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MUCH has been written with regard to the self-made men. of Ohio, yet there have been but few more striking examples than that presented by a careful consideration of the late William Bainbridge Castle, pioneer lumberman and iron manufacturer of Cleveland. One of a large family, with the parents in limited circumstances, the accomplishments of the subject of this memoir were entirely those which placed him among this class of our citizens. The principal capital with which his parents endowed him was simply a rugged constitution, a stout heart, and a determination to succeed, and we believe that all who knew him, and those who came in contact with him in a business way, who yet remain amid earthly scenes, will agree with us that this proved a more desirable capital than would have almost any amount of money,. unless the latter could have been accompanied with the same traits of character. Mr. Castle went out into the world to make his own fortune when of tender age, with the avowed intention of winning success and accumulating a competency. He had ambition, physical courage and endurance, and a willingness to work and learn that could not be thrust aside by the allurements which he encountered in the activities of a business career. From a very unpromising start he forced himself to the front, and made for himself a name which is unanimously accorded a very proud position among the foremost citizens and business men of a past generation in this State.
Mr. Castle was born in Essex County, Vermont, November 30, 1814, being the scion of a sturdy old New England family. He was a son of Jonathan and Frances P. Castle.
Immediately after the conclusion of the War of 1812, his father moved from Vermont to Toronto, Canada, where he was engaged as an architect to superintend the construction of the first Parliament buildings there. In 1827, he removed with his family to Cleveland, Ohio, when this place was a mere village, William then being thirteen years of age. He spent most of his time on the farm until 1832, in which year, in company with his father and Charles M. Giddings, he established the first lumber yard in Cleveland. After continuing this business two years, the son removed to Canada, and engaged in merchandising and in manufacturing lumber for the yard in Cleveland. In 1839, he abandoned the Canadian branch of the business and in the following year the partnership with Mr. Giddings was dissolved. In 1843, he associated himself with the Cuyahoga Steam Furnace Company, with which business he was connected up to the time of his death. So thoroughly was he identified with the history of that establishment for a quarter of a century or more that the writer deems this a fitting place in which to give a brief history of the pioneer iron company of Cleveland.
In 1830, Charles Hoyt projected the works which were erected and put in operation under the name of Hoyt, Railey, and Company. In 1834, the firm was changed to an incorporated company under the name of the Cuyahoga Steam Furnace Company, with a capital of one hundred thousand dollars, of which amount, three-fourths was paid in. The principal stockholders then were Josiah Barber, Richard Lord, John W. Allen, and Charles Hoyt. Soon thereafter, the works of the incorporation burned to the ground, but the company lost no time in erecting a brick structure, two hundred and thirty-five feet frontage. In 1840, D. Cushing became manager, succeeded, in 1843, by Elisha T. Sterling, who remained at the head of the firm until his untimely death in 1859. From the advent of Mr. Sterling, dates the connection of Mr. Castle with the establishment. He was secretary until Mr. Sterling's death, when he became manager. At the time when the sole charge of the works devolved upon him, the company was in a deplorable financial condition. The prospect would have daunted one of less courageous mettle, but Mr. Castle was a man of resolute spirit and he at once set about the Herculean task of bringing the firm through its difficulties and establishing it on a firm. basis, and he succeeded most admirably in due course of time.
In 1853, the manufacture of locomotives added a new feature to the manufacturing industry of Cleveland, and it proved to be a successful venture. The Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincinnati Railroad was supplied from these works; also the Lake Shore Railroad, in part. This new establishment was, organized under the presidency of William B. Castle, and it was his master mind that made it a great success. He remained at the head of these mammoth locomotive works the rest of his life.
Taking an abiding interest in the general development of his city, and being a very influential man in public affairs, Mr. Castle was elected mayor of Ohio City, in 1853, and during his term of office there was effected the consolidation of Cleveland and Ohio City. He labored diligently to bring about this desirable end, and he was one of the commissioners named to agree upon terms of annexation. He had been so popular as a public official, that in 1855 he was elected mayor of the consolidated cities, and his administration was characterized by justice, firmness, a love for law enforcement, for a marked material, civic, and moral development in the municipality. He inaugurated movements which resulted in permanent good to the Forest City, and, in fact, did as much as any other man has ever done for its general welfare. For a period of six years subsequent to his mayorality, he held the office of commissioner of the water works, and gave the city an adequate and pure water supply.
Cleveland is indebted to Mr. Castle for many great improvements, prominent among which was the cutting of a channel through from the Cuyahoga to the old river bed, which gave new and valuable facilities to the city as a shipping point on the lakes. He was a zealous champion of the water works, at a time when that scheme needed all the support it could secure, and for a number of years was one of the trustees thereof.
In the business world, Mr. Castle was no less prominent. At the time of his death, and for several years prior thereto had been, a trustee of the Savings Bank. He was also, and from its organization had been, a director and member of the Board of Finance of the Citizens Saving and Loan Association, and was interested in various railroads and the People's Gas Light Company.
Nor did the charitable institutions of the city lack Mr. Castle's wise and prudent counsel. He was one of the earliest, most useful, and active members of the Children's Aid Society, and a director of the Bethel Union,
Yet in the midst of all these varied public, business, and charitable duties, Mr. Castle always found time and means to devote to the interests and welfare of St. John's Church, a communicant of which he became, not long after its organization in 1837, and to which he remained ardently attached, filling with great fidelity, and for many years, the offices of Vestryman and Senior Warden.
Mr. Castle was married in December, 1836, to Mary Derby, whose death occurred in Canada the following year. In 1840, he was married to Mary H. Newell, of Vermont, a lady of strong personality and one of the most prominent of old New England families. By this union three daughters and one son were born, named as follows: William W., Kate Newell, Mary H. and Julia A.
Mr. Castle was a very successful man in his life work, due solely to his own persistent efforts along well-regulated lines, and, laboring thus often in the face of adverse circumstances, he was certainly endowed with a greater amount of sagacity and initiative than the average business man, or he would have given up the struggle in despair. All during his career he was careful to keep his personal reputation on a plane that was beyond an idle cavil. It was, no doubt, his honesty and high moral character which inspired trust and confidence in all with whom he came in contact that contributed principally to his success in life. He retained to the end the respect and esteem of his fellow-citizens. In his day he was one of the substantial pillars of Cleveland, was beloved for his public spirit, his industry, charity, and example of sterling manhood, and when he was summoned to his eternal rest, on February 28, 1872, his loss was keenly felt in the Forest City and throughout northeastern Ohio, if not over the entire State.


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