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Caleb Emery Gowen
IN placing the name of the late Caleb Emery Gowen in the front rank of Cleveland's business men of the generation just past, simple justice is done to a biographical fact, universally recognized throughout Cuyahoga County by those familiar with his history, for he was for many years one of the leading figures in the business world. A man of rare soundness of judgment, wise discretion and business ability of a high order, he managed his business affairs with tactful success and so impressed his individuality upon the community as to gain recognition among its leading citizens and public-spirited men of affairs. His memory is revered by a host of friends and acquaintances among whom he labored, having spent his energies through a life of endeavor to make the most of his opportunities. However, he did not believe in living to him himself alone, having an altruistic spirit and kind heart, his sympathies going to those about him who needed assistance or encouragement, and in all the relations of life he proved signally true to every trust. He possessed a social nature and by his genial and kindly attitude to those with whom he came in contact, he won the confidence and respect of every one who knew him. In every life of honor and usefulness there is no dearth of interesting situations and incidents, and yet in summing up such a career we need touch only on the more salient facts.
Caleb E. Gowen was born at Boston, Massachusetts, November 28, 1855. He was the son of John Emery and Mary Homer (Thurlow) Gowen, both descended from families who have for generations been prominent figures in the history of the New England States. John Emery Gowen was, himself, a marine engineer of international fame, having done a large part of his work in foreign countries. A great part of Caleb E. Gowen's early life was spent in Europe, where his father was engaged in his profession. He received his early schooling at Geneva, Switzerland. At the age of sixteen, however, he returned to America and entered the Boston Latin School and later Harvard College, from which institution he was graduated in 1878. He then entered upon his business career that was later to have many ramifications. His first position was a salaried one, with a New York mercantile house. He served with this house for several years, and, being of a keen, intelligent nature, with a considerable store of inherent business ability, his progress was rapid. In 1882 he came to Cleveland and here married Miss Gertrude Younglove, daughter of one of Cleveland's most prominent business men. Mr. Younglove turned over the quarries at Kelly's Island to Mr. Gowen and from this small beginning he organized what is now the Kelly Island Lime and Transport Company, one of the conservative and larger concerns of Cleveland, of which he became president upon Mr. Youngglove's [sic.] death, c[o]ntinuing its active head up to the time of his illness.
As his capital grew, Mr. Gowen became interested in other important interests in Cleveland. During his active business life he was president of the Cleveland Dredge & Dock Co., The Great Lakes Construction Co., The Cleveland Builders Supply Co., and the Marblehead Power Co. He was president of the Lehigh Portland Cement Co., and a director in the Lakeside and Marblehead Railroad Co., the C. G. Kuhlman Car Co., and the National Commercial Bank, and Guardian Trust Company. For five years prior to his death Mr. Gowen was in ill health, and he relinquished his active connection with the most of the companies he was interested in, and devoted his time to an effort to regain his health, but in this he was not successful, and passed away on January 8, 1914.
Mr. Gowen in politics called himself a Republican, but was not in any sense a politician. He was broadminded in that as in all things, and formed his own opinion of men and measures. In religion Mr. Gowen was an attendant of the Second Presbyterian Church, and was a trustee of that organization. Socially Mr. Gowen preferred home life to that of any other, but nevertheless he carried his membership in Union, University and Country Clubs.
Mr. Gowen had one child by his first wife. He is Albert V. Gowen, and upon laying aside the active cares of business life, Mr. Gowen turned most of his interests over to his son. Albert Gowen married Miss Margaret Huntington Smith, June 2, 1909, and the have one child, Margaret Huntington Gowen.
On June 6, 1888, Mr. Gowen was united in marriage to Miss Isabell Cutler, daughter of William and Harriette (Gilbert) Cutler. Mr. Cutler was one of the oldest merchants in Amherst, Massachusetts, and his forebears were pioneer settlers of that section.
Mr. and Mrs. Gowen had one child, a daughter, Miss Harriette, who is the wife of Henry Payne Bingham, and who comes of one of Cleveland's old families. They have a son, Henry Payne Bingham, Jr.
In 1910 Mr. Gowen built a residence at 11116 Magnolia Drive in Cleveland, where he took his family, and where he passed away.
The Cleveland Town Topics of the issue of January 17, 1914, had this to say about him:
"With the death last week of Caleb Emery Gowen was broken a connecting link with the families who made the early history of Cleveland. Of New England ancestry, Mr. Gowen passed the first years of his life in a very different environment than that experienced by the average American boy. The son of Colonel Gowen, a leading marine engineer of his day in this country and Europe, his boyhood recollections were of foreign countries, the unrest of war, and the personal friendship of many with names now historic. Preferring to enter Harvard and become an American business man, he devoted his thoughts and studies to that end, and his integrity, keen insight, and great executive ability enabled him to create and build up the important business of which he was the head. What endeared Mr. Gowen to all who knew him, and gave him the unusually large number of personal friends, was his cordiality and loyalty, his unselfish interest in their joy or sorrow, the love he undoubtedly felt for each, and his glad willingness to do anything he could for them. No acquaintance but was pleased by such warmth of greeting; no employee to poor to receive a word of interest or sympathy from Mr. Gowen. The five years of illness patiently borne closed on January eighth; but the memory of a life filled with kind thought for others can never die."
The passing of a man like Caleb Emery Gowen is not alone a blow to his immediate family and kindred, but to the whole community as well, Strong mental powers,invincible courage, and a determined purpose that hesitated at no opposition so entered into his composition as to render him a strong factor in the business circles in which he moved. He was the architect of his own fortune and eminently worthy of perpetuation in a work of the character of the one in hand.
Barbara's Bordered Backgrounds