Return to Ohio Biographies
Return to Index
T0 attain worthy citizenship by a life that is always honored and respected, even from childhood, deserves
more than mere mention. It is no easy task to resist the many temptations of youth and plant a character
in the minds and hearts of associates that will remain an unstained figure for all time. One may take his place in public life through some vigorous stroke of commendable policy, and even remain in the hearts of friends and neighbors, but to achieve a place of influence and esteem among men by dint of the practice of an upright life and without craving for exaltation and popularity, is worthy the highest praise. The late Talton Embry, prominent live stock dealer and broker and financier of Cincinnati, who was well known throughout Ohio and the Middle West for many years, was a man respected and honored, not alone because of the vigorous training of his special talents, but because of his daily life, each day having been one that was above criticism as passed upon in the light of real, true manhood. Strong and forceful in his relations with his fellow men, Mr. Embry not only made his presence felt, but also gained the good will and commendation of both his associates and the general public, ever retaining his reputation among men for integrity and high character, no matter how trying the circumstances, and never losing that dignity which is the birthright of the model gentleman. His eminently successful career might be studied with profit by the young man starting out in life.
Mr. Embry, who was a splendid example of a successful self-made man and the scion of a sterling old family of the Blue Grass State, was born near Richmond, Madison County, Kentucky, June 5, 1860. He was a son of Talton and Martha (Foster) Embry, natives of Kentucky and one of the prominent pioneer families of the Old South. Both are now deceased. His father owned a farm in his earlier years, later devoting his attention to the live stock business. Two sons of Talton Embry, Sr. survive, G. W. Embry, of Louisville, and J. J. Embry, of Richmond. Talton, Jr. was the youngest of seven children.
The subject of this memoir received his training in the public schools up to fourteen years of age, but he later became an exceptionally well-informed man through habits of close observation, wide miscellaneous reading and contact with the world. When a small boy he gave evidence of rare business talent, and upon leaving school he began life for himself, earning his first dollar by stripping grass seed on the farm of Cash Clay, a very wealthy and noted farmer of Kentucky and a relative of Henry Clay. In later life Mr. Embry often spoke of his experiences on the Clay farm. Mr. Embry's knowledge of the trading business was early acquired. When but a small lad his father would give him a horse or a cow and he would take the animal to Richmond on court day and as a rule would make a good trade. When he was sixteen years old his father engaged in the live stock commission business at Louisville, under the firm name of Tatum & Embry, thereupon he turned over the home farm to the management of his sons Talton and Joel, with the understanding that they pay for the farm with the surplus proceeds from their work. Three years later the subject of this sketch turned over his interest in the place to his brother, who was his senior in years, and began shipping mules from Nashville, Tennessee, to Pensacola, Florida. This proved to be quite a successful venture. He saved his earnings and soon had a good working capital. When he was twenty-one years of age, his father, who was not a wealthy man but whose name nevertheless carried a great deal of weight in Kentucky, gave his son the use of his name, the only asset he had to give, and accordingly the firm of Talton Embry & Company, live stock dealers, was established at Covington, Kentucky, and Cincinnati, Ohio, Talton Embry, Jr., being at the head of the firm. From this humble beginning he became one of the most prominent and expert live stock men of the Middle West and amassed a fortune. It was in 1879, in partnership with his father and brother John, that he established the business in Cincinnati. Later, upon the removal of his father to Louisville, he formed a partnership with T. M. Greene, the latter buying the interests of John Embry. The firm name was then changed to Greene, Embry & Company, and was incorporated in December, 1912, under the name of The Greene, Embry Company.
While Talton Embry's principal business was that of a dealer in live stock for a period of twenty-nine years, he also had other important and extensive interests. He was a director of the Montgomery Coal Company, of Cincinnati, was instrumental in building and part owner of the stock yards in Indianapolis, Evansville, and Lafayette, Indiana; Peoria, Illinois; Dayton, Ohio; and Wichita, Kansas. He was also interested heavily in the stock 'yards at Louisville, Cleveland, and Jersey City. He was president' of most of these stock yard companies, and directing them. He was for many years one of the noted captains of industry and prominent financiers of Cincinnati and the Middle West. He was universally regarded as one of the best authorities on live stock in the United States, especially was he an expert in the sheep business. But with all his great business acumen, his wide influence and his unquestioned popularity he remained a plain, unassuming, genial, companionable, helpful, and obliging business man, making business his sole hobby. All who knew him regarded him as a man of rare soundness of judgment and keen foresight, and also a man whose word was as good as the bond of most men. He had a high sense of honor and never a dishonest dollar passed his hands.
Politically, Mr. Embry was a Democrat, but while he always discharged as best he could the duties of a good citizen, having a deep interest in the welfare of his city, State, and country, he never sought political preferment nor took an active interest in public affairs, his large business interests and his home claiming his attention. Fraternally,. he was a life member of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, Cincinnati Lodge. He was a member and director of the Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce. His election as a director in the same came unsought while he was out of the city, and he had the distinction at that time of being one of the youngest men ever elected to serve in this capacity. He was an active member of the Cincinnati Business Men's Club, also belonged to the Hamilton County Golf Club. He belonged to the Walnut Hills Christian Church which he liberally supported, in fact, he often gave large sums to charity and good movements in general, but it was always in a quiet way, never to attract the attention and laudation of his fellow men.
Mr. Embry erected large stock yards in Havana, Cuba, before the Spanish-American War. He was one of the first Americans to start sugar refining in Mexico, owning several plantations there.
The happy and harmonious domestic life of Talton Embry began on April 17, 1895, when he married, in Fort Worth, Texas, Susan Higbee, a lady of many commendable attributes of head and heart, and a daughter of C. H. and Mary Belle (Shanks) Higbee, one of Kentucky's prominent and honored old families. Mrs. Embry with her parents moved from Kentucky to Forth Worth, Texas, when she was five years of age. Her father was a successful banker and ranch owner. Both parents are now deceased. To these parents three children were born, namely, Susan, who married Mr. Embry of this memoir; Annie, who married R. E. Maddox, of Ft. Worth, Texas. Both are deceased; Charlton Belle, who married V. O. Hildreth, of Ft. Worth, Texas. She is deceased. As a result of this union two children were born, Mrs. G. L. Cline and Volney Hildreth, both of Ft. Worth, Texas.
The union of Mr. and Mrs. Embry was blessed by the birth of one son, Talton Higbee Embry, nineteen years old at this writing (1916). He was given excellent educational advantages. After attending Franklin School at Cincinnati he entered a noted Asheville School at Asheville, North Carolina, from which he was graduated in June, 1916, after which he returned to Cincinnati and entered his father's extensive business and is proving himself to be in every respect a worthy son of a worthy sire.
The death of Talton Embry occurred suddenly and without much warning on July 9, 1916, at the picturesque family home at Lennox Place, Avondale, Cincinnati, having been stricken with paralysis a few days previously while at the Cincinnati Union Stock Yards. The burial was at Lexington, Kentucky, July 13, 1916, a special train having been chartered by the family to convey the funeral party to the last resting place. The train was met by friends of the deceased from all over that section of the State and the funeral was one of the largest ever held in Lexington.
In discussing the death of his friend, Hon. John L. Shuff, formerly postmaster of the city of Cincinnati and now manager of the home office of the general agency of the Union Central Life Insurance Company of that city, paid the following tribute to Mr. Embry:
"Kentucky never sent a son from her borders that was more loyal to his birthplace, and no citizen has been a greater factor in the upbuilding of the business and commercial interest of Cincinnati than Talton Embry. He was a prince of good fellows and a most loyal friend. His motto was always 'To Have a Friend, Be a Friend.' And he lived a life of usefulness and thoughtfulness of his fellow man, especially the less fortunate."
"Mr. Embry started his business in Cincinnati in 1879 and formed a partnership with Colonel Thomas M. Greene, of Mt. Sterling. Later they formed the great firm of Greene, Embry & Company, and in my opinion they have sent more money back into dear old Kentucky for live stock of every kind than any other firm in the United States."
"In coming down with his remains together with his family and friends we bring to her own soil one of her greatest sons. His executive ability was marvelous and his attention to business was a remarkable characteristic of his life. May the dear old State of Kentucky continue to grow such types of men to show much credit to their State and the Union."
Barbara's Bordered Backgrounds