By S. W. Ely
First Secretary of the Marietta & Cincinnati Rail Road
From a series of three articles in The Chillicothe Leader, December, 1889
Copied from clippings from The Chillicothe Leader owned by Mrs. J. L. Cavanaugh, Zaleski, Ohio, on January 30, 1947
(Note, this text is copied directly from newspaper clippings. Each article is preceded by headlines written by editors of The Chillicothe Leader. In the first article, Mr. Ely begins by commenting on a previous article by him.)
The Exile From Poland's Fair Land Whom Moah L. Wilson Met in Paris;
AND TO WHOSE YELLOW GOLD
The Marietta & Cincinnati Railroad is Now so Largely Indebted for and Existence.
The Interesting Story of Zaleski - Once more is the Mighty Power of the Pen Demonstrated - And it was to Christy and Ely's Little Book More Than Aught Else, that Foreign Capital Came to the Rescue - The Persuasive Powers of a Few Hundred Acres of Coal Land - How it Provided "Six Hundred More" for the Voracious Maw of a Great American Enterprise - A Romantic Tale, the First Authentic Relation of Which Herewith Finds its Way Into Print - Mr. S. W. Ely Continues his Interesting Narration of the Early Days of the M. & C. R. R.
In "Putting a head" on my communication of last week, you will please
allow me to pay you erred importantly, by saying the notes furnished me
by one of your subscribers were the "first minutes. " They were from a
diary kept by the late President Cutler. My friend is not supplying me
with extracts from
the original records. If I need them, I would go the office of the C., W. and B. , and consult my handwriting of 1846, subsequently.
My indistinct writing, or the haste of the printer, has caused me to say "Mr. W. Taylored," etc. I presume I meant "Mr. Wilson labored," etc. Then, too, his well-earned commission for procuring the Pennsylvania Company and city of Wheeling subscriptions was not raised to $45, 000, but razed to that sum, from $50,000, because Pennsylvania Railroad stock at that time was worth only $45 for a $50 share. I would not convey a wrong impression. It was the coal-fields of Jackson and Vinton the Englishmen wished to learn; and Pitcher, not Piketon Summit, of the 151 foot grade.
I desire, in this article to give you THE STORY OF ZALESKI, its origin and early promise; for Zaleski and its properties were especially originated by the railroad enterprise.
Once upon a time, busy at my various duties in my office in the old Carlisle building, a middle-aged gentleman, clad in black, of medium height, tawny, intelligent countenance and heavy eyebrows, entered, and introduced himself as David Christy of Cincinnati. I remembered him in the capacity of a Whig editor, of Cadis, Harrison county, Ohio, with whom I exchanged the Scioto Gyazette, in 1835-'40, and of whom I had subsequently heard as a geologist and describer of the copper mines in southeastern Tennessee. Mr. Christy desired to learn what I knew of the minerals on the line of the road east of Chillicothe. I replied I had given them but a cursory examination, for lack of time. I had become familiar with Prof. Mather's early examinations, and knew that Jackson coal, for blacksmiths purposes, had been wagoned to Chillicothe and elsewhere for twenty years. "Your road, theoretically, passes through the best coal fields of the state", said the Professor. "East of McArthur, I think you will strike the Hocking coal, and the land will be worth one hundred dollars per acre when the road is finished to it. Let us go down there together, tomorrow, and look into the matter. We can option a large amount of land, at low prices, and the railroad company will be glad to take it of us, and pay us a good price in stock."
So the next day I got a spring wagon and a pair of spanking flyers, of Uncle Dan Thompson, and we took the Londonderry road to McArthur. On the way the Professor confessed he had $1,500 in his pocket, belonging to John Mills, of Marietta, and Joseph K. James of Cincinnati, who had instructed him to make the trip, and see what could be done. Through old editorial sympathy, as a Whig, he desired me to share in his opportunity, taxing me only the expenses of THE TRIP TO RACCOON and return. I thanked him and felt duly grateful.
Spending the first night out at McArthur, we both arose fresh and hopeful the second day of our trip. At breakfast Professor Christy suggested it was hardly worth while for both of us to go to the field, and that I might amuse myself at McArthur, while he went on, took the options, and returned in the evening. I complied, believing I might profitably spend my time with my personal friends, Dr. Wolf and J. K. Will, and learn all about the coal croppings around the town. The professor did not complete his purpose of investing all his funds till the afternoon of the second day. I learned from him on his return, that he had secured some highly desirable lands, through which the railroad had been located, but at a somewhat higher price than he had anticipated. He said he had told the Fees, Brewers, and Dowds and others that their lands would be worth $100 per acre when the road was finished and was worth very little now; and the road would be finished if they would only option their lands to him now, at reasonable agricultural prices! By this candid kind of negotiation, I wondered that he succeeded in getting an option at all. So we returned to Chillicothe with our fortunes in our pockets.
My friend, the Professor, gave me some very interesting lectures on local geology, and pretold the importance of the B. and C. (Belphre & Cincinnati) to Cincinnati, for furnishing an exhaustless supply of the best kind of mineral coal, cheaper than it could be gotten by the Ohio River. We agreed to prepare and print a report on the black diamond of Raccoon, and offer it, and our options, to the board of directors, taking all our pay in stock. This we did. The project was referred to a committee of the board, Mr. Cutler being the chairman. Our friends read our report with delight; gave our offer a respectful consideration to accept stock for amount at 75 per cent, on par price - but the chairman thought the pecuniary condition of the company's affairs made it unsafe, "at present," to agree to our terms. Therefore, we placed our options in a safe, hoping for a favorable time. Fortunate escape.
But the exigencies of the railway company rapidly became more urgent. The latter part of the first mortgage edition had been sacrificed to meet the interest on the former moiety, a second mortgage had been made, and the bonds nearly exhausted. The board and its officers had all endorsed the company's notes - some of us to THREE TIMES WHAT WE WERE WORTH, and our ingenious president and his colleagues were at their wits' end to know what expedient next to adopt. The contractors were clamorous for past dues, and no funds were in the treasury for the next estimates. The work was in progress all along the line, but the distance to the Ohio river from Chillicothe was scarcely half ironed. The board was summoned in anxious session, and the President's project of issuing more bonds, which he would take to Europe and endeavor to sell, was decided upon as a last resort. The bonds were handed the Secretary, $1,000 each, to the number of 600, with directions to sign the 2,400 coupons upon them, with his official manual, in less than a week, and return them to the President. The latter official placed the same in his gripsack, hurried to New York City, and sailed to Europe in the approximate month of January.
The devoted directors and officials who remained at home had their hands full, of rediscounting, accounting, apologizing and shinning. All prayed for the success of the grand negotiator, who had hitherto been successful in London, Leeds and other seats of capital. Salaries were accepted in stock, and bits of real estate, in Cincinnati and vicinity, which had been received in subscription to the stock of the road, were assigned as collateral to the most exigent endorsers. The contractors exercised such patience as they possessed, but THE WORK CAME TO A SUSPENSION practically and essentially.
So matters were held for seven long months. Early in August, the treasurer
and secretary received a letter from Mr. Wilson, of the most serious character.
In all the time he had been abroad, he said, not a single
American railroad bond had been sold in Europe. He had exhausted his resources and patience, had found no sympathizing capitalist, and feared nothing could be done but to return home, "give up the ship," own to being defeated and wait for more auspicious days. Of course, there was a sleepless night for the local directors in the Ancient Metropolis. (An experienced country editor, in those days, was accustomed to them.) Knowing that
"The darkest sky may wear
A sunny face tomorrow,"
my good old friends, Col. Madeira and Mr. Robert Woodrow, his office assistant and myself, retired, hoping for brighter news in the early future. And we were not disappointed. Early the next morning, I received a message from Mr. Wilson directing me as secretary to call a meeting of the board, to be held at the office of the company in the Carson Block, on the morning of Thursday of the current week. Such was the mandate, without explanation or amplification. It was dated New York city, by which we knew the negotiator of bonds had returned to America, and we fondly hoped he had been successful in a degree, or he would not have desired a hasty meeting of the board.
At the time "the subscriber" was in the midst of his feat of "Bookkeeping," described in a former letter, I worked early and late with the accounts, past and current, editing my paper, ready proof, etc., for "breakfast and dinner spells." Mr. Wilson reached Chillicothe on the day appointed for the board's meeting, and came into my room. I hastily showed him what I had been doing, and begged him he would ask Wm. S. Nye, Esq., to keep the minutes of the meetings calling me into the board's room if I should be needed. My superior officer approved of the suggestion, saying it was "just right."
The board sat with closed doors. None of us outside knew how their attention was engaged. Indulgent capitalists might have hoped for the best of our ingenious Mr. Wilson, but it was not until the evening of the second day that I had an inkling of the good news he brought. At that time, Mr. W. himself opened my door, and invited me to step into the director's room. As I sat down, he said:
"Mr. Ely, do you remember those mineral lands, beyond McArthur, which Mr. Christy and you offered the board for stock, last year?"
"Indeed I do, sir," I replied, "for the $1,500 option expired, and we are responsible for the money."
"Do you think you could re-purchase those lands, for about the price they were offered at before?"
"I think it possible; especially if the owners believe the road may prove a failure."
"Well, if you can," returned Mr. W., "OUR ROAD IS SAVED. We can get through to the river; and I will gladly repay you the $1, 500 with much interest as you may demand!"
I anxiously inquired the meaning of his words. My friends of the board
were in a gay mood, and gazed at me curiously and smilingly. But Wilson
only rejoined, "have not time to tell you now. Go to Thompson's and secure
conveyance. Tell him to send the spring wagon to Raysville by tomorrow
noon. We will start
down in the morning and I'll tell you all about it on the way!"
Nuff ced: for the next twelve hours.
We two left on Saturday morning for Londonderry station, to which place we could go on the railway car. From that place to Raysville, we proceeded on a "hand car" propelled by paddy-power. At Raysville we got into our wagon, and waded through the mud to the Cincinnati furnace, where the running gears of our vehicle broke. We left team and carriage with a party who was engaged to mend the latter and follow as quickly as possible to Hamden. For our part, we walked the four miles distant to the latter place, as rapidly as the mire and other obstructions would permit, reaching the old hamlet a little after dark on Saturday night, our vehicle, repaired, being brought up soon after we arrived.
On the road, during the day; Mr. Wilson related to me the following proof of the old saw that "truth is stranger than fiction." "Three weeks ago, tomorrow, said he: "I was in Paris, France, at the house of AN OLD POLISH BANKER, NAMED PETER ZALESKI.
This man has on deposit the money of the most wealthy Polish exiles
driven from their country by the Russian Czar. I had been trying to interest
him in the purchase of our bonds. It was Sunday, and I was dining with
Mr. Zaleski. The old gentleman, after his habit, indulged liberally, in
his cups, and was
in a very genial, sociable mood.
"Mr. Wilson," said Mr. Z, "you ought not come to Europe for money. You have everything valuable in America, gold, silver, copper, lead, zinc, coal - everything. You have the richest country in Christendom. Why come here for money?"
"Very true, Herr Zaleski, we have everything we need but money. We have the money's worth, but you have the funds. And, by the way," continued Mr. W., "we have the best coal in the United States on the line of our railroad!"
"How is that?" asked the astonished countryman of Count Pulaski; "coal on your railroad--I did not know that? Tell me about it."
Mr. Wilson told me he had put a few copies of Christy & Ely's report on the Raccoon coal in his gripsack, when he went abroad, and had them with him in Paris. Excusing himself, he retired to his chamber and soon returned with a copy of our report, which he placed, in the banker's hands. The latter thumbed the brochure over with great interest, reading extracts with enthusiasm. (So said Mr. Wilson.) At length, he paused, and, placing a finger on his right temple, he said:
"Mr. Wilson, I tell you what I do. Ve Vill form one syndicate. I vill be von member; you be another; Heseltine & Powell, London, be another, Benson & Co. -- both your bankers -- the other Ve vill take your $600,000 bonds at 85 per cent, if we get de coal lands this leetle book deescribes at vot dey're wurt."
"I know, " added Wilson, "I could not take a quarter, but I also knew if I could sell three-quarters I could find a purchaser for the other fourth. So--a trip or two to London and back sufficed to COMPLETE THE WHOLE ARRANGEMENT, and here we are on our way to carry out our agreement."
"We spent our second night at Prattsville, driving from Hamden through a continuous rain. On Monday morning, while the rain continued, we drove to Raccoon, four miles north of Prattsville, where Wilson left me with his blessing, and I passed over the creek, on a long footlog, and went to the residence of John Fee -- since a banker and Senator from the Vinton district. Mr. Fee gave me a kindly greeting, and inquired in the language of the dwellers of Raccoon, If I wasn't "lost". I gradually unfolded to him my purpose, and essayed the impossible task of indurating his patriotism. He "lowed there must be somethin' up to bring me out in such bad weather." I then avowed that I would repurchase the lands once optioned to Mr. Christy, if the owners were disposed to be liberal about it; would buy them for cash. The conclusion was, just before retiring for the night, that Mr. Fee would accept $31,000 for the acres he had agreed to sell for $25,000 a year before, and would, in consideration of the enhanced price of his own, guarantee to secure all the other pieces at the prices named at first, to my geological friend. And so, before the end of the then passing week, I returned to Chillicothe, with title bonds for all the lands in view.
Mr. Wilson gave me a check for the $1,500 which I forwarded to Professor Christy. In the course of six weeks or two months, the installments on the bond sales began to arrive, and within the next quarter, the land holders on Raccoon received, in British gold, the full prices for their lands; and their deeds were on record at McArthur.
If you are not wearied, I intend to give another short chapter on this true romance of Zaleski, but will only add now that the plan received it's patronymic by a resolution of the directors, moved by Col. Abram Hegler, in grateful return for the important aid to the road granted by the munificent Polish exile.
S. W. E LY
Dec. 14, 1889
THE TRIBUTE OF A GRATEFUL CORPORATION
TO THE MUNIFICENCE OF THE MUNIFICENT POLE.
THE METROPOLIS OF RACCOON
Whose Magnificent Proportions Testify
to the Capacity of the English Capitalists
for Managing an American Industry.
How Mr. Henry Robson of Hartlepool, Durham,, England, Undertook to Make the Thing a Go -- His Gas Manufactory, Brick Hotel and Residence for the Superintendent, Stores, Offices, etc., Still Mark the Place Where He Once Schemed and Planned -- The Expensive Preparations Made for the Building of a Great City -- The Zaleski Iron That Lay Upon the Bank for a Long Time, Only to be Sold at Least a Year Too Soon -- Mr. Hazeltine of Threadneedle Street, London, and His Successor, Mr. Robert Thompson -- Still, After all, the Railroad Company Filled Shops Yet Remain There -- The gratitude of a Great Corporation -- Mr. David Christy who Sympathized with the South.
We have here the second installment of Mr. Ely's interesting "story of Zaleski." It is but just to say that the "headlining" of Mr. Ely's articles is done in the LEADER office, and that he is in nowise responsible for any errors or intimations that they may contain. Sometimes it happens that the headlines of an article betray a different personal sentiment than the writer of the article itself cares to be charged with, and again it is barely possible that they may include a statement that the article itself will not sustain. It is but just to Mr. Ely that he be not held responsible for any such perversion of facts, if such exist. These remarks are suggested by the Mild kick that prefaces the article below.
"Foreign capital, " as you style it, came to the rescue of all the early expensive railway enterprises of this country. When I examined the books of the Pennsylvania Railroad Company forty-three years ago, as a pattern for the books of the Belpre & Cincinnati, I noticed that a large proportion of the shareholders in that great work were subjects of the British Crown -- many of them eminent Quakers. So it was not a singular step for the builders of the present C. W. & B. to seek capital abroad. It is probable that every leading railroad in this country found the bulk of its pecuniary pabulum on "the other side." Of the thirty millions of money which the railroad line between Cincinnati and Marietta and Parkersburg has cost, in one way and another, the larger moiety by far came from the pockets of foreign investors. First, the opposition the enterprise encountered within the state of Ohio; and secondly, the mercenary enmity of parties without the state, who early determined to wreck it or swallow it, has doubtless made it the most costly work of its kind, per mile, ever undertaken on the west side of the Alleghenies.
You say, editorially, my relation as published in your last, "reads like a romance." I told you it would; but in manner, form and essence, it is positively true. I believe that two men who were members of the board of directors when I was their secretary, are now living, but if they were all remaining on this mundane sphere, I would gladly refer to them for confirmation of every statement I have made. There were, however, some two thousand acres of coal land, in the Zaleski purchases as then understood, and not merely "a few hundreds" as your heading states. At that time, two thousand acres of good coal land, at Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, were worth from $200,000 to a quarter of a million, and in Northern England, where some Zaleski stock was subscribed a great deal more. Two thousand acres of four feet coal will yield from 5,500 to 6,000 tons. When Mr. Wilson was dining, not "driving", with the banker Zaleski, that sagacious capitalist was well aware, of the European value of good bituminous coal lands; and, as I am reminded by our excellent Cincinnati friend, Mr. Wilson effected a sale of not only $600,000 bonds, but a full million, through Peter Zaleski's agency. So important was the aid to the road that, as I said, the board of directors, on motion of Col. Hegler, gratefully christened the new plant on Raccoon "Zaleski;" a monument to the munificence of the munificent Pole. It was not the fault of the railroad managers, but of the managers of the Zaleski company and its especial conservators, that the new town and mining enterprise did not eventuate as its founders hoped.
At that time, and probably to this day, foreign capitalists were apt to imagine they could conduct enterprises in American better than could their American cooperators. I never was in the councils of the Zaleski Company, and can only judge of their wisdom by their current manifestations. I only know that they stocked their company, watering the stock to a moderate extent, and elected their officers. Their first public step was to select as their chief engineer one Henry Robson, who had attained a high reputation by the building of immense docks at Hartlepool, on the coast of Durham, in northern England, and who was a special favorite of a portion of the British directors of Zaleski. Mr. R. was truly an eminent engineer, but whether a practical one for the work in views remained to be seen. Having lodged his family in Chillicothe, Mr. R. repaired to his duties on the site of the new city.
His first enterprise, as I recollect, was the building of a gas house or factory for preparing as to light the houses, hotels and manufactories in the new town. A large brick hotel was an early adventure, as was also a fine brick residence for the superintendent of the plant. Stores and offices appropriately followed; and soon after, a Scotchman who had constructed the Young American blast furnace, a mile north of Jackson C. H., for the purpose of making pig iron with the new bituminous coal of that locality, was paid for putting up another such furnace at Zaleski, with the view of utilizing the coal of that settlement. But my excellent friend, Mr. Engineer Robson, doubtless directed thereto his advisers "at home," spent large sums of money in digging down hills and grading up hollows, on the site of the forth- coming city, following that excellent theory so well approved in the mother country, that well-made highways are a proof of culture and refinement. An extensive tannery and pottery were designed, but at this late day I am not sure they were ever put in operation. One thing is now certain, the liberal expenditures were not justified the subsequent outcome. But one single blast was ever made in the furnace, the product being of very indifferent pig. It was from that the Zaleski coal used in smelting the ores differed materially in quality from the Jackson and Wellston product, and while it did very well for domestic purposes, was entirely unsuitable for use in the blast furnace, nor would it profitably make coke. The iron produced lay upon the "Bank" a long time. After I removed to Cincinnati in 1859, and just before the Civil War commenced, I was solicited to retail the Zaleski iron for what I could get and accordingly sold the whole pile, from time to time, principally to foundrymen in Dayton, 0. at $17 per ton. A year or two later it would have brought three times that price for the making of gun boats, for it was then that "Sinton & Means" disposed of a mile or more of the pigs which had been lying on the river bank in Lawrence county, Ohio, for money enough to make nabobs of them all. But what became of the Zaleski furnace? It was badly constructed; the heat of the first blast cracked it from bottom to top, and it fell of its own weight a short time after.
Now, to an observer in these days, there might not appear anything out of order in the early work of the Zaleski Company, but rather the ordinary and proper proceedings marking a genuine "boom;" but really to use a common comparison, "they went ahead of the hounds." They did not seek and encourage the cooperation of the capitalists of this country, but relied on foreign counsel and foreign guidance. With genuine John Bull self-sufficiency, they had their own way, and seemed to desire neither assistance nor sympathy with our folks here at home. The trouble was they rather repelled than invited immigration from other parts of this country. Their helpers, even to farmers and gardeners, were sent from abroad, and when the enterprise began to sour on their hands, many of these were obliged to scatter, and pick up a livelihood in other places. Even the worthy Mr. Robson, after a busy experience, retired from the service of the company, removed to judge Short's place west of this city, and commenced making drain tile, a pioneer of the business, in a kiln built with his own funds. Here, losing his excellent wife by death -- as he had his only son while in Zaleski -- he resided for a time with his young daughter until a yearning for the motherland caused him to return to old Durham. If he be living I would rejoice to know it, Robson was succeeded in the governorship of Zaleski by a gentleman named Heseltine, whom many of your Chillicothe readers may remember as a fair business man and an exquisite gentleman. He was understood to be connection of the senior member of Hezeltine & Powell, of Threadneedle street, by whose influence he was doubtless appointed. He wrought an well and as hard as he was able, to promote the prosperity of the new city on Raccoon, but the hard fortunes of the railway seemed to color the interests of the settlement, and led to the final return of Mr. H. to the more sympathetic society of the west end of the great metropolis. Mr. Robert Thompson, who "cameover" with the earlier settlers, and engaged in the counting room of the company who is yet, I believe, resident of the place became a temporary manager, probably until a well known law firm of your city was entrusted with the custody of the remains of the ill-starred enterprise.
The fine hotel built at an early day, for the entertainment of hosts of anticipated guests, eager for the first-class speculations offered, has probably become a cheap lodging house for humble laborers; the graceful little church with its gothic architecture and tolling bell erected through the piety of adherents of English Episcopacy -- may yet be standing as a sectarian chapel or common school-house; the streets of dwellings calculated for the homes of industrious citizens and operatives, long since ceased to elongate and multiply. But many years have passed since I visited the interesting spot, and as I do not take a Zaleski newspaper, I will not essay to be perspicuous. I am only assured, as you say editorially, that "the expectations created by the founding of Zaleski, to the deep regret of several English capitalists, were never realized." And yet, scores, nay, hundreds of towns, in all the new states in the country -- and older ones, too -- which had their beginnings under far less favorable circumstances, have become important centers of residence, markets and manufacturing, with their thousands each of busy people. "There is more in the man than there is in the land." Witness those who have built up the intermediate and Pacific states, and their populous capitals and large towns. Yes, I can name men who made Chillicothe their temporary residence when I lived in your city, who came from other places, and halted, as it were, in their western pilgrimage, who, fancying the ancient metropolis "too slow" and conservative, went to other places and founded flourishing communities. The builder of the first ware house at Evansville, Indiana, now a place of 75,000 inhabitants, was one of them. So far as I know, the railroad -- under its sore and repeated disabilities has performed its early pledged duty, as far as possible, to the Zaleski company. The early board pledged that the station should ever be reckoned as "first class," at which all trains should stop, and that the principle machine shops of the road should be located there perpetually. While I was connected with the road these pledges were substantially observed. Indeed, as operators in coal in other places along the line well remember the facilities for shipping were always contributed to the Zaleski miners, in preference to others. The early directors and officers of the railroad company, so far as circumstances enabled them, faithfully observed all their pledges to the owners of Zaleski.
The LEADER says my "story of Zaleski reads like a romance." I admit the soft impeachment. The late Henry Ward Beecher observed, (as we read,) "Doubtless God could have made a better fruit than the strawberry, but doubtless God never did." I may paraphrase that semi-profane sentiment. Doubtless Providence could have presented means to help the old railroad company out of its short rows better than the Zaleski incident but doubtless he never did. When John Durand was superintendent, between 1859 and 1863, of the M. & C. Company, with his office in this city, I applied to him once to obtain a renewal of my annual pass. "I don't know way I should comply with your requests," said Mr. D., "you are not an office or employee of the company."
"Even so, " I replied, "but I have been."
"So I suppose, but I will give you a certificate which you can present, on occasion, and obtain a half-price ticket, as ministers of the Gospel, etc!" (I was then Secretary and Treasurer of the first two street railroad companies organized in Cincinnati.)
"Give me what you please," I curtly replied, "I have no time to plead with you!"
Mr. D. handed me the certificate described, which I crushed into my pocket and went home. I told me wife of the circumstances, and when I retired at night, I resolved to take the certificate back and return it to the superintendent; feeling that it might burn a hole through my pocket if I suffered it to remain there. I thought of all I had done and suffered for the road, but -- could not sleep.
In the morning of the next day, I saw Mr. D. in his office, and handed him the paper, telling him I would be ashamed to offer a minister's ticket for my passage to any of the old conductors, and had much rather pay full fare.
"Well, how is it?" inquired the new superintendent. "Tell me about it." I said, "Mr. Durand, did you read that account in the papers, the other day, of an accident being prevented on the Lake Shore Railroad? An old woman was going to Painesville with a basket of eggs for sale, walking on the track,, a mile or so from the city. All at once, she came to a huge oak tree, which had fallen across the tracks, and bethought herself that the express train would soon be along, and possibly be wrecked by the fallen tree instantly, almost, she put down her basket, took off her gown and her underwear, to a red flannel petticoat, which she stripped from her person, spread open on a braching stick, ran toward the coming train, waved the red signal, and averted the danger. The directors, it was related, met that afternoon and unanimously passed a resolution giving the old woman a free pass for life."
Mr. Durand had seen the account, and replied: "Well, what of it?"
"Only this, " I replied. "So far as I am concerned, I am the old woman who saved the train" and I told him the story of Zaleski. I trust I gave full credit to our brother Christy.
"Why, my dear sir, " said the interested Durand; "the Marietta directors
ought to vote you a life ticket, for I would not have been here myself,
if it had not been for such as you. "Here is your renewal to the 31st of
December next." I fear your readers, Mr. LEADER, will tire of my gossip,
but if they do, it
is unquestionably your own fault, for you have kindly accorded me a carte blanche and I have found the theme more fruitful that I anticipated. Having the floor, I desire to give you a chapter or so under the general heading "Coal on the Road," and in regard to the personnel of several worthy men of my day whom I have yet said little about.
I wish now to add that, subsequently to the above-related events, I became intimately acquainted with Prof. David Christy, who was one of Ohio's best and earliest geologists. He frequently visited me before I removed from Chillicothe, and advised, consulted with, and instructed me in regard to the geology of Southern Ohio. He acquainted himself with the telluric features of eastern Tennessee, and was faithfully hopeful of the copper developments of Ducktown, in that district. Before the Civil War he formed a large acquaintance with citizens of the south, and became a thorough "doughface." Coming North, he married a widow lady of this county, Mrs. Winton, moved into the city, and dwelt in a handsome house on the corner of Fourth and John streets. Mr. Christy's second had a charming daughter, who sang like a very Jenny Lind, and who presently married and moved off with the son of a British officer. The Professor and wife, to enjoy a clearer southern atmosphere, removed to New York City, where they found sympathizers, where the Professor wrote and published that such noted work, "Cotton is King," and where the king of terrors overtook him a few years since. He was one of the first exponents of the coal measures on and along the old Marietta railroad -- a man of fine social qualities and of many scientific accomplishments. Of my former Whig brethren, who drifted into the ranks of "revel sympathizers," David Christy was not the worst man by far.
S. W. ELY
A VOICE FROM HISTORIC ZALESKI
Manager Robert Thompson of the
Zaleski Company sends Mr.
Ely an Explanatory Word.
Why the Great Enterprise Failed
Mr. Thompson Thinks That
Perhaps the Panic of 1857
Had Something to do With it.
Mr. Robert Thompson, the present able manager of the Zaleski Company, having perused with considerable interest Mr. Ely's entertaining letters to the LEADER, reciting the early days of the great enterprise, write Mr. Ely a letter, in which he undertakes to set that gentleman right on a few facts, and discourses briefly, but pleasantly, on the cause of the Zaleski failure.
Since my late communication to the LEADER, I have been much gratified to receive from Mr. Robert Thompson, the present manager of the Zaleski Company, a letter of some length confirmatory of the more important statements I have made in regard to the origin and early history of the settlement of that town, which I beg to introduce at once. I have seen nothing of Mr. Thompson, and but little of Zaleski, since 1860, or thereabouts, but I recollect the writer well, and respect his steadiness of character. He writes as follows, under a letter head of the Zaleski Company, "Miners and Shippers of Coal, and Dealers in General Merchandise, W. T. McClintick,, President, Amos Smith, Secretary, Robert Thompson, Manager, "Zaleski, Ohio, Dec. 18th, 1889.
S.W. Ely, Esq.,
Dear Sir: -- I have read with great interest your two articles on Zaleski, which appeared respectively in the issues of The CHILLICOTHE LEADER, 13th and 14th inst. Your recital of the circumstances that led to the inception of the Zaleski Company does indeed read like a romance, but having, years ago, heard a version of the story, I can readily accept your avouchment that the tale you have told "is positively true."
There is, however, much of what you say, in the issue of the 14th inst., to which I feel constrained to take exception, because it is not in accord with history, and which I hope that you will, at your earliest convenience, be kind enough to correct.
Having formed the acquaintance of. Mr. Henry B. Robson, several years before either of us saw the United States, and esteeming him, then as I do now, for his many excellent qualities, it may not be accounted any disparagement to say that he had nothing whatever to do with "the building of immense docks at (West) Hartlepool, on the coast of Durham in Northern England." That only
way in which he was connected with the enterprise, was by filling the position of Land Agent under the West Hartlepool Harbor and Railway Company. Whether, while here as Manager, he spend large sums of money "in preparing the site of the forthcoming city" advisedly or not, it is neither my purpose nor province to discuss, but the implication that, in so doing, "he was doubtless directed
thereto by his advisers at home," is absolutely of a misleading character. If acting under direction at all, it came altogether from another quarter.
While great prominence is given to him, as the representative of European interests, you omit to say anything about the directors and other members of the company at that time. Who were they? The president--who was he? Was he or were they "at home" also, where "self- sufficiency reigns supreme?" Mr. Robson's course must certainly have been, in a large degree, influenced by home as well as by "foreign counsel."
The closing sentence of the second paragraph in your article appearing in the issue of the 14th inst., just by simply making a transposition of "Railroad Manager" and Manager of Zaleski Company, "fitting the one into the place of the other, will then read exactly as the Manager of the Zaleski Company would have put the case twenty-five or thirty years ago. From a personal knowledge of this matter, sustained by documentary evidence to which I have access, I long ago came to the conclusion that all the promoters of the "land scheme," of whatever nationality or affiliation, are entitled to full credit as having made at the outset an honest effort to bring it to a successful issue. As "the best laid schemes of mice and men gang aft agley" this particular one, unfortunately for all concerned, was destined to be a comparative failure. Was not the financial panic of 1857 at the bottom of all the trouble?
You say, "but one single blast was ever made in the furnace." The first blast was made in 1858-9, with bituminous coal. For the three years succeeding it remained idle. In 1862, it was leased to a firm incorporated as 'The Zaleski Furnace Company" by whom it was changed to a "charcoal pig," and as such made its first blast in the fall of that year, and continued to "blow" until 1870, when its fires went out forever. The only breaking of the continuity of the manufacture of pig during this term of years, occurred in 1864, when all the frame buildings pertaining to the furnace were destroyed by fire, requiring six months for their restoration.
"But what became of the Zaleski furnace?" Through lack of hornogeniety in the production, it did crack, as you state, "from bottom to top," but it did not fall of its own weight, a short time after the first blast, as you will have already understood; and the probability of such a catastrophe ever happening was exceedingly remote. It was dismantled and sold in 1875.
Francis Henseltine, who succeeded H. B. Robson, in 1860, resigned as manager in 1868, and was succeeded by Asa B. Waters, then of Cincinnati, He retired January, 1871. In the same month and year, the Board of Directors elected Wm. T. McClintick, President, Amos Smith, Secretary, and Robert Thompson, Managing Director, all three of whom hold the same relative positions to-day. Mr. Henry B. Robson is living. Shortly after his return to England, he married a wealthy widow, and is residing at Darlington, county of Durham. By the way, Mr. Robson did not lose his only son in Zaleski. For all that I know he is still living, as he, as well as the young daughter, accompanied his father to "the motherland."
I trust, Messrs. Editors, you will print the whole of Mr. Thompson's letter, especially if it may give your readers as much pleasure as it does me, to learn a more favorable account of Zaleski enterprises and of persons and policies of circumstances, than I was familiarized with some years ago. I certainly understood, from Mr. Robson himself, and also from friends of his, personally, both in London and Leeds, when I visited those cities in 1858, that he--Mr.. Robson--bore a leading part in the direction or construction of the West Hartlepool docks, and to that circumstance owed his position as manager, afterward of the Zaleski Company's affairs "on this side." During my visit to Great Britian, the year after, the financial panic of 1857, furnished by my friend Robson with letters to his friend Heseltine & Powell, Threadneedle street, and Mr. John Roads, of Leeds, the subject was one of frequent mention in both places. I may state, incidentally, that I called almost daily, during a stay in London of six weeks, at the office of H. & P., to glance at the Cincinnati Commercial for home news. The summer of 1858 was memorable for great rains and sweeping floods in the Scioto and Hocking Valleys, which to a great degree prevented a wheat crop, doing immense positive damage in the valley of Raccoon. Thus, one morning, I accosted Mr. Powell: "Have you anything interesting from American?" "Oh yes!" he replied. "Enough to make one thank God he doesn't live in such a country. Rain, rain, rain--the whole country is under water!" In fact, my reception that morning made me feel a little homesick.
But, on the whole, my new acquaintances abroad were hospitable, kind and serviceable. Mr. Roads, who had been an extensive stock-broker, and lived in a fine house with extensive grounds, in a suburb of Leeds, entertained me sumptuously, introduced me to leading manufacturers and miners, drove me over the neighborhood, and showed me the famous parish church of Leeds, the historical streets and other points, with the utmost courtesy and liberality. I exchanged with him some documents I had with me -- illustrative of Wm. Penn's settlement of his Province, which were contemporaneous with those events -- for a volume then first published giving the observations of one of the Zaleski stockholders in the United States, whose journey through Vinton county it had been my province to guide. It does not appear inconsistent, however, that if "Mr. Henry B. Robson filled the position of Land Agent under the West Hartlepool Harbor and Railway Company" -- of which I believe both the London banking houses with which the early organization of the M. & C. railroad company did business, were stockholders, if not directors -- that he, the said Robson, exercised a degree of governing influence in the construction of the world renowned dock.
It is pleasant, also, to have a more favorable impression of the fortunes of the Zaleski furnace than I have long entertained. I believe I have been in Zaleski but once since 1860, and then, at the time of my visit, there were but few traces of the furnace. Being reminded of it, I recollect my late friend, Asa B. Waters, held for a time the post of manager, but of the fortunes of the furnace, after its first blast, I had but small recollection. I remember well when it was built, and who built it. He was the architect of "Young America," as I said, a pile which was erected to make pig iron with the raw -- not "new" -- coal of Jackson County. If I am not greatly mistaken that concern also stood but a few years only, falling a prey to bad masonry and the intense heat of the "non-sulphurous, whiteash, bituminous coal" first brought into general notice by Prof. W. W. Mather. I do positively remember that the skill and character of the architect of both blast furnaces -- a Scotchman, whose name has fortunately escaped me -- were assailed at the time, and mouthed about with great freedom.
But my friend Thompson evidently thinks I have impugned the policy of the English managers of the Zaleski Company. I am quite content that he suggests other parties to share what evidently seems to have been unwise policy. I stated positively I never was in their councils, but judged of their acts from the relation of those who professed to know, and the little I saw with my own eyes. With the purchase of the lands, in the first place, my active personal agency ended. My opinion of English management of American enterprises was formed from two other striking examples subsequent to that of Zaleski. I may say that my old confrere, Mr. N. L. Wilson, had the highest regard for and confidence in their customs and policy, and so frequently expressed himself to me.
I truly rejoice to hear so favorably of the later history of my friend, Henry B. Robson. During his stay in America, I saw much of him. He and members of his family were familiar at my house, in Chillicothe, and their visits were cordially welcome, and I have spent many hours with them in the handsome residence they occupied in Zaleski. It was there a young child of Mr. Robson's -- a boy, as I remembered -- while a toddling infant was drowned in an unfinished cistern, to the great grief of all their friends. I have forgotten "Johnny," the other boy to whom Mr. Thompson alludes.
Finally, I will freely admit that the "financial crisis of 1857" exerted an unfortunate influence over the destinies of Zaleski. I may say I had undoubted proof that it "played hob" with a contemporary enterprise in which I was personally interested, with a vain hope of saving which I went to England in 1858 -- where I was shortly told by "Three-R Moore, " secretary of "the Honduras Railway Company, Limited, " that "if I came to London thinking to forward an iron enterprise, I had better return, if I had money enough left in my pocket to pay my passage back".
S. W. ELY
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