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History of Terre Haute, Vigo Co., IN - 1880 - businesses


In a history of the business of the city of Terre Haute, the Terre Haute Car and Manufacturing Company require more than a passing mention. These works were established in 1868, by Seath & Hager, and continued under this management until 1878, when the company was incorporated with a capital of $50,000 all paid in. The products of this company consist of freight cars, car wheels, railroad castings and machinery. In 1868, when they began operations, their capacity was one flat-car per week; they have increased their facilities for manufacturing as the demand for their cars have increased, until at present their capacity is eight cars per day. During the year 1879 they expect to turn out about 1,600 box, stock, coal and flat-cars, requiring for their construction about 5,000 tons of cast iron, 8,000 tons of wrought iron and axles and about 5,000,000 feet of lumber. They are now giving employment to about 300 hands, to which they pay weekly about $2,500. Their business during the year of 1879 will amount to about $650,000. Besides the 300 men employed directly by this establishment, there must be considered those employed indirectly, which adds to the general wealth of the city. Their supply of wrought iron and nails is furnished by Terre Haute manufacturers, and the several saw-mills supply the oak timber, so that indirectly there are probably 200 men employed necessary to supply those works. The officers of this incorporated company are: J.B. HAGER, president; and treasurer; James SMITH, vice-president and superintendent; and L.G. HAGER, secretary; the two former being the active members of the company. Mr. J.B. HAGER, who is a man now about fifty-seven years old, is a native of Hagerstown, Maryland. The name of HAGER is of German origin, the family now being about 200 years old in the United States. Forty-five years ago he became a resident of Terre Haute in company with his father's family. He had but few advantages for attaining an education during his early life, though later in life he was educated at the West Point Military College of New York, and during the rebellion of 1861-65, he was called into the service. Since his residence in Terre Haute he has never taken an active part in political affairs, at least not so far as to have ever been an applicant for office. He is a member of Terre Haute Commandery, No. 16, of A.F. and A.M. He is a gentleman whose name and reputation, coupled with the manufacturing interest, have added materially to the building up of Terre Haute in this respect.

The Vigo Woolen Mills, of which U.R. JEFFERS (picture) is now the proprietor, were built in 1860 by Messrs. O.S. & L.C. KENNEDY. Since then the mills have passed through the hands of a sucession of owners, until February 25, 1874, since which time Mr. JEFFERS has been interested in and has operated them, and about two years ago he became sole owner of this extensive establishment. The building occupied is forty-six feet front by 182� feet deep, four floors in height, and supplied with the best and latest improved machinery for the manufacture of cloths, yarns, etc. Prominent among the pieces of machinery may be mentioned one Davis & Furber self-operating machine of 288 spindles; also one Davis & Furber self-operating jack and two hand jacks; three sets of cards, two of forty-eight each and one of twenty-four. There are eighteen looms, latest improved pickers, steel shears, and many other important pieces of machinery. The capacity of the mills is about 2,600 yards of cloth and 1,500 pounds of yarn per week. In the operating of these mills there is given employment to about twenty-eight hands. Since Mr. JEFFERS has become proprietor and owner of the mills he has gradually increased the facilities and capacity until they are now one of the important manufacturing establishments of the city. Mr. JEFFERS is a native of Steuben county, New York. About the year 1833 his people moved to Clark county, Illinois, he being at the time about three years old. In 1844 he became a resident of Terre Haute, where he has since resided, excepting time spent in the army. In 1864 he entered the army as sutler of 79th Ind. Vol. Inf., a three years enlisted regiment. While in the service he was twice taken prisoner by the rebels, first at Chapel Hill, Kentucky, then again at Chickamauga. This caused him a loss of about $10,000 worth of goods. Previous to becoming interested in the Vigo Woolen Mills he had for eighteen years been engaged in the wholesale notion trade, at which business he was also successful, his being one of the large jobbing houses of the city. In 1877 he was made general superintendent of the Vigo Agricultural Society, and in 1878, he was the president of that organization. He is still a member of the board, and also president of the Terre Haute Poultry and Pet Show. He has taken quite an active part in Masonic affairs, and is at present a member of Blue Lodge, No. 19, Charpeter No. 11 and Commandery No. 16, of A.F. and A.M. During his early life he had but very little chance of obtaining and education. He has been entirely dependent upon his own resources, and may justly be termed one of the self-made men of Terre Haute.

GEORGE F. ELLIS, proprietor of the Wabash Woolen Mills, Terre Haute, who has been identified with the manufacturing interests of Terre Haute since 1858, is a native of Yorkshire, near Leeds, England, where he was born in 1811. In 1829 he emigrated to the United States and located at Philadelphia, where he learned the manufacture of woolen fabrics. In 1835 he located near Dayton, Ohio, where he was engaged working at his trade until 1853, when he again removed and became a resident of Terre Haute. Beginning in a small way, he has gradually increased his facilities and capacity for manufacturing until now his mills are able to turn out 1,000 yards of cloth daily. They are located on the northwest corner of First and Walnut streets, and cover an area of ground 141x150 feet. The main building, or mill proper, is 36x141 feet and three stories in height, and contains three sets of forty-eight inch cards, thirty looms and two English mules of four dozen spindles each. Besides this there is other machinery, making a total of 1,104 spindles. The office and salesroom is a two-story building 22x65 feet, the first floor being used as an office and retail salesroom and the second floor for wholesaling. Their specialty is occidental jeans, which find a market in Chicago, St. Louis, Cincinnati, Louisville and Indianapolis. They also manufacture a full line of blankets and yarn. Their principal business in former years was "custom work," but they are now numbered among the larger wholesale establishments of the city. In the conducting of his business Mr. ELLIS is aided by his son Edwin, who is superintendent of the factory, salesman, business man, and, in fact, "at home" in any part of the routine of business connected with the factory. Aside from having achieved success financially, Mr. ELLIS is one of the honored and respected citizens of the city whose name and reputation are above reproach.

Prominent among the photographers of Terre Haute, we may mention Mr. J.M. ADAMS as the representative artist. He is located over Nos. 417 and 419 Main street, and is occupying a total space of 40x80 feet, divided into different apartments and fitted up with everything pertaining to the art of photography in the way of the latest machinery, coloring compounds, paints, etc. The walls are hung with samples of his work, a view of which ought to dispel any doubts in the mind of the beholder as to the artistic finish of the work or the ability of the artist. Mr. ADAMS has now had about twelve years' experience in his line of business, eight of which he has spent in Terre Haute. He has been a resident of Vigo county since 1849, as at this date he came with his people, he being at the time but a boy. In 1864 he entered the Union army, enlisting in company G, 149th Ind. Vol. Inf., under Capt. MEROHINNEY and Col. FAIRBANKS. This was a one-year enlisted regiment, and they were stationed at Huntsville, Alabama, most of the time, being at that place at the close of the war in 1865. In 1871, when he began business in Terre Haute, he had but little money and poor prospects for the future, but being possessed of energy and a natural talent for the business, he has gradually made his business second to none in the city.

GEORGE E. BROKAW merchant, Terre Haute, of the firm of Brokaw Bros., is one of the business men of Terre Haute who dates his residence in the city back as far as August of 1849. He is a man now about fifty-four years of age, and was born in Knox county, Indiana, to which county his father removed from Long Island as early as 1816. Mr. BROKAW began in the dry-goods business when he was fifteen years old, and has since led an active business life. In 1858 he built the business house now occupied by Brokaw Bros., and in 1860 he took his brother as a partner. Their business house is No. 43 Main street. The first floor 22x90 feet is used principally for dry goods and notions, and the second floor the same length and double the width of first, is stocked with everything in the line of carpets; the third floor is also stocked with carpets, with the addition of paper, carpets being their specialty, in which they also do a jobbing business. They have given much time and study to this department. Their extensive stock and fine varieties of rich Turkish and Brussels goods as well as less expensive grades place them at the head of his branch of the business industries of the city, where over twenty years ago they began a small business in a small town.

In speaking of the representative grocery houses of Terre Haute the firm of W.W. Cliver & Co., requires more than a mere mention. Their establishment is located corner Fourth and Cherry streets, and 20 feet front by 80 in depth, two floors and basement; in addition to which they have a feed store-room located a few doors from the grocery, which is 20x40 feet. In connection with the retail trade in groceries they do some wholesale business, though not extensive enough as to require a traveling salesman, still, their monthly shipment to Brazil runs from $150 to $800. Mr. W.W. CLIVER, the active member of the firm, is a native of Vigo county. He has now had about thirteen years' experience in the grocery trade, he having begun as a clerk for W. NAYLOR when still quite young. He remained with Mr. NAYLOR about eighteen months, and then entered the employ of D. MILLER, with whom he remained for about nine years. In 1877 he engaged in business on his own account. Though he has been established but for a short time he has already built up a business that far exceeds some of the older dealers. He is a live, wide-awake business man, and has already proven himself a good financier. Should his business increase in the future as rapidly as it has in the past he will soon stand at the head of the grocery trade of Terre Haute.

The pioneer in the milling business of Terre Haute is Mr. R.L. THOMPSON. Twenty-nine years ago he floated the machinery for his mill down the Wabash canal, bringing it from Dayton, Ohio, where for years he had been extensively engaged in the construction of mill machinery. The machinery that is now used in many of the large mills of the Miami valley was manufactured by him. In 1831 he completed the mill he is now operating, putting in four run of stone, and now he has the largest mill in the city. It contains thirteen run of stones, with a flouring capacity of 300 barrels per day. He manufactures by what is known to millers as the patent process, his business being strictly merchant milling. In connection with the mill he has a large copper shop for the manufacture of flour barrels for his own use. Altogether he gives employment to about forty-five men. He is a man who seems to shun notoriety, though we learn from his friends that he has always been a friend to any enterprise pertaining to the public good, and has given liberally toward the support of benevelent institutions of the city. His reputation has been such as the public bestows upon a man who has been an honorable and enterprising citizen of the community for more than a quarter of a century.

It is pretty generally understood among the citizens of Terre Haute that Chapman's dining hall, Nos. 124-8 South Fourth street, is the only first-class establishment of the kind in the city. Mr. J.H. CHAPMAN, who has built up and established this extensive business, is a native of Connecticut, his birthplace being near the city of Hartford. He first became a resident of Terre Haute about 1851. For about two years after his arrival he was engaged in the manufacture and sale of chain pumps. He then became interested in the old Clark House, in company with Mr. CLARK, after whom the house was named. At the hotel business he spent about eight years, and during that time, or in December, 1855, he married Miss Emma H. CLARK, daughter of his partner. After leaving the hotel he removed to Iowa, where he spent ten years, most of the time in agricultural pursuits and stock dealing. In 1871 he returned to Terre Haute, and in 1876 began in his present business. From beginning at that time on a very small scale, he has, as before said, established the largest business in the city in his line. When he began business he had room to seat sixteen persons, and now he has recently fed as high as 1,500 in one day. He uses about seven barrels of flour daily, and gives employment to twenty-five hands. He also requires four wagons and six horses in his business. This extensive business has all been built up by him since 1876. As a financier there are but few men in Terre Haute who would have accomplished what he has done in the last three years.

McELFRESH & GILBERT, proprietors Phoenix foundry and machine shops, Terre Haute, which is the largest and most completely equipped establishment of the kind in the city, is located at No. 231 North Ninth street. The main building is 40x80 feet and three stories in height, in addition to which is a one-story wide of 40x75 feet. The moulding department is also 50x90 feet. Their principal line of manufacture is engines and mill machinery, some of their machinery finding a market as far south as Florida. They give employment to about thirty men, to whom they pay about 81,100 per month. From September, 1878, till September, 1879, they manufactured about 450 tons of castings. These works were started in 1866 by Mr. McELFRESH and B.F. DEUGLER; they then had a capacity of eight men. Mr. McELFRESH, the senior member of the firm, is a native of Wheeling, West Virginia, and has been a resident of Terre Haute since 1852. The Phoenix foundry and machine works have been built to their present standard mainly through his exertions. Mr. GILBERT became connected with the institution as partner, in 1878, though for two years previous he had been employed as bookkeeper. He is a native of Vigo county, and the son of Curtis GILBERT, whose name appears so often in the early history of Vigo county.

W.S. CLIFT, proprietor of planing-mill, Terre Haute, of the firm of Clift & Williams, is one of the old contractors and builders of Vigo county. Since 1864 he has been engaged in his present line of business. At that date he built the mill which they are now running, though its capacity has since been enlarged. In 1865 Mr. WILLIAMS became associated with him in the business. They now give employment to about forty men, and ship their goods to a radius of fifty miles around the city. Their largest planing machine alone has a capacity of 16,000 feet per day. They are not only large contractors and builders, but also conduct an extensive business in planing and working up lumber for builders' use. They also keep in stock a full supply of builders' hardware, sash, doors, blinds, mouldings, frames, stair newels, balnsters, cornice, brackets, columns, and building material generally. Their establishment is located corner of Ninth and Mulberry streets, and is a commodious brick structure, 75x85 feet, two stories high. They also have a warehouse 20x80 feet, and two lumber sheds, the larger of which is 30x65 feet and the smaller 20x40 feet. Their establishment is fitted throughout with machinery of the latest improved patterns. They are enterprising, wide-awake business men, and are not behind the times in any particular. Mr. W.S. CLIFT, the senior member of the firm, is a native of Mason county, Kentucky. He became a resident of Terre Haute in 1862, and followed contracting and building as an exclusive business until 1864, when he built the factory. Since his residence in Terre Haute he has given his time exclusively to his business affairs, and has never had any aspirations politically, though he has been a member of the city council for two years. His chances during boyhood of obtaining an education were only through the old subscription system. Whatever progress he has made in life financially has been due to his own energy and industry. He is a gentleman who bears an honored name amoung the citizens where he has resided for almost thirty years.

T.B. JOHNS, lumber merchant, Terre Haute, who is well known as the largest walnut lumber dealer in Indiana, is a native of Butler county, Ohio. He has now been engaged in the lumber trade in Terre Haute since 1852, his residence in this place dating back to that year. He increased his business rapidly by buying large lots of lumber in Michigan and doing both a jobbing and retail business. In 1861 he built a mill near the river and close to his office, which is No. 133 North First street, and since then has made walnut and hardwood lumber a specialty, in which he does a large jobbing business. He has an established business in some of the eastern cities, as well as in Terre Haute, at which place alone he usually has on hand from 2,500,000 to 4,000,000 feet of lumber. He gives employment to from fifty to one hundred men. In addition to the lumber trade Mr. JOHNS has given considerable attention to farming, growing during the season of 1879 about 2,400 acres of corn upon the Wabash bottoms upon lands that were considered almost worthless, but which, by his enterprise in building an extensive levee, were redeemed and made to produce abundant crops. Mr. JOHNS is one of the self-made men of Terre Haute, he having made almost the whole of his large fortune since he became a resident of Vigo county by his energy, enterprise and good financiering.

At Nos. 204 and 206 South Fourth street is to be found one of the neat and tastily arranged grocery establishments of the city of Terre Haute. The space occupied is 36 feet front by 60 feet in depth. The whole space is filled as full as can be done with convenience in the transaction of business with a complete, fresh and well selected stock of goods pertaining to the grocery trade. The whole is presided over by Mr. JOHN ZIMMERMAN, the gentlemanly proprietor. Though a man only twenty-seven years of age, he seems to have the business tact and shrewdness of a man of fifty years. He is a native of Vigo county. His people were settlers of the county as early as 1848. Here his boyhood and school days were spent. Here, too, at twenty-seven years of age, he is well established in business, and should no misfortune befall him, with his good financiering he will soon be one of the largest dealers in the city.

The drug business is well represented in Terre Haute, and among those establishments that are neatly fitted up and stocked to supply any and all demands for goods in their line is that of Messrs. GULICK & BERRY, corner of Fourth and Main streets. These gentlemen are doing both a jobbing and retail business. They occupy a building 19 feet front by 120 feet deep, three floors and basement. Mr. GULICK, the senior member of the firm, is a native of Maysville, Kentucky. His residence in Terre Haute dates back to 1852, since which time he has been engaged principally in the drug business. He began first as a clerk for Dr. MAHAN, one of the founders of the house of which the firm of GULICK and BERRY are now proprietors. From 1856 to 1864 he was employed as teller in what was first the Southern Bank and afterward changed or merged into the First National. From 1861 until 1865 he also held the office city clerk, and in 1866 the existing partnership was formed, Mr. BERRY being a native of the State of Connecticut, and having had twelve years experience in the business previous to their beginning business together. Their only specialty is window glass and fine liquors for medicinal purposes. Their trade both in wholesaling and retailing has been established by honesty and square dealing. They are well known as one of the substantial business firms to Terre Haute.

JOSEPH ERLANGER, merchant tailor, 513 Main street, Terre Haute, has, during his connection with the business industries of Terre Haute, furnished a fair example of what may be done by energy, enterprise and close attention to business. While it is the rule rather than the exception that the most successful men are those who have been dependent upon their own resources, yet the difficulties overcome and the success attained by some men seem almost incredible. Though Mr. ERLANGER has not overcome greater difficulties or attained a greater degree of success than some of the other business men of Terre Haute, he has, however, been dependent upon his own resources in the building up of his extensive business. His business house is 20 feet frontage by 100 feet in depth, and three floors in capacity; the first as general salesroom, the second for the storage of surplus stock, and the third as a tailoring department, in which department he usually gives employment to about fifteen tailors. Mr. ERLANGER is a native of Wurtemberg, Germany, from which place he emigrated to the United States in 1854, when he was still a boy. He came directly to Terre Haute, and a short time after his arrival began clerking for the firm of Arnold & Co. He remained with that firm until the dissolved partnership in 1860. He then began clerking for Mr. N. ERLANGER, with whom he afterward became a partner in the business, and eventually bought out, since which he has been engaged in the business alone. His establishment is now considered one of the representative houses in his line in the city, and, as the facts above show, has been established by energy, industry and careful management.

G. ESHAM, lumber dealer, Terre Haute, of the firm of Esham & Reese, is one of the oldest lumber merchants of the city of Terre Haute. He is a native of Cologne, Germany. There the early part of his life was spent, an education acquired, and a trade learned, he being a tinner by trade. At the age of twenty years, or in 1851, he emigrated to the United States. The first three years after his arrival he spent in the New England States, and in 1854 he removed to the west and became a resident of Terre Haute, where he has since resided. For a time after arriving at Terre Haute he was engaged in working at the tinner's trade, which he continued until 1855, when he entered the office of M.D. Topping & Co., lumber merchants. He remained with them until 1863 in the capacity of clerk. In 1863, after the death of Mr. TOPPING, he bought an interest in the business with William B. TUELL, Mr. TOPPING's partner in the business. Some time after Mr. TUELL and himself had been engaged thus Mr. Samuel McKEEN bought an interest in the business, the firm name being Esham, Tuell & McKeen. In 1871 he and TUELL sold out to McKEEN, and in 1873 he again engaged in the business in company with his present partner, Mr. S.T. REESE. They are now located at No. 537 North Seventh street, their lumber yard being in the immediate vicinity of the office. They carry a general line of lumber and building material, and are doing something in the jobbing trade, though this branch of their business is confined principally to walnut lumber, of which they handled during the year 1879 about 1,000,000 feet. The total amount of lumber they usually have on hand is valued at about $14,000. They are now one of the three principal firms engaged in the lumber trade, and by all indications they are doing their share.

What has frequently been termed Terre Haute's greatest enterprise, of the largest distillery in the world, is now owned by Messrs. COX and FAIRBANKS. While speaking in detail of some of the manufacturies of Terre Haute this establishment should be accorded as much, or more, space than any of them, as in some future time a detailed description of this distillery may be of much interest to the citizens of Terre Haute. The history of this establishment dates back to 1853, Messrs. SMITH & BUTTON being the originators. They were succeeded by Mr. Alex. McGREGOR, and he by a succession of different firms, prominent among the members of which was Mr. H. HULMAN. May 1, 1879, the last change in the firm name took place, the change being from Hulman & Fairbanks to Cox & Fairbanks. The facilities of the establishment have from time to time been increased until it has attained its present wonderful capacity. They now give employment to about 200 men, and are using 3,800 bushels of corn per day with a capacity of 4,800 bushels. The distillery proper is 120x218 feet, four stories high. The first floor is devoted to 2 engines, 12 boilers 44 inches in diameter by 28 feet long, 1 beer still 12 feet in diameter by 42 feet high, 1 alcohol kettle, 150 barrels capacity and 10 barrels per hour, and 27 fermenters running from 16,000 to 23,000 gallons each. The second floor has 4 run of buhrs with a capacity of 80 bushels per hour, 1 mash tub 26 feet in diameter, 500 bushels capacity, also one 23 feet diameter, 360 bushels, 6 yeast tubs, and 1 corn sheller of 500 bushels capacity. The third floor is devoted to meal room. The fourth floor is used for cleaning corn and rye preparatory for buhrs. They have eight corn cribs, with a capacity of 300,000 bushels. They also have 5 cattle barns, and during the season of 1878-79 fatted and shipped to Liverpool, England, 3,500 head of cattle. The entire grounds occupied by the establishment cover 30 acres, which gives them room for feeding large numbers of cattle. The malt house is 78x202 feet, 2 stories high, with a capacity of 1,500 bushels per week. The bonded warehouse is 96x188 feet, 3 stories, with a capacity of 10,000 barrels; the receiving tanks are 5 in number, 2 for highwines, with a capacity of 21,375 gallons, and 3 for alcohol, capacity 21,375 gallons. The cooper shop is 30x125 feet, in which are employed 40 men. The blacksmith shop is 18x40 feet. There are also 10 dwellings and office buildings belonging to the grounds. Their capacity for manufacturing is 400,000 gallons per month. They have shipments all over the United States, besides shipping large quantities to France and England. Mr. ROBERT S. COX, whose name appears at the head of this article, is a native of the State of Ohio. In 1854 he became a resident of Terre Haute, to which he came from Cincinnati, Ohio. From 1854 until 1869 he was engaged in the wholesale grocery business, the firm being Cox & Son. As will be seen by the above sketch, he is one of the leading business men of Terre Haute, and is one of the citizens who is always ready to do his share in donating for the support of any movement resulting in the improvement of the city or her public institutions.

H. KEYES, who is the active member of the firm of Keyes and Sykes, manufacturers of the "Keyes & Sarven" patent wheels, has now been a resident of Vigo county about twenty-four years. He is a native of Berkshire county, Massachusetts, though most of his business life has been spent in Terre Haute. The business done by this firm is only equaled by a few of the city's larger manufacturing establishments. Their works are located on the corner of North Thirteenth street and Ninth avenue. They were established in 1864, by Thompson & Keyes, and under this name the business was conducted until 1870, when they were succeeded by the firm of Keyes & Mancourt, who carried on the trade until 1872, at which time the firm of Keyes & Sykes became their successors and have since carried on the business. Their line embraces in its scope the manufacture of spring, platform and three-spring wagons, besides the regular manufacture of the Keyes & Sarven wheels, which is their specialty, and of which they manufacture about 12,000 per year. They turn out from three to five completed wagons daily, and 100,000 spokes per month. The Sarven wheel was patented in 1857 and the Keyes wheel in 1868. They vary from a five-ton wheel to the very lightest that are used for buggies. They are now in use in every state and territory of the United States, and are constantly being shipped to all parts of the Union. Their shops have recently been destroyed by fire. Previous to this loss they gave employment to about 150 men. They are, however, almost rebuilt, by the energy and enterprise of this firm, and when completed will be of greater capacity than heretofore. Mr. SYKES, the junior member of the firm, is also engaged in mercantile business, he having one of the largest hat stores in the city, to which he gives most of his time and attention. Both of these gentlemen are of that class of men who are not content to occupy any but the first place in their lines of business, a place they occupy only by their own energy, industry and good financiering.

Continued here!

HISTORY OF VIGO AND PARKE COUNTIES, Together With Historic Notes on the Wabash Valley
H.W. Beckwith - 1880
Terre Haute, pp. 183; 205-206; 220-230; 235; 238-240; 246; 250-255

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Terre Haute & Harrison Twp. biographies.

Submitted by Charles Lewis
Data entry by Kim Holly & Cathy Slater

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