Sunday, February 27, 2011

Billhead of the Month - Wm T. Price lumberman and farmer

About 2 years ago I purchased a large billhead ledger in Eau Claire Wisconsin. I soaked out the billheads and sold many of them. To my surprise the first 20 pages had three layers of billheads. One of these buried billheads was for Wm T. Price lumberman and farmer and proprietor Hixton Mills. As you can see, the little billhead is in poor shape, but the history behind Price makes it a historical gem.

William Thompson Price was born at Barre Township, Pennsylvania in 1824.
His father was a farmer and at one time Sheriff of Huntingdon County PA. William worked on the farm and also as a clerk in a store at Hollidaysburg PA and studied law. In 1845 he immigrated West, first to Mount Pleasant Iowa where he intended to work in the law business. He soon moved to Black River Falls Wisconsin and went into the pine woods six miles north of Neillsville with two other men and got out 700,000 feet of logs during the winter. In the summer of 1846 he accepted a position as book keeper and general manager of the business of Jacob Spaulding. In the winter of 1848-1849 he was logging again with Amos Elliott in Clark County and continued logging with some success until 1853 when he formed a partnership with FM Rublee of La Crosse. His firm existed for about two years and in 1852 purchased and platted northwestern Black River Falls.

In 1854 he moved his family to La Crosse and opened a livery stable and established a stage line between La Crosse and Black River Falls. In 1854 he returned to the Falls and established a law partnership with CR Johnson. The firm existed until 1859. Price also kept the La Crosse stage line in operation for a number of years. He also embarked in the mercantile business on a large scale with CS Crossett as a partner. The panic 1857 caught the two in unsettled business and their firm failed. After disposing of all the assets the pair were still $25,000 in debt. Price then returned to the logging business and within seven years had every dollar of his debt repaid with interest.

In 1860, in partnership with DJ Spaulding he operated the Albion flour and lumber mills. In 1864 he purchased the stage line between St. Paul and Sparta but soon disposed of a portion of it. In 1871 he purchased a farm in Hixton which eventually amounted to 3,000 acres. His logging business also grew to where he was producing 60,000,000 feet of logs annually. He was said to have been one of the most extensive single operators in the United States.

Price got involved in politics in 1850. As a Democrat, he was state assemblyman (1851), later joined the Republican party, and was state senator (1857, 1870-1871, 1878-1881). He was again state assemblyman in 1882. In 1882 he was elected to Congress, was re-elected in 1884, and served from Mar., 1883, until his death.

On my most recent trip up to Eau Claire I purchased a letterhead for William T. Price.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day - Cupid Graphics

I have some cupid graphics for your enjoyment today.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

1826 Dart & Van Keuren druggist billhead - Part 1

I picked up this billhead recently on ebay and I was somewhat surprised it went so cheap. Nice early billhead with left side graphic of a bottle and funnel with the words across the bottle - drugs, paints and dye stuff. really faint plate mark on left side. I love researching the billheads I buy and this one was very interesting.I usually start my research by typing in the firm name with quotes in google to see what pops up. Nothing of any substance came up for Dart & Van Keuren. Next it’s on to searching google books by firm name, then include the city, then include the type of business. Nothing too helpful yet for Dart & Van Keuren. I have a link to a listing of online state and city directories, so I check there. There was an 1827 Longworth directory free through google books so I checked it and there was no Dart listed as a druggist, there were three Darts listed: Anson, Norman and Russel. There were two Vankeurens listed: Peter and Abraham. So, back to regular google – there is another website that offers free views of books – sure enough, I found the Longworth directory for 1825-1826 and bingo – listed is Anson Dart as a druggist and Peter Vankeuren as a druggist – with the same address as listed on the billhead. Once I get partner names, I start over from the top researching each partner. Below is information about Anson Dart.

Anson Dart was born in 1797 in Brattleboro Vermont. Dart gained some knowledge of drugs and became a druggist in New York City where he imported from France the first ounce of quinine brought to America. Later he moved to Oneida County New York and became a miller, having a large mill in the town of Delta. Afterwards he lived in Utica being construction superintendent of the asylum there. He came west in 1835-1836 and made investments in Milwaukee and in pine lands, but lost it all to speculation. Afterwhich he took up residence in Green County.

His son, Richard gave a narration of the family’s time in Green Lake County – which had just recently been surveyed and opened to market. In 1843-1844, Dart built a grist mill with Samuel Beall on the south side of Green Lake. Dart ran the mill for two years when the lake began to dry up and the mill lost its power source. The mill was abandoned and torn down. In 1846 Dart built a sawmill at Dartford. That same year Dart sold his 200 acre farm to a Southern Lowther Taylor for $12 an acre and moved the family to Dartford. In 1850 Dart built a grist mill in Dartford and took on John Sherwood as a partner.

Dart was a Whig in politics and in 1848 threw himself into the presidential campaign. Upon success of the Whigs, in 1850 Dart received an appointment of superintendent of Indian Affairs in Oregon with a salary of $8 per day. Dart took two sons with him to Oregon and the remainder of his family stayed at Dartford. Dart never returned to live in Wisconsin, he took various political appointments, went to Europe and died in August 1879 at Washington DC.

Dart would be the superintendent of Indian Affairs in Oregon from 1851 to 1852. He negotiated treaties with the tribes in Oregon and Washington.

Part 2 will be about Peter Van Keuren.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The "Chinaman"

The stereotype Chinaman is mostly found on billhead and letterheads associated with tea. The first introduction of tea in Europe was in Portugal. But it wasn't until the formation of the East India Company in 1602 that the use of tea became known on the Continent. In 1669 the East India Company's first invoice of teas was received from China. In the space of 100 years from 1718 to 1818 the East India Company sold 750,219,016 lbs. of tea. The consumption of tea in the United States before the Revolution was considerable. It was Britain's taxation of tea that led to the rallying cry of No Taxation without Representation.

As soon as it could, the United States opened trade with China. Ships from Philadelphia, New York, Boston, and Salem were the most active in the new China trade. By the 1830’s, trade routes were well established between the United States and China. Thus tea became the most important commodity Americans obtained from China through the end of the 19th century.

The tea trade was in the hands of very few men, T.H. Perkins, of Boston, Stephen Girard, of Philadelphia and John Jacob Astor, of New York, were three of America's first millionaires who made their fortunes in the China tea trade. The duties here on tea were two or three times as much as the first cost of the article at Canton, and a single ship often had to pay from $200,000 to $300,000 in duties alone. It follows, therefore, that only the largest merchants were engaged in this trade. It was nevertheless immensely profitable once the requisite credit was secured, as the government allowed duties to go over from a year to eighteen months without interest, merely upon the security of a bond deposited.

There is so much more I could write on the tea trade, so I will stop here. It is interesting to point out that billheads and letterheads don't have the same racist undertone like advertising trade cards of the Chinese do. Most depictions are of the Chinaman sorting tea, carrying tea or simply busts.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Billheads - Brown, Treacy & Co. St. Paul MN

Michael Treacy was born in 1844 at Massachusetts. He moved to St. Paul in 1856 and worked for TM Newson in 1859. He soon learned the trade of job printer with the job department of the Pioneer Press and worked for them for twenty-two years when in 1882 he went into business for himself with partners under the firm name Brown, Treacy & Howard. His brother John also worked for the Pioneer Press and eventually joined the firm. In 1894, the firm became Brown, Treacy & Co. with Hiram Brown, Treacy and Dennis Sperry as partners.

In 1896, the firm invested money with Herbert H. Bigelow to print and sell calendars. That firm was known as Brown & Bigelow. In December, 1900 the firm of Brown, Treacy & Co. was dissolved due to the death of Michael Treacy. In 1905 Brown died.

In 1924, Bigelow was sentenced to two years in Leavenworth prison for income tax evasion. At Leavenworth he was befriended by Charles Ward who was serving a sentence for narcotics. Ward grew up in poverty and became a vagabond, mined gold and was a mercenary with Pancho Villa in 1919. He was arrested on a narcotics charge in El Paso. After Ward was released in 1924 he began working for Bigelow.

Ward soon rose to vice president of the firm Brown & Bigelow. In 1933, Bigelow drowned at his cabin. When his will was filed, it was known that he left Ward one-third of his estate of $1,000,000. Ward took over as president of the firm and Brown & Bigelow grew under Ward. Ward encouraged unionization, widened production into playing cards, pens & pencils, and cigarette lighters. He soon hired the top commercial art talent (Norman Rockwell, Maxwell Parrish) for B & B calendars. B & B became the biggest calendar producer in the world. All this started from Brown, Treacy & Co.’s initial investment into Brown & Bigelow.