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John Frederick Seiberling
THE importance of human relation can be no more admirably exemplified than in the instance wherein one man
can be of just benefit to another man or his compeers in
general—a blessing to humanity. A good character is
the greatest worldly asset of mankind and whoever seeks to destroy it is worse than he who would steal away your property in the darkness of night. Man's morality is evidenced by a reasonable degree of self-sacrifice and unassuming display of sympathy and charity commensurate with his ability to act; his bravery, by his straightforward way of doing things, subservient to a will that meets a moral obligation; and a true measure of his success, by what he has accomplished. In contradistinction to the old adage that a prophet is not without honor save in his own country, particular interest is attached to the career of the late John Frederick Seiberling, noted inventor and successful manufacturer of agricultural implements, he having been born and spent practically all of his long and useful life in Summit County, Ohio, and that he so directed his ability, rare talents and honest efforts as to have gained recognition as one of the most worthy citizens the great Buckeye commonwealth has ever produced and an esteemed scion of two of our sterling pioneer families.
Mr. Seiberling was born March 10, 1834. He was a son of Nathan and Catherine (Peter) Seiberling, whose family consisted of thirteen children, only six of whom are now living.
John F. Seiberling grew to manhood in Western Star, Summit County, Ohio, and there attended the Western Star Academy. He built onto this substantial foundation in later years by wide home study and contact with the world until he became a highly educated man—a fine example of a, self-taught, self-made man. After leaving school he worked on a farm a short time, then was employed as clerk in a drug store in Akron from 1856 to 1858. In 1859 he went back to the farm to run a saw-mill for his father. He possessed rare inventive genius which manifested itself when quite young, and while operating the saw-mill he invented the Excelsior mower and reaper with dropper attachment, and in 1861 he established a plant at Doyleston, Ohio, for their manufacture. In 1864 he started similar works at Massillon, that State, making the same articles, which found a very ready sale from the start. In 1865, he organized the John F. Seiberling Company in Akron, continuing the manufacture of Excelsior machines there. It was in 1871 that he organized the Akron Strawboard Company and continued actively in the same until its sale in 1887 to the Strawboard Trust. In 1873 he organized the Empire Mower & Reaper Works in Akron and built Empire mowers, reapers, and binders, which he had invented in the meantime, and continued their manufacture until 1896. In 1884, he organized the Seiberling Milling Company in East Akron, which was originally a flouring mill, but was subsequently converted into a cereal mill and operated by the Akron Cereal Company, which in 1899 went into the combination known
as the Great Western Cereal Company. He continued his interests in this concern until his death.
The Excelsior works failed in the panic year of 1873. In 1889 Mr. Seiberling was practically the builder of the Akron Street Railway which was the second electric railroad in the United States. He was also heavily interested in silver mining in Idaho, Nevada and California. He was vice-president of the Second National Bank of Akron and a director in the same. He was one of the captains of industry of Ohio in his day and generation and his name will go down in the history of the State as one of the most successful manufacturers and inventors the State has ever produced, his inventions being of inestimable benefit to mankind, making the work of the farmer easier and more satisfactory in every way as well as much more remunerative. He never felt the need of vacations, in fact, did not advocate them, and he spent all the time possible in his shop endeavoring to invent something useful and practical. His entire life was spent as an inventor and he had over one hundred and fifty patents in the patent office. He was ever a hard worker, which was his pleasure and recreation.
Mr. Seiberling was a man who delighted in doing good and he gave large sums in furthering worthy causes and for charitable benevolent purposes. When the English Lutheran church was built in the spring of 1870 he paid half its cost—$45,000. This church was greatly enlarged in 1891. He was a member of the Akron board of education for many years and did much to encourage better schools. In 1871, he built the Akron Academy of Music, the largest playhouse in Akron at that time. He joined the English Lutheran church upon its organization in Akron and continued an active member and its main supporter until his death. Fraternally he belonged to the Masonic Order, but not being an enthusiastic lodge or club man he never went beyond the Chapter. He was essentially a home, business, and church man, devoting all his attention to these.
Mr. Seiberling was married September 6, 1857, to Catherine L. Miller, of Norton, Summit County, Ohio. Her father was a farmer and she was one of eight children, only one of whom is now living—Samuel Miller, of Doyleston, Ohio.
To Mr. and Mrs. Seiberling nine children were born, all of whom survive, namely: Anna S. is the wife of S. S. Miller, of Akron, and they have two children; Frank A. married Gertrude Penfield, and to them seven children were born, one of whom is deceased. Frank A. Seiberling is president and general manager of the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company, of Akron. Charles W. Seiberling, vice-president of the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company, married Blanche C. Carnaham, and they have four children; Cora D. is the wife of Louis T. Wolfe, of Akron, and they had four children only one of whom is now living; Hattie M. is the widow of Lucius Miles, deceased; their union was without issue. Grace I. Seiberling, wife of Dr. William Chase, of Akron, has no children of her own but is rearing two sisters which she and Mr. Chase adopted; Kitty G. is the wife of Louis Firey, of Kansas City, Missouri, and they have two children; Mary B. is the wife of Henry B. Manton, of Akron, and they have two daughters; Ruth is the wife of Ernest Pfluger, of Akron; they are the parents of four sons.
The death of John F. Seiberling occurred at the commodious family home in Akron September 3, 1903, in his sixty-ninth year. His memory will long be revered because of his life of honor and great service to the world in various ways. His career and exem- plary life might well be held up for emulation for the youth of the land who stand on the threshold of the arena in which is to be fought out life's serious battles.
Barbara's Bordered Backgrounds