Henry Hobart Taylor

Pictures of Cornelius Aultman

The Aultman & Taylor companies carried pictures of Cornelius Aultman & Henry Hobart Taylor on the water tanks of their steam traction engines and on the tailings elevator of their separators and Clover Hullers.

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156 West High Street, New Concord, Ohio 43762


Next to Cornelius Aultman the most important personage in the founding of the Aultman & Taylor Manufacturing Company located in Mansfield, Ohio was Henry Hobart Taylor. Upon the mention of Henry Taylor he is usually recognized as having been an agent for C. Aultman & Co. and Nichols, Shepard and Company. While this is in fact true yet in and of itself fails to do justice to the man for he was involved in numerous other areas of business and industry. Little has been written about him and unfortunately much of it is erroneous so for this reason he is not as well known as is Aultman and many of the other men who were engaged in the manufacture and sale of threshing machinery. Consequently it is all the more important and in fact imperative that a more accurate and complete biographical sketch of this illustrious man should be presented. 1

Henry Hobart Taylor was born in Durhamsville near Oneida Creek, New York in the year of 1835. His father and family moved to Chicago in 1845 and engaged in merchandizing. Henry was ten years of age when the family moved to Chicago and he entered the public schools of that city. However at an early age he became a clerk in his father's store where through that experience received a business education and was initiated into the mercantile experience of the growing busy city of Chicago.

In 1854 the family moved to Freeport, Illinois. At that time Mr. Taylor was eighteen years of age and launched out for himself. He began his self-support although he had only one dollar in his pocket. He journeyed to Cincinnati, Ohio where he became employed by a druggist for the purpose of learning pharmacy. In that day it was common practice for a young man who wished to become a doctor, lawyer or a pharmacist to study, read and work with one of the older men as he practiced his profession. At the conclusion of an apprenticeship the young man was either declared competent to practice his profession or after passing an examination was licensed and accorded the right to follow his chosen profession. Mr. Taylor spent learning to become a pharmacist and mastered the art, but made no use of his knowledge of pharmacy during the rest of his life.

In 1856 he returned to Freeport, Illinois and at that time took out an agency for C. Aultman & Co. of Canton, Ohio. Thus there began an association which endured for a period of nineteen years. This could well be termed the turning point in his career for with the cultivation of the prairies his business increased rapidly.

In 1864 he became associated with Nichols, Shepard and Company of Battle creek, Michigan and also became a stockholder in that Company. In order to handle the increase in his business he established an agency in Chicago for the distribution of machinery manufactured by C. Aultman & Co. and Nichols, Shepard and Company of which he assumed personal responsibility. His business was extended throughout the northwestern states as well as to the Pacific coast and grew to large proportions. 2

He was a remarkable business man being active in several business enterprises in Chicago and its environs. Typical of this interest was his connection with the Elgin National Watch Company of Elgin, Illinois. He was one of the founders of that Company and was a member of the Board of Directors from 1867 until his death on November 9, 1875. It was he who placed the Elgin watch on the London market within one month's time. 3

The Seventy-fifth Anniversary issue of the Elgin Watch-Word reports that,

'The first death of a member of the Board in the office of the directory was that of Henry H. Taylor who died in November of 1875. Mr. Taylor joined the Board in 1867, although a comparatively young man, had from the first taken rank as to ability and industry in the services of the Company.' 4

In this connection an interesting sidelight is provided in a personal letter written by one of the present officials of the Elgin Watch Company. This official states that during the early year3 the Elgin Company manufactured models which were given the name of 'Taylor'. It was a common practice then to name watches in honor of important people who were associated with the Company. This official is of the opinion that those early models were named in honor of Mr. Taylor who was then a member of the Board of Directors. 5

It is enlightening at this point to recall the financial and economic conditions of Chicago during the time that Henry H. Taylor was a citizen of that city. With a population of 29,000 in 1850 by 1855 it had grown to 80,000 and in 1860 it stood at 100,000. In other words this was more than a sixty percent increase in population during that ten year period. In 1860 the city was astir growing more rapidly than it could care for its needs. It became known as the city of enterprise and already had become the great railroad center of the country. The northwest was opening up and thousands of immigrants were moving in to claim the land. Hogs, cattle, corn and wheat were pouring into the city in huge quantities. Steamboats on the lakes and freight cars standing in the railroad yards were filled to overflowing with products from the farms and ranches. Chicago shipped thousands of bushels of grain in 1860. 6 Due in part to the war between the states, prices were greatly inflated. The value of property and real estate increased seventeen percent during the four years of the war and stood at $37,063,512. By the close of the war, property values had increased seventy percent. In brief, Chicago was in the midst of unprecedented, phenomenal and rapid growth. These then were the financial and economic conditions which prevailed in the city of Chicago during the time that Henry H. Taylor was one of its prominent citizens. 7

Possessed as he was with unusual business acumen and foresight, there is little wonder that he made investments in real estate at comparatively low prices. With the rapid growth of the city already depicted, real estate prices skyrocketed and Mr. Taylor was able to realize enormous profits from those investments which in the end brought him a fortune. One must remember too that this was long before the day of income and inheritance taxes and so his fortune was not thereby reduced.

In still another way he allied himself with the financial interests of the community. With enlargement of his financial resources he joined in the establishment of the Commercial National Bank of which he was a Director for many years. He was one of the Directors of the American Insurance Company with offices in the city of Chicago. 8

In at least one respect he was unlike Aultman, Nichols, Shepard and others associated with him. While those men were knowledgeable in the affairs of business, they were at the same time competent mechanics and inventors. On the other hand, Taylor was primarily an astute, shrewd and competent business man who was able to make decisions at opportune times. He was uncanny in his sensitiveness to the appropriateness of a product for a given time. Thus he was interested in the Vibrator separator not primarily as an inventor but rather as a significant business opportunity. Obviously, to be the successful business man and salesman that he was required a thorough understanding and knowledge of the machines which were manufactured. To this end he devoted his energies with great zeal.

While it is true that he was a most successful salesman which enabled him to build some capital, yet it is a fact that his fortune was accumulated not primarily as an agent for C. Aultman & Co. and Nichols, Shepard and Company nor as the co-founder of the Aultman & Taylor Manufacturing Company but rather as a result of wise investments in real estate in the city of Chicago of which he was able to dispose at an opportune time. Upon his death he left his only son, H. C. Chatfield Taylor, an inheritance of approximately two million dollars. 9

In 1864 Mr. Taylor was married to Adelaide Chatfield who was a native of Orriskany, New York. To this union was born one son, H. C. Chatfield Taylor, who became a well known literature in the city of Chicago.

Mr. Taylor did not enjoy the advantages of higher education, but he was a great reader of books and became a most versatile person in the several fields of literature and also became knowledgeable in the various fields of science of that day. Through diligent study he acquired great precision in the use of language and was extremely refined in the use of words. He was particular and meticulous in his demeanor and in every respect a modest and unassuming person. All in all he was a learned, cultured and refined gentleman without doubt influenced immeasurably by his New England heritage.

He maintained numerous interests outside of the area of business. He was a Republican in polities, although he was not a narrow partisan. He was a member of the Masonic Fraternity and had attained the rank of Knight Templar. He made several trips to Europe, doubtless for business purposes as well as for social and cultural pursuits. He was generous in his gifts to charitable organizations and his contributions were made without regard to creed. His gifts went to the Bethel Home, Chicago Relief Society, Old Ladies Home and other similar charities. His contributions were always large, but they were never made with ostentation and he never permitted his name to go before the public as a giver. His gifts were made without public recognition or acclaim which was typical of the man.

According to the Chicago Directories of 1872 and 1873 the family residence was located at 226 W. Washington Street in Chicago. The address today in 909 Washington Boulevard. The Directories also listed Mr. Taylor's occupation as 'Agricultural Machinery'.

For three years prior to his death Mr. Taylor suffered from a complication of diseases and during the last month of his life became totally blind. Yet in spite of those handicaps with indomitable courage and energy he attended to his business until the day of his death. The cause of his death was due to Kidney and Bright's disease. Interment was made in the Graceland cemetery in Chicago. 10

As already mentioned Henry Taylor's death occurred on Nov. 9, 1875. He was forty years of age and his death preceded that of Aultman by nine years, he having died at the age of fifty-seven. So both were relatively young men especially when compared with today's lengthened span of life. Neither of them approached the biblical three score and ten.

Two writers describe the grief and disappointment of the citizens of Chicago in the following paragraph.

'He had only reached the age of forty years, when men are usually at the meridian of their powers. Why men gifted with such natural endowments, and possessing so many accomplishments fitting them for years of usefulness and honor, should be cut off in their early prime is one of the inscrutable mysteries of life! It is certain that in the early death of Mr. Taylor Chicago lost a most worthy and estimable citizen and one who contributed not a little to her growth '. 11

The above experience is not an unusual one for the last low whispers of the dead have often brought frustration and dismay to countless numbers. So this has been one of the ever persistent queries down through the weary march of the ages, the answer to which each must give in his own way.

In the chill of death the following resolution adopted by the Directors of the Commercial National Bank perhaps epitomizes the grief of the citizens of Chicago and withal their admiration of the high qualities and generosity of the man.

'Whereas, it has seemed good to an all-wise Providence to remove from our midst our friend and associate, Henry H. Taylor, for many years, a Director of this bank; Resolved, that we sincerely deplore the loss of one whom we have been so long and so intimately associated, and for whom we have ever cherished the strongest feelings of general regard; a citizen honored and respected in all relations of life; a man whose influence and generosity were felt in every good work, and one whose business ability, sound judgement, and high character contributed much to the prosperity of this institution. Resolved, that we extend to the family of Mr. Taylor the assurance of our heartfelt sorrow and earnest sympathy in their affliction. Resolved, that, as a mark of respect for the character of Mr. Taylor, the doors of this bank be closed on the afternoon of the 11th inst. at which time we will attend the funeral in a body, and that these resolutions be entered on the record of the bank, and a copy of the same, properly engrossed, be transmitted to the family of the deceased'. 12

This then is a sketch of the life of Henry Hobart Taylor. Viewed in retrospect it was all too brief, yet his accomplishments as well as his contributions were many and what he was as a man speaks for itself. There is little to add but to reiterate that he was a competent business man and one who was highly respected by all who knew him a modest, cultured and unassuming person. His life although too brief was a record of 'a well-filled past' and 'well worth a life to hold in fee'. 13

Mr. Taylor's will provided that his son was to receive $50,000.00 and the remainder of his estate was to go to charities. However, the son was not satisfied with his father's will and so in the quietest and most gentlemanly manner possible importuned the other legatees that his father's disposition of his wealth was not fair. So without a lawsuit or even a vigorous protest they acceded to his request and permitted Hobart to take the entire estate.

His name was Hobart Chatfield Taylor. Upon the death of his uncle Wayne Chatfield his will provided that Hobart was to receive his fortune of $3,500,000.00 with the proviso that he would take his uncle's name. This he did and his name became Hobart Chatfield Chatfield-Taylor. He was one of the first Americans to acquire a hyphenated name. At this time he was twenty-eight years of age. He graduated from Cornell University in 1886 and later married the youngest daughter of ex-senator and millionaire, Charles B. Farwell. The two fortunes which he inherited amounted to approximately four and a half million dollars. This was exclusive of his wife's inheritance. One of the newspaper accounts stated that he was very wealthy and did not dissipate in any hurtful way.

In addition to being a well known literature in the city of Chicago, he was for several years the Spanish Consul in that city. He also had the dubious reputation in Chicago and elsewhere of being the arbiter in the Elegancies. The Chicago Herald described his speciality as follows:

'Consul Chatfield-Taylor's strongest point in his strict observance of the proprieties. He would sooner die than be seen in a costume not in consonance with the time of day or the event then transpiring. Since he has been his own master, there has not been a day when mortal man has seen him in other than evening dress after 6 o'clock p.m., except when he is traveling or in a section of the country whose dress suits were unknown or not tolerated. So keen is his sense of fitness of things that he has his own coach fitted up as a dressing room and there he keeps several suits of clothes and other articles of apparel. Under one seat is a wash-bowl, with a water can near by. In case he is out calling in the afternoon and has not time to get home in season to dress at 6 o'clock he simply lets down the curtains of his carriage, disrobes, attends to the duties of the toilet, and arraying himself in evening dress is ready when the bells chime 6 to sit down to dinner'. 14

By the sheer fortuitous circumstance of birth those huge fortunes were lavished upon one individual who made no contribution to their accumulation. While Henry H. Taylor did not acquire the bulk of his fortune through the sale of threshing machinery, yet in truth it was the beginning and one source of his wealth. Here is a case of one individual who in part at least was the beneficiary of the toil of thousands of threshermen, farmers as well as those who labored in the factories which in the end made possible the accumulation of the huge fortune.

Following the death of Henry Taylor, Cornelius Aultman purchased his holdings in the Company. That transaction placed Aultman in the position of having the controlling interest in the Company. Then when he died his daughter Elizabeth Harter fell heir to the bulk of her father's estate which made her in turn the controlling stockholder in the Company. That interest she held in the Company until it was liquidated in 1923. 15


1. John Moses and Joseph Kirk-land: History of Illinois, pp. 651-652, 1895.

2. Ibid. pp. 651-652.

3. The Watch-Word, Elgin, Illinois, 1921.

4. Seventy-Fifth Anniversary Issue of the Watch-Word, 1864-1939, Elgin, Illinois.

5. Letter to the author dated March 11, 1968 by D. W. Leverez, Director Technical Trade Relations, Elgin National Watch Company, Elgin, Illinois.

6. Lloyd Lewis and Henry Justin Smith: Chicago: The History of Its Reputation, Part I, p. 79, Blue Ribbon Books, Inc. New York City.

7. Ibid. p. 79.

8. The Chicago Tribune, November 11, 1875.

9. A. J. Baughman, Editor: Centennial Biographical History of Richland County, Ohio, p. 609, The Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago, Illinois, 1901.

10. Report of Death, County Clerk's Office, Vital Statistics Department, 130 North Wells Street, Chicago, 6, Illinois, Edward J. Barrett, County Clerk. October 22, 1968.

11. Chicago Tribune, p. 8, November 11, 1875.

12. Ibid.

13.  James Russell Lowell: The Heritage.

14. The Sunday Shield, Mansfield. Ohio, July 2, 1893.

15. Quintin Alexander: Unpublished Thesis, University of Pa.