J. Seymour (Josiah Seymour) Currey.

Chicago: its history and its builders, a century of marvelous growth (Volume v.5) online

. (page 43 of 74)
Online LibraryJ. Seymour (Josiah Seymour) CurreyChicago: its history and its builders, a century of marvelous growth (Volume v.5) → online text (page 43 of 74)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

integrity of character, and one whose influence was always exerted in the promotion
of happiness and goodwill. The life of such a man could not fail to be a blessing
to those with whom he associated. Mrs. Matthews resides at No. 5638 Indiana


While Benjamin Franklin Ayer stood before the public as a distinguished
lawyer "one of the ablest not only in Illinois but in the Union," he was to his
friends and they were legion a man whose broad culture, knowledge of general
literature and keen observation of men and events made him a most entertaining
companion and associate. His active connection with the legal profession covered
more than a half century and in the field of corporation law he gained prominence
as general counsel of the Illinois Central Railroad. Moreover, the revised city
charter of Chicago is a tangible expression of his ability. His life record had
its beginning April 22, 1825, and spanned the years to the 6th of April, 1903,
when death called him. His birth occurred in Kingston, New Hampshire, his
parents being Robert and Louisa (Sanborn) Ayer. In the early colonization of
New England his ancestors sailed across the Atlantic, John Ayer leaving his home
in Norfolk county, England, in 1637 and in 1645 becoming a resident of Haver-
hill, Massachusetts. There successive generations of the family lived and Rob-
ert Ayer was born in that city on the 14th of August, 1791. He married a
daughter of Benjamin Sanborn. of Kingston, New Hampshire, who was a de-
scendant of John Sanborn, a grandson of Rev. Stephen Batchelder, who emi-
grated from Derbyshire, England, in 1632, and on the settlement of Hamilton,
New Hampshire, in 1638, became the first minister of the church in that town.
His descendants include, many who have attained prominence and honor, includ-
ing Lewis Cass and Daniel Webster, while in the literary world Frank B. San-


born was prominent as one of the Concord School of Philosophy, which included
Emerson, Thoreau, Alcott and Lowell.

Benjamin F. Ayer therefore came of an ancestry honorable and distinguished
and his lines of life were cast in harmony therewith. His preparatory studies
were pursued in the Albany Academy and his collegiate course at Dartmouth,
'where he was graduated with the class of 1846. His more specifically literary
course served as a broad foundation upon which to rear the superstructure of pro-
fessional knowledge. In 18-16 he entered Harvard as a student in the Dane Law
School and following his admission to the bar, upon the completion of his course
in 1849, he at once located for practice in Manchester, New Hampshire. No
dreary novitiate awaited him. The opportunity for' success lies before all, and
industry and close application are as essential in the practice of law as in in-
dustrial or commercial pursuits. Recognizing this fact, Benjamin F. Ayer care-
fully prepared his cases and came before the court well equipped for defense as
well as attack. His practice grew and he advanced equally in popular favor in
matters of citizenship so that in 1853, when he was made the nominee of his
party for the state legislature he met with success in the ensuing election and
took his place with the law makers of New Hampshire. The following year he
was made prosecuting attorney for Hillsboro county, New Hampshire, and occu-
pied the position until his removal to Chicago in the spring of 1857.

Almost immediately Mr. Ayer took his place with those who were recognized
as leaders of the bar in this young but growing city. Four years' residence here
had so demonstrated his worth that in 1861 he was made corporation counsel, con-
tinuing in office until 1865, during which period,' in 1863, he drafted the revised
city charter. Following his retirement from office he entered the field of private
practice as a member of the firm of Beckwith, Ayer & Kales, which association
was maintained until 1873, when the firm name of Ayer & Kales was assumed
following the withdrawal of Mr. Beckwith from the partnership. The firm was
characterized as "a combination unsurpassed in ability and success" and the com-
ment following the withdrawal of Judge Beckwith concerning the firm of Ayer
& Kales so that "the great business of the firm was carried on with undiminished
vigor and distinction until, retiring from general practice, Mr. Ayer became a
solicitor for the Illinois Central Railroad Company." He had hitherto more and
more largely concentrated his energies upon corporation law until he was recog-
nized in that branch of jurisprudence as a man of few equals. In 1877 he was
made one of the directors of the Illinois Central Railroad Company and on the
1st of January, 1890, was made its general counselor. A fellow practitioner at
the Chicago bar and one who knew him long and intimately in his professional as
well as personal relations said: "Benjamin F. Ayer has stood in the front rank
of lawyers in Chicago for more than thirty years. Nothing has been allowed to
divert him from his profession. He never relies on others to do his work. Every
question is investigated until the subject is exhausted. While not controlled by
precedents, he personally examines every case where the subject has been involved,
in order to extract the principles applicable to the matter in hand. The most
remarkable quality is the ability to make a correct and logical statement of his
case to the court. This is done in language which cannot be misunderstood, and
when presented orally, it is with a clear voice and appropriate emphasis, giving


(the greatest pleasure to the listener. The manner is one of honesty and candor
which leaves no room for doubt as to his own convictions. He has always en-
deavored to aid the court in arriving at correct conclusions, both as to fact and
law, believing it the highest duty of a lawyer to see that justice is done. In short
he commands the confidence and respect of judges and lawyers, and as a citizen
is above reproach.

In the meantime Mr. Ayer had given strong proof of his position concerning
matters vital in citizenship, especially at that period when the country was pass-
ing through one of the most critical eras in its entire history. When age conferred
upon him the right of franchise he joined the ranks of the democracy. He was a
believer in its principles and never wavered in his support thereof but when the
country became involved in civil war he fearlessly espoused the cause of tne
Union, becoming what was known as a war democrat. That he studied closely
and deeply into the situation that eventually brought about hostilities was in-
dicated in a speech which he made on the 25th of January, 1861, at a banquet
held in Philadelphia on the occasion of the opening of the Pittsburg & Fort
Wayne Railway. The trouble had not culminated in open hostility at that time
and Mr. Ayer said: "We would cultivate with you those amicable and fraternal
feelings which ought always to be cherished between the people of all the states
composing our hitherto happy and prosperous Union. At this alarming and danger-
ous crisis, when some of our sister states are madly repudiating their constitutional
obligations, and the federal government is menaced with destruction, it becomes
those who remain loyal to the constitution to take temperate counsel together and
consider what can be done to allay sectional discord, to heal existing difficulties
and bring back the people of the disaffected states to the observance of their con-
stitutional duties." One of the Philadelphia papers of the following day con-
tained the following: "Mr. Ayer's speech, straightforward, frank and manly,
as it was, elicited applause at frequent intervals. When he alluded to the mad
repudiation of constitutional obligations by some of the states, the applause was
prolonged for several moments together. Mr. Ayer is a fine specimen of the
chivalrous, open-hearted western man."

Chicago, the only time in its history, had a civic celebration of the Fourth of
July in 1862, and Mr. Ayer was chosen as orator of the day. In the meantime
the south had struck the blow which it hoped would overthrow the Union and
result in the establishment of a southern confederacy. The war and the ques-
tions involved was the dominant interest in the life of the American people
and in his address Mr. Ayer said: "The pretexts for their rebellion are numerous.
I have no time to discuss them. It is sufficient to say that some of them are un-
founded, many of them are frivolous, and all of them fall far short of furnish-
ing either justification or excuse for the atrocious conspiracy which has already
bathed a continent in blood. The nature and magnitude of the interests at stake
have been already indicated. It is a death struggle for Constitutional Liberty
and Law. It involves the welfare of present and unborn millions ; on the de-
cision of which hangs the destiny of America, and in that the destiny of the world.
Let us then take courage. God did not create the fair land to be the theater of
unceasing anarchy and strife. The rebellion will be subdued, and the lost stars


which have shot so madly from their sphere will yet glisten again in the glorious
galaxy of the Union."

In later years through public utterances, through his professional service and
through his influence, Mr. Ayer placed himself as clearly upon record on the side
of good citizenship, of progress and of municipal honor as he did when he stood
as an inflexible champion of the Union cause during the dark days of the Civil
war. On all significant American questions he kept abreast with the best think-
ing men of the age and his opinions carried weight among those who in the
exercise of official prerogatives molded the destiny of state and nation. His
reading always covered a wide range. It touched the most interesting themes in
general literature, the advance in science and art and as well matters of current
thought. He could enter intelligently into any discussion of real merit or of vital
moment to the city or country. At the same time he remained one of the busiest
among Chicago's lawyers, in which connection a contemporary biographer said
prior to his death: "For carrying on the various and unending negotiations which
arise between the railway and the city Mr. Ayer is eminently fitted. He is the
glove of velvet covering the railway's hand of iron; not only covering it, but
guiding it, restraining its grasp within reasonable bounds. He has a manner of
his own, frank, cordial, businesslike. He can both talk and listen; he can argue,
propose, reject, accept, insist and concede. As is naturally the case with an
able 'specialist,' he knows about all the other side has to say before the confer-
ence begins, yet listens and weighs all that is offered, and, having made up his
mind what is best to be done, he has the needful weight to make his pertinacious
and resolute client acquiesce in his views."

Mr. Ayer attended and supported St. James Episcopal church, although not
a member. He was very prominent in the different societies to which he belonged.
He was one of the first supporters of the Chicago Bar Association and for sev-
eral terms was its president. His ability and the fame which he gained in his
profession made him a prominent member of the American Bar Association. Mr.
Ayer was attorney for the South Park Commission during the condemnation pro-
ceedings in connection with securing lands for Washington and Jackson parks.
In 1889 he aided in the organization in Chicago of the Society of the Sons of New
Hampshire, and for two years occupied the president's chair. He was for fif-
teen years the president of the Western Railway Association and he belonged to
the Chicago Law Institute, the Historical Society, the Chicago Club and the
Chicago Literary Club, associations which indicate the variety of his interests
and the breadth of his thought.

In 1868 Mr. Ayer was united in marriage to Janet A. Hopkins, of Madison,
Wisconsin, a daughter of Judge Hopkins, of the United States district court, and
Mary (Allen) Hopkins. Their children are four in number. Walter married
Phebe McCormick, a daughter of R. Hall McCormick of this city, and has one
son, Walter, whose birth occurred on the 2-lth of September, 1910. Mary Louise
gave her hand in marriage to Samuel T. Chase, by' whom she has three children:
Mary, Emma E. and Janet H. Janet is the wife of Kellogg Fairbanks, the eldest
son of N. K. Fairbanks, and has three children: Janet, Kellogg, Jr., and Ben-
jamin Ayer. Margaret Helen is the wife of Cecil Barnes, son of Mrs. John De
Koven. The family has long been prominent in the best social circles of the


city and is allied by marriage with some of Chicago's first families. The Ayer
home has ever been one of the centers of a cultured society circle in Chicago. Mrs.
Ayer is a member of both the Daughters of the American Revolution and the
Colonial Dames, her eligibility being established through several lines of distin-
guished ancestry.

On the 6th of April, 1903, Mr. Ayer passed away and thus closed a life of
devotion to high ideals. He never held the narrow and contracted view that one
who differed from him must be essentially wrong. He always eagerly listened to
the other side of a question and his analytical mind enabled him to recognize the
germ of truth and to deal justly with any situation or any problem. So strongly
had he entrenched himself in public regard and so warm a place had he won for
himself in professional circles that the news of his demise carried with it a sense
of perspnal bereavement to all who knew him.


Ashley C. Smith was a comparatively young man at the time of his death, which
occurred in Miami, Florida, on the 18th of February, 1910. However, he had
become well established in the business world as the secretary and treasurer of the
Smith Manufacturing Company, operating at De Kalb, Illinois, and in social cir-
cles he had gained many friends through the recognition of that personal worth
which everywhere commands confidence and loyalty.

He was born in Battle Creek, Michigan, on the 4th of September, 1868, a son
of Marvin O. and Mary B. Smith, of that place. While spending his youthful
days in his parents' home, he pursued a public-school education and on attaining
his majority he came to Chicago, hoping to find broader business opportunities
in the industrial and commercial conditions existing in this city. Here he en-
tered into manufacturing interests on his own account and later became asso-
ciated with his brother, Frank S. Smith. In 1890 they organized the Smith Manu-
facturing Company, operating a factory at De Kalb, Illinois, in the manufacture of
machinery. Ashley C. Smith was one of its owners and officers, and was active in
its control and management to the time of his death. He was a self-made man in
the highest and best sense of the term. He possessed keen intellect, quick discrimi-
nation and was able to recognize and grasp opportunities, ere the passing moment
carried them beyond his reach. He had wonderful business ability in combining
and coordinating forces into a harmonious whole and in all of his business under-
takings was regarded as thoroughly reliable.

Mr. Smith never allowed outside interests to interfere with the faithful con-
duct of his business affairs and yet was a lover of outdoor life and sports and as a
follower of. Nimrod gained more than local fame. He greatly enjoyed hunting
and on vacation periods, with his gun over his shoulder, tramped for hours through
the woods. His skill, too, was evidenced in the fact that he killed the fourth largest
deer on record. He also won several medals as the best fly caster in the Fly Cast-
ing Club, and the trout stream awakened in him pleasurable anticipations. He
was a member of the Chicago Athletic Club and of the Illinois Club.

Vol. V 20


On the 20th of February, 1907, Mr. Smith was united in marriage to Miss Cora
E. Walker, a daughter of Cornelius and Minnie (Hovland) Walker, and a grand-
daughter of Iver and Caroline (Hyrth) Hovland, the former a pioneer shoe mer-
chant of Chicago, engaging in business here in 1856. Unto Mr. and Mrs. Smith
was born one child, Bruce Walker.

Mr. Smith gave his political allegiance to the republican party and his religious
faith was evidenced in his membership in the First Presbyterian church of Oak
Park. He was kind-hearted, public-spirited and liberal, and his congenial and
winning ways won for him a host of friends. He greatly enjoyed gathering around
him congenial companions and music was frequently a feature of their entertain-
ment. He was artistic in his tastes, enjoyed travel and read broadly. His was
indeed a cultivated mind and nature. He was quiet and unassuming in manner,
and yet his real worth made him a favorite in social circles in which he moved
and gained for him a host of friends almost as numerous as his acquaintances.


The morning train for Chicago was late, and a crowd of impatient North Shore
citizens gathered on the station platform at Kenilworth, annoyed over the delay.
A stranger in the suburb, returning from a week-end house party, was struck by
the contrast in the attitude and expression of a compact, strong-featured man who
stood a little apart from the fidgety crowd, his hands calmly clasped behind him
waiting. It happened that the stranger was a hero-worshipper whose library held
more books on Bonaparte than on all other subjects put together. Moved by a
sudden impulse, he stepped up to the waiting man and held out his hand. "Sir,
I beg your pardon but has anyone ever told you that you look like Napoleon f"

The stranger was not the first to remark the striking resemblance between Paul
Schulze and the Corsican conqueror. In the offices of the Schulze Baking Com-
pany, of which he is president, hangs one of the famous portraits of Napoleon
Bonaparte, presented to president Schulze by business associates whom the sim-
ilarity of traits had impressed as well as the likeness' in personal appearance. The
lives of the two men offer some parallels as well as some contrasts. Napoleon's
business was war the snuffing .out of human life in large doses. Paul Schulze's
business is among the most constructive of all the arts of peace the manufacture
and distribution of the staff of life. The operation of both are alike in that they
are invariably carried out on a large and far-reaching scale. Both are known as
remarkable organizers, gifted in the knowledge and effective handling of men.

Paul Schulze was born on the 13th of June, 1864, in the province of Hanover,
Germany, and passed his boyhood in his native city of Osterode. He came from
a fine old German family, his parents being Gustav and Henrietta (Roeper)
Schulze. His father was an eminent civil engineer under whose plans and per-
sonal supervision the construction of many Russian and German railways was ac-

The conclusion of Paul Schulze's schooling, at the age of sixteen years, was
mainly a matter of his own choice, his high-school training had fitted him for a



business life, and a professional career had no charm for him by comparison. Alert,
energetic, ambitious, he was destined by nature to be known throughout the west-
ern world as "a hustler." Even at this age, he knew far more about the prac-
tical side of life than most young men of his social position and environment, and
from the day he left school pursued the rugged policy of always making his own
way in the world. Like Napoleon, he early left his native land and made his
way westward he was nineteen when he came to the United States. He had no
thought of staying here permanently; his sole object was to acquire a working
knowledge of the English language for the sake of the advantage it would give
him in business circles in Germany.

It was in 1882 that he arrived in America. He heard the call of the "yet
farther west" and made his way to Big Stone City, South Dakota. He found no
opportunities ready to hand, and grimly decided to make his own. Many times
during his first few weeks he would have turned back to Germany if there had
been any turn-back in his system, but he set himself to live the inclination down.
First he worked as a farm hand. Next he got a job as clerk in a general store,
drawing down each month the salary of ten whole dollars ! For four years he
struggled stubbornly on, taking advantage of every possible chance to improve his
education. Then he figured out that the chances for advancement were far bet-
ter in a large city, and set out for Minneapolis.

Seven months in a wholesale hardware house showed him that the field ahead
of him was limited. As General Dugommier said in his dispatch to the Committee
of Public Safety after Napoleon's capture of Toulon, it was a case of "Promote
him or he will promote himself!" Young Schulze promoted himself to a posi-
tion in a wholesale flour house in St. Paul, which he held for three years. The
flour business appealed to him strongly and he made a careful study of this staple

The fruit of this study is seen in his move to Chicago in the fall of 1890.
Here, at the age of twenty-seven, he organized the Englewood Flour Company
to handle the Washburn-Crosby flour in this section. Under his direct management
this enterprise was successful from the start, and after five years of sturdy growth
it was removed to the Garden City block and continued under the firm name of
Paul Schulze & Company.

Meantime, his widening sphere of influence in the flour business had included
the organization of the Schulze Baking Company in 1893, of which he was elected
president. For ten years the active management of the baking business remained
in the hands of his brothers, William and Emil Schulze. Then, in 1903. Paul
Schulze withdrew from Paul Schulze & Company and took up the reins of the-
Schulze Baking Company, which has claimed his undivided attention ever since.
The story of the Schulze Baking Company, like that of its founder and presi-
dent, is one of broad, consistent, steady growth. During the past few years the
trade's increasing demands have brought about the construction of three large
plants in addition to the establishment in which the business was founded. The
company's four baking plants are now located at Sixty-third street and Stewart
avenue, Webster and Clybourn avenues, Harrison street and Francisco avenue and
Thirty-fifth and La Salle streets, all handled from the general offices of the com-
pany in the Stock Exchange building on La Salle street.


From boyhood to the present day, Paul Schulze has always been a builder, a
man of strong initiative, quick to see opportunity and turn it to practical use.
His advancement in Chicago's business circles has been continuous, and the great bak-
ing company, under the management of Mr. Schulze and his immediate associates, has
become not only the leading one of its kind in the middle west but one of the
foremost in America. He has always been a progressive, always an alert and
aggressive advertiser always clean-cut and conscientious in his dealings.

His born leadership shone forth in striking degree in his year as president of
the National Association of Master Bakers. The year began with his unanimous
election at the Baltimore convention of 1910 and culminated in the memorable
national convention of 1911 at Kansas City. There he presided at the greatest con-
vention of its kind ever held, and delivered an address destined to quicken the heart-
beats of a nation of housewives and to live long in the annals of educative adver-

The fear was expressed by some of his warmest admirers that in this going
up against the army of American housewives he had met his Waterloo at last,
but the educational campaign looked to him like the next logical move and he went
steadfastly through with it. All his life he has been overcoming obstacles -quietly,
resolutely with the utter absence of "splash" that bespeaks the presence of power.
The issue he presented at the 1911 convention, and the way in which he presented
it, were no exception to this rule. The address drew from the general public
what probably stands as the most attention ever attracted by a trade convention.
It was made the subject of universal editorial comment all over the country and

Online LibraryJ. Seymour (Josiah Seymour) CurreyChicago: its history and its builders, a century of marvelous growth (Volume v.5) → online text (page 43 of 74)