Albert Lord Belden.

The fur trade of America and some of the men who made and maintain it, together with furs and fur bearers of other continents and countries and islands of the sea online

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Online LibraryAlbert Lord BeldenThe fur trade of America and some of the men who made and maintain it, together with furs and fur bearers of other continents and countries and islands of the sea → online text (page 6 of 34)
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— who began trading with the Indians in 1843, obtain-
ing from them good collections of beaver, mink, musk-
rat, raccoon and other skins, beaver leading in im-
portance. The prices paid were insignificant, the me-
diums of exchange being cheap knives, colored cloths,



glass beads and chiefly whiskey — so called. The whiskey
made for Indian consumption, and common pale faces,
was neither more nor less than a vicious brew of rank
tobacco, vitriol and water.

Tasche remained at St. Paul for some years, and
made considerable money, but was finally beaten at his
own game, and perished in the wilderness.

Tasche always carried a large knife, which he knew
how to use effectively whenever occasion demanded ; this
knife was found in his grave which was opened in the
course of railway construction many years after his
disappearance ; the knife was sent to Barnum's Museum
in New York, where it remained on exhibition until the
museum building was destroyed by fire in 1865.

St. Paul became an extremely important receiving
center for raw furs in 1844, in which year the peltries



collected in the Red River Valley were diverted from
Canadian points to St. Paul. The skins brought to the
Minnesota town were later sent down the Mississippi
River and finally to New York for local consumption
and export, chiefly the latter; in 1854- 1856 the raw furs
collected at St. Paul averaged between $160,000 and
$200,000 per annum.

In 1856 shipments from St. Paul comprised:

Mink, 8,276 skins; value, $18,621.

Marten, 1,429 skins; value, $3,570.

Lynx, 50 skins; value, $125.

Fisher, 1,046 skins; value, $4,702.

Raccoon, 3,401 skins; value, $2,550.

Otter, 405 skins; value, $1,470.

Bear, 610 skins; value, $6,700.

Silver fox, 8 skins; value, $400.

Cross fox, 20 skins; value, $100.

Red fox, 876 skins; value, $1,095.
' Kitt fox, 2,540 skins; value, $1,271.

Wolverine, 2,031 skins; value, $3,048.

Muskrat, 64,290 skins; value, $11,572.

Bison hides, 7,500; value, $41,200.

St. Paul has not only been an active raw fur mar-
ket from the beginning, but for many years has been an
important fur manufacturing center at wholesale, and
at the present time definitely occupies the first place in
the manufacture of men's fur coats, of which many
thousands are made and sold annually throughout the
west and northwest. The winter climate also favors a
very large local retail trade in men's and ladies' furs in
all desirable grades.

Isidor Rose was one of the most painstaking men


in the fur business, every detail of which enlisted his
interest, and received his consideration; he enjoyed per-
fect health during his long life of nearly eighty-four
years, and was present at his office until one o'clock in
the afternoon of the day of his death, which resulted
suddenly as the effect of a severe cold.

Mr. Rose was born October 9, 1832, became en-
gaged in the fur business in 1856, and was in the firm
of Joseph Ullmann, St. Paul, Minnesota, during his
entire business career. He died March 3, 191 5.

Gordon & Ferguson rank as one of the best known
fur manufacturing houses in St. Paul — ^but that is alto-
gether too local to express the facts, for wherever strictly
good furs are sold and worn throughout the mighty
northwest, eastward to the Empire City, and in every
real center of collection across the "briney deep," the
firm is known as standing firmly at the front in the
manufacture of men's fur coats, caps and gloves, and
as makers of ladies' furs that are never misnamed or
incorrectly represented in any way.

The business was established by Richard Gordon,
April I, 1 87 1, at 132 Third Street, and the record on
the books shows steady growth to date. Paul R. Fergu-
son was received to partnership in July, 1873.

Charles L. Kluckhohn went with the house in 1874,
and C. W. Gordon in January, 1880. January i, 1886,
Charles L. Kluckhohn and C. W. Gordon were admitted
into the firm. January, 1902, the business was incor-
porated, the incorporators being : Richard Gordon, Paul
D. Ferguson, Charles W. Gordon, Charles L. Kluckhohn
and Theodore C. Borup ; capital stock, $700,cxx).

During the passing years the house has taken sue-



cessively larger and larger premises, and now occupies
a magnificent building, specially erected to serve the
needs of the great business, at Sibley, Fourth and Fifth

Gordon & Ferguson make a pronounced feature of
"pure fur," and they are so emphatic about it that dealers
and consumers alike understand that every claim made
for "Gordon Furs" will be sustained hy the furs.

Certainly a house like that — 'twould be well if
there were many more — merits presentation at the front
rank of those who have, in the best sense, made and
maintained the fur trade of America.

Paul R. Ferguson, second member of the firm, died
April 28, 1905. Richard Gordon died January 21, 191 1,
in the eighty-second year of his age.

McKibbin & Company began the manufacture at
wholesale of fine furs, men's fur coats and sleigh robes
on December i, 1886, achieving pronounced success
from the beginning, as the reasonable result of produc-
ing only reliable goods. The firm, now one of the most
prominent and reliable in the city, was changed to Mc-
Kibbin, Driscoll & Dorsey January, 1901, and was in-
corporated under the same style February, 191 5, with
$800,000 capital.

Ernst Albrecht established, in 1855, at St. Paul, a
manufacturing fur business which has grown up in
equal pace with the city, to a leading position among the
high-clas5 business houses of St. Paul.

Otto E. Albrecht, son of Ernst Albrecht, was ad-
mitted into partnership in 1895, under style, E. Albrecht
& Son. The firm manufactures high-class furs, and
conducts a wholesale, retail and mail order business of


large proportions, with a flourishing branch in Minne-

Ernst Albrecht died May 25, 191 5, since which date
O. E. Albrecht has been sole owner of the business.


Members of State legislatures are seemingly averse
to enacting laws strictly in the interest of consumers,
though not energetically opposed to legalistic action of
the countrary order — imposing a fine of one hundred
dollars for killing a twenty-cent rabbit busily engaged
in destroying a summer garden, and practically giving
a medal of honor to the man who sells the manufactured
bunny hide as French seal.

The legislature of Minnesota may be credited with
a departure from the rule, in that it has enacted a law
with the following provision :

**No person, firm or corporation shall sell or offer
for sale any garment or article of wearing apparel com-
posed either in whole or in part from the fur, hide or
pelt of any animal under any name, term, trade name or
other designation other than that of the correct name of
the animal from which the said fur, hide or pelt was
removed." .

A fine of not less than $25 nor more than $500;
or imprisonment not to exceed six months, or both, are
provided for a violation of the provisions of the bill.


James McMillan established in the raw fur business
in Minneapolis in 1877. He conducted a general busi-
ness as dealer and exporter, making a feature of fine
northern furs; other articles handled included hides,
pelts, wool, tallow, ginseng and seneca root; he oc-
cupied very large premises at 200-212 First Avenue,
North. As the years passed the business, which was
invariably characterized by correct methods and fair
dealing, steadily increased, and has long since had an
international .reputation. Branches were in due course
opened in the west and Canada.

The business was incorporated July 20, 1898, under
title: McMillan Fur & Wool Company; capital stock,

Public sales of furs were held by the house for
several seasons. James McMillan died March 24, 1909;
born at Fryeburg, Maine, October 24, 1855.

W. J. Burnett founded the Northwestern Hide and
Fur Company at Minneapolis in 1890, dealing in raw
furs, hides, sheep pelts, ginseng and sundry medicinal
roots. The business has shown a steady annual increase
from the first season, and now ranks among the largest
in the country, having very satisfactory trade relations
with trappers, local buyers in all states of the Union, and
an export trade. The concern, for the convenience of
its shippers, carries an unusually complete supply of
specialties required by trappers in the field.


For a considerable period, from the beginning of
the nineteenth century, Boston was an important raw-
fur center, shipments being received not only from New
England, but in larger quantities from the west, middle-
west and southward. With the increase in the produc-
tion of wool, both wool and furs were shipped to Boston
in large lots ; the city even "unto this day" holds leading
rank in importance and reliability as a wool market, but
long since declined in magnitude as a center for the
receipt of raw furs.

Wool has always had a universally recognized
standard of value, established grades, and a definite
price per pound; furs, unfortunately or otherwise, ac-
cording to the individual viewpoint, have no standard of
value, each buyer fixing the price, within a certain
range, upon the wonderful basis of his own opinion. It
may be that the decline of the raw fur trade at Boston
is due to a considerable extent to the fact that Boston
merchants foimd it more congenial and less strenuously
competitive to deal chiefly in a standardized com-



Good eastern mink, fox, muskrat, and some middle
western skins are still marketed at Boston with satisfac-
tion to the shippers.

There are a number of extremely efficient and de-
pendable furriers at Boston, and the retail fur business
of the city is important in quantity and quality.

Martin Bates, who during his long business career
was held in the highest respect by all who knew him or
had dealings with him, entered into the raw fur busi-
ness in his native town, Boston, in 1834; a year later
his son Martin Bates, Jr., became associated with him,
under style: Martin Bates & Son. In 1839 Charles S.
Bates was admitted into partnership, and the firm be-
came Martin Bates & Sons; five years later Martin
Bates, Jr., withdrew and removed to New York, where
he organized the firm of Finn & Bates, dealers in hat-
ters' furs and trimmings in Water Street. In 185 1 the
previously mentioned firm was dissolved, and Martin
Bates, Jr., with Josiah O. Hoffman, of Poughkeepsie,
formed the firm of Martin Bates, Jr., & Company; six
years later the new firm became largely interested in
the raw fur business, with a commodious warehouse at
51 Broadway, New York.

They had buying agents in St. Paul, Chicago and
Milwaukee, all of whom bought up large collections in
competition with the two other leading houses of that
time. Henry A. Bromley bought for them at St. Paul,
and was one of the "great" buyers of the period.

In 1874 Martin Bates, Jr., & Company sent J.
Lubbe to Victoria, British Columbia, as their special
agent; they then had an interest in a number of
schooners engaged in hunting fur seals, and in conse-


quence the firm became important factors in the seal
business, shipping the raw skins to London, and import-
ing the dyed seals for wholesale trade in New York;
they maintained their business in seal skins until 1901,
when the demand materially declined on account of
changes in fashion and sundry government regulations.

C. Francis Bates was a member of the New York
firm for some years; in 1865 ^^ withdrew and in asso-
ciation with a number of capitalists bought out the
Northwestern Fur Company, with a number of vessels,
trading posts. Fort Union, Fort Rice, Fort Benton, and
minor places, with headquarters at St. Louis. The
Northwestern Fur Company made large collections of
raw furs, deer, elk and antelope skins, and upwards of
one hundred thousand buffalo robes in a single season ;
all these goods were sent to New York for assorting,
distribution and export.

After the death of Martin Bates in i860, the busi-
ness at Boston was continued by Charles S. Bates.

Martin Bates, Jr., born 1814, died January i, 1883.

C. Francis Bates, born 1825, died August 2, 1912.

Louis Henry Rogers, who has been with the New
York house since i860, and a partner since 1883, is the
only surviving member of the firm of Martin Bates, Jr.,
& Company, now in liquidation.

Freeman Wight began his experience in the fur
trade when a boy in the late forties of the nineteenth
century, devoting considerable time to trapping in the
open country around Boston; for many years in those
early days he never received more than eighty cents
for a fine mink skin, and yet he regarded his total re-
ceipts for the season as very satisfactory. When a


young man he established in the fur and skin business
on his own account, and continued at the "old stand"
until his retirement in 1908, when the Freeman Wight
Company was incorporated.

Jacob Norton came to the United States from Lon-
don, England, in 1844, and shortly after his arrival
entered upon what proved to be a successful career in
the fur business in Boston. He was an exceptionally
capable furrier, and one of the most gifted and highly
respected men in business affairs in the city — a very
marked honor when we note that integrity is the general
rule among merchants at the Hub. He may be freely
credited with being instrumental to the extreme of op-
portunity in making the fur business of America what it
is at its best.

Mr. Norton remained actively interested in mer-
cantile matters to the time of his death, March 20, 1897.

The business has since been continued on the same
high moral plane by his sons, under style: Jacob Nor-
ton's Sons.

Edward E. Norton, senior in succession, died June
5, 191 7. He was prominently identified with various
important mercantile interests of the city, as well as the
fur industry, and was active in other matters. He was
a member of the Boston Chamber of Commerce, for
some time president of the Boston Scientific Society,
Society of Arts, Massachusetts Horticultural Society,
the City Club, and an official of the Jewish Federation
of Charities.

Horace Dodd, a man of righteous instincts, more
conscious of the value of his word than some men of
greater wealth are of their bond, he lived his life honored


by all who knew him, and hundreds to whom he was
personally a stranger. Mr. Dodd conducted a raw fur
business at Boston for an exceptionally extended period,
beginning 1823, and for more than sixty years occupied
the same store at 130 Milk Street.

Mr. Dodd died June 10, 1896, in the ninety-third
year of his age.

John Eichorn was born in Rheinpfalz, Bavaria,
Germany, in 1825, and after learning the trade of fur-
rier he came to the United States in 1847 ^"^ settled in
Boston, where he engaged in the fur business, taking a
small shop on Elm Street; after the great fire he re-
moved to y2i Kingston Street, where he continued to
manufacture and deal in furs up to the time of his death,
September 23, 1908.

In the beginning of his career, and for many years,
he regularly visited Indian and white trappers over a
large section of the country to purchase peltries. He
was strictly honest and fair in all his dealings with men
in the field, and made many friends in the great outdoors
of America.

Edward Kakas, born in Budapest, Hungary, 1829,
came to the United States in 1850, and a year later
began the manufacture of furs at Boston; he continued
the business with marked success until 1879, when he
retired and was succeeded by his son Edward and his
grandson Edward F. Kakas.

Edward Kakas, Sr., died September 19, 1904.

Two of his sons established on their own account,
July, 1897, as Kakas Brothers; since incorporated.

Joseph A. Jackson entered the ranks of the manu-
facturing fur trade at Boston in i860, began in a small


way, and by untiring industry and fidelity advanced to
a leading position, enjoying from the first the good
will and respect of his many business associates, and a
discriminating public.

Mr. Jackson died September 5, 1894.

The widely known firm of Wight Brothers, Boston,
was organized in 1869, to conduct a business in raw,
dressed and dyed furs; the members were Joseph F.
Wight, Lewis Wight and Almon Wight. The firm oc-
cupied a very high position in the trade at home and
abroad, and was successful from the beginning.

Joseph F. Wight died September 10, 1909. Lewis
Wight died January 12, 19 10. Almon Wight died Sep-
tember 17, 191 5.

The business was incorporated in January, 19 14,
as Wight Brothers, Inc., the incorporators being Arthur
L. Barr, president and treasurer; E. L. Capen Wight,

Otto J. Piehler has been a busy furrier at Boston
since May, 1888; his integrity has never been ques-
tioned, and his continued success is well deserved. Mr.
Piehler joined in establishing the firm of W. Cranz &
Company, in 1888, and after two changes took over the
entire business, which he continues; he incorporated in
1909 as Otto J. Piehler, Inc.

Lamson & Hubbard have been prominent, progres-
sive and successful fur manufacturers at retail in Bos-
ton for forty years, making at all times a specialty of
high grade goods. The business was incorporated in
1907, and has shown a continuous annual increase. A
very fine branch store is maintained at Newport, R. I.

In August, 1916, the Lamson & Hubbard Company


was enlarged and newly incorporated with $i,500,o

Online LibraryAlbert Lord BeldenThe fur trade of America and some of the men who made and maintain it, together with furs and fur bearers of other continents and countries and islands of the sea → online text (page 6 of 34)