Doing Spring cleaning this year has revealed lots of little treasures that I didn't know I had. Some of these were family papers and photos, most of which revealed some interesting ancestors of whom I knew very little.
Most of us know everything about our siblings and much about our cousins, a great deal about our parents, some about our grand-parents, and little to nothing about the generations beyond, yet the fabric of our family trees can be some of the most interesting reading you can find. Years ago, as uncles and aunts passed away, my sisters and I inherited boxes of old photographs, letters, newspaper clippings, playbills, and even daguerreotypes (images on a silver-coated copper plate). My older sister has done the most with all of this material, organizing it in Family Tree Maker (software by Ancestry.com), hiring people in distant cities to photography family sights and headstones, researching snippits of information revealed slightly in an article or document, and scanning everything she can get her hands on. She's built quite an organized picture of our family tree back through the generations.
This week I stumbled across a small leaflet entitled "William Hardee - 1845-1922". "Doing the math", I've concluded that this would have been my great-grandfather on my mother's side. I always knew this side of the family had had strong ties to Toledo, Ohio - I'd heard the city's name mentioned quite often and we buried my grandmother their in 1974, but beyond that I knew little to nothing. Well this leaflet revealed an interesting man - one I think I would have liked to know. I'm sharing the contents of that leaflet below not because it talks of a prominent, successful leader and philanthropist whom anyone might like to find in their family tree, but because of what is said about the man. Anyone who has followed this blog for a time, knows that I have a love for words and expression, and I found myself reading and re-reading this leaflet numerous times enjoying how it was written, the words selected, and what the authors and society considered valued human characteristics at that time. Sadly, I believe what is valued in a person today is far different than what was valued at the turn of the 20th century.
"He was conscious of his shortcomings, and knew that in being celebrated there was only hollow advantage in being known by a lot of people who did not really know him."
"Truth, justice and clean business were his three graces ..."
I hope, if you read on that you will find this interesting reading and maybe even "food for thought" ... to me it's a small glimpse into "from whence we came".
On May 1st, 1922, William Hardee, one of the founders of The National Supply Company, passed away at the age of seventy-six years. For fifty-two years he was a resident of Toledo.
At an early age he entered the employ of the Wabash Railroad as assistant to the Purchasing Agent. In 1873 the elements of leadership and command began to assert themselves, and he gave expression to his ambition by entering into a partnership with Daniel C. Shaw and Cornelius Kendall, under the firm name of Shaw, Kendall & Company. Out of this venture grew his business career which has been one of national interest.
Shortly after this date, the firm of Wolcott, Rowe & Company, and Joseph L. Wolcott became an active partner in the latter concern. Shaw, Kendall & Company was primarily engaged in the heating, plumbing and mill supply business, but in a small way had become interested in furnishing equipment for oil country uses. In 1887 active drilling for oil began in northern Ohio, and W.C. Hillman, through a chance acquaintance, interested Shaw, Kendall & Company in the oil well supply business, which resulted in the formation of a partnership and the opening of a store at Cygnet, Ohio, under the name of The Buckeye Oil Well Supply Company.
The wonderful possibilities of the oil well supply department led the partners to seek broader fields, and about 1896 an organization similarly engaged in Pittsburgh was approved and the negotiations terminated in the consolidation of The Buckeye Oil Well Supply Company with The National Supply Company, in which Mr. Hardee became officially interested. He exhibited unusual business acumen and, through his wise counsel, rare financial and executive ability, he contributed much to the deep rooting of this expanding enterprise, and later on became its Treasurer, then its President, and then Chairman of the Board of Directors.
Although the affairs of The National Supply Company were exacting and burdensome, Mr. Hardee did not keep himself aloof from other activities. He had Constructive ideas about banking and the duty of banks to a community, and it was quite natural in the course of events, that his financial sagacity would be recognized. From 1915 to 1918 he was President of The Ohio Savings Bank & Trust Company, Toledo, Ohio, which, under his administration, greatly prospered and occupied a prominent place among the banking institutions of the city.
It would seem that these business callings would have consumed all of his time, but he had several praiseworthy avocations, and among them was the upbuilding of the Toledo Museum of Art, of which he was one of the founders and First Vice-President when he passed away. He realized the tremendous beneficial influence an organization of this kind would be to the city, and in addition to giving the Museum the benefit of his wonderful executive ability, he went still further and contributed largely to its financial support, to its collection of pictures and to the establishment of prizes to encourage the youth of the city in the development of their artistic talents.
Beyond the limits of his own city, he went into the hills of Kentucky, to give his support to Berea College, and as a trustee and a generous patron, he was able to carry out his idea of serving those best who were not able to help themselves.
William Hardee left a real heritage to posterity and particularly to his associates and friends. He had high ideals of business, and, in the pursuit of success, carried out those ideals which made him and outstanding figure among his business associates as a man of keen business judgement, strong integrity and an ennobling example which younger generations might well endeavor to follow. He did not crave celebrity or greatness. He was conscious of his shortcomings, and knew that in being celebrated there was only a hollow advantage in being known by a lot of people who did not really know him. He was a plain, straightforward, honest and just man; a man who typified the art of mastery; a benevolent Christian; a forceful, uplifting citizen.
William Hardee was not a man who would subscribe to a doleful memorial. He did not live that way. He saw the good things in life and always maintained an interest in youthful pleasures and enthusiasm. To think, he well knew was the hardest thing in the world to do, but he was undaunted in this procedure. He was a thinker and a doer. To him moments were precious and he husbanded them as he thoroughly realized that the substance opf each man's mastery was contracted into a brief period, so he condensed his thoughts and this was reflected in a style of speech that was direct and conclusive. Truth, justice and clean business were his three graces and these have unmistakably left their imprint upon the entire organization of The National Supply Company, upon the citizenship of Toledo and upon his business acquaintances abroad.
In compliance with a resolution of the Board of Directors, a copy of this appreciation of Mr. Hardee was ordered placed upon the minutes of the Company, and a copy sent to members of the organization of The National Supply Companies and to intimate friends of Mr. Hardee.
The National Supply Company,
James H. Barr,
Charles R. Clapp,
June 2, 1922
Note: When I was the manager of the Endowments, Foundations & Nonprofit Group at the bank I worked at in New York, Berea College was one of our clients. Who knew our "paths" would cross in such a way.