Part 3 out of 11
paying proportion in the ore. After a few years Mr. Hanna sold out his
interest in this company, but has retained interests in other enterprises
in that region, some of which have been very remunerative.
By the death of Dr. Leonard Hanna, and the withdrawal of Mr. Garretson,
the firm of Hanna, Garretson & Co. became dissolved, and was changed to
Robert Hanna & Co., the younger members of the Hanna families taking
interest in the firm. Recently Robert Hanna has retired from active
participation in its affairs, having turned his attention in other
directions. During the past four years he has been engaged in the oil
refining business, having a refinery with a capacity of a hundred and
sixty barrels a day, which has proved very successful. He is also
president of the Cleveland Malleable Iron Works, the first of the kind in
this part of the country, and which at present promises well. The
gentlemen associated with Mr. Hanna in this enterprise have united with
him in the determination to make it a successful enterprise, and have such
management for it that it can scarcely fail to meet their expectations.
In 1868, Mr. Hanna projected what resulted in the organization and
establishment of the Ohio National Bank, of Cleveland, on January 1st,
1869, with an authorized capital of one million dollars, and with a paid
up capital of six hundred thousand dollars. It was organized with more
especial reference to the interests of merchants, mechanics and
manufacturers, and men representing these respective interests are the
principal owners of its stock. The institution thus far gives promise of
complete success. Mr. Hanna is the president; A. Cobb, vice-president;
John McClymonds, cashier.
Still in the prime of life, Mr. Hanna has the satisfaction of knowing that
he has been very successful, has built up a large fortune for himself and
done a very important work in building up the material interests of the
city, both commercial and manufacturing. Although well able to retire from
active life, and live in ease at his fine residence on Prospect street, he
prefers to do what yet lies in his power to build up the prosperity of
Cleveland still higher.
S. F. Lester.
Samuel F. Lester was born in Albany county, New York, in 1818. His youth
was spent under advantageous circumstances, and he obtained a good
education. At the age of fifteen he left the Academy where he had been
studying and entered on his commercial education by becoming clerk in a
country store, where he remained five years. Having reached his twentieth
year, he bade adieu to home, and came west to seek his fortune. His
first stay was at Clinton, Michigan, where he carried on business
successfully for three years, and married Miss Cornelia Eliza Brown, of
Tecumseh, daughter to General Joseph W. Brown, and niece of Major General
Jacob Brown, of Brownville, N. Y., the hero of Chippewa, Fort Erie and
At the expiration of the three years Mr. Lester's health gave way, through
his assiduous devotion to business, and he returned to his father's house
in Albany county, New York, remaining there a year, unable to engage in
business of any kind. For the two succeeding years he worked on his
father's farm, and in this way succeeded in regaining his health.
In March, 1845, he again turned his face westward, and landed at
Cleveland, where he became a member of the firm of Hubby, Hughes & Co.,
remaining in it until its dissolution. The house of Hubby, Hughes & Co.
carried on a very extensive business on the lakes and canal. The firm, in
connection with J. C. Evans, of Buffalo, projected the first line of
propellers between Buffalo, Cleveland and Toledo, and the line was a
decided financial success. It continued to do a steadily increasing
business until the consolidation of most of the independent lines into the
American Transportation Co.'s line. A number of lake vessels also belonged
the house, and a line of canal boats belonging to the firm ran between
Cleveland and Portsmouth, and between Cleveland and Pittsburgh.
In connection with the firm of William A. Otis & Co., the firm built the
first elevator for railroad business in the city, the elevator, at the
foot of River street, being now occupied by W. F. Otis & Son. Subsequent to
this the firm erected the National Mills, at the heavy cost of seventy
thousand dollars, it being then, and now, one of the finest and most
costly mills in the State of Ohio.
In 1858, the firm of Hubby, Hughes & Co. was dissolved, and the business
was carried on under the firm name of Hughes & Lester, which was continued
successfully until 1862. In January of that year, Mr. Lester went to New
York on the business of the firm. Whilst there he was suddenly stricken
with paralysis, and lay unknown and helpless for sometime. He was at
length identified and cared for, but for a long time was in great danger,
and for a still longer time utterly unable to do business of any kind. His
serious and continued illness necessitated the breaking up of the firm,
and accordingly on the first of January, 1863, the firm of Hughes & Lester
was dissolved. On the following March, his health having been partially
restored, Mr. Lester once more entered into business, opening a produce
commission warehouse, and meeting with success.
It is the just pride of Mr. Lester that he has always escaped litigation
It is also a fact worthy of notice and imitation, that Mr. Lester has
always given strict personal attention to all the details of his business
knowing them all from the cellar to the counting-room, in the latter of
which places he is most thoroughly at home.
Mr. Lester was one of the original stockholders of the Commercial
Insurance Company, and a director and member of the executive committee
for several years. He has twice been elected Commissioner of Water Works.
Mr. Lester has, all through his commercial life enjoyed to an unusual
degree, the confidence and esteem of his fellow citizens.
[Illustration: "Yours Truly, A. Bradley"]
To the very many who see for the first time the name of Alva Bradley, the
question will naturally arise, "Who is he?" and some wonder may be
expressed at finding a name so little known to the general public on the
list of those who have contributed largely to the commercial prosperity of
Cleveland. And yet Alva Bradley is one of the largest ship-owners of the
city, and his name is well enough known among those interested in the
shipping of the western lakes. That he is no better known outside of his
peculiar circle of business men is owing solely to his modest and
unostentatious character, he preferring to pursue the even tenor of his
way and confine himself strictly to his own affairs.
Captain Bradley was born in Connecticut in the year 1814, and lived in
that State until his ninth year. Then his father emigrated to Ohio, taking
his family with him, and settled in Lorain county. Young Bradley had few
advantages in early life. He earned his first pair of boots by chopping
wood, and when the first suspenders, knitted by his mother, were worn out,
the next pair were paid for by chopping hoop-poles.
Until his twenty-first year he worked with his father on a farm, and
then left to seek his fortune in the world, with all his effects carried
under his arm, wrapped in a cotton handkerchief. His first entry on
independent life was as a deck-hand, before the mast of the schooner
Liberty. In that capacity he remained two years, and then, having acquired
a good knowledge of seamanship, was made mate, holding that rank two
years. In 1839, he rose a step higher, and for two seasons was master of
the Commodore Lawrence.
Captain Bradley now commenced his career as an owner as well as master of
vessels. In 1841, he had built for him, in company with Mr. A. Cobb, then
a merchant at Birmingham, Ohio, the schooner South America, of 104 tons.
When she was completed he took command of her and sailed her for three
seasons. In 1844, in company with Mr. Cobb, he had built the schooner
Birmingham, of 135 tons burden, and taking command of her himself, sailed
her three years. In 1848, the same parties built the Ellington, of 185
tons, which Capt. Bradley sailed for one year. The following year he
shifted his command to the propeller Indiana, 350 tons burden, which he
and his associate, Mr. Cobb, had built for the Buffalo and Chicago trade.
Capt. Bradley ran her himself three years and then returned to a sailing
vessel, having late in the season of 1852, turned off the stocks a smart
new schooner, the Oregon, of 190 tons burden, which he ran to the end of
her first season, and then bade adieu to sea-faring life. During his many
years' life on the lakes, in various craft and under all kinds of
circumstances, it is remarkable that he never met with a serious casualty;
he was enterprising, active, vigorous in mind and body; a prudent business
man and at the same time a thorough sailor.
In the spring of 1853, he resumed his work of increasing his lake navy by
building the Challenge, of 238 tons, followed by one or more vessels
yearly. In 1854 was built the Bay City, 190 tons; in 1855 the C. G.
Griswold, 359 tons; in 1856 the schooners Queen City, 368 tons, and
Wellington, 300 tons; in 1858 the schooner Exchange, 390 tons. At this
point he rested three years and then resumed work.
In 1861 was built, in company with other parties, the S. H. Kimball, 418
tons; in 1863 the Wagstaff, 412 tons; in 1864 the J. F. Gard, 370 tons; in
1865 the schooner Escanaba, 568 tons; in 1866-7, the schooner Negaunee,
850 tons, a splendid vessel, costing over $52,000, which has been running
in the Lake Superior iron ore trade, and which has proved a very
profitable investment; in 1868 he built the schooner Fayette Brown, 713
tons, and the tug W. Cushing, for harbor towing; in 1869 the S. F. Tilden,
1,000 tons, was launched from the yard of Quayle & Martin, completing the
list of vessels built by or for Captain Bradley, making a list of nineteen
vessels, and a tug, besides a number of vessels purchased. The present
fleet is composed of nine vessels, with an aggregate tonnage of nearly
five thousand tons, besides two tugs, one plying in Cleveland harbor and
the other, in which he has half interest, at the Sault.
The record of the vessels built for Captain Bradley, and their respective
tonnage, given above, shows at a glance the gradual development of the
lake shipping commerce. The first of his fleet, the South America, 104
tons, built in 1841, was a very respectable craft in her day. From that
time there was a steady increase in the tonnage of the vessels built,
until it culminates in the S. F. Tilden, with carrying capacity of a
thousand tons burden, but just launched from the stocks.
Though owning at one time or another such a large fleet of vessels, the
casualties to them were very few, and the enterprise has proved steadily
remunerative. The schr. Dayton, Maria Cobb, Oregon, South America, and
Queen City, is the complete list of vessels lost.
Though shipping absorbed the greater portion of Captain Bradley's
attention, his interest was not wholly confined to this branch of
business. His time, means, and energy were largely employed in the
manufacture of iron, and in other commercial interests. It is his pride
that though so largely interested in business of different kinds, he has
had but one case of litigation, and that with an insurance company. His
record needs no eulogy; it speaks for itself as the record of a man of
energy, enterprise and prudence.
Captain Bradley's health had for some years not been good, but is now
improving, and there is a reasonable prospect that one who has done so
much to develop the shipping interest of the port will live for some time
yet to enjoy the fruits of his energy and industry.
Mr. Bradley was married in August, 1849, to Ellen Burgess, of Milan, Ohio,
who is still living. Of the marriage, four children have been born, three
girls and one boy.
Wellington P. Cooke.
The history of W. P. Cooke is an instance of what can be
accomplished under the most adverse circumstances, when to
persistent energy and laudable ambition are added the patience and
faith born of religions training.
The parents of Mr. Cooke were pioneer settlers in Otsego county, New
York, where his father died whilst Wellington was quite a small boy. His
mother removed to a still newer country, Macomb county, Michigan, and
there died, leaving the lad to fight his own way through the world
without the advantages of either money or education. In the year 1838,
being then but thirteen years old, he became a printer's apprentice.
Subsequently he removed to Chagrin Falls, Ohio, where he secured some
educational privileges at a seminary, obtaining the money for his
necessary expenses by working early in the morning, at night, and on
Saturday. He found employment in the village and among the neighboring
farmers. But with all his efforts his lot was a hard one. He often needed
the necessaries, to say nothing of the comforts of life, frequently
making his morning and evening meal out of potatoes and salt, the former
being of his own cooking, as he boarded himself. These articles were
purchased in many instances by money received for sawing wood on the
school holiday of Saturday.
In 1843, he came to Cleveland, tramping in from Chagrin Falls on foot, and
having half a dollar as his sole capital with which to commence life in
the city. His first attempt to gain work was in a printing office, where
he succeeded in getting a case, receiving his pay, according to the custom
of the times, in orders on grocery and clothing stores. After this he was
foreman and compositor in the office of a monthly publication, called the
Farmers' Journal, where he continued to devote his spare time to reading
and study. Subsequently he became a clerk in a grocery store at a salary
of ninety-six dollars a year. With this small sum he not only supported
himself, but gave pecuniary aid to a sister, and something to the church.
In 1848, he obtained an interest in the business, and the partnership thus
continued for three years. His reputation as a moral and religious man,
together with a great spirit of enterprise, rapidly enlarged his business,
and pointed out new channels for money-making.
[Illustration: W. P. Cooke]
In 1850, he disposed of the grocery business, and directed his whole
efforts to the hide and leather trade. In this he showed much judgment,
for the business he selected has proved to be one of the most extensive
and profitable of the West. A nephew, since deceased, about this time
became a partner. The premises occupied became too small, and a lot on
Water street was purchased, where a fine store was erected, which is the
present place of business.
The firm, which for some time existed as W. P. Cooke & Co., has been
changed to Cooke & Denison, the junior partner being a former clerk, and
under that name it is well known throughout the country, and especially in
the West, as one of the largest establishments in the West dealing in
leather, hides, wool, pelts and oil.
Mr. Cooke joined the Methodist Church at a very early age, and to the
religious influences with which he was thus surrounded, he attributes much
of his success in life. As a Church-member he was led to avoid all places
of doubtful morality, and thus escaped the temptations and vices which
destroy so many young men. He has always been strictly temperate, and does
not use tobacco in any form. He is now prominently connected with the
First Methodist Episcopal Church of Cleveland, and is noted as a zealous
laborer in the Sunday School cause.
Mr. Cooke's religion is not of that kind that is left in the church pew
on Sunday night, to remain undisturbed until the next Sunday morning, but
is carried into all his relations of life and influences all his
movements. The principles of justice and charity taught by the Christian
faith are by him carried into his business dealings and social relations.
Strictly just in business transactions, liberal in his charities to
worthy objects, and generous to the church, he exemplifies in his life
the fact that true Christian principles are not incompatible with strict
business habits, and conduce to commercial success. Remembering his early
difficulties, he takes particular interest in young men, sympathizing
with them in their struggles, and aiding them with counsel and timely
assistance where needed.
The firm of Hanna, Garretson & Co. has already been mentioned. The second
member of the firm, while it existed under that name, Hiram Garretson,
came like the others from Columbiana county, where he had been brought up,
although not a native of the county. Mr. Garretson was born in York
county, Pennsylvania, his parents being respectable members of the Society
of Friends. When he was very young the family removed to Columbiana
county, Ohio, where the senior Garretson opened a country store in New
Lisbon. Hiram was sent to school, receiving a good district school
education, and was then taken into his father's store as clerk, in which
occupation he remained until he was nineteen years old. At that age he
left home and engaged in trade on the rivers, taking charge of a trading
boat running from Pittsburgh to New Orleans. This class of boats has not
yet entirely passed away from the Ohio and Mississippi rivers. The
villages along the river banks were small and badly supplied with stores,
depending mainly for their supplies on the coasting boats. These are
rudely constructed craft, well stocked with merchandise of all kinds, that
drop leisurely down the river, tying up at every village or place where
there is probability of a trade, and remaining there as long as the stay
can be made profitable, then passing on to the next. When New Orleans has
at last been reached, the boat is sold to be broken up for its materials,
and the trader returns by steamer to get ready for another voyage down. It
was in business of this description that Mr. Garretson engaged for a time,
and in his voyages down the river and dealings with all sorts of people in
different States, he acquired a valuable knowledge of business and men
that has stood him since in good stead.
At length he tired of this kind of trading and returned to New Lisbon, and
carried on a moderately successful business until the Winter of 1851. At
that time a marked change came over the fortunes of New Lisbon. Up to that
period it had been a flourishing business place, its advantages of
location on the canal in a fertile district, making it one of the best
places of trade in that portion of the State. But the construction of Fort
Wayne and Cleveland and Pittsburgh Railroads effected a great and
disadvantageous change in the business of New Lisbon. The Fort Wayne road
passed it a few miles north, and the Cleveland and Pittsburgh road ran
about an equal distance west. Thus New Lisbon was cut off from all the
commercial cities, and found its sources of supply tapped at every point
by the railroads. Realizing the fate that had overtaken the town, Mr.
Garretson, at the opening of the year 1852, closed up his affairs in
Columbiana county and removed to Cleveland. There he became associated in
business with Messrs. Leonard and Robert Hanna, and the firm of Hanna,
Garretson & Co. was established.
The successful operations of that firm have already been chronicled in
these pages, and it only remains in this place to note the fact, that to
the success achieved, the energy and uprightness of Mr. Garretson
contributed in full proportion. The partnership lasted nine years.
On its dissolution Mr. Garretson established the house of H. Garretson &
Co., on Water street, with a shipping house on the river. The business of
the new firm was exactly similar to that of the old one, including a
wholesale grocery trade, with a Lake Superior commission and shipping
business. A line of fine steamers was run to Lake Superior, and the high
reputation Mr. Garretson enjoyed among the people of that section of
country, enabled him to build up a very large business in supplying their
wants. In addition, the new firm found customers rapidly increasing in
northern and western Ohio, in Michigan, and in other adjoining States. The
operations of the firm extended rapidly until it stood, at the close of
the year 1867, among the very foremost in the amount of its annual sales,
whilst the business was eminently a safe and solidly successful one.
On the first of November, 1867, Mr. Garretson sold out his wholesale
grocery business, and thus closed a mercantile career extending in this
city over sixteen years. His attention was then turned to banking. No
sooner had he retired from mercantile life than he projected and
organized the Cleveland Banking Company, which went into operation under
his presidency February 1st, 1868, with a capital of three hundred and
twenty-five thousand dollars. It immediately found all the business it
was able to do, and under the skillful management of Mr. Garretson it
has become one of the most reliable and important financial institutions
of the city.
It can truthfully be said of Mr. Garretson, that his success in business
has been owing not more to his shrewdness and foresight than to his
mercantile honor and social qualities. He made personal friends of his
business customers, and by courteous attention, as well as by scrupulous
regard for their interests, retained their good will and secured their
custom. In all the relations of business and social life, Mr. Garretson
has uniformly borne himself in such manner as to win the respect and
confidence of those brought into contact with him.
John Barr was born in Liberty township, Trumbull county, (now Mahoning,)
Ohio, June 26th, 1804. His ancestors, on both sides, were from
Westmoreland county, Pennsylvania, though on his father's side they
originally came from the north of England, in the days of William Penn;
and his mother's, from Germany.
His grandfather, Alexander Barr, was killed by the Indians, in 1785, on
the Miami, a short distance below, where Hamilton, in Butler county, now
stands. His parents removed from Westmoreland county, Pa., to Youngstown,
in 1800; and his father settled as the Presbyterian pastor of a church in
that place, and resided there till 1820, when he removed to Wooster, Wayne
county, in this State. The subject of this sketch was raised on a farm,
literally in the woods, and experienced the usual privations and
vicissitudes attendant on pioneer life. The new country and poverty of his
parents prevented his receiving a common English education, and it was not
until after he was of age that he mastered Murray's syntax and Daboll's
On leaving home in 1825, he repaired to the Ohio canal, (then in process
of construction,) where he labored for two years, at various points
between Boston and Tinker's creek; where, with hundreds of others, he was
prostrated by the malaria of that unhealthy valley.
In 1828, he settled in Cleveland, and acted as deputy for the late Edward
Baldwin, sheriff. He took the census of the county in 1830, and was
elected sheriff that year, which office he held till 1834. Cleveland city
at that time, contained one thousand and seventy-one inhabitants; its
northern boundary was the lake, Erie street on the east, and the Cuyahoga
river on the west.
In 1835, when the idea of connecting Cleveland with other places by means
of railroads, was conceived by John W. Willey, James S. Clarke, T. P.
Handy, Edmund Clark, R. Hilliard, O. M. Gidings, H. B. Payne, Anson Haydn,
H. Canfield and others, Mr. Barr joined in and spent a good deal of time
in furthering the project. Late in the Fall of that year, he visited
Cincinnati, distributing petitions along the line of a proposed route to
Cincinnati from Cleveland, and spent most of the Winter at Columbus,
during the session of the Legislature. A charter for that road, and one
for a road to Pittsburgh, being granted, Mr. Barr brought the first copies
of them, duly certified under the seal of the State, to this city.
During 1836 and 7, Mr. Barr devoted a good deal of time in collecting
statistics of this port, the business of the city, its population, &c.,
&c., and also of the west generally, and laying them before the public in
the papers of Philadelphia and other eastern cities. In company with Mr.
Willey and the late Governor Tod, he visited Baltimore, Philadelphia, New
York and Boston, endeavoring to enlist the attention of capitalists to
aid in those enterprises. But the crash of 1837, and the general
prostration of business, that followed all over the country, rendered it
unavailing. In the Winter of 1838, Mr. Gidings, S. Starkweather,
Frederick Whittlesey, Wm. B. Lloyd and Mr. Barr were appointed a
committee to attend a railroad convention at Harrisburgh, Pa., to promote
the project of the railroad from Cleveland to Philadelphia, by way of
Pittsburgh. In 1838 and 9, at the request of John W. Willey, he still
spent much of his time in sending a series of articles on the importance
of the project, that were published monthly in the North American, a
paper in Philadelphia devoted to such projects.
Through the disastrous state of the times, these various measures had to
yield, and become, for the time being, failures; but time has shown that
those who were engaged in them were only in advance of the spirit and
means of the age.
In 1844, when this subject again arrested the attention of the Cleveland
public, Mr. Barr, although crushed by the storm of 1837, again resumed
the subject with his pen, and gave to the public in the National
Magazine, published in New York, quite a history of the city, its early
settlement, &c., together with a full description of the shipping on
their lakes, tonnage, trade, &c., that cost weeks of hard labor and
patience, more particularly to place our city in a favorable view before
the eastern public.
In 1846, a friend of Mr. B. sent him a petition to circulate and send to
the Hon. Thomas Corwin, one of Ohio's Senators, asking Congress for aid to
survey and establish a railroad to the Pacific.
In circulating this petition, Mr. Barr was gravely inquired of by one of
our citizens, "if he expected to live to see such a road built?" Mr. Barr
replied, "if he should live to the usual age of men, he did expect to see
it commenced, and perhaps built." The reply was, "If you do, you will be
an older man than Methusalah!" Both have lived to know that great work has
Mr. Barr procured over six hundred names to his petition, which was duly
presented by Mr. Corwin. Cleveland has now reason to be proud of the
interests she manifested in that great work, at so early a day.
In 1857, Mr. Barr brought the first petroleum to this city, made from
cannel coal, to be used as a source of light. This was new and regarded as
utopian. The article was very odorous, and failed to be acceptable to the
public, but as time rolled on, improvements in refining were made, and now
the largest manufacturing business in our city is that of petroleum.
Few, if any, of citizens have spent more time and pains in collecting and
giving to the public reminiscences of early days and early settlers--those
who located in this region, and who under such privations, trials,
hardships and sufferings commenced levelling these mighty forests,
erecting log cabins, and in due time made this formidable wilderness "bud
and blossom as the rose." In that respect Mr. Barr has done much to
preserve and lay before the public from time to time, brief histories of
many of those brave men and women who left their homes and friends in the
east, and comparative comforts, to settle in the western wilderness, to
build up homes for their children and future generations. Howe's history
of Ohio, and Col. Chas. Whittlesey's history of the city of Cleveland,
bear witness that his generous heart and gifted pen have furnished
tributes of respect to the memory of the noble pioneers, after the battle
of life with them was over, and thus supplying links to our historic chain
that makes it comparatively perfect.
Among the many reminiscences of early times related to us by Mr. Barr,
there is one we cannot deny ourselves the pleasure of relating, and
preserving: William Coleman, Esq., came to Euclid in 1803, selected a lot
of land and with his family settled upon it in 1804. For several years the
few settlers experienced a good deal of inconvenience in having only the
wild game of the country for meat, and which, at certain seasons of the
year, was unfit for the table. In the Spring the streams that put into the
lake abounded with excellent fish, and the season lasted about four weeks.
The question arose, "could these fish be preserved in salt for future
use?" The universal answer was No! The idea of preserving _fresh water_
fish in salt seemed incredible; the red man was appealed to, but he shook
his head in contempt at the idea, and in broken English said, "put him on
pole, dry him over smoke." One Spring Mr. Coleman repaired to Rocky River,
famous for its fine pike and pickerel, and laid in his stock, carefully
laid them down in salt, which cost him over thirty dollars a barrel, (at a
great risk, as his neighbors thought,) and watched them carefully from
time to time till harvest. Much to his own and his neighbors'
satisfaction, he found it a success, and proved not only a happy change of
diet for health, but also a luxury, unknown before. From this
circumstance, small at that time, originated a new source of comfort,
which proved, in time, a mine of wealth to the West, and a luxury to the
persons who located in the interior of the State. Well was it said by the
school boy of Massachusetts about those days, "Tall oaks from little
acorns grow, large streams from little fountains flow."
Mr. Barr says he made this circumstance a matter of much research and
inquiry, and fully believes that to William Coleman belongs the credit for
so useful and important a discovery.
J. B. Cobb.
The oldest bookselling house in Cleveland is that of the Cobbs, now
existing under the firm name of Cobb, Andrews & Co. It has grown with
the growth of the city, from a small concern where a few books and a
limited stock of stationery were kept as adjuncts to a job printing
office, to a large establishment doing an extensive business throughout
the northern half of Ohio and north-western Pennsylvania, and in parts of
Michigan and Indiana, and which has planted in Chicago a branch that has
grown to be equal in importance with the parent establishment. Through
financial storm and sunshine this house has steadily grown, without a
mishap, and now ranks as one of the most important and staunchest
business houses in the city.
The head of the firm, Junius Brutus Cobb, was born in 1822, received a
good common school education, and was then sent to learn the trade of a
cabinet-maker. When his apprenticeship expired he worked for a short time
as a journeyman, but was dissatisfied with the trade, and for a year or
two taught school. In 1842, he decided to try his fortune in the West, and
reached Cleveland, where he found employment as clerk in the store of M.
C. Younglove. Mr. Younglove was then doing a job printing business, and
kept in addition a stock of books and stationery. Opportunity sometime
after offering, two younger brothers of Mr. Cobb followed him, and were
employed by Mr. Younglove. In 1848, the three brothers united in the
purchase of an interest in the establishment, and the firm of M. C.
Younglove & Co. was formed, the store being located in the American House
building. Here the firm remained some years, the book trade steadily
increasing, until the old quarters were too strait for its accommodation.
In April 1852, Mr. Younglove parted with his entire interest in the
concern to his partners, and the firm name of J. B. Cobb & Co. was
adopted. Before this the printing department had been abandoned, and the
concern was run as a book and stationery store, with a bindery attached.
The old store being too small, new and more commodious quarters were found
further up Superior street on the opposite side, and with the change the
business increased with greater rapidity than previously.
In February, 1864, it was decided to open a similar house in Chicago. A
store was engaged, and Mr. J. B. Cobb went up to open it, taking with him a
relative of the firm who had formerly been their clerk, Mr. Daniel
Pritchard. The business of the new establishment instantly became large
and remunerative, the jobbing trade commencing auspiciously, and rapidly
increasing to extensive dimensions. At the same time the parent house in
Cleveland added a wholesale department to its former retail trade, and
this grew rapidly, the need of such an establishment being keenly felt by
the numerous small stores throughout the country that had hitherto been
dependent on Cincinnati or the dealers at the East. The rapid growth of
business in the two establishments necessitated a new arrangement of the
firm, and Cobb, Pritchard & Co. took charge of the Chicago house, whilst
Cobb, Andrews & Co. manage the Cleveland establishment. The latter firm
was made by the accession of Mr. Theodore A. Andrews, who had been brought
up as a clerk in the house, taking his place as a partner in April, 1865.
Mr. J. B. Cobb took up his residence in Chicago, leaving his brothers, C.
C. and B. J., in Cleveland.
The Cobbs have maintained for themselves a high reputation for honesty,
fair dealing, and courtesy in business, and in this way have secured
prosperity. The trade that, when they first took it, amounted to about
$25,000 a year, had grown, in 1868, to over $200,000. The qualities that
gained for the head of the firm so many valuable business friends, was
shared in by his brothers, and these again impressed them on the young men
brought up under their control. The result is seen in the large number of
customers frequenting the store daily, and in the extensive wholesale
A. G. Colwell.
Mr. Colwell is a native of Madison county, New York, and came to Cleveland
in 1852, soon after the opening of the different railroads had given the
city an important start in the road to prosperity. Mr. Colwell immediately
engaged in the hardware trade, on Ontario street, where he has continued
to the present day. As the city grew in size, and its area of commerce
extended, the business of Mr. Colwell steadily increased. The retail trade
gradually developed into wholesale, and this grew into important
proportions, pushing its ramifications through northern Ohio, Michigan,
and north-western Pennsylvania.
Mr. Colwell has attended closely to his business, taking no other interest
in public affairs than is the duty of every good citizen. But whilst
carefully conducting his business he has found time for the gratification
of a cultivated taste in literature, and has taken pleasure in
participating in every movement designed to foster a similar taste in
others. In a recent tour in Europe, undertaken for the benefit of his
health, he visited the principal points of literary and artistic interest,
and brought back with him many rare and curious souvenirs of travel.
Whilst few men, if there are any, in the city of Cleveland are more highly
respected than William Bingham, there are none less desirous of notoriety
in any form. To do his duty to himself, his family, and his fellow men,
and to do it quietly and unobtrusively, is the extent of Mr. Bingham's
ambition, so far as can be judged by the whole tenor of his life. Did the
matter rest with him, no notice of him would have appeared in this work,
but to omit him would be a manifest injustice, and would at the same time
render the volume imperfect.
Mr. Bingham is a native of Andover, Connecticut, and on his arrival here
from the East, became a clerk in George Worthington's hardware store.
After a few years' service in this capacity, he set up in the same line
for himself, and for about a quarter of a century has carried on
business with marked success. The operations of the firm of William
Bingham & Co., though at first small, have grown to large proportions,
and Mr. Bingham has grown rich, not through lucky operations, but by
steady, persistent application to business, aided by sound judgment and
powerful will. In addition to his hardware business, he is interested
with Mr. Worthington in the Iron and Nail works, and has furnace
interests in the Mahoning Valley.
In all his dealings, commercial or otherwise, he has been strictly
conscientious, and this has secured for him the esteem of all with whom he
has come in contact, and the respect and confidence of the general public.
His word is inviolable, and no one has ever uttered a whisper against his
unsullied integrity. In all works of genuine charity, his aid is
efficaciously, though unobtrusively given, whenever required. To the young
men in his employ, he is as much a father in his care of their interests
and conduct, as he is an employer.
In politics, Mr. Bingham has steadily acted with the Republican party, but
he is in no degree a politician. He has been chosen by the people to
places of municipal trust, but always without any desire on his part, and
solely because those selecting him considered his services would be
valuable to the city; and whenever selected as a candidate, he has been
elected, the opposing party having full confidence in his ability and
integrity. In his case, the place invariably sought the man, and not the
man the place; and it has always been with great reluctance, and because
it seemed the good of the people required it, that he consented to hold
public office. It would be better for the people were there more men like
William Bingham, and sufficient wisdom among political managers to invoke
their services on behalf of the public.
William J. Gordon.
A history of the leading commercial men of Cleveland, with no mention of
W. J. Gordon, would be not much unlike the play of Hamlet with the part of
the Danish prince omitted. Few men in the city have occupied so prominent
a position in its mercantile history as has Mr. Gordon; but, from a
natural distaste of public notice of any kind, on the part of Mr. Gordon,
we are comparatively without data, and obliged to depend upon what we know
of his history in general.
Mr. Gordon was brought up on a New Jersey farm, on which the battle of
Monmouth was fought, and that had remained for generations, and still
is, in the possession of his family. His earliest recollections were of
rural life, its boyish enjoyments and boyish tasks. He obtained a good
common school education, such as could be obtained in that neighborhood.
Whilst yet a lad he manifested a strong taste for business pursuits; and
to gratify and develop that taste he was sent to New York, where he
became a clerk.
But, young as he was, he reasoned that there was a better chance for a
successful struggle in the new West than in the already crowded marts of
the East, and that for the young man of energy and enterprise, there was
every prospect of achieving distinction and fortune in assisting to build
up the business of the new western cities. With this impression he bade
adieu to New York in 1838, and started westward on a tour of observation,
he being then in his twentieth year. He reached Erie without stopping, and
remained there for some time, carefully observing its commercial
facilities and its prospects for the future. Not altogether satisfied
with these, he moved farther west, and made his next stay in Cleveland.
Here he speedily became convinced that a great future was before that
city, and he determined to remain and share in its benefits. A wholesale
grocery establishment was opened, small at first, as suited his means and
the limited requirements of the place, but which more than kept pace with
the progress of the city.
Mr. Gordon believed that to shrewdness and persistence all things are
possible. His constant endeavor was to discover new avenues of trade, or
new modes of doing business, and then to utilize his discoveries to the
full extent, by persistent energy and unwearied industry. He was always on
the alert to find a new customer for his wares, and to discover a cheaper
place to purchase his stock, or a better way of bringing them home. Whilst
thus securing unusual advantages in supplying himself with goods, Mr.
Gordon was losing no opportunity of pushing his business among the buyers.
His agents were diligently scouring the country, looking up new customers,
and carefully observing the operations of old customers, to ascertain how
their trade could best be stimulated and developed, to the mutual profit
of the retailer and the wholesale dealer from whom he obtained his
supplies. Men of pushing character and large business acquaintance were
sought out and engaged, that they might aid in developing the business of
the establishment. As these withdrew, to set up in business for
themselves, others took their place. It is a noticable fact that no house
has sent out more young men who have achieved success for themselves; and
that success was undoubtedly in large measure due to the training received
under Mr. Gordon.
He tolerated no sluggards around his establishment. A hard worker himself,
those around him were stimulated to hard work. He was at the warehouse
with the earliest clerk and left it with the latest. He demanded
unflagging industry from his employees, but asked no more than he
manifested himself. It was through this persistent energy that he achieved
success where others might have failed.
When Mr. Gordon's capital had increased to such an extent as to warrant
his employment of some of the surplus in investment outside of his regular
business, he made some highly profitable operations of this kind. Among
them was his uniting with some others of like foresight in the purchase of
a tract of mineral land on Lake Superior, and the formation of iron mining
companies which, though not immediately profitable, eventually yielded an
enormous percentage on the original outlay, and bids fair to be equally
profitable for many years to come, besides being a source of immense
wealth to the city.
In 1857, Mr. Gordon's health failed, and since that time he has paid but
little personal attention to business, but by an extended tour to Europe,
it has been in a great measure restored, and being still in the meridian
of life, he has the prospect, unless some mishap occurs, of long enjoying
the fruits of his far-sighted intelligence and unwearied industry.
Lemuel Wick, the father of Henry, was among the early settlers of
Youngstown. The Rev. William Wick, his uncle, preached from time to time
as a missionary of the Presbyterian church, in the settlements on the
border of Pennsylvania and Ohio, as early as 1779. Henry's father was a
merchant, in whose store be became a clerk at the age of fifteen. At
twenty-one he engaged in the project of a rolling-mill at Youngstown,
which proved successful. In company with a brother, his father's interest
in the store was purchased, and, having a successful future in prospect,
Mr. Wick married, about that time, Miss Mary Hine, of Youngstown, whose
father was a prominent lawyer of that place. In 1848, he became a citizen
of Cleveland, disposing of the rolling mill to Brown, Bonnell & Co., who
have since become leading iron men of the Mahoning Valley.
After a few years of mercantile business at Cleveland, the banking house
of Wick, Otis & Brownell was formed, and was successfully managed for two
years, when the brothers Wick purchased the interest of the other
partners, and continued together until 1857, when the firm name was
changed to Henry & A. H. Wick, father and son, and has thus continued
until the present time.
Mr. Wick is a man of more than ordinary business ability, and has,
throughout his long commercial life, so directed his talent as to preserve
an unsullied character, and enjoy the unlimited confidence of his fellow
citizens, in addition to a handsome competence. Speculations were always
avoided by him, because he believed that, in a young and healthy country
like this, men may accumulate property fast enough in the legitimate
channels of trade, coupled with frugality, temperance and industry. Many
of his employees, by following his example, have become eminently
successful in business.
Mr. Wick was born February 28, 1807, and, consequently, is in his
sixty-third year, although he has lost little of the elasticity of his
step or his business faculty.
The firm of Edwards, Townsend & Co. now ranks among the leading houses in
the city, doing an enormous business, and respected everywhere for its
enterprise and integrity. The head of the firm, William Edwards, was born
in Springfield, Massachusetts, June 6, 1831. At the age of fifteen, he
entered mercantile life as a clerk, and remained in that position in
Springfield six years. In 1852, he came to Cleveland, that year having
brought many New Englanders here on account of the recent opening of the
railroads. His first year was spent in clerking for W. J. Gordon, who then
had by far the most important wholesale grocery establishment in the city.
At the end of the year Mr. Edwards, having two thousand five hundred
dollars capital, resolved on setting up a jobbing grocery establishment
for himself, and in company with Mr. Treat, opened a store on Canal
street, doing business in a small way, and being their own accountants,
salesmen and porters. The first year's business footed up sales to the
amount of thirty-seven thousand dollars only, but the young firm was not
discouraged. The next year opened with brighter prospects. The first
year's customers were pleased with the firm, and satisfied that they were
honest, as well as active and energetic, they returned to buy again and
brought new customers. Orders came in rapidly, and by the middle of the
third year the sales had grown to the rate of sixty thousand dollars per
year. At that point, Mr. Edwards purchased the interest of his partner and
looked about for a new associate in business.
Mr. Hiram Iddings, of Trumbull county, became partner, and with his
accession, the business increased more rapidly than before. Both members
of the firm used every honorable means to push their business, and with
almost unvarying success. New fields were sought out and the old ones
carefully canvassed. As before, nearly every new customer became a
constant purchaser, being thoroughly satisfied with the treatment
received, and new customers were added. The territory served widened, and
the reputation of the house for enterprise and fair dealing spread. In
1862, the sales had grown to two hundred and forty thousand dollars. More
aid was necessary to attend to the business of the firm, and on the first
of October, in that year Mr. Amos Townsend was added to the firm, which
then became Edwards, Iddings & Co. A year from that time Mr. Iddings died,
and on the first of January, 1864, a change was made in the title of the
firm to Edwards, Townsend & Co., Mr. J. B. Parsons being admitted as the
third partner. Under that title and organization it still continues.
The business of the firm has kept fully abreast with the progress of the
city. The members are shrewd, enterprising, always on the lookout for new
openings for trade, and ready to take instant advantage of them. They each
have a happy faculty of making friends, and still happier faculty of
retaining them. The proof of this is seen in the increasing sales, which
now amount to one million dollars a year, the customers being scattered
through northern Ohio, Pennsylvania, and a portion of Michigan. Their
extensive stores on Water street are constantly busy with customers and
with the receipt and shipment of goods.
Mr. Edwards has attained prosperity, not by the favor of others, but by
fighting his own battle of life with indomitable perseverance and
imperturbable good humer. He has worked hard and persistently, but at the
same time acted on the belief that "care killed a cat," and that "a light
heart makes work light." His hearty good humor has had no small share in
attracting and retaining customers, and has at the same time enabled him
to rationally enjoy the prosperity his labors have brought him. But his
good humor never leads him to abate a jot of his shrewd watchfulness in
business matters, and to his prudence and keen observation are owing the
fact that he has almost wholly escaped litigation. At thirty-eight years
old he takes rank among the foremost and most successful marchants of
Cleveland, whilst his frank, hearty manners, his warm friendship, and his
liberal unselfish benevolence which distributes charity with an
unstinting, though intelligent hand, rank Mr. Edwards among the most
valued and most valuable of citizens.
Amos Townsend was born near Pittsburgh in 1831, and received a good common
English education. At fifteen years old, he left school and entered a
store at Pittsburgh, in which he remained three years, and then removed to
Mansfield, Ohio, where, young as he was, he set up in business for
himself, retailing goods, and remaining a citizen of that town during the
greater part of nine years.
During his residence in Mansfield, the Kansas troubles broke out and
arrived at such a pitch that a Congressional committee, comprised of
Messrs. John Sherman of Ohio, W. A. Howard of Michigan, and W. A. Oliver
of Missouri, was appointed to proceed to Kansas and investigate the facts
in regard to General Stringfellow's opposition to Governor Reeder's
administration. Mr. Sherman procured the appointment of Mr. Townsend as
United States Marshal, and he accompanied the commission to the scene of
disturbance. He was on a hill near Lawrence when he saw the _passe
comitatus_ of the United States Marshal of the Territory batter down the
Free State Hotel, it having been indicted as a nuisance by the Grand Jury.
Shortly afterwards, Mr. Townsend was taken prisoner by General
Stringfellow, but on ascertaining his position he was released.
In 1858, he came to Cleveland, having been engaged by Gordon, McMillan &
Co. In that establishment, he remained nearly five years, and then became
partner in the firm of Edwards, Iddings & Co., which, on the death of Mr.
Iddings, became Edwards, Townsend & Co. The operations of that firm have
already been spoken of.
Mr. Townsend has served a full apprenticeship to the business in which he
is now engaged, and is familiar with all its details from the cellar to
the counting-room. As a skillful financier, he has few superiors, and the
large operations of the firm bear evidence to this in the regularity and
safety with which they are conducted.
In 1866, the Republicans of the Third Ward chose him as their candidate
for member of the City Council, of which he was afterwards chosen
president. He not only polled the full vote of the party, but drew a large
number of Democratic votes, and was elected by a good majority, although
the ward has generally been considered Democratic, and has retained his
seat to the present time, his personal popularity among all classes,
combined with the unexceptionable record he made in the Council,
overcoming all opposition. At the organization of the new Council for
1869, he was unanimously re-elected president, a fact as complimentary as
it is rare, it being the almost invariable custom for each party to vote
for its own candidate, even where the result of the election is a foregone
conclusion. He was in the same year suggested as the Republican candidate
for Mayor, and would undoubtedly have been chosen to that office had he
not considered it incompatible with proper attention to the large and
rapidly increasing business of his firm.
[Illustration: Your Friend, D. A. Dangler]
David A. Dangler.
David A. Dangler, like scores of other successful men in Cleveland, is a
conqueror of adverse circumstances. In taking a cursory glance at the
early history of representative Clevelanders, noticed in this volume, it
will be readily seen that our business firms are largely composed of men
who, in early life, were compelled to divide their time between work on
the farm and attendance at the district school. Much of the debilitating
dissipation common in cities has been escaped by them; and hence, they
have both sound minds to project, and vigorous bodies to execute.
Mr. Dangler found it necessary, at the early age of seven years, to do
something towards carrying on his father's farm in Stark county, Ohio.
During the Winter months, he had the benefit of a district school until
1838, when, at the age of fourteen, he was employed in a dry goods store
at Canton, as boy of all work. Here, he won the confidence of his
employers, and by closely saving his limited wages, was able to attend
school six months more, which completed his education. With this
exception, he continued to serve in the same store until 1845, when, with
a very limited capital, the savings from his wages, he commenced on his
own account, in the same business.
In 1850, he left the trade in dry goods and took up that in hardware. The
late Mr. John Tennis, who was also a Stark county man, and Mr. Dangler, in
1853, formed a partnership for jobbing in this line at Cleveland. The
success of the concern was all that reasonable men could expect. Their
connection continued until 1867, when it expired by limitation. They were
among the first wholesale firms on Water Street, and this enlarged field
of commercial operations gave full exercise to the talent and energy of
Mr. Dangler. Trade was pushed in all directions, and in a remarkably short
time they succeeded in building up a lucrative business.
Success did not make a miser of Mr. Dangler. On the breaking out of the
rebellion, he entered with all his native enthusiasm into the home duties
of the war. In August, 1862, he took a prominent part in the organization
of ward committees for raising recruits and providing for the familles of
soldiers. A large part of his time during the war was devoted to this
work, and will ever be remembered with gratitude by scores of families for
timely assistance rendered during that trying ordeal. In the Fourth ward,
where he lives, there never was a man drafted to fill its quota.
In 1864, he was elected a member of the City Council, and in 1865, a
member of the House of Representatives for Cuyahoga County, by the
Republican party. These public trusts were so well filled that in 1867, he
was returned to the Senate, representing the most important commercial
district of the State except one, and at all times being watchful and
active in the interests of his constituents. Among the important measures
originated by him in the Legislature, are the Metropolitan Police, State
Charities, State Gas Inspection, and the Building and Loan Association
Acts. The last mentioned act has been very extensively taken advantage of
among his immediate constituents. No less than ten societies have been
organized in this city, under it, and have already been productive of much
good among the laboring class, by enabling them to obtain homesteads on
easy terms. The capital stock of these societies amounts to over three
million dollars, and if the act is as highly appreciated throughout the
State as it is here, the benefit accruing therefrom will be almost
incalculable, inasmuch as the monthly payments would, in many cases, be
squandered; whereas, now, they are not only saved, but secure a share of
the profits of the association in proportion to the stock held. The
successful working of these institutions must be exceedingly gratifying to
Mr. Dangler. He is an active, energetic and impulsive member, though not
without considerable tact, and generally successful in putting his
measures through. As a speaker he is clear-headed, terse and forcible, and
on subjects appealing to patriotism, really eloquent.
Mr. Dangler is liberal with his means, with broad plans, not for himself
alone, but for the public; indeed, we have few men among us more public
spirited than he. To this new element of self-made and successful men, the
city owes much of the unparalleled development of the few past years.
Their energy and commercial intelligence have inaugurated a new order of
things here, placing Cleveland in the front rank of western cities.
Mr. Dangler has recently formed a new partnership, and is again engaged in
the hardware business, having established the new firm of Dangler &
Bowman, on Superior Street. He is still young and vigorous, and has it yet
in his power to accomplish much.
T. S. Beckwith.
In speaking of the mercantile interests of Cleveland as developed by her
prominent operators, it is with pleasure we produce a brief notice of Mr.
T. S. Beckwith, one of our well known and most successful merchants. He
was born in Lyme, CT, Jan. 11, 1821. Until he was fourteen, he remained
on the farm with his father, at which time he commenced clerking in a
store in Brownville, Jefferson Co., N. Y., and remained four years. He
then came to Cleveland and at once engaged as a clerk with Alexander
Sacket, who was then carrying on business on Superior Street, precisely
where Mr. Beckwith's carpet store now stands. After two years with Mr.
Sacket, he went as clerk with P. M. Weddell & Co., in which capacity he
served four years, when he was taken into partnership with P. M. Weddell,
Dudley Baldwin and W. E. Beckwith, his brother, and in this firm did
business in the dry goods line for about four years, when he and his
brother, alone, carried on business several years, and finally Mr. Henry
Wick became associated with them and another store was started. Both
stores were continued about four years, when the firm dissolved, and
another formed under the name of Beckwith, Sterling & Co., composed of T.
S. Beckwith, F. A. Sterling and G. Clayes. This firm was dissolved after
two or three years and the subject of this sketch left the dry goods
business and opened the first store for the exclusive sale of carpets in
Cleveland. After five or six years, his former partner, F. A. Sterling,
again became associated with him. The firm of Beckwith & Sterling existed
three years when they admitted two young men in their employ, O. Baker
and W. R. Havens.
Mr. Beckwith is a thorough business man, quick to form judgment and quick
to act upon it. He is among our best financiers, nearly always makes an
investment pay. When he was regularly employed as a salesman, he was hard
to match, and one great secret of his success as such was his courteous
demeanor to all, whether rich or poor, and an industrious effort to
please. We recommend those of our young men who desire to succeed in
business to study one of the principal keys to T. S. Beckwith's success--a
polite attention to all. It will pay.
Mr. Beckwith's business has grown with the city, and the profits with it,
and although he has only attained to the meridian of life, and in the full
enjoyment of mental and physical energy, he has acquired a handsome
Besides his mercantile interest, Mr. B. has aided in giving to Cleveland
the character of a manufacturing city, having invested largely in the
white lead factory of this city, which is under the management of Mr. J.
H. Morley, an account of which will be seen in the Manufacturing
Department of this work.
Business has not, however, engrossed the whole of Mr. Beckwith's time and
talents. He is as thorough a worker in the cause of religion, morality and
benevolence as in trade. For a number of years, he has been an active
member of the Second Presbyterian church of this city, always taking a
lively interest in the Sunday school connected with the church. He was
also as indefatigable in the interests of the Bethel Church and Sunday
school of this city, and which is now doing a noble work in the city.
Mr. B. was married in 1849, to Miss Sarah Oliphant of Grandville,
Washington Co., N. Y. Two children of this marriage are living and a
[Illustration: Yours Truly, Elias Sims]
Although Mr. Sims has not been strictly a man of commerce among us, his
life labor has been one wholly devoted to enterprises that are strictly
conducive to that foundation of a commonwealth. Properly placed, he would
be with general contractors, but as we have not material sufficient for a
department under that head, he must take rank among the men whose trade
has been facilitated by his enterprise.
Elias Sims was born at Onondaga, New York, August 4. 1818, and is another
striking instance of the value of early dependence on one's own
resources. Until he was fifteen years of age, Elias worked on a farm,
when he concluded to leave it, and strike out for himself on another
line. He worked as a laborer on the New York canal for some time, and
being a lad of great force of character with a keen eye to business, he
was very soon selected as an overseer. He held this situation for about
two years when he became deputy superintendent of the works, being at the
time only in his eighteenth year. After considerable experience in this
business, he concluded there was an opportunity to make more money by
contracting than by working on a salary, and consequently resigned his
office and commenced on a work for which he was eminently adapted by
nature, and one in which he subsequently became remarkably successful,
as, indeed, was his first contract, for it resulted in a profit of
several thousand dollars. Men did not become millionaires in such short
order then as now, and so much money so easily obtained almost unbalanced
the young contractor. It made him less careful in his estimates, and, as
may be easily judged, his next job swallowed the whole of his capital,
and compelled him to become overseer again.
The next speculation he engaged in was the building of a tug, in
connection with two others, and which proved a success. After some time,
he obtained a dredging contract at Port Stanley, Canada, and being very
successful in this he entered into it as a permanent business, and
appeared among the live men of Cleveland in 1856, as a contractor for
dredging the "old river bed". From year to year, this contract for
dredging at Cleveland has been continued, and in addition to this, he has
executed some immense jobs at Grand Haven, Mich., Erie, Pa., and
Milwaukee, Wis., in which he has been uniformly successful. He also
contracted largely in the construction of the Great Western Rail Road, in
Canada, and canal locks in Iowa. He is interested in propellers on the
lakes, and has two tugs and three dredges in this harbor.
Mr. Sims may well be styled a pioneer in the system of dredging, by means
of which all the lake harbors have been able to receive vessels of double
the old tonnage. Although of a quiet, he is not by any means of an
indolent temperament, and has exhibited business energy in a way that did
not make much noise, but which led to sure results. Mr. Sims was one of
the contractors and one of the proprietors of the Rocky River Rail Road
and Hotel. He is also interested in the People's Gas Company of the West
Side, and we are driven to the conclusion that such a long series of
successes in such undertakings cannot be due to accident; there must be
for foundation, a clear, calculating mind, and the ability to execute well
what is well planned. Projects in which others had failed became
profitable under his management. He is still in the vigor of life going on
as usual with his contracts.
In 1838, Mr. Sims married Miss Fosburgh, of Onondaga Co., N. Y.; of the
marriage three children were born, Mrs. Sloane of Buffalo, Mrs. Evatt of
Cleveland, deceased, and Mrs. Wm. Starkweather of Cleveland.
One of the most noticeable mansions on the north side of Euclid Avenue is
the tasteful and substantial stone building a little west of Sterling
Avenue, which, from its general style of architecture and its handsome
surroundings of lawn and shrubberies, resembles the comfortable country
home of a family of wealth and taste in England. This is the residence of
Joseph Perkins, and in its neat, home-like beauty, gives at once a good
idea of the character of its owner, and a perpetual invitation to repose.
Mr. Perkins was born July 5, 1819, in Warren, Ohio, his father being Simon
Perkins of that place. His educational advantages were food, and after
leaving school he entered his father's office. Born to comfortable
circumstances he never had occasion to struggle for an existence as have
so many of the now wealthy citizens of Cleveland, but, on the other hand,
the acquisition of riches without hard labor for it did not, as in so many
other cases, prove his ruin, nor did he spend his days in idleness. On his
father's death, he was one of his executors and gave his whole attention
to the task of closing up the estate. That duty performed, he came to
Cleveland and found abundant occupation in managing his own estate and in
executing the duties devolving upon him through his appointments to places
of trust in banks, railroads, and other organizations. For several years,
he was a director of the Cleveland and Mahoning Railroad Company and took
an active part in its affairs. On the death of Governor Tod, he was chosen
president of the company, a position he still retains and the duties of
which he performs with scrupulous fidelity. He is also president of the
Second National Bank. During the building of the Euclid Street
Presbyterian Church, he was a member of the building committee, and has
taken an active interest in the affairs of that church for many years. He
was also a member of the building committee of the Savings Bank Society
and of the building committee of the National Bank Building.
In 1837, Mr. Perkins united with the Presbyterian Church, of which he has
since remained an active and influential member, the scene of his
profession being in Marietta, where he listened to the teachings of the
Rev. Mr. Bingham.
In October, 1840, he married Miss Martha E. Steele, of Marietta, by whom
he has had six children, four of whom still survive.
Mr. Perkins is a man of no ordinary character, and it is unfortunate for
the world that there are so few of his mould in comparison with the whole
number of people. The governing principle of his life is religion, his
actions are directed by his conscience. Although rich and controlling large
means, he is utterly free from the sin of avarice, and, though fully
appreciating the value of money, he respects it mainly for the power of
doing good it gives the possessor. His liberality is great, but is guided
by a wise caution instead of being squandered indiscriminately. He
dislikes being imposed upon by unworthy petitioners, and therefore
narrowly investigates alleged cases of distress before relieving them.
When satisfied that the object is worthy, his aid is generous and
ungrudging. His ear is ever open to the tale of distress, his hand ever
open when the distress is found to be real instead of simulated to impose
upon the charitable. He has been known to leave his mails untouched all
day that he might trace out and relieve cases of genuine affliction or
suffering. His time and best judgment are given to the widow and
fatherless, nor is his counsel empty-handed. In business matters, the rule
of his life is not to claim the lion's share, although furnishing the
means for an enterprise, but to deal with others as he would have done by
him under similar circumstances. He believes that by pursuing this policy,
he has reaped greater material advantages than if he had pursued a
grasping policy, whilst his conscience is the easier for his forbearance.
His firm determination to do right in every transaction and under all
circumstances has in his case given fresh proof of the truth of the adage
that "honesty is the best policy."
Nor, though among the wealthy of the city, is he an aristocrat in feeling.
To him, the poor soldier's widow, the laborer's wife, and the wife of the
millionaire are equal in their claims upon his courtesy and his attention.
He is in feeling one of the people, yet utterly innocent of the arts of
the demagogue, and repudiating with firmness any attempt to bring him
forward into political life, against the heats and confusion of which his
modest and quiet character revolts.
Although not of robust health, he is enabled to get through a large amount
of work by methodical habits and by a strict avoidance of injurious haste
and worry. His leisure is spent in the enjoyments of his beautiful home
and in the cultivation of a fine artistic taste which has been developed
and gratified by a tour among the principal art centers of Europe.
Hinman B. Hurlbut.
Himnan B. Hurlbut, a lineal descendant of Governor Hinman, of Connecticut,
was born in St. Lawrence County, New York, July 29, 1818. In his boyhood,
he received such education as the common schools provided, and the time
not spent in the school room was employed on his father's farm, he being
the youngest of a large family and required to help along with the others.
At the age of fifteen, he left the farm and engaged as clerk in the
mercantile business in Washington, St. Lawrence County, where he remained
about three years.
In 1836, he removed to Cleveland and commenced the study of law with his
brother, H. A. Hurlbut, then practicing law here. On August 7th, 1839, he
was admitted to practice, and at once went to Massillon, Stark county,
where he opened an office for the practice of his profession. His cash
capital when he started for his prospective field of labor, consisted of
three dollars and twenty-five cents. The disbursement of this sum was as
follows: three dollars for his packet fare to Massillon; twenty-five cents
for three sheets of paper and two packets of tobacco. His worldly goods
were all contained in a hair trunk; the most valuable item of which was
his law library, comprising two volumes, Blackstone and Kent's
Commentaries. Our readers may well be assured that Mr. Hurlbut was
dreadfully in earnest about that time to commence business. He soon
succeeded in making a commencement; his talent and industry were rewarded
by one of the largest and most lucrative practices in that section,
extending through Wayne, Holmes, Tuscarawas, Carroll, Columbiana, and
Summit counties. As a lawyer he was very successful. He continued the
practice of his profession until 1850, four years of which time he was the
law partner of Hon. D. K. Cartter.
Some three years before retiring from his law practice, he became
interested in banking at Massillon, and in 1850, organized the Merchants
Bank, of Massillon, with a capital of $100,000. This was in connection
with Dr. I. Steese, who is still president of the bank, with the capital
increased to $200,000. It was and is a very successful enterprise.
In 1852, still retaining most of his interest in the bank at Massillon, he
came to Cleveland, and commenced a private banking business, under the
firm name of Hurlbut & Go., under the American House, and continuing about
one year, when he purchased from the directors of the Merchants Bank the
charter of the Bank of Commerce, and at once commenced business under it,
with Mr. Parker Handy as president, and himself as cashier. About a year
afterwards Mr. Handy resigned, and Mr. Joseph Berkins became president.
The stock was increased from time to time till it reached $250,000, and
then reorganized under the name of the Second National Bank of Cleveland,
with the same officers, and nearly the same board, with a capital stock of
$600,000, and its success may be judged when we say that it has a reserve
fund of over $400,000, and it may well be characterized as one of the
strongest, if not the strongest bank in Ohio.
Mr. Hurlbut was cashier from the commencement, and labored assiduously in
its interests, so that the Second National Bank of Cleveland is eminently
the fruit of his labor and skill. Mr. Hurlbut was obliged to resign his
position January 1, 1866, on account of failing health, induced by
excessive mental application, and was succeeded by the assistant cashier,
J. O. Buell, who still retains the office. On resigning, he was made vice
president, which position he still retains. He took a trip to Europe,
where he remained two years, returning much improved.
Besides his official duties here, in 1864, in connection with Messrs. J.
Perkins, A. Stone and S. Witt, he purchased of the Board of Control, the
charter of the Toledo Branch of the State Bank of Ohio, which also proved
a great success, paying in the neighborhood of twenty-five percent per
annum. It was reorganized under the National Bank Law. Mr. Hurlbut held no
official position in this bank, but assisted in its management.
For some years, he has been a director of the Bellefontaine Railroad
Company, and on the consolidation of that company with the Cleveland,
Columbus and Cincinnati Railroad Company, was made a director of the
consolidated line. He has added to his interests in banks and railroads
some important investments in the iron interests of the city, and through
his shrewd observation and extensive business knowledge, has managed to
make his investments profitable. For fifteen years, he was a member of the
State Board of Control of the State Bank of Ohio. From the organization of
the Protestant General Hospital of Cleveland, he has been its president.
Mr. Hurlbut's sole official connection with politics was his serving as a
delegate from the Seventeenth Ohio District in the Philadelphia Convention
that nominated General Taylor. He is in no degree a politician, but always
takes an active interest as a private citizen and voter, in the discussion
of political questions. His tastes are elegant and refined, and since his
virtual retirement from the pressing duties of business, he has found
enjoyment in the cultivation of those tastes. His manners are affable and
genial, his disposition frank and generous. In business matters, he has
always been prompt, and has never allowed his engagements to lie
unfulfilled or be postponed.
[Illustration: "Yours truly, E. I. Baldwin"]
Elbert Irving Baldwin.
The dry goods establishment of E. I. Baldwin & Co. is one of the best
known business houses of Cleveland. Its reputation extends widely beyond
the limits of the city, and throughout a large portion of the State it is
known as one of the places to be visited whenever a shopping excursion is
made to Cleveland.
Elbert Irving Baldwin, the founder and head of the firm, was born in New
Haven, Connecticut, May 13, 1829. He received excellent early educational
advantages, in preparation for a literary life, but as his health was not
equal to this, he turned his attention to mercantile pursuits, when about
eighteen years of age, by engaging as clerk in the dry goods house of
Sandford & Allen, in his native town. With the firm he remained several
years, and then engaged for about two years with a dry goods firm in New
In October, 1853, Mr. Baldwin came to Cleveland, and on the completion of
Northrup & Spangler's Block, commenced the retail branch of the dry goods
business, his father, S. I. Baldwin, being a partner in the business for
the first three years. Mr. Baldwin opened out with a stock of goods
costing sixteen thousand dollars, and at the close of the first year had
made sales to the amount of forty-three thousand dollars. This was an
encouraging result for those times, and he correctly judged that it was
but the foundation of a large and lucrative business. Each succeeding
year, without any exception, has brought an increase of business, till the
annual sales of the firm are in the vicinity of a million dollars, which,
in a retail business, in a city of Cleveland's size, is very large; and
fairly entitles him to be regarded as the most successful dry goods
merchant Cleveland has ever had. Having from the first conducted business
in a strictly honorable manner, selling only good articles at reasonable
profits, and allowing no misrepresentations, the result is, that many of
the customers of the house are of fifteen years' continuance. This, in
conjunction with the natural growth of the trade growing out of an
increase in the population, now gives his house the appearance of a
central dry goods market.
Besides endeavoring to deal faithfully with customers, he inaugurated the
one price and cash system of trade, so as to be faithful to himself and
his creditors, and the result of all is--immense success.
To meet the demands of trade, in 1868, his firm purchased a piece of land
whereon stood part of the well known City Buildings, on Superior street,
and erected the elegant store now occupied by them, at an expense of over
one hundred thousand dollars. It has been selected by us as a symbolic
title page, representing Cleveland present, and is at once an ornament to
the city, and a monument to untiring industry and integrity. The building
has a frontage of forty-two and a half feet, a depth of one hundred and
fifty feet, and a height of eighty feet, overtopping all the blocks in the
city. The front is of Amherst sandstone. The building is divided into five
stories, with a basement; the ground floor, occupied by the store, having
five hundred feet of counter-room. Without, the architectural taste
displayed was unexceptionably good, the building having an appearance of
lightness and elegance, whilst at the same time conveying an idea of
strength and solidity. The store is fitted up in the most sumptuous
manner, and is of itself an attraction to visitors, to say nothing of the
rich wares always there displayed.
On the retirement of his father, Mr. Baldwin associated with himself his
brother-in-law, H. R. Hatch, and in 1863, Mr. W. S. Tyler, an employee, was
admitted to an interest in the business, and in 1866, Mr. G. C. F. Hayne,
another employee, became a partner. This is an excellent custom, and we
are glad to see so many of our heavy merchants acknowledging the integrity
and ability of their clerks in the same way.
Mr. Baldwin has now the general superintendence of the whole business;
and, although he is not, nor ever has been, physically strong, is very
active, and there is little that escapes his observation.
He was married, August, 1855, to Miss Mary Janette Sterling, of Lima,
Livingston county, New York. The fruits of the marriage were three
children now living, and one daughter who died.
Mr. Baldwin has been connected with the Second Presbyterian church about
thirteen years, and has taken an active interest in the Sunday school. He
was trustee of the church for several years, and has always been found
ready to aid in the furtherance of every good work.
[Illustration: Yours Truly, G. N. Abbey]
Grove N. Abbey.
The trade in stoneware is a very important branch of the business of
Cleveland, and this lies in the hands of one firm, of which Grove N. Abbey
is the leading member. As the West generally is supplied from the parent
house of the Abbeys, or from one or other of the branch establishments
through the West, in which Mr. Abbey holds an interest, it would be
manifestly out of place to omit, in a work of this character, a reference
to him and his operations.
Mr. Abbey was born in Portland, Connecticut, August 19th, 1818. He was the
eleventh of a family of thirteen, of whom seven yet live. The father,
Asaph, died at the age of fifty-five. The mother, Ruth Hollister, survived
her husband thirty years, the last twenty-two of which were spent in the
family of her son Grove N., and died February 20th, 1868, at the advanced
age of eighty-six. As before said, she had thirteen children, twelve of
whom married, and thus enabled her to remark, as she repeatedly did, that
she had had twenty-four children. Before her death she had seventy-one
grandchildren added to the list of her descendants, besides fifty-seven
great-grandchildren, and one of the fourth generation, making in all one
hundred and forty-two descendants.
At the age of sixteen, G. N. Abbey bade adieu to his New England home and
set out for the West. A good portion of his first year after leaving home
was spent in Pittsburgh, which he then left for Ohio, where he has since
resided; twenty-one years in Akron, and the remainder of the time in
Cleveland. His first experience in Akron was as a clerk, from which he
rose to the position of merchant on his own account, carrying on business
until 1856. In the Spring of the preceding year he commenced business on
River street, Cleveland, in the sale of Akron stoneware, in which he had
become interested, and in 1856, removed his family to Cleveland, where he
has since that time resided, retaining his mercantile interests in Akron
When Mr. Abbey was carrying on a mercantile business in Akron, his
attention was called to the growing importance of the manufacture and
trade in stoneware, made from the clay of the Springfield clay-bed, which
has since become famous for the superior quality of stoneware made from
it. The pioneer in the business was David Abbey, a brother of Grove, who
died in Chicago, in 1856. The extension of railways to Akron rapidly
developed the trade in stoneware, and the Abbey family turned their
exclusive attention to it. The trade grew to importance wherever the
articles found their way. To obtain greater facilities for sale and
distribution, Mr. Grove N. Abbey came to Cleveland and obtained storage
privileges in a warehouse on River street, at the foot of St. Clair hill.
Soon the increase of business justified the engagement of the whole
building, and from that time the growth of the trade has been rapid and
permanent. Brandi houses were established in Chicago, Indianapolis, and
St. Louis, and the parent houses in Akron and Cleveland have been kept
busy in supplying the needs of these branches as well as of their own. The
character of the article dealt in became known throughout the West, and
wherever introduced the trade soon increased in importance. The result has
been a gratifying success to the Abbeys, and the addition of a large
revenue to the county of Summit.
In all their various ramifications of business, Mr. Abbey has occupied an
important position. In addition to providing for the home trade, he has
exercised constant personal supervision over the supplying of the western
branches. The negotiations between dealers and manufacturers have mostly
been managed by him, and the importance of these negotiations may be
judged from the fact that the requirements of the customers of Abbey & Co.
regulate the amount of stoneware manufactured in Summit county, and thus
affect the business and revenues of the county.
The business of the Cleveland house of G. N. Abbey & Co. has gradually
been increased by the introduction of other articles of a kindred nature,
such as the brown and yellow ware, manufactured at East Liverpool, Ohio,
glassware from Pittsburgh and New York, and fire-brick and fire-clay. The
position of Cleveland renders it the natural distributing point for those
wares, and the extensive facilities possessed by Mr. Abbey, and his long
experience in the business, place the monopoly of the trade in his hands.
That nothing but good has grown out of this virtual monopoly, is seen in
the fact that the business is steadily increasing, that no dissatisfaction
is expressed by the customers, and that no litigations have taken place
during the long business career of the house, extending over a hundred
years in Cleveland.
During the last six years the firm has had some interest in vessels on the
lakes, and these interests have been carefully watched by Mr. Abbey, who
has entire control.
It will be rightly inferred from what has already been said, that Mr.
Abbey has achieved success in business. That success is due to no lucky
accident or extraneous circumstances, but is the natural result of devoted
attachment to business, keen insight, and a determination to follow, as
far as practicable, the golden rule of doing as you would be done by, and
of a desire to avoid all misunderstandings.
If there be one business faculty more than another, prominent in Mr.
Abbey, it is that of ability to do a large business, on a small capital;
having, like nearly all of our merchants, commenced business with nothing
that his own hands had not earned, and passing through all the trials
incident to mercantile life in a young country, he has become an excellent
financier. Naturally of a genial temperament, and inclined to look on the
bright side of things, he glides over reverses and difficulties easier
than some people, yet he has always keenly felt, and often deplored, the
want of such early advantages as children of the present day possess.
Being early interested in the cause of temperance, he has persistently
endeavored to spread its beneficial effects by means of temperance
organizations, and in April, 1869, he was nominated as temperance
candidate for Mayor on the first strictly temperance municipal ticket ever
put in nomination in Cleveland. The result was the polling of a temperance
vote of about ten per cent, of the whole vote cast.
Twenty-seven years since, whilst in business at Akron, he was induced to
make a profession of faith and be received into the Congregational church.
The faith then professed has never been renounced, and he is now an active
member of Plymouth Congregational church in Cleveland.
On November 4th, 1844, Mr. Abbey married Miss Sarah Goodale, of Kent,
Ohio, but who came originally from Massachusetts. Of this marriage there
were four children, three of whom are still living; the oldest being
married to Charles H. White, of Chicago, Illinois. The other daughter and
a son remain with the family at home.
B. W. Jenness.
Mr. Jenness was born in Deerfield, New Hampshire, July 14, 1806, received
a good academical education and in 1823 removed from Deerfield to
Strafford, in the same State, where he engaged in merchandizing,
continuing in that occupation for thirty years, and finding it reasonably
remunerative. In addition to keeping his store he filled the position of
postmaster of the town for fifteen years, being appointed under several
successive administrations. He represented the town in the lower branch
of the State Legislature, and held the office of High Sheriff for over
five years, the county which he officiated in having since been carved
out into several counties. On leaving that office he became Probate
Judge, which position he retained five years and then resigned, although
the terms of office were such that he could have retained his position
until he was seventy years of age. He was nominated by the Breckenridge
party for Governor of the State, but declined. In 1845-6, he was
appointed to the Senate of the United States, to fill out the unexpired
term of the Hon. Levi Woodbury, who was appointed to the Supreme Court of
the United States. In 1850, he was a member of the Constitutional
Convention to revise the constitution of New Hampshire, after which he
retired to private life, and has allowed politics to take their own
course without his aid.
Mr. Jenness came to Cleveland seven years ago, but immediately after his
arrival started into the lumber business here with vigor, and has followed
it up in the same way, until now he has become so intimately connected
with Cleveland commerce that he seems like an old settler who has grown up
with the city. He superintended the whole business here from the first,
whilst his partners attended to the manufacturing department at their
mills in Michigan, until May 1st, 1869, when Mr. Jenness bought out their
entire interests. He has succeeded in building up a business equal to the
best in that line in the short space of seven years, which speaks well for
the energy and business ability displayed.
In addition to his lumber business Mr. Jenness, in connection with three
others, built the propeller B. W. Jenness, for carrying lumber and trading
from Buffalo to Chicago and intermediate ports. She carries about 330,000
feet of lumber, and cost $50,000. He has also been part owner of several
other vessels since he has resided here.
[Illustration: Very Truly Yours B. W. Jenness?]
Mr. Jenness is a man of the most active temperament, he no sooner decides
that a thing has to be done than he does it with all his might. One may
form an idea of him by seeing him write his name; as quick as the pen
touches the paper it is off like a flash of lightning, with the signature
complete. He is broad and powerfully built, and to all appearance can
endure as much as most men, although sixty-three years of age. Like other
successful men, he attributes his success to strict attention to business
in person. In politics he has always been a Democrat. In religion he is
very liberal, favoring Baptists, Presbyterians, Congregationalists and
Unitarians when occasion serves. He is held in esteem by all who know him,
and we trust he may have many years of usefulness before him.
Mr. Jenness was married in 1827 to Miss Nancy Shackford, of Strafford,
New Hampshire, whom it was his misfortune to lose in May, 1868, leaving
two daughters the sole survivors of a family of five, the three sons
John Fletcher Warner.
The late J. F. Warner was a native of Burlington, Vermont, on the border of
Lake Champlain. His parents were poor, and his early advantages were
limited. At an early age he became a sort of cabin boy on one of the Lake
Champlain steamers. Mr. Warner came to Cleveland in 1833 or 1834, and went
into the employ of Wellman, Winch & Co., who then kept a warehouse near
the present site of the Erie elevator. Mr. Warner often related to his
friends with much glee, a little incident that occurred in connection with
his engagement to labor for this firm. It appears that it was represented
to him that he was desired to travel for the house; and he, with visions
of a span of white horses, elegant outfit, and an easy time, readily
accepted the proposition to travel for them. But his bright expectations
were soon clouded; his horse was shown him and his course of travel was
the circle around a horse power used for elevating grain from vessels,
prior to the erection of any steam grain elevators in the city. He saw he
had been the victim of a practical joke, and commenced his travel with as
good a grace as possible, under the circumstances.
Mr. Warner remained with this firm for about two years, and then became
warehouseman for Ransom, Baldwin & Co., which was composed of John G.
Ransom, now residing in Hamilton, Canada, Stephen A. Baldwin, deceased,
Charles M. Giddings, deceased, and William H. Bruce, then residing at
Green Bay, and, we believe, now deceased. In 1838 or 1839, this firm was
dissolved, and merged into Ransom, McNair & Co. Mathew McNair, Jr., the
junior partner of this firm, whom the older residents will recollect, is
now residing in California. Mr. Warner continued with this firm until
they retired from business, and then he formed a business connection with
Augustus Handy and Ralph H. Harmon. We do not know whether it was prior
or subsequent to this partnership that he lived for a year or two at
Tonawanda, but are under the impression that it was prior; but at the
time of the Tonawanda speculation, gotten up by Clevelanders, he was
induced to go there.
After about two or three years, the firm with which Mr. Warner was
connected, moved to Chicago, but being all Clevelanders, and Chicago not
being congenial to them, the firm soon dissolved, and the members of it
moved back to Cleveland, since which time Mr. Warner was employed in no
active business. At intervals he had made investments that proved
profitable, and not being in very robust health, had but little
ambition, and lived in comparative retirement. He was one of those who
loved to talk over old times, and never forgot old faces. He was as
charitable as his means would permit towards worthy objects, and
preserved through all his business relations a character for strict
integrity. He was a man of strong friendships, frank in his avowals, and
left a circle of business and social friends who will remember him as an
upright, warm-hearted, and public spirited man, who lived in good
report, and died sincerely lamented.
For many years Mr. Warner had been more or less an invalid, though not
often confined to his house, with Bright's disease of the kidneys. In
November, 1868, it assumed a more serious phase, and on December 19th,
1868, terminated his life. About eight months previously, he suffered the
loss of his beloved wife, while spending the colder months in Florida,
which had a very depressing effect upon him, and took from him a very
necessary incentive to life.
A. V. Cannon.
On the 10th of July, 1867, died, after a very short illness, A. V. Cannon,
one of the most promising of the young business men of Cleveland, beloved
by his intimate associates, and esteemed by the whole business community
brought in contact with him, and thus able to learn his worth.
Mr. Cannon was a native of the Western Reserve, having been born in
Streetsboro', Portage county, in 1834. On leaving school he entered the
store of Babcock & Hurd, in Aurora, in that county, and when those
gentleman removed to Cleveland he accompanied them and remained in their
establishment some time, making a twelve years' stay with them altogether.
He then went into the produce and commission business, and one year later
formed a partnership with Mr. J. F. Freeman, which existed until dissolved
by death. For two years before his death his health had been impaired, and
he had been confined to his house for about eighteen months with an
affection of the leg, but had recovered sufficiently to attend to
business, and was in a fair way of perfect recovery. As a relaxation from
business, he visited some friends in the West. On his return he was seized
with inflammation of the bowels and died after a very brief illness.
Mr. Cannon was one of the kindest of men, universally respected in
business circles for his integrity and probity, and in the social circle
for his mild and gentle manners and Christian spirit. He died at the early
age of thirty-three, without an enemy, and with the confidence, the esteem
and the love of all who knew him. On the announcement of his death the
Board of Trade passed resolutions of respect and sorrow, paying high
tributes to his business, social, and Christian qualities. He was buried
with full Masonic honors, being a valued member of that order.
Mr. Cannon was married June 8th, 1863, to Mary, daughter of the late David
Morris, and left one child, a daughter, now five years of age, very bright
At the meeting of the Board of Trade, the announcement of Mr. Cannon's
death was made by Mr. H. S. Davis, in the following terms:
It is with feelings of profound sorrow that I announce the decease of
A. V. Cannon, Esq., a much respected member of this Board. He has been
stricken down suddenly, in the hour of his manhood, and in the midst of
his usefulness. I have known Mr. Cannon from his early manhood, and can
bear testimony to his untiring industry, strict integrity, and the
purity of his character in all the relations of life. He was earnest in
business, pleasant and affable in his demeanor, beloved by all who knew
him, and it is not too much to say that in his death the Board has met
with an irreparable loss.
We cannot lose such men without feeling that it comes very close to
ourselves, and let us pause in the midst of our daily avocations to pay
our parting respects to the memory of one who, were he living, would be
first to recognize it as being due to others, and I would therefore
suggest to the meinbers of this Board, that so far as possible they
attend his funeral.
Mr. R. T. Lyon offered the following resolutions, which were
_Resolved_, That we learn with much regret and sorrow the death of our
esteemed friend and member of this Board of Trade, Mr. A. V. Cannon,
noted for his modesty, honesty, business qualifications, strict
integrity and moral principles, and worthy of the imitation of us all;
and in these manifestations of our respect and regard we sympathise with
the family and friends of the deceased in their sorrow and affliction.
_Resolved_, That we will make it our duty to attend the funeral of the
deceased at the appointed time.
_Resolved_, That the daily session of this Board be suspended on the day
of the funeral of the deceased.
_Resolved_, That a copy of the above resolutions be transmitted to the
family of the deceased, by the Secretary.
H. F. Brayton.
If there be a business man in Cleveland without an enemy, we think it must
be H. F. Brayton. He has been connected with various branches of business
in this city for thirty-three years, and enjoyed to an unusual degree the
confidence of his fellow citizens.
H. F. Brayton was born in Jefferson county, New York, November 22, 1812.
He obtained a good academical education, and at the age of eighteen went
to New York city and engaged as a clerk in a dry goods store, where he
remained six years. During that time he became secretary of the first
total abstinence society ever organized in that city. He was also
treasurer of the Young Men's Anti-Slavery Society in that city, so far
back as 1834, when Abolition doctrines were very unpopular. He it was that
engaged the noted Theodore D. Weld and sent him out to the Western Reserve
to lecture on the subject, and who succeeded in a very marked degree in
bringing the masses over on to Abolition ground, and from which, in this
section, they never receded until every bondman's fetter was broken. John
Jay, our present minister to Austria, was, at the same time, one of the
directors of the Society. He also connected himself with the Liberty
party, being associated with Salmon P. Chase, in its early history. He
next glided into the Free Soil party, and from that to the Republican.
In 1836, Mr. Brayton left New York and came to Cleveland, and very soon
became book-keeper of the old Bank of Cleveland, and remained in the same
position three years. He then went to Columbus and became cashier of a
bank. After one year he resigned and came back to Cleveland, where he
engaged in private banking, and continued the same for about ten years.
In 1850, Mr. Brayton became the first agent of the Continental Insurance
Company, in this city, and still retains the office. This has been one of
the most successful companies in the country. He is also the agent of the
Washington Insurance Company, and the peculiarity of the two companies is,
that the assured participate in the profits.
In January, 1869, his son, H. G. Brayton, became interested in his
father's business, under the firm name of H. F. Brayton & Son. H. F.
Brayton is also a partner in another insurance agency in the city. About
six years since he went to New York and took charge of the agency
department of the Columbia Insurance Company, and continued in the
discharge of the duties of the office for one year, when the agency
business was discontinued in that company, and Mr. Brayton accepted a like
situation in the Resolute Insurance Company, where he remained about two
years, and then returned to Cleveland, where his business had been carried
on as usual during the three years of his absence.
Mr. Brayton has not devoted his entire attention to banking and insurance
since his residence in Cleveland. From 1854 to 1857, he was connected with
the firm of I. C. Pendleton & Co. in the coal trade, and previous to this
he was the secretary of the Ohio Coal Company, which dealt principally in
Pittsburgh coal for gas purposes. He is also at present engaged in the
foreign passenger and real estate business.
Mr. Brayton was for a number of years president of the Cleveland Board
of Underwriters, but resigned on leaving the city for New York, as
On coming to Cleveland Mr. Brayton united with the First Presbyterian
church, and has continued his connection with that denomination in the
various societies in the city until the present time, and has been a
worthy and consistent member.
The first impression a stranger receives of H. F. Brayton is, that he is a
high toned gentleman, and every subsequent interview is certain to confirm
it. He is a man of strict business habits, and expects his dues, and yet
his large benevolence and goodness of heart not only prevents the
slightest approach to meanness, but often causes him to suffer wrong
rather than be thought to be doing wrong himself. Were it otherwise, he
would have been one of the richest men in Cleveland to-day, for he
posseses both the ability and energy.
O. A. Childs.
Among our most energetic firms is that of O. A. Childs & Co., manufacturers
and wholesale dealers in boots and shoes, Water street. It was commenced
by Messrs. Seymour & Crowell near twenty years since. It became Crowell &
Childs in 1856, and so continued until 1864, when, by the death of Mr.
Crowell, it became O. A. Childs & Co. The business of this firm has
steadily increased from the first and their yearly sales now amount to
In 1857, they commenced manufacturing a portion of their own goods, and
since 1860 have manufactured all their leading lines, i.e., those they
depend upon for service. Their trade extends through Ohio, Michigan,
Indiana, Pennsylvania, a large amount being annually transacted in the
Lake Superior region.
Although born in Massachusetts, Mr. Childs has lived in this city from
boyhood and may with propriety be called a Clevelander. He is still a
young and active merchant and one who has made himself a thorough,
competent business man in all its details, from the cellar to the counting
room. This, with unlimited energy, has brought him success.
Among the mercantile interests, having their headquarters at Cleveland,
which during a comparatively few years have grown into prominent sources
of wealth and are yearly expanding in value and adding to the material
prosperity of the city, the Building Stone and Grindstone interest is
worthy of especial mention. Only a very few years since this trade was in
its infancy, and as late as 1863 had not come to be recognized as worthy
of special efforts for its development. That it then became so is in great
measure owing to the sagacity and enterprise of the firm of James
McDermott & Co.
James McDermott was born in the village of Whitby, county of Ontario,
Canada West, on the 19th of September, 1836. His father, who is still
living, is by birth an Irishman and a native of the city of Dublin. His
mother, who is also living, was born in the county of Ontario, Canada
West. The father of Mr. McDermott is a man of considerable culture, and in
all the relations of life has been distinguished for great energy and the
strictest probity. His mother is no less distinguished for her uprightness
and her clear perception of moral duty, and especially for the energy and
determination of her character.
James McDermott is the oldest of a family of eleven children, and as not
unfrequently happens to an oldest son, where the parents are in moderate
circumstances, James found himself at an early period of his life clothed
with important duties connected with the care of the family. When in his
twelfth year the family moved from the village of Whitby to a farm in the
same township, and here came a change in the relations of the young lad,
in the new duties he was required to assume, which laid the foundation of
those correct business habits which have given him his present honorable
position in the business community. His father occupied the post of United
States Consul and Harbor Master (the latter embracing all the functions of
a Collectorship) at the port of Whitby, together with several local
offices which required his whole attention on every day of the week except
Sunday. During the week, therefore, much of the business connected with
the working and care of the farm was devolved upon James. The farm, being
a new one, required to be cleared, and in this labor the young lad did his
full share, manifesting always the most indefatigable industry. The family
remained on the farm some seven or eight years, during which time James
became an adept in all kinds of farm work.
Young McDermott's opportunities for obtaining an education, at best
limited, were still further restricted by his farm life, and during the
years thus spent his progress in mental attainments was very moderate,
embracing only what he could gather during a few weeks of winter from a
country school in the elementary branches.
A change at last came when the family quit the farm and removed to Whitby,
in the year 1856. James was now twenty years of age, and being thrown into
intimate contact with a larger number of his fellow men than ever before,
the ambitions and impulses of his young manhood were more keenly stirred.
He entered the office of his father, who still occupied the position of
Harbor Master, and, though entirely ignorant of the duties, he quickly
acquired a knowledge of the entire business and fulfilled all its
requirements with entire satisfaction. He here realized, however, more
fully, his defective education, which he determined to improve with the
least possible delay. Only a few months were spent in his new position
when he decided to set out in the world to seek his own fortune.
Accordingly on the 10th of June, 1856, having packed all his personal
property in a diminutive trunk, he bade adieu to his old home. Two days
after his departure from home young McDermott arrived in Cleveland and
went thence to Berea, where, as the sequel shows, was to be the scene of
his future enterprise. He had acquired some knowledge of carpenter work,
and so obtained a situation on the Methodist Episcopal church, then in
course of erection. Here he worked until harvest time, when he went into
the harvest field, working for one dollar per day. He worked through
harvest and upon its conclusion took the first step in fulfillment of his
design to improve his education, and entered school at Baldwin University.
He had no money to pay for tuition, but this he provided for by sweeping
the chapel, laboratory and halls of the college, earning sufficient money
to meet his other wants, which were of course kept down to a very modest
scale (as he boarded himself), by working in the stone quarries and
cutting wood for the students. He studied hard and earnestly, and made
good progress, finishing his first term with very satisfactory results.
Among his acquirements during this period was a knowledge of the art of
Oriental pearl painting, and during the Fall vacation he turned this
accomplishment to advantage by teaching the art in Cleveland, going from
house to house for this purpose, and obtaining fifty cents per lesson. In
this way he earned sufficient to pay his tuition at the University during
the next term, provide himself with necessary books, and furnish his means
of living. Having concluded another term at the University, in the Fall of
1857, young McDermott came to Cleveland and took a course of writing
lessons at a Commercial College. He attained considerable proficiency in
penmanship, and in the winter of 1857-8 taught writing classes at
Loweville and Youngstown, Mahoning county, and at the Female College at
Poland, Ohio, meeting with good success and giving entire satisfaction. In
February, 1858, Mr. McDermott got his first introduction to the grindstone
business, having received an appointment from a firm at Berea to travel in
Canada and solicit orders on commission. He visited Canada and worked
hard, often walking twenty miles a day, from station to station, to save
time, carrying his satchel on his back, and paying his expenses by
teaching the process of pearl painting. The trip was entirely successful,
and Mr. McDermott returned to Berea in the Summer with a handsome sum in
pocket. Still anxious regarding his education, he again entered Baldwin
University, attending through the Fall term. In November of this year he
came to Cleveland, passed an examination and received a certificate to
teach school, and upon this opened a school in Middleburgh township,
Cuyahoga county, making his evenings available by teaching writing and
spelling classes. At the conclusion of the first term, in February, 1859,
he started upon a second trip to Canada, to solicit orders for stone, this
time on his own account. The venture was prosecuted with his usual
industry, and was highly successful. He returned to Berea in the Summer
considerably better off financially than when he left it, and having,
meanwhile, placed a brother and two sisters at school in the University at
his own expense, he once again entered upon a course of study. He
remained, however, but two months, in consequence of the illness of his
father calling him to Whitby to assume the duties of his father's office.
Here he remained some two months, when his father's recovery enabled him
to return to Berea. He commenced a commercial course, but was permitted to
pursue it barely a month when he was prostrated by a severe attack of
typhoid fever from which he did not recover for nearly four months, his
life being several times despaired of. As soon as his health was
sufficiently restored, Mr. McDermott again identified himself with the
grindstone trade and made two trips to Canada, both very successful,
between May and September, 1860, and then finished his commercial course.
On the 19th of September, his twenty-fourth birthday, Mr. McDermott was
married at East Townsend, Huron county, Ohio, to Miss Henrietta Scott, who
had been a teacher in the Baldwin University, and a lady of superior
In this year he met with the most serious misfortune of his business life.
He shipped a cargo of stone for Canada, and the vessel encountering a
storm which disabled her, a large portion of the cargo was thrown
overboard. The cargo was insured in the Quaker City Insurance Company of
Philadelphia, but before the claim could be adjusted the Company failed,
and Mr. McDermott was rendered a considerable sum worse off than nothing.
This misfortune, however, only served to stimulate his energy, and having
established a good credit by the promptitude with which he had always met
his business engagements, and at the same time created a high impression
of his business qualifications, those with whom he had traded, and in
whose debt he had been brought, encouraged him to continue business by
allowing him all the time he should require to repair his losses and make
himself whole. He soon made another trip to Canada with the most
gratifying result, taking orders for upwards of three hundred tons of
stone, the returns from which paid off all his indebtedness and left him
something more than even with the world.
From January to August, 1862, was spent by Mr. McDermott in Lower Canada,
chiefly among the French population, and was one of the most successful
periods of his business experience thus far. Returning to Berea, we next
find him on his way to Cincinnati as one of a company of "Squirrel
Hunters" in response to a well-remembered call of Gov. Tod for a force to
resist the threatened invasion of the State by the Confederate forces
under Kirby Smith. Arriving at Cincinnati it was found that the patriotic
citizens of Ohio had so freely answered the demand upon them that more
than enough to protect the State against several times the menacing army
were already on the ground, and the Berea company was permitted to return
home. The remaining months of the year were passed by Mr. McDermott in
making preparations and perfecting plans for the ensuing year's business.
[Illustration: Yours Respectfully, James McDermott]
On the 30th of January, 1863, Mr. McDermott formed a copartnership with
John Worthington, who was engaged in the building stone trade at
Brownhelm, Lorain county, Ohio, the firm taking the title of Worthington &