Part 2 out of 11
North Carolina. A few years later he was interested in building the
steamer Bunker Hill, of 456 tons, which at that time was considered a very
large size. To these were added, by himself and his sons, so many other
lake craft that the family ranked among the foremost, if not the very
foremost ship-owners on the chain of lakes, their sail vessels, propellers
and steam-tugs being found everywhere on the western lake waters.
In 1854, Mr. Winslow retired from business, leaving his interest to be
carried on by his sons, who inherited their father's business qualities.
In his retirement, as in his active business life, he enjoyed the
friendship of a very large social circle, to whom his frank, generous
manners, warm attachments, and spotless honor commended him. He was a
favorable specimen of the old school gentleman, warm and impulsive in his
nature, quick to conceive and prompt to act, cordial in his greeting,
strong in his attachments, and courteous to all.
His death was accelerated by an accident which seriously injured a leg he
had badly injured several years before. To the last he preserved his
faculties and his cheerfulness, and but for the injuries he had received
would probably have lived for many years longer.
He was no politician, never sought office, but at the same time took a
keen interest in public affairs, and did not neglect his duties or
privileges as a citizen.
The three brothers in active conduct of the large marine interests known
as the Winslows', are distributed as follows: N. C. at Buffalo, H. J. at
New York, and R. K. at Cleveland, all of whom have been eminently
Amongst Cleveland's earliest merchants who have already passed away, none
deserve more honorable mention than Richard Hilliard. Like nearly all our
men of mark, in early life he was obliged to sail against wind and tide.
He was born at Chatham, New York, July 3, 1797. His father, David
Hilliard, died when Richard was 14 years of age, he being at the time
serving an apprenticeship with a hatter named Dore, at Albany. He was a
lad of superior organization, and so, although obedient and obliging, had
an extreme distaste for drudgery. A son of Mr. Dore one day threw down a
pair of boots, saying, "Clean those boots Dick," when the lad concluded he
would not do it, and at once prepared to leave for parts unknown. None of
his friends knew of his whereabouts for several months, but at length
learned he was at Skaneateles, with an older brother. Here he remained
until he was about 18 years of age, being employed at clerking and school
teaching, and ever mindful of his widowed mother and fatherless sisters.
From Skaneateles he removed to Black Rock and engaged himself as clerk to
Mr. John Daly, a general merchant at that place. The young man soon gained
the confidence of his employer and was admitted as a partner without
capital. After a year or two, the firm moved to Cleveland, as a place of
greater promise for trade. This occurred in 1824. They at once commenced
business in the same line here on the site of the present Atwater Block,
in a frame building of two compartments, one of which was used for dry
goods, and the other for groceries. Mr. Daly was not an active partner in
the business here, having given the entire management to Mr. Hilliard.
In 1827, Mr. Hilliard purchased Mr. Daly's entire interest, and continued
alone for several years, till at length the demands of trade making it
desirable to have a resident partner in New York to make purchases, he
associated with himself Mr. William Hays, of that city. This partnership
existed till the close of Mr. Hilliard's life.
As soon as business prospects warranted the investment, Mr. Hilliard
secured a lot on Water street, and erected the block now occupied by
Raymond & Lowe, and on taking possession of the new place of business,
commenced the wholesale branch, and continued the same until 1856, when,
being on his way home from New York, he took a severe cold, which was soon
followed by congestion, and after one week's illness, died, deeply
regretted by all who knew him.
He was a man of great business ability, and of strict integrity. He was
not always appreciated, because his accurate foresight led him to advocate
projects which the public generally were not ready to adopt. He labored
most indefatigably for the construction of our Water Works, because he saw
what the future wants of the city would be. The scheme was strongly
opposed by many on account of the debt it would involve. But it was
finally accomplished, and we are more indebted to Richard Hilliard for its
achievement than to any other man.
Shortly after coming to Cleveland he became engaged to Miss Mary Merwin,
daughter of Noble H. Merwin, who died before the marriage. He then brought
his sister Sarah A. (now Mrs. O. Cutter) to live with him. In about a year
from this time he was married to Miss Catharine Hays, of New York, who
died about four years before Mr. Hilliard, leaving seven children.
S. H. Sheldon.
The lumber trade has grown to be a very important branch of the commerce
of Cleveland, and some of its best and most enterprising citizens have
been, or are now, engaged in it. Among these the name of Mr. Sheldon holds
honorable prominence as one of the earliest in the trade, and who has
always held place among the foremost engaged in it.
Mr. Sheldon's birth place was in Clinton, Oneida county, N. Y., where he
was born August 12th, 1813. His early days were not passed among thornless
roses. His father, a hard working farmer, died when the future lumber
merchant was but eight years old. Young Sheldon remained on the homestead
until he was sixteen years old, working hard, as did the others of the
fatherless family, and snatching such crumbs of knowledge as could be
obtained in the winter days, when time could be spared for schooling. On
nearly reaching his sixteenth year, he went to Troy, N. Y., where he was
received as an apprentice to the drug business, and served seven years in
that capacity. As soon as his term of apprenticeship expired he set his
face westward in search of fortune, as so many hundreds had done before
him, and hundreds of thousands have done since.
In the year 1835, he reached Cleveland and at once started in trade as a
druggist on Detroit Street, then in Ohio City, but now the West Side of
Cleveland. At that time the West, generally, was enjoying seeming
prosperity; everything was inflated and everyone was growing rich, on
paper. Ohio City was then the city of the future, and fortune smiled on
all its residents, and particularly on those who held real estate within
Four years later the commercial earthquake came and toppled over the whole
fabric of trade and commerce in the West, reducing it to ruins. The entire
West was devastated, and Ohio City received a blow from which, as a
separate municipality, it never recovered. Among the others who suffered
greatly by the disaster was Mr. Sheldon.
In 1842, he sold out his drug business, and went into the employ of
another firm as an accountant, continuing in that position about two
years. From this he went into business on his own account once more, this
time dealing in groceries and provisions, which he continued to trade in
until 1846, when he was attracted to the lumber trade, which he entered,
in partnership with S. H. Fox. Four years later he disposed of his
interest in the firm, and operated in lumber on his own account, not
keeping a yard, but buying and selling by the cargo. In 1852, the firm of
Sheldon & French was formed, a lumber yard opened, and the firm continued
until the failure of the health of Mr. C. French. For a year after this
event Mr. Sheldon carried on his business alone, and then took into
partnership his son, Edward P. Sheldon, the firm becoming Sheldon & Son.
In April, 1869, the firm of Sheldon & Son merged into that of S. H.
Sheldon & Co., being comprised of S. H. Sheldon & Son, and Sears &
Holland, of East Saginaw, Mich.
The lumber trade of the city has been, generally, one of steady growth,
and Mr. Sheldon's share in it has been of that character. It developed
gradually, as the city grew in size and importance, and as the demand from
the interior increased with the growth of towns and villages on the lines
of canal and railroads. The beginning was small, and the earlier years of
its progress full of difficulties, but in the end the trade reached large
and lucrative proportions. Its highest point of prosperity was during the
war, when the establishment of permanent camps through the State created a
sudden and extensive demand for lumber, to build the numerous camp
buildings. At that time the only perplexity of the lumber dealer was to
find a supply sufficient for the demands pressing in from all quarters,
for certain qualities.
[Illustration: Yours Truly, S. H. Sheldon]
From lumber to ship building is an easy transition, and Mr. Sheldon, five
or six years since, became interested in lake craft, and added a fine
three masted schooner to the lake marine. With the growth of manufactures
in the city, he became interested in that direction also, connecting
himself with the Etna Iron and Nail Works enterprise. He also took a deep
interest in the formation of the People's Gas Company, for the supply of
the West Side with gas, being one of the original supporters of the
organization, and at present one of its directors.
In all his undertakings Mr. Sheldon has kept steadily in view the
necessity of industry and economy, and it is the practice of these two
mercantile virtues that has brought about his success. One trait of his
business character is peculiar. He has, so far as possible, avoided
recourse to law, holding the doctrine that, in most cases, when a debt
could not be collected without the aid of a lawyer, it was not worth
spending money for. In religious principles Mr. Sheldon is a
Congregationalist, and has been connected for more than thirty years with
the First Congregational Church, and during most of this time has
discharged the duties of deacon, serving the church with fidelity and
acceptance, in this official position. He has been identified with Sabbath
school labors, as teacher and superintendent, and to his zeal and
liberality the Detroit street Mission Sabbathe school largely owes its
prosperity, and its present commodious chapel. In every Christian
enterprise Deacon Sheldon has been among the foremost. No benevolent
cause, whether local or general, has appealed to him in vain for pecuniary
support, or Christian sympathy and countenance.
In 1836, Mr. Sheldon was married to Miss Cordelia H. Buxton, of Cleveland,
a descendent of the English Buxtons, of philanthropic memory. Of the
family of six children, one, the eldest, Henry A. Sheldon, died in 1842.
The only surviving son became a partner with his father in 1866.
Whether the conversion of wheat into flour can more properly be classed
among manufactures or trade and commerce is a question for casuists to
determine. There can be no question, however, that Charles Hickox takes
his place, by right, among the merchants and commercial men of Cleveland,
whether the grinding of wheat be a manufacture or not, for it is not alone
by the milling business that Mr. Hickox has identified himself with the
commerce of the city. He has gone through all the phases of Cleveland
commercial life, having been connected with the produce and commission
trade, owned lake vessels, and otherwise qualified himself for a place
among the merchants and "river men," aside from the business in which he
is widely known--that of an extensive mill owner.
Mr. Hickox came to Cleveland in 1837, from the state of New York, making
his debut in the Forest City in the year of its greatest depression. For
the first two years he engaged as clerk, and served his employers
faithfully. Then, gaining confidence, and seeing an opening he struck out
boldly for himself, setting up, as was usual in those days, in the
commission and produce business. The constantly growing commerce of the
place increased his business and made it lucrative. With far-seeing
enterprise Mr. Hickox pushed his operations so that his trade rapidly
increased and his consignments steadily grew in number and quantity. To
accommodate it he purchased interests in shipping on the lake, and
eventually became a large ship owner.
Seeing his opportunity, Mr. Hickox turned his attention to milling, and
commenced operations at a mill in Akron, which he soon made known to the
commercial world by the excellence and reliability of its brand. To this
was, in time, added the water mill, on the canal, in Cleveland, near the
weigh lock, which he held for five years and then sold. After the sale of
the latter mill, he purchased the Cleveland Steam Mills on Merwin street,
with a capacity of about three hundred and fifty barrels per day, and in
1867, he added the National Steam Mills, with a capacity of from five
hundred to six hundred barrels daily. Whilst a large capital is invested
in these mills, the number of men employed is less than in establishments
where labor saving machinery has not been brought to such a pitch of
perfection. About fifty men are directly employed in the mills, and a
large number additional in the manufacture of barrels and sacks. A very
large proportion of the flour from these mills is sold in sacks, from the
fact that the entire product is sold in the home market, which speaks well
for the estimation in which the brands are held. Mr. Charles W. Coe is in
active partnership with Mr. Hickox, in the milling interests, the firm
name being Coe & Hickox.
Mr. Hickox has taken deep interest in the railroad affairs of the city,
and has been for some time a director of the Cleveland, Columbus &
Cincinnati Railroad Company. He is still as active and energetic as ever,
well preserved in body and mind, and making his positive influence felt in
all departments of business in which he becomes interested. He never tires
of work, and, as he says of himself, he "holds his own well, at
Alexander Sackett, son of Augustus Sackett, of Sackett's Harbor, N. Y.,
was born August 17th, 1814. He received a good mercantile education in New
York City, and came from thence to Cleveland in 1835, and at once engaged
in the wholesale and retail dry goods line, in the old block of Mr.
Weddell, on Superior street. He continued with success in this business
until 1854, when he went into commercial business on the river, and in
which he remained until 1868, when he retired from trade circles to devote
his whole attention to his real estate interests.
Mr. Sackett was married in 1836, to Harriet, daughter of Levi Johnson,
Esq., of this city. They have five children living, and have lost two. The
eldest daughter is the wife of Mr. Virgil T. Taylor, of this city, and the
son is in his father's office.
Mr. Sackett is still hale, and may reasonably expect, without accident, to
long enjoy the fruit of his labor.
Mr. Mygatt is a genuine pioneer of the Western Reserve, having come with
his father, Comfort S. Mygatt, at the age of ten years, to the new
settlement at Canfield, Mahoning county, Ohio, in the year 1807. He was
born at Danbury, Ct., on 14th of June, 1797, when that village had not
recovered from its conflagration by the British, during the Revolution.
There were then visible, and for many years during his boyhood, buildings
which were charred by fires kindled by English soldiers.
Mr. Mygatt's father was a merchant and farmer, at Canfield. He was an
active, honest and successful man. The year previous to his emigration,
his daughter, Polly, was married, at Danbury, to the late Elisha
Whittlesey, who removed at once to Canfield, Ohio. Mr. Whittlesey, his
son-in-law, took the contract to clear a piece of ground for Mr. Mygatt,
laboring on the job with his axe and team.
At Danbury, George had as good an opportunity in school as any Connecticut
lad could have, under the age of ten years. At Canfield there was little
opportunity for gaining book knowledge. He was engaged with his father as
clerk and general helper, until he was twenty years old. In 1818, he
became clerk in the Western Reserve Bank, at Warren, and remained in that
position two years, when he engaged in mercantile business in connection
with his father-in-law, Mr. A. Adams. This partnership lasted five years,
after which he carried on the business alone until 1833.
From 1829 to 1833, he was sheriff of Trumbull county, and had the
disagreeable office of executing the murderer, Gardner.
In 1834, Mr. Mygatt became a financier, which may be said to be his
profession. He was then appointed cashier of the Bank of Norwalk, Ohio. In
1836, he was appointed cashier of the Bank of Geauga, at Painesville,
Ohio; and in 1846 he became President of the City Bank of Cleveland,
holding the last named office until 1850. The firm of Mygatt & Brown was
then formed, for private banking, and continued until 1857.
In 1855, he was elected a member of the House of Representatives, from
Cuyahoga county, serving two sesssion.
[Illustration: Very Respectfully, George Mygatt]
The Merchants Bank of Cleveland, in 1857, became deeply involved, by the
failure of the Ohio Life and Trust Company, of Cincinnati. Mr. Mygatt was
appointed cashier at this time, when a memorable panic in finances was
sweeping over the country. The bank sank a large part of its stock, but
maintained its integrity, and continued to redeem its notes.
In 1861, he retired from active business, but, with his long habits of
employment, it soon became irksome to him to be out of work, and in 1865
he became Secretary of the Cleveland and Mahoning Railroad Company, a
position he still retains, for the sake of being employed.
A large portion of Mr. Mygatt's time and means have always been devoted to
benevolent purposes; Sunday schools, the annual contributions for the
poor, the church, industrial schools, and, in fact, all charitable
movements have found in him a ready response; he will long be remembered
for his work's sake.
As a business man he was characterized by the strictest integrity, always
preserving a quiet, considerate policy, and by incessant industry
accomplished a great deal. For one who has reached the age of seventy-two,
he possesses remarkable vigor, and we should judge, from the position he
occupies, that his mental faculties are little impaired.
Mr. Mygatt was married in March, 1820, to Miss Eliza Freeman, of Warren,
who is still living. Of their six children, four of whom arrived at mature
age, and were married, only Mrs. F. T. Backus now survives.
Martin B. Scott.
Among the names of those who have done business on the river during the
past quarter of a century, that of M. B. Scott, until his retirement a few
years since, held a foremost place. Mr. Scott is a native of New York,
having been born at Deerfield, near Utica, in that State, in March, 1801.
Mr. Scott is of Quaker stock; a lineal descendent in the sixth generation
from the first American Quaker, (Richard Scott, one of the first settlers
of Providence, R. I.,) and in the nineteenth generation from William
Baliol Scott, of Scotts-Hall, Kent, England, in the line of Edward I. His
Quaker ancestors suffered persecution at the hands of the Boston Puritans
in 1658. The daughters of Richard Scott were cast into prison by Endicott,
for avowing their Quaker faith, and his wife Katharine (_ne_ Marbury,
youngest sister of the famous Mrs. Anne Hutchinson) was publicly scourged
in Boston by order of court, for visiting and sympathizing with her Quaker
brethren in prison.
One of the maxims of Mr. Scott's life, was to despise no honest
employment, however laborious; if he failed to obtain such business as he
desired, he took the next best opportunity that offered, a principle that
might be profitably practiced by many young men of the present day.
Deprived of a liberal education, by the pecuniary embarrassments of his
father, who had a large family to support, he left the Utica Academy in
1820, and made an effort to learn a mechanical trade, with only partial
success. He, for a time, alternately taught a country school in winter,
and was engaged for the remainder of the year in internal commerce, as
master of a boat, or as forwarding clerk, in the then prominent houses of
De Graff, Walton & Co., and Cary & Dows, on the Mohawk river and Erie
canal. This early training in the elements of commerce and navigation was
the nucleus of his subsequent pursuits, and the foundation of his
commercial success, although his operations were not on the gigantic scale
of many others, who either amassed great fortunes, or sank into
bankruptcy; he managed his affairs with such prudence, sagacity and
integrity, that he never had occasion to compound with his creditors, or
even ask for an extension.
Mr. Scott was interested in the first line of canal boats that ran through
from Utica to New York. In the outset of Erie canal operations it was
supposed that canal boats could not sail down the Hudson, and the freight
was consequently transhipped at Albany. Experiment proved the fallacy of
this belief, and thenceforward canal boats ran through to New York. A new
line of steam tow-boats on the North river, called the Albany & Canal
Tow-Boat Company, was formed, and Mr. Scott was appointed principal
manager, first at Albany and then at New York.
In 1836, his health failed, owing to his close application to business,
and under medical advice he performed a horseback journey through
Michigan, Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin. On his way westward he stopped
at Cleveland and was favorably impressed with what was then a small but
flourishing town. In 1837, he returned from his western journey and
resumed business, but again his health failed, and he was ordered to
permanently abandon Albany and seek a more favorable climate. Remembering
the advantages of Cleveland both for business and residence, he concluded
to remove to that point.
Here he continued his connection with the forwarding business by opening
an agency for the American Transportation Line of canal boats on the Erie
canal, his office being at the foot of Superior street. In 1841, he
engaged in the purchase and shipment of staves, the markets for which
were Albany and New York. This branch of business he continued for about
In 1844, he built a steam elevator on River street, near his old stand, it
being the first brick building erected on the river front. With the
completion of this building he turned his attention more particularly to
grain, receiving it by canal from the interior. On the opening of the
Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati railroad, his elevator was easily
connected with that line, and the first load of railroad wheat stored in
Cleveland was received into his elevator.
About the year 1840, Mr. Scott became interested in the lake marine by
the purchase of the brig Amazon, of 220 tons, then considered a craft of
good size. At the time of the purchase, the West was flooded with wild-cat
money, and specie was very scarce. The brig was sold by order of the
Chancellor of Michigan, and specie demanded from the purchaser, a
condition that made buyers shy. In 1842, Mr. Scott purchased the schooner
John Grant, of 100 tons, and in the following three years added to his
little fleet the schooner Panama, of 100 tons, and the brig Isabella, of
over 300 tons, the latter being something highly respectable in the way of
Prudence, foresight, and careful enterprise made all his ventures
reasonably successful. In 1865, he resolved to quit business and enjoy the
competence he had acquired, first in foreign travel, to free himself more
thoroughly from business cares, and then in lettered ease at home. In
pursuance of this purpose he spent six months in Europe, returning with
recruited energies to the enjoyment of the well stocked library of rare
volumes collected during his years of active business, and largely added
to during his foreign travels.
A few facts in Mr. Scott's life, exhibiting his thorough confidence in the
Government and the cause of the Union, should not be passed over. The
first investment in the original War Loan taken in Cleveland, if not in
Ohio, was made by Mr. Scott, August 12th, 1861. He still retains and
exhibits with justifiable pride, a certificate from the Acting Secretary
of the Treasury, dated August 29th, 1861, stating that five thousand
dollars had been received from him on account of the three years'
treasury notes, and promising that they should be sent him as soon as
prepared. From that time to the present he has invested freely in
Government securities, being fully convinced of their safety.
Since his retirement from business and return from European travel, he has
employed his leisure in literary pursuits, especially in genealogical and
historical studies, and has frequently contributed to the journals of the
day curious and interesting facts relating to the early settlers in New
England, in correction of erroneous beliefs regarding them.
In 1840, Mr. Scott was married to Miss Mary Williamson, by whom he has had
seven children, of whom three still live.
J. P. Robison.
Among the soldiers present at Braddock's defeat at Fort Duquesne, near
Pittsburgh, was John Decker Robison, an American of Scotch descent, who
also did good service during the Revolutionary war. When the war was over
he married a Hollander living on the North River, and when a young family
grew up about him, moved to western New York, where, building the first
house in Canandaigua, he received a patent of six hundred acres of land and
settled down as a farmer in Vienna, N. Y. One of his family was a boy,
Peter Robison, who stuck to the farm until the ex-Revolutionary soldier
had gone down to the tomb, and until he himself had reached several years
beyond the meridian of life, when he obeyed the general law of American
human nature, and moved toward the setting sun. Years before this step was
taken he had married Miss Hetty H. Havens, of Lyons, N. Y., and raised a
family of children, among them J. P. Robison, the subject of this sketch,
who was born in Ontario county, on the 23rd of January, 1811.
Like his father, young Robison spent the earlier years of his life in
working on the farm, and it was not until his sixteenth year that it was
decided to give him a good education. He was then sent to Niffing's High
School, at Vienna, N. Y., where he attained considerable proficiency in
his studies, including Latin and Mathematics. Having developed a taste for
medical studies he was admitted as a private pupil of Professer Woodward,
of the Vermont College of Medicine, and graduated in November, 1831.
Immediately on the completion of his studies he moved into Ohio and
commenced practice in Bedford, Cuyahoga county, in February, 1832. He soon
succeeded in building up a good practice, and for eleven years continued
in the exercise of his profession.
[Illustration: Yours Truly, J. P. Robison]
Then Dr. Robison concluded to change his business. In company with W. B.
Hillman he engaged in mercantile business at Bedford, opening a store and
at the same time carrying on other descriptions of trade, such as milling,
packing provisions, dealing in land, and other operations such as the
speculative American is always ready to engage in. Among other things he
started a chair factory and a tannery, and his active mind was always
revolving projects for the increase of business, and, of course, of
But, whilst his hands were full of all kinds of business enterprises, Dr.
Robison found abundant leisure for a different kind of occupation. He was
an intimate friend and associate of Alexander Campbell, the leader of the
Disciple movement, and organized a congregation of this faith in Bedford,
which he preached to for sixteen years. When he commenced his ministerial
labors in Bedford, (from whom, at no time, did he receive fee or reward,)
his congregation numbered less than a dozen, but when he closed his term
of service as a voluntary minister he left for his successor a
congregation numbering four hundred and forty, showing conclusively that
his ministering had not been in vain. Nor was his zeal for the faith as
understood by the Disciples content with preaching during this long term
of service. His purse was always ready for the calls of the church, and,
in company with Alexander Campbell, he traveled from place to place
throughout a great part of Ohio, addressing the vast concourses called
together by the fame of the Disciple leader, then in the plenitude of his
power and influence as a preacher and teacher. In these gatherings and in
such company Dr. Robison enriched his mind and developed a great talent
for extemporaneous address and discussion. Of a positive nature he brought
strong earnestness and unflagging energy to the work in which he was
engaged, and carried his hearers with him, as he himself was frequently
borne away by the enthusiasm of his subject. The same earnestness and
energy which made him so successful as a preacher served to make him
popular and effective on the political platform, and in the cause of the
soldiers of the Union in recent years. During the war he was active in
procuring volunteers for the Union army, and whenever an effort was made
to aid the cause of the Union Dr. Robison was among the foremost in the
work. In politics Dr. Robison was an old Clay Whig. After the demolition
of that party he voted with the Democrats. In 1861, he was chosen to the
State Senate by the union of the War Democrats and Republicans, receiving
the largest vote for any senator from this county. Since that time he has
voted with the Republican party. His Senatorial career was highly
honorable to himself and of value to his constituents, who found in him a
faithful, active and intelligent representative.
It is as a packer of provisions that Dr. Robison has been for many years
chiefly known. For twenty-five years he had been associated with General
O. M. Oviatt in the packing business at Cleveland, and the brand of the
firm had grown to be recognized everywhere as thoroughly reliable. In
1865, this partnership was dissolved, and Dr. Robison continued the
business at first alone and afterwards in company with Archibald Baxter of
New York. The scarcity of fat cattle in this vicinity compelled him in
1866 to remove his principal packing house to Chicago, where he continues
to operate heavily, the amount paid out for cattle during the last season
being over $300,000. In addition to the Chicago packing he has continued
the work in Cleveland, and also for several years did something in that
line at Lafayette, Indiana. The firm's brand, "The Buckeye", is well known
and highly esteemed both in the United States and England, to which
provisions bearing that mark are largely shipped.
Had Dr. Robison continued his practice as a physician he would undoubtedly
have attained eminence in his profession, a leading physician having
frequently borne testimony to his extraordinary skill in diagnosing
disease, and urged him to devote his entire attention to his profession.
But he preferred curing beef and pork to curing human bodies, and, so far
as financial results are concerned, probably made a wise choice, though
the judgment of human nature and insight into men's motives to which he
attributes his success, would have served him in good stead in either
line. At the age of fifty-eight, Dr. Robison is found in possession of a
handsome competency, although he has all through life dealt with marked
liberality toward all worthy objects of charity and patriotism. He is
still in possession of much of the vigor that has characterized his
business career, and we trust his life of usefulness may yet be long.
[Illustration: Yours Truly, T. P. Handy]
Truman P. Handy.
The oldest banker in Cleveland, and probably the oldest active banker in
the State, is Truman P. Handy, now president of the Merchants National
Bank. He has been identified with the banking business of Cleveland from
his first arrival in the city, thirty-seven years ago, and throughout the
whole time has been a successful financier, managing the institutions
under his charge with unvarying skill and good fortune.
Mr. Handy was born in Paris, Oneida county, New York, January 17th, 1807.
He had the advantage of a good academical education, and made preparation
for entering college, which, however, he did not do, and at the close of
his school term, spent the remaining time, until his eighteenth year,
upon his father's farm, with the exception of two winters in which he
On reaching his eighteenth year it was decided that he should enter on a
commercial life, and a year or two were spent in stores in Utica and New
Hartford, N. Y., leaving the latter place in October, 1826, to take a
position in the Bank of Geneva, Ontario county, N. Y., of which the Kev. H.
Dwight was president. With this commenced Mr. Handy's long banking career.
Five years were spent in this bank and then he accepted an invitation to
remove to Buffalo, for the purpose of assisting in the organization of the
Bank of Buffalo, of which he was made teller, and remained one year in
that position. In March, 1832, the young banker married Miss Harriet N.
Hall, of Geneva, and with his bride set out on the wedding tour, which was
also one of business, to Cleveland.
Under other circumstances the journey would scarcely be deemed a pleasant
one. It was in early Spring, and the weather was still inclement. The
roads were bad, and the lumbering stage floundered heavily through mud,
and amid obstructions that made the way one of discomfort, not unmixed
with peril, for six weary days, between Geneva and Cleveland. But in
addition to the fact that it was a bridal tour, the young couple were
cheered by the prospect before them. The charter of the old Commercial
Bank of Lake Erie, established in 1816, and which had gone under, had been
purchased by the Hon. George Bancroft and his family in Massachusetts, and
it was designed to resuscitate it under better auspices. Mr. Handy had
been invited to become the cashier, and in pursuance of his acceptance of
the invitation, was, with his bride, on his way to Cleveland.
The bank was organized on his arrival and commenced business on the lot
now occupied by the Merchants National Bank, at the corner of Superior
and Bank streets, the bank lot running back to the present site of the
Herald building. Leonard Case, the president of the old Bank of Lake
Erie, was president of the resuscitated bank, with T. P. Handy as cashier.
It did a thriving business until 1842, when the term of its charter
expired, and the Legislature refused to renew it, compelling the bank to
go into liquidation. When the great crash of 1837 occurred, the bank had
been compelled to take real estate in settlement of the liabilities of
its involved customers, and thus the corporation became one of the
greatest landholders of the city. Had the property been retained by the
bank owners, it would by this time have been worth to them many millions
The close of the bank and the winding up of its affairs necessitated the
disposal of the real estate for the purpose of dividing the assets among
the stockholders. Messrs. T. P. Handy, H. B. Payne, and Dudley Baldwin were
appointed commissioners to close up the affairs of the bank and discharge
its liabilities. This being done, the remaining cash and real estate were
divided among the stockholders, who appointed Mr. Handy their trustee to
dispose of the property. This was accomplished in 1845, when Mr. Handy
made his final settlement. During the time subsequent to the close of the
bank, he had been carrying on a private banking business under the name of
T. P. Handy & Co.
In the Winter of 1845, the State Legislature passed a law authorizing the
establishment of the State Bank of Ohio, and of independent banks. In
November of that year, Mr. Handy organized the Commercial Branch of the
State Bank of Ohio, with a capital of one hundred and seventy-five
thousand dollars, and took position in it as cashier, the president being
William A. Otis, and the directors, additional to Messrs. Otis and Handy,
being John M. Woolsey, N. C. Winslow, and Jonathan Gillett. Mr. Handy was
the acting manager of the institution, and so successful was his conduct
of its affairs that the stockholders received an average of nearly twenty
per cent. on their investment through nearly the whole time until the
termination of its charter in 1865, a period of twenty years. His policy
was liberal, but with remarkable judgment he avoided hazardous risks, and
whilst the bank always had as much business as it could possibly
accommodate, the tightest times never affected its credit.
Whilst the Commercial Branch Bank was having such uninterrupted success,
the Merchants Branch of the State Bank of Ohio, on the same street, was
experiencing a run of bad fortune. The failure of the Ohio Life and Trust
Company embarrassed it for a time, and other causes conspired with this to
cripple its resources. In 1861, the stockholders invited Mr. Handy to take
charge of its affairs as president, and he accepted the trust. His usual
success followed him to his new position, and the affairs of the bank were
suddenly and permanently improved.
In February, 1865, in common with most of the State banking institutions,
the Merchants Branch Bank stockholders decided to wind up the concern as a
State institution, and avail themselves of the provisions of the National
Banking Act. The Merchants National Bank was organized with an authorized
capital of one million of dollars, of which six hundred thousand dollars
was paid in, Mr. Handy assuming the presidency, and having associated
with him in the management, Messrs. T. M. Kelley, M. Barnett, William
Collins, James F. Clark, Samuel L. Mather, and William Bingham. Under this
management the bank has thus far had an uninterrupted tide of prosperity,
with every prospect of its continuance.
It is not alone as a banker that Mr. Handy has made himself prominent
among the citizens of Cleveland, He has been intimately connected with
other enterprises tending to increase the prosperity of the city, and it
is remarkable that all the undertakings he has been connected with have
proved profitable, to himself to a greater or less extent, as might be
expected, but in a far greater degree to others, the stockholders, for
whose interests he was laboring. Few, if any, men in Cleveland have made
more money for others than has Mr. Handy.
In addition to his banking duties, he filled the position from 1850 to
1860, of treasurer of the Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati railroad, and
managed its finances with that skill and ability which were peculiarly
needed in the earlier portion of that period, when the road was an
experiment, carried on under the heaviest difficulties. In 1860, he
resigned his position as treasurer, and is now a director in that company.
He has also been interested in other railroads centering in Cleveland.
In 1856, a Cleveland built schooner left the lakes for the ocean, and
crossed the Atlantic to Liverpool, thus commencing the direct trade
between the lakes and European ports. In 1857, another Cleveland built
vessel was sent across, loaded with staves and lumber, and returned with
crockery and iron. The success of these Tentures attracted the attention
of the enterprising business men of the lakes, and in the Spring of 1858,
a fleet of ten vessels left Cleveland, all but one loaded with staves and
lumber, for European ports. Their departure was marked by demonstrations
on the part of the authorities and leading men of business, and with a
fair breeze and good wishes the fleet bore away for salt water. Of the ten
vessels, three were sent by Mr. Handy, the R. H. Harmon, bound for
Liverpool, the D. B. Sexton, for London, and the J. F. Warner, for Glasgow.
All of the vessels made quick and profitable trips, and the trade thus
begun has been carried on with profit to the present time, although at the
breaking out of the war American vessels were compelled to withdraw from
it, leaving the enterprise wholly in the hands of English parties, who
purchased vessels for the trade.
Whilst his vessels were in Europe, Mr. Handy availed himself of the
opportunity to visit Great Britain and the Continent, to attend to his
interests, and at the same time to study some of the institutions of the
old world, especially the financial, religious and educational. In
educational matters he had always taken a deep interest, having watched
with a careful eye the growth of the public schools of Cleveland, and for
some time was associated with Mr. Charles Bradburn in their management, as
members of the Board of Education. And this, which was wholly a labor of
love, with no remuneration but the consciousness of having done some good
by hard work, was the only public office ever held by Mr. Handy, or ever
desired by him. At the same time he was deeply interested in the growth
and management of the Sunday schools of the city, and for many years has
taken a leading part in all movements calculated to extend their field of
usefulness and increase their efficiency. In Great Britain he visited the
Sunday schools and was warmly welcomed by teachers and scholars, who were
greatly interested in his account of the working of Sunday schools here,
whilst the narration of his experiences on that side of the Atlantic
frequently delighted the scholars at home on his return.
Although rapidly approaching the period allotted by the psalmist to man as
his term of life, Mr. Handy is still as full of vigor and business energy
as much younger men, and is as earnest as of old in managing large
financial undertakings, or in teaching his class in Sunday school. His
heart is as young at sixty-two, as at twenty-seven, and the secret of his
continued health and vigor undoubtedly lies in his temperate and upright
life, his kindly disposition, and that simple cheerfulness of spirit that
makes him thoroughly at home in the society of children, who, in their
turn, are thoroughly at home with him. One of the most energetic and
successful of business men, he has never allowed business to so engross
his time and attention as to leave no opportunity for religions or social
duties or enjoyments. In this way he has won the confidence and esteem of
all classes of citizens as a successful financier, a good citizen, a man
of the strictest probity, a warm friend, and a genial acquaintance.
Mr. Handy has but one child living, a daughter, now the wife of Mr. John
S. Newberry, of Detroit. His only other child, a boy, died in infancy.
[Illustration: C. Bradburn]
That Charles Bradburn is a merchant long and honorably known in the
commercial history of Cleveland, and that he still retains a prominent
place in the business circles which he entered thirty-three years ago, are
undeniable facts. And yet, the great feature of Mr. Bradburn's busy life,
and that of which he is justly most proud, is not his business successes,
but his connection with the public schools of this city. His money, made
by anxious care in his warehouse and among business men, was freely spent
to promote the cause of education, and the labor, solicitude and anxiety
with which he prosecuted his business, great as they necessarily were,
must be counted small compared with his sacrifices of time and labor in
the effort to extend and improve the school system and make the school
houses of the city a source of gratulation and pride to the citizens. But
whilst his hardest labor was in the service of the schools, it was purely
a labor of love, whilst his work on the river was a labor of business, and
therefore he must, in this record of Cleveland's noted men, take rank
among his commercial brethren.
Mr. Bradburn was born at Attleborough, Massachusetts, July 16th, 1808. His
father was a cotton manufacturer when that great industrial interest was
in its infancy. The first manufacture in this country of several articles
of twilled fabrics was in his factory.
At the age of seven years Charles Bradburn had the misfortune to lose his
mother, a lady highly esteemed by all who knew her. This loss was a
serious one, as it left him almost entirely to his own resources. When
sixteen years old he entered the Lowell machine shop as an apprentice, and
after a service of three years, graduated with a diploma from the
Middlesex Mechanics Association. He served as a journeyman for two years,
when, feeling that his education was not adequate to his wants, he left
the mechanic's bench for the student's desk, entering the classical school
of Professor Coffin at Ashfield, in the western part of the same State.
Subsequently he resumed his mechanical labors, which he continued until
1833, part of the time as a journeyman, but during the greater part as a
manufacturer on his own account. At that date he changed his business from
manufacturing to commerce, opening a store in Lowell.
In 1836, he decided to remove to the West, and in that year brought his
family to Cleveland, where he commenced the wholesale and retail grocery
business in the wooden building now standing, adjoining the old City
Buildings, which were not then finished. The next year he rented the two
stores adjoining in the then new City Buildings, of which but a portion
now remains. In 1840, he built the warehouse now standing at the foot of
St. Clair street and moved his business to that place, abandoning the
retail branch. At the same time he established a distillery on what was
then known as "the island," on the west side of the river. In 1854, he
removed to the spacious warehouses, 58 and 60 River street, now occupied
by him and his partners under the same name, "C. Bradburn & Co.," that
graced the walls of the City Buildings in 1836. During his long
commercial life Mr. Bradburn has enjoyed largly theturnpikesnce and esteem
of the commercial community and is now one of the most energetic business
men of the city.
But it is in his devotion to the cause of knowledge and popular education
that Mr. Bradburn appears especially as a representative man. He was one
of the first officers of the Mercantile Library Association, and in its
early history took much interest in its prosperity. His great work,
however, lay in the schools. In a letter to a friend recently written, he,
with characteristic modesty, writes: "After a life almost as long as is
allotted to man, the only thing I find to glory in is having been able to
render some service to the cause of popular education; to be called by so
many of our ablest educators the father of our public schools, was glory
enough, and ample compensation for many years of hard labor and the
expenditure of much money in the cause."
Mr. Bradburn was in 1839 elected to the City Council from the Third ward.
As chairman of the Committee on Fire and Water he reorganized the Fire
Department, which was then in a wretched condition, and, with the
assistance of Mr. J. L. Weatherly, who was made Chief Engineer, and the
aid of new laws, made it one of the most efficient of any at that time
existing in the country. As chairman of the Committee on Streets, at that
time an office of much responsibility and labor, he rendered the city
In 1841, he was elected a member and made chairman of the Board of School
Managers. This body was merged into the Board of Education, and for
several years he filled the office of president. For thirteen consecutive
years he served as member of the Board of School Managers and of the Board
of Education, during much of which time he had almost unaided control of
the educational affairs of the city. Mr. Bradburn succeeded in getting
through the Legislature a bill authorizing the establishment of a High
School, the first institution of the kind, connected with the public
schools, in the State of Ohio. A school of this character was started in
June, 1846, and maintained in spite of fierce opposition. But there was no
building to receive it, and its earlier years were spent in the basement
of a church on Prospect street, the room being fitted up by Mr. Bradburn
and rented by the city for fifty dollars per annum.
Feeling strongly that he could render better service to the cause of
popular education in the City Council than he could in the Board of
Education, in 1853 he resigned his seat in the latter body and was elected
to the City Council. When Ohio City was united with Cleveland, he was
chosen president of the united Councils.
Having, on taking his seat in the Council, been appointed to a position on
the Committee on Schools, his first and continuous efforts were directed
to bringing the Council to provide suitable buildings, not only for the
High School, but for all the schools of the city. In consequence of his
earnest and persistent labors an ordinance was passed authorizing a loan
for school purposes of $30,000. The loan was negotiated at par without
expense to the city. Mr. Bradburn, and the Building Committee, of which he
was chairman, immediately made plans for the Central High School, and the
Mayflower, Eagle and Alabama street Grammar schools, all of which were put
under contract without delay, and finished under their supervision to the
entire satisfaction of the Council and Board of Education. The teachers
of the public schools in gratitude for his services in the cause of
education, induced Mr. Bradburn to sit to Allen Smith, Jr., for his
picture, which was then hung in the hall of the Central High School. At a
subsequent date the High School teachers presented him with a massive
gold-headed cane, engraved with a complimentary inscription, but this
highly prized token was unfortunately lost, together with a number of
other cherished mementoes and all the family pictures, in a fire which
destroyed his residence in February, 1868. In the fire also perished a
valuable library of over four hundred volumes, the result of a lifetime's
collection, and Mr. Bradburn barely escaped with his own life from a third
story window, being badly injured in the descent.
In public matters he has done but little during the past few years,
devoting himself entirely to his business, but he may be seen on all
occasions where the cause of popular education can be benefited by his
presence. In 1848, he was the Whig candidate for Mayor, but, being ill at
the time, gave the canvass no personal attention, and was defeated by a
few votes, the opponents of the High School, of whatever party, voting
To Mr. Bradburn the credit belongs of procuring, after a hard battle
against parsimony and prejudice, the establishment of the first free High
School in the West.
Samuel Raymond was born in Bethlem, Connecticut, March 19, 1805. Like most
of the sons of New England, his boyhood was passed in plowing among the
rocks on one of the stony farms of that rocky and hilly State. At the age
of sixteen he commenced teaching the village school, and continued
teaching for six years, a portion of that time being spent in New York
State, in one of the many pretty towns that are scattered along on either
side of the Hudson. Returning to Connecticut at the end of his six years'
trial of teaching, he was employed to keep the books of the old and
wealthy firm of Messrs. A. & C. Day, dry goods commission merchants, at
Hartford. The late Governor Morgan, of New York, was, at the same time, a
salesman in the house.
In 1833, Mr. Raymond married Mary North, daughter of James North, of New
In the Spring of 1835, he determined to try his fortune in the Far West,
away out in Ohio. With Kansas as the present geographical centre of the
Union, it is difficult for us to conceive of the New Englanders' idea of
the West at that time. It was something of an undertaking. It was a
journey of weeks, not a ride of twenty-three hours in a sleeping coach or
palace car. It meant long and tedious days of staging--a monotonous ride
along the Erie canal from Schenectady to some point a little farther west,
and finally, when the lake was not frozen over, the perils of lake
navigation. In 1835, Cleveland, Erie and Sandusky were all struggling for
supremacy. When Mr. Raymond got as far west as Erie, he thought that might
be a good place for him "to drive a stake," but the number of newly made
graves suggested to him, on second thought, the propriety of getting out
of the place as speedily as possible. Cleveland at that time was beginning
to put on city airs--Kellogg's great hotel (the American) was slowly going
up. The only vacant store to be had by Mr. R. was a little wooden building
on the site of the present Rouse block--a location at that time about as
far out of town as it would be safe for a prudent merchant to venture.
Henry W. and Marvin Clark were associated with him in business, under the
firm name of Raymond & Clark.
Mr. Raymond was a merchant of more than ordinary business ability, a man
of scrupulous exactness in his business dealings. His extreme conservatism
in business management carried him safely through every commercial crisis.
Like most business men Mr. Raymond had but little time to devote to
political discussions. He voted the Whig ticket as long as the old Whig
party had an existence. In religions principles he was a Presbyterian, and
united with the First Presbyterian Church in 1840, at that time under the
pastoral charge of Rev. Dr. S. C. Aiken.
In the Winter of 1866, in compliance with his physician's advice, he took
a journey south for the benefit of his health, which had been impaired by
his unremitting devotion to business. In company with a party of friends
from Cincinnati, he and his wife left Louisville for Havana, in January.
On the 2d of February a telegram was received by the remaining members of
his family in Cleveland, informing them that Mr. Raymond was among the
missing on the ill-fated steamer Carter, which was burned when within a
few miles of Vicksburg.
When the alarm was given, Mr. Raymond and his wife were asleep. Hastily
dressing themselves and providing themselves with life-preservers, they
jumped through the cabin window, Mr. Raymond having a state-room door
which he had wrenched from its hinges. Mrs. Raymond clung to a floating
bale of hay and was saved after an hour of peril and suffering in the icy
water. Nothing was seen of Mr. Raymond after he floated away from the
wreck, clinging to the door. His death was mourned by a large circle of
friends who appreciated his worth.
By diligence and economy he accumulated a valuable estate, leaving to his
family property valued at two hundred and fifty thousand dollars.
Richard T. Lyon.
The first secretary of the Cleveland Board of Trade, and its president for
the year 1869, Richard T. Lyon, is probably the oldest established
merchant now doing business on the river. He arrived here in 1823, when
there were but a few hundred people in the village, and for some time
resided with his father-in-law, Noble H. Merwin, on the lot now occupied
by Bishop's Block, about where M. Heisel's confectionary store now stands.
In 1838, he entered as clerk in the forwarding house of Griffith, Standart
& Co., at the foot of Superior street, continuing in that position until
the Spring of 1841, when he formed a partnership with I. L. Hewitt, and
carried on a forwarding and commission business on River street, under the
firm name of Hewitt & Lyon. The partnership continued until 1847, when Mr.
Hewitt retired, and Mr. Lyon continued the business in his own name at 67
Merwin street, where he has remained until the present time. In the Spring
of 1868, his son, R. S. Lyon, was taken into partnership, the firm name
being changed to R. T. Lyon & Son. For a number of years Mr. Lyon has been
the largest dealer of salt in the city, having had the agency of the salt
works in western New York.
Mr. Lyon has held, from his first entry into commercial life to the
present time, the esteem and confidence of the business men of Cleveland,
and that confidence has been shown by the fact, that for many years he was
the treasurer of the Board of Trade, having been elected to that position
on the organisation of the Board; was subsequently made vice-president,
and in the Spring of 1869, was elected president. This compliment was well
merited, for he is now one of the very few remaining members of the Board
who took part in its organization, and has never flagged in his interest
in its affairs.
[Illustration: Yours Truly, H. M. Chapin]
H. M. Chapin.
In the commercial, political, patriotic, and literary history of Cleveland
for the past fifteen or twenty years, the name of H. M. Chapin will always
have honorable prominence. In all these departments his persistent energy
and unshaken faith, even in the darkest hours, have been potent for good.
Mr. Chapin was born in Walpole, N. H., July 29th, 1823, and received a good
common school education. When fifteen years old, he removed to Boston, and
entered a dry goods importing house, in which he remained nearly ten
years. In the Spring of 1848, he left Boston for Cleveland, where he
became a partner in the wholesale grocery warehouse of Charles Bradburn &
Co., with whom he remained four years. In 1852, he commenced business as a
provision dealer and packer of pork and beef. For a time it was up-hill
work, but his native perseverance overcame all difficulties, and in the
season of 1862-3, his business had grown to seven hundred and fifty
thousand dollars. From that time there was a steady decline in the amount
of packing done in Cleveland, the supply of cattle and hogs decreasing
until but a very small quantity, in proportion to the facilities for
packing, could be depended on. The slaughter-houses of Chicago arrested
the great stream of live stock, and what escaped them went forward to the
Atlantic cities for immediate consumption. In the Winter of 1867-8, Mr.
Chapin, therefore, resolved to remove his packing business to Chicago, and
commenced operations there with gratifying success. He intended abandoning
Cleveland altogether as a packing point, but, contrary to his
expectations, he has been able to resume the business here to a moderate
extent. From 1862 to 1867, he carried on, in connection with the packing
business, a very extensive coopering establishment, employing about fifty
men, besides a large amount of machinery. Over a hundred and twenty-five
men were at the same time employed in slaughtering and packing.
In addition to his ordinary business, and partly in connection with it,
Mr. Chapin turned his attention to the question of insurance. It was a
favorite maxim with him that the West was able to do its own insurance,
and with this idea ever present, he was favorable to the establishment of
home insurance companies. Of the Sun Fire Insurance Company, of
Cleveland, he was for some years the vice-president, and labored earnestly
for its success. Being a thorough believer in the principles of
Homoeopathy, as well as an enthusiast on the subject of western insurance,
he was a willing co-worker with a number of prominent citizens engaged in
the organization of the Hahnemann Life Insurance Company, of Cleveland.
The novel character of this company--it being the first of the kind in the
United States--is sufficient warrant for a brief statement of its history.
It was established in 1865, and numbered among its stockholders such
leading business men and substantial capitalists as Wm. A. Otis, George
Worthington, William Bingham, Stillman Witt, Selah Chamberlain, Dudley
Baldwin, D. P. Eells, M. G. Younglove, and the Hon. B. F. Wade. The
leading feature was the offer to insure those whose medical belief and
practice were exclusively Homoeopathic, at lower rates than those
subjecting themselves to Allopathic treatment. The theory on which this
offer is based is, that all the evidence goes to show a lower rate of
mortality under Homoeopathic than under Allopathic treatment. The
Honorable William Baines, Insurance Commissioner of New York, in speaking
of this company in his report, says: "The Hahnemann Life Insurance
Company, of Cleveland, Ohio, is the first western company admitted into
this State. It starts with a paid up capital of $200,000, one-half of
which is deposited with the State Treasurer of Ohio, for the protection of
policy holders. The company is organized on a basis of strength and
capital, even larger than that required of New York corporations; it
reduces the rate of premium to Homoeopathic members."
Of this company Mr. Chapin was made president, and in the management of
this, as in everything which he undertakes, he infused a large amount of
his energy, and made the company a complete success. During the present
year his almost undivided attention has been given to the company's
affairs, with marked effect on its rapidly increasing business.
In 1865, Mr. Chapin was elected Mayor of the city of Cleveland. The honor
was not only unsought, but he was in entire ignorance of the whole affair
until after his election. His name had not been mentioned in connection
with that or any other office when he left the city on a business trip
that kept him absent for several days. In the meantime the nominating
convention of the Union Republican party was held, and there was some
difficulty as to a choice between the persons named for the nomination as
Mayor. In casting around for a way out of the difficulty, the name of Mr.
Chapin was mentioned and instantly met with favor. He was nominated,
elected by a strong majority, and the first intimation he received of the
movement was reading the election returns in the Cleveland Herald, on his
He accepted the office in the spirit in which it had been conferred upon
him. He understood that the people believed he was disposed and able to
manage the affairs of the city vigorously and honestly, and he was not
disposed to evade the responsibilities of the office. His time was devoted
to the duties of his position, the different departments under his charge
were carefully scrutinized, and whilst his strictness and vigorous
execution of the laws made the offenders complain of his severity, there
was no question raised as to his ability, integrity, or honest zeal for
the city's interest. He discharged the duties of his office with
scrupulous exactness, and he endeavored to make others do the same. During
his administration it was no longer a reproach that the ordinances of the
"Like the forfeits in a barbers shop,
As much in mock as mark."
At the breaking out of the war, Mr. Chapin took an early and active part
in stirring up the people to defend the Government of the Union. Wherever
his money, influence, or active energy could be made serviceable, there he
was always to be found. Having obtained the appropriation for the
Twenty-Ninth Regiment, he worked diligently in raising, equipping, and
sending it to the field, and spent much of his own time at the front in
various capacities. The ladies who worked diligently for the comfort of
the soldiers and the care of the sick and wounded, through the medium of
the Ladies' Aid Association, found in Mr. Chapin an indefatigable
assistant. He was ever ready with suggestion, active aid, and money,
laboring day and night, either at the front, in the hospitals, or at
home, in behalf of the soldier.
The Cleveland Library Association was another field in which Mr. Chapin's
energy and business tact were manifested. In 1854, he was elected
president of the Association, which had struggled along, a feeble
organization, contending against numerous difficulties. Under his vigorous
management the Association was brought to a higher degree of prosperity
then it had ever witnessed; the income was largely increased, the number
of books increased one-half, and a lively interest excited in the public
mind concerning it. Mr. Chapin retired at the close of his term of office,
and the affairs of the Association gradually lapsed into their former
unsatisfactory condition. In 1858, an attempt was made to save it by
revolutionizing its constitution and management. A new constitution was
adopted, and under it Mr. Chapin was again elected president. The result
was even more marked than in the previous instance. The number of members
was nearly doubled, a load of debt that had accumulated through a number
of years was removed, a large number of books added to the library, and
the reading-room enlarged and improved. Again, after the lapse of ten
years, Mr. Chapin has been called to the presidency of the Association,
under circumstances precisely similar to those under which he had twice
before assumed the duties of the position.
Mr. Chapin was married October 15th, 1849, to Matilda, daughter of John
Fenno, of Boston. Of this marriage have been born six children, the oldest
of whom, a son now nineteen years of age, is in the wholesale grocery of
Edwards, Townsend & Co.; the others are all attending school.
Moses White, now one of the very few remaining early citizens of
Cleveland, was born at Warwick, Hampshire county, Mass., February
25th, 1791. His father's name was Jacob White, a native of Menden,
Mass., who traces back his ancestors as natives of that town, to as
early a date as 1665.
Moses White, the subject of this memoir, being deprived, at a very early
age, of his mother, by death, went to live in Mendon, with his maternal
grandfather, Peter Penninian. Afterwards he went to Boston, where he
learned the merchant tailor business, with one John Willson. From Boston
he went to Providence, R. I., where he remained about two years, and where
he became acquainted with Miss Mary Andrews, whom he afterwards married.
In 1813, being desirons of settling further west, he first went to Utica,
N. Y., and after remaining there a few months, he proceeded, with a horse
and buggy, to Cleveland, where he arrived in October, 1816, the population
of the place then being only about 150.
He established himself here as a merchant tailor, and pursued the business
steadily about twenty years, and with success. He afterwards established a
store at Chillicothe, Ohio, which, not being under his own care, did not
From his arrival in Cleveland, he was forward in all the moral and
religious enterprises of the place, first in union with all the religious
denominations represented, and afterwards he was more particularly
identified with the Baptist Church, in which he has been for nearly forty
years a deacon.
He now enjoys more than usual health and vigor for one of his age, and has
the respect, confidence and esteem of every person who knows him.
His wife having died in 1858, he has since that date made it his home with
his daughter, Mrs. J. P. Bishop, of Cleveland, with whom he now resides.
In many respects Deacon White's history furnishes an example worthy of
imitation. In the times of his boyhood, in New England, when a boy did not
possess the means for establishing himself in business, or of educating
himself for some professional calling, and particularly if he was an
orphan, he was required to learn some trade. In his case, his friends not
only recommended this, but he was desirous himself, of doing it. He
accordingly went from Mendon to Boston, a distance of about forty miles,
where, alone and among strangers, he sought a place where he might serve
as an apprentice. For days he wandered about seeking such an opportunity
and finally fell in with John Willson, the merchant tailor before
mentioned, who received him as an errand boy, and finally as an
apprentice, in which position he continued, passing through all the grades
incident to such employment, till he was twenty-one years of age.
Without father or mother, or friends to look up to for counsel and advice,
he persevered, and preserved his integrity, having the confidence of all
with whom he was associated.
In those early days, nothing was more common than to emigrate to the
West, leaving the principles of New England education, in religion and
morality, behind. Judging from accounts of society in Cleveland in very
early times, such must have been the case of some, at least.
But such was not the case with the youthful Moses White. Though he found
not many congenial spirits in this far-off western region, yet whenever,
in the little village of Cleveland, he heard of a place of prayer, or a
meeting, or association for the promotion of temperance or morality,
thither he bent his footsteps. Now in a ripe and happy old age he enjoys,
not only the retrospect, but also the present--and not only these, but he
is constantly looking for a consummation of perfect happiness, beyond what
either the past has, or the present life can afford.
Finally, so far as accumulating wealth is concerned, he has not been as
fortunate as some, and yet less unfortunate than many others, and now
enjoys a competence abundantly sufficient to provide for all his wants and
to transmit something to his children. Well may worldly ones say, "O that
my last days might be like his!"
David H. Beardsley.
Mr. Beardsley does not claim to be a pioneer, but an early settler of the
second class, having arrived in Cleveland with his family in June, 1826.
Cleveland is supposed to have then had about five hundred people. He was
of Quaker origin, and lived at New Preston, Connecticut, before he removed
to Ohio. He was of course anxious to obtain employment, and being a
beautiful penman, a contract was soon made with the late Judge Willey, who
was the county auditor, to serve as his clerk, at one dollar per day. He
was employed about thirty days in making the county duplicate. The taxable
property of the county at that time amounted to the sum of two hundred and
sixty-eight thousand, seven hundred and seventy-one dollars. When Mr.
Beardsley was deputy auditor, all the public business centered in the old
log court house, on the northwest quarter of the Square.
On the fourth of July, 1827, the Ohio canal was opened to lock seventeen,
near Akron, and the canal commissioners, prominent among whom was his
friend Alfred Kelley, were in need of a scrupulously honest man, and a
good clerk, for the purpose of collecting tolls. They found all the
necessary qualifications of integrity, assiduity, and accuracy in Mr.
Beardsley, who was therefore appointed, the day not having arrived when
qualification for office should be the last of recommendations. The
collectorship may be said to have been Mr. Beardsley's profession. He
spent in the office most of the period of active life, in twenty-three
years, undisturbed by the changes of administration. To our ears this may
Mr. Beardsley's salary was at first three hundred dollars per annum,
increasing to twelve hundred before the close of his services. He
collected the sum of one million, three hundred and ninety-eight thousand,
six hundred and forty-two dollars and sixty-eight cents. His accounts were
models of nicety as well as accuracy, errors and discrepancies being
Being a gentleman of simple tastes and habits, with few wants, he has
acquired a comfortable competence, without acquiring a thirst for gold,
and without withholding his substance from charitable and public purposes.
He is highly esteemed by all who know him, for a life-long consistency of
character, and sterling qualities as a man and a friend. The writer
occasionally sees him on our crowded streets, although quite feeble, with
a mind perfectly serene, and well aware that his race is almost run. His
record is worthy of emulation.
Thomas Augustus Walton.
When the genial countenance and kindly voice of T. A. Walton were missed
from the customary gatherings of the river merchants, it was felt that
something had been lost which not even a lucky speculation, or a good run
of trade, could not restore. When the news of his sudden death, whilst on
a foreign tour for the restoration of his health, was received, there was
genuine sorrow among his old business associates, and poignant grief with
many who had learned to look on him not merely as a successful merchant,
but as a man of tender heart and open hand when suffering and distress
appealed to him for sympathy and aid.
Mr. Walton was born in London, and to the last he looked with affection to
the city of his birth. His education was gained at the City of London
School. After leaving school he was brought up to mercantile pursuits, and
in 1830, concluding that there was a better opening in that line in
America, he came to this country, bringing with him a considerable amount
of money. For a few years he remained in New York, loaning his capital,
for which he always found ready customers, but unfortunately they were not
all as ready to pay as to borrow. He lost large sums, and was driven to
the conclusion that for a man of his openness of character and confiding
honesty, New York was an unprofitable location. The representations of a
friend, combined with dissatisfaction with his experience in the
commercial metropolis, determined him to seek his fortune in the West.
Evansburg, Ohio, had been represented to him as a desirable place in which
to live, a thriving business point, and adjacent to good hunting ground.
This combination of attractions determined him, and he set out for
Evansburg with what remained of his capital.
But the attractions of Evansburg soon wearied him. Neither his social,
commercial, nor sportsmanlike hopes were fulfilled by the facts, and Mr.
Walton speedily turned his back on the place of so much promise and so
little realization. Cleveland was the rising place of the West, and to
Cleveland he came, and established himself, as was the custom with new
comers of a commercial turn, in the produce and commission trade.
Following the old maxim, he stuck to his business and his business stuck
to him. The old frame warehouse in front of which he hung out his sign in
1838, was occupied by him for twenty-five years, until January, 1863,
when he retired from active business and was succeeded in the same
building by his nephew, Thomas Walton, who still retains the business and
the old location.
Mr. Walton's nice sense of honor commended him to a large circle of
customers in the interior and in Michigan, whilst nearly all the Canadian
business with Cleveland passed through his hands. His Canadian customers
relied implicitly on his word, and the fact that he always retained his
old friends, and received constant accessions of new, sufficiently proved
that their confidence was not misplaced.
In the Spring of 1863, soon after his retirement from business, he went to
England with the intention of staying a year or two and then returning to
enjoy the remainder of his life in ease in this country. Whilst in
England he paid a visit to some friends in Southampton, and whilst taking
a bath in a movable bathing-house on the beach, probably was seized with
cramp and suffocated by water getting into his lungs. The news of his
death caused a painful shock in business, social, and religious circles,
where he had been so well known and so highly esteemed.
For a long term of years Mr. Walton was the presiding officer of the St.
George's Society of Cleveland, and that benevolent institution owed its
usefulness in great measure to his indefatigable zeal in the cause, and to
his unstinted liberality. To the distressed of any nation he never turned
a deaf ear, but to the needy and suffering of his native country he was
ever liberal, and accompanied his unostentatious charities with kind words
and manifestations of sincere interest that were frequently as beneficial
to the recipient as the money itself. He was also a valued member of the
In religious belief he was an Episcopalian, and was long one of the
leading members of Trinity Church. His devotion was unaffectedly sincere,
and though he made no vaunt of his religious principles or hopes, there
could be no question of his deep, earnest convictions. Kind, courteous,
ever thinking of the good of others, and wholly unselfish, Mr. Walton was
a good specimen of the true Christian gentleman.
Although of English birth, and clinging affectionately to all that
reminded him of his native land, he was a thorough supporter of American
institutions, and an admirer of the American character. Deeply and warmly
as he loved the land of his birth, his affection was even stronger for the
land of his adoption, and it was his purpose to have returned from his
visit to his boyhood's home and settle down in peaceful content in the
chosen home of his manhood, until death should lay him in an American
grave. When the war broke out he was an earnest and unshrinking supporter
of the Government, and his means were freely used for its support, and for
the comfort of the soldiers who were fighting its battles. Though alien
born, and associated intimately with people of like birth, there was no
native American that could surpass him in love for the Union, and few that
exceeded him, in proportion to his means, in contributions to the defence
of the Union.
In the language of his favorite Shakespeare, it might be said of him
His life was gentle, and the elements
So mixed in him, that nature might stand up
And say to all the world, _This was a man_!
Prominent among the business firms of Cleveland, is that of George
Worthington & Co., a house which stands in the front rank both on account
of the business done, and of its integrity and honorable dealing.
Mr. Worthington, the founder and head of the firm, was born in
Cooperstown, N. Y., September 21st, 1813. He received a good common school
education, and then entered on a business career by becoming clerk in a
hardware store in Utica, in 1830, remaining in that position until 1834,
when he came to Cleveland and commenced business as a hardware dealer on
his own account. His first store was on the corner of Superior and Union
lane, on the site of the clothing store of Isaac A. Isaacs, and the first
goods received by him were drawn by oxen owned by a man who did all the
carting at that time. Cleveland was then but a small town, and most of the
trading was done with the teamsters that came from Wooster and other
points south, bringing pork, grain, and other products, and taking back
merchandise. Trade was brisk, but cash scarce, nearly all the operations
being more in the nature of barter than of purchase and sale.
After remaining three years in his first store, he removed to the corner
of Water and Superior streets, on the site of the present National Bank
building, and in that location he remained thirty years, during which time
he witnessed the growth of Cleveland from a small town to a large and
When he had been established about fifteen years, Mr. Worthington began
rapidly to enlarge his business, and he associated with him Mr. James
Barnett and Mr. Edward Bingham, at present members of the firm. About that
time they commenced wholesaling, and gradually built up a business from
five thousand dollars the first year, to a million dollars. This, however,
involved a vast amount of labor, and an indomitable determination to
succeed by driving business. Mr. Worthington, in the absence of railroads
or other public conveyance, traveled through the adjacent townships and
counties on horseback, introducing his wares, and obtaining orders which
would be filled by the carriers' wagons.
[Illustration: Yours Truly, G. Worthington]
Railroads revolutionized trade and gave an impetus to everything, and
establishments that were on a firm footing before were prepared to take
advantage of circumstances. This was the case with Mr. Worthington. His
wholesale business has grown enormously, especially since 1860.
About 1862, Mr. Worthington projected the Cleveland Iron and Nail Works,
and, in connection with Mr. W. Bingham, matured the plans and got the
works into successful operation in about one year from broaching the
project, the work turned out being of the best quality. The owners of the
works can sell readily all they make, and furnish active and steady
employment for about two hundred men.
Mr. Worthington has also been extensively interested in blast furnaces and
coal mining, in the vicinity of Cleveland, and has been very successful in
At the present time the Cleveland Iron and Nail Company is erecting the
first blast furnace within the city limits, calculated for a capacity of
about three hundred tons per week. The firm have also built works on their
grounds for the manufacture of gas pipe, which have been in successful
operation for about a year, with the exception of a delay caused by a
fire. This is an important work in a city so rapidly growing as Cleveland,
and will retain many thousand of dollars formerly sent to Philadelphia and
On the passage of the National Bank Law, Mr. Worthington and a number of
other capitalists of the city, organized the First National Bank of
Cleveland, with a capital of four hundred thousand dollars, which has
been very successful. Mr. Worthington was elected president on its
organization, and still retains the office. He is a director of the Ohio
Savings and Loan Bank, of this city. He is also largely interested in
the local Insurance interests; vice-president of the Sun, and also
interested in the Cleveland and Commercial, and is a director of the
Hahnemann Life Insurance Company. He is also president of the Cleveland
Iron Mining Company, one of the most successful organizations of the
kind in the country.
No one man, probably, has done more towards building up the business
portion of the city than has Mr. Worthington. His first building was
erected on the corner of Ontario and St. Clair streets, now occupied by H.
Johnson. Since that time he has erected fifty dwelling-houses, and
In 1840, he was married to Miss Maria C. Blackmar, of Cleveland, by the
Rev. Dr. Aiken. Of the marriage six children have been born, two sons
and four daughters, all living. The oldest son, Ralph, is now a member
of the firm.
In 1862, Mr. Worthington became interested in the wholesale dry goods
business in New York City, and has been quite successful in the
Mr. Worthington is a good specimen of a self-made man, who was not
spoiled in the making. Hard work did not harden his character, nor has
prosperity turned his head. Coming to Cleveland without a dollar, he has
built up a large fortune by sheer hard work, close application to
business and strict business habits. He at the same time built up a fine
reputation by his integrity of character and scrupulous honesty in his
dealings. At fifty-six years of age, his health is now, as it has always
been, remarkably good; he has never been detained from business on
account of sickness.
N. E. Crittenden.
One of the best known names in this city, to new as well as old citizens,
is that of N. E. Crittenden. For very many years his jewelry establishment
has been a landmark in the business district "on the hill," and the
greater part of the population, for about forty years, have taken their
time from his clock.
Mr. Crittenden is a Massachusetts Yankee in birth and pedigree, having
been born at Conway, July 25th, 1804. In his earlier years he received a
good common school education, and at the age of eighteen was bound
apprentice to the jewelry and watch-making business, serving four years at
Geneva, N. Y., and then removing to Batavia, where he was employed two
years at the trade, and in Albany one year. In the latter city he married
Miss Mary A. Ogden, soon after the ceremony moving to Batavia, where,
however, he made but a short stay. He had determined on setting up on his
own account, and Batavia presented no opening for him. That land of hope
and promise, the West, tempted him as it had tempted others, and with five
hundred dollars in jewelry, purchased on credit, he started westward in
search of a place in which to turn his jewelry into cash.
Taking vessel at Buffalo he came to Cleveland, but there was no harbor,
and the vessel stopped outside to land any passengers for that place, and
then resumed her trip. Mr. Crittenden concluded not to end his voyage
until he had gone farther, and stuck by the ship until he reached Detroit,
where he landed and investigated with a view to settling. The prospect was
not inviting. In order to do business there it was necessary to understand
and speak Canadian French, and Mr. Crittenden's acquirements in that
direction were not extensive. Detroit was clearly no place for him.
Whilst roaming around the place he fell in with Mr. Walbridge, who was
seeking a location to open a dry goods business. He too was dissatisfied
with the inducements Detroit offered, and had almost resolved to abandon
the attempt and go home. Mr. Crittenden had reached the same conclusion,
and the two took the boat on the return trip, thoroughly disenchanted with
the business prospects of the West. When the boat reached Cleveland they
concluded to land and take a look at the place before they utterly turned
their backs on the western country.
It was in September, 1826. The village was pleasantly situated, and the
location impressed the strangers favorably. The houses had an appearance
of thrift and comfort, and there was an air of New England enterprise
about the settlement that confirmed the good impression formed at the
approach. Mr. Crittenden turned to his companion and announced his
determination to go no farther; he had found the object of his search.
That he might satisfy himself of the probable future of the settlement he
got a conveyance and rode into the country to see what were the
surroundings of the embryo city. As he passed up through the street his
ears were saluted with drum and fife, the people were all out in their
holiday clothes, and teams, loaded with old folks and young folks, were
coming into town, for it was "general training." The farther he rode and
the more he saw, the more firmly he became convinced that here was to be
his future home, and before long his five hundred dollars' worth of
jewelry found purchasers among the lads and lasses, and some of the older
folks, of Cleveland.
His first store occupied the site of his present store on Superior street,
and here, in a little building, he opened his original stock. The land he
subsequently purchased of Levi Johnson, through the medium of Leonard
Case, the purchase money being one thousand dollars for twenty-eight
feet, with three years' time in which to make the payments. The exorbitant
price horrified some of the old settlers, and one of them gravely shook
his head, announcing his firm belief that such a sum of money for such a
bit of land would turn Levi Johnson's head with unlooked for prosperity.
The price would scarcely be called high in the present day, when land then
considered far away in the distant country sells readily at higher rates.
In the spring of 1827, having secured his store and sold out most of his
original stock, he started East to make his first purchases and to bring
his wife to Cleveland. His friends were surprised and gratified at his
early return on such an errand. With his wife he brought some housekeeping
articles, among other things the third carpet ever brought to the
In 1833, he had so far succeeded in business as to warrant his tearing
down the old store and building in its stead a store and dwelling
combined. Great was the admiration of the people at this building and it
was considered a just source of pride by the people of Cleveland, for to
the store was an open front, the first seen in the place, and to the
private entrance to the dwelling was attached the first door-bell in
Cleveland. The glass front and the tingling bell were unfailing sources of
attraction until others adopted the novelty and public curiosity became
sated. The building was well known to all who lived in the city previous
to 1865, for it remained until, at that date, it had to give way to the
larger, more elegant, and far more costly structure.
In 1843, Mr. Crittenden purchased the Giddings place, on the north side of
the Public Square, with the stone residence on it, then considered an
elegant mansion. The price paid for the lot, house and furniture was ten
thousand dollars--a high price as rates then were, but marvellously cheap
now. To that house he removed his family from over his store, and lived
there twenty-five years, when it was turned over to business purposes.
About the year 1853, he erected the fine business block on Water street,
now occupied by Stillson, Leek & Doering, at a cost of fifteen thousand
dollars. In 1868, he put up the handsome block on the same street that is
occupied by Childs & Co. The cost of this was not less than forty thousand
dollars, and it is a decided ornament to the street. The purchase of the
land and the erection of those elegant blocks, in addition to the one
occupied by his own business, furnish sufficient evidence of the
prosperity of his jewelry business, the regular stock of which has grown
from an investment of five hundred dollars to one of more than a hundred
and twenty-five thousand dollars.
[Illustration: Yours Truly, N. E. Crittenden]
But it must not be supposed that this prosperity was uninterrupted
throughout Mr. Crittenden's business life. There were dark storms which
threatened disastrous wreck, and nothing but stead-fastness of purpose and
force of character brought him through. In 1836 the financial tornado
swept over the land and stripped nearly every business man bare. When the
storm was at its height Mr. Crittenden found himself with fifty thousand
dollars of New York debts past due, and without the money to pay them.
Collections were cut off, and whilst he was thus unable to raise the means
from his debtors, his creditors were likewise stopped from pouncing upon
him. Other men in like condition were compounding with their creditors,
and thus getting out of their difficulties by partial repudiation. Mr.
Crittenden declined to avail himself of the opportunity, and, in course of
time, his creditors were paid in full, though that result was brought
about by years of toil, of steady, persistent application to business, of
shrewd financiering, and of rigid economy.
In his early days in Cleveland he was chosen one of the village
trustees. In 1828, when he held that office, and Richard Hilliard was
president of the Board of Trustees, the members gathered one afternoon
in an office and voted an appropriation of two hundred dollars to put
the village in proper order. Great was the outcry at this wastefulness,
on the part of some of the tax payers. One of the old citizens, who yet
lives, met Mr. Crittenden and wanted to know what on earth the trustees
could find in the village to spend two hundred dollars about. At a later
date, when Cleveland was a city and Mr. Crittenden a member of the
Council, it was voted to appropriate ten thousand dollars to protect the
lake front from encroachments by the lake. Again was Mr. Crittenden met
and upbraided for his extravagance in municipal affairs, such conduct
tending to bankrupt the city.
It is Mr. Crittenden's pride that he has had no serious litigation, his
care in making contracts having saved him the unpleasant necessity of
resorting to legal means to compel his debtors to fulfil their
obligations. But whilst looking thus sharply after his own interests,
avarice or parsimony has formed no part of his character, and he has been
liberal according to his means.
William A. Otis.
William A. Otis was one of those pioneer business men, who settled in Ohio
during the dark times which followed the war of 1812. He was one of those
to whom we owe much, but of whom the present generation know little; who
without capital or education gave an impetus to the Western settlement, by
integrity, personal energy, economy, and good sense. By force of character
alone, which was their only capital, they wrought such wonders that the
wilderness was literally transposed into fruitful fields.
Mr. Otis left his paternal home in Massachusetts, about the year 1818, on
foot, to seek a home in the West. Having reached Johnstown, in the
Allegheny Mountains, he hired for a few months as man of all work, in an
iron establishment, and thence set forward, travelling as before, by way
of Pittsburgh, to the township of Bloomfield, in Trumbull county, Ohio.
His physical constitution was equal to the labors of a new country, which
had nothing to recommend it but a rich soil, and which required above all
things perseverance and hard work. He cleared land, furnished the settlers
with goods, for which they paid in ashes, or wheat, and kept a comfortable
tavern for the accommodation of travelers. The ashes were manufactured by
himself into "black salts" or impure potash, more often styled "Pots,"
which was the only strictly cash article in the country. It was necessary
to haul the casks of potash to the mouth of Beaver river, or to
Pittsburgh, from whence they drifted on flat boats down the Ohio and
Mississippi to New Orleans, and from thence were shipped to New York. Much
of the teaming he did himself.
The "Pots" were exchanged at Pittsburgh for goods, or if shipped furnished
a credit for the purchases, with which his wagon was loaded, on the return
to Bloomfield. Currency did not in those days enter into the course of
trade, because there was barely enough of it in the country to pay taxes.
Mr. Otis was frequently obliged to furnish his customers with cash for
this purpose. When the Erie Canal was finished to Buffalo, the wheat of
the settlers on the Reserve, for the first time, became a cash article.
They had an abundance of grain, which they were glad to dispose of at
twenty-five cents a bushel, payable principally in goods. The canal
furnished a better outlet for potash than the river. Mr. Otis determined
to try a venture in flour at New York, which he considered the first lot
sent there from the Reserve.
There were no flour barrels, and no coopers, at Bloomfield, but a few
miles north towards the lake there was a good custom grist mill. He went
into the woods, cut an oak tree, set his men to saw it into blocks of the
right length, from which the rough staves were split. The wheat which his
customers brought in, was stored at the mill and ground. When the cooper
stuff was seasoned, the barrels were made, rough enough, but strong, and
his stock of flour and potash hauled through the mud thirty-five miles to
the mouth of Ashtabula creek. A schooner was at anchor outside, and as
soon as his venture was on board, he took passage with it to Buffalo, and
by canal to New York. The New York dealers were surprised and gratified,
for they perceived at once the capacity of a new country on the shores of
Lake Erie, of which they had hitherto only known in theory, not in
practical results. In quality the flour was not behind that of the Genesee
country, which seemed a wonder in their eyes. They purchased it readily
and offered every encouragement to the trade and the trader. In process of
time, wool and pork were added to the staples for the New York market. It
was by this course of incessant activity during near twenty years of
country business, coupled with a sure judgment, that Mr. Otis gradually
acquired a moderate money capital. In 1835 or 1836, he came to this city,
with his hard earned experience in traffic, and with more ready cash than
most of our produce dealers then possessed, and entered upon a wider field
of enterprise. He continued to purchase and sell the old class of
articles, pork, flour and potash, to which iron soon became an important
addition. His capital and experience brought him at once into connection
with many public enterprises, which became necessary to an expanding
country, especially such as relate to transportation. One of the earliest
tumpikes in northeastern Ohio was made through Bloomfield, from Warren to
Ashtabula. Steamers made their appearance on Lake Erie, and the Ohio canal
extended navigation into the interior. In all these auxiliaries to trade
in the heavy products of the country, Mr. Otis had a friendly interest,
and when railways began to be discussed he saw their value at once.
Finally, after his usual deliberation, he decided that the manufacture of
iron was a safe and profitable business at Cleveland; he became the
pioneer iron master of the place, with the usual result of his
operations--a large profit on his investment.
This example and success laid the foundation of iron manufactures here.
It required something more than the talents of a shrewd country merchant,
or of a mere money lender, to foresee the coming wants of trade in a
growing State, to invest in its banks, railroads and manufactures, and to
render all these investments profitable. With his increase in wealth there
was in Mr. Otis no increase of display, and no relaxation of the economy
of early life, but an increasing liberality in public charities,
particularly those connected with religion. When compared with the
briskness of modern traffic he was slow and cautious; but having finally
reached a conclusion he never flagged in the pursuit of his plans. He
belonged to a past generation, but to a class of dealers whose judgment
and perseverance built up the business of the country on a sure basis. In
the midst of a speculative community in flush times, he appeared to be
cold, dilatory, and over cautions, but he saw more clearly and further
into the future of a business than younger and more impulsive minds, who
had less experience in its revulsions.
For a number of years previous to his death Mr. Otis was largely
interested in the banking business of the city. He took a prominent part
in the organization of the State Bank of Ohio, was the originator of the
Society for Savings in Cleveland, and was for thirteen years its
president, and at the time of his death was president of the Commercial
National Bank. He was also connected with the banking firm of Wicks, Otis
In connection with a notice of the originator of the Savings Bank in
Cleveland it is appropriate to briefly sketch the history of that
organization, which has worked so much good and which ranks to-day among
the most important and most valued institutions in the city. The
suggestion was first made by Mr. Otis in the Winter of 1848-9, and its
organization was advocated on the ground of public benevolence. At the
request of several prominent persons, Mr. S. H. Mather, the present
secretary and treasurer, examined the character and practices of several
eastern institutions of a similar character. A charter was drafted,
principally from those of two well known institutions of the kind then in
operation at Boston and Hartford. In the New England States every city and
many villages and country towns have organizations of this character.
In March, 1849, the Legislature granted corporate powers to W. A. Otis, H.
W. Clark, L. Handerson, J. Lyman, M. L. Hewitt, N. Brainard, Ralph Cowles,
J. H. Gorham, A. Seymour, D. A. Shepard, James Gardner, J. A. Harris, J.
H. Bingham, J. A. Briggs, S. H. Mather, J. A. Foot, and C. J. Woolson, and
their successors, to be appointed by themselves, the corporate powers to
continue thirty years. The corporators appointed John W. Allen president,
S. H. Mather secretary, and J. F. Taintor treasurer, and commenced business
in August, 1849, at the rear of the Merchants Bank, on Bank street. Mr.
Taintor was at the time teller in the Merchants Bank, and it was supposed
that he could attend to all the business of the Savings Society outside of
banking hours. This was soon found to be impracticable, and at the end of
about two years Mr. Taintor withdrew, leaving to Mr. Mather the joint
office of secretary and treasurer.
At the end of three years the deposits were only $100,000. In the latter
part of the year 1856, the society became able to have a better office,
and moved into 118 Bank street, corner of Frankfort, under the Weddell
house. The deposits in 1859, after ten years of business, were only about
$300,000, but the concern had been so closely managed that a surplus was
accumulating from the profits on investments over the six per cent.
interest paid to depositors. From that time the business of the
institution steadily increased until on the 1st day of January, 1869, its
deposits considerably exceeded two and a half millions of dollars, and out
of a large surplus had been built one of the finest and most substantial
buildings in the city, on the north side of the Park. Such have been the
fruits of the suggestion of Mr. Otis; such the success of the organization
in which he took so deep an interest during his life.
On the announcement of the death of Mr. Otis, a meeting of bankers was
immediately called for the purpose of taking some action in testimony of
their respect for the deceased. All the banks were fully represented, as
were the private banking firms. T. M. Kelly, of the Merchants National
Bank, was called to the chair, and J. O. Buell, of the Second National
Bank, appointed secretary. Appropriate remarks were made by the chairman
and others, after which a committee, composed of T. P. Handy, H. B. Payne,
Joseph Perkins, Henry Wick, and E. B. Hale, reported the following
resolutions, testifying to the respect and esteem felt for Mr. Otis as a
man of business, as a good citizen, and as a Christian:
It having pleased God to remove from our midst, on the morning of the
11th inst., Wm. A. Otis, who, for more than 22 years, has been
associated with many of us in the business of banking, and has occupied
a prominent position both in the early organization of the State Bank of
Ohio, and of the Society for Savings of Cleveland, of which latter
Society he was for thirteen years president, and at the time of his
death was the president of the Commercial Bank of this city, and who by
his wise counsels, his high regard for integrity and mercantile honors as
well as by an exemplary Christian life, had secured the esteem and
confidence of his associates and fellow citizens, and who, after a good
old age, has been quietly gathered to his rest, therefore,
_Resolved_, That while we deeply mourn the loss of our departed brother,
we commend his virtues, and especially his high standard of Christian
integrity, for the imitation of the young men of our city as the most
certain means to a successful business life, and a fitting preparation
for its final close.
_Resolved_, That we deeply sympathize with the family of our deceased
friend in the loss that both they and we are called to sustain, feeling
assured that after so long a life of Christian fidelity this loss, to
him is an infinite gain.
_Resolved_, That a copy of these resolutions, signed by the Chairman and
Secretary, be furnished the family of the deceased and be duly published
in our city papers.
J. C. Buell, Secretary. T. M. Kelly, Chairman.
Cleveland, May 12, 1868.
E. P. Morgan.
"He who works most achieves most," is a good motto in business, and in
pursuits of all kinds. This has been the principle on which E. P. Morgan
has acted throughout life, and a faithful persistence in carrying it out
has resulted in building up a mammoth business and the consequent
possession of a handsome fortune.
Mr. Morgan was born in New London, Connecticut, in 1807. His early years
were spent at home and in attending school, where a good common education
was gained. In his fifteenth year he was taken from school and placed in a
store, where he acquired those business habits which have made him a
successful and wealthy merchant. At the age of twenty-one, he set up in
business for himself, at Middlefield, Massachusetts, carrying on a store,
and at the same time engaging in the manufacture of woolen goods. In this
store he continued twelve years, doing the whole time a thriving and
In 1841, he bade adieu to Massachusetts and came west to Ohio, taking up
his future home in Cleveland. He plunged into business immediately on
arriving, opening a store on the north side of Superior street, in the
place now occupied by the store of Mould & Numsen. In 1857, he saw what he
believed to be a more eligible site for business in the corner of Superior
and Seneca streets, and to that point he removed in 1858. At the same
time the firm of Morgan & Root was formed by admitting to partnership Mr.
R. R. Root. To the retail dry goods business was now added a wholesale
department, as also a millinery department, and subsequently a grocery.
The business was vigorously pushed and every department grew with
remarkable rapidity, until store after store was added to the
establishment. The "corner store" became known far and wide, and a very
large country trade was built up in the jobbing department. During the
last three years of the war, the business of the firm reached an amount
greater than had ever been anticipated by its members, and the old
quarters, capable no longer of extension, became too strait for the
expanding operations. A number of lots on the east side of Bank street,
between the Herald building and Frankfort street, being purchased by
Morgan & Root, were speedily disencumbered of the drinking saloons and
petty shops that covered them, and on their site soon arose one of the
finest business blocks in the city, estimated to cost sixty thousand
dollars in addition to the cost of the land. When the block was finished
the wholesale department of the business was removed to the new building,
leaving the retail department to be carried on in the old store. In
February, 1869, the retail business was sold out to new parties, and
thereafter the firm of Morgan & Root confined itself exclusively to the
That Mr. Morgan is one of the best business men of the city is proved by
the fact that he has failed in no one of his undertakings; not that he
has always sailed on a smooth current of success, but that when
difficulties arose his indomitable perseverance enabled him to overcome
them. He engaged in no enterprise without its having been based on good
evidence and sound judgment; he never wavered in his adherence to it, nor
slackened for a moment his endeavors to prove his faith sound; nor has he
once been disappointed as to the result. Few men have shown a like
perseverance. His habits of keen investigation and strict attention to
his affairs, enabled him to do a very safe, though a very enterprising
business, and consequently he had little occasion for professional
acquaintance with lawyers.
In addition to his mercantile business, Mr. Morgan has interested himself
in insurance matters, being president of the State Fire Insurance Company,
of Cleveland, which position he has held since the organization of the
company in 1863. Under his presidency the company has done a safe and
successful business, and has extended its operations so that it has
offices in Connecticut and other parts of New England. He is also
connected with the banking affairs of the city. In the earlier years of
his business in Cleveland, he became interested in the construction of the
canal around the rapids of Saut St. Marie, and during the progress of the
work had a store open at the Saut.
In 1864, he built his residence on Euclid street, near the corner of
Huntington street, where he has resided since that time. Though sixty-two
years of age, he is still as active and vigorous as ever, and bids fair to
long be an active member, in fact as well as in title, of the firm of
Morgan & Root.
In religious principles Mr. Morgan is a Presbyterian. For a long time he
was a member of the Second Presbyterian Church, but of late has been
connected with the Euclid street Presbyterian Church.
In 1832, he was married to Miss Laura Nash, of Middleford, Mass., by whom
he has had seven children, all but one of whom still live. The oldest son,
William Morgan, now thirty-one years old, is engaged in the manufacture
and sale of lubricating oils. The second son, Edmund N. Morgan, is an
assistant in his father's store. A daughter, Helen, is the wife of Mr.
J. B. Merriam, of Cleveland.
The commercial interests of Cleveland and of the Lake Superior mineral
region have for many years been intimately connected, several of the now
prominent citizens of Cleveland having been attracted to Lake Superior by
the reports of its mineral riches at the time those riches were first made
generally known, and Cleveland being found a convenient base of supplies
for the mining enterprises on the shores of the "father of lakes."
One of the earliest to take an interest in this trade was Robert Hanna.
Whilst living in Columbiana county, Ohio, where he had been brought up, he
was attracted by the representations of the mineral riches of the far off
northern lakes, and in 1845 he started off to see for himself what was
truth in these reports, and what exaggeration. Traveling and exploration
in the wilds of the Lake Superior country were very difficult in that day,
and those who were anxious to make a fortune out of the bowels of the
earth had to rough it, pretty much as the seekers of gold have to now in
the tangled wilderness to the west of Lake Superior. Mr. Hanna spent four
months in careful exploration, and at length becoming satisfied that there
was something in the rumors of mineral riches, obtained from the
department, in whose charge the territory then was, a permit to locate
three square miles of copper lands. This being accomplished, he returned
to set about the organization of a company to work the prospective mines.
Whilst at Marquette, on his return from exploring the copper region, Mr.
Hanna fell in with a man who had been exploring the country back of that
place, and who brought in a specimen of iron ore which he had come
across in his search. The ore was so heavy, and apparently rich in iron,
that it was taken to a blacksmith, who, without any preparatory
reduction of the ore, forged from it a rude horseshoe. The astonishment
of those hitherto unacquainted with the existence of raw iron so nearly
pure metal, can be imagined.
But Mr. Hanna's attention, like those of most of the searchers after
minerals in that region, was absorbed in copper, and as we have seen, he
located his copper tract and returned home to provide means for working
it. A company was formed, materials purchased and miners engaged, and the
work pressed forward vigorously. The question of forwarding supplies being
now an important one, Mr. Hanna removed to Cleveland, that being the most
favorable point for the purchase and shipment of the articles needed, and
opened a wholesale grocery establishment in 1852, combining with it a
forwarding and commission business. At that time the wholesale grocery
business was in its infancy, there being but two or three establishments
of the kind in Cleveland.
For some time after the establishment of Mr. Hanna in the wholesale
grocery business, the carrying trade between Cleveland and Lake Superior
was mostly in the hands of the Turner Brothers, whose one steamer, the
Northerner, was able to do all the business that offered, both in freight
and passengers. Mr. Hanna's firm, then composed of himself, his brother,
Leonard Hanna, and H. Garretson, under the firm name of Hanna, Garretson &
Co., decided on the bold step of competing for the trade by building a
steamer of their own. The City of Superior, a screw steamer, was built in
Cleveland, under the especial supervision of Dr. Leonard Hanna, and the
most scrupulous care was exercised to make her in all respects a model
boat for the trade. Great strength of hull and power of machinery were
insisted on, in order to withstand the dangers of the formidable coast
when the fierce storms of the Fall season rendered navigation hazardous.
Accommodation for passengers on the voyage, which took several days for
its full extent, had to be provided, and great care was taken in this
respect to make the voyage as attractive as possible, attention having
been somewhat turned to the Lake Superior country as a Summer resort,
where the sultry beats of the "lower country" could be exchanged for pure
air and cooling breezes. When launched, the City of Superior proved a
complete success, and her first voyage up was a perfect ovation, a new era
having been opened in the history of travel between the upper and middle
lakes. But, unhappily, this fine steamer was lost in a storm after a few
voyages, although the great strength of her hull kept her intact, though
lying across a rock, until she could be completely stripped of her cargo,
furniture and machinery.
No time was spent in fruitless lamentations over the destruction of the
work of which they were so proud, and about which so many anticipations
for the future had been indulged in. No sooner had the news been
confirmed, than a contract was made for the construction of another
steamer, larger and better in all respects than her unfortunate
predecessor, and the result was the Northern Light, which proved a great
favorite, and is still running. Other steamers were chartered to run in
connection with her, and their success caused rival lines to be run, thus
building up the Lake Superior trade to dimensions exceeding the most
sanguine expectations of the pioneers in it. To this house belongs a very
large share of the credit due for bringing such an important proportion
of this trade to Cleveland. When Mr. Hanna first endeavored to interest
the people of Cleveland in Lake Superior matters, he was frequently met
with inquiries as to the whereabouts, not only of the copper region of
Lake Superior, but of Lake Superior itself, about which very confused
The copper company organized by Mr. Hanna expended over half a million
dollars in developing the deposit, and produced several hundred tons of
ore, but it was not a financial success, the fine copper not being in