George B. Ely.
George B. Ely is a native of Jefferson county, New York, a county which has contributed many good citizens to the population of Cleveland. He was born in the town of Adams, June 23d, 1817, received a good academical education, and when seventeen left the academy to become clerk with Judge Foster, under whose auspices he came to Cleveland. After serving with Judge Foster one year in Cleveland, he accepted the position of book-keeper in the forwarding house of Pease & Allen, on the river, remaining in this position until 1843. At that date he removed to Milan, Erie county, then at the head of slackwater navigation on the Huron river. Here he engaged in trading in wheat, and in the general forwarding business, and also became interested in lake shipping, doing business under the firm name of Wilber & Ely.
In 1851, the railroad between Columbus and Cleveland was completed, and the course of trade was almost entirely diverted from its old channels. The business of Milan fell away rapidly, and the forwarding trade at that point was completely at an end, Mr. Ely closed up his connection with the place in the Spring of 1852, and removed to Cleveland, where he had engaged a warehouse with the intention of continuing in the forwarding business, but was induced to take the secretaryship of the Cleveland, Painesville and Ashtabula Railroad, many of his old business and personal friends having become interested in that undertaking and desiring the benefit of his business tact and experience. About a year after his accession to the company, the offices of secretary and treasurer were combined, and Mr. Ely assumed charge of the joint offices. Three years later he was elected a director of the company and has continued in that position to the present time. At various times he has been chosen vice-president of the company. In 1868, he was elected president of the Cleveland and Toledo Railroad Company, retaining that position until the consolidation of the company with the Cleveland and Erie Railroad Company, and the formation of the Lake Shore Railroad Company. Mr. Ely is now the oldest officer in point of service in the Consolidated company, and is about the oldest employee. During all his long service he has been an indefatigable worker, having the interests of the line always at heart, and his arduous and faithful services have contributed their full share to the prosperity of the company.
Whilst always watchful for the interests of the road with which he was connected, Mr. Ely found time to engage in other enterprises tending to advance the material interests of the city. In connection with Messrs. R. H. Harman, A. M. Harman, and L. M. Coe, he projected and built the Cleveland City Forge and put it into successful operation in the year 1864. This forge has now four large hammers at work, and preparations are making for two others, and it gives employment to about eighty skilled workmen. He was one of the projectors of the Pennsylvania Coal Company, of Cleveland, an organization having five thousand acres of coal lands in Mercer county, Pennsylvania, and now that the Jamestown and Franklin Railroad is completed, the prospects of ample returns for the outlay are good. Sixty tons of good coal are daily delivered in Cleveland, whilst the best markets of the product are found in Erie, Buffalo, and the Pennsylvania oil regions. Of this company Mr. Ely is treasurer and one of its directors.
Among his other business connections he was a director in the old Bank of Commerce from its early days until it was reorganized as the Second National Bank, and is still a director under the new organization. He is also a director in the Citizens Savings and Loan Association, and is interested in the Cleveland Banking Company.
Mr. Ely has been the architect of his own fortune, and attributes his success in life to close application to business and a firm determination never to live beyond his income. He is now fifty-two years old, enjoys vigorous health, and has never been seriously sick. From present appearances he has a fair prospect of a long life in which to enjoy the fruits of his labors, and to pass the afternoon and evening of his life amid domestic comforts earned by industry and the esteem of a large circle of friends to whom he has become endeared by his many social qualities and personal virtues.
In 1843, he was married to Miss Gertrude S. Harman, of Brooklyn, Michigan, and formerly of Oswego, New York. They have one son, now twenty-five years old, who has charge of the Cleveland City Forge, and one daughter, Helen, aged seventeen, who is now at school.
Worthy S. Streator.
Dr. Streator, as he is still called, although for many years he has abandoned the active practice of medicine, was born in Madison county, New York, October 16th, 1816. He received an academical education, and at the age of eighteen he entered a medical college, where he remained four years. On completing his medical course he went to Aurora, Portage county, Ohio, where he commenced the practice of his profession, in the year 1839 In Aurora he remained rive years, when he removed to Louisville, Kentucky, spent a year in the medical college there, and returned to Portage county, resuming his practice in Ravenna.
In 1850, Dr. Streator removed from Ravenna to Cleveland, and after remaining two years in the practice of medicine, turned his attention to railroad building. In conjunction with Mr. Henry Doolittle, he undertook the contract for building the Greenville and Medina Railroad, and completed it successfully. In 1853, the same parties contracted for the construction of the Atlantic and Great Western Railway in Ohio, a work of 244 miles. Operations were at once commenced, and were pushed forward with varying success, funds of the company coming in fitfully. In 1860, the same firm took contracts for the construction of the Pennsylvania portion of the line, ninety-one miles, and next for the New York portion. Work on both these contracts was commenced in February, 1860, and the road was completed from Salamanca, in New York, to Corry, in Pennsylvania, sixty-one miles, in the Spring of 1861.
During the prosecution of the work Mr. Doolittle died, and, in 1861, Dr. Streator sold the unfinished contracts to Mr. James McHenry, of London, England, by whom they were completed, Dr. Streator acting as superintendent of construction for about a year after the transfer of contract.
In 1862, he projected the Oil Creek Railroad, from Corry to Petroleum Center, the heart of the Pennsylvania oil regions, a line thirty-seven miles long. The line was built with extraordinary rapidity, and achieved a success unparalleled in railway history. No sooner had the rails reached a point within striking distance of Oil Creek than its cars were crowded with passengers flocking to the "oildorado," and for many months, during the height of the oil fever, the excited crowds struggled at the stations for the privilege of a standing place on the car platforms after the seats and aisles were filled. The resources of the road were inadequate to meet the great demand on it for the transportation of passengers and oil, and although Dr. Streator worked energetically to keep pace with the demand upon the road, the development of the oil regions, consequent upon the construction of the line, for some time outstripped him. The profits of the line were enormous in proportion to the outlay, but the amount of wealth it created in the oil regions was still more extraordinary. Dr. Streator managed the road until 1866, when he sold out his interest to Dean Richmond and others interested in the New York Central Railroad. In order to connect the Oil Creek Railroad with the line of its purchasers an extension northward, styled the Cross-Cut Railroad, was built from Corry to Brocton, on the Buffalo and Erie Railroad, a distance of forty-two miles, by Dr. Streator, for the New York Central Railroad Company. This was the last of Dr. Streator's railroad building undertakings.
Since the close of his railroad business Dr. Streator has organized a company, mainly composed of citizens of Cleveland, for the working of coal lands purchased in La Salle, on the Vermillion river, Illinois. The purchase contains three thousand acres on which is a five and one-half feet splint-vein of coal resembling in general characteristics the Massillon coal of Ohio. Thirteen miles of railroad have been built to connect the mines with the Illinois Central Railroad, and during the year that the road has been opened the average product of the mines has been two hundred and fifty tons per day, with demands for more, that cannot be met owing to a deficiency of rolling stock. By the close of 1869, it is expected the product will reach a thousand tons daily. Another railroad is to be built to connect with the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad.
Aside from his interest in this coal company, Dr. Streator has now no active business engagements, and devotes his time to the care of his real estate and a fine stock farm in East Cleveland, containing over three hundred acres, on which he is raising some of the finest stock to be found in the county.
Dr. Streator has had the good sense to retire from the pressing cares of business whilst able to enjoy the fruits of his labors. At fifty-three years old he is healthy and vigorous, and fully able to appreciate the advantages of wealth in procuring social and domestic enjoyments. His residence on Euclid avenue is a model of comfort and elegance, and the surrounding grounds are laid out with artistic taste.
He was married in 1839, to Sarah W. Sterling, of Lyman, N. Y. His only daughter is the wife of E. B. Thomas, Esq., of Cleveland; his oldest son devotes his attention to the care of the stock farm; the other sons are yet at home, being young.
Although Mr. Streator has been regarded, for years, as one of our most active and energetic business men, he has found time to devote to his religious duties. He has for a long time been a useful member of the Disciple Church.
The Coal Interest
By the commencement of the season of 1828, the Ohio canal had been opened from Cleveland to Akron. Henry Newberry, father of Professer Newberry, who among his other possessions on the Western Reserve, owned some valuable coal lands, saw, or fancied he saw, an opening for an important trade in coal, and sent a shipment of a few tons to Cleveland by way of experiment. On its arrival a portion of it was loaded in a wagon and hawked around the city, the attention of leading citizens being called to its excellent quality and its great value as fuel. But the people were deaf to the voice of the charmer. They looked askance at the coal and urged against it all the objections which careful housewives, accustomed to wood fires, even now offer against its use for culinary purposes. It was dirty, nasty, inconvenient to handle, made an offensive smoke, and not a few shook their heads incredulously at the idea of making the "stone" burn at all. Wood was plentiful and cheap, and as long as that was the case they did not see the use of going long distances to procure a doubtful article of fuel, neither as clean, convenient, nor cheap as hickory or maple. By nightfall the wagon had unsuccessfully traversed the streets and found not a single purchaser for its contents. Here and there a citizen had accepted a little as a gift, with a doubtful promise to test its combustible qualities. Eventually, Philo Scovill was persuaded into the purchase of a moderate quantity at two dollars per ton, and promised to put in grates at the Franklin House to properly test its qualities.
That was the beginning of a trade which has since grown to mammoth proportions, and which has become the foundation of the prosperity of Cleveland, for it is to the proximity and practically inexhaustibleness of its coal supply that Cleveland owes its manufacturing character, which is the secret of its rapid development within a few years, its present prosperity, and the assured greatness of its future.
As a domestic fuel coal made slow progress in the city for many years, but other uses were found for it, and the receipts of coal by canal rapidly increased. Steamboats multiplied on the lakes, and these found the coal of Cleveland a valuable fuel. By degrees manufacturing was ventured on, in a small way, and there being no water-power of consequence, recourse was had to steam, which created a moderate demand for coal. For ten years the receipts increased steadily, until in 1838, it reached 2,496 tons. In 1848, it had grown to 66,551 tons, and in 1858—the canal transportation being supplemented by two lines of railroad crossing the coal fields on the way to Cleveland—to 222,267 tons. In 1868, it had swollen to 759,104 tons, and the demand continues to increase in a rate more than proportionate to the enlarged sources of supply and increased facilities for transportation.
The opening of the Cleveland and Mahoning Railroad gave a strong stimulus to the coal trade of northern Ohio, and was one of the most important events in the history of Cleveland. By this time the beds of the valuable Briar Hill, or block coal, were tapped, which has proved the best fuel for manufacturing iron from the raw ore, and has no superior, if it has a rival, in the West. With the discovery of this bed of coal, blast furnaces and rolling mills were established in the Mahoning Valley, and as the uses of the coal became known in Cleveland and in other ports, a large demand, for consumption in the city and exports to other points, sprang up. Over one-half the amount of Ohio coal raised is of the Briar Hill grade, and of the whole amount of Ohio coal raised, about one-half finds its market in Cleveland.
The bituminous coal is of several grades, each suitable for a particular purpose. The most important is the Briar Hill grade, mined in the southern half of Trumbull county and finding its outlet by the Cleveland and Mahoning Railroad. This is a good grate coal, but its great use is in the manufacture of iron, and the numerous furnaces of the Mahoning Valley, the iron manufactories of Cleveland, and the demand along the line of the lakes, keep the numerous mines in full operation. The Mineral Ridge grade is a comparatively new quality to Cleveland, and has yet but comparatively few mines. It is used both for domestic and manufacturing purposes. The Massillon grade is brought both by canal and railroad, and is highly esteemed as a grate coal. The rapidly growing demand for grate fuel has given a great stimulus to the mining of this coal within a few years. The Hammondsville and Salineville grades are used chiefly for stoves in domestic use, for steam purposes, and for the manufacture of gas. These grades come to market on the Cleveland and Pittsburgh Railroad. The Blossburgh grade is used almost entirely for blacksmithing.
Besides the Ohio bituminous coals there is a steadily increasing demand for the anthracite and semi-anthracite coals of eastern Pennsylvania, which is brought by lake from Buffalo.
The growth of the coal trade during the past four years can be seen by the following table, showing the receipts from all sources and shipments, chiefly by lake, coastwise and to Canadian ports:
Date. Receipts. Shipments.
1865.......439,483 tons....235,784 tons. 1866.......583,107 " ....397,840 " 1867.......669,026 " ....334,027 " 1868.......759,104 " ....392,928 "
The amount brought over each route of supply during 1868, is thus shown:
By Lake, Anthracite...................................... 13,665 tons. " Canal, Bituminous...................................... 197,475 " " Cleveland and Pittsburgh Railroad...................... 274,159 " " Atlantic and Great Western Railroad (Cleveland and Mahoning)............................ 254,000 " " Cleveland and Erie Railroad............................ 17,600 " " Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati Railroad............ 2,205 " —————- 759,104 "
This shows an increase of nearly 100,000 tons on the receipts of 1867, notwithstanding a most obstinate and continued strike among the miners, which diminished the receipts by the Atlantic and Great Western, from 20,000 to 30,000 tons. Of the shipments of each during the year, 382,928 tons went by lake, and about 10,000 tons by rail, mostly by Cleveland and Toledo Railroad to Toledo and intermediate points.
Although never a resident of Cleveland, the enterprise of William Philpot so directly contributed to the prosperity of the city, the labors of his life were so connected with it, and the interests he founded have since become such an integral part of the business of Cleveland, that his memoir appropriately finds a place in this work. It is proper, too, that it should stand foremost in the department relating to the coal trade of the city, for he may justly be considered one of the leading founders of that trade.
William Philpot was born in Shropshire, England. At an early age he removed to Wales and went to work in the mines at three pence per day. Soon after he was able to earn full wages, he became an overseer, and continued in that capacity until he took contracts on his own account. His success was varied, on some he made handsomely, on others he failed. By the year 1835, he accumulated about eight thousand dollars, and concluded to go to the United States as affording greater facilities for small capitalists. He proceeded to Pittsburgh, where he immediately interested himself in the mining of coal. He commenced by leasing from one party a portion of the coal and the right of way on a large tract of coal land, for a term of twenty-one years, and leased coal from others, at a quarter cent per bushel. Of another person he purchased a farm, bearing coal, at seventy-five dollars an acre. In the Summer of 1837, he took into partnership Mr. Snowden, and the firm set to work vigorously, mining coal at Saw Mill Run and shipping on the Ohio river, to which Mr. Philpot had built a railway a mile in length. The two partners were not well matched. Mr. Philpot was full of energy, fertile in resources, and never slackened in his endeavors to push his affairs. No difficulties daunted him; the greater the obstacles the more pleasure he took in surmounting them. He built his railroad tracks where most other men would have shrunk from placing a rail and whilst those who commenced preparations for a mine at the same time with himself were still in the preparatory stages of work, his cars would be rattling down to the river loaded with coal. One great secret of his ability to hasten matters was his influence with the men under him. He was familiar and affable with them, worked energetically among them whenever a sharp effort was needed, and in this way got more work out of the men, without their feeling that they had been imposed upon, than most employers could have done. Mr. Snowden was a man of an entirely different stamp, and it soon became evident that the firm must dissolve. After some negotiations Mr. Philpot disposed of his interests to Messrs. Snowden and Lewis, and in 1838, removed to Paris, Portage county, Ohio, where he had purchased a farm. His family at that time consisted of his wife and two daughters; Mary Ann, now the wife of R. J. Price, Esq., Dorothy, now widow of the late David Morris, Esq. With them also was his father, Samuel Philpot, now dead. Soon after his removal to Portage county he became interested with Mr. Philip Price, in the excavation of the Pennsylvania and Ohio canal, and during the progress of the work they purchased land on either side of the canal, including Lock fourteen, where they built a saw and flouring mill, using the canal water as motive power. Towards the latter part of 1839, Mr. Philpot purchased the interest of Mr. Price in the mills and land, and ran the mills successfully, until 1841, when he sold both mills and land to Colonel Elisha Garrett, of Garrettsville. In the Spring of 1841, Mr. Philpot rented his home farm and removed with his family to Middlebury, Summit county, where he had purchased a coal bank, and engaged once more in the coal trade.
The importance of his operations in coal, both to the business of the coal regions and of Cleveland, which formed his principal market, can scarcely be overestimated. Before removing to Springfield he discovered there, in 1840, a valuable coal mine, which he afterwards developed and worked successfully, building a railroad of about three miles from the mines to the canal at Middlebury, whence the coal was shipped to Cleveland. This road he stocked with about forty coal cars, and for several years his mine supplied the principal demand for the Cleveland market. In 1843, he developed and improved the celebrated Chippewa mines, Wayne county, near the village of Clinton, and built a railroad to the Ohio canal. From these mines he supplied the Cleveland market with large quantities of coal until the year 1845, when he sold out half his interests in them to Mr. Lemuel Crawford, and some time afterward he sold one-quarter interest to Mr. David Camp.
His next remove was to Youngstown, where, in 1846, he leased the Manning and Wertz bank, and while sinking for coal, discovered iron ore. He then went to Pittsburgh and endeavored to get up a furnace company, but not being successful, he returned, and associated himself with Jonathan Warner and a few others in organizing the Ohio Iron and Mining Company, now known as the Eagle Furnace Company, Messrs. Philpot and Warner owning two-thirds of the entire stock. Mr. Philpot at that time opened and developed the Wertz and Manning Briar Hill coal mines, the furnace having been built with the purpose of smelting iron ore with raw stone coal, being the second constructed for this purpose in the Mahoning Valley, the first being that of Wilkenson, Wilks & Co., at Lowellville. The experiment was hazardous, and was carried forward under many difficulties, financial and otherwise, but the energy and enterprise of Mr. Philpot triumphed over them all.
Mr. Philpot was a man of rare energy, industry and practical good sense. He was always successful for he seemed to have an intuitive knowledge of what was the right course to take, and when once entered on an enterprise never allowed himself to be defeated or discouraged. His integrity was unquestioned. His word was as good as a bond, and was entirely relied on. He was a kind husband and father, a true friend, and his heart and hand were always open to the poor and distressed, many of whom were not only relieved from their pressing emergencies, but were assisted to start in business or to procure homesteads. Besides his many excellent social qualities and business talents, he was possessed of a most extraordinary memory, and it is related of him by one who knew him intimately, that after hearing a speech or sermon that enlisted his whole attention, he would sometimes rehearse it to others almost verbatim.
Mr. Philpot died in Liberty township, Trumbull county, June 2d, 1851.
In all the great enterprises of his business career, Mr. Philpot was ably supported by his beloved partner in life, who was a woman of more than ordinary ability. She was also most remarkably benevolent, bestowing much care on the sick and indigent in her immediate neighborhood. She survived her husband a number of years, and died at Cleveland, in August, 1865, deeply lamented.
The subject of this sketch belonged to the business classes, as distinguished from the professional, but which are none the less fruitful in characters of prominence and public interest.
Indeed it has come to pass in later years that what are commonly known as the learned professions, law, medicine and theology, though still high in rank, have lost something of the ruling pre-eminence they occupied in our earlier history. Other departments in the world's industry have asserted themselves, and railway systems, telegraphs, commerce, journalism, manufactures, banking, and other branches, have come forward and absorbed their fair proportion of the best talent and ambition of the country.
Lemuel Crawford was born in Florida, Schoharie county, New York, December 15, 1805.
Left without means, at the age of fourteen he chose the trade of moulder in the iron or furnace business.
At twenty-one he came to Painesville, Ohio, where he was made foreman of the Geauga Furnace. Here he remained about six years, having especial superintendence of the pattern and moulding department, and filling his position with great skill and credit. At this place, July 29, 1832, he married Louisa Murray, of Willoughby, in the same county, who still survives him, and to whose long and faithful companionship, judgment and energy, in all the vicissitudes of his fortune, he was largely indebted for his success.
In 1833, Mr. Crawford moved with his family to Detroit, whence, after remaining six years, he removed to Presque Isle on Lake Huron, where he was the first to start the wood trade, for fuel for our then rapidly growing steamboat commerce. Here he remained seven years, superintending large bodies of wood cutters and suppliers, the saw mills, now so common in the lumber region, being then unknown.
In 1846, perceiving, with his usual forecast, that coal was likely to supplant wood for the uses of our steam marine, he removed to Cleveland, and at once invested about forty thousand dollars in the Chippewa mines, so called, in the Mahoning Valley, which had been opened a year or two before, and promised, as the event proved, to afford an almost inexhaustible supply of the richest coal. These mines, adding tracts of adjoining coal land to them as occasion demanded, he continued to work with a large annual yield for more then twenty years.
Shortly after commencing with the Chippewa, he was found, in 1848, to be among the pioneers in opening up the beds of Briar Hill coal in the Mahoning Valley, so well known to steamboat men and manufacturers ever since, as being a kind of coal peculiarly fitted for their uses. Here he continued to mine largely at several different localities selected by him with rare judgment. He also opened and carried on mining extensively at other points, such as on the Ohio, below Steubenville, also in Orange county, Pennsylvania, and elsewhere.
His chief business office and coal depots were at Cleveland, but he had branch establishments at Detroit and Chicago, and at one time was largely interested in vessel property on the Lakes, and although the business of mining and selling coal, mainly for supplying steam craft and for exportation, was his leading pursuit, he was one of the earliest in 1851, to engage in the manufacture of pig iron from our native ores in the Mahoning Valley, having an interest in the second furnace started there, and being the builder of the fourth. From time to time he invested judiciously in real estate.
From all these sources in spite of some business adventures which proved disastrous, through unexpected financial revulsions, or the fault of others, he succeeded in amassing a splendid fortune to be inherited by his family. He was never a speculator, nor a rash operator, but his business views were liberal and comprehensive, and carried out with energy and wisdom. Personally he was a man of fine presence and manners, always pleasant to meet with on the street, cordial and unassuming. He was intensely loyal and liberal throughout the war, and always kind and charitable to the poor. He was not a church member, but was a regular church attendant and a respecter of religions institutions. In his later years he was frequently an invalid, and being in New York in the Fall of 1867, by the advice of physicians, and in company with friends from Cleveland, he sailed for Europe, where, in Paris, during the Exposition, he spent some months, returning with health improved, but which again declined until June 30, 1868, when at the age of sixty-two years, six months and fifteen days, he died at his beautiful home in Cleveland, surrounded by his family and friends, peacefully and calmly, as a good man dies.
We feel that we can not do better than to conclude this brief and imperfect sketch with the notice which appeared in the Cleveland Herald on the evening of the day of his decease. Speaking of the event it says:
We regret to announce the decease of this prominent business man and respected citizen, who died at his residence on Euclid avenue this (Tuesday) morning at about 9 o'clock.
Mr. Crawford had for years been more or less an invalid, but had not been alarmingly ill until last Thursday, when by a sudden and severe attack he was completely prostrated, and recovery became hopeless.
Mr. Crawford had nearly reached the age of sixty-three. A native of New York, beginning life with few, if any, adventitous aids, he had attained to affluence and position by a long and enterprising business career. For the last twenty-four years he has lived in Cleveland. He was among the pioneers in the coal mining business of Northern Ohio, contributing largely ever since by his sagacity and experience, to the development of that important element of commerce and public wealth.
Through all the vicissitudes of a long business life he maintained a character of the most perfect integrity. As a citizen he was liberal and public spirited; as a neighbor and friend he was kind and generous; in his social and domestic relations he was simple and unostentatious, affectionate and beloved. Very many in the various ranks and conditions of life, both here and elsewhere, will mourn his loss, and remember him with sincere respect.
D. P. Rhodes.
The name of D. P. Rhodes is distinguished among those who have contributed to the prosperity of Cleveland by the development of its coal and iron interests. For many years he has labored to build up the coal and iron trade of the city, on which its future mainly depends, and has met with a success which has benefitted the public in a far greater degree than it has enriched himself, although he has had nothing to complain of in that respect.
Mr. Rhodes was born in Sudbury, Rutland county, Vermont. His father dying when the boy was but five years old, he was compelled to work for his own living, riding horse for his neighbors whilst they plowed corn, digging potatoes and picking apples for every tenth bushel, and doing other odd jobs. When he was fifteen years old his mother married again and he lived with his stepfather till twenty-one. His stepfather, being rich, offered him a farm if he would stay with him, but he was bent on seeing the West before accepting the farm, and so set out westward. Whilst in the West he became engaged to be married, and before marriage he visited his home, when his stepfather offered him half his property if he would return there and live. The papers were made out but were not to be executed till he had consulted his affianced. To do this he returned to the West. As he traveled by canal he had abundant time to consider the matter, and the more he thought of it the more he became sick of the idea. Things were too circumscribed down east to suit his taste. He said nothing of the matter to his affianced, but wrote home that he was not coming; and to this day he has never seen occasion to regret his decision, but has been confirmed in its wisdom. To use his own expression: "By Jupiter, I would rather live west, if I did'nt live half as long."
Mr. Rhodes became early interested in the coal business, his first enterprise being in company with Messrs. Tod and Ford, in 1845, at the old Briar Hill mines, from which they raised and shipped by canal about fifty tons per week. This was considered a good business. In two or three years business increased to a hundred tons daily. In 1846, another mine was opened in Girard. This was followed by the Clover Hill mine in the Tuscarawas Valley, previous to the opening of which the firm was changed by the death of Mr. Ford. The next opened was the Clinton mines in the Tuscarawas Valley. Then a mine in Fairview, Wayne county, which was the last large transaction with Gov. Tod as partner. In about 1855, Tod and Rhodes dissolved partnership, Mr. Rhodes taking Clover Hill, and Gov. Tod all the rest of the interests.
Whilst developing his coal interests, Mr. Rhodes made important discoveries of iron ore, the first being veins of black band ore, very similar to the English and Scotch, though richer. The veins of this ore in Tuscarawas are from five to fifteen feet thick. He also discovered and worked a vein of mountain ore that will also run from five to fifteen feet thick, and is easily mined, one miner being able to mine twenty tons per day after the earth has been removed. Mr. Rhodes spent several months in the ore fields of Scotland and England in 1868, and found the veins there not over two feet in thickness.
In the Tuscarawas Valley property, Mr. Rhodes has found seven veins of coal, five of which are very good, and he has worked the whole of them. There is also as good fire-clay as any yet discovered, the finest grade being pure sandstone, which stands fire as hearthstones in furnaces better than any other. Shell ore, block ore, and limestone also exist in abundance. The iron enterprises in which Mr. Rhodes is interested are the Tuscarawas Iron Company, formed about 1864, of which Mr. Rhodes is president. This company have three or four thousand acres of mineral land in the Tuscarawas Valley, and the works have a capacity of a hundred and fifty tons per week; also the Dover Rolling Mill Company, of which Mr. Baker is president. It makes all sizes of merchant and small T rail iron, having a capacity of about fifteen tons per day.
He is largely interested in a mining company near Massillon, having three engines and three openings there, and can mine a thousand tons of coal per day as soon as the road from Massillon to Clinton is completed. This will be the shortest coal bearing road,—for blast furnace coal—to Cleveland, by fifteen miles, for it connects with the Cleveland, Zanesville and Cincinnati Railroad at Clinton, thence to Cleveland by Cleveland and Pittsburgh Railroad at Hudson. A company was formed and sunk some eight hundred or nine hundred feet, within three miles of Canal Dover, on the line of this company, and found salt water of the very best quality, the water itself being almost strong enough to preserve meat. There is coal within twenty rods of the wells at ninety cents per ton, whereas in Syracuse and Saginaw they have to use wood, at a cost (at the former place) of seven dollars per cord. Mr. Cass, President of the Fort Wayne Railroad, and J. N. McCullough, of the same and of the Cleveland and Pittsburgh Railroad, are heavily interested in the road connections adverted to above.
At Fulton, three miles below Clinton, is another coal company in which Mr. Rhodes is interested. This mine yields about three hundred tons per day, and could double that amount if there were sufficient transportation. There are two engines and two openings at this bank.
Mr. Rhodes is also interested in three mines at Marseilles, Willmington and Braceville, Illinois. He has taken a hearty interest in all improvements, and especially in the matter of railroads. He was interested in building the Northern Division of the Cleveland and Toledo Railroad, and was on the executive committee.
D. P. Rhodes and H. S. Stevens built the West Side street railroad, and equipped it. He was also largely interested in building and equipping the Rocky River railroad. He is also interested in the Cleveland and Zanesville railroad project.
Dr. Upson, of Talmadge, and Messrs. Philpot and Camp were in the coal business when Mr. Rhodes commenced, and they have all disappeared. They only then received about one boat load of fifty tons per week by canal, whereas, the firm of Rhodes & Co. now handle from ninety thousand to one hundred thousand tons per year.
Mr. Rhodes has built his docks in this city, two of them are the largest on the line of the river. About seven hundred men are employed on works in which he is heavily interested, but nothing troubles him. He says: "If the men don't dig the coal or iron, they don't get paid for it, so I take it easy, and am giving my attention to farming. I have a stock farm of five hundred and forty-four and a half acres at Ravenna that I run myself, and I have another of eighty acres adjacent to the city, rented for gardening, and still another of twenty-six and a half acres, out on the Detroit road where I intend to build me a home to live and die in, if I do not die away from home." He is now only fifty-three years old, hale and hearty, and seemingly good for another score or two of years.
He has four children, the oldest and youngest being daughters. The oldest is the wife of M. A. Hanna, of the firm of Rhodes & Co. The oldest son, Robert, is a member of the same firm; the other son, James, has just returned from a long visit to the mineral fields of Europe and attending lectures on metallurgy and mining. By his observation and studies he has acquired an extensive knowledge of the old world and the modes of working mines. The youngest daughter, Fanny, is at school at Batavia, New York.
In 1867, Mr. D. P. Rhodes and J. F. Card being tired of the sale department of their coal business, and having immense interest in mines that required close attention, gave up their sale business in Cleveland to Rhodes & Co., a firm consisting of G. H. Warmington, M. A. Hanna, and Robert R. Rhodes, who are receiving and selling both coal and iron, the same as the old firm.
The sales of coal by the firm for the past two years amounted to one hundred thousand tons per year; together with a large trade in pig iron and ore. The Willson Bank and Massillon and also Briar Hill grades of coal are principally handled by this firm, who are also operators largely in the Pennsylvania anthracites.
The ores passing through Cleveland to supply the manufactories of the Mahoning Valley are from Lake Superior and Canada; the Canada ores forming quite an extensive item. The firm keep for sale many varieties of pig iron, the most considerable being that of the Tuscarawas iron, but including also the Lake Superior and Salisbury irons.
The business of the firm averages one million dollars per year, and extends through the entire chain of lakes, having agencies at Chicago and Milwaukee, and also on Lake Superior ports. The Chicago trade is steadily increasing, for which there are two or three good reasons, to wit: The city is growing very rapidly; the Illinois coals are very inferior to those of Ohio, and the local demand for the product of the Illinois coal fields is very large, owing to the scarcity of wood.
The importance of biography as a branch of historical literature is indisputable, and long before reaching this portion of our work the reader must have realized the truth, that in the life of the individual can be seen mirrored not only his individual struggles, "but all mankind's epitome." The trouble, trials and labors of the one are but specimens of the struggles of the many who have to fight the battle of life, and who go down to their graves unchronicled. From the story of those whose experience is recorded, may be gleaned lessons of hope under the most discouraging circumstances, of perseverance amid difficulties, and assurances that labor and faith will eventually conquer. These lessons are forcibly taught in the history of the subject of the present sketch.
David Morris was born of respectable parents, in Sirhowy, Monmouth county, on the border of Wales, July 9th, 1819. His opportunities for acquiring an education were limited, but such as they were he made the most of, and obtained sufficient knowledge of the ordinary branches to enable him to successfully carry on business in after life. When about twenty years of age he emigrated to the United States, landing in New York. October 4th, 1839, in company with his mother and the remainder of the children, his father having arrived earlier, for the purpose of seeking a location. The first stop was made in Pottsville, Pennsylvania, thence they removed for a short time to Llewellyn, and afterwards to Primrose, Schuylkill county.
In 1841, he left his parents and went to Middlebury, Summit county, Ohio. He at once commenced digging coal for Mr. Philpot, with whom he had been acquainted in Wales. After a few months he commenced driving team on the railroad, and continued in that capacity for about two years. The zeal and ability shown by the young man attracted the attention of his employer, and proved of signal assistance in pushing forward the work. So marked was the interest exhibited by Mr. Philpot in his assistant, that he favored a closer connection, and in 1843, his daughter, Dorothy Philpot, was married to David Morris. The young wife was a lady of more than ordinary good qualities, and the union proved a source of unfailing happiness, Mrs. Morris being not only an exemplary wife and mother in her home, but by her counsel and assistance materially advancing the business interests of her husband.
In 1847, Mr. Morris, in connection with W. H. Harris, contracted with Lemuel Crawford for mining the Chippewa bank by the ton. After two years, he took the management of the work for Crawford & Price, the latter having purchased an interest. He then went to Girard to work his own mines at that point. The coal being of an excellent quality, and the demand constantly increasing, these mines became a source of great wealth, engrossing large capital, and giving employment to a host of workmen. Instead of the one mine which he found, his original enterprise, his estate now comprises the Mineral Ridge mines, which have been worked about eighteen years, and have yielded about a hundred and fifty tons per day; the Girard mines, worked about the same period, and yielding two hundred tons daily; and mines at Youngstown, which have been worked eight years. The pay roll of these mines now bears about $12,000 per month, and the freight bills on the railroad average $3,000 per week. The coal is mostly brought to Cleveland, whence it is shipped to Chicago, Milwaukee, Hamilton, and Toronto, a large amount going to the latter place.
In 1856, Mr. Morris moved to Cleveland, the amount of business transacted with this city making this step prudent. Here the firm of Crawford, Price & Morris was formed, which subsequently became Price, Crawford & Morris, and finally Morris & Price. On the 15th of February, 1862, he died in the forty-third year of his age.
Mr. Morris was active, industrious, and unfailing in his watchfulness over the interests in his charge, both when an employee and when an employer. His industry set a good example, which those under him were induced to follow, and in this way labors which would have wearied and discouraged men with a less energetic and industrious manager, were performed with cheerfulness. He was a man of few words but his manner and acts spoke more forcibly than words, and his men learned to obey and respect an employer, who, instead of ordering and lecturing them, quietly showed them how he wished a thing by setting about it with them. He was careful to restrain his passions, and to act from judgment instead of from impulse. In this way he was not only successful in business, and respected by his business associates, but possessed the esteem and confidence of his workmen, who, when he lay in his last illness, gathered anxiously to learn every item of intelligence that could be learned in regard to his condition.
Mr. Morris was simple and unpretending in his habits, and of a religious turn of mind. He felt his obligations to God, and during his later years, especially, was diligent in his attention on Divine worship. In the closing days of his illness, he was constantly engaged in prayer, and departed this life in the assured hope of a peaceful and joyous hereafter.
The disease that carried him off was typhoid fever, with which he was at first seized in Cleveland, where he lay at his residence for some weeks. On his partial recovery he visited Girard, where he suffered a relapse, and after a lingering illness, died at the residence of his parents. He was buried in Youngstown cemetery, the funeral exercises being attended by one of the largest assemblages of friends ever congregated at that place on a similar occasion.
It was feared that with his death the operation of his works would cease and a large number of people be thus thrown out of employment. But a short time before his death he had expressed the desire that the works should be carried on after his departure the same as before it; "because," said he, "to stop the work would do much harm to others and no good to us." Mr. Morris appointed his wife, Mrs. Dorothy Morris, and Mr. Robert McLauchlan, executors of his will, and trustees of the estate. Mr. McLauchlan, who had been for a number of years engaged with the firm previous to the death of Mr. Morris, and therefore familiar with all its business detail, had the additional qualification of being an able financier, and possessing a practical knowledge of all branches of the coal interest, and above all, a character for unimpeachable integrity. His administration has been eminently successful.
Mr. Morris left a wife and six children to mourn his loss, the eldest of whom, Mary, is now the widow of the late A. V. Cannon, and the second, William, is a member of the firm of Ward, Morris & Co., coal dealers. The third, John, is engaged at one of the estate mines, at Niles, Ohio, the rest being quite young.
W. I. Price.
W. I. Price was born in Nantiglo, South Wales, May 21st, 1823, and came to the United States with his father when about twelve years of age. His father settled at Paris, Ohio, where the subject of this sketch remained until he grew up to man's estate, when he removed to Cleveland, and was engaged as book-keeper with Messrs. Camp & Stockly. The confidence of his employers in his business ability and integrity was soon manifested by their sending him to Chicago as their agent in the coal business. His stay in that city was marked by several severe fits of sickness, and he was eventually compelled to leave that post and return to Cleveland.
Soon after his return he became interested with Lemuel Crawford, in the business of mining coal, in the early development of which branch of trade he filled a conspicuous and important part. He often related, after the coal interest had assumed large proportions, the difficulties to be surmounted in introducing coal as an article of fuel, especially on the steamboats. Frequently he has sat up all night watching for the steamers to come in, and then almost gave away coal in order to induce their officers to use it.
The firm of Crawford & Price was formed in 1850. With persistent energy it continued to push its coal business until it assumed considerable proportions, when, in 1856, Mr. David Morris became a partner, and the firm name was changed to Crawford, Price & Co., and again in 1858, to Price, Crawford & Morris. In 1857, the firm of Price, Morris & Co. was established in Chicago, and Mr. Price was, during much of his time, actively engaged in the extensive coal transactions of that firm.
Mr. Price was married to Miss Harriet Murray, who died in 1850, after two years of married life, leaving one child, which only survived her three months. He was married again August 27, 1856, to Miss Caroline Anderson, of Manchester, Vermont, daughter of Rev. James Anderson, of the Congregational church.
Being in ill health at the time of his second marriage, Mr. Price, with his wife, took a trip to Europe, visiting his old home in Wales, and returned with his health so much improved that he was scarcely recognized by his friends.
The year 1857 was a most trying time for business men. Mr. Price's labors were arduous in the extreme; his energy was unbounded, and the labors he was compelled to perform doubtless so over-taxed his strength that he had not sufficient vitality to recover.
In the Fall of 1858, he had the first serious apprehensions for his health. A bronchial difficulty from which he suffered, was aggravated by traveling and exposure, and in the Spring of 1859, he went to New York for advice. He was told to make another trip to Europe. This advice was followed, but he returned very little benefited. After a few weeks he started with his wife on a tour south, intending to remain there during the Winter. Reaching Charleston, S. C., about the middle of November, he remained but a short time, and then set out for the Sulphur Springs, at Aiken. Here he improved rapidly, but as the cold came on, and the accommodations were poor, it was thought advisable to go further south. At Savannah he remained a short time, and after wandering from point to point, arrived early in February at New Smyrna, where a large company of English hunters made their headquarters. Here they found better food and accommodations. After wandering through the South until about the middle of May, they returned to New York, where they were met by the partner of Mr. Price, Mr. Morris, and Mr. Price's brother Philip. The latter accompanied them to Manchester, Vermont. The mountain air of that region stopped the cough of the invalid, and from Thursday, May 17th, to Monday 21st, he was able to sit up, and was attending to business with his brother all the morning of the last named day. A friend from Brooklyn called, and with him he conversed for half an hour. On rising to bid him good bye, he was seized with hemorrhage, and asked to be assisted to bed. He never spoke more, and died in fifteen minutes. His remains were brought to Cleveland and interred in Erie street cemetery, but were afterwards removed to Woodland. The last illness of Mr. Price was borne without a murmur.
Mr. Price was modest and retiring in manner, affable in disposition, and benevolent to a fault. He was most beloved where best known. In business circles his integrity was proverbial, and his financial ability everywhere acknowledged. Few men have died so sincerely regretted by those who knew him.
James Anderson Price, the only child of the subject of this sketch, was born April 22d, 1858, and though yet very young, presents in personal appearance and disposition an exact counterpart of his father.
D. W. Cross.
In the Spring of 1855, when the coal trade of Cleveland was, comparatively, in its infancy, and before the Mahoning Railroad was built, the late Oliver H. Perry and David W. Cross set about investigating the coal deposits in the Mahoning Valley, which resulted in their making some leases of coal lands, and in purchasing a coal tract of about one hundred and fifty acres, known then as the old Heaton coal bank, of Mineral Ridge coal. In January, 1856, Perry, Cross & Co. commenced operations in earnest, opened an office and coal yard on Johnson & Tisdale's dock and mined and brought to Cleveland the first cargo of Mineral Ridge coal. It came by the way of the Pennsylvania and Ohio canal from Niles, Trumbull county, Ohio.
At that time, when a gold dollar was only worth a dollar, the coal was mined at forty cents per ton, the canal freight about one dollar and seventy-five cents per ton, "dead work," handling, dockage, &c., about seventy-five cents, making the total cost of that coal on the docks in Cleveland ready for delivery, about two dollars and ninety cents per ton.
This mine produced about a hundred tons per day. The company that year also received about eight thousand tons of Briar Hill or "block coal" from Powers' bank, about two miles below Youngstown. This coal was also brought in by canal boats.
In the year 1859, Hon. Henry B. Payne, who had an interest in the original purchase of coal lands, with a view of establishing his son, Nathan P. Payne, in business, bought the entire interest of Mr. Perry in the concern and the business was continued in the name of D. W. Cross & Co. Mr. N. P. Payne, then an active young man just from his collegiate studies, took charge of the retail trade, and Isaac Newton had charge of the books. In 1860, arrangements were made with the late Lemuel Crawford to run his Chippewa and Briar Hill mines in connection with the Mineral Ridge mines, and it resulted in forming the company known as Crawford, Cross & Co., for one year, at the expiration of which time the firm of Cross, Payne & Co., composed of D. W. Cross, Nathan P. Payne and Isaac Newton, carried on the business. This firm made extensive explorations for coal. They discovered and opened the Summit bank coal mines, near Akron, built a locomotive railroad three miles long to the canal at Middlebury, and to the Cleveland & Zanesville and Atlantic & Great Western railroads; repaired the feeder canal from Middlebury to Akron, built a basin capable of holding eight canal boats, extensive shutes, docks, &c., capable of handling four thousand five hundred tons per day. This coal tract includes between three and four hundred acres. The coal is a superior quality of the Massillon grade, about four and a half feet thick, and for steam, manufacturing and domestic uses is claimed to have no superior. The company employed at this mine from seventy-five to a hundred and fifty men; built extensive shaft works for elevating coal to the surface; erected about forty comfortable tenements for the workmen and miners, and, in short, used all their past experience to make this a model mine. It is the nearest coal bank to Cleveland now open.
They also, in connection with the late W. A. Otis, Charles A. Otis and James Lewis, leased and purchased several hundred acres of coal lands in Brookfield, Trumbull county, Ohio, and opened the extensive works known as the Otis Coal Company's bank.
A shaft on this tract was sunk to the coal eight by sixteen feet and a hundred and fifty-five feet deep, in sixty-one days by Isaac Halford, superintendent, through solid rock, said to be the quickest work ever known in the valley. This tract produces an excellent quality of the Briar Hill grade of coal; a locomotive railroad connects it with a branch of the Mahoning Railroad, and the works are capable of mining and raising three hundred tons of coal per day.
In February, 1867, Mr. Cross retired from the business, and the present firm of Payne, Newton & Co., composed of N. P. Payne, Isaac Newton and Charles J. Sheffield, now carry on the extensive business of the entire concern. They have ample facilities for mining and handling five or six hundred tons of coal per day.
After the completion of the Cleveland & Mahoning Railroad the Pennsylvania and Ohio canal was abandoned, the Railroad Company having obtained control of the stock, and fixed so high a tariff as to cut off all competition with themselves. This effectually killed the canal, except that portion between Akron and Kent. The active trade on this part of the Pennsylvania and Ohio canal will insure its preservation, and as it is an important feeder (supplying water and trade) to the Ohio canal, the State will undoubtedly take possession of it. The capital invested by this concern in the coal trade is about $250,000.
Since his retirement from the coal trade, Mr. Cross has been actively interested in the Winslow Car Roofing Company and the Cleveland Steam Gauge Company, both carrying on their manufactories in Cleveland.
Although originally settled by people from Connecticut, Cleveland was not in its early days distinguished for its religious characteristics. Old inhabitants narrate how in the infancy of the settlement the whisky shop was more frequented than the preaching meeting, whenever that was held, and how, on one occasion, a party of scoffing unbelievers bore in mock triumph an effigy of the Saviour through the streets. A regular meeting of infidels was held, and burlesque celebrations of the Lord's Supper performed. Still later, when the business of slaughtering hogs became an important branch of industry, it was carried on regularly, on Sundays as well as on week-days, and as this was a leading feature in the year's doings the religious observance of the day was seriously interfered with during slaughtering season. Trade on the river, in the busy season, went on with but little regard for the Sundays, except that Mr. John Walworth invariably refused, although not a church member, to conform to the usage of his neighbors in doing business on that day. Unlike the modern emigrants from New England, the Cleveland pioneers did not carry the church with them.
The first regularly organized religious society in Cleveland was the Episcopal, which gathered together for religious worship in 1817, under the ministration of the Rev. Roger Searles. The meetings were held wherever a room could be obtained, the court-house, old academy building, and other public rooms being frequently used for the purpose. In 1828, Trinity Church was regularly incorporated, and the frame building which stood on the corner of Seneca and St. Clair streets until its destruction by fire in 1853, is remembered with affection by many Clevelanders as "Old Trinity."
The next religions organization was Presbyterian. In 1820, a few residents of Cleveland engaged, the Rev. Randolph Stone, pastor of a church at Morgan, Ashtabula county, to devote a third of his ministrations to Cleveland. In June of that year the first Sunday school was established with Elisha Taylor as superintendent, but it was only by the most persistent effort that it was enabled to combat the prejudices and overcome the indifference of the people. In September, 1820, the First Presbyterian church was formally organized, with fourteen members, in the old log court-house. In 1827, the society was regularly incorporated, and in 1834, the old stone church on the Public Square was opened for worship. During the whole of this time the congregation had no settled pastor, but was dependent on occasional visits of ministers from other places.
The first attempt at Methodist organization was somewhere between 1824 and 1827. Methodism was not in favor among the early settlers in Cleveland. The historian of the Erie Conference relates that a Methodist friend in New England, who owned land in Cleveland, sent on a deed for the lot on the northeast corner of Ontario and Rockwell street, where Mr. Crittenden afterwards built a large stone house, which lot would have been most suitable for a church, and that no person could be found willing to pay the trifling expense of recording, or take charge of the deed, and it was returned to the donor. In 1830, Cleveland became a station, with Rev. Mr. Plimpton, pastor.
The first Baptist meeting was held in the old academy, in 1832, the Rev. Richmond Taggart preaching to a handful of believers. In 1833, the First Baptist society was formally organized with twenty-seven members, Moses White and Benjamin Rouse, who still live in the city, being of the original deacons. In 1836, their first church, on the corner of Seneca and Champlain streets, was dedicated with a sermon by the Rev. Elisha Tucker, of Buffalo, who was afterwards called to the pastorate.
About the year 1835, the first Roman Catholic church was built on Columbus street on the flats, and was intended to supply the religious needs of the Roman Catholics of Cleveland and Ohio City, being situated almost midway between the settled portions of the two places. The first pastor was the Rev. Mr. Dillon.
In 1835, the first Bethel church, for the use of sailors, was built at the back of the site of Gorton, McMillan & Co.'s warehouse. It was a plain wooden structure, which remained there until the erection of the brick church on Water Street, when the wooden building was removed to make way for the Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati Railroad.
In 1839, the first Hebrew synagogue was organized and a brick church was afterwards built on Eagle street.
From these feeble beginnings have grown up the present religious organizations of Cleveland, numbering about seventy churches, many of them of great beauty and costliness, with flourishing Sunday schools and wealthy congregations. The leading denominations have each several churches graded, from stately buildings for the older and wealthier congregations to the modest mission chapels. Nearly all the religious beliefs of the day are represented by organizations in the city, and all are in a flourishing, or at least a growing condition.
Samuel C. Aiken.
The ancestors of Mr. Aiken were from the North of Ireland, particularly from Londonderry, Antrim and Belfast. At an early day one or two colonies came over to this country and settled on a tract of land on the Merrimac River, in New Hampshire, calling it Londonderry, after the name of the city from which most of them had emigrated. Fragments of these colonies were soon scattered over New England, and a few families moved to Vermont and purchased a tract of land midway between the Green Mountains and Connecticut River. The township was at first called Derry, and afterwards divided, one portion retaining the original name, and the other taking the name of Windham. In the latter town Dr. Aiken was born, September 21, 1791. His parents were both natives of Londonderry, New Hampshire. Before their marriage, his mother, whose maiden name was Clark, resided a considerable portion of her time in Boston, with a brother and three sisters, and was there when the Revolutionary war broke out. When the city fell into the hands of the British, they refused to let any one leave. By some means however Miss Clark escaped and crossed over to Cambridge, where the American army was stationed under General Washington. After questioning her as to her escape and the situation of affairs in the city, Washington told her, that, in the present condition of the country it was unsafe for her to travel unprotected, and accordingly gave her an escort, proving that the great General was also mindful of the courtesies of a gentleman.
When about twelve or thirteen years of age, Dr. Aiken, after a preparatory course, entered Middlebury college, in 1813. In his junior year a long fit of sickness placed him under the care of a physician from Georgia, who bled him forty times and gave him calomel and julep, (such was the way of curing fever,) sufficient to destroy the best constitution. The consequence was, his health was so impaired that he was obliged to leave college for a year. Afterwards returning he entered the class of 1814. In both classes were quite a number of young men who became distinguished in Church and State. Among them was Sylvester Larned, the eloquent preacher of New Orleans, Levi Parsons and Pliney Fisk, first missionaries to Palestine, Carlos Wilcox, the poet, Silas Wright, afterwards Governor of New York State, and Samuel Nelson, now on the Bench of the Supreme Court of the United States.
Dr. Aiken's first religious impressions were occasioned by reading Doddridge's Rise and Progress of Religion in the Soul. Faithful parental instruction in the Bible and Shorter Catechism had laid the foundation for belief in the truth of religion. A revival of religion soon after entering college awakened a new and solemn purpose to devote his life to the work of the Gospel ministry. The usual course of three years at Andover Theological Seminary was passed without any special occurrence. He was then called by the "Young Men's Missionary Society" in New York, to labor in their service in that city. He had but just entered the field when an urgent request from the First Presbyterian society in Utica, New York, took him to that place, then only a small village, where he was ordained and installed, the third of February, 1818. Some events of deep interest occurred while he was in Utica. The building and completion of the Erie canal was one. The cholera in 1832, was another. It was there and then this fatal epidemic first appeared in the United States. In Utica also during his ministry were several revivals of religion of great power and interest. Moreover, about that time the subject of anti-slavery began to be agitated; opposition and mobs began to gather, which, under the control of the Almighty, have resulted in the emancipation of millions of slaves.
Impaired health, after about nineteen years of labor, with very little relaxation or relief by traveling, such as is common now, determined him to accept a call from the First Presbyterian church and society in Cleveland, over which he was installed pastor in November, 1835. Although the church had been organized fifteen years, Rev. Mr. Aiken was the first regular pastor. The ministerial duties were performed by supplies.
Soon after Mr. Aiken was installed pastor, a great financial revulsion took place; and for a period of about ten years he voluntarily relinquished three hundred dollars out of his salary of fifteen hundred, lest it should prove burthensome to the church. This low tide in financial matters was characterized by remarkable religious developments; slavery, temperance and Millerism became church questions; and it was regarded as the peculiar mission of Mr. Aiken to distinguish between truth and error. His moderation, judicious advice, and devoted character were just calculated to conduct his charge safely through the distractions of that period. The society increased at such a rate that the building became crowded, and another church was organized for the West Side. On the East Side a Congregational church was formed about the year 1840, to which some of the more radical members of the First Presbyterian church went over. In process of time the nucleus of the Second Presbyterian church on Superior street, and the Third, on Euclid street, were formed out of the First church, not because of any dissatisfaction, however, but for want of room. But, notwithstanding these offshoots, a new and larger edifice became necessary, and in 1853, the present enlarged, elegant and substantial building was put up on the site of that of 1834. In March, 1857, the wood work of this spacious stone structure was destroyed by fire.
In his physical constitution, with which the mental is closely allied, Mr. Aiken is deliberate, to a degree which some have greatly mistaken for indolence. But with a commanding person, and strong will this habitual absence of excitement was never tame, but rather impressive. He seldom rose above the even tenor of his discourse, but never fell to commonplace, was generally interesting and occasionally eloquent. His sermons were not hasty compositions, without a purpose, but well studied, rich with original and important thought, artistically arranged and glowing with genuine piety and embellished with scholastic treasures. Dr. Aiken possessed the accomplishment, and understood the value of good reading, so rare in the pulpit, and which is scarcely inferior to eloquence. We remember but few occasions when he became thoroughly aroused. The destruction of so fine a church edifice so soon after it was completed seemed to him a personal calamity. On the following Sunday the congregation met in Chapin's Hall. His heart was evidently full of grief; but also of submission. His fine enunciation, correct emphasis, and strong yet suppressed feelings, secured the earnest attention of every hearer. He touched graphically upon the power of fire; how it fractures the rock, softens obdurate metals, envelopes the prairies in flame, and how it seized upon the seats, ceiling and roof in his darling house of worship, thence fiercely ascending the spire to strive to rise still higher, and invade the clouds. From this he turned to the doctrine of submission, in a manner so earnest and pathetic that a perceptible agitation pervaded the audience, in which many could not suppress their tears. There was no laboring after effect. It was the natural result of a lofty sentiment, expressed with unction, beauty and vigor.
During the same year the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church was held at Cleveland. The slavery question was there presented for the last time. The Southern members, represented by Rev. Mr. Ross, of Alabama, had counted upon what they called a conservative course, on the part of Mr. Aiken. They wished, simply, to be let alone. From the Middle States there were many clergyman of moderate views, who expected him to take their ground, or, at least, to be silent. He had advised non-resistence to the execution of the fugitive slave law, even on the part of the blacks, in cases where governmental officials were implicated. As usual, the negro question came up, and a large portion of a day was given to it.
Until near the close of the debate the representatives of the Middle and Southern States were quite hopeful of a moderate policy, or of no policy. Mr. Aiken sat near the marble pulpit in the Second church without any apparent interest in the discussion. He rose and spoke with difficulty and in a weak voice, and few words. In a temperate but firm and patriarchal manner he recounted the various phases of the question, during his public ministry. He then touched upon the moral and religions aspect of the case, but with no asseveration, and concluded by denouncing slavery as an evil, so monstrous that the church could neither sustain nor ignore it. The silence was so complete that no word was lost. When he sat down, the Southern members remarked that their fate within the church was settled.
On a previous public occasion in 1851, when the Columbus Railway was just completed, and an excursion of State dignitaries made a trial trip to Cleveland, Mr. Aiken was requested to preach in their presence. As this discourse is one of a very few that have been printed, we can give a few literal extracts:
It was my privilege on the Lord's day to address De Witt Clinton and the Canal Commissioners of New York in recognition of the beneficient hand of Providence, who had carried them on to the completion of the Erie Canal. In a moral and religions, as well as in a social and commercial point of view, there is something both solemn and sublime in the completion of a great thoroughfare. It indicates not only the march of mind and a higher type of society, but the evolution of a divine purpose.
In his quarter century sermon, June 3d, 1850, he says of revivals:
They are as their Divine Author says, like the breath of wind through fragrant trees and flowers, scattering grateful odors, pervading the universal church with the treasured sweetness of divine grace. If my success has not been as great as I would wish, it is as great as I had reason to expect. I confess I have much to deplore, and much for which to be thankful. There have been adverse influences here to counteract those usually falling to the lot of other ministers. So far as the subject of slavery is concerned I have endeavored without the fear or favor of man to preserve a course best calculated to promote freedom and save the church from dismemberment.
With such a style, perspicuous, easy and impressive, it is easy to see how he might thoroughly absorb the attention of an audience, without affecting the orator. If he had been more ambitions and more enterprising, he might have risen higher as a popular preacher, but would have held a lower place in the affections of his people. The position of a pastor in an active and growing city is beset with difficulty on all sides. To retain place and influence in one congregation during a period of thirty-five years is an evidence of prudence, character and stability of purpose more to be desired than outside fame in the church.
Though not yet arrived at extreme old age, he is too feeble to perform much service. It is ten years since he has retired from active duty, but his congregation continue his annual salary by an unanimous vote. Few clergyman are permitted to witness, like him, the fruits of their early labors. He has contributed largely to shape the religions institutions of a city, while it was increasing in population from three thousand to ninety thousand. We remember but one instance where he was drawn into a newspaper discussion. This was in the year 1815, in which he reviewed the decrees of the Council of Trent in relation to the prohibition of the Scriptures to the common people. The letters of "Clericus" and "Veritas" on that subject covered the whole ground on both sides, and are worthy of publication in a more permanent form.
The Rev. Doctor sustained the relation of pastor to the First Presbyterian church until 1858, when he resigned, leaving the Rev. Dr. Goodrich sole pastor. The whole extent of his ministry from the time of his license by the Londonderry Presbytery, 1817, to the present time, March, 1869, has been about fifty-three years. During forty-three years of this period he has been a pastor in only two congregations. The other portion of this time he has preached and labored in vacant churches and where there was no church, as health and opportunity permitted.
The Doctor still resides in Cleveland, beloved by the church over which for so many years he watched and prayed, and honored in a community in which he has so long been recognized as an unswerving advocate of right.
Retired from active duty, and nearing, as he is, the sunset of life, his quiet hours may bring to him remembrances of vigorous effort and unmeasured usefulness, while his gentle nature may be cheered by the consciousness that he still holds the love of this people.
Seymour W. Adams.
The subject of this sketch, Rev. Seymour Webster Adams, D. D., was born at Vernon, Oneida county, New York, August 1, 1815. His father's name was Isaac Adams and his mother's maiden name was Eunice Webster—she was a niece of Noah Webster, the great American lexicographer. His mother is still living. His father died in 1861. Dr. Adams was possessed of remarkable equanimity of temperament, a healthful constitution and great powers of application and endurance. These traits, the home influences under which he was nurtured, developed in a high degree. His early years were passed upon his father's farm at Vernon and in the home circle. Having before him constantly not only the example of right living, as generally esteemed, but of holy living, he could not do otherwise than profit greatly by the example set before him. But he did not only profit by this example—he went much further. It is said of him, "As a son he was docile, loving, tenderly attached to his kindred, profoundly obedient and reverent towards his parents, whose wish was the law of his heart, and whom he loved to call blessed."
At the age of seventeen he became a member of the Baptist church at Vernon, and soon after this entered upon a course of preparation for a liberal education and in due time he entered Hamilton College, Clinton, New York, from which he graduated after a full course, taking a very high position in his class.
That the leading traits of his character while young may be appreciated, some of his early writings are here referred to.
Soon after entering upon his collegiate course he wrote upon "Integrity of Character," and among other things remarked that the man who suffers his principles to be violated "sacrifices his honor, barters all that is noble and admirable, and abandons those principles to which he should cling with an unyielding grasp."
On another occasion a little further on he is found maintaining the necessity of the exercise of the physical and intellectual powers of man "as a wise provision of the Sovereign Ruler of the world" for man's happiness, and he maintains that not only in this should there be activity but energy.
Afterwards, in 1841, when he had become a senior and was about to bid adieu to college life, he chose as the subject of his oration, "Development of Character," maintaining that no one can become "deservedly great" who does not encounter and overcome the impediments and difficulties constantly presenting themselves. He says: "Difficulties may long have met the aspirant at every step and been for years his constant companions, yet so far from proving detrimental, they have been among the most efficient means for preparing him for vigorous effort to surmount still greater barriers."
These references are deemed sufficient to indicate the principles and leading traits of the youthful Seymour W. Adams, and as we shall see, were his unvarying guides through life. To him it was the same to resolve as to perform, for whether in earlier or later life he never put his hand to the plow and looked back. Therefore, having resolved to become a Christian minister, he never swerved from that resolution for a single moment, but went forward with his mind fixed upon his purpose and object as the mariner's upon his guiding star. In pursuance of his previous determination, in the Fall of 1841 he entered the Hamilton Theological Seminary at Hamilton, Madison county, New York, from which in regular course he graduated, and after acting as ministerial supply in one or two places, he was called to and accepted the pastorate of the Baptist church at Vernon, his native place, having previously received ordination. Here he was greatly beloved by his people and continued there quietly pursuing his duties, until sought out at his village home and invited to accept the vacant pastorate of the First Baptist church of Cleveland, Ohio.
When first invited to the Cleveland pastorate he refused to listen, and declined to entertain the call; but upon the matter being further pressed upon him, upon the second call he consented to visit Cleveland for the purpose of becoming acquainted with the people and learning their situation, but was careful to give them no encouragement that he would accept their invitation.
Mr. Adams came to Cleveland in pursuance of this call October 19th, 1846, and after remaining three weeks returned home to Vernon, leaving it in great doubt whether he would return here. In about a month afterwards, the church at Cleveland calling him was relieved of suspense by his acceptance of the pastorate. He entered upon it November 22d, 1846. The subject of his discourse on this occasion was:
"For they watch for your souls as they that must give account."—Heb. xiii, 17.
A few words as to this discourse is deemed not out of place here, as it has become historic in the church to which it was delivered. The doctrine of the discourse was the reciprocal duty of pastor and people. Reference will only be made to what appertains to the pastor. He laid down most rigid rules for him—"that he should be a holy man,"—that he should be one that "hath clean hands and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity." That the injunction was laid upon him, "Keep thyself pure;" that as the conduct of the minister is observed by many it should be fitting as an example to others "in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity." That in preparation for preaching the Word "time, thought and prayer must be given—that the burden of all his preaching should be 'Christ and him crucified.'"
How well he observed these will appear hereafter in the language of those who made addresses at his funeral, or soon afterwards. The reader is also referred to the Memoir of Dr. Adams, edited by Judge Bishop.
In this pastorate Dr. Adams continued till his decease. No extended reference can be made to his labors in so brief a sketch as this. A mere summary only can be given of his life work. The number of sermons preached by him, including addresses at funerals, is three thousand four hundred and ninety-three; number of marriages solemnized, three hundred and fifty-two; number of funerals attended, five hundred and four; number received into the church, including those received both by letter and baptism, about seven hundred. In addition to his other labors, in 1858-9, he wrote the life of Rev. Dr. Nathaniel Kendrick, so long and honorably known as the founder of the Hamilton Theological School, and which has since grown to be Madison University and Hamilton Theological Seminary. While in this work all display and all mere ornament is avoided, it is a work of decided merit, requiring severe application and patient industry to accomplish it. His surviving wife has said that "his pastoral labors were prosecuted regardless of self."
He was three times married. First to Miss Caroline E. Griggs, who died April, 1847. Second, January, 1849, to Mrs. Cordelia C. Peck, widow of Rev. Linus M. Peck, and daughter of Rev. Dr. Nathaniel Kendrick; she died October, 1852. Third, to Miss Augusta Hoyt, August, 1855, who is the mother of his four surviving children.
He was not only a Christian minister, but he was a true Christian patriot, and never, during all the terrible struggle for the life of the nation, when he offered prayer, did he fail to remember his country. Nearly the last work of his life was to accept an appointment in the Christian Commission to render service in Washington and at the front, relieving and comforting the sick and wounded of our army.
On the sixth of July, 1864, he returned home from this service, quite unwell, but he thought he could find no space for repose, and labored on more intensely than ever, all which time a crisis was approaching which he did not anticipate. He at last began to perceive symptoms of severe illness, and Sabbath, September 11th, he preached his last sermon to his people from Heb. iii: 7, 8. "To-day if ye will hear his voice harden not your hearts," &c. All that can be said here of this discourse is, that if he had known it was his last he could not have spoken more appropriately or warned more earnestly. From the preaching of this discourse he went to the sick-room, and on the 27th of September, 1864, Dr. Adams bade adieu to earth and passed away.
His funeral was attended September 30th, by a great multitude of mourners and friends, at the First Baptist church, and a large number of the clergymen of Cleveland participated in the solemnities.
This sketch can not be better concluded than by referring briefly to some of the remarks made on that occasion, as a fitting testimonial to the character and worth of Dr. Adams.
Remarks, 1st, by Rev. Dr. Aiken:
I have known him intimately, and I have thought, as I have seen him on the street, of that passage of Scripture, "Behold an Israelite indeed in whom there is no guile," for there was no guile in him. You might read his profession in his daily life. He commended daily the Gospel that he preached, and gave living witness of its power and showed that he loved the truth. He was eminently successful as a pastor and useful in the cause of the Redeemer.
2d, by Rev. Dr. Goodrich:
There was manifest a diligence in his study and a thoroughness of thought which commanded increased respect the longer we listened to him. His life and character made him felt in this community even more than his words. He preached one day in the week to his own flock, but he lived forth the Gospel of Christ every day before the world. There was in him a sincerity and consistency which could not be hid. He was transparent as crystal and honest as a little child. No man ever doubted him. He was always himself, true, manly, faithful. Men, as they passed him in the street, said to themselves, "There is a man who believes all the Gospel he preaches." He is gone, but his works follow him. "Being dead he yet speaketh."
3d, by Rev. Dr. Hawks:
Possessed naturally of a strong intellect, he disciplined it by the severe process of thought and study. His scholarship was accurate and thorough, his reading extensive and profitable, by means of these he intended to serve, as he did, Christ and the church. Dr. Adams was a pastor as well as preacher. He taught not only publicly but from house to house.
J. A. Thome.
James Armstrong Thome was born in Augusta, Kentucky, January 20, 1813. He is of Scotch descent on his father's side, and of North Irish by his mother, a native Armstrong of the border land. His father was a Presbyterian of the Scotch type, and a ruling elder in the church. His mother was a Methodist of the original Wesleyan order and period, having been converted under the labors of the Wesleys at the age of nine. This difference of the parents in religious beliefs and church affinities remained unchanged till the death of the mother, each attending their respective meetings; yet, wide as the distinction then was, and warm as the prevalent feeling was, between Presbyterians and Methodists, particularly in Kentucky, there was neither sectarian width nor warmth between the godly pair, the twain were one flesh and one spirit in Christ Jesus.
The son usually followed his father to church, though he sometimes accompanied his mother; and during week-day evenings he had the double advantage of going to prayer-meeting with the one, and to class-meeting with the other. To this two-fold, yet harmonious, religious training in childhood the son is indebted for a breath of religious sentiment and sympathy which made him early a Presbyteria-Methodist in heart, and led him subsequently to the mid-way ground of Congregationalism, where many a Presbyterian and many a Methodist have met in Christian unity,
He owes his early conversion to the faithful teachings and pious example of his parents, to their religious instruction, to family worship, to Sabbath observance, to sanctuary means, in prosecution of the covenant his parents entered into with God when they consecrated him in infancy.
The son's first great sorrow came when he was in his ninth year, in the death of his mother. The loss was irreparable, but it led him to Christ, From the sad moment when the dying mother laid her hand upon his head and spoke in words never to be forgotten, her last benediction, sorrow for the sainted dead was blended with penepenitentialrow towards God, and prayers and tears cried to heaven for mercy. It was not, however, until the age of seventeen that the blind seeker found the Saviour, and conscious peace in Him. This happy event was immediately followed by union with the Presbyterian church, and this by personal consecration to the ministry. Just before his conversion, his college course, early begun, had been completed. Three years were spent in farther study, and in travel, and general observation bearing on the chosen calling of life.
At the opening of Lane Seminary, under the Theological headship of Dr. Lyman Beecher, the young divinity student chose that school of the prophets, and joined its first class in 1833. It was a class destined to be made famous by a discussion, in its first year, of the slavery question, then beginning to be agitated by the formation of an anti-slavery society on the basis of immediate emancipation, and by the active agitation of the subject in the neighboring city, Cincinnati, whereby the mobocratic spirit was aroused, whence threats of sacking the seminary buildings, and thereupon alarm and hasty action of the trustees, disallowing further agitation, and enjoining the disbanding of the society. The students, too much in earnest to yield, after unavailing attempts at reconciliation with the authorities, the professors mediating, and Doctor Beecher conjuring his beloved pupils to stay with him, seceded in a body, in December, 1834. The young Kentuckian, son of a slave-holder, became a thorough convert to the doctrine of emancipation, joined the anti-slavery society, agitated with his brethren, delivered an address at the first anniversary of the American Anti-Slavery Society, in New York, May, 1834, and seceded with the class. "A Statement of the Reasons which induced the Students of Lane Seminary to Dissolve their Connection with that Institution"—a pamphlet of twenty-eight pages, signed by fifty-one names, and bearing date December 15, 1834, was published and went over the land, and the city, intensifying the agitation at home, and raising it throughout the country. Among the signatures to this document are those of Theodore D. Weld, H. B. Stanton, George Whipple, J. W. Alvord, George Clark, John J. Miter, Amos Dresser, (afterwards scourged in the Public Square of Nashville,) William T. Allen, son of a slaveholding Presbyterian minister in Alabama, and James A. Thome.