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tion of being in the foremost ranks among textile industries in the
state of Ohio. Its products in fact are too well known to need any
extended comment here. In 1862, a new mill was built to accommo-
date the increasing business, this being erected at Heaton and
Lowell streets. Conditions at this time were most auspicious and
the business continued to thrive and prosper until the latter part of
October, 1865, when a disastrous fire gutted the plant and paralyzed
the industry for the time being. With a demonstration of zeal that
was noteworthy, plans for a new building were begun at once, and
in February of the following year the business was again under a
roof and being carried on in its usual efficient way. It was in 1864
that Shuler & Benninghofen made their first felt for use on paper
making machinery. The early product differed from that of today
in that it was not an endless felt but was seamed. The first endless
felt was turned out in 1866 and since then the firm has continued to
improve its product and the business has increased wonderfully,
the concern today supplying a large part of the felts used in this
country. Mr. Benninghofen passed away in 1881 and his two sons
succeeded to his interests in the firm. Mr. Shuler's death occurred
in 1895, at which time his two sons, C. A. and W. B., took over his
interests, and since then the latter, with Messrs. C. and P. Benning-
hofen, have continued to conduct the business. The big plant was
moved to Lindenwald in 1894, and a new and modern four-set mill
was constructed. Pleasing in its architecture and of slow-burning
and fire-resisting material, the new mill was at once a convenience
and an addition to the rapidly developing business district of this
suburb. A well-kept lawn and exterior decorations have aided ma-
terially in enhancing the value of all property in the vicinity of the
big plant. The wool used in this plant is bought chiefly in Ohio,
Kentucky and Indiana. Economy in its handling is efl^ected by
blowing the raw wool through galvanized pipes from one depart-
ment to another. The manufacture of papermaking felts requires
special machinery of larger dimensions than that usually found in



654 MEMOIRS OF THE MIAMI VALLEY

woolen mills and in this respect the company is equipped with the
latest invented of large machines for this purpose. A modern cost
system is in use, furnishing exact costs which are so necessary to
the present-day manufacturer who wishes to succeed in business.
The products of Shuler & Benninghofen's mills go not only to every
state in the union, but to Japan, Australia, Canada, Mexico and
other countries. The present owners have followed the same policy
in the conduct .of their business that their fathers pursued before
them. An ever-increasing business has made the enlarging of the
Lindenwald plant a necessity from time to time, and at present it
occupies considerable space, with its mammoth plant and broad
grounds. New machinery to meet the growing needs of the concern
is constantly being purchased and installed, and the concern is now
better equipped than ever before to handle the tremendous business
that is coming to it every day.

Ebner R. Sickles. Located on Van Derveer street, there stands
one of the handsomest homes of the city of Middletown, the resi-
dence of Elmer R. Sickles. This structure rises as a monument to
the skill, industry and thrift of one of Middletown's younger work-
ers, a man still in his early thirties, who has been the architect of
his own fortunes and who occupies a position as roller in the plant
of the American Rolling Mill company. Mr. Sickles was born No-
vember 9, 1887, at St. Louis, Mo., being a son of Richard and Jennie
(Desmuke) Sickles, the former of whom still makes his home at St.
Louis, where the mother passed to her final rest in June, 1907. A
brother, Lewis W. Sickles, is a resident of that city, while a sister,
Mrs. Henry Ewing, formerly Susie Sickles, died in the fall of 1918
at her home at Saverton, Mo. Elmer R. Sickles was granted a public
school education at St. Louis, where he entered upon his career at
an early age. He was enterprising and ambitious, applied himself
steadily and whole heartedly to the gaining of a competence, and
in 1911 came to Middletown to accept a position in the newly
opened plant of the American Rolling mill. Here, by reason of his
worth and energy, he has been advanced from time to time, and is
now a roller and considered one of the most expert workmen in his
line. Mr. Sickles was married September 6, 1913, to Laura M.
Dallos, who was born November 8, 1890, daughter of William and
Emma (Grimes) Dallos, the former now deceased and the latter a
resident of Middletown. Mrs. Sickles has two brothers, Walter and
Albert, and one sister, Mrs. Louis Fritch. Mr. Sickles votes for
principles in politics instead of for party, and his religious faith is
that of the Methodist Episcopal church.

Arthur W. Simms, in his early business days a carpenter and
later a carpenter contractor, is one of the sound and substantial
business men in his line in the city, and owes the success he has
gained solely to himself. Mr. Simms was born in Hamilton county,
Ohio, a son of William and Serelda (Ruble) Simms. His father, a
native of England, emigrated to the United States in 1858 and first
settled in Butler county, near Jones station, where he was residing
at the time of the outbreak of the Civil war. He fought all through
the struggle between the forces of the North and South, as a private,



BUTLER COUNTY— BIOGRAPHICAL 655

and established an enviable reputation for bravery and faithful per-
formance of duty. Following his honorable discharge, he went to
Hamilton county, where he was engaged in farming, and then to
Ross township, Butler county, where he continued his agricultural
activities successfully until his death in 1891, at the age of fifty-four
years. His widow survived him until 1916 and was seventy-two
years of age at the time of her demise. They w^re the parents of
three children : Arthur W., of this notice ; Edwin H., a carpenter of
Hamilton; and Ellen R., who married J. R. Clark, of Hamilton.
Arthur W. Simms received a public school training in his boyhood,
and was still a young man when he first came to Hamilton in 1889.
He possessed natural mechanical ability and as a youth had thor-
oughly mastered the carpenter's trade, so that he had only little
trouble in securing steady employment. For nineteen years he was
identified with John L. Rossin, who was conducting a contracting
and building business, but in 1908, embarked in business on his own
account and carried on a general contracting business until 1918.
In December of that year he started as superintendent for F. K.
Vaughn, working on the Ford plant, and has continued to be so
associated to the present time. He is a man of marked capability, a
skilled workman, a good executive and one absolutely reliable. He
is a veteran of the Spanish-American war, having served for five
months as first sergeant of Company E, First Regiment, Ohio Vol-
unteer Infantry. Mr. Simms is a staunch Republican in his political
views, and while he has never sought public office is a public-spirited
citizen who supports all worthy movements. As a fraternalist, he
belongs to the local lodge of Elks, in which he is very popular, and
he and his wife are members of the Baptist church. Mr. Simms
married Emma, daughter of Thomas and Charlotte Cartwright, of
Hamilton, her father being a gardener of this city. Mr. and Mrs.
Simms are the parents of two sons : William, who is superintendent
of street paving work at Perryville, Ohio, for the Federal Asphalt
company, and during the war an inspector in the Ordnance Depart-
ment for the United States Government ; and Charles R., who is
attending the University of Cincinnati, Ohio.

William A. Simms. One of the forceful personalities among the
younger men identified with the American Rolling mill at Middle-
town, particularly in his work as a member of the Amalgamated
Association of Iron Workers, is William A. Simms. As one who
has worked his own way upward during an active and vigorous
career, he is a firm believer in the value of organization as it applies
to the protection of labor, while his belief in co-operation has led
him also to be active in fraternal work. Mr. Simms was born at
Newport, Ky., June 17, 1880, a son of Samuel and Mary (Waterman)
Simms. The family was founded in this country by his paternal
grandfather, who came from England to the United States in 1869
and located in Kentucky, where until the close of his active life he
was connected with the rolling mill business. Samuel Simms was
born near the city of London, England, and was a youth when he
accompanied his parents to America. He grew up in the atmosphere
of the rolling mill industry, to which he devoted himself during the



656 MEMOIRS OF THE MIAMI VALLEY

period of his active labor. There were two children in the family:
William A., of this notice ; and Mrs. Nellie Hare, of Newport, Ky.,
wife of Augustus Hare, a sergeant in the United States Army.
William A. Simms received a public school education and from the
outset of his career has devoted himself to the rolling mill business.
For some years past he has identified himself with the American
Rolling mill, at Middletown, where he occupies the position of
heater. He is a general favorite with his fellow-workmen and his
record with the company is one that stamps him as a faithful and
industrious worker. For several years past he has been somewhat
of a prominent factor in his local of the Amalgamated Association
of Iron Workers, and was a delegate to the recent convention of that
body held at Louisville, Ky., in 1919. His popularity among his
fellows, and his knowledge of what organization really means,
make him a valuable man in this connection and his labors have
always been of a constructive character. He is a member of the
Knights of Pythias and, as before noted, active in lodge work, and
during the recent war his voice was heard on many occasions when
he was speaking in behalf of loan drives, charities, etc. He is lib-
eral in politics. September 27, 1905, Mr. Simms was united in mar-
riage with Catherine Frensdorf, who was born February 19, 1882,
daughter of Benjamin Franklin and Minnie (Gloystein) Frensdorf,
of Cincinnati. To this union there was born a little son, who was
called away shortly after birth. There were ten other children in
the Frensdorf family : Herman ; Charles ; Mrs. Simms ; Minnie ;
Louise ; Eleanor, the wife of William Voiers of Kennedy Heights,
Ohio ; Laura, the wife of W. A. Jurgensen, of Cincinnati ; Arthur,
of Middetown ; Walter, who was with the 147th Regiment of the
37th Army Division, in France, fought in a number of important
engagements, and was slightly wounded in the hand, but who re-
turned safely and is now a resident of Cincinnati, Ohio ; Florence, of
Cincinnati, Ohio; and Harold, of Cincinnati, Ohio. Mrs. Simms,
who, like her husband, has numerous friends at Middletown, is a
woman of superior education, being a junior of Ohio Northern uni-
versity at Ada, Ohio, and of delightful personality. She and her
husband are members of the United Brethren church, and reside in
an attractive and artistic stucco bungalow on Logan avenue, which
was built by Mr. Simms in 1914.

C. W. Simpson, secretary and treasurer of The Federal Asphalt
Paving company, of Hamilton, is a marked proof of the value and
necessity of long practical training for the higher officials of con-
cerns engaged in specialized work and of the justice of the workings
of a system that awards high place to those who have proved their
worth. He is a native of Wabash, Ind., where he received his public
school education, and after his graduation from the high school at-
tended a commercial college at Huntington, Ind. For a short time
he was located at Chicago, variously employed, but eventually re-
turned to Wabash, where he became connected with the Wabash
Daily Times-Star and remained with that paper as a reporter until
coming to Hamilton in 1907. At that time he became associated
with The Andrews Asphalt Paving company, and remained with




MRS. OLI\"HR B. ELSWORTH



BUTLER COUNTY— BIOGRAPHICAL 657

that concern as secretary until 1915, when he assisted in the organ-
ization of The Federal Asphalt Paving company, of which he was
also one of the promoters. He was chosen secretary and treasurer
of this new concern, positions which he has since retained, in addi-
tion to being a heavy stockholder and a member of the board of di-
rectors. The concern has shown a healthy and continuous growth
since its inception and its contracts to the time of this writing have
included the laying of in excess of 1,000,000 square yards of paving.
The concern is also permitted to do business in Michigan, Indiana,
Wisconsin, Kentucky and West Virginia, and has operated ex-
tensively in each state. Mr. Simpson has impressed himself upon
business circles and his associates as a man of marked capacity, an
energetic and thoroughly informed man of affairs, of shrewd judg-
ment and recognized acumen. He is a member of the Benevolent
and Protective Order of Elks, and in his political affiliation sup-
ports the candidates and principles of the Democratic party. In
1908, he was united in marriage with Miss Nellie Grant Wilson.
They have no children.

Col. Martin Sims. Middletown counts upon her roll of de-
parted honored residents none who left behind more numerous and
substantial evidences of association with its affairs than the late
Col. Martin Sims. As a business man, soldier and public-spirited
citizen he came and went among the people of his town for many
years until the close of his life, January 29, 1902, and there remains
in his wake an impression of practical usefulness, of genuine de-
pendable character, directly traceable to his untiring zeal and ready
recognition of opportunity. Colonel Sims was born June 5, 1842,
two miles southeast of Middletown, and was one of the first to
answer President Lincoln's call for troops at the outbreak of the
Civil war, enlisting April 19, 1861, when less than nineteen years of
age, in Company G, Twelfth Regiment, O. V. I., with which he
served throughout the period of the war, rising through bravery
and meritorious service to the rank of colonel. Upon his return to
civil life he resumed the duties of peace, and July 3, 1870, was mar-
ried to Mary Bishop, who was born in Warren county, Ohio, near
Lebanon, a daughter of Jeremiah and Louisa (Barker) Bishop, and
a sister of Erastus Barker, who lost his life as a Union soldier dur-
ing the struggle between the forces of the North and the South. To
this union there were born fifteen children, of whom all but three,
Arthur, Lucy and Madge who died in infancy, grew to maturity.
The others were : Olive Louise, who died recently at Terlton, Okla.,
as the wife of Marion Edgar; Sallie, the wife of Levi G. South, of
Middletown; Ella, the wife of James G. Blaine, of Middletown;
Hattie, the wife of George W. Brown, of Middletown ; Missouri, who
resides with her mother ; Cora, the wife of John Conrad Hurm, of
Hamilton ; Henrietta, a graduate of the Middletown high school, who
took a three-year course at Christ hospital, Cincinnati, and left for
France, July 12, 1918, as a member of the Red Cross, being the only
young lady from Middletown to thus volunteer her services for
overseas work; she married Lieut. Oliver Buckland Elsworth, and
they are residents of Middletown, Ohio ; Mary Elizabeth, the wife of



658 MEMOIRS OF THE MIAMI VALLEY

Ralph Elwood, of Bowling Green, Ohio ; Eli, who resides with his
mother and sister; and Walter, James and Robert Floyd, who are
married and residents of Middletown. Colonel Sims was a son of
Allen Hamilton and Sarah (Floyd) Sims, the latter of whom was a
cousin of Roscoe Conkling, the noted statesman, lawyer and politi-
cian. Colonel Sims was a man of liberal and practical ideas, a
promoter of education, good government, religion and straight-
forward living, and to know him was to have one's confidence in
human nature strengthened, and one's faith in the homely, honest
virtues which tend to public confidence fortified. Mrs. Sims is a
faithful member of the Methodist church and has been active in its
numerous movements. She is also a helpful member of the Tem-
perance League and prominent in club and social life, and takes an
active part in the Ladies of the Grand Army of the Republic, having
been a delegate to the recent G. A. R. Encampment held at Lima,
Ohio.

Mathias Sixt. A member of that class of practical agriculturists
whose early training, quick perceptions and great capacity for pains-
taking industry have advanced them to position of trust and im-
portance, Mathias Sixt represents not only the vigorous and re-
sourceful present of the Miami valley, but also the promising
future, particularly in Lemon township, where he is the owner of
a valuable and well-cultivated farm. Mr. Sixt was born on a farm
in Lemon township, Butler county, O., and is a son of John A. and
Magdalena Nichol, natives of Bavaria, Germany. His father was
born June 13, 1831, and was still a young man when he emigrated
to the United States, taking up his residence first at Bloomington,
111. He did not remain long there, however, but moved to Marys-
ville, O., and subsequently to Middletown, where he secured a posi-
tion teaming for the firm of Oglesbee & Barnitz. In 1860, Mr. Sixt
became a farmer, when he settled on a property northeast of Mid-
dletown, and after fourteen years in that community disposed of
his interests and moved to Lemon township, where he was success-
fully engaged in tilling soil up to the time of his death. He became
a man well known and highly respected in his community, where his
integrity was proverbial, and where he had many warm friends, who
shared in his prosperity, as did also the Lutheran church, of which
he was a lifelong member. His first wife, Magdalena Nichol, of
Bavaria, died at the age of sixty-four years, and he was again mar-
ried, his bride being a widow, Mrs. Margaret Nichold, who died in
1902. His children, all by his first wife, were : Barbara, who mar-
ried Michael Rider, of Middletown ; John, a retired farmer of that
^lace ; George, also retired from active pursuits and living at Mid-
dletown ; and Mathias, of this notice. Mathias Sixt attended the
common schools of his home community and was trained to agri-
culture from early youth. He remained under the parental roof un-
til he attained the age of twenty-eight years, and although his com-
petence was still largely a matter of speculation at that time, he
entered upon an independent career and formed a household of his
own when he was united in marriage with Miss Mary Schaefer,
February 9, 1887. She was born in Fairfield township, Butler



BUTLER COUNTY— BIOGRAPHICAL 0S9

county, O., a daughter of Henry and Elizabeth (Peift) Schaefer, of

Hesse-Darmstadt, Germany, who emigrated to the United States in
1849 and settled at Hamilton, O., in the vicinity of which place, and
in Fairfield township, Mr. Schaefer continued to be engaged in farm-
ing until his death in 1914, his widow surviving him until October,
1918. They were faithful members of the Lutheran church and the
parents of the following children : Adolph, a farmer of Madison
township, Butler county; William, a farmer in the same county,
Wayne township ; Kate, who married Charles Warner, of Wayne
township, and Mary, now Mrs. Sixt. To Mr. and Mrs. Sixt there
have been born five children ; Carl, who is engaged in agricultural
operations in Lemon township; Catherine, who resides with her
parents ; Walter, also at home ; Clara, who attended the home
schools, the Middletown schools for two years, and the Woodlawn
Normal school for four years, and who for the past three years has
been engaged in teaching, now having charge of the orphans' home
at Richmond, Ind. ; and Jennie, who lives with her parents. All the
children were given good educational opportunities, for Mr. Sixt
has always been a friend of education and recognizes its benefits.
After his marriage, Mr. Sixt settled down to farming operations on
his present property of 109 acres, located in Lemon township, where
he has since been highly successful as a general farmer. In addi-
tion he raises some stock and is successful in this way also, and his
business reputation is of the best. During the time he has resided
on his present property, he has displayed his progressive spirit by
the installation of numerous improvements, including a fine bank
barn, 32x50 feet ; a corn crib, 30x28 feet ; and a tool house, 16x28
feet, and much tiling and fencing, together with machinery and
equipment of a modern character. In line with his expressed friend-
ship for education, he has served as a member of the local board of
school directors, and, possessed of sterling traits of character, his
career has been in an eminent degree useful to those about him.
He is an independent thinker on questions of the day and prefers to
form his own opinions as to the merit of any candidate or principle,
with the result that he admits allegiance to no political party. His
religious faith and that of the members of his family identifies them
with the Lutheran church, they attending divine services at Middle-
town.

James Skillman. In the long and uniformly successful career of
James Skillman, for the greater part passed at Middletown, there
has been much of a commendable nature as represented by his deal-
ings with his fellow-men. Both in war and peace he has held high
ideals as to duty and as one of the honored retired citizens of his
community is held in universal respect and esteem. Mr. Skillman
was born June 2. 1845, near Lockland, Hamilton county. Ohio, one
of the twelve children, six sons and six daughters, born to O. A. and
Sarah (McCauley) Skillman. His father, who was born in 1805, in
Lehigh county, Pa., was an infant when brought to Ohio by his
parents. New Jerseyans, in early days of settlement, and grew up
amid pioneer surroundings. He became a substantial and highly
esteemed agriculturist of his county, reared his children to lives of



660 MEMOIRS OF THE MIAMI VALLEY

probity and industry, and rounded out an honorable and useful
career. He and his wife were devoted members of the Presbyterian
church, and Mr. Skillman was a staunch Republican of some in-
fluence in his community. Of the twelve children in the family, all
are now deceased with the exception of James and his twin brother,
Stephen S. Skillman, also a retired citizen of Middletown. These
brothers fought in the same company and regiment during the Civil
war and have remained practically inseparable ever since. Richard
M. and John Skillman fought as members of Company E, Eighty-
third Regiment, Ohio Volunteer Infantry, the former dying about
eight months after enlistment, while the latter went through the
war safely but died about four years later from causes ascribed to
the hardships and privations of the service. James H. Willis, who
was reared by Mr. and Mrs. Skillman from the time he was an infant,
fought throughout the war as a member of Company G, Sixth Regi-
ment, Ohio Volunteer Infantry, and in later life became a well-
known and highly esteemed business man of Cincinnati and died at
Mt. Auburn, Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1916. James Skillman received
his education in the country public schools and at Lockland, and
was about sixteen years old when, in September, 1861, he enlisted
in the Union army for service during the Civil war, he and his twin
brother Stephen S., becoming members of Company A, Seventy-fifth
Regiment, Ohio Volunteer Infantry. After three years and four
months of brave and faithful service, he received his honorable dis-
charge and returned to the farm, but eventually came to Middle-
town, where, in 1875, he became the first city policeman. This
position he retained for six years, and made a most capable officer.
In 1886 he embarked in the grocery business, on the corner of Main
and Third streets, Middletown, and conducted this enterprise with
success for some years, and was later also identified with a boot and
shoe business, but as advancing years came he eventually retired
from active afifairs, and is now living quietly in his comfortable
home at No. 530 Young street. Mr. Skillman is a staunch Republi-
can, but while a good citizen is not a politician and has had no wish
to enter the public arena. He was married June 3, 1867, to Ella G.
Hand, daughter of I. F. and Catherine (Littell) Hand. Mr. Hand



Online LibraryJohn Calvin HoverMemoirs of the Miami valley (Volume v.3) → online text (page 89 of 108)