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J. Henry French
J. HENRY FRENCH, prominent in business and social life in Cincinnati and Chicago, was born on a farm near Derby, Connecticut, October 5, 1828, his parents being Jeremiah and Elizabeth (Dudley) French. When he was eleven years of age, his parents, seeking a new home in the West, moved to Granville, Ohio, an arduous journey of three weeks by canal and stage. At the age of twenty he left Granville and went to Cincinnati, securing employment first as clerk in a dry-goods store, then as bookkeeper for Mr. Banning, a prominent grain merchant in Cincinnati at that time. A little more than a year later he obtained a position with the firm of Tweed and Sibley, also in the grain business; as he was very ambitious, it was not very long before he was rewarded by a junior partnership with this firm, which then became known as Sibley, French, and Company. Mr. French continued successfully in this connection until 1874, immediately after the second great fire in Chicago, when he was attracted to that city by the unusual opportunities offered there, and left Cincinnati with the son of his old employer and partner, Mr. James H. Sibley, to establish the firm of Sibley, French, and Company in Chicago.
Mr. French attained further business success there and remained for thirteen years, being the period of reconstruction in the life of that great city. He was recognized among business men of Chicago, and for a number of years was Director and Vice President of the Chicago Board of Trade. He returned to Cincinnati the latter part of 1887 to become affiliated with the firm of Proctor and Gamble, and later to fill the position of treasurer of that company.
Ina remarkable way Mr. French won his way into the hearts of his associates; he was utterly unselfish and gave himself, heart and soul, to others; he could be counted upon in any worthy cause or movement, and in his private giving he was truly Christ-like, holding that the "gift without the giver is bare"; he was known even to obligate himself to give aid to others when in great need. Throughout his life he was a devout member of the Episcopal Church, being one of the leaders and supporters of Christ Church, in Cincinnati.
In politics he was a loyal Republican, being one of the few living in Covington during the war, who openly remained strong and loyal for Lincoln and the cause for which he stood.
The qualities which made him a tactful and successful business man, made him beloved in his home. He was married at the age of twenty-five, and after fifty happy years, on September 20, 1903, surrounded by his children and his children's children, he celebrated, in Cincinnati, the golden anniversary of his wedding, which occurred in the year 1.853, in Covington, Kentucky.
His wife was Miss Kate Smith, of Covington, daughter of Simeon and Mary Ann (Hall) Smith, and was born in Williamstown, Vermont.
Mr. French was a man who delighted in his home and family; he was an accomplished musician and an able critic; he was deeply interested in the musical life of Cincinnati, and his ideals in music, as in all things, were of the highest.
He died at his home in Cincinnati on November 5, 1903, one month after his seventy-fifth birthday, and was buried in Spring Grove Cemetery.
The children of Mr. and Mrs. French are Harry Dudley French, living at Baltimore, Maryland; Ellen Cornelia French, now Mrs. Charles E. Cate, of Cleveland, and Herbert Greer French, who succeeded his father as treasurer of the Proctor and Gamble Company, and resides in Cincinnati, with his mother, at their home on Dana Avenue, Avondale.
The eldest son, Harry Dudley French, a piano merchant of Baltimore, married Miss Helen Mabel Kimball, of Chicago, and has two children, Dudley and Edith; both of these have marriedóDudley to Miss Helen Marjorie Nind, of Chicago, by whom he has two children, Margaret and Katherine Louise, and Edith to Harry E. Bachtenkircher, also of Chicago, her son being Raymond French Bachtenkircher.
The daughter, Ellen Cornelia (Mrs. Charles E. Cate), of Cleveland, has two children, Russell French Cate and Dorothy Adams Cate.
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