J. Seymour (Josiah Seymour) Currey.

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

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this sketch.

In the public schools of Buffalo, New York, William R. Folsom secured his
preliminary education. Having made the necessary preparation, he matriculated
at Williams College, Massachusetts, and was graduated in 1896, with the degree
of A. B. Soon after leaving college he came to Chicago and matriculated in the
Chicago School of Law, from which he was graduated with the degree of LL. B.
in 1898. He was admitted to the bar but has never engaged actively in practice,
as his object in studying law was to gain the knowledge that would enable him to
apply its principles in business. He became connected with the Chicago Title &
Trust Company as a clerk and has ever since been identified with that organiza-
tion. He was promoted to the office of assistant secretary, later became assistant
treasurer and since 1903 has filled the position of treasurer of the company.

On the 17th of October, 1900, Mr. Folsom was married, at Chicago, to Miss
Bertha Bullock, a daughter of Joseph C. Bullock, of this city. He and his wife
reside at 1454 Dearborn avenue. In politics he adheres to the democratic party
but has never taken an active part in public affairs, as his interest is centered in
his business. Socially he is identified with the University and Twentieth Century
Clubs and he is also a member of the Delta Kappa Epsilon, a college fraternity.

Vol. V 25


He is active, energetic and capable in whatever he undertakes and, as he is blessed
with sound business discernment, he has assisted materially in advancing the in-
terests of the institution with which he is connected.


Few business men of Chicago have enjoyed a wider acquaintance than did
Charles Henry Higgs, for he was known by reputation if not personally through-
out the country, having attained a position of American leadership in his chosen
field of business. With no special advantages at the outset of his career and de-
pendent upon his own resources from the age of thirteen, he became the head of the
Creamery Package Manufacturing Company and through the development and
improvement of the business indirectly enriched the farming class throughout the
country. It was not his success alone, however, but the real character of the man
that gained him the place which he held in public regard. There have been few
individuals who have had so strong an opposition to sham and pretense of all kinds.
His own life was as an open book which any might read and the pages were free
from any stain, intrigue or dishonor. His life indeed in many respects formed an
example well worthy of emulation.

Mr. Higgs was born in Berlin, Wisconsin, March 1, 1857, and was the eldest
child in a large family, the parents being William H. and Ellen M. (Hook) Higgs.
The father and mother were both born in England, the former coming to the
United States at the age of seventeen years, while the latter was five years of age
when brought to the new world. The life of the home was one of struggle and en-
forced economy with courage and ambition pitting themselves against the stern
conditions of life. A removal was made to Stockbridge, Wisconsin, and there the
children, Charles Higgs among the number, acquired their education in the old
mission school which had been established for the Indians. The father was very
fond of music and sang in the Baptist church of which he was a member. His son
Charles inherited much of his love for music and for years in his youth and early
manhood sung in church and in social gatherings* Music throughout his entire
life remained one of his chief sources of pleasure and made him forget the burdens
and trials of an arduous business life. He left school at the age of thirteen and
began working as a farm hand, receiving his board and five dollars per month for
his labor. Even in his early boyhood, however, he was actuated by a desire for
advancement and used every opportunity that seemed to point to higher things.
He became a clerk in a village store and while thus employed gave every spare
moment to reading and study. For two years he was employed in a woolen mill at
Berlin, Wisconsin, and for three years engaged in clerking in a dry-goods store
in that place. In the evenings he mastered shorthand and bookkeeping and was
later employed as a stenographer in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, for two years. In
1881 he secured a situation in the woodenware factory of Hook Brothers Manu-
facturing Company at Union City, Indiana, and years later this business was
purchased by the Creamery Package Manufacturing Company of which Mr. Higgs
eventually became the president. In 1 883 he entered the firm of Hook Brothers,


having in the meantime worked his way upward through intermediate positions
until the recognition of his ability brought him a share in the business and
he became vice president of the Hook Brothers Manufacturing Company of Union
City, Indiana.

In 1887 he became connected with the Creamery Package Manufacturing Com-
pany in charge of the plant at Mankato, Minnesota. His executive force and keen
business discernment won him promotion to the position of northwestern manager
in 1897 with headquarters at Minneapolis, Minnesota,, and on the 20th of Novem-
ber, 1901, he removed to Chicago, having been made vice president and general
manager. He also held official connection with allied companies, being vice presi-
dent of the De Laval Dairy Supply Company of San Francisco, California. In
1906 he was elected president of the Creamery Package Manufacturing Company
and so continued until a year prior to his death, when he resigned on account of ill
health but continued as a director until his demise.

He was a man of original ideas and therefore possessed much of the spirit of
initiative. He grasped every opportunity as it was presented and devoted his
life to the development and perfection of the business which he so successfully built
up, making it the leading undertaking of this character in the United States. He
was one of the greatest authorities in the creamery business in the country, being
known from coast to coast, and was given credit for leading in the development
of enterprises of this character and the consequent enriching of thousands of farm-
ers. He was largely instrumental in developing the cooperative creamery system
which has constituted a valuable feature in the promotion of prosperity among the
farmers and dairymen. When he became president of the Creamery Package Man-
ufacturing Company he was also president of the North Star Egg Case Filler Com-
pany in addition to his connection with the companies already mentioned.

On the 10th of September, 1885, Mr. Higgs was married in Berlin, Wisconsin,
to Miss Jennie L. Pierce, and they have two children, a son and a daughter, Charles
Dana and Dorothy P. Mr. Higgs was a republican in politics. He was an inter-
ested and ofttimes an active member of the Union League, Hamilton, Oak Park
and Chicago Automobile, and Westward Ho Clubs, of Chicago and in the Minne-
apolis Commercial Club, but transcending all else was his devotion to his family.
His home was to him the center of his universe and his greatest pleasure came in
ministering to the happiness of wife and children. It was manifest again and again
in his friendships, in his great appreciation of flowers and his admiration of nature.
He passed away September 20, 1909.


Charles H. Hall was a resident of Ishpeming, Michigan, but the extent and
importance of his business interests made him widely known through the middle
west. He was agent of the Lake Superior Iron Company, the operations of which
covered an extensive territory. -His birth occurred at Bloomingburg, Sullivan
county, New York, September 20, 1828, his parents being Robert T. and Hester
Hall. He acquired a liberal education, attending school until seventeen years of


age, after which he spent the succeeding two years as a clerk in a general store
at Port Jervis, New York. Subsequently he entered upon an apprenticeship of
three years at the machinist's trade in Chester, Connecticut, and when his term of
indenture was over engaged as a journeyman and acted as foreman in the shops in
and about the city of Hartford, Connecticut. In 1868, however, he determined to
try his fortune in the middle west and removed from New England to Ishpeming,
Michigan, to become superintendent of the Deer Lake Iron & Lumber Company.
Soon afterward he became a stockholder of the company and from that time until
1874 was its agent. In the beginning of that year he was appointed agent of the
Lake Superior Iron Company, one of the largest companies operating in the Mis-
sissippi valley, its mines being among the richest in Michigan. As agent for this
company he was concerned in the enterprise of furnishing the city with water,
having in operation a Holly pump with which a fire pressure could be given. He
also. made additions to the city of Ishpeming, securing land which he subdivided
and thus contributed to the growth and development of the city.

In business affairs he ranked very high, possessing ability and enterprise which
placed him with those capable of controlling most important and extensive inter-
ests. In politics he was always a republican but was never active as a worker in
the party. He served, however, at one time as supervisor of Ishpeming. His
religious faith was indicated by his membership in the Congregational church
which he joined in 1852, but as there was for many years no church of that denomi-
nation in Ishpeming he became connected with the Presbyterian church.

On the 8th of February, 1852, in Chester, Connecticut, Mr. Hall was united in
marriage to Miss Amelia M. Higgins, and unto them was born a son, Edward R.
Hall, who succeeded his father in the agency of the Deer Lake Iron & Lumber Com-
pany, in which he remained active for a number of years. He is now numbered
among the successful business men of Chicago and resides at Evanston.


An early resident of Chicago who has been a prominent factor in the develop-
ment of the west side, is Oscar Martin Brady, one of the city's well known real-estate
men. He was born at Mount Joy, Lancaster county, Pennsylvania, on the 24th of
November, 1842, and is a son of George S. and Margaret (Winnemore) Brady. The
father was also a native of Mount Joy, his birth having there occurred in February,
1814, and he passed away at Lancaster, Pennsylvania, in 1896. The mother was
born in Philadelphia in 1820 and died in 1869 at Chicago. In their family were
born fourteen children.

When a lad of about seven years Oscar M. Brady entered the public school of
Mount Joy, which he attended until he was twelve. He was then sent to a school
in Baltimore for a year, following which he was placed in a school at Lancaster,
Pennsylvania, where he remained until he was nineteen, when he ran away to enter
the army during the Civil war. Enlisting as a private, he went to the front as a
member of Company C, One Hundred and Twenty-second Pennsylvania Volun-
teers. He saw much active duty, participating in the battle of Bull Run, Antietam,



Massa's Gap and Fredericksburg. The hardships incident to camp life and the
battlefield were too much for the young man, and being incapacitated for duty he
was mustered out in March, 1863, with the rank of sergeant. He had lost his voice
and for five months thereafter he was totally blind, but in time both organs were re-
stored to practically their normal condition. The Brady family has been noted for
patriotism and public-spirit, the great-grandfather, Alexander Brady, having fought
in the Revolution, while other members have figured importantly in the country's
history. When his health was restored Mr. Brady resumed his studies at the Uni-
versity of Pennsylvania with the class of 1866. He subsequently entered the medi-
cal profession and engaged in practicing in Pennsylvania before his removal to this
state. In 1870 he decided that better opportunities awaited him in the west and took
up his residence in Chicago, where he has continuously resided ever since. He has
long been identified with the real-estate business, his interests having largely been
centered in the development of the west side, where he has erected about one hun-
dred houses. His efforts have always been directed toward the development and
betterment of the city, his support being given to every movement which would tend
to improve local conditions. He was one of the organizers of the Lake Street Ele-
vated Railroad and is still one of the stockholders. At one time he owned the
Jefferson .& Urban Road, which he acquired by purchase and later sold to Charles
Yerkes, whom he assisted in getting the west side cross-town lines.

Mr. Brady has been married three times. His first union was with Miss Ellen
Virginia Kelly, their marriage being celebrated on the 20th of February, 1867.
She was a daughter of Dr. Charles Penrose Kelly, of Halifax, Pennsylvania. Three
children were born of that union, only one of whom now survives, May E., who was
born on the 15th of September, 1869, and is now the wife of H. E. Winn, of Oak
Park. Mrs. Brady passed away in August, 1871, and on the 15th of July, 1872,
Mr. Brady married her sister, Mary Kate Kelly, by whom he had the following
children: Virginia June, the wife of Charles E. Coleman, of Oak Park; Oscar F.,
who is unmarried and engaged in business with his father; Charles M. and Carter
H., deceased ; Blanche H., who is unmarried ; Thomas Scott, who married Loretta
Sheridan and has two daughters, Virginia and Elenore, and lost a little son, Bob
Ingersoll. Mr. Brady's second wife died in May, 1897, and on the 12th of April,
1905, he was united in marriage with Miss Jennie E. Streight, of Wellsboro, Penn-
sylvania. By this union was born a daughter, Velma, who died at the age of six
months; and a son, Oscar Martin, whose birth occurred on the 9th of April, 1907.
He is undoubtedly the youngest son of a veteran of the Civil war living in Chicago.
Mr. Brady takes great delight in his home and his young son, of whom he is very

Both he and his wife affiliate with the Presbyterian church, and fraternally he is
identified with the Masonic order, in which he has attained high rank. He is a
member of Union Park Lodge No. 610, A. F. & A. M., and a life member of York
Chapter, No. 148, R. A. M., while he is also affiliated with Columbia Commandery,
No. 63, K. T., of which he was one of the organizers, in fact the originator. Recol-
lections of the days spent on the battlefields of the south are kept vivid by means of
the pleasant relations he maintains with his comrades of old through his connectons
with the U. S. Grant Post, No. 28, G. A. R. An ardent republican, Mr. Brady al-
ways casts his ballot in support of the men and measures of that party, and has


taken an active interest in municipal affairs. In 1881 and 1882 he represented the
thirteenth ward as alderman, but the demands of his extensive personal interests
did not make it possible for him to continue in public office. During the forty-one
years of his residence in Chicago, Mr. Brady has been an interested observer of the
many and marvelous changes that have been the outcome of the city's development,
in which he has been one of the prominent factors.


Louis O'Neill, residing at No. 1311 Ridge avenue in Evanston, has at different
times been closely associated with important business interests. He was born at
Newark, New Jersey, and following the removal of the family to Pittsburg, Penn-
sylvania, pursued his education in the schools of that city. He became a resident
of Chicago on the 9th of November, 1865, about six years before the great fire.
Here he established a sash, door, planing mill and lumber business, in which he
continued for twelve years or until 1877. In that year he turned his attention to
the conduct of a granite quarry at Montello, Wisconsin, this being the first granite
quarry opened in the west, and he laid the first granite blocks that were put down
on the streets of Chicago. When the first cable line was built on State street in
1882 he laid the granite blocks in that street, and thus he was a pioneer in that
field of business. Later he established a warehouse at Nos. 27 and 29 Michigan
avenue, which he conducted successfully until 1892 and then retired. During
the two succeeding years he filled the office of building commissioner in Chicago
and not only at this time but also in former and later years has been an important
factor in political circles, exerting considerable influence in republican ranks. It
was Mr. O'Neil who brought out Hempstead Washburn as candidate for mayor
and he was a member of the convention that placed Mr. Washburn at the head of
the municipal ticket.

In 1897 Mr. O'Neill went to England and opened an office in London at Nos.
83 and 85 Paul street, Finsbury square, handling office fixtures and furniture. It
was he who introduced the roll-top desk in the world's metropolis, for at that time
London knew nothing of such an article of furniture. Upon his return to Amer-
ica he established the American Conduit Works at Eighteenth and Lincoln streets
in Chicago, manufacturing pipes and conduits for telephone wires. In this con-
nection he laid at least seventy-five miles of pipe and conduit in Chicago. In the
meantime he became vice president of the Bush & Lane Piano Company on West
Lake street, now located in Holland, Michigan. He was also at one time owner of
the Illinois Tube Works of Chicago, which sold out to the Pittsburg Tube Company,
and in 1910 he disposed of his interest in the Berry-Maybrun Company, dealers
in molasses, syrups and jellies.

In 1857 Mr. O'Neill was married to Miss Mary Brechbill, who is a great-
granddaughter of Abraham Drucksell, a very prominent divine and one of the
band of ministers who, coming to America from Germany in the early part of
the nineteenth century, established the United Brethren church. Mr. and Mrs.
O'Neill have one daughter, who is the wife of B. F. Bush and resides at 1314


Ridge avenue in Evanston. Mr. and Mrs. O'Neill are identified with the Christian
Science church. In his political views he inclines toward the republican party,
of which he is a stanch supporter, well versed on the important questions and
issues of the day. His opinions have long held weight in party councils and he
does all in his power to advance the success of the party and to insure progress in
both municipal and state government. In his business life he has wisely used his
time, talents and opportunities and has worked upward along substantial lines
leading to success.


The name of Edward B. Butler has long been known in connection with com-
mercial interests in Chicago and the spirit of initiative which he has displayed has
brought him prominently to the front, making him the pioneer in movements cul-
minating in some of the most advanced and approved business methods of the
present age. As a member of the firm of Butler Brothers he was one of the first
to develop a wholesale mail order house, thus marking out the path in which many
others have followed.

Mr. Butler was born in Lewiston, Maine, December 16, 1853. When six years
of age his parents, Manly Orville and Elizabeth (Howe) Butler, removed to Bos-
ton, where Edward became a pupil in the public schools. He put aside his text-
books at the age of sixteen and filled different positions in a wholesale dry-goods
and notion house until his training prepared him for service as a commercial
traveler. He went upon the road when only eighteen years of age and devoted
the succeeding five years to the duties of traveling salesman, selling merchandise
in the United States and Canada. In 1877 he, with his brother, George H. Butler,
established a wholesale business in the sale of notions and small wares under the
style of Butler Brothers. In the following year they were joined by the third
brother, Charles H. Butler, and in the conduct of their business initiated plans
which not only brought to them success but which, followed by others, eventually
led to the development of the modern department store. The first five cent store
that was ever opened purchased its entire stock of merchandise from Butler
Brothers. Later this house supplied goods for five and ten cent stores and thus
a great industry was established. As each forward step which they made found
its justification in success they sought out still other plans for the enlargement
and development of their business. Their second radical departure from the mer-
cantile methods then prevailing was in selling their goods by catalogue instead of
sending out traveling men to solicit trade. They brought from the press a com-
prehensive catalogue which they styled "Our Drummer," and this gave rise to the
wholesale mail order business which, is now one of the most important features in
modern merchandising. This catalogue has grown with the growth of the business,
always most original and complete of all mercantile publications and teaching to
hundreds of jobbers the value of judicious advertising of this character. In 1887
the business was incorporated under the name of Butler Brothers. The brothers
who were associates of Edward B. Butler in the beginning are both now deceased.


The company has great distributing houses in New York, Chicago, St. Louis,
Minneapolis and Dallas, the five establishments employing more than six thousand
men and transacting an annual business amounting to nearly forty million dol-
1 lars. Long since has he become recognized as one of the foremost representatives
of commercial interests in Chicago and he is also known in financial circles as a
director of the Corn Exchange Bank. Not alone upon business activities has he
concentrated his energies and interests for he has become a factor in the manage-
ment and support of various public projects which are elements in the intellectual
and aesthetic progress and the benevolent work of the city. He is now one of the
trustees of the Art Institute of Chicago and the Municipal Museum, and his
liberal charity bespeaks his broad humanitarian spirit. He was greatly interested
in the establishment and conduct of the World's Columbian Exposition, serving in
1893 as chairman of its ways and means committee, and also as chairman of the
bureau of admissions and collections. He was prominent in the Civic Federation
of Chicago and for two years was its chief officer. That he has been interested
in the great sociological and economic questions before the country is evidenced
by the fact that for many years he has served as president of the Glenwood Manual
Training School for boys at Glenwood, Illinois, and is also a director of the
Chicago Orphan Asylum, City Homes Association, Chicago Bureau of Associated
Charities, Chicago Refuge for Girls, First State Fawners' Society and the Hull
House Social Settlement. He became closely associated with Hull House in the
early days of its development, erecting and donating a building in the furtherance
of its objects and in this building was opened a picture gallery, a reading room
and a branch of the public library.

In 1880 Mr. Butler was married to Miss Jane Holley, of Norwalk, Connecticut,
and their home is at No. 3408 Michigan Avenue. Mr. Butler is identified with
various clubs of this city, including the Commercial and Merchants Clubs, the
Chicago, Union League, University, Midlothian, Cliff Dwellers and the South
Shore Country Clubs. He is still in the prime of life yet has accomplished results
in business, in municipal progress and in philanthropy, any one line of which would
entitle him to recognition as a representative and valued citizen.


Marquette, prompted by missionary zeal, made his way down Lake Michigan
in an Indian canoe with a few followers to the present site of Chicago. Joliet,
coming to America for the purpose of extending the commercial connections of
France, also visited the site of the city. In the early part of the nineteenth
century a few white men had gathered in this region but not until 1807 was there
any attempt at that centralization of interests which results in the founding and
building of cities. In that year, however, Fort Dearborn was built and became,

Online LibraryJ. Seymour (Josiah Seymour) CurreyChicago: its history and its builders, a century of marvelous growth (Volume v.5) → online text (page 55 of 74)