J. Seymour (Josiah Seymour) Currey.

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

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are treasures he fondly cherished.

"The moral excellencies of Mr. Farrar were also marked. He had the sturdy,
self-reliant and uncompromising qualities characteristic of the best Old England
and New England patterns of man. He was not born to an inheritance of wealth ;
but he was born to an inheritance of industry and pluck and patience and fore-
sight and thrift, which are at once the condition and the assurance of abundant
success. When he left his early home in New England and went to St. Louis,
and after a little from St. Louis to Cincinnati, and from Cincinnati back again to
St. Louis, and from there to Chicago, all in the line of advancement in business,
it was with the determination to do something in the world, and to leave a record
to his credit. All know, who knew the man at all, how well he succeeded in his

"But his business success was not at the expense of his honesty. The sacrifice
of personal integrity, in his judgment, was too high a price to pay for any sort
of material gain. It will be no risk for me to say, in the presence of those who
were in the most intimate association with him year in and year out, that he hatched
no scheme for getting rich at other people's expense, and countenanced no false-
hood and indirection, and took no undue advantage of competitors and rivals in trade.
He was upright through and through. His instincts were keyed to high regis-
ters of conduct. His conscience was sensitive. He never tried to hoodwink his
moral sense with plausible excuses for doing wrong. He could suffer losses bravely,
but he could not endure suggestions which had moral obliquity in them. He was
straightforward, clean, honest, manly.

"Mr. Farrar loved his home. It was beautiful always to see how much he
loved his home. His wife and children were inexpressibly dear to him. A hint
of this was given, and a little glimpse into his home life was afforded, in the refer-
ence made to his love of books and the way in which he was accustomed to gather
the family circle about him and read to them from papers and magazines and cher-
ished volumes. But he showed his love for his home not in this manner only but
after every fashion in which a husband and father may do so. Home was to him
a sacred place. No other place could be made so attractive to him as his home.
No other place could wean him from his affections for his home. His life was


consecrated to the altar of home, and this consecration he never forgot. This is
saying much. I dwell upon it and emphasize it, both because it is so greatly to
the honor of this beloved man and holds in it so precious a lesson. In these days
of eager running to and fro, and of excitement of all kinds, and of multitudinous
attractions, the home-loving man the man who is habitually willing, and more
than willing, to make what some would call sacrifices in other directions that he
may maintain the unity and preserve the sweetness of the home, is to be warmly
commended. It is not easy to overstate this merit.

"Mr. Farrar loved his country. The old flag has no heart beating beneath its
folds more loyal to all the best things for which it stands than was he. His
patriotism was intelligent, elevated, earnest and true. Many are the conversations
he and I have had over the condition of things existing at the time in our city, or
the state, or the nation. It was one of the tokens of the moral health of his nature,
and of the soundness of his judgment, that anything crooked in political affairs,
anything which showed that men were working for their own selfish interests rather
than the public good, excited a righteous indignation in his soul. He was not ac-
customed to express harsh judgments of individuals, indeed, a man more patient
and considerate in his judgments, especially of his condemnation of others, it would
be hard to find. But there were certain kinds of crookedness and certain kinds
of scheming selfishness in political life for which he could find no cover even in his
large charity. He wanted men who were elected to public office, and who had
grave public trusts committed to them, to meet their responsibilities with the
same fidelity which they would be expected to carry into their private affairs. It
was something almost inconceivable to him that a man should come into the in-
heritance of our American institutions, our liberty, our magnificent opportunities,
through the sacrifices of the generations that are gone, and then deliberately sit
down and plot and maneuver for the accomplishment of his own selfish ends and
have no regard whatever for the public welfare.

"Mr. Farrar loved this Union Park Church. He became identified with it as
a trustee as long ago as 1873. Had he lived until the coming annual meeting of
the society it would have made eleven full years, that, from time to time, he has
given to the official oversight and management of our financial affairs. The wisdom
and painstaking watchfulness he brought to the discharge of these duties are
known to all who have had any close connection with the church and society in
these past years. But he manifested his love for the church not only in this form
of service but in ways manifold. He made its interests a burden on his heart. He
was constantly devising liberal things for it. He gave freely to help forward its
various enterprises. Success in any department of our work, our church services
or prayer meetings, our Sunday school and our missions, gave him joy. He was
delighted with any act or movement which looked to the broadening of the moral
power and influence of this organization. Everything about the building took
hold of him. One who walked very close to him has said within a day or two that
he did not believe there was a solitary stone in this whole edifice which did not
have a part of Mr. Farrar's heart in it. If anything connected with the edifice
seemed to be getting out of the way, or going wrong, his eye was quick to see it,
and his brain quick to suggest a remedy. We shall none of us forget how he was
moved when he made the discovery not long ago that the capstone on one of the


front towers was loose and liable at any moment under a wind to come down and
destroy some life. He gave himself no rest till that stone was fixed securely once
mor.e in its place. In all these directions we shall miss him sorely. We shall miss
his counsel. We shall miss his sympathy. We shall miss his careful scrutiny of
things. We shall miss his material aid, for he was one of the most prompt and
generous of our givers. In no instance was he ever behind with assistance in our
time of need.

"All this is the more remarkable, and the more to be magnified, as it seems to
me, because Mr. Farrar was not a member of this church, nor of any other church.
He has said to me on many occasions: 'I do not accept your tenets.' But he
never failed to add: 'At the same time I know of no institution whose influence
upon the community is so good as that of the church.' He would frequently
instance the police value of churches and insist that on' this ground alone,
men, whatever they might believe, ought to help sustain the churches. The peace,-
the order, the prosperity and happiness of the community, he saw to be greatly
promoted by the churches. Down in the depths of his being, beyond any question,
he accepted the great ethical laws and duties of Christianity, and to an extent be-
yond his own thought came under the power of Christ. He saw in Christ the
ideal of humanity and the supreme example which this world has to exhibit of manly
character. He felt the force of the precepts of Christ as laid down for us in the
New Testament. The love of Christ as illustrated in His compassion for the poor
and needy and wretched, and in His going about doing good, constrained him,
and he yielded himself up to the fine spirit of charity which is brought out in the
passage read that wonderful thirteenth chapter of the first epistle of Paul to the

"This is largely the explanation of his unvarying and considerate kindness;
for how kind he was ! How helpful he was ! How compassionate to the weak
and unfortunate ! How many there will be who will rise up and call him blessed
because of what he has done for them! How many there will be who will miss
him because they are to have no more share of his personal attention and prac-
tical sympathy ! 'He was a good man, if ever a good man lived.' "


A man of push and enterprise, of promise and of extraordinary great suc-
cess, a man who worked as very few men have ever labored for themselves, for
others or for any cause, a man of action, always aggressive, who stood for big
things in every relation, a broadminded man and of the highest type of Christian
gentleman these were some of the expressions which were uttered concerning James
Elliott Defebaugh and reflected the admiration and love which were felt for him
in every walk of life. He was invincible in defending a course which he believed
to be right and was as tender-hearted as a child. He came to occupy a command-

*The publishers wish to acknowledge their indebtedness to the American Lumberman
for much of the material furnished in this biography, having quoted at times verbatim from
that publication.



mg position in the business world and yet the humblest might call him friend and
was sure to receive in return a great-hearted, frank, abiding friendship. He started
upon the journey of life at Williamsburg, Blair county, Pennsylvania, March 28,
1854, and died November 21, 1909. He was the namesake of his father, who was
born near Bedford, Pennsylvania, devoted his life to merchandising and died in
1884, at an advanced age. His mother, who in her maidenhood was Elizabeth A.
Kinney, was born near Germantown, Pennsylvania, of a family of Quaker con-
nection and passed away in 1900 in her seventy-fifth year. His paternal grand-
parents came from Holland at the beginning of the nineteenth century and prior
to that date his Quaker ancestors came from England. "Both lines were of people
of sound physical and mental fiber, of religious instincts and habits; not, so far as
is known, rich in this world's goods, neither were they poor, but they belonged to
the great commonalty which made up the sturdy pioneer element in this country.
From this Dutch stock he inherited thrift and industry, from the Quaker side a
reverence for religion and from both a sturdy physique." In youth, activity, rest-
lessness and energy characterized the boy and foreshadowed the strong qualities
of his manhood. His educational opportunities were very limited and at the age
of twelve years he began learning the printer's trade in the office of the Williams-
burg (Pennsylvania) Vindicator. About 1871 he went to Pittsburg and was em-
ployed on the Gazette. Later he was connected with newspaper offices in various
cities of the Keystone state and in 1875 secured employment in the office of the
state printer at Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. In 1876 he became assistant cashier
of the Times of Philadelphia and acted as Philadelphia correspondent of the
Altoona Tribune. His experiences were of varied nature and constituted the school
in which he learned many of life's most valuable lessons. In 1877 in order to de-
velop his physique he worked for several months in a stone quarry. There had
come to him a realization of the fact that there should be maintained an even bal-
ance between the physical, mental and moral nature and in early manhood he iden-
tified himself with church work. During the Centennial Exposition at Philadelphia
he formed the acquaintance of J. B. McClure, managing editor of the Interior, the
great Presbyterian publication of Chicago, and through his influence went to that
city the following year, remaining thereafter a resident of Chicago save for a
single brief period. For four years he worked at the printer's trade, being em-
ployed in the office of R. R. Donnelley and later on the Inter Ocean. While thus
engaged he became actively interested in the work of the Young Men's Christian
Association and for some time was financial secretary of the Chicago organization.
In 1881 he was chosen secretary of the association at Burlington, Iowa, and his
year's residence in that city constituted his only absence from Chicago from 1877
until his death. On bis return he took up general newspaper work and became well
known in business circles as local correspondent of the New York Shoe & Leather
Reporter, and also of other trade journals, and thus took the initial step which
eventually brought him prominently forward in the editorial world. In that con-
nection he visited George W. Hotchkiss, secretary of the Lumbermen's Exchange,
and afterward became a frequent visitor at his office. Later when Mr. Hotchkiss
was in need of rest he volunteered to take care of the routine work of the Exchange
during the secretary's absence and when Mr. Hotchkiss returned he found the af-


fairs of the office in such satisfactory shape that he induced Mr. Defebaugh to remain
with him for a time as assistant secretary of the National Lumberman's Association.
With an insight into the lumber business thus gained Mr. Defebaugh made
plans for the publication of a paper along somewhat different lines and with a
different policy from the Northwestern Lumberman, and in 1885, associated with
A. H. Hitchcock, began the publication of the Lumberman, a sixteen-page quarto.
The name conflicting with that of the older paper, it was soon changed to the Tim-
berman and following the withdrawal of Mr. Hitchcock, Mr. Defebaugh continued
the publication as an individual enterprise, building the paper up in circulation,
influence and size until it was publishing about sixty pages weekly when combined
with the Northwestern Lumberman. Strenuous effort, close application and con-
stantly developing powers united to make of this undertaking a success in the face
of difficulties caused by the lack of capital and by fierce competition. At the out-
set Mr. Defebaugh practically had charge of both the editorial and business manage-
ment and duties, but gradually he drew around him a corps of able and efficient
assistants, enlarging the paper in its scope and in its publication. The original
quarters of the Timberman were a little room on Washington street but afterward
more commodious quarters were secured in the Metropolitan block at the corner
of Lake and La Salle streets. Still the paper grew and in 1896 a removal was made
to the Caxton building on Dearborn, between Van Buren and Harrison streets,
and at that location the paper was published until the American Lumberman secured
its present quarters at 431 South Dearborn street. This followed the consolidation
with the Northwestern Lumberman January 1, 1899.

As he continued the publication of his paper Mr. Defebaugh initiated many
matters of great interest to the lumber trade and began to demonstrate his grasp
of public questions broader than the confines of the lumber industry. One who
knew him well wrote at his death: "A broad estimate shows him to have been ever
in the front ranks of the workers. Those who were closely allied with him in any
undertaking know of his tireless energy, of his insatiable appetite for work, for
activity, for accomplishment; and this is the testimony of men in various walks of
life primarily in the lumber world, with and for which he spent the greater part
of his time but also in church work, in civic affairs, in the broad fields of human
progress. Not only did he have a part in the disposition of great questions which
arose in the lumber trade but in their development and presentment to the rank and
file of the industry. In none of the big undertakings which he largely was in-
strumental in formulating did he stand alone except at first. He had the qualities
of leadership which enabled him to interest others in anything for the general good
of the trade. Many of the causes he has championed approached the ideal, and
therefore some considered him impractical. He believed in trade ethics just as he
believed in religious ethics. He knew also that in the arena where opinions con-
flict and interests vary to such wide degree, a fair compromise was the best that
could be expected, and if the compromise was fair he was satisfied. He could
coincide with the majority, providing the majority reached something near a fair
and reasonable conclusion; he could dissent from the majority report and concur in
that of the minority; he could meet a crisis calmly. He had to do not only with the
small affairs of individual business but with those of national scope. He seemed
to have an intuitive grasp of the relative importance of things. When any branch


of the industry needed help, he placed himself with all his energy and all his
enthusiasm at the disposal of the imperiled interests. His first great undertaking
was in 1894, at which time his paper, the Timberman, was well established and a
growing power in the lumber world. Without assistance and with little support
at the start he held up to public view the questionable methods which had crept into
certain branches of the trade the evils which grew out of the buyers' system of
inspection. He placed before the lumber public all the iniquities of the practice
which then prevailed and, as a result, he drove out of business twenty or more con-
cerns in Chicago and a number of other cities, whose passing brought about a
general purification of the atmosphere in Chicago and elsewhere. This work demon-
strated thoroughly the need of a uniform system of inspection, and this realization
later was crystallized in the general associations organized for that purpose and
which are active trade factors today. In 1896, when the country rocked and quaked
in the throes of the bimetallism-sound money campaign, he rid himself of the
shackles of party and through conducting a publication in which were interested
not only adherents of both causes but many personal friends on the opposite side
he allied himself with the sound-money cause, which he supported with character-
istic vigor. Articles he prepared and printed in the Timberman were reprinted as
campaign documents, and excerpts were quoted by the daily press throughout the
country. One of the accomplishments of which he was proudest was a mass meeting
of lumbermen of the United States, the call for which was issued by himself and
W. B. Judson, at that time proprietor of the Northwestern Lumberman. At
this meeting a movement was inaugurated which resulted in restoring the old rates
on lumber imported into the United States which specified two dollars for lumber
and heavier import on milled material. At the time the convention was held the
lumber industry was in a deplorably depressed condition, and the imposition of
the duty was followed by a general and prompt betterment. Again in 1899, before
and after the consolidation of the Timberman and the Northwestern Lumberman,
he supported the lumbermen in their contention that the concessions demanded by
the Canadian members of the joint reciprocity commission should not be allowed;
history shows that the opposition of the lumbermen, led by Mr. Defebaugh,
caused the reciprocity negotiations to be abandoned in their entirety. Mr. Defe-
baugh visited European countries and wrote a great many illuminative articles on
the lumber industry of the continent, pointing out methods of conducting the trade
and opportunities for extending the lumber commerce of the United States. His
wide acquaintance with the lumbermen of Europe, secured during several trips,
coupled with his knowledge of lumbermen of this country, has been invaluable to
operators on both sides of the Atlantic. This knowledge has been the basis on which
many pleasant and profitable trade relations have been established. In a concrete
way he succeeded in demonstrating the necessity of greater tolerance on the part
of both the wood broker of Europe and the lumber exporter of America. Con-
troversy regarding the advance of two cents a hundred pounds on yellow pine, which
by concerted action the railroads put into effect April 15, 1903, introduced a new
problem to the lumbermen of the United States. The men who financed the opposi-
tion to this advance in freight rates, who furnished the information and contested
the case step by step from district court to the interstate commerce commission,
from the interstate commerce commission to the supreme court of the United States


and back through the district courts and the interstate commerce commission to the
supreme court on the second round looked to the American Lumberman and Mr.
Defebaugh for instruction and for assistance in formulating their plan of action.
An article which appeared in the American Lumberman in March, entitled 'Why
Not Enjoin the Advance?' was the first definite shaping of the problem. Ship-
pers and receivers of freight poured complaints into this office regarding the in-
equitable assessment of demurrage charges and these grew to such volume that
ultimately a call was issued for the national reciprocity demurrage convention which
awakened public interest in the question and, despite temporary failure, this in-
terest continued ; and out of this agitation for action and relief grew the present
organization of state commissions and the national body which recently met in
Washington to formulate adequate demurrage rules for the country. The history
of the opposition of western lumbermen to the twenty-five percent increase in
rates on eastbound lumber from points of origin to Missouri and Mississippi river
points of destination was largely a repetition of the fight against the advance of
two cents a hundred pounds on yellow pine. Here, again, Mr. Defebaugh gave
support as unstinted and disinterested as that he had rendered the yellow-pine men
in their fight. Last came the campaign but recently closed for the retention of the
Dingley rates on sawmill and planing mill products. That campaign ended in a
compromise. The committee of lumbermen representing every section of the
United States where lumber is produced, which selected Mr. Defebaugh as chairman,
was not successful in getting all it asked ; but the strenuous opposition it made to
the absolute admission of lumber free of duty unquestionably resulted in giving
the lumberman the protection now afforded by the current rates, for lumber was
marked for slaughter. The' daily press, demagogues and others, out of their imagina-
tion, had created a lumber trust whose existence was made possible only because a
duty was imposed on lumber coming from other countries, and had inflamed the
public mind to a point which nothing else than the absolute admission of lumber
free of duty could satisfy. It was against such odds that the lumber tariff fight
was taken up and won."

As Mr. Defebaugh continued the publication of the Timberman he often found
that his paper was in hottest competition with the Northwestern Lumberman. Both
had so grown and widened that conflict of interests and duplication of work were
inevitable and it was decided to merge the two papers, which was effected on equal
terms, Mr. Defebaugh becoming editor of the American Lumberman "and W. B.
Judson, proprietor of the Northwestern Lumberman, its business manager. Un-
der the editorial guidance of the former the new paper entered aggressively into
the championship of the lumber industry and of its interests while its editorial
scope widened year by year and covered more minutely the field of news. At
length Mr. Judson, who had long been active in the lumber trade newspaper work,
sold his interest to his partner and retired, and thus Mr. Defebaugh assumed gen-
eral business management in addition to his duties as editor-in-chief. He made
the American Lumberman one of the foremost trade journals of the country, ever
fearlessly espousing what he believed to be for the best interests of the trade, and
became recognized as one of the foremost features in shaping the lumber industry
of the country. In an editorial was written: "It is perhaps no exaggeration to
say that no other man and no group of men of which he was not a member had so


vital an influence in shaping the development of the lumber business of this coun-
try during the last fifteen years. The instrument he used was, first, the Tim-

Online LibraryJ. Seymour (Josiah Seymour) CurreyChicago: its history and its builders, a century of marvelous growth (Volume v.5) → online text (page 46 of 74)