J. Seymour (Josiah Seymour) Currey.

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

. (page 61 of 74)
Online LibraryJ. Seymour (Josiah Seymour) CurreyChicago: its history and its builders, a century of marvelous growth (Volume v.5) → online text (page 61 of 74)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

Frankfort, Kansas; Matthew, engaged in engineering in Chicago; Agnes E. and
Mary I., living in Chicago; James R., a plumber of this city; Richard J., who has
passed away; Thomas, living in New York; and Frances, who makes her home
in Chicago.

When a lad of six years Dr. Spencer began attending the public school in Ster-
ling, Colorado, but only pursued his studies there for a year, as his father's con-
struction work carried him from place to place. For five years he was a pupil in
the school of Sedgwick, Colorado, and for one year at Chappell, Nebraska. In
1894 he joined his father in the live-stock business on their ranch near Idaho Falls,
Idaho, continuing in that connection for five years. After his father's death, in
1900, he came to Chicago and for a time was employed by Marshall Field & Com-
pany. He afterward spent a year with the Pearsons-Taft Land Credit Company



and later was with the Chicago & Northwestern Railway Company for four years
in the motive power department. Laudable ambition, however, prompted him
to prepare for professional activities and in 1905 he entered the College of Phy-
sicians & Surgeons of Chicago, from which he was graduated in 1908. Following
his graduation he was assistant to Dr. A. H. Brumback in surgery for a few months
and in August, 1908, opened an office for the general practice of medicine and
surgery. He has won very gratifying success and is now instructor in senior medir
cine at the College of Physicians & Surgeons and attending surgeon at St. Ann's

Dr. Spencer was married, September 25, 1907, to Miss Lina M. Raible, a
daughter of Gebhard and Elizabeth Raible of Rock Island, Illinois. Her father,
who was one of the directors of the Rock Island Brewing Company, is now deceased
and the mother lives with Dr. and Mrs. Spencer. The family residence is at No.
4117 Washington boulevard and Dr. Spencer has his office at No. 5 North Wabash
avenue. On July 17, 1911, he was appointed city physician by Mayor Harrison
and he belongs to the Chicago Medical Society and is interested in everything
which tends to solve the complex questions which continuously confront the phy-
sician. He belongs to the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, to the Knights
of Columbus and to the Phi Rho Sigma fraternity. His religious faith is that of
the Catholic church and his political views are in accord with the principles of the
democratic party. His varied experiences constituted a valuable preparation for
his professional work and in the practice of medicine and surgery he has displayed
keen discernment in the diagnosis of cases, together with marked ability in the use
of remedial agencies.


Edwin Frederick Mack is one of the practical working bankers of Chicago,
whose individuality has made him well known and efficient in the line of his duty.
It is not too much to say of him that he is today one of the best informed financiers
of the west. Not only does his knowledge cover experience and a close acquaint-
ance with all banking progress but his information as to the basis of bank credits
and the precise financial standing of corporations and individual clients is an ele-
ment that has made him a valuable factor in the line of his chosen life work.

Mr. Mack was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan, October 6, 1860, and is a son of
Christian and Marie (Schmid) Mack. His early preliminary education was sup-
plemented by a course in the University of Michigan, from which he was graduated
with the Bachelor of Arts degree in 1883. Thus well equipped by liberal intel-
lectual training for the duties of a responsible business career, he entered com-
mercial circles as cashier of the Barnum Iron and Wire Works. His training in
that connection proved a valuable experience to him when a year later he entered
the service of the Citizens Savings Bank of Detroit, and from 1885 until 1888 was
successively teller, assistant cashier and cashier of that institution. The follow-
ing year he came to Chicago to accept the cashiership of the Royal Trust Company,
which he thus represented until 1903, when he was elected both cashier and vice


president, occupying the dual position until 1907, when the Royal Trust Company
was absorbed by the Central Trust Company and he was chosen vice president of
the latter institution. He is also president of the Cook County Savings Bank and
vice president of the North Side State Savings Bank. He is thus closely asso-
ciated with the financial interests of the city and his influence is always on the
side of a safe, conservative policy which benefits not only the institutions with
which he is connected but constitutes a feature in the strong business condition of
city at large. He has come to be recognized as a leader in his field of labor. He
possesses an initiative spirit that contributes much to success and yet his plans are
carefully devised and conservative. He stands firmly for his convictions, is quick
and definite in his conclusions and is reliable and expert as an executive.

Mr. Mack is a member of the Union League Club, Chicago's most prominent
social organization, and he resides at No. 171 Lake View avenue. His record needs
no comment for it is the proof of his individual worth and through his inherent
talents and utilization of his opportunities he has come to be classed with that
group of leaders who have made history for this community along the line of per-
manency and progressiveness in banking.


Dr. Herbert F. Prasch, physician and surgeon, was born at Burlington, Wiscon-
sin, December 15, 1878. His father, Martin G. Prasch, was also a native of that
place, born November 9, 1859, and for many years was a prominent druggist there,
continuing in business until his death on the 22d of November, 1904. His wife, who
bore the maiden name of Elizabeth Cass, was born in Dubuque, Iowa, and with
seven of her children now resides in North Yakima, Washington. The children of
Martin G. and Elizabeth Prasch are: Herbert F., of this review: Ella and Ru-
dolph, both living at North Yakima, Washington; Otilia, the wife of J. B. Ernstoff ;
Florence ; Martin ; Julia and Urban.

When a lad of six years Dr. Prasch became a pupil in the parochial schools of
Burlington, where he continued his studies until thirteen years of age and then
entered St. Francis Academy at Milwaukee, devoting four years to study there and
receiving his diploma in 1898, when eighteen years of age. In the same year he
began preparation for the practice of medicine as a pupil in Rush Medical College,
from which he was graduated in 1902. His first professional experience came to
him in eighteen months' service as interne in St. Elizabeth's Hospital, after which
he again went to Burlington, Wisconsin, where he opened an office and continued to
follow his profession until the death of his father. He next went to Beaver Dam,
Wisconsin, where he remained for five years. In 1909 he arrived in Chicago, open-
ing an office at No. 800 Milwaukee avenue, where he has since remained. He made
no mistake in choosing the larger city as the field of his professional labor, for here
he has won recognition as an able physician and is making gradual and gratifying
advancement in professional circles. He was for several years medical examiner
for the Northwestern Mutual Insurance Company of Milwaukee, but owing to the
increasing demands of his private practice, he had to resign that position. He holds


membership with the Chicago Medical Society and the American Medical Associa-

On the 31st of July, 1906, Dr. Prasch was married to Miss Marie T. Thilo, a
daughter of Dr. and Mrs. George Thilo, of Chicago. Her father, who for years
was one of the most prominent physicians on the northwest side of the city, died
March 23, 1910. His widow still survives and yet makes her home in Chicago.
Unto Dr. and Mrs. Prasch has been born a little daughter, Margaret M., born April
22, 1909.

Dr. Prasch is a Catholic in religious faith and a republican in his political views.
He belongs to the Catholic Order of Foresters and to the Royal League and during
the period of his residence in Chicago he has gained many friends by reason of his
professional, his church and his fraternal relations, while his personal worth enables
him to retain the friendship and high regard of those with whom he comes in contact.


A man who has successfully coped with large business enterprises, who has
made the best of and used in the most beneficial way the opportunities of life, a
man of clear business record, sound judgment and strong intellectuality is James
William Stevens, now president of the Illinois Life Insurance Company. He was
born at Colchester, Illinois, May 25, 1853, was educated in the public schools of
McDonough county, this state, and is a son of Socrates and Amanda Jane Stevens.
His people were of that sturdy and reliable class that all might be proud to claim
as ancestors, and the business career which he has pursued has brought out the
qualities which make the successful business man. He was married in Colchester,
February 26, 1873, to Jessie Louise Smith and their children are: Raymond W.
and Ernest James Stevens.

The family life has always been a most interesting phase in the history of Mr.
Stevens and at the same time he has in business affairs achieved a position which
ranks him with Chicago's prominent citizens. He started out in business as a rep-
resentative of the dry-goods trade soon after he had finished his education and
after building up a successful business in his native town he left Colchester in
1888 to come to Chicago, where he entered the commercial field as a member of
the firm of Charles A. Stevens & Brothers, at first establishing an extensive silk
house but gradually extending the scope of the business until their's is today one
of the best known dry-goods emporiums of the city. In 1895 James W. Stevens
took an active part in organizing the Illinois Life Insurance Company, of which
he has since been president and director. This institution, which has stood for
nearly fifteen years as a monument of integrity and business probity, is one of the
foremost companies in the insurance fields in the city and its success is largely due
to the honest efforts and untiring industry of Mr. Stevens, who is head official and
active manager. He is also a director in the Western Trust & Savings Bank and
the Prairie National Bank. Moreover, he is a prominent member of the Union'
League, the Washington Park, the Chicago Athletic, the Hamilton and the Chi-
cago Automobile Clubs. In politics he is a stanch republican and is a member of


the Christian church. He resides at 4601 Michigan boulevard, with offices at No.
134 Monroe street.

In a review of Mr. Stevens' life it will be seen that it is one of marked success.
His ambition has been high and worthy. He has not only been active in building up
one of the leading mercantile houses in Chicago but has brought to high financial
standing a home insurance company and, moreover, has been the main mover in the
erection of the splendid edifice known as the La Salle Hotel. This notable caravan-
sary in the very heart of the city bears a name truly historic and occupies a site
locally notable. In the early part of the century many pioneers lived within the
square where the La Salle Hotel now stands. The entablature of the Stock Exchange
building, which it joins on the north, shows the original building which was the
model residence of the city for years. The first churches, public buildings, the old
circus grounds and early theaters of the city were only "across lots" from this early
settled block. The La Salle Hotel has been built as a permanent, substantial edifice
and one hundred years from now will in its turn be doubly historic. This and other
large undertakings are monuments to the preseverance and intelligence of Mr.
Stevens, who has built up vast enterprises as the city has builded. His contributions
to the material welfare of his adopted city have been in the line of vital progress and
public-spirited advancement.


Andrew Simpson is still remembered by many of the residents of Evanston, where
for some years he was engaged in the meat business, gaining a wide acquaintance
through his trade connections and also by reason of his activity in fraternal and
church circles. He was born July 29, 1845, on his father's farm in Lake county,
Illinois, five miles southwest of Waukegan, and his death occurred on the 13th of
October, 1908. His parents were Robert and Rose Ann Simpson, natives of Edin-
burgh, Scotland, and when the father came to America he settled on the farm where
his son's birth occurred. Two years later his wife and family followed him, it re-
quiring six weeks to make the journey. The mother was accompanied by their six
children who were soon established upon the home farm which the father had pre-
pared in Lake county and which continued to be his place of residence until his

Spending his youthful days under the parental roof, Andrew Simpson attended
the district school and when not busy with his lessons assisted in the work of the
farm, early becoming familiar with the task of plowing, planting and harvesting.
The schoolhouse was a little log structure and blocks of wood served for seats, for
such was the primitive condition of the educational system of Illinois at that day.
His opportunities for pursuing his studies, however, were very limited for his services
were needed at home and following his father's death he continued upon the home
farm and engaged in agricultural pursuits until 1871, when lie leased the property
and took up his abode in Evanston, where he embarked in the market business. He
won a good patronage but at length ill health forced him to retire from that busi-
ness, at which time he entered the real-estate and insurance field. Again success



attended him for his energy and determination were such as would win advance-
ment in any connection. He conducted his real-estate and insurance office up to the
time of his death and enjoyed a good clientage, writing a large amount of insur-
ance annually and also negotiating many important property transfers.

On the 9th of May, 1883, Mr. Simpson was united in marriage to Miss Virginia
West, a daughter of William A. and Catherine, Ann (McCleary) West, who were
natives of Uniontown, Pennsylvania, where her father was engaged in the dry-goods
business. He was a veteran of the Sixteenth Pennsylvania Volunteer Cavalry, serv-
ing throughout the war, and the last years of his life were spent in honorable retire-

Mr. Simpson voted with the republican party, finding that its platform embodied
the political principles in which he most firmly believed. In Masonry he attained
high rank, holding membership with Apollo Commandery, K. T., of Chicago, and
also with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. He belonged to the First Meth-
odist Episcopal church of Evanston, to which he was a generous contributor. Mr.
Simpson was widely recognized as a splendid type of the self-made man. While he
took every legitimate opportunity for bettering his own conditions he at the same
time generously assisted others and was constantly extending a helping hand. Hon-
esty and integrity were his watchwords and his life at all times expressed those
qualities, winning him the admiration and respect of all who knew him. His was
a character that reflected credit upon his own and upon future generations. He was
a most genial, social man and those who knew him outside of business relations
found him most hospitable. He was devoted to his family and friends and his home
was ever open for the entertainment of the latter. He greatly enjoyed travel and
outdoor life and was a lover of nature. While firm in his determination and con-
viction he was also amenable to reason and argument and quick to admit his mis-
take if he felt that he had been holding the wrong position. His word was always
to be depended upon, whether given in a business connection or in the social rela-
tions of life. With him character was above wealth and he always valued his own
self-respect and that of his friends above success and position.


Few, if any, of the living men of Chicago today can be any more consistently
classed among the city's builders than Mr. Hoyt. A resident for more than fifty-
seven years, his identification with the building up and development has been con-
tinuous. One of the leading wholesale grocers of the country, 'and a stanch Chi-
cagoan, he was one of those heroic business men who lost all but their faith and
pluck in the historic conflagration of 1871.

W. M. Hoyt was born in New Haven, Addison county, Vermont, on the 26th
of July, 1837, being a son of Carlos M. and Lydia Ann (Buttolph) Hoyt. He is
of the tenth generation of the American branch of the family, and a direct de-
scendant of John Hoyt, who was one of the original settlers of Salisbury, Connecti-
cut. Seth Hoyt, his grandfather, was a soldier of the Revolution, a justice of the


peace in New Haven, Vermont, and one of the censors whose duty it was to pass
upon the legislative acts and laws of the commonwealth.

The early life of W. M. Hoyt was spent upon the home farm and in obtaining
an education in the public schools and the Ten Broeck Academy at Panton, Ver-
mont. In 1855, at the age of eighteen, he located in Chicago, securing employment
in a grocery store conducted by a Mr. Bevans. Eighteen months in this work was
followed by a course of study in Bell's Commercial College, from which he gradu-
ated. After a service of another year on a salary, in the employment of a fruit
dealer, he started business for himself with a capital of eighty-nine dollars, occupy-
ing a room for which the rental was one thousand one hundred dollars per annum.
This was the real beginning of his notable business career. Opening as a small
dealer in fruits, he later developed into a wholesale grocer, whose trade reaches all
parts of the northwest and many sections of the United States.

In 1865, Mr. Hoyt bought the business of James A. Whitaker, at No. 101 South
Water street. The great fire of 1871 not only swept away his store at the foot of
Wabash avenue, but two stores which he then owned on Dearborn avenue. It was
early in the forenoon of October 10 (the day after the fire) when he appeared to
sign the lease with Mr. Welsh for the store at No. 63 South Canal street, whereupon
the landlord remarked as he looked out of the window and saw the fire raging across
the river, "Would it not be well to withhold our signatures until we know that this
property may be destroyed?" To which Mr. Hoyt replied: "No harm in executing
the lease now, as in case the store goes the lease will go with it." It was signed,
and after a few days he was offered a bonus for it, which was necessarily declined.

"On the evening of the same day," says a published account of his participa-
tion in these troublous times, "Mr. Hoyt took a train for New York, where he met
his creditors, who were in great doubt as to what would be the outcome of their
Chicago business. After a short conference, in which Mr. Hoyt stated that he
could not say how he stood as payment of insurance was in doubt and his books not
balanced, but one thing was certain he had a store rented and wanted stock with
which to start. The creditors were unanimous in the opinion that it would be best
to furnish the new supply and await further developments. The result was that
remittances came in so freely that the creditors got all their dues promptly and
one hundred cents on the dollar. The New York Times in an editorial announced
Mr. Hoyt as the first arrival from Chicago since the fire, and mentioned the good
results of the conference in which Chicago pluck would be met by New York gen-

In 1872 Mr. Hoyt purchased the site of old Fort Dearborn at Michigan avenue
and River street, opposite Rush street bridge, which he sold in 1910, and here he
erected large salesrooms and warehouse. In addition, the company owned the
building opposite, on River street, which contained its coffee and spice mills. Be-
cause of the historic site of its main building, Mr. Hoyt built into one of its walls
fronting the river a memorial tablet on which is engraved a sketch of the forts
(built 1803-4 and 1816) which once occupied this ground. A reproduction of this
tablet will be found elsewhere in this work.

The William M. Hoyt Company was incorporated under the state laws in
1883, with the members of the old firm as stockholders, and its present officers are


as follows: William M. Hoyt, president; R. J. Bennett, vice president; Phelps B.
Hoyt, secretary and treasurer; Albert C. Buttolph, N. Landon Hoyt, Otto C. Mat-
tern and Frank A. Allinger, directors.

In 1910 this company erected at Twenty-second street and the river, one of the
largest and probably the best arranged building devoted to wholesale grocery trade
in the country. It has ideal shipping facilities by rail or water and affords accom-
modations for the various branches of the business.

On April 9, 1860, Mr. Hoyt married Miss Emilie J. Landon, daughter of Nel-
son Landon, of Benton, Lake county, Illinois, and they had four children, as fol-
lows: William Landon, who died when five years of age; Emilie Lydia, who died
in 1903; Nelson Landon; and Phelps Buttolph, now deceased. The last named
graduated from Yale University in 1893, was then engaged in the management of
his father's real estate and later was identified with the wholesale grocery business.
Nelson Landon Hoyt is also an active manager in the business. Outside of his
great house, Mr. Hoyt is best known as the founder, in 1872, of the Grocer's Cri-
terion, which has developed into the leading trade journal of its class in the United

Mr. Hoyt is an extensive owner of Chicago real estate, particularly in the down
town district, and though well past the allotted three score and ten, he gives no
small amount of personal attention towards the management and direction of those
interests unusually well preserved and with scarcely any perceptible diminution in
his capacity for work, he is able to consult his pleasure in the matter of business

Inheriting a robust constitution, and naturally of great energy, the influence
and aid of these characteristics, has been augmented by a life of regular and tem-
perate habits, whose reward is founded in the vigor and vitality of one twenty
years his junior. The following is so just an estimate of Mr. Hoyt's character
that it is here reproduced: "Mr. Hoyt has been helpful to scores of young men
who have gone to him for assistance. Many have been aided and encouraged by
his counsel; others, through his interposition, have secured positions of responsi-
bility ; and still others have obtained from him the necessary means to embark in
business. His present partners were former clerks in his employ and were pro-
moted to their present positions on account of business ability and valuable serv-
ice. Partners with capital cut no figure with him. Honesty, good morals and good
business ability he regards as far more valuable than cash capital. In this connec-
tion, Graeme Stewart (now deceased) was for many years one of the prominent
and active members of the company. His liberality in matters of charity is directed
toward helping others to help themselves, and many deserving charities find in
him a liberal contributor. Though not a member of any church, he sympathized in
a practical way with the charitable and Christian work of his wife." He erected
the beautiful memorial church in Winnetka in memory of his % daughter, Mrs. Fox,
and her three children, who perished in the Iroquois fire of December 30, 1903.

In politics Mr. Hoyt was a republican up to the time of Grover Cleveland's
nomination. He then changed his party and helped elect the democratic candidate.
He is a home man, having given up all his memberships in the various city clubs
to which he was formerly a member. In this we must except the Skokie Golf
Club the game of golf is very popular with him. He feels that the exercise and


Online LibraryJ. Seymour (Josiah Seymour) CurreyChicago: its history and its builders, a century of marvelous growth (Volume v.5) → online text (page 61 of 74)