and so continued until 1864, when, by the death of Mr. Crowell, it became O. A. Childs & Co. The business of this firm has steadily increased from the first and their yearly sales now amount to about $700,000.
In 1857, they commenced manufacturing a portion of their own goods, and since 1860 have manufactured all their leading lines, i.e., those they depend upon for service. Their trade extends through Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Pennsylvania, a large amount being annually transacted in the Lake Superior region.
Although born in Massachusetts, Mr. Childs has lived in this city from boyhood and may with propriety be called a Clevelander. He is still a young and active merchant and one who has made himself a thorough, competent business man in all its details, from the cellar to the counting room. This, with unlimited energy, has brought him success.
Among the mercantile interests, having their headquarters at Cleveland, which during a comparatively few years have grown into prominent sources of wealth and are yearly expanding in value and adding to the material prosperity of the city, the Building Stone and Grindstone interest is worthy of especial mention. Only a very few years since this trade was in its infancy, and as late as 1863 had not come to be recognized as worthy of special efforts for its development. That it then became so is in great measure owing to the sagacity and enterprise of the firm of James McDermott & Co.
James McDermott was born in the village of Whitby, county of Ontario, Canada West, on the 19th of September, 1836. His father, who is still living, is by birth an Irishman and a native of the city of Dublin. His mother, who is also living, was born in the county of Ontario, Canada West. The father of Mr. McDermott is a man of considerable culture, and in all the relations of life has been distinguished for great energy and the strictest probity. His mother is no less distinguished for her uprightness and her clear perception of moral duty, and especially for the energy and determination of her character.
James McDermott is the oldest of a family of eleven children, and as not unfrequently happens to an oldest son, where the parents are in moderate circumstances, James found himself at an early period of his life clothed with important duties connected with the care of the family. When in his twelfth year the family moved from the village of Whitby to a farm in the same township, and here came a change in the relations of the young lad, in the new duties he was required to assume, which laid the foundation of those correct business habits which have given him his present honorable position in the business community. His father occupied the post of United States Consul and Harbor Master (the latter embracing all the functions of a Collectorship) at the port of Whitby, together with several local offices which required his whole attention on every day of the week except Sunday. During the week, therefore, much of the business connected with the working and care of the farm was devolved upon James. The farm, being a new one, required to be cleared, and in this labor the young lad did his full share, manifesting always the most indefatigable industry. The family remained on the farm some seven or eight years, during which time James became an adept in all kinds of farm work.
Young McDermott's opportunities for obtaining an education, at best limited, were still further restricted by his farm life, and during the years thus spent his progress in mental attainments was very moderate, embracing only what he could gather during a few weeks of winter from a country school in the elementary branches.
A change at last came when the family quit the farm and removed to Whitby, in the year 1856. James was now twenty years of age, and being thrown into intimate contact with a larger number of his fellow men than ever before, the ambitions and impulses of his young manhood were more keenly stirred. He entered the office of his father, who still occupied the position of Harbor Master, and, though entirely ignorant of the duties, he quickly acquired a knowledge of the entire business and fulfilled all its requirements with entire satisfaction. He here realized, however, more fully, his defective education, which he determined to improve with the least possible delay. Only a few months were spent in his new position when he decided to set out in the world to seek his own fortune. Accordingly on the 10th of June, 1856, having packed all his personal property in a diminutive trunk, he bade adieu to his old home. Two days after his departure from home young McDermott arrived in Cleveland and went thence to Berea, where, as the sequel shows, was to be the scene of his future enterprise. He had acquired some knowledge of carpenter work, and so obtained a situation on the Methodist Episcopal church, then in course of erection. Here he worked until harvest time, when he went into the harvest field, working for one dollar per day. He worked through harvest and upon its conclusion took the first step in fulfillment of his design to improve his education, and entered school at Baldwin University. He had no money to pay for tuition, but this he provided for by sweeping the chapel, laboratory and halls of the college, earning sufficient money to meet his other wants, which were of course kept down to a very modest scale (as he boarded himself), by working in the stone quarries and cutting wood for the students. He studied hard and earnestly, and made good progress, finishing his first term with very satisfactory results. Among his acquirements during this period was a knowledge of the art of Oriental pearl painting, and during the Fall vacation he turned this accomplishment to advantage by teaching the art in Cleveland, going from house to house for this purpose, and obtaining fifty cents per lesson. In this way he earned sufficient to pay his tuition at the University during the next term, provide himself with necessary books, and furnish his means of living. Having concluded another term at the University, in the Fall of 1857, young McDermott came to Cleveland and took a course of writing lessons at a Commercial College. He attained considerable proficiency in penmanship, and in the winter of 1857-8 taught writing classes at Loweville and Youngstown, Mahoning county, and at the Female College at Poland, Ohio, meeting with good success and giving entire satisfaction. In February, 1858, Mr. McDermott got his first introduction to the grindstone business, having received an appointment from a firm at Berea to travel in Canada and solicit orders on commission. He visited Canada and worked hard, often walking twenty miles a day, from station to station, to save time, carrying his satchel on his back, and paying his expenses by teaching the process of pearl painting. The trip was entirely successful, and Mr. McDermott returned to Berea in the Summer with a handsome sum in pocket. Still anxious regarding his education, he again entered Baldwin University, attending through the Fall term. In November of this year he came to Cleveland, passed an examination and received a certificate to teach school, and upon this opened a school in Middleburgh township, Cuyahoga county, making his evenings available by teaching writing and spelling classes. At the conclusion of the first term, in February, 1859, he started upon a second trip to Canada, to solicit orders for stone, this time on his own account. The venture was prosecuted with his usual industry, and was highly successful. He returned to Berea in the Summer considerably better off financially than when he left it, and having, meanwhile, placed a brother and two sisters at school in the University at his own expense, he once again entered upon a course of study. He remained, however, but two months, in consequence of the illness of his father calling him to Whitby to assume the duties of his father's office. Here he remained some two months, when his father's recovery enabled him to return to Berea. He commenced a commercial course, but was permitted to pursue it barely a month when he was prostrated by a severe attack of typhoid fever from which he did not recover for nearly four months, his life being several times despaired of. As soon as his health was sufficiently restored, Mr. McDermott again identified himself with the grindstone trade and made two trips to Canada, both very successful, between May and September, 1860, and then finished his commercial course. On the 19th of September, his twenty-fourth birthday, Mr. McDermott was married at East Townsend, Huron county, Ohio, to Miss Henrietta Scott, who had been a teacher in the Baldwin University, and a lady of superior accomplishments.
In this year he met with the most serious misfortune of his business life. He shipped a cargo of stone for Canada, and the vessel encountering a storm which disabled her, a large portion of the cargo was thrown overboard. The cargo was insured in the Quaker City Insurance Company of Philadelphia, but before the claim could be adjusted the Company failed, and Mr. McDermott was rendered a considerable sum worse off than nothing. This misfortune, however, only served to stimulate his energy, and having established a good credit by the promptitude with which he had always met his business engagements, and at the same time created a high impression of his business qualifications, those with whom he had traded, and in whose debt he had been brought, encouraged him to continue business by allowing him all the time he should require to repair his losses and make himself whole. He soon made another trip to Canada with the most gratifying result, taking orders for upwards of three hundred tons of stone, the returns from which paid off all his indebtedness and left him something more than even with the world.
From January to August, 1862, was spent by Mr. McDermott in Lower Canada, chiefly among the French population, and was one of the most successful periods of his business experience thus far. Returning to Berea, we next find him on his way to Cincinnati as one of a company of "Squirrel Hunters" in response to a well-remembered call of Gov. Tod for a force to resist the threatened invasion of the State by the Confederate forces under Kirby Smith. Arriving at Cincinnati it was found that the patriotic citizens of Ohio had so freely answered the demand upon them that more than enough to protect the State against several times the menacing army were already on the ground, and the Berea company was permitted to return home. The remaining months of the year were passed by Mr. McDermott in making preparations and perfecting plans for the ensuing year's business.
On the 30th of January, 1863, Mr. McDermott formed a copartnership with John Worthington, who was engaged in the building stone trade at Brownhelm, Lorain county, Ohio, the firm taking the title of Worthington & McDermott. The firm immediately erected works for turning large grindstones for manufactories, and distinguished their first Spring's business by sending to New York city the first cargo of building stone ever shipped there from Ohio. During this year they furnished the stone for all the trimmings and carved work on the Government buildings at Ottawa, the capital of the Dominion of Canada, and also for a number of buildings in Montreal and other cities and towns of Canada. The year's business was heavy, and the result was largely due to the energy and enterprise of Mr. McDermott. In the latter part of the year Mr. McDermott took up his residence in Cleveland, where he had purchased a house, and in the spring of 1864 the office of the firm was removed to Cleveland.
The business of the firm was now growing vigorously, the result of the year 1864 being in the highest degree satisfactory, not alone in the pecuniary returns, but in the wider extension of the trade and the introduction of the Ohio stone to markets where it had previously been unknown, and where it has since been in steady and large demand. Near the close of the year the firm of Worthington & McDermott was dissolved, and Mr. McDermott purchased of the Wallaces the old quarry at Berea originally opened by John Baldwin over forty years ago. He took into partnership his brother William and established the firm of J. McDermott & Co. The new firm went actively to work in developing its quarry, mining and manufacturing block and grindstones, and succeeded rapidly in establishing valuable business connections and enlarging the stone trade of this section. Among the first improvements introduced was the building of a railroad track Connecting the quarry with the Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati track, and other facilities for the expeditions handling and getting out stone were added as promptly as practicable. In the spring of 1865 the firm filled a contract with the Cleveland and Toledo Railroad Company for stone with which to replace the wooden bridges along the line of the road. During the year the firm made extensive progress in developing its quarry, trenching to a greater depth than had yet been reached in any of the quarries, and obtaining a quality of building stone superior to any produced up to this time in Ohio, which very soon became, and is still, in large demand. In the spring of 1866, the firm sold the first five hundred tons of Berea rock block stone that ever went to New York city, and succeeded in so far interesting several of the largest builders of the metropolis in this stone as to induce them to visit the Berea quarries. During the year 1867, the firm sent to New York all the clear rock block stone they could get out, and also filled several large contracts for block stone with the Cleveland and Toledo and Lake Shore Railroad Companies, doing this year a very large business. On the 1st of January, 1867, the firm was increased by taking in another brother, Mr. Michael McDermott, the firm name remaining unchanged.
The house of J. McDermott & Co. occupies at this time a leading position in the stone trade of Ohio, and indeed of the West, not alone in the amount of its annual business, but in credit, character and influence, and in these latter respects it is hardly surpassed by any mercantile house in Northern Ohio. The trade of the house not only extends to nearly every State of the Union and the Dominion of Canada, but the product of its quarries finds a market in Mexico, South America and other parts of the world. During 1867, this house furnished the stone for fourteen blocks and fronts in New York city, and a number of buildings in Boston, New Haven and other cities, and in 1868, the business was largely increased. A single firm of builders in New York city erected during that year fifteen buildings and fronts for which J. McDermott & Co. furnished the stone.
The quarries owned by this firm embrace twenty-five acres of land of which less than an acre has been worked out. In 1867, they turned out 106,200 cubic feet of block stone, 46,000 feet of flagging, 119 car loads of rough block stone, and 1,510 tons of small grindstones. These quarries are valued at $200,000, and the excellent quality of the stone produced is amply attested by the large and increasing demand for it.
The business of the house of J. McDermott & Co. is under the immediate personal supervision of Mr. James McDermott, to whose experience, enterprise and business capacity its marked success is due. Mr. McDermott has taken an active interest in all that relates to the stone business, and also to whatever tends to build up the prosperity of Cleveland. In 1866 and 1867, he visited Washington to procure the modification of the internal tax and import duty on stone, and was successful in his endeavors. He also brought about the organization of the "Association of the Grindstone and Block Stone Manufactures of Northern Ohio," a work which was not accomplished without much difficulty, in spite of the fact that it was for the mutual benefit of all engaged in the trade. It should be mentioned in this connection that the firm issued a valuable series of tables of weights of grindstones, and rules for computing the same, now in general use by manufacturers, and which was chiefly compiled by Mrs. McDermott. The most recent public work of Mr. McDermott was his active labor in organizing the Cleveland, Wooster and Zanesville Railroad Company, to which he has devoted time, money and labor.
Mr. McDermott is still young, being but thirty-two years old, of fine physical proportions, a robust constitution, and clear, comprehensive mind. His healthfulness, and also his success in business, he attributes in large measure to his habit of strict temperance. In business matters he is prompt, scrupulously conscientious, and holding a verbal engagement to be as binding as the most carefully drawn contract. In private and social circles he is warm-hearted, cheerful, and every way a pleasant companion.
J. A. Redington.
J. A. Redington is son of Captain John Redington, formerly of Saratoga county, New York, who, when nineteen years of age, ran away from his stepfather, who abused him, and volunteered into the Revolutionary army, where he served seven years, and was taken prisoner by the British, and incarcerated in the Sugar House, New York. There the privation that fell to his lot in the great struggle for freedom, nearly killed him. Had Capt. Redington lived till the present time he would have been one hundred and twelve years old. J. A. Redington, the subject of this sketch, was born June 4, 1818, when his father was sixty-one years old, and there were five children born to the old soldier afterwards. At the birth of the last, he was seventy-two years of age.
Ten years of the boyhood of J. A. was spent with an uncle in Vermont, where he received a good common school education. While living at that place his father died, and at the age of sixteen he had a keen realization of the situation. He had nothing, and could not mend matters where he was, so he determined to go home to his mother and see if he could be of service there. After remaining with his mother a year, he engaged with a ship-chandler at Oswego, for twenty-five dollars per year and board. After a few months his employer closed up, leaving him out of employment. About a year from this time, his former employer, who had gone to Cleveland, wrote him that if he would come to Cleveland he would employ him again. He worked his passage on a canal boat from his home to Oswego, where he took passage on board a vessel just leaving for Cleveland.
The late Chester Deming was the gentleman who had engaged his services. He received two hundred dollars the first year, three hundred the second year, and four hundred the third, on which handsome salary, for those times, he concluded to marry.
Mr. Deming closed up his business here in 1841, and Mr. Redington commenced on his own account, dealing in oats, wheat and other grains. This continued about a year when he formed a partnership for the purpose of opening a general furnishing house for vessels. He did a successful business, but as it was only during the summer months, he established a dry goods store in connection with it on the West Side. This enterprise was only partially successful, and so he closed it up, and for several years was employed as clerk on board a steam boat.
In 1856, he, in connection with Mr. Bacon, commenced the shipping and forwarding business, built the vessel E. C. Roberts, which was a profitable investment, and also ran the propeller Manhattan. This partnership was dissolved after two years, Mr. Redington retaining his vessel interests. He is now engaged in mercantile pursuits on the river, dealing principally in pig metal.
By dint of hard work and a determination to succeed in spite of adverse circumstances, and by strict integrity, he has accomplished his purpose and acquired a comfortable competency.
Samuel Sage Coe.
S. S. Coe has been favorably known in the business circles of Cleveland for over thirty years, and, although he has not succeeded in amassing as much wealth as some of his competitors, yet his fortitude has enabled him to glide over reverses easily, and enjoy somewhat of life as it came.
Mr. Coe was born in Oswego, New York, October 6th, 1819. He obtained all the education a widowed mother could give him before he was twelve years of age, when he entered a country store and remained five years. The only recreation he had during that time was a trip to Niagara, on the schooner Saratoga, with Capt. Dolph. Howe, with whom some of our citizens are well acquainted. In 1836, he went to New York and clerked in the hardware store of Wolf, Bishop & Co., and returned to Oswego in June, 1837. Not being able to find employment there, he concluded to try his fortune in the West, and at once took the schooner Charles Crooks, bound for Cleveland. Mr. Coe landed in this city July 19th, 1837, his cash capital being at the time one dollar and twenty-five cents. After a few days a situation was obtained in the office of Ransom, McNair & Co., with a salary of thirty dollars per month, out of which he had to board himself. He remained with this firm until about 1841, when he went into the employ of B. F. Smith & Co., composed of B. F. Smith, now residing at Buffalo, as superintendent of the Buffalo and Erie Railroad, and George Woodward, now residing at Milwaukee, with whom he remained until 1845, when he engaged in business for himself, in the firm of Doddridge & Coe, in the forwarding and commission line. In about one year this firm dissolved, and Mr. Coe went into the same business with his brother, Chas. W., under the style of S. S. Coe & Co. This firm was unfortunate, and existed only one year.
In 1848, while doing a small commission business alone, he was offered, and accepted, the agency of the Merchants' Insurance Company, of Milwaukee, and labored faithfully for them one year, and, at its close, his premiums amounted to less than two hundred dollars. This was the first insurance company with which he was ever connected.
In 1851, Mr. Coe organized and got into operation the Commercial Mutual Insurance Company, of this city, acting as its Secretary for about one year and a half, when he resigned, and went into the insurance agency business, with which he has ever since been identified.
In 1865, Mr. Henry F. Clark desired him to reorganize the Cleveland Insurance Company, the charter of which was granted by the State of Ohio in 1830, and which was successfully managed by his father, Mr. Edmund Clark, until his death. Mr. Coe undertook and completed the task, and operations re-commenced April 1st, of the same year, on a paid up cash capital of one hundred thousand dollars, increased in 1866, to one hundred and fifty thousand; and in 1867, to two hundred thousand dollars, and now increased to its limit, five hundred thousand dollars, making it the largest cash capital company in the State of Ohio, a credit to the city and to the State at large.
Mr. Coe is the right man in the right place, as the successful workings of this company fully demonstrate. He, as secretary, devotes his whole attention to the interest of the company. H. B. Payne is the president, and S. D. McMillan, vice-president.
In looking over a correspondence of about twenty years ago, in search of some data connected with Mr. Coe's history, we came on the following letters, which will be read with amusement by old Clevelanders, as reminiscences of the ante-railroad period, and for the allusions to public and political events of that day, as well as for the contrast between the irascible tone of one letter, and the cool humor of the other:
Messrs. S. S. Coe & Co., Cleveland, Ohio:
Gentlemen,—No one dislikes, more than we do, to grumble or find fault, but we hate just as bad to have our boats detained beyond a reasonable time, at your place; and when our boats leave here for your place, we look for them back at a certain time; and if they do not get here soon after that time, it disarranges all our calculations and proves a great loss to us. All our boats were detained a week on account of a break in our canal, and then to be detained beyond a reasonable time in port, makes it worse. Mr. Wheeler, at Akron, is the only man on the Ohio canal, that we know of, that has been in the business longer than we have on our canal, and we defy you to find a boatman on our canal or river that will say we ever detained them beyond a reasonable time; and there is no need of it if men do as they would be done by, and the situation our river has been in this geason has been vexatious enough for any one. Time is money, and eight or ten boats being detained a day or two counts up. The J. Larkin left for your place to-day.
S. Adams & Co.
Cleveland, July 29th, 1848. Messrs. Sam'l Adams & Co., Dresden, O.:
Gentlemen,—Your esteemed favor of the 25th inst. is at hand.
It has been a matter of some considerable interest to us to ascertain, if possible, as to which city takes precedence in age, Zanesville or Cleveland.
As, which incident is first in date, the cutting of the bridle path from Wheeling to the Muskingum by Old Zane, or the coasting of our lake to the Cuyahoga of the exploring party under Old Stow. Your Mr. Adams, we are quite sure, can give us the much desired information.
We see it stated that our good Democratic candidate for President once resided at or near your beautiful village. You may be familiar with his early history—we wish to know, if such a thing is possible, whether he commenced his political career as a Federalist or a Democrat, and whether he did or did not break his sword at the disgraceful surrender of that old coward Hull; but more than all, as we think it most important of all, is, did he, or did he not, when at the age of nineteen, wear that emblem of Federalism, the black cockade. To this last question we beg you will give us an answer if such a thing be possible.
While troubling you in this manner, for which we beg your kind indulgence, may we also ask you as to the condition, moral and physical of your returned volunteers? Report says they have been badly treated; we are anxious to know as to this, for if so, and commanded by Whig' officers, we can make political capital out of it against the Whig party; if not, we can make capital against the administration; we do not care which, as our object is to do justice to both parties. Can you tell us which candidate they will support. They are important in numbers, and from their high character, will carry a great, moral force with them; and on this last account we have supposed they would oppose General Taylor, as it has been said he used profane language at the battle of Buena Vista.
We are erecting here a new and beautiful theater, it opens Aug. 21. We hope we may see you here at that time.
Your ob't serv'ts,
S. S. Coe & Co.
P.S. You are right as to the unnecessary detention at this place of canal boats; it is an evil of great turpitude. We never do so. Aside from the great loss to owner, it affects the morals of the crews, and in this we know the oldest forwarder on the canal, Mr. Wheeler, will agree with us.
John Long Severance.
Conspicuous among those former residents of Cleveland who have passed away and left only a pleasant memory behind them, is John Long Severance, who died about ten years ago, mourned by a wide circle of friends, whom his many lovable qualities had brought around him.
Mr. Severance was born in 1822, his father being Dr. Robert Severance, of Shelburne, Massachusetts. His parents dying within a few months of each other, when he was but nine years old, young Severance was adopted by the late Dr. Long, of Cleveland, who gave him every advantage in the way of education that could be procured in the city. A college course was intended but his delicate health forbade this, and in his sixteenth year he was taken into the old Commercial Bank of Lake Erie, and then into the reorganized institution, remaining there twenty years.
His health, never good, broke down entirely under the fatiguing duties of the bank, and he was compelled to resign his connection with that institution and seek a restoration of his wasted vigor by a voyage to Europe. At Southampton, England, he died on the 30th August, 1859, at the age of thirty-seven, surrounded by every attention which kind friends and sympathizing strangers could bestow upon him.
Mr. Severance was a man of many rare and sterling attractions. His social qualities, passion for music, and love for little children, as well as sincere attachment to a large circle of friends, caused general mourning for his death. He was one of the founders of the Second Presbyterian church, and by the members of that body his loss was keenly felt. He had always felt a deep interest in the prosperity of the church, contributing largely through his rare ability as a musician, both in the choir and in the Sunday schools, to the welfare of the congregation, until he was obliged to abandon those services on account of advancing disease. With rare energy and many reasons for desiring to live, he was slow to believe that he must fall in early manhood before the destroyer. And while he was not afraid to die, and expressed a firm confidence in God in whatever event, he felt it to be his duty to struggle for a longer life, and no doubt prolonged his days in this manner. He was consistent, uniform, earnest, stable, both in faith and practice; always punctual in the discharge of his business and Christian duties, his attendance in the church, and his labors in the mission and Sunday schools. His last letter before death, written to an intimate personal and business friend, said: "I feel quite sure the disease is making rapid progress, but this gives me no uneasiness or alarm, nor have I experienced any feeling but that I am hastening home. The prospect would be dark indeed with no hope in Christ, no deep and abiding trust in God's pardoning love. This trust in him has sustained me through every trial, and this hope in Christ and his all-atoning blood grows brighter every day, taking away the fear of death, and lighting up the pathway through the dark valley, through which so many of my loved ones have already passed."
The late Daniel Sanford, whose name is held in esteem by old Clevelanders, was born in Milford, Connecticut, in 1803. At a very early age he left his home and went to New York where he learned the trade of a ship joiner, one of his first jobs being upon the cabins of the Fairfield, the first steamer on the East River.
In 1834, he came to Cleveland and worked for some time at his trade as a journeyman ship joiner. In coming time he aspired to build ships on his own account, and for this purpose formed a partnership with Luther Moses. The first work done by the firm was on the steamer New York, and subsequently the steamers Ohio and Saratoga were built by them. In addition to these a very large number of propellers and sailing vessels were built, and canal boats almost without number. The mere list of crafts of one description and another, built by this firm, would take considerable space in our pages.
In 1849, the firm, which had done so much important work in the ship yards, was dissolved and Mr. Sanford changed his business from ship-building to dealing in lumber, which he entered upon on a large scale and continued under the title of D. Sanford, and subsequently Sanford & Son, until his death, which occurred on Sunday morning, September 22, 1864, after an illness of about four weeks, the disease being inflammation of the bowels.
Mr. Sanford came to Cleveland with but five hundred dollars in his pocket, but he worked his way with prudence and economy till he had acquired a handsome property. His business on his death descended to his third son, Nelson Sanford, who has conducted it prudently and with success.
He was earnestly patriotic, and on the outbreak of the war for the Union he took a lively interest in everything pertaining to it. Becoming satisfied that the rebels never intended submission to the lawful authorities until they were flogged into submission, he strongly urged their severe punishment, and contributed liberally to send men into the field.
Mr. Sanford was a strong advocate of the consolidation of Ohio City and Cleveland, and in his position of member of the Ohio City Council aided materially in bringing about the result. He was no politician, but was not one of those who make that fact an excuse for taking no interest in public affairs. He had decided views on public matters, and never avoided his duties as a citizen.
In whatever concerned the welfare of the city he took strong interest, and was one of the first stockholders of the Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati Railroad Company, as he was also of the Cleveland and Mahoning Railroad Company.
Every dollar of Mr. Sanford's money was honestly earned; not a hard, mean, or wrongful action tarnished a single penny passing into his hands. Had he been avaricious he might have died worth half a million dollars, but he was infinitely richer in the blessings of hundreds of poor people who were the secret recipients of his bounty. He had "a hand open as day for melting charity." Yet in his good deeds he never let his left hand know what his right hand did. His last words on earth were of a character in keeping with his whole life. Calling his youngest son to his bedside he said, "Benjamin, be honest in all your transactions." On the tomb of David Sanford can with truth be written: "An honest man—the noblest work of God."
Charles W. Coe.
Charles W. Coe, so long and favorably known in our business circles, was born in Oswego, New York, March 19th, 1822. His grandfather, Col. Eli Parsons, was a soldier in the Revolution, and prominent in the Shay's Rebellion, in Massachusetts. His father was a physician of much note in Oswego, and died about 1828, leaving two children; Charles, the younger, is the subject of this sketch. Like a great many other physicians, he left a number of old accounts of no value, and not a great deal besides, so that Charles and his brother had to strike out early in life to do something towards getting a living, and hence educational matters did not receive all the desired attention.
Charles came to Cleveland in 1840, and at once engaged as clerk with N. E. Crittenden, jeweler. He remained in that situation about a year, when he returned to Oswego, and after the lapse of two years, came back to Cleveland, and entered into the employ of Pease & Allen, produce and commission merchants, with whom he remained until 1849. At that time, he went into the employ of Mr. Charles Hickox, and continued with him until 1855, when he took an interest with Mr. Hickox in the milling business, already referred to in this work, and in which he still continues.
Mr. Coe has won his present prominent position among the business men of Cleveland by shrewd foresight and close attention to business. He is a hard worker and a keen observer of the fluctuations of business, mingling prudence with enterprise to such a degree that, whilst he has driven a profitable business, it has always been a safe one. He is frank, unselfish, and free hearted. Whilst having had reason to appreciate the value of money, he esteems it not so much on its own account as on account of the domestic comforts and enjoyments its judicious expenditure brings.
S. M. Strong
The drug establishment of Strong & Armstrong stands foremost in that branch of the business of Cleveland and has achieved a wide reputation, having an extensive trade not only through Northern Ohio, but in Indiana, Michigan and Pennsylvania, drawing custom away from Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and Detroit in territory previously considered naturally tributary to those places.
S. M. Strong, the leading partner of the firm, is a native Buckeye, having been born in Lorain County, Ohio, in 1833. His boyhood was spent in acquiring a good common school education, after obtaining which he became clerk in a drug store at Elyria, entering it at the age of sixteen and remaining about two years when, in 1850, he accompanied his employer, who removed to Cleveland, and remained with him there three years more.
At the end of that time, he entered Gaylord's drug store, in which he continued about two years, when he turned his attention to pushing a fever and ague remedy which he had been at work on for several years previous. Four years he devoted to this work, finding a partial success, and then he formed a partnership with A. C. Armstrong, of Medina county, for the purpose of building up a wholesale and retailing business. The business of Henderson & Punderson, which was established in 1836, was purchased, and the new firm of Strong & Armstrong opened business in the old place, No. 199 Superior street. At first the business was carried on in a limited way, the total of jobbing and retail sales for the first year amounting to but $75,000. But the partners were young, energetic, and full of hope. They pushed their trade vigorously, attended closely to the details of the business, and mingled enterprise with prudent economy so well that they were soon gratified at finding their business annually growing larger and more profitable. In less than ten years their trade has grown from about $75,000 in a year to over $600,000, and their limited establishment so enlarged as to require the services of twenty-four assistants. The business, though large, has been managed with such care and prudence as to render losses very light and litigation almost wholly unnecessary.
For years Cleveland has been the principal ship building port on the lakes. Of late the ship building interest here has shared the depression felt by it throughout the Union, but it is still an important interest, and before long will probably resume its activity.
The first vessel reported built in the vicinity of Cleveland was the Zephyr, thirty tons burthen, built by Mr. Carter, in 1808, for the trade of the village. The precise spot of her building is not recorded. She was burned at Conjocketa Creek, near Black Rock. The next was the Ohio, of sixty tons, built by Murray and Bixby, in 1810, and launched from the East bank of the river near the spot now occupied by Pettit & Holland's warehouse. She was sailed by John Austen and afterwards became a gunboat in Perry's fleet, but took no part in the battle of Lake Erie, being absent on special service.
In 1813, Levi Johnson built the Pilot. The story of her construction and launch has already been told in the sketch of Levi Johnson's life. In that sketch also will be found the account of most of the early ship building of Cleveland, he being the principal ship builder of the pioneer days.
In 1821, Philo Taylor built the Prudence, which was launched on the river opposite where the New England block now stands.
In 1826, John Blair built the Macedonian, of sixty tons, and in the same year the Lake Serpent, forty tons, was built by Captain Bartiss and sailed by him.
The first steamboat built in Cleveland was the Enterprise, built by Levi Johnson in 1826, but not floated into the lake until the following year.
The enterprise of ship building pursued a steady course in Cleveland for a number of years, a few vessels being added annually, until about the year 1853, when the business took a sudden start and made rapid progress. For the next few years the ship yards were busy and the ship building interest was one of the most important branches of the business of the city. In 1856, a total of thirty-seven lake crafts, sail and steam, was reported built, having a tonnage of nearly sixteen thousand tons. During the past twenty years, nearly five hundred vessels of all kinds, for lake navigation, have been built in the district of Cuyahoga, and of these all but a small proportion were built in Cleveland. The description of vessels built has greatly altered during that time, the size of the largest class having more than trebled. During the year 1868, there were built in this port four propellers, one steamer and three schooners, with an aggregate of 3,279 tons. This is much less in number and tonnage than in some previous years, but still gives Cleveland the lead in the ship building of the lakes. The absorption of the flats on the lower part of the river for railroad and manufacturing purposes, and for lumber yards, has seriously incommoded the ship building interests by restricting the space available for ship yards.
In the division of the ship building business of the lakes in past years, the construction of large side-wheel steamers was principally carried on at Buffalo, whilst in first class propellers and sailing vessels Cleveland immeasurably distanced all competitors, both in the quantity and quality of the craft turned out. As the demand for side-wheel steamers lessened, the site of their construction was removed from Buffalo to Detroit. Cleveland-built propellers, however, take front rank, and Cleveland-built sail vessels have found their way over every part of the lake chain, sailed down the Atlantic coast from the Gulf of St. Lawrence to South American ports, and crossing the Atlantic, have penetrated nearly every European sea. Everywhere they have done credit to their builders by their speed, sea worthiness, and excellent construction.
Just here it is proper to place, on record the history of an attempt to establish a direct trade with Europe, which gave abundant promise of good results, both to the commercial and ship building interests of the city. It has already been referred to in this work, but it appropriately falls within the scope of this sketch.
In the year 1856, the schooner Dean Richmond, of 379 tons, was built by Quayle & Martin in Cleveland, for C. J. Kershaw, of Chicago. This vessel was loaded with wheat and under the command of Capt. D. C. Pierce, sailed from Chicago to Liverpool. She arrived in good time, having made a quick passage, and astonished the English people by her rig, and from the fact of her having come from the inland lakes of America to Europe. The schooner was sold in Liverpool, and her new owners changed her name to the Belina, and placed her in the trade between Liverpool and Brazil, on which route she made quick and successful trips.
In 1857, the same builders turned out the barque c.J. Kershaw, of 380 tons burthen, having built her for Capt. D. G. Pierce, who was the pioneer captain in the trade. The Kershaw was loaded with staves, cedar posts and black walnut lumber. In the Fall, she started on her return with a load of crockery and iron, but was twice driven back by terrific gales and had to go into dock for repairs. This brought her into St. Lawrence river so late, that she was frozen in the Lachine Canal. Early in 1858, she arrived in Cleveland with her cargo in excellent order and to the perfect satisfaction of the consignees.
About the time that the Kershaw was launched, a small British schooner, the Madeira Pet of 123 tons, came from Liverpool through the rivers and lakes to Chicago, with a cargo of hardware, cutlery, glass, &c., on speculation. The enterprise was not successful, and no more attempts were made to establish a direct trade between Chicago and European ports.
During the Spring and Summer of 1858, several of the leading business men of Cleveland entered with vigor into the trade, and a respectable fleet of vessels was dispatched to European ports. A new barque, the D. C. Pierce, was built for Messrs. Pierce & Barney and sent to Liverpool with a cargo of staves and black walnut lumber. The same parties sent the C. J. Kershaw to London with a similar cargo, and the Chieftain and Black Hawk, with the same kind of freight. Mr. T. P. Handy sent the R. H. Harmon with staves and black walnut lumber to Liverpool, the D. B. Sexton with a similar cargo to London, and the J. F. Warner with a cargo of the same kind to Glasgow. Mr. H. E. Howe sent the new barque H. E. Howe to London with a cargo of staves and lumber. Col. N. M. Standart sent the Correspondent to Liverpool with a load of wheat, and Mr. C. Reis freighted the Harvest to Hamburgh with a cargo of lumber, staves and fancy woods. This made a fleet of ten vessels, owned and freighted by Cleveland merchants, with a total tonnage of about 3,600 tons. Two vessels were sent out from Detroit with similar cargoes, but the enterprise was pre-eminently a Cleveland one.
All of the Cleveland fleet disposed of their cargoes to good advantage. Six of them returned with cargoes of crockery, bar iron, pig iron, and salt. This part of the trip also proved successful. It was the intention of the owners to sell some of the vessels in England, but the shipping interests were so prostrated that it was impossible to dispose of the ships at anything like a fair price. They therefore still remained in the hands of Cleveland owners, but four of them did not return to the Lakes. The D. B. Sexton went up the Mediterranean; the H. E. Howe went on a voyage to South America, the Harvest to the West Indies, and the C. J. Kershaw was employed in the Mediterranean trade. Wherever any of the Cleveland vessels went, they called forth complimentary remarks by their fleetness and steadiness in heavy weather.