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The men of New York: a collection of biographies and portraits of citizens of the Empire State prominent in business, professional, social, and political life during the last decade of the nineteenth century (Volume 1) online

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United States, so that to-day the name of the founder
of the business has become a household word in west-
ern New York. Since Mr. Spencer has been at the
head of this 1 nisi ness the output from the factory has
more than doubled in volume a most creditable
showing in these days of keen and active competition.
Mr. Spencer is a native of New York state, having
been born in Genesee county less than sixty years
;ig<>. His educational opportunities were such as a
country school afforded, supplemented by a course in



the Rural Seminary, at East Pembroke, N. Y. Al-
though ambitious to do so, he was without the means
to enter college and prepare himself by advanced in-
struction for the legal profession, which he hoped to
make his vocation. Taking advantage of spare hours
in his regular occupation, he read law in the offices
of F. J. Fithian and William Dorsheimer,
both noted lawyers in their day, and was
admitted to the bar in 1865.

Stress of circumstances, however, pre-
vented him from practicing law. As early
as 1857 he had turned his attention to
telegraphy, and on mastering this craft
he secured a position as local agent and
telegraph operator at the railroad station
in Lancaster, N. Y. His duties in this
connection brought him into contact with
the railway mail service, then in its
infancy, but destined to be rapidly de-
veloped and widely extended in the
course of the following decade. In 1st.il
Mr. Spencer obtained an appointment as
a railway mail clerk, and for two years
he "ran" between Elmira and Buffalo.
Promotion then brought him the route
from Buffalo to New York city, one of
the most important in the service, which
he retained for ten year.s, or until his
resignation in 1873. \\hate\er may be
said of some positions under the govern-
ment, that of the railway mail clerk is by
no means a sinecure. The work is ex-
hausting in an extreme degree, and is
often rendered more difficult by the poor
facilities provided by railroads. Only a
man of vigorous constitution, quick eye,
and alert mind is fitted for the position ;
and the fact that Mr. Spencer endured
the labor and strain for twelve years
is proof of his sound constitution and
capacity for hard work. After retiring from the
railway mail service, he became associated in busi-
ness with Robert Ovens, manufacturing baker, to
whose daughter he had been married in 1870, and
who was at that time engaged in building up in Buf-
falo the industry that now bears his name. In ix,s:j
Mr. Spencer assumed the entire management of the
business, which he has since conducted on an in-
creasingly large scale and with corresponding suc-
cess, displaying an energy and method that have
marked him as one of Buffalo's most enterprising and
tarsighteil men of affairs. Free from ostentation, and
devoted to the responsibilities he undertakes, Mr.
Spencer enjoys the respect and confidence of the



ME.\ OF NEW YORK WESTERN SECTIOX



business world, and is held in high esteem by his
neighbors and fellow-citizens. In politics he is a Re-
publican, but he has generally exercised his preroga-
tive to vote for the best man irrespective of party lines,
when no great principles were at stake. Mr. Spencer
attends the Lafayette Street Presbyterian Church, and
is one of the trustees thereof; he is also a member of
the Merchants' Exchange and of the Buffalo Club.

PERSONAL CHRONOLOGY SethS. Spen-
cer was born in the town of Batavia, N. Y. , August
~f>, 1838 ; was educated in countr\ schools and at
Rural Seminary, East Pembroke, N. Y. ; was a rail-
way mail clerk, 186173 ; was admitted to the bar in
1865, but never practiced law ; married Mrs. Ague-i
J. Derrick of Buffalo December '22, 1870 ; has been
manager of the R. Ovens Branch U. S. Baking Co. ,
Buffalo, since 1883.



/IDatbtas Strauss shows by his

career what a man starting without means
or influence can achieve through hard
work, brains, and honest dealing. Born
nearly sixty years ago in Remich, grand
duchy of Luxemburg, Germany, he se-
cured a limited education ; and at the age
of fourteen, allured by glowing reports
from America, persuaded his parents to
leave their fatherland and seek a new
home and fortune across the sea. No
writer can adequately describe the pathos,
the hope and fear, the complete change
that accompanies the sundering of old
friendships, the parting with familiar
places and objects, and the launching
out into an untried world of a family
from one of the old countries. It is an
experience never to be forgotten. Mr.
Strauss recalls it the more vividly because
the " promised land " so eagerly sought
proved a keen disappointment in many
respects. Wages were low and work was
scarce ; and the prospect of a strange
land, a stranger tongue, no friends, and
no business was exceedingly disheartening
to the newcomers.

Young Strauss realized that his parents,
with a large family, had come to this
country chiefly on his account, and he-
resolved to take upon his shoulders all
the burden they could bear. For over a
hundred years in the old country, his father and
grandfather had carried on in their native town the
business of wool and sheep-leather manufacturing. So
naturally he applied for work with his lather in the



same business here, and both obtained employment in
the sheepskin tannery of Breithaupt & Schoellkopf of
Buffalo the father at 75 cents, and Mathias at 37 l />
cents a day. Bitterly regretting that he had left his
native country, the young man determined neverthe-
less to make the most of his opportunities and to do
his full duty to his parents, whom his youthful en-
thusiasm had brought to the United States. He was
glad of the chance to work and to learn a trade ; and
so diligently and intelligently did he apply himself
to his duties that in five years he was promoted to be
foreman of the department for dyeing and finishing
fancy-colored sheep leather, and was regarded as the
best man in that line in Buffalo.

To every industrious and faithful young man an op-
portunity such as he wishes finally comes. When Mr.




MATHIAS STRAUSS

Strauss was twenty-four years old, the firm for which
he worked was dissolved, and the tannery be-
came vacant. On a capital of two hundred dollars,
which he had slowly accumulated, he rented the old



80



OF A'EIV YORKll'ESTER.\ SECTION



establishment, and started in business for himself.
He there laid the foundation for the immense business
which came to him with the passing years, and which
to-day requires a large force of men and huge build-
ings for its adequate operation. Mr. Strauss at-
tributes much of his success, especially at the begin-
ning of his career, to the influence of his wife, who
was Miss Elizabeth Brosart, daughter of Charles Bro-
sart. As an illustration of Mr. Strauss' s continued
activity, pluck, and energy, the fact may be cited
that when his establishment was burned to the ground
in the spring of 1895, he set to work at once to re-
build, kept all his workmen employed at full wages,
and in six months had the great plant again under
roof and in complete operation. Two of Mr.
Strauss's sons are employed in the business : John
A. is head bookkeeper, and Charles is foreman and
buyer.

Not only has Mr. Strauss impressed himself upon
the community as a manufacturer and employer, but
he has also served the people of Buffalo in a political
capacity, as an active, progressive citizen. He has
twice been elected a councilman, and in performing
the duties of that office he has been faithful to his
own ideals, and has done at all times what he be-
lieved would meet the approval of the people and the
taxpayers of the city, in common with whom he has
large and varied property interests affected by public-
action. In politics he is an ardent Democrat.

Mr. Strauss has been active in church, social, and
philanthropic work for many years. A member of
St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church, one of the
founders of a church, an orphan asylum, and a work-
ing boys' home, he has shown hi^ devotion to re-
ligious and charitable institutions and their wants.
He is a member of the < >ld German Society of Buf-
falo, and an honorary member of the Knights of St.
John, thus maintaining in addition to business rela-
tions a broad participation in the moral and social
life of the community, and proving himself in every
way a worth) citi/en of the country of his adoption.

'PERS ONA L CHR ONOL O G YMathias
Xtmuss a'as horn at Rcniicli. Germany, April 1~>.
1S-U1 ; married-Elizabeth Brosart of Hnffalo Xorcm-
/></ l'i, lS'i!> : 7Cii.\ elected council/nan of tlie city of
Buffalo for the year IS! I..', and again for the years
I s:>. ',-'.!,'> : 7,',-nt to Buffalo in LS'iO, and lias heen en-
/ there since in tlie manufacture of leather a nit
wool.



S B. SWCCt has long been one of the
nvogni/ed, quiet-working forces in the commercial,
social, and political life of Buffalo. A man may be no
less a factor in a community because he is naturallv



unobtrusive, devoted to business affairs, and opposed
to notoriety of every sort. Mr. Sweet is a type
of a class of men happily to be found in all our
large cities, who constitute the strong, conservative
element, whose influence and support are always
sought whenever any great enterprise or important
measure is under consideration or is being projected.
Among the things that determine success in life
are parentage, place of birth, education, and oppor-
tunity, for none of which are we primarily responsi-
ble. What we make of the " raw material " of life,
as it may be called, is really the sum total that the
individual can claim as his own. Applying this
standard impartially, it is possible to estimate the
credit due to any given person. Mr. Sweet was
fortunate in being born of old New England stock,
amid the picturesque scenery of Berkshire county,
Mass. What education he was able to secure was
limited to the three " R's," and had to be obtained
in the winter months when there was no work on
the farm. But the training of the home supplied a
discipline and a standard of living that schools, and
colleges even, do not undertake to furnish. His life
was that of the farmer's son an apprenticeship
that has proved of invaluable benefit in fitting young
men for the practical work of the world.

In 1M>2, when twenty-six years of age, Mr. Sweet
made Buffalo his home, and engaged in the transpor-
tation business on Central wharf. Here, undoubt-
edly, he gained many of those traits of accu-
rate dealing, and that sound business judgment,
which have characterized his career in the more dif-
ficult and responsible field upon which he entered in
l.ssl, when he became president of the Third
National Bank of Buffalo a position he continues
i ( upy.

A busy life has left him little leisure for many
diversions so agreeable to those who have time for
tliei n. Mr. Sweet has, however, realized that he
had duties as a citizen as well as a business man, and
every public movement commending itself to his
judgment has received his active support. A Demo-
crat in politics, he has influenced his party in the
right direction on all occasions ; and his personal
interest in local affairs, together with his readiness to
contribute of his time and means to his party's suc-
cess, has given him a power in the community that he
has always employed for its good. Though frequently
urged by his friends to be a candidate for various
offices, he has uniformly declined, and has never
accepted a distinctly political office.

One public office, however, he did consent to fill
in l!S!)i>, when he was appointed by the governor of
New York one of the nonpartisan board of (leneral



MEN OF NEW YORK WESTERN SECTION



si



Managers having charge of the manifold representa-
tion of the Empire State at the World's Fair in
Chicago in ls!l. v !. The complete and successful
exhibit of New York at that superb exposition is a
matter of history, and the volume and variety of the
work performed by the General Managers is best
illustrated by their comprehensive report
to the state legislature, comprising a de-
tailed account of the labors of the board.

Mr. Sweet was president of the Buf-
falo Hoard of Trade when that institution
was still on Central wharf. He was presi
dent of the Young Men's Association
before it was changed to the ' Buffalo
Library." He served many years as one
of the trustees of the City and County
Hall, having been appointed to that posi-
tion by the Superior Court. He served
many years, also, as trustee of the State
Normal School at Buffalo. He was one of
the organi/.ers of the Citi/.ens' Gas Corn-
pan}-, and is now vice president of the
same. He was one of the organizers of
the Delaware Avenue Methodist Church,
and is president of the board of trustee*
of that institution. He has been con-
nected with many associations of a re-
ligious and philanthropic character.

PERSONAL CHROXOL OG Y-
C/tar/es Augustine S-iseet was horn at
Hancock, Afass. , Ffhritarv In, IS-Ui . wax
educated in coitntrv schools : wi'iit to Buf-
falo and engaged in flic transportation busi-
ness in 1SI1J : was a member of the hoard
of General Managers for Xew York state
at tlie World' s fair, 18!>-l ; has been presi-
dent of the Third Xeitional Bank of Buf-
falo since 1881.



St may be justly regarded a*
a typical American railroader, though his diversified
experience in connection with the transportation
industry has rarely been paralleled in this or any
other country. He began at the bottom of the lad-
der, and ended at the top ; and the story of his life
is at once interesting, instructive, and inspiring.

Mr. Tillinghast inherited his mechanical ability
from his father, and as a schoolboy spent much of his
leisure time in his father's machine shop, where he
became practically conversant with the use of
tools and the methods and processes of mechanical
work. At the age of fifteen he entered a country
store in Brownsville, N. Y. , as a clerk. A year later
he accepted a similar position at Dexter, X. Y.,



where his duties included, besides clerical work,
making fires, sweeping the store, waiting on custom-
ers, and keeping track of a miscellaneous stock of
drugs, hardware, dry goods, groceries, and notions.
For all this he received the princely sum of eight
dollars a month.




CHARLES I .VII / I: I

In 14. > Mr. Tillinghast embarked in the lake
trade, making his first venture as supercargo of a
sailing vessel that carried passengers and freight from
Sackett's Harbor to Chicago. The passengers sup-
plied their own provisions, and slept in the hold.
( )n the return trip he brought a cargo of wheat, which
was the second that had ever been shipped from Chi-
cago to Buffalo. Mr. Tillinghast soon abandoned
this lake traffic, and engaged in business with his
father for several years ; but in 1N">1 he began
the railroad career in which he was to attain such
success. Beginning as extra fireman on a gravel
train, he became assistant superintendent of the Rome
\- \\aterto\vn railroad the following year; and since
that time he has held high official positions on



82



l/A.V OF NEW YORK WESTERN SECTION



almost every important railroad in this part of the
country. Few men have had a more varied experi-
ence. His energy and good judgment won for him
positions of trust, and these he always filled with faith-
fulness and zeal. He entered the service of the New
York Central road in 18(55, at the request of its presi-




/. /.1//-:.S' TILLINGHAST

dent, Dean Richmond, and was appointed superin-
tendent of the western division. He soon made the
acquaintance of Commodore Vanderbilt, who had re-
cently acquired a large interest in the road, and was
making his first trip of inspection over it. The great
railway king at once recognized Mr. Tillinghast's
unusual ability, and the friendship that then began
grew with advancing years, and ended only with the
death of Mr. Vanderbilt. When Commodore Van-
derbilt acquired a controlling interest in the " Cen-
tral," he made Mr. Tillinghast general superintend-
ent, with headquarters at Albany : and this position
he held until 1881, when he was appointed by Will-
iam H. Yanderbilt assistant to the president. By



that time the tonnage of the road had increased
tenfold from the figures of lx(>.~>, when Mr. Tilling-
hast first became connected with the road.

In 1878 and 187!), in addition to his other duties,
Mr. Tillinghast filled the double position of president
and general manager of the Canada Southern railway ;
and it was owing chiefly to his exertions
that the Dominion parliament passed laws
that saved the road from bankruptcy, and
enabled it to be reorganized without loss to
the stockholders. In !**:; Mr. Tillinghast
was vice president of the Niagara River
Bridge Company, and superintended the
erection of the cantilever bridge built 1>\
that company and opened for traffic
during that year.

All the important offices held by Mr.
Tillinghast have come to him unsolicited.
It is worthy of notice, moreover, that he
has never demanded a fixed sum for any
services rendered, but has relied upon the
zeal with which he served his employers
to secure for him adequate compensation.
His good judgment and reliability, in all
emergencies and under all circumstances,
have earned for him the respect and es-
teem of railroad officials far and near, and
of the general public as well. He is a man
of few words, exceedingly quiet and un-
demonstrative in manner ; but a deep
thinker, and a man of action and determi-
nation. He is affable and kindly in his in-
tercourse with all, and is noted for his gen-
erous hospitality and other social virtues.
PERSONAL CHR ONOL OGY-
James Tillinghast was I'orn at Coopers-
/,i7,<n, .V. )'. , .I/in 1 ,V. 1822; was educated
in tin- piihlic schools : f/igageJ in business,
1837-42, ami in lake traffic, 1fi4-i-4<J ami
/,sv; .'-//. ', : was assistant superintendent <</
the Runic >>' I \\iterfow >i railroad, IS'i -'>/', superin-
tendent of motive power of t/ie Xortliern Railway oj
Canada, lS~><;-<; '. tlirision and general superintendent
of the Central-Hudson railroad, lSi;'i-,Sl, and assistant
io the president of tliat road in 7,V,S7 , was president of
the Wagner Sleeping Car Co., 1SS4-85 : married
Man- Williams of Limerick, N. I'., October 2, 184-1,
a ml' Mrs. Susan Williams of Buffalo July 2-',. 1882.



C. ZEitUS has f r many years of his life
served his fellow-men. For nearly twenty years he
has held various important positions of trust, and in
each one he has discharged the duties imposed upon
him so faithfully that his record is without a blemish.



.i//-;.v or \Eir



SECTION



83



Born in a little Erie-county village, Judge Titus
passed the early years of his life amid surroundings
that called for great sacrifices and much labor. He
worked on a farm and attended district schools by
turn. At last the opportunity came for a course in
Oberlin College at Oberlin, Ohio, and this chance
to broaden out and to satisfy some of the ambitions
that had long possessed the young man, was eagerly
seized. He did not, however, graduate from this
institution, but returned to Buffalo, and began the
study of law. Thus was gratified an earnest desire.
The young man applied* himself to the study of the
principles of law with so much /eal and persistence that
in 1865 he was admitted to the bar with high
honors.

The next thirteen years of his life were spent in
the practice of his profession, either alone or with
others. During this time fudge Titus had
drifted into politics, and soon became one |
of the favorite campaign orators of the
Democratic party, whose platforms and
principles he warmly endorsed. His per-
sonal popularity and his eminent part)
services appropriately led to a nomina-
tion for district attorney of Erie count}-,
and he was triumphantly elected to that
office in the fall of 1877. The duties of
this office were filled during the next three
years with honor to himself, and to the
entire satisfaction of the people. When
his term expired he resumed private prac-
tice. His party, however, soon called
upon him to stand as the leader of its
county ticket, and in the fall of 1881 he
was elected state senator from the 81st
district, which then included the whole
of Erie county. He served with so much
distinction that he was re-elected in the
fall of 1888, thus representing Erie count)
in the highest legislative body of the state
for four years. During that time he was
a member of the judiciary and other im-
portant committees, on which he rendered
valuable service. He was a faithful friend
of the canals during his career in the
legislature, and stood by the Erie canal,
which has done so much in the develop-
ment of the state, against all the attacks
made by its enemies.

A vacancy about to occur on the bench
of the Superior Court of Buffalo gave Mr. Titus's party
friends another opportunity to show their regard for
him, and he was nominated in the fall of 1885 for
the honorable position thus available. His election



followed, and since that time Judge Titus has pre-
sided with impartiality and dignity at many import-
ant trials in Buffalo. In the course of time he
became chief judge of the court, and held that posi-
tion when the Superior Court was abolished, and its
judges took seats on the bench of the Supreme Court
January 1, 1 !)(>.

Judge Titus has for many years been a prominent
and honored member of the Masonic fraternity, and
has been a leader in its many beneficent works. At
the meeting of the Supreme Council of Sovereign
drand Inspectors General, 33d and last degree, An-
cient Accepted Scottish Rite, held in Buffalo in
September, 1.S95, he was made an honorary member
of that body. He is a director of the Masonic Life
Association of Western New York, and is treasurer
of the Acacia Club, the largest purely social club of




ROBBRT ('. T/'J'l'S

Masons in this country. This club has beautiful
rooms in the Masonic Temple at Buffalo.

PERSONAL CHRONOLOGY Robert Cyrus
Titus was horn at Eden, A r . Y., October 24, 1839 ;



84



.l/A'.Y Or .Y/f/r YORK WESTERN SECTION



attended Oberlin College ; married Arrilla R. Clark
of Gowanda, N. V., August .'.', /.sv/; . ,-, w.i admitted
to the bar at Buffalo in isn't . ?iw\ district attorney of
Erie county, 1818-80 ; v. >cis state senator for Erie
county, 1SS.'K.~> : was elected judge of the Superior
Court of Buffalo in tlie fall of !SS-~> ; it'trs chief judge



AUGUSTUS /-'/I 1 . 1.YA7./.V TKll'l'



<>/ ///at court at the time of its absorption into tlie Su-
preme Court fanuarv 1, IS'.Hi, wlieu he became a
member of the bench of the Supreme Court.



Hugustus Jfranfeliu Uripp is the head of

one of the most important industrial establishments
of Buffalo. In business circles he is known as a man
of great worth of character, and of a wonderful grasp
of details that makes him a perfect master of any-
thing to which he gives his attention. The firm of
Sidney Shepard & Co., of which he is the senior
member, is known far and wide as a large producer
of tinware and house-furnishings, and to Mr. Tripp
is due in no small measure the success that the firm




has made in the business world. This concern has a
mammoth factory in Buffalo, to which Mr. Tripp has
devoted himself for nearly forty years : and he has
reduced its methods to a system that is almost per-
fection. The firm has also a large warehouse and
distributing center in Buffalo ; and a subsidiary firm,
styled C. Sidney Shepard & Co., has
headquarters in Chicago. Mr. Tripp is
one of the men who do things without
making any noise about it. Careful,
prudent, and sagacious in a marked de-
gree, he has succeeded where others
might have failed.

Born the son of a farmer, in a little
Vermont town, young Tripp spent his
early years helping his people wring the
necessities of life from the stony and
ungenerous soil of the Green Mountain
State. His ambition to attain something
better than appeared in the East led him
to leave home for what was then the Far
West, and in 1M4 he bade good -by to
the friends of his boyhood, and starter 1
out to make his fortune. He went to
Buffalo by the canal-packet line, and after
a hasty look over the new city, which was
in later years to be the scene of his busi-
ness triumphs, he boarded a lake steamer
for Fairport, Ohio. Thence he went to
Painesville, in the same state, and there
obtained a job cleaning up the machinery



Online LibraryMoses KingThe men of New York: a collection of biographies and portraits of citizens of the Empire State prominent in business, professional, social, and political life during the last decade of the nineteenth century (Volume 1) → online text (page 12 of 69)