His health failing through the severity of this labor, his parents took him from this factory and placed him in another factory, for the manufacture of cotton batting and wadding, in West Stockbridge. Here he remained several months, but was obliged to leave on account of sickness.
In the Spring of 1833, the family removed to Ohio. After selling his farm and paying his debts, Caleb Humiston had barely sufficient left with which to reach Hudson, Ohio. Here he engaged in making brick, the subject of this sketch, twelve years old, assisting in the brick yard. Change of climate, hard work, and want brought sickness on the whole family, and before R. F. Humiston was fifteen years old the physicians pronounced his constitution entirely broken down, and that he could never do severe labor. He availed himself of an offer to become clerk of a store in Hudson, and clerked there and in Cleveland until he was sixteen years old. When clerk in a Cleveland bookstore, the proprietor failed and the books were taken to Buffalo, young Humiston receiving an offer of a clerkship in that city. This he declined, refusing to desert his family, who were in poverty, and working hard. His health having been partially restored, he took off his good clothes and re-entered the brick yard, where he remained until he was eighteen years old. Whilst in the store he had learned to keep books, and turned this knowledge to account in arranging his fathers business. A number of the better class of citizens of Hudson insisted on the boy having an education, and a merchant offered to bear the expense of a collegiate course, but the boy was too useful in his father's business to be spared, and so the opportunity was lost.
But the brick-making did not suit the boy, who was ambitious, and desirous of learning. In the Winter after he was eighteen, he went to learn the trade of a carpenter, agreeing to pay his father for his unexpired time as soon as he became of age. He learned the carpenter's trade of Samuel Johnson, in Ravenna, an intelligent man, who was highly respected by his neighbors, and whose influence was of great benefit to his apprentice, forming correct habits, and giving him moral and intellectual training.
Young Humiston was ambitious to excel as a mechanic, and spent his evenings in studying architecture and examining plans for buildings. There was no eight or ten hour system in those days. Mechanics worked from daylight to dark, frequently continuing their labors sixteen hours. Under this severe strain his health again gave way, and in September, 1841, he was reluctantly compelled to abandon the trade of a carpenter, except to work about three days in the week in order to pay his board.
At this point he determined to gain an education, and endeavor to earn a living by his brain, since his muscles failed him. He returned to Hudson with the purpose of entering college, his entire capital being ten cents in money and a few tools, with which he hoped to earn enough to pay for his board and tuition. He remained at the college five years, working at his trade by the hour, and doing odd jobs, teaching an occasional term, and working hard as a carpenter in vacations. His studies and labors were unremitting, sometimes allowing him but three hours' sleep out of the twenty-four. As might be expected, his health again gave way, and he was obliged to leave. The college conferred on him the honorary degree of M. A., and the Wesleyan University, at Delaware, Ohio, subsequently conferred the same degree, both without solicitation.
On leaving college he went into the nursery business, not having physical stamina sufficient to prosecute his studies for the ministry, as intended. In this business he continued directly for eighteen months, and partially for five or six years.
In the Fall of 1847, he commenced teaching in the public schools in Cuyahoga Falls, and in the following Spring established a private school, the Cuyahoga Falls Seminary. At the end of that year he was elected Superintendent of Public Instruction and principal of the high school. He continued his seminary, having assistants, and the privilege being allowed him of spending a portion of his time in the management of that establishment. In the Fall of 1849, he came to Cleveland and was appointed principal of the Rockwell street grammar school, where he remained seven years, bringing up the school from a low pitch to rank among the foremost in the city. His salary, when he began to teach in Cleveland was but five hundred dollars, and out of this he had to provide for two families, his own and that of his parents. To add to his small stipend, he taught evening school, and took agencies in the vacation. At the same time he was repeatedly offered other situations at better salaries, and was invited to become the principal of a State Normal school. He tendered his resignation as principal of the Rockwell street school, but was induced to remain on promise of increase of salary. Finally, becoming weary of that hope deferred that maketh the heart sick, he resigned and was engaged at a much higher salary, to establish, under the patronage of an association of leading citizens, the Cleveland Academy. This enterprise was very successful, and the position pleasant, a fine corps of assistants being gathered around him.
After two years labor in this position, some gentlemen connected with the property on University Heights, requested him to engage in the enterprise of a school on the Heights, in the building erected for a college under president Mahan, but which now lay unfinished and unoccupied, the college scheme having failed. They offered rent and grounds free, but he refused, until they agreed to sell him the whole property for a nominal sum, if he could acquire a clear title, the ownership having become badly involved by the failure of the college. This he eventually accomplished after much labor, and took possession of the property in 1856.
The task was a gigantic one to a man like Mr. Humiston, with limited funds and uncertain health. The building was unfinished and needed considerable expenditure to put it in shape for occupation. The location though very promising in the distant future, was then very inconvenient of access, and was therefore objectionable. But Mr. Humiston possessed a determined will and he set to work without delay. He borrowed money, fitted up a portion of the building, and opened the Cleveland Institute with strong hopes for the future, but gloomy prospects in the present.
About the middle of the second year the building took fire and a large portion of the interior was destroyed. The school was closed for six months, and with characteristic energy Mr. Humiston went to work to repair damages, enlarging the building, and again involving himself in debt to meet the expense. Success crowned his enterprise. The number of scholars increased rapidly, and again the building had to be enlarged and improved.
The institute was continued ten years, and the gross income in its later years ranged from $20,000 to $31,000 per year. During nearly the whole time Mr. Humiston taught himself, and usually five hours out of the six devoted to studies. At the same time he gave medical lectures at the Western Homoeopathic College, and managed all the affairs of the institute, keeping no agent or steward. He purchased and fitted up in the institute a fine chemical and philosophical apparatus, collected a good library and several valuable cabinets of specimens in natural history, geology, and mineralogy. The corps of teachers was large and of superior talents.
In 1868, Mr. Humiston, considering that he had earned a respite from his arduous and unremitting labors, accepted an offer from some gentlemen desirous of establishing a Homoeopathic Hospital, and sold his building' with half the adjoining grounds for $35,000. He then accepted the tender of the agency of the American Missionary Association in Great Britain, and early in 1869 left for Europe, having previously visited the South in order to acquaint himself with the condition of the freedmen, whose cause he designed especially to present. After a year or more spent in this work he designs visiting the remainder of Europe, North Africa, and the Holy Land.
Mr. Humiston has, since 1859, held the position of Professor of Chemistry and Toxicology in the Western Homoeopathic College, and has given ten courses of lectures in that institution. Each year he insisted on resigning, but the resignation has always been refused. On closing his educational career he again resigned, but the college again refused to accept his resignation, promising to supply his place temporarily during his absence in Europe.
The distinguishing characteristic of Mr. Humiston is his strong will, and this is well exemplified in the fact that although born with a constitutional fierce thirst for liquor, he has been able to continue in right habits of temperance through all temptation, though at the cost of many powerful struggles with his inordinate cravings. He is a man of strong religions convictions, and has been so from his youth up. For many years he was connected with the Methodist church on University Heights. As an educator he ranks among the best in the State, and was held in deservedly high esteem by those who had themselves been taught by him, or whose children had been brought up under his tuition.
First of the railroads of any description chartered in connection with Cleveland were the Cleveland and Newburgh and Cleveland and Bedford Railroad Companies. The first named was incorporated in 1835, built soon after, and for some time run by horse power, hauling stone and timber, and occasionally passengers. It was eventually abandoned. The Cleveland and Bedford was never built. Another local road, run by horse power, with wooden rails, was, about the same time, constructed between the city and East Cleveland, passing up Euclid street.
The Ohio Railroad was of a different character. It was intended to run along the lake shore from the Pennsylvania line to Toledo, mostly to be built on piles. Considerable work was done, though no iron laid, when the financial crisis overwhelmed it and its kindred schemes. The piles driven for the track are yet visible in places between Cleveland and Sandusky. The rights of the company, as far as they existed, afterwards became the property of the Junction Railroad Company, now the Cleveland and Toledo. Of the same period, was the Cleveland, Warren and Pittsburgh. This was chartered in 1836, the act of incorporation authorizing the construction of a railroad from Cleveland, in the direction of Pittsburgh, to the State line of Pennsylvania. At the point of intersection with the State line, the charter provided for the union of the road with any other road which the State of Pennsylvania might authorize from Pittsburgh, or any other point below the Ohio river, running in the direction of Cleveland, in order that a continuous route might be perfected from Cleveland to Pittsburgh, under the authority of both States. The charter was very loose in its provisions, allowing the president and directors to create and sell stock as in their judgement occasion might require, without limit as to the amount issued, except that it should not exceed the needs of the company. Plenary powers were granted to the company in the selection of a route, the condemnation of land, and like "full and discretionary power" was granted to the company in "the use and occupancy of the road, in the transportation of persons or property, either by the force and power of steam, or animals, or any mechanical or other power, or any combination of them, which the company may think proper to employ." The cost of the line was estimated to be less than $7,000 per mile. The road was to be an extension of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, a branch of which was to extend to Pittsburgh, and thus would "give the whole vast region of the western lakes an opportunity of marketing their products in, and receiving their foreign produce from Philadelphia and Baltimore, at least rive weeks earlier in the season, and at much less expense," than was accomplished at New York.
In the same year a charter was obtained for the Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati Railroad, connecting Cleveland and Cincinnati by the way of Columbus.
None of the roads were built under these charters. The financial panic of 1837 swept them all into oblivion, together with a multitude of other roads projected throughout the country. Some of them were heard of no more, and others were revived in after years, the charters greatly amended, and the roads eventually built. The design of the Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati Railroad Company was eventually carried out to the extent of building a line to Columbus and there connecting with railroads extending to Cincinnati. The Cleveland, Warren and Pittsburgh charter was dug up, amended, and made authority for organization of the Cleveland and Pittsburgh Railroad, whilst the original route was mainly occupied by the new Cleveland and Mahoning Railroad.
The Cleveland and Bedford was at last rendered unnecessary by the Cleveland and Pittsburgh passing over its route, whilst the Cleveland and Newburgh reap-pears as a street railroad, for passengers only, the original design of a local railroad for freight being abandoned thirty odd years ago.
In 1845, the lapsed charter of the Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati Railroad Company was revived, revised, and a new company organized, with John W. Allen, Richard Hilliard, Jolin M. Woolsey and H. B. Payne as Cleveland directors, and John W. Allen as president. Between the organization of the company and the construction of the road there was a wide gulf of difficulties, jealousies and enmities, bridged over at last by untiring perseverance and unwavering faith in the final success of the undertaking. The story of the struggle is told incidentally in the biographical sketches of those connected with the enterprise. All that we have to do here is, to briefly sketch the leading features in the narrative as it has been already told, after a careful examination of the documentary history of the company. That account says the incorporation of the company had been obtained in the year 1845, with a proviso authorizing the city of Cleveland to subscribe two millions of dollars to the stock. The bonds of the city were promptly given, but before any money could be obtained upon these bonds it was necessary that a further subscription should be made by the citizens, not only to meet the current expenses, but to give assurance to capitalists abroad that the people here were really in earnest, and would not suffer the undertaking to fall through. After a thorough canvass of the city, by two well known and respected citizens, it was found that not more than twenty-five thousand dollars could be obtained. There was both a scarcity of cash and a lack of faith in the enterprise.
John M. Woolsey was sent to Cincinnati to negotiate the city bonds with the Ohio Life and Trust Company; to Pittsburgh to ascertain upon what terms iron could be obtained; and to Philadelphia and New York to enlist the sympathy and help of capitalists. The mission was a failure. The common strap iron of that day could not be obtained without cash on delivery, and the money could not be procured on any terms. Cleveland was too far off, and entirely unknown to the moneyed men of the eastern cities. Thus, in the Spring of 1847, one of the very darkest periods in our history, it was determined to abandon the enterprise for the time, and await a more favorable season.
In this desperate extremity Mr. Hilliard and Mr. Payne volunteered another and last effort of three months personal labor to arouse their fellow citizens to a proper sense of the importance and ultimate value of this grand undertaking. By patient perseverance they succeeded in securing a leading subscription of five thousand dollars from Leonard Case, who also consented to become a director of the company. The ultimate result of the solicitations was the subscription of about $40,000 additional to the amount previously pledged. About the same time an accession of the utmost importance was made when Alfred Kelley, of Columbus, accepted the presidency of the road, contrary to his inclination to retire from further public duties and to the strong remonstrances of his personal friends. Through the influence of Mr. Dwight, of Springfield, Mass., the directors secured the services of Captain Childs, well known among Eastern capitalists as a skillful engineer, and his endorsement of the company did much to advance its credit abroad. But it was still necessary to secure a large disposal of stock at home, and to effect this, a liberal additional assessment upon the friends of the road was made and accepted. Mr. Childs finally recommended Mr. Harbeck, who, in company with Stillman Witt and Amasa Stone, Jr., undertook and carried out the building of the road to its completion.
In February, 1851, the first through train arrived from Columbus, bringing the State authorities and the Legislature, to celebrate the union of the two cities. Thus the Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati Railroad was the pioneer of the series of the now enlarged, and most important enterprises so clearly identified with the growth of the city. The chairman of the building committee stated at the opening of the new depot, that during the entire building of that road, there was not a dollar paid as a bribe to either the Legislature or the City Council, to receive their favors.
The terminus of the road at Cleveland was originally intended to be on Scranton's Flats, but it was afterwards determined to bring the road across the river to the site of the old New England House. Appreciating the importance of extending it to the lake shore, the contractors agreed to grade the road free of charge from that point to the lake, and it was accordingly carried forward to its present terminus.
In 1869, the road was consolidated with the Bellefontaine line, thus placing its western terminus in Indianapolis. Its southern stem had previously been extended by way of the Delaware Cut-Off to Springfield, thus opening another connection with Cincinnati.
We have already said that the charter of the Cleveland, Warren and Pittsburgh Railroad, after sleeping for several years, was dug up, amended, and the Cleveland and Pittsburgh Railroad Company organized under it. The resuscitation of the charter took place in March, 1845, when the route was changed from "the most direct in the direction of Pittsburgh," to "the most direct, practicable, and least expensive route to the Ohio river, at the most suitable point." The company organized at Ravenna, in October of the same year, with James Stewart, of Wellsville, as president, A. G. Cattell, as secretary, and Cyrus Prentiss, as treasurer. The route was surveyed, meetings held in aid of the project, and in July, 1847, the first contracts let from Wellsville northward, and the work of construction commenced. The northern end dragged, owing to the slow coming in of subscriptions, and the work was not fully let until 1849.
In February, 1851, the line was opened from Cleveland to Hudson, and the General Assembly and State officers who had come to Cleveland to attend the celebration of the opening of the Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati Railroad, accepted an invitation to ride over the new railroad to Hudson. A short supply of provisions at Hudson, and the ditching of the train on the return trip, made the weary and hungry legislators long remember their pioneer trip over the unfinished Cleveland and Pittsburgh Railroad. In March following, the track was completed to Ravenna, in November to Hanover, at which time free passes for "each stockholder and his lady," and "landholders through whose land the road passes, with their wives," were issued, good for one ride over the line and return, that they might see the whole of the stupendous undertaking and admire it. In January 1852, connection was made with the Ohio and Pennsylvania Railroad at Alliance, and a route thus opened to Pittsburgh, and in March, of the same year, the line was opened to Wellsville, and connection with the Ohio river perfected, thus completing the work laid out in the amended charter.
At different times, subsequently, authority was granted by the General Assembly for the extension of the line and the construction of branches. In this way the River Division was built, connecting the Wellsville end with Pittsburgh by a junction with the Ohio and Pennsylvania at Rochester, and with the Baltimore and Ohio and Central Ohio, by a line to Bellair. The Tuscarawas Branch was built to New Philadelphia, and there stopped, though its original purpose was to form a connection with the Steubenville and Indiana Railroad. Authority was also given to build a branch from Hudson towards the Ohio and Pennsylvania and any line running in the direction of Columbus. A separate company afterwards constructed this "Akron Branch," or Cleveland, Zanesville and Cincinnati Railroad, so far as Millersburgh. The Cleveland and Pittsburgh Railroad has had a serious financial struggle to go through, but it has come out as an important and prosperous line. It is now working under a consolidation of earnings with the Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne and Chicago, formerly known as the Ohio and Pennsylvania.
The Cleveland, Painesville and Ashtabula Railroad Company, now, after several consolidations and changes of title, forming part of the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railroad Company, was part of the general plan of the Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati Railroad, was built under much of the same influence, and has always been intimately connected with it in its working. The charter was obtained by special act in 1848, and empowered the corporators to build a line by way of Painesville, through Ashtabula county, to the Pennsylvania State line, and to continue their line into that State to any point authorized by the Pennsylvania Legislature. That part of the road extending to Erie, in the State of Pennsylvania, was constructed under the charter of the Franklin Canal Company, passed by the Legislature of Pennsylvania, the 21st day of May, 1846, and amended April 9th, 1849, giving it authority to construct a railroad.
The company was organized August 1st, 1849, by the selection of Alfred Kelley, Samuel L. Seldin, Heman B. Ely, George E. Gillett, David R. Paige, Laphnor Lake and Peleg P. Sanford as directors, and Heman B. Ely as president, and the surveys from Cleveland were made under the superintendence of Frederick Harbeck as chief engineer, and from the State line to Erie he acted as consulting engineer, filling both situations until his death, which occurred in the month of February, 1851. A contract for the construction of the road from Cleveland to the State line of Pennsylvania was made with Frederick Harbeck, A. Stone, Jr., and Stillman Witt, on the 26th day of July, 1850, but the work progressed slowly for six months after the contract was concluded, principally for the reason that there was no confidence in the ability of a railroad from Cleveland to Erie or Buffalo to compete with the lake in the transportation of persons and property, and the contractors expended more than $100,000 of their means before a like amount could be raised through all other sources. In the month of January, 1851, the Hon. Alfred Kelley was appointed general agent of the company with unlimited authority to raise funds and press forward the work of completion. He entered upon his duties with his usual indomitable perseverance and energy, fully seconded by the directors and contractors, and they had the satisfaction of passing a locomotive over its entire length late in the autumn of the year 1852.
The act conferring authority on the Franklin Canal Company to construct a railroad from the State line of Ohio to the city of Erie, being regarded by the Legislature of the State of Pennsylvania as doubtful, they repealed it on the 28th day of January, 1854. On the 5th day of May, 1856, the Legislature of the State of Pennsylvania passed an act authorizing the Cleveland, Painesville and Ashtabula Railroad Company to purchase the road as constructed from the State line to Erie, and to operate it under the general law of the State of Pennsylvania, passed the 19th day of February, 1849. The history of the Pennsylvania portion of the line reflects no credit on that State. The petty and vexations "Erie War" in 1854, by which a portion of the people of Erie attempted to prevent a through connection of the road at that place, and the unjustifiable expenses to which the company were subjected by the Legislature, are blots on the record of that State.
The road was operated jointly with the Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati Railroad until April 1st, 1855, when the management was divided. In 1869, it was consolidated, first with the Cleveland and Toledo and then with the Michigan Southern and Buffalo and Erie Railroads. The Cleveland, Painesville and Ashtabula has been one of the most profitable railroads in the country.
The story of the Cleveland and Mahoning Railroad Company—one of persistent struggle against apparently insurmountable difficulties, is told in great part in the sketch of the life of Jacob Perkins, to whose labors and sacrifices the success of the undertaking is in great measure due. The road was projected to develope more fully the mineral and agricultural resource of Trumbull and Mahoning counties, and to find a market for their products in Pittsburgh or Cleveland. Unlike many projected railroads, the first object of this line was a local trade; the through business anticipated was a secondary consideration. The Company was incorporated in 1851, and the first meeting of stockholders held at, Warren, Trumbull county, in June, 1852, when $300,000 local subscriptions were reported and it was determined to survey and prepare estimates for the road. The directors under whom this work was commenced were Jacob Perkins, Frederick Kinsman and Charles Smith, of Warren, David Tod, of Youngstown, Dudley Baldwin of Cleveland, Robert Cunningham, of New Castle, and James Magee, of Philadelphia. In order to aid the enterprise by securing connections, they opened negotiations with the Pennsylvania and Ohio Railroad, and the Pittsburgh and Erie Railroad, but without success. About the same time a contract was made with the Junction Railroad, afterwards merged in the Cleveland and Toledo Road, for purchase of ground near the mouth of the Cuyahoga river, on the west side, and the right of way obtained through a portion of Ohio City, and through Scranton's Hill to the west end of the Columbus street bridge, near which the freight depot was afterwards established. In 1853, the principal office of the Company was removed to Cleveland, which was made the head quarters of the Company.
After surveying different routes and hesitating over the choice between them, it was decided to build the road from Cleveland, on the West Side, and running through Scranton's hill to Newburgh, Bedford, Aurora, Mantua and Warren, fifty-three miles, and thence down the Mahoning Valley to Youngstown and Poland, to the east line of the State.
Repeated attempts were made to induce the Legislature of Pennsylvania to authorize an extension of the road in that State, but owing to the opposition of the Pittsburgh and Erie Bailroad, and especially of the Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne and Chicago Railroad, the desired permission was finally refused. The estimated aggregate cost of the road was about one and three-quarter millions of dollars, and when the principal contracts for labor and iron were made, there was a very fair prospect of disposing of the bonds of the company to advantage, and thus, in addition to the loans effected in Philadelphia, New York and at home, the means to complete the work were reasonably anticipated. In the Directors' Report of 1854, they were obliged to announce unlooked for embarrassments, growing out of the altered condition of the money market. The story of the seemingly hopeless, but finally successful, struggle that followed is told in another part of this work. At length, in 1857, after five or six years of persevering efforts, and most perplexing difficulties, the road was opened through to Youngstown; substantial machine shops were built at Cleveland, station houses erected along the route, and the coal and iron of the Mahoning Valley were made accessible by a quick and easy route.
In October, 1863, the road was leased for ninety-nine years to the Atlantic and Great Western Railroad, which had already laid a broad gauge upon the track, That company now controls the main line to Youngstown, with the several branches to Hubbard and the coal mines. The narrow gauge is kept up for the use of the Mahoning trains, freight and passenger, while the broad gauge is used by the Atlantic and Great Western through trains. The track has been extended to the shore of the old river bed, an extensive wharfage established, and large facilities obtained for connecting the traffic of the road with the lake commerce.
The Cleveland and Toledo Railroad Company was formed by the consolidation of two rival and nearly parallel lines. One of the companies thus united, was incorporated as the Junction Railroad Company, and the other by the name of the Toledo, Norwalk and Cleveland Railroad Company. The former was incorporated by an act of the legislature of Ohio, passed on the second day of March, 1846; and the latter, by an act of the seventh of March, 1850. The Junction Railroad Company, by its original charter and two amendments, in 1861, was authorized to construct a railroad from the city of Cleveland to the west line of the State by such route as the directors might determine, with power to construct branches to any points within the counties through which the main line might pass. The charter of the Toledo, Norwalk and Cleveland Railroad Company, authorized the construction of a railroad from Toledo, by the way of Norwalk, in the county of Huron, to a connection with the Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincinnati Railroad, at some point in the counties of Huron or Lorain. The authorized capital stock of the Junction Company was three millions, and that of the other company, two millions of dollars.
The consolidation was effected, and the new company organized on the first of September, A. D. 1853, under the specific provisions of the twelfth section of the amendment to the Toledo, Norwalk and Cleveland Railroad charter, passed on the first of March, 1850. Under its charter, the Toledo, Norwalk and Cleveland Railroad Company constructed a road from the east bank of the Maumee river, opposite the city of Toledo, to Grafton, where it connects with the Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati Railroad, twenty-five miles south-west from the city of Cleveland, being a distance of eighty-seven and one-half miles, all of which was finished and put into operation in January, 1853. This became known as the Southern Division of the Cleveland and Toledo Railroad.
The Northern Division, or Junction Railroad, was originally intended to run from Cleveland, west side, via Berea and Sandusky, westward to a point on the Michigan Southern and Northern Indiana Railroad some twenty miles west of Toledo, and crossing the track of the Toledo, Norwalk and Cleveland Railroad at a point about eight miles east of the same city. The road was opened between Cleveland and Sandusky and operations commenced upon it in the Fall of 1858, immediately after the consolidation. The original project of a separate line to the west was carried out by the consolidated corporation so far as to construct the road to its intersection with the old Toledo, Norwalk and Cleveland track, from which point both lines approached Toledo over the same right of way. This line was operated over its whole length until the 31st day of December, 1858, on which day the use for regular business of that portion lying west of Sandusky was discontinued, and all the through travel and traffic turned upon the Southern Division. On the 30th of July, 1856, a contract was entered into with the Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati Railroad Company by which the Cleveland and Toledo Company acquired the right to use the track of the first named company from Grafton to Cleveland, for the Southern Division trains, and from Berea to Cleveland for the Northern Division, and thence forward all trains were run into, and departed from, the Union Depot in Cleveland—a change which soon resulted in the practical abandonment, for the time, of that portion of the Northern Division lying between Berea and Cleveland on the west side of Cuyahoga river. This arrangement, together with the completion, in 1855, of a bridge over the Maumee river at Toledo, enabled the company to receive and discharge its passengers in union depots at each end of its line. During the years 1865 and 1866, about eight miles of new road were constructed between Elyria on the Northern Division, and Oberlin on the Southern Division, for the purpose of allowing all trains to leave and come upon the Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati Road at Berea, thirteen miles, instead of Grafton, twenty-five miles from Cleveland. This new piece of road was opened for business on the 10th of September, 1866, and the road between Oberlin and Grafton immediately abandoned, The construction of a bridge near the mouth of the Cuyahoga river at Cleveland, brought the Northern Division line between Cleveland and Berea once more into use, and over it the freight trains of the line are now run. In 1869, the company was made part of the Consolidated line between Buffalo and Chicago.
The Atlantic and Great Western Railroad, by its lease of the Cleveland and Mahoning Railroad, has become an important part of the Cleveland railroad System. The company was organized in 1851, as the Franklin and Warren Railroad Company, to build a road from Franklin Mills (now Kent) in Portage County, to Warren, in Trumbull county, with power to extend to a point in the eastern line of the State, northeast of Warren and southwesterly to Dayton, Ohio. In July, 1853, operations were actively commenced along the whole line, but were soon seriously retarded by financial embarrassments. In 1854, the Franklin and Warren Railroad Company, under authority of an Act of the General Assembly of 1853, changed its name to the Atlantic and Great Western Railroad Company. Two years before, a project had been started to extend the broad gauge of the Ohio and Mississippi Railroad through Ohio, northeastern Pennsylvania and southwestern New York, to connect with the New York and Erie Railroad. This route would run through Meadville, Pennsylvania, Warren, Kent, Akron and Galion to Dayton, Ohio. In 1858, the Meadville Railroad Company changed their name to the Atlantic and Great Western Railroad Company of Pennsylvania. In 1859, a company was organized in the State of New York, under the name of the Atlantic and Great Western Railroad in New York, and purchased in 1860 of the New York and Erie Railroad Company thirty eight miles of their road, from Salamanca to near Ashville. These thirty eight miles with eleven miles of new line, make up the entire length of line of this road in the State of New York. Each of the above companies made contracts for the building of their respective roads.
In the Fall of 1858, negotiations were commenced in London with James McHenry, for the means to carry on the work. T. W. Kennard, a civil engineer, came over as the attorney of Mr. McHenry, and engineer in chief of the whole work. In 1862, the road was opened from Corry to Meadville, Pennsylvania. In 1863, it was extended to Warren, and in the next year to Ravenna and Akron—202 miles from Salamanca.
In October, 1863, the three companies above named, leased for ninety-nine years, the Cleveland and Mahoning Railroad, extending from Cleveland southerly to Youngstown, Ohio, sixty-seven miles. This road has a narrow gauge track crossing the Atlantic and Great Western Railroad at Leavittsburgh, Ohio, fifty miles south of Cleveland. The Atlantic and Great Western Company laid a rail on either side of the narrow track, thus carrying the broad gauge into Cleveland, and a broad gauge train from the city of New York entered Cleveland on the evening of November 3rd, 1863. Subsequently the several companies forming the Atlantic and Great Western line were consolidated into one line, and this again was, in 1869, consolidated with the Erie Railway.
Besides opening a new and important thoroughfare to the East, this line has opened up to Cleveland the resources of north-western Pennsylvania, and in the oil product has added an immense and highly profitable trade to the business of the city.
Several lines have been built, connecting with and adding business to the railroads leading to Cleveland, but of these it is not the province of this work to speak. A large number of new railroads have been from time to time projected in various directions. Some of these "paper railroads" have intrinsic merit, and these, or lines aiming at the same objects, will eventually be built.
Jacob Perkins was born at Warren, Trumbull county, Ohio, September 1st, 1822, being next to the youngest of the children of Gen. Simon Perkins, one of the earliest and most prominent, business men of norther Ohio, a land agent of large business, and the owner of extensive tracts of land. In his early years Jacob Perkins developed a strong inclination for study, acquiring knowledge with unusual facility, and gratifying his intense passion for reading useful works by every means within his power.
He commenced fitting himself for college at the Burton Academy, then under the direction of Mr. H. L. Hitchcock, now president of Western Reserve College, and completed his preparation at Middletown, Connecticut, in the school of Isaac Webb. He entered Yale College in 1837.
While in college he was distinguished for the elegance of his style and the wide range of his literary acquirements. He delivered the philosophic oration at his junior exhibition, and was chosen second editor of "Yale Literary Magazine," a position in which he took great interest, and filled to the satisfaction and pride of his class. His college course was, however, interrupted by a long and severe illness before the close of his junior year, which compelled him to leave his studies and (to his permanent regret) prevented him from graduating with his own class. He returned the following year and was graduated with the class of 1842.
He entered his father's office at Warren, and was occupied with its business until, upon the death of his father, some two years afterwards, he became one of his executors.
During his residence at Warren he appeared occasionally before home audiences as a public speaker, and always with great acceptance.
In politics, he early adopted strong anti-slavery principles, then not the popular doctrine, and they were always freely and openly advocated. Of an address delivered in 1848, which was published and attracted very considerable local attention, the editor of the Chronicle remarked, "We have listened to the best orators of the land, from the Connecticut to the Mississippi, and can truly say, by none have we been so thoroughly delighted in every particular as by this effort of our distinguished townsman." The oration discussed the true theory of human rights and the legitimate powers of human government—and the following extract gives the spirit of his political principles on the subject of slavery:
The object of law is not to make rights, but to define and maintain them; man possesses them before the existence of law, the same as he does afterwards. No matter what government may extend its control over him; no matter how miserable or how sinful the mother in whose arms his eyes opened to the day; no matter in what hovel his infancy is nursed; no matter what complexion—an Indian or an African sun may have burned upon him, this may decide the privileges which he is able to assert, but can not affect the existence of his rights. His self-mastery is the gift of his creator, and oppression, only, can take it away.
Without solicitation he was nominated and elected a member of the Convention that framed the present Constitution of Ohio. His associates from the district were Judges Peter Hitchcock and R. P. Ranney, and although "he was the youngest member but one of the Convention—and in the minority, his influence and position were excelled by few."
He was one of the Senatorial Presidential Electors for Ohio on the Fremont ticket in 1856.
In the intellectual progress of the young about him, and the building up of schools and colleges, he took especial interest. He first suggested and urged upon President Pierce to adopt the conditions of the present "Permanent Fund of Western Reserve College," rather than to solicit unconditional contributions, which experience had proved were so easily absorbed by present necessities, and left the future as poor as the past. In connection with his brothers, he made the first subscription to that fund. The embarrassment arising from his railroad enterprise prevented him from increasing that contribution. The wisdom of his suggestions was subsequently shown, when, during the rupture and consequent embarrassment under which the college labored, the income of this fund had a very important, if not vital share in saving it from abandonment, and afterwards proved the nucleus of its present endowment.
He was always efficient in favoring improvements. He was associated with Hon. F. Kinsman and his brother in founding the beautiful Woodland Cemetery at Warren. The land was purchased and the ground laid out by them, and then transferred to the present corporation.
Soon after his return from the Constitutional Convention, he became interested in the Cleveland and Mahoning Railroad. He was most influential in obtaining the charter and organizing the company, of which he was elected president, and became the principal, almost sole financial manager.
Owing to prior and conflicting railroad interests, little aid could be obtained for his project in either of the terminal cities, Cleveland and Pittsburgh, and the work was commenced in 1853 with a comparatively small stock subscription. A tightening money market prevented any considerable increase of the stock list, or a favorable disposition of the bonds of the road, and the financial crisis a few years afterwards so reduced the value of the securities of this, as of all unfinished railroads, as practically to shut them out of the market. In this emergency the alternative presented itself to Mr. Perkins and his resident directors, either to abandon the enterprise and bankrupt the company, with the entire loss of the amount expended, or to push it forward to completion by the pledge, and at the risk of their private fortunes, credit, and reputations.
In this, the darkest day of the enterprise, Mr. Perkins manifested his confidence in its ultimate success, and his generous willingness to meet fully his share of the hazard to be incurred, by proposing to them, jointly with him, to assume that risk; and agreeing that in case of disaster, he would himself pay the first $100,000 of loss, and thereafter share it equally with them.
With a devotion to the interests entrusted to them, a determination rarely equalled in the history of our railroad enterprises, they unanimously accepted this proposition, and determined to complete the road, at least to a remunerative point in the coal fields of the Mahoning Valley.
The financial storm was so much more severe and longer continued than the wisest had calculated upon, that for years the result was regarded by them and the friends of the enterprise with painful suspense. In the interest of the road Mr. Perkins spent the Spring of 1854 in England, without achieving any important financial results.
At length, in 1856, the road was opened to Youngstown, and its receipts, carefully husbanded, began slowly to lessen the floating debt, by that time grown to frightful proportions, and carried solely by the pledge of the private property and credit of the president and Ohio directors. These directors, consisting of Hon. Frederick Kinsman and Charles Smith, of Warren, Governor David Tod, of Briar Hill, Judge Reuben Hitchcock, of Painesville, and Dudley Baldwin, of Cleveland, by the free use of their widely known and high business credit, without distrust or dissension, sustained the president through that long and severe trial, a trial which can never be realized except by those who shared its burdens. The president and these directors should ever be held in honor by the stockholders of the company, whose investment they saved from utter loss, and by the business men of the entire Mahoning Valley, and not less by the city of Cleveland; for the mining and manufacturing interests developed by their exertions and sacrifices, lie at the very foundation of the present prosperity of both.
Before, however, the road was enabled to free itself from financial embarrassment, so to as commence making a satisfactory return to the stockholders, which Mr. Perkins was exceedingly anxious to see accomplished under his own presidency—his failing health compelled him to leave its active management, and he died before the bright day dawned upon the enterprise.
He said to a friend during his last illness, with characteristic distinctness: "If I die, you may inscribe on my tomb stone, Died of the Mahoning Railroad;" so great had been his devotion to the interests of the road, and so severe the personal exposures which its supervision had required of him, who was characteristically more thoughtful of every interest confided to his care, than of his own health.
He was married October 24th, 1850, to Miss Elizabeth O. Tod, daughter of Dr. J. I. Tod, of Milton, Trumbull county, Ohio, and removed his family to Cleveland in 1856. Of three children, only one, Jacob Bishop, survives him. Mrs. Perkins died of rapid consumption, June 4th, 1857, and his devoted attention at the sick bed of his wife greatly facilitated the development of the same insidious disease, which was gradually to undermine his own naturally vigorous constitution.
The business necessities of his road, embarrassed and pressing as they were, united with his uniform self-forgetfulness, prevented his giving attention to his personal comfort and health, long after his friends saw the shadow of the destroyer falling upon his path. He was finally, in great prostration of health and strength, compelled to leave the active duties of the road and spent the latter part of the Winter of 1857-8 in the Southern States, but returned in the Spring with little or no improvement. He continued to fail; during the Summer and in the Fall of 1858 he again went South in the vain hope of at least physical relief, and died in Havana, Cuba, January 12th, 1859. His remains were embalmed and brought home by his physician who had accompanied him—and were interred at Warren, in Woodland Cemetery, where so many of his family repose around him. A special train from either end of the Cleveland and Mahoning Railroad brought the board of directors and an unusually large number of business and personal friends to join the long procession which followed "the last of earth" to its resting place.
One of the editorial notices of his death, at the time, very justly remarks of him:
He was a man of mark, and through strength of talent, moral firmness and urbanity of manner, wielded an influence seldom possessed by a man of his years. In addition to his remarkable business capacity, Mr. Perkins was a man of high literary taste, which was constantly improving and enriching his mind. He continued, even amid his pressing-business engagements, his habits of study and general reading. Mr. Perkins belonged to that exceptional class of cases in which great wealth, inherited, does not injure the recipient.
An editorial of a Warren paper, mentioning his death, says:
He was born in this town in 1821, and from his boyhood exhibited a mental capacity and energy which was only the promise of the brilliancy of his manhood. To his exertion, his personal influence and liberal investment of capital the country is indebted for the Cleveland and Mahoning Railroad. To his unremitting labor in this enterprise he has sacrificed personal comfort and convenience, and we fear, shortened his days by his labors and exposure in bringing the work to completion. Known widely as Mr. Perkins has been by his active part in public enterprises, his loss will be felt throughout the State, but we who have known him both as boy and man, have a deeper interest in him, and the sympathies of the people of Warren, with his relatives, will have much of the nature of personal grief for one directly connected with them.
Said a classmate in the class meeting of 1862:
Although his name on the catalogue ranks with the class of 1842, his affections were with us, and he always regarded himself of our number. He visited New Haven frequently during the latter part of his life, in connection with a railway enterprise, in which he was interested, and exhibited the same large-heartedness and intellectual superiority which won for him universal respect during his college course.
A gentleman who knew Mr. Perkins intimately, and as a director was associated with him in the construction of the Cleveland and Mahoning Railroad, and in carrying its debt, wrote of him as follows:
The management and construction of the Cleveland and Mahoning Railroad by Mr. Perkins, under circumstances the most difficult and trying, were well calculated to test his powers, and, in that work he proved himself possessed of business capacity rarely equalled, sustained by unquestioned integrity, and remarkable energy. These qualifications, united with his large wealth, gave him the requisite influence with business men and capitalists. His devotion to the interests of the road, his abiding confidence in a favorable result, and his clear and just appreciation of its value, and importance to the community, called forth his best efforts, and were essential conditions of success. To him more than to any other individual are the projection, inauguration, and accomplishment of this enterprise attributable. From its earliest projection, he had a most comprehensive and clear view of its importance to the city of Cleveland and the Mahoning Valley, and confidently anticipated for them, in the event of its completion, a rapidity and extent of development and prosperity, which were then regarded as visionary, but which the result has fully demonstrated.
His life was spared to witness only the commencement of this prosperity, nor can it be doubted, that his close application, and unremitting efforts to forward the work shortened his life materially. His deep and absorbing interest in it, prevented the precautionary measures and relaxations, which in all probability would have prolonged his life for years. His associates in the board saw the danger and urged him to earlier and more decided measures for relief. He too was aware of their importance. But the constant demand upon his time and strength, and the continually recurring necessities of the enterprise, which he had so much at heart, were urgent, and so absorbed his thoughts and energies, that he delayed until it was obvious that relaxation could afford merely temporary relief.
In his intercourse with the board, Mr. Perkins was uniformly courteous and gentlemanly, always giving respectful attention to the suggestions of his associates, but ever proving himself thoroughly posted; readily comprehending the most judicious measures, and clearly demonstrating their wisdom. Entire harmony in the action of the directors was the result, and all had the fullest confidence in him. While his business capacity and integrity commanded their highest admiration, his urbanity, kindness and marked social qualities secured their strong personal attachment, and by them his decease was regarded as a severe personal affliction, as well as a great public loss.
Thus is briefly noticed, one who dying comparatively early, had given evidence of great business capacity, as well as the promise of unusual power and popularity with the people of his own State, and nation.
A work professing to give sketches, however brief and incomplete, of the representative men of Cleveland, would be manifestly defective did it omit notice of the late William Case, a gentleman of sterling worth and great popularity, who was identified with much of the material progress of the city, who had a host of deeply attached friends while living, and whose memory is cherished with affectionate esteem.
William Case was born to prosperity, but this, which to very many has proved the greatest misfortune of their lives, was to him no evil, but, on the contrary, a good, inasmuch as it gave him opportunity for gratifying his liberal tastes, and his desire to advance the general welfare. From his father, Leonard Case, he inherited an extraordinary business capacity, indomitable energy, and strong common sense, with correct habits. To these inherited traits he added an extensive knowledge, acquired both from books and men, and made practical by keen observation, and liberal ideas, which he carried into his business and social affairs. In all relations of life he was ever a gentleman, in the true meaning of the word, courteous to all, the rich and the poor alike, and with an instinctive repugnance to everything mean, oppressive or hypocritical. With regard to himself, he was modest to a fault, shrinking from everything that might by any possibility be construed into ostentation or self-glorification. This tribute the writer of these lines,—who owed him nothing but friendship, and who was in no way a recipient of any favor from him, other than his good will,—is glad of an opportunity to pay, and this testimony to his good qualities, falls short of the facts.
William Case takes his place in this department of our work by virtue of the fact that he was an early friend to the railroad enterprises of Cleveland. He contributed largely to the Cleveland, Painesville and Ashtabula Railroad, and for four years and a half, until August, 1858, was president of that company. Under his management the railroad prospered and paid large dividends, and when he left that position it was with the regret of all his subordinates, whose esteem had been won by his kindness and courtesy.
But it was not alone as a railroad man that Mr. Case won for himself the title to a place among the leading representative men of the city. He grew up with Cleveland, and was alive to the interests of the growing city. No scheme of real improvement but found a friend in him. He was energetic in forwarding movements for bettering the condition of the streets; he took a leading part in the location and establishment of the Water Works. Anxious to effect an improvement in the business architecture of the city, in which Cleveland was so far behind cities of less pretension, he projected and carried on far towards completion the Case Block, which stands to-day the largest and most noticeable business building in the city, and which contains one of the finest public halls in the West. Mr. Case died before completion of the building, which unforeseen difficulties made of great cost, but his plans so far as known—including some of great generosity, such as the donation of a fine suite of rooms to the Cleveland Library Association—have been faithfully carried out.
In 1846, Mr. Case was elected member of the City Council from the Second Ward, and served in that position four years. In that body he was noted for his advocacy of every measure tending to the improvement of the city, and the development of its industrial and commercial resources.
In the Spring of 1850, he was nominated, on the Whig ticket, for mayor of Cleveland, and was elected by a large majority, against a strong Democratic opponent, his personal popularity being shown by his running ahead of his ticket. His administration was marked with such energy, ability and public spirit, that in the following year—the office then being annually elective—he was re-elected by an increased majority, and ran still further ahead of his ticket.
In 1852, the Whig convention for the Nineteenth Congressional District, which then included Cuyahoga county, assembled at Painesville, under the presidency of Mon. Peter Hitchcock. Mr. Case was there nominated for Congress by acclamation, and the canvass was carried on by the Whigs with great enthusiasm. But the Democracy and the Free Soil party were against him, and under the excitement growing out of anti-slavery agitation, the Free Soil candidate, Hon. Edward Wade, was elected, though closely pressed by Mr. Case. From that time Mr. Case, who was not in any respect a politician, and who had at no time a desire or need for office, took no active part in politics.
Mr. Case did not possess a strong constitution, and early in life his medical attendant reported against his being sent to college, as the application would be too severe a strain on his health. In accordance with the advice then given, he devoted much attention to hunting, fishing, and to horticultural and agricultural pursuits. But these were insufficient to save him, and he died April 19th, 1862, whilst yet in the prime of life, being but forty years old.
Amasa Stone, Jr.
Conspicuous among the railroad managers connected with Cleveland, indeed occupying a prominent position in the list of the railroad magnates of the country, is the name of Amasa Stone, Jr. The high position he has attained, and the wealth he has secured, are the rewards of his own perseverance, industry, and foresight; every dollar he has earned represents a material benefit to the public at large in the increase of manufacturing or traveling facilities.
Mr. Stone was born in the town of Charlton, Worcester county, Massachusetts, April 27th, 1818. He is of Puritan stock, the founder of the American branch of the family having-landed at Boston in 1632, from the ship Increase, which brought a colony of Puritans from England. The first settlement of the family was at Waltham. The father of Mr. Stone, also named Amasa, is now alive, hale and hearty, at the age of ninety years.
Young Amasa Stone lived with his parents and worked upon the farm, attending the town district school in its sessions, until he was seventeen years old, when he engaged with an older brother for three years, to learn the trade of a builder. His pay for the first year was to be forty dollars, increasing ten dollars yearly, and to furnish his own clothing. At the end of the second year, thinking he could do better, he purchased the remainder of his time for a nominal sum, and from that time was his own master. In the Winter of 1837-8, he attended the academy of Professer Bailey, in Worcester, Mass., having saved sufficient from his small wages to pay the expenses of a single term.
His first work on his own account was a contract to do the joiner work of a house building by Col. Temple, at Worcester. The work was done, and in part payment he took a note of a manufacturing firm for $130; within a few months the firm failed, the note became worthless, and the first earnings of the young builder were lost. That note Mr. Stone still preserves as a memento.
The following year, at the age of twenty, he joined his two older brothers in a contract for the construction of a church edifice in the town of East Brookfield, Mass. In the succeeding year, 1839, he engaged with his brother-in-law, Mr. William Howe, to act as foreman in the erection of two church edifices and several dwelling-houses in Warren, Mass.
During this time Mr. Howe was engaged in perfecting his invention of what is known as the Howe truss bridge. After securing his patent Mr. Howe contracted to build the superstructure of the bridge across the Connecticut river, at Springfield, for the Western Railroad Company. Mr. Stone engaged with him in this work. During a part of the first year he was employed on the foundations of the structure in the bed of the river. Thereafter until the year 1842, he was employed constantly by Mr. Howe in the erection of railway and other bridges, and railway depot buildings. In the Winter of 1841, his duties were most trying and arduous. About a thousand lineal feet of bridging on the Western Railroad, in the Green Mountains, had to be completed, and Mr. Stone and his men were called upon to carry the work through. In some locations the sun could scarcely be seen, the gorges were so deep and narrow, while during a large portion of the time the thermometer ranged below zero. But the work was successfully completed.
In the year 1842, he formed a copartnership with Mr. A. Boody, and purchased from Mr. Howe his bridge patent for the New England States, including all improvements and renewals. Subsequently an arrangement was concluded with Mr. D. L. Harris, under the name of Boody, Stone & Co., for the purpose of contracting for the construction of railways, railway bridges, and similar work, the mechanical details generally to be under the charge of Mr. Stone. In the year 1845, Mr. Stone was appointed superintendent of the New Haven, Hartford and Springfield Railroad, he, however, still continuing his partnership in the firm of Boody, Stone & Co., and the business of the firm becoming so heavy that within a year from the time of his appointment he resigned his office as superintendent.
Circumstances occurred previous to his appointment that may be worthy of remark. The purchase of the bridge patent, before alluded to, was for the sum of forty thousand dollars, to be paid in annual instalments. A few years after the purchase some defects showed themselves in the bridges that had been erected on this plan, and many prominent engineers had come to the conclusion that it was not superior to, if it equalled, the truss plan of Col. Long, the arch and truss of Burr, or the lattice plan of Ithial Towne, and the firm of Boody, Stone & Co. began to fear that they had made a bad bargain in the purchase of the patent. Mr. Stone, in relating the incident to a friend, said: "I came to the conclusion that something must be done or there must be a failure, and it must not be a failure. The night following was a sleepless one, at least until three o'clock in the morning. I thought, and rolled and tumbled, until time and again I was almost exhausted in my inventive thoughts, and in despair, when at last an idea came to my mind that relieved me. I perfected it in my mind's eye, and then came to the conclusion that it would not only restore the reputation of the Howe bridge, but would prove to be a better combination of wood and iron for bridges than then existed, and could not and would not in principle be improved upon. Sleep immediately came. I afterwards, with models, proved my conclusions and have not, up to this time, changed them." It seems that the invention consisted in the introduction of longitudinal keys and clamps in the lower chords, to prevent their elongation, and iron socket bearings instead of wooden for the braces and bolts, to avoid compression and shrinkage of the timber, which was the great defect in the original invention, and the adoption of single instead of double intersection in the arrangement of the braces, the latter being the arrangement in the original invention.
In the autumn of 1846, an incident occurred that may be worthy of notice. On the 14th day of October, when walking in Broadway, New York, Mr. Stone met the president of the New Haven, Hartford and Springfield Railroad, who had in his hand a telegram, stating that the bridge across the Connecticut river at Enfield Falls, one-fourth of a mile long, had been carried away by a hurricane. The president asked the advice of Mr. Stone, who stated that the timber for that structure was furnished by Messrs. Campbell & Moody, of that city, and advised that he order it duplicated at once. The president, a very faithful officer, but disinclined to take responsibilities, asked Mr. Stone to take the responsibility of ordering it. Mr. Stone replied, "Not unless I am president." The timber was, however, ordered, and at the request of the president, Mr. Stone went immediately with him to Springfield, where a committee of the board was called together, and he was asked to propose terms, and the shortest time upon which his firm would contract to complete the bridge. He stated that his terms would be high, as the season was late and would likely be unfavorable before so heavy a work could be completed, and further suggested that if they chose to appoint him manager of the work, he would accept and do the best he could for them. He was immediately appointed sole manager of the work, and the board placed at his control all the resources of the company. The work was immediately commenced by bringing to the site men and material, and it was completed, and a locomotive and train of cars run across it by Mr. Stone within forty days from the day the order was given for its erection. The structure consisted of seven spans of seventy-seven feet each, with two other spans at each end of about fifty feet each. Mr. Stone has been heard to state that he regarded this as one of the most important events of his life, and that no one was more astonished than himself at the result. He was rewarded by complimentary resolutions, and a check for one thousand dollars by the company.
The following Winter the partnership of Boody, Stone & Co. was dissolved by mutual consent, and the territory that their contract for the bridge patent covered was divided, by Mr. Stone taking the States of Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island, and Mr. Boody the other three States. A new partnership was then formed between Mr. Stone and Mr. Harris, which continued until the year 1849.
From the year 1839 to 1850, the residence of Mr. Stone, most of the time, was in Springfield, Mass., but the numerous contracts in which he was interested called him into ten different States, He served several years as a director in the Agawam Bank, was also a director for several years, and one of the building committee in the Agawam Canal Company, which erected and run a cotton mill of ten thousand spindles, in the town of West Springfield.
In the autumn of 1848, he formed a partnership with Mr. Stillman Witt and Mr. Frederick Harbach, who contracted with the Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati Railroad Company to construct and equip the road from Cleveland to Columbus. This was the largest contract that had, at that time, been entered into, of this character, by any one party or firm in the United States. A large amount of the capital stock was taken in part payment for the work. It was generally regarded as a hazardous adventure, but the work was carried through in accordance with the terms of the contract, and proved to be a profitable investment for its stockholders. In his partnership contract it was stipulated that he was to act as financial agent at the East, to send out the necessary mechanics, and to occasionally visit the work, but was not to change his residence. Events, however, occurred that required his constant presence in Ohio, and in the Spring of 1850, he moved his family to Cleveland, where they have since resided. In the Winter of 1850-1, the road was opened for business through from Cleveland to Columbus, and Mr. Stone was appointed its superintendent.
In the Fall of 1850, the firm of Harbach, Stone & Witt contracted with the Cleveland, Painesville and Ashtabula Railroad Company to construct the railroad from Cleveland to the State line of Pennsylvania, and furnish it with cars, and to take in part payment for the work a large amount of the stock and bonds of the Company. Soon after the execution of this contract, Mr. Harbach died suddenly in the city of New York, and the completion of the work devolved on Messrs. Stone and Witt. The completion of the road through to Erie principally devolved upon the Cleveland company, and was attended with many difficulties, as the Legislature of Pennsylvania seemed determined that no road should be built through the State along the shore of Lake Erie, and the general impression was, at that time, that the construction of a road along the shore of the lake was a wild scheme and would prove a failure. It was difficult to get capital subscribed and more difficult to collect instalments. The contractors having confidence in its success, prosecuted the work with vigor up to a period when they found they had expended more than $200,000, while the aggregate amount that the railroad company was able to raise and pay them was less than $100,000. An effort was then made, with success, to engage the services of Mr. Alfred Kelley. His well known character, aided by the reputation of others who were elected directors, and a subscription from the city of Cleveland of $100,000, enabled the company to meet its engagements with the contractors, who carried the work forward to completion, and the road was opened through to Erie in the Winter of 1852, when Mr. Stone was appointed its superintendent. Notwithstanding the great expense that had to be incurred in crossing the deep ravines in the State of Pennsylvania, and the heavy burdens imposed on the company by that State, it has proved to be one of the most successful railroad enterprises in the United States.
In the year 1852, Mr. Stone was elected a director in both Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati, and the Cleveland, Painesville and Ashtabula Railroad Companies, and has held that office in both companies continuously up to the present date. He also continued to hold the office of superintendent of both roads until the year 1854, when he insisted on being relieved in consequence of failing health, caused by the arduous labors which seemed unavoidably to devolve upon him. He was elected president of the Cleveland, Painesville and Ashtabula Railroad Company in the year 1857, which office he has continued to hold for twelve successive years, until 1869.
In 1868, the Cleveland and Toledo Railroad was leased perpetually to the Cleveland, Painesville and Ashtabula Railroad Company, at which time he was also elected President of the former company.
In the year 1855, he, with Mr. Witt, contracted to build the Chicago and Milwaukee Railroad, and was for many years a director in that company, and for awhile its president.
For several years he held the office of director in the Merchants Bank, of Cleveland. From its first organization until it was closed up, he was director in the Bank of Commerce, of Cleveland, and has been director in the Second National Bank, and the Commercial National Bank, of Cleveland, and the Cleveland Banking Company, from the time of their respective organizations until the present time. He was for some years president of the Toledo Branch of the State Bank, at Toledo. He was elected a director in the Jamestown and Franklin Railroad Company in the year 1863, which office he has held until the present time. In the same year he was elected president of the Mercer Iron and Coal Company and held the office until the close of the year 1868.
Mr. Stone aided in the establishment of several manufactories at this point. During the construction of the railroads from Cleveland, his firm carried on extensive car shops in the city, where cars were constructed, not only for those two roads, but for several others. He gave financial aid and personal influence to the establishment and maintenance of several leading iron manufacturing establishments and machine shops. In the year 1861-2, he erected, in the city of Cleveland, a woolen mill of five sets of machinery, and for several years ran it and turned out more goods annually than any other mill in the state of Ohio. He subsequently sold it to Alton Pope & Sons.
He is often pleased to note the progress in American enterprise, and among other events that has come under his own observation, relates the following: In the year 1839, he commenced his first railroad service upon the foundation of a bridge that was then being erected across the Connecticut river at Springfield, Mass., of 1260 feet in length. It was regarded as a very difficult undertaking, as the bed of the river was composed mostly of quicksand, and a rise of 25-1/2 feet in the river had to be provided for, and floating ice, its full width, fifteen inches in thickness. Maj. George W. Whistler, the first of his profession, was chief engineer of the work, and he had as advisers Maj. McNeal, Capt. Swift, and other eminent engineers. The work was about three years under construction, at a cost of over $131,000, and every effort was made to keep its cost at the lowest possible point, at the same time making certain the stability of the structure. Within nine years from the time of its completion, a similar structure, in every particular, was to be constructed across the same river, at Hartford, twenty-six miles below. Its length varied but a few feet, although it covered more water, and its foundations and other contingencies were quite as difficult and unfavorable. Mr. Stone concluded a contract for its construction for the firm of Stone & Harris, complete, for the sum of $77,000, and to have it ready for the cars in twenty months. The work was executed in accordance with the terms of the contract, and has not only proved as substantial as that at Springfield, but in many particulars, more so. It was the pride of Mr. Stone for many reasons, (among others, that it was stated by many that it could not be done for this sum of money,) to personally superintend this work himself, and to put in practice some of his own inventions, the most important of which was the cutting off the foundation piles with a saw arranged on a scow, propelled by a steam engine, and the sinking of the piers below water by means of screws. The result proved to be satisfactory, and as favorable, in a financial point of view, as he estimated. It will be noticed that the bridge structure, complete, at Hartford, cost $54,000 less than that at Springfield, of like character.
He has been interested in the construction of more than ten miles in length of truss bridging, and in the construction of roofs of large buildings, covering more than fifteen acres of ground, most of which he designed and personally superintended their election. The last extensive structure that he designed, and the election of which he personally superintended, was the Union Passenger Depot, at Cleveland. He was the first person that designed and erected pivot draw-bridges of long spans, which, however, have been much increased in length of span by other parties since. He was also the first to design and erect a dome roof of a span of 150 feet, sufficient to cover three lengths of a locomotive with its tender, and numerous are the improvements he has introduced in the construction of railroad cars and locomotives. The only eight-wheeled dump gravel car in successful use was designed and put in practice by him.
For a number of years Mr. Stone has been trustee of the First Presbyterian Church Society of Cleveland, and still holds that office. He was chairman of the building committee in the election of the new church edifice, and when it was burned down, was again elected chairman of the building committee, and given full charge of the reconstruction of the building.
In 1868, Mr. Stone visited Europe, being compelled to seek relief, for a brief period, from the exhausting cares of his numerous business engagements. He is expected to return in the Fall of this year, ready to again engage in the active prosecution of the important enterprises with which he is connected, and in which he has won such distinction by his sound common sense, sound judgment, unresting energy, and practicable knowledge. In whatever he undertakes there is good reason for believing that the success he has hitherto met will still attend his efforts.
Connected indissolubly with the story of the rise and progress of the important railroad interests of Cleveland and northern Ohio, is the name of Stillman Witt. As one of the builders of the pioneer railroad from the city, and of the next in point of time, which has since become one of the foremost lines of the country in importance and profitableness, Mr. Witt deserves honorable record among the men who have contributed most to make Cleveland what it is to-day, a rich, populous, and rapidly growing city.
Stillman Witt is a self-made man, and unlike some of this class, his self-manufacture will stand the test of close criticism. The material has not been spoiled or warped in the process. Those who know him best know that the struggles of his early years have not soured his disposition or hardened his feelings, and that access of fortune has not made him purse-proud. The Stillman Witt of to-day, rich and influential, is the same Stillman Witt who paddled a ferry boat at about forty cents a day, and was happy in his good fortune.
Mr. Witt was born in Worcester, Massachusetts, January 4th, 1808. His parentage was humble, and, in consequence, his facilities for obtaining an education very limited. When about thirteen years old, his father moved with his family to Troy, New York, where young Stillman was hired by Richard P. Hart to run a skiff ferry, the wages being ten dollars per month, which the lad thought a sum sufficient to secure his independence. Among the passengers frequently crossing the ferry was Mr. Canvass White, U. S. Engineer, at that time superintending the construction of public works in various parts of the country. Mr. White took a strong fancy to the juvenile ferryman, and was so much impressed by the interest the boy manifested in construction, that he applied to Stillman's father for permission to take the lad and educate him in his own profession. The permission was granted, and from that day dates the career of the future railroad builder.
Young Witt was greatly pleased with his new profession, and devoted himself to it with such zeal and faithfulness that he grew rapidly in the esteem of his patron. When he had sufficiently progressed to be entrusted with works of such importance, he was dispatched in different directions to construct bridges and canals as the agent of Mr. White. In this manner he superintended the construction of the bridge at Cohoes Falls, on the Mohawk river, four miles above Troy, where, in conjunction with Mr. White, he laid out a town which has since grown to a population of thirty thousand. The side cut on the Erie canal, at Port Schuyler, was dug under his management, and the docks there, since covered with factories, were built by him. When these were completed he was dispatched into Pennsylvania, with twenty-four carpenters, all his seniors, to build a State bridge at the mouth of the Juniata, from Duncan Island to Peter's Mountain. He was then ordered to the work on the Louisville and Portland canal, but before this was completed he was taken sick and remained a prisoner in a sick room at Albany for thirteen months.
With his recovery came a temporary change of occupation. Abandoning for a time his work of bridge building and canal digging, he took charge of the steamboat James Farley, the first lake-canal boat that towed through, without transhipment, to New York. This was followed by his taking charge, for between two and three years, of Dr. Nott's steamboat Novelty. Next he became manager of the Hudson River Association line of boats, in which capacity he remained during the existence of the association, ten years. The Albany and Boston Railroad having been opened, Mr. Witt was invited to become its manager at Albany, and accepted the trust, remaining in that position seven years and a half.
Now came the most important epoch in Mr. Witt's life. After a hard struggle the scheme for the construction of a railroad between Cleveland and Columbus assumed definite shape, a company was organized and was prepared to go to work when contractors should be found who would build the road with a little money and a good deal of faith. Mr. Witt's opportunity had come. At the end of a four days' toilsome journey from Buffalo in a cab, he reached Cleveland, and satisfactory arrangements were finally entered into. A firm was formed, under the name of Harbach, Stone & Witt, and the work commenced. The story of the building of the Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati Railroad has already been told in another part of this volume; it is a story of hoping almost against hope, of desperate struggles against opposition and indifference, and of final triumph. Mr. Witt's part in the struggle was an important one, and the solid benefit resulting from the success that crowned the enterprise was well deserved by him.
Before the work of construction was half completed, Mr. Harbach died, and the firm remained Stone & Witt, under which name it has become familiar to all parts of the American railroad world. The road was opened between Cleveland and Columbus in 1851, and the success that speedily followed the opening, demonstrated the wisdom of the projectors of the line, and justified the faith of its contractors. The three years of construction had not terminated before Messrs. Stone & Witt undertook the construction of the Cleveland, Painesville and Ashtabula Railroad, and in two years this road, now one of the richest and most powerful lines of the country, was completed. This was followed, sometime after, by the building of the Chicago and Milwaukee Railroad, which required but one year to construct, although built in the best manner.
With the completion of the Chicago and Milwaukee road Mr. Witt's active career as a railroad builder ceased. Since that time he has been chiefly employed in the management of his extensive railroad and banking interests, having been at different periods a director in the Michigan Southern; Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati; Cleveland, Painesville and Ashtabula; Cleveland and Pittsburgh; Chicago and Milwaukee, and Bellefontaine and Indiana railroads, besides being vice-president of two of these roads and president of one of them. His connection with the Bellefontaine and Indiana Railroad is noticeable from the fact that it was by his sagacity and unwearied energy, ably assisted by the late Governor Brough, as general manager, that the company was raised from absolute insolvency to a high rank among dividend paying lines. Mr. Witt had gone into the undertaking with a number of other Clevelanders, had all but lost his entire investment, but had never lost faith in the ultimate success of the line, or flagged for an instant in his efforts to bring about that success. The event proved the justness of his conclusions.
In addition to his railroad engagements, Mr. Witt is president of the Sun Insurance Company, of Cleveland; director of the Second National, and Commercial National Banks, and Cleveland Banking Company; also, of the Bank of Toledo. His interests are not all centered in railroad and banking enterprises, he having investments in the Cleveland Chemical Works, and in several other enterprises that contribute to the prosperity of the city.
Mr. Witt was married in June, 1834, to Miss Eliza A. Douglass, of Albany, but who was a native of Rhode Island. Of the four children who were the fruit of this marriage, but two survive. The elder daughter, Mary, is now the wife of Mr. Dan P. Eells, of Cleveland. The younger, Emma, is the wife of Col. W. H. Harris, of the United States Army, now in command of the arsenal at Indianapolis.
Mr. Witt's qualifications as a business man are attested by his success, won not by a mere stroke of luck, but by far-seeing sagacity, quick decision, and untiring industry. From first to last he never encountered a failure, not because fortune chanced always to be on his side, but because shrewdness and forethought enabled him to provide against misfortune. As a citizen he has always pursued a liberal and enlightened policy, ever ready to unite in whatever promised to be for the public good. In social life he has a wide circle of attached friends, and not a single enemy. Genial, unselfish, deeply attached to his family, and with a warm side for humanity in general, Mr. Witt has made for himself more friends than perhaps he himself is aware of.
Wealth and position have enabled him to do numerous acts of kindness, and his disposition has prompted him to perform those acts without ostentation and with a gracefulness that gave twofold value to the act.
In religious belief Mr. Witt is a Baptist, having joined with that church organization in Albany, thirty-one years ago. For years he has been a valuable and highly respected member of the First Baptist Church in Cleveland.
Although James Farmer has been a resident of Cleveland but thirteen years, and cannot, therefore, be ranked among the old settlers of the city, he is looked upon as one of its most respected citizens, whose word is as good as a secured bond, and whose sound judgment and stability of character place him among the most valuable class of business men. But though prudent in business affairs, and of deeply earnest character in all relations of life, Mr. Farmer has not allowed the stern realities of life to obscure the lighter qualities that serve to make life endurable. Always cheerful in manner and genial in disposition, with a quaint appreciation of the humorous side of things, he endeavors to round off the sharp corners of practical life with a pleasant and genial smile. A meditative faculty of mind, untrammeled by the opinions or dicta of others, has led Mr. Farmer into independent paths of thought and action, in all his affairs. Before taking any course, he has thought it out for himself, and decided on his action, in accordance with his conscientious convictions of right, independent of considerations of mere worldly notice.
Mr. Farmer was born near Augusta, Georgia, July 19th, 1802. His early opportunities for acquiring an education were scant, only such knowledge being gained as could be picked up in a common school, where the rudiments of an education only are taught. Until his twenty-first year, his time was chiefly spent on his father's farm, but on attaining his majority he concluded to strike out a different path for himself, and coming north, he engages in the manufacture of salt, and in the milling business, at Salineville, Ohio. His means were small, but by assiduous attention to business he was moderately successful. Four years later he added a store for general marchandise to his mill and salt works, and thus added to his property.
In the Spring of 1847, Mr. Farmer, imbued with the spirit of progress, and appreciating in advance the benefits to accrue from the proposed Cleveland and Pittsburgh Railroad, entered with spirit into the enterprise, worked hard in procuring subscriptions to the stock, and aided in various ways to its consummation. For several years he held the position of president of the company, and it was through his labors in this channel of commerce, that he became so thoroughly identified with the progress and prosperity of Cleveland.
On the completion of the railroad, Mr. Farmer was among the first to avail himself of the increased facilities for business offered by the road, and embarked in the coal trade, having previously owned coal fields in Salineville. These coal fields were now worked, and the product shipped by railroad to Cleveland and other points.
In the Spring of 1856, he removed to Cleveland, abandoning the mercantile business after devoting to it thirty-two years of his life, and having been completely successful. His coal fields still continue to furnish supplies to the coal market of Cleveland.
So far as human power can be said to control human affairs, Mr. Farmer has been wholly the architect of his own fortunes. The prosperity that has attended his efforts has been due to the close attention given his legitimate business, his strictness in making and keeping contracts, his prudent economy, and his nice sense of commercial honor and general honesty. What man can do to make honest success, he has endeavored to do, and Providence has smiled upon his efforts.
Mr Farmer is still a hale appearing gentleman, though sixty-seven years old, retaining most of his mental vigor, and much of his physical stamina, and will, we trust, be permitted to remain among us for years to come, that he may enjoy the fruits of his labor, and have the satisfaction felt by those only who minister to the necessities of others.
In 1834, Mr. Farmer was married to Miss Meribah Butler, of Columbiana county, Ohio, by whom he has had seven children, of whom five still live—one son and four daughters. The son, Mr. E. J. Farmer, has been for some years engaged in the banking business in Cleveland.
The father of Mr. James Farmer joined the Society of Friends, and was an honored member of that society. His family were all brought up in the same faith, and Mr. James Farmer has maintained his connection with the society, by the members of which he is held in high respect and esteem.