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CLEVELAND'S GOLDEN STORY
GOLDEN EGGS IN MANY BASKETS
The fathers of Cleveland's arts, crafts and trades, whether by design or chance, followed the philosophy of "Don Quixote" in establishing the city's industries. Cervantes wrote: "It is the part of a wise man to keep himself today for tomorrow and not to venture all his eggs in one basket."
The early industries were as varied in character as they were numerous. And this condition prevails today, to the marked benefit of Cleveland. It will prove even ore vital to the city's welfare in the future, as the rivalry for place and power between metropolitan centres becomes more intense. Cleveland's eggs are decidedly not all in one basket. They were not laid that way in the beginning.
One of the most interesting of the kindergarten industries was that of the water carrier.
Benhu Johnson, an ex-soldier with a wooden leg, was town water purveyor. He pre-dated all other private and municipal water plants. Johnson sold water for laundry purposes exclusively-two barrels for twenty-five cents.
To complement Johnson's water wagon, the first in Cleveland, Jabez Kelley supplied soft soap at a shilling a gallon. The soap was a by-product of Kelley's candle factory at the end of Superior Lane.
The first tanner in Cleveland, whose name , records reveal, was Williamson, did a thriving business for those days with the trappers. He cured the raw furs of foxes, wolves, bears, and squirrels. He oak-tanned leather and dressed it for the local boot and shoe makers.
Much of the leather was heavy, but many a Cleveland Cinderella's boots were Williamson-tanned. The family home was east of the Square, which later became the site of the Williamson Building.
There were weeks on the Western Reserve when the residents went without bread for lack of flour due from the East. The Connecticut Land Company believed firmly in the truth of the saying of English Matthew Henry, "here is bread which strengthens man's heart and is therefore the staff of life."
Accordingly,in1799, they equipped a mill at Newburg Falls, now Broadway and Warner
Road, under the direction of wheeler Williams, whom they endowed with one hundred acres of land. To the mill at Newburg Falls the settlers brought their grain for grinding and their cunning for dealing.
There was in Cleveland, in the formative days, a hatter named Walworth, who made the broad pioneer hat, the predecessor of the world-famed Stetson. On occasion, Walworth indulged in fancy and made tall felt hats for aspiring statesmen. Doubtless some of his creations renewed and gave pungency to Lewis Carroll's phrase, "As mad as a hatter."
Among the ventures of 1801 was a still on the river's edge. The spring water which bubbled on the premises and the grain brought by the farmers were utilized to produce the insignificant volume of two quarts of liquor a day. At this rate, we must give the settlers all advantage of doubt and say that the beverage was made for medicinal purposes.
Along in 1829 came one of the most fantastic phases of American arts and crafts. The people of Cleveland developed a collective mania which expressed itself in a fad for the production of silk and silk products. The women of Cleveland exhibited at the County fair, in old Glenville near 105th Street, articles in which they featured silk yarn made in the home and spun from silk cocoons grown in Cleveland and vicinity.
At this exhibit, James Houghton received special recognition for the most lucrative half-acre of mulberry trees. Mary Severance was rewarded with a premium for specimens of silk twist. Mrs. Brainard of Brooklyn deserved special recognition for exhibiting silk in eight tints, colored with domestic vegetable dye. There were doubtless enthusiasts who believed that in the valley of Cuyahoga, old China and its famed silk worms would find a serious rival.
But Ohioans found that the silk worm is not industrious in so rigorous a climate. The deservedly famous Ohio honey-bee proved a lucrative successor to the silk worm.
A more sensible development was the four woolen mills which employed eighteen men, and were exceedingly busy in the '40s. There was a Bohemian settlement on the West Side that formed the nucleus of an extensive blanket industry.
It was in this period that the carding of wool, the weaving of cloth, and the making of garments shifted from the back parlor of home to the shop. The ancient relationship pf women and textiles was changing.
In 1845, Kaufman Koch started a Cleveland tailoring establishment which, by a long line of succession-three-quarters of a century later-became the great establishment for the
making of men's clothing-known as The Joseph and Feiss Company.
In 1854, David Black came to Cleveland. He left farming to establish a notion store and in 1876 founded the Black and Hoffman organization for the making of women's clothing. hw was succeeded by Herman Black, who introduced the radical idea of producing garments before they were ordered, which had always seemed to the old tailors a daring gamble.
The standardization of sizes on the basic theory that nature is a sculptor with but few models, molding just so many people according to each type and pattern, was thought behind Mr. Black's plans. It had not occurred to the makers of homespuns that production in quantity was possible and people could be made to favor a limited number of styles.
Morris Black, one of Cleveland's leading citizens is now head of this organization, still known as the H. Black company.
The Printz-Biederman Company of Cleveland- makers of the "Printzess" garments for women-have done much to give ready-to-wear garments the status once held exclusively by the creations of the modiste. This house was founded in 1893 by Moritz Printz and Joseph Biederman.
In 1903, this company was incorporated under its present name. Originally they made only
coats and suits; in later years they produced garments for misses and children. The Printz-Biederman Company is widely known for its method of dealing with employees, now numbering about 1300. The workers have a direct voting voice in all matters that affect their welfare.
In the youth of the Republic, men and women were much more individual in dress than even today. Benjamin Franklin, all of his life, kept to one style of suit, which was made by his good wife. he was received at Versailles and at the Court of St. James in a suit tailored by the loving fingers of his spouse.
Cleveland is the second city in volume of sales in the women's wear trade today. It is the capital of the fine ready-to-wear world. Cleveland is a "selling market." It sends its salesmen into most every city and village for orders. New York is a "buying market" where merchants go to select goods. Much of the clothing is woven in the city.
Cleveland, leader among cities for diversified industries, does not neglect the problem of related trades The great worsted mills began operation in Cleveland in 1888. In 1920, three carloads of wool shearings are transformed daily into enough clothing to make ten thousand men's suits.
The tracing wheel and scissors have been replaced by the electric knife which cuts two
hundred garments in one swift operation. Sixty buttons are automatically attached in a minute. Ten thousand complete and modish garments are finished every day. Eight to ten carloads of women's coats and suits are daily expressed from Cleveland to a thousand points on the continent.
More people are required to fashion clothing in Cleveland than are needed in any other industry except iron and steel. The census of 1910 disclosed the fact that one girl in every five or six Cleveland lassies enters the sewing trades.
The clothing industry, which gained its first vital momentum in the years beginning 1880. is here used to illustrate the magic swiftness of Cleveland's commercial expansion, because it is the one industry which grew out of the home. Perhaps with a sigh of relief from its mistress, it slipped through the fingers of the housewife. The other industries had their beginning in the blacksmith's forge, the lumber camp, the sawmill and the open hearth. The most intensely domestic of manufacturing now stands among the most scientific.
Even the famine fervor for silk-growing and spinning has its present-day reminder in houses which create out of blocks of spruce, synthetic silk as lustrous and appealing as the silk in a mandarin's coat.
But garment-making, being the mother industry, the most feminine of all occupations, can
never entirely desert the fireside. Women are not content to fold their hands while they may exercise skill in fashioning cloths for wee ones.
Cleveland's contributions to the sewing machine industry are of pertinent interest. In 1870, Thomas White and his sons were experimenting in a small machine shop on Canal Street.
About this period, Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton made a railroad journey through Ohio on their way to Illinois. There began no sleeping accommodations on their particular train, the two pioneer suffragists sat through the night gazing into the darkness.. Mrs. Stanton had noted the number of homes in which light were shining. "Can it be," said she to Miss Anthony, "that there is sickness in all of these isolated homes?"
Miss Anthony determined to know the reason for the burning of the midnight oil. The conductor on the train was well aquatinted with the folk along the line of his route. He said, "It is the early fall and the women are preparing for the winter. They have no leisure nor opportunity to sew in the daytime. After the babies are tucked in bed, they start to work-patiently stitching every garment by hand."
Miss Anthony resolved that information about sewing machines were just as valuable as suffragist propaganda, so she induced manu-
facturers to print hand bills with suffrage publicity on one side and sewing machine advertisements on the other. With Mrs. Stanton, Miss Anthony induced the fathers of the Western Reserve to part with some of their cash to lessen woman's burden.
Thomas White, of Cleveland, was one of the sewing machine makers who heartily approved of the missionary work Miss Anthony and Mrs. Stanton. the other sewing machine inventors and manufacturers were in the East. White perfected his machine and produced and sold it in the territory which needed it the most. Over eight million White sewing machines have helped to bring more leisure to women.
And out of the sewing machine business came other industries. The Whites were so successful with the domestic machine that they began building bicycles. Bicycles were the forerunner of the automobile.
The White Company evolved first the steam machine, then a gasoline car, and is now world famed for motor trucks.
So you see that the hearth-side crafts of the Western Reserve trace a continuous relationship to the refinements of today-from linsey woolsey jackets to limousine motor coats.