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Source:
History
of Cuyahoga Co., Ohio
Published by D. W. Ensign & Co.,
1879
 

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  ELBERT IRVING BALDWIN.  So far as circumstances go to make men what they are, a happy combination of them is to have been born in New England of a race possessing Puritan blood and instincts; to have one's youth guided by the wisdom of pious and judicious parents; to recieve an education in the midst of those favorable influences that exist in Eastern college towns; to be trained in business affairs by sturdy and capable merchants, and then to remove in early manhood to the West, where native generous impulses may be enlarged and where the most comprehensive views will find ample scope.  Western cities are largely indebted for their enterprise and thrift to the presence and influence of such men, and Cleveland is especially favored in being the home of many who not only add to its importance as a commercial center, but contribute much to make it "the most beautiful city west of the Alleghenies."
     In the fall of 1853 the block on the corner of Superior and Seneca streets was completed, the largest and most important business building then in the city.  Here Messrs. E. I. Baldwin & Co. began the dry goods business, the manager and active partner, Elbert Irving Baldwin, coming hither from New York to reside.  He had spent his early life in New Haven, Connecticut, where he was born in 1829, and where he received the best educational advantages until about nineteen years of age, when a more active life seemed necessary, and he commenced his mercantile career with Sanford and Allen, a leading dry goods house of that city.  Determined to know by experience every phase of the business, he "began at the beginning" and passed through all grades to the position of confidential clerk.  Removing to New York city in order to obtain a knowledge of more extended commercial pursuits, he was there employed by the old firm of Tracy, Irwin & Co.
     When Mr. Baldwin came to Cleveland he found the field well occupied, there being a very large number of dry goods houses in the city, most of them doing business on the old fashioned credit system, and failures of course being common.  The outlook was not favorable - the store he had engaged was said to be on the "wrong side" of the street, older merchants prophesied a speedy failure, and competition was strong and unprincipled, going so far in its efforts to injure the young merchant as to circulate false reports concerning his credit.  Yet his business constantly increased, and in a few months was firmly established.  Its history from that period to the present time, has been one of continued progress, every year witnessing a marked increase over the former.  From the beginning this firm possessed the entire confidence of the largest and best merchants in the East, and has never been obliged to ask the slightest extension or favor in the way of credit.
     The first direct importation of foreign dry goods to a Western city was made in 1857, by Messrs. Baldwin & Co. and to them is largely due the introduction of modern and improved methods of conducting business which are now very generally adopted by all good merchants.  The rapid expansion of their retail business, some years since, decided them to abandon the general jobbing trade and devote more attention to the distribution of goods among consumers, a stroke of policy which proved eminently successful.  Perhaps no business requires greater talent to prosecute with profit than the management of a large emporium of dry goods.  Natural ability, self-reliance, good judgment and quick perception are necessary, and must be supplemented by the close application and unswerving integrity.
     It is shown by the experience of this firm that an establishment for the sale of merchandise can be so conducted as to prove a pecuniary benefit to the city, and a means of elevating the tastes of the community, besides giving permanent and useful employment to large numbers of persons, who are surrounded by good influences, and instructed to regard honesty not only as the "best policy" but as absolutely essential to the holding of any position in the house.
     During the first three years of existence of the firm, Mr. Silas I. Baldwin was associated with it as capitalist, and in the selection of active partners Mr. Baldwin has been extremely fortunate.  Mr. Harry R. Hatch is widely known in this connection, a man of sterling worth and untiring energy, now representing the house in Europe.
     Mr. Baldwin has never enjoyed vigorous health, but he has been able to carry the burden of this large business and has a thorough knowledge of its details.  Of a naturally retiring disposition, and with a distaste for publicity, he has, while attending to the active duties of his business, taken time to continue his acquaintance with books, to cultivate his aesthetic tastes, and to travel extensively in this country and in Europe.  An attendant of the Second Presbyterian church, of which he is an elder, he is not lacking in liberality to promote its usefulness, and every philanthropic and Christian enterprise has his hearty and generous sympathy.
     Mr. Baldwin was married, in 1855, to Miss Mary Jeannette Sterling, daughter of Oliver L. Sterling of Lima, Livingston county, New York.  four of their children are living: the eldest, Elbert Francis  Baldwin, being connected with his father's firm.
Source: History of Cuyahoga Co., Ohio - Published by D. W. Ensign & Co., - 1879 - Page 328

  MALANCTHON BARNETT came to Cleveland in 1825, and for fifty-four years has been one of its best known citizens, his prominence as a business man and public official enduring to the day of his retirement from active life.  He was born in Amenia, New York, in 1789, and after a brisk experience in business in that State, during which he became a successful merchant, he removed in 1825 to Cleveland, in company with a Mr. May, with whom he became associated in storekeeping.  In 1834 May & Barnett gave up their mercantile business and embarked in land speculations, which they carried on through many successful years.  In 1843 Mr. Barnett was chosen treasurer of Cuyahoga county, and held the office continuously for six years; attending meanwhile to his real estate business, and also filling for a portion of that time the station of justice of the peace. 
     Upon retiring from public office, he was called to be a director of the City Bank.  For several years past he has been a director of the Merchants' National Bank, and, although now aged upwards of ninety, he is still active and visits the bank daily.
     He was married at Cherry Valley, New York, in 1815, to Miss Mary Clark, who died in Cleveland in 1840.  Of their five children, there survive but two, Augustus Barnett, of Watertown, Wisconsin, and Gen. James Barnett, a member of the hardware firm of George Worthington & Co., of Cleveland.
Source: History of Cuyahoga Co., Ohio - Published by D. W. Ensign & Co., - 1879 - Page 330
  GEO. A. BENEDICT

Source: History of Cuyahoga Co., Ohio - Published by D. W. Ensign & Co., - 1879 - Page 330
Portrait Source: History of Cuyahoga Co., Ohio - Published by D. W. Ensign & Co., - 1879 - Page 188a

  ALVA BRADLEYCaptain Alva Bradley, one of the leading ship-owners of the West, has resided in Ohio since 1823 and in Cleveland since 1859.  He was born of New England parents Nov. 27, 1814, in Ellington, Tolland county, Connecticut, and when nine years old accompanied his parents to Ohio; whither his father, Leonard, turned his footsteps as to a place offering richer inducements to the agriculturist than could he found on the hills of New England.  The journey was made by wagon to Albany, thence by canal to within fifty miles of Buffalo, and from that place on a sailing vessel, from which the family landed at Cleveland in September, 1823.  Without delaying in the then embryo Forest City they passed on to Brownhelm, Lorain county, and settled upon a farm.  Alva spent the years until he was nineteen in laboring upon his father's place - receiving but a limited school education meanwhile - but becoming inclined for a sailor's life, he left the farm and shipped aboard the schooner "Liberty," of about fifty tons, owned by Norman Moore and plying between Buffalo and other Lake Erie ports.
     A life on the lakes suited him so well that he determined to stick to it.  he sailed successively after that on the "Young Leopard," "Edward Bancroft," "Express" and "Commodore Lawrence," and so prospered that in 1841 he undertook, in company with Ahira Cobb, now of Cleveland the construction of the schooner "South America" of one hundred and four tons.  They built her on the Vermillion river, and Captain Bradley, taking command, sailed her in the Lake Erie trade for the ensuing three seasons.  This venture in ship-building he followed with others of a similar character, after transferring the "South America" to his cousin, Sheldon Bradley, who sailed her one season, and the next, with all on board, went down with her in a storm.
     Captain Bradley and Mr. Cobb built on the Vermillion - after the "South America" - the sailing vessels "Birmingham," "Effington" and "Oregon," and the steam propeller "Indiana," and Captain Bradley successively commanded them.  His last service as a lake captain was performed on board the schooner "Oregon," from which he retired in 1852, after a continuous experience on the lakes, between Buffalo and Chicago of fifteen years.  In the last named year he made his home at the mouth of the Vermillion, where he continued the business of ship building, solely, however, as heretofore, for the purpose of putting the vessels into the lake trade on his own account or in joint interest with others.  In 1859 he changed his residence to Cleveland, but continued ship building on the Vermillion until 1868, when he removed his ship yards to Cleveland, where between 1868 and 1874 he built twelve vessels - including those propelled by sail and steam.
     As already observed, Captain Bradley placed his vessels in trade as fast as constructed, and became in the course of a brief time, an important ship owner.  He transacted a large and valuable business as a freight carrier on the great lakes, and in that department of commerce has been conspicuously identified with the lake marine since 1841.  His interests in that line, now of considerable magnitude, engage his active attention, and he gives to all his undertakings his closest personal supervision.  He is of a truth one of Cleveland's busiest workers, and, although verging toward three score and ten, retains in a remarkable degree the energy and watchfulness that have been the principal causes of his success.
     Captain Bradley's parents died in Brownhelm upon the old homestead, where a brother and sister still reside.  He was married in1851 to Miss Ellen M., daughter of John Burgess, of Milan, Ohio, and of the children born to them there survive one son and three daughters.
Source: History of Cuyahoga Co., Ohio - Published by D. W. Ensign & Co., - 1879 - Page 333
  FRANCIS BRANCH, son of Seth and Rachael (Hurd) Branch, was born on the 5th of June, 1812, at Middle Haddam, Connecticut.  His father, Seth Branch, was a native of the same place, having been born on the 21st of March, 1779, and having been married in 1805 to Rachael Hurd.  He removed to Ohio in 1818, and settled on what is now known as Brooklyn Hights, Cleveland.  There were but few houses in the neighborhood at that time, and Mr. Branch was considered very fortunate in scouring shelter for his family in the home of Judge Barber, until a dwelling could be erected.  His trade was that of a ship0carpenter, which he, however, did not follow after coming West; being engaged in clearing and cultivating his farm.  He died on the 11th of August, 1825, at the premature age of forty-six; leaving as a legacy to his family only their home in the forest and a name respected by all.  He had five children born in Connecticut, viz: John S., born Jan. 9, 1806; Mary, born Oct. 21, 1807; Susan M., born May 5, 1810; Francis, the subject of this notice, and Jane, born Mar. 4, 1815.  Of these, Mary and Susan M. died in infancy, and two other children born in Ohio received their names, viz.:  Mary H., born Dec. 21, 1817, and Susan M., born Sept. 3, 1822.
     Francis Branch remained at home until the death of his father, after which he was apprenticed to a ship-carpenter; John, his elder brother, taking charge of the farm.  He followed this trade until 1837.  In that year he was married (on the 21st of October) to Sarah Slaght, daughter of Abraham D. Slaght, and, his brother dying, he soon afterward removed to the homestead on Brooklyn Hights.  He then engaged in agriculture and dairying; meeting with fair success in both.  He was also one of the first milk-sellers in that locality, and, after a time, carried on quite an extensive traffic in that line.
     In 1850 Mr. Branch sold the farm, which had become quite valuable, and in May, 1851, removed to a residence on Scranton avenue, where he lived until his death, which occurred on the 4th of November, 1877.
     Mr. Branch was eminently a self-made man.  Losing his father when only fourteen years old, he was thus thrown upon his own resources, and with a limited education acquired a fortune and won an honorable place in the community.  He was Republican in politics, and held various township offices, besides serving three terms as county commissioner.  In public improvements he always took an active interest, and was a liberal contributor to all local enterprises.  Throughout life he maintained a high character for integrity and honor, while his many excellent qualities and unassuming manners won the respect of all.  Mr. and Mrs. Branch have but one child - Josephine L., born Nov. 10, 1838.  She was married to J. S. Hartzell on the 20th of May, 1865.  They also have an adopted son, who was born May 28, 1849, and was married Nov. 8, 1876, to Miss Mary A. Cornwall, of Cleveland.
Source: History of Cuyahoga Co., Ohio - Published by D. W. Ensign & Co., - 1879 - Page 334
  GAIUS BURK.  The father of Gaius Burk was among the first of that little band of hardy pioneers who penetrated into northern Ohio about the beginning of the nineteenth century, and of its wilderness made a fruitful garden.  The youth and early manhood of Gaius were passed amid the struggles and hardships of the frontier, while his entire life, save ten of its earliest years, was closely identified with the rise and growth of Cuyahoga county, which was yet a thing of the future when the boy of ten set foot in Ohio.
     He was born of old New England stock, in Northampton, Massachusetts, June 21, 1791, and thence journeyed at a tender age with his parents to Herkimer county, New York.  Sylvanus Burk, his father, was a farmer, and, turning a wistful eye toward the great West, which was then beginning to invite attention to its boundless acres, he determined to be a Western pioneer.  Setting out from his New York home with his wife and ten children, bestowed in a two-horse wagon, he steered his course for Cleveland, and traveled without eventful incident until Erie was reached, when, one of his horses dying, he abandoned the highway, and with all his family save two children - Gaius and a daughter - whom he left in care of Reed, the Erie landlord, he made the rest of the trip via Lake Erie in an open boat.  Without tarrying long in Cleveland they proceeded to Euclid, where, in the spring of 1802, they received the two children who had remained at Erie - the little ones having made the journey from that place across the country on horseback, in company with a band of Western travelers.
     Once more complete, the family were soon again on the move, turning toward what is now Independence township, in which they were the first white settlers, and in which, it may be remarked, they were all prostrated on the same day, soon after their arrival, with fever and ague.  This was emphatically a disheartening commencement, but they bore it doubtless with the philosophic resignation common to pioneer days.  A three-years stay in Independence, however, brought a desire for a change of location, and so, in 1805, they moved to what is now the village of Newburg, where Mr. Burk purchased one hundred acres of land for which he agreed to pay two dollars and a half an acre.  This payment has two sons, Brazilla B. and Gaius, undertook to make for him by carrying the government mail over the route from Cleveland to Hudson, Deerfield and Ashtabula.  Gaius was a lad of fourteen and his brother but a trifle older, and that they had the spirit to undertake and the courage to fulfil the arduous task is convincing proof that the pioneer boys were composed of the material that made men, and men too of the sort much needed then.  Once a week for three years the boys carried the mail afoot, and during their entire term of service faithfully performed every detail of their contract, albeit their journeys were not only laborious and tiresome ones through an almost unbroken wilderness, but were beset moreover with sufficient dangers to appal much older persons.
     After completing his mail contract Gaius busied himself at clearing land, and it was while engaged in that work, in 1815, that by the fall of a tree upon him he lost his leg, and was otherwise so crippled that ever after he was deprived also of the use of his right arm.  Discouraged, mayhap, but not disheartened, he set himself thereafter to do the best he could, and, entering the public arena, was chosen constable.  His services were appreciated, his popularity waxed strong, and after serving as collector under Treasurer Baldwin for several years, he was in 1828 elected county treasurer for two years, (being the second to hold that office) and at the expiration of that time was re-elected for another term.
     Mr. Burk was a man of decided intelligence and answering integrity, and kept in every respect not only abreast but ahead of the time in which he lived.  The Whig party claimed his staunch adherence until its dissolution, and after that he was a faithful follower of Republicanism, to whose principles he was attached until his death.  Having by active participation in the events which marked the wonderful progress of his adopted home, earned the luxury of rest, he passed the evening of his life upon the old homestead in Newburg in quiet ease, and died there on the 20th of August, 1865, where his father and mother had passed away before him.
     He was married in 1819 to Sophia, daughter of Philo Taylor, a pioneer settler of Rockport as well as of Dover.  Of the seven children born of the union, the four survivors are Oscar M. and Augustus M., chief proprietors of the Lake Shore Foundry in Cleveland, and Lucy J. Webster and Helen Burke, both residing in Kansas.  The eldest son, Harvey, was elected treasurer of Cuyahoga county in 1860, and died in 1861, while holding that office.  A daughter, Mrs. Justina M., wife of Dr. P. H. Worley, died in Davenport, Iowa, in 1875.
Source: History of Cuyahoga Co., Ohio - Published by D. W. Ensign & Co., - 1879 - Page 334
  STEVENSON BURKEHon. Stevenson Burke was born in St. Lawrence county, New York, Nov. 26, 1826.  In March, 1834, his father removed from New York to Ohio, and settled in North Ridgeville, Lorain county, where he resided till the time of his decease, in August, 1875.  The subject of this sketch had in early life such facilities as the common schools of the time afforded, which consisted of about ninety days of very indifferent instruction in the winter, and none during the rest of the year.  At about the age of sixteen he had the benefit of instruction in a very good select school at Ridgeville Center; afterwards he studied several terms in a private school, conducted by T. M. Oviatt, at Elyria.  Later still, he studied a year or so at Delaware University, and at Delaware, in 1846, he began the study of law with Messrs. Powell & Buck.  In the spring of 1848 he returned to Elyria and completed his studies, preparatory to admission to the bar, under the instruction of Hon. H. D. Clark, being admitted by the supreme court on the 11th of August, 1848, when he commenced practice at Elyria.  In April, 1849, Mr. Clark, who was then one of the most prominent and successful lawyers at the bar of Lorain county, admitted him into a copartnership, which continued till May, 1852.
     We have thus in a few lines sketched the career, until the time when he commenced the practice of the law alone, of one who for more than twenty-five years has occupied a very prominent position t the bar in northern Ohio.  From 1852 to February, 1862, Mr. Burke devoted himself to the practice of his profession with such zeal and devotion to the interests of his clients, as to merit and command success.  There were few cases tried in the court of common pleas or district court of Lorain county, in which he was not engaged.  His industry and attention to business were quite remarkable.  He spent no time in idleness, and his patrons were always sure to find him in his office in business hours, unless engaged in his duties elsewhere.  His close attention to business and sedentary habits seriously affected his health, and in 1861 he found it so very much impaired as to render a change of occupation necessary; and his friends having secured his election as one of the Judges of the court of common pleas of the fourth judicial district of Ohio, he gave up his practice and entered upon the discharge of his duties as judge.
     After serving a term of five years to the satisfaction of the bar and the people, he was again elected in 1866 to the same office.  He served, however, but two years of his second term, when, having regained his health, he resigned his position as judge, on the 1st of January, 1869, and at once commenced the practice of law in Cleveland, in partnership with Hon. F. T. Backus and E. J. Estep, Esq.  Mr. Backus died in 1870 but the partnership with Mr. Estep continued until the spring of 1875, since when Judge Burke has practiced alone.  His practice in Cleveland has been a very successful one.  He has been constantly engaged in the courts and in his office, and during the last ten years has probably tried as many cases of importance, involving large amounts of money or property, as any lawyer in northern Ohio.  He has during that period argued many cases in the supreme court of the State of Ohio, several in the United States supreme court, and also in the supreme courts of adjoining "States.  The history of the profession in northern Ohio furnishes few examples of a more successful practice.
     In addition to his professional business, Judge Burke has devoted much attention to other matters; he is now, and has been for several years past, a director, and chairman of the finance and executive committee, of the Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati and Indianapolis Railway Company, and is its general counsel.  He has held for several years and still holds the position of director, general counsel, and chairman of the finance and executive committee, of the Cleveland and Mahoning Valley Railway Company, and he is also the representative in this country of all the stock of the last-named company; it being owned in Europe.  He is likewise the representative of the owners of the stock of the Shenango and Allegheny Railroad Company, and also of the Mercer Mining and Manufacturing Company, and a director in both of the last-named companies.  He has been for some time a director of the Cincinnati, Springfield and Indianapolis and the St. Louis railroad companies.  He has also for several years been a director of the Lake Shore Foundry, and a director and the president of the Cleveland and Snow Fork Coal Company, both large corporations.
     The foregoing is a brief outline of an extremely active professional and business life.  It is two early yet to compare the subject of this sketch with others, or to go into detail in regard to his professional, judicial and business career; he is still in the prime of life.  Time has dealt gently with him, and his appearance indicates that he has many years of activity still before him.
Source: History of Cuyahoga Co., Ohio - Published by D. W. Ensign & Co., - 1879 - Page 335

 

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