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George A. Tisdale
ONE of the most conspicuous figures in the past history of Cleveland was the late George A. Tisdale, a man actively identified with the business interests of the city, and for many years widely known as one of the leading insurance men of the middle West. Equally noted as a citizen whose career, useful and honorable, conferred credit upon the community, and whose marked abilities and sterling qualities won for him much more than local repute, he held distinctive precedence as one of the most progressive and successful men that ever inaugurated and carried to praiseworthy termination large and important undertakings in his community. Strong mental powers, invincible courage, and a determined purpose that hesitated at no opposition so entered into his composition as to render him a dominant factor and a leader of men in the business world. He was essentially a man of affairs and forged his way to success over obstacles that would have discouraged men of less heroic mettle, until he was not only one of the leading insurance men of this section of the country, but also one of the best developed intellectually, having always been a student and kept fully abreast of the times, and one of the most influential in civic and social circles, worthy in every respect of the high esteem in which he was universally held.
George A. Tisdale was born at Sacket Harbor, Jefferson County, New York, in 1821, and his death occurred at his home in Cleveland, at the age of seventy-two years, after a life of usefulness and honor. His parents were George L. and Amelia Marie (Graham) Tisdale, the latter a native of Dutchess County, New York. When the subject of this sketch was a lad of about seventeen years of age, and attending school at Cazenovia, New York, his father died, and soon afterwards George A. made and extended trip through the western States. In April, 1852, he located in Cleveland, which he determined upon as his future home, and he became interested in the fire insurance business, becoming secretary and treasurer of the Commercial Mutual Insurance Company. For nearly two decades he was successfully engaged in this connection, gaining a wide acquaintance among insurance men and in general business circles, among whom he gained a high standing as an expert authority on all matters pertaining to insurance. In 1871, the great Chicago fire losses put the Commercial Mutual, together with hundreds of others, out of business, for the sudden demand was so extraordinary that but few companies could stand the strain.
Soon afterwards Mr. Tisdale was active in the promotion and incorporation of the Mercantile Insurance Company, with substantially the same directorate as the former company, and of which Mr. Tisdale was made secretary and manager. This company was remarkably successful, largely owing to the progressive methods and the indomitable energy of Mr. Tisdale, who devoted himself unremittingly to the interests of the company. He retained his relations as secretary and manager of the Mercantile Insurance Company until about two years prior to his death, when, because of failing health, he was compelled to retire from the activities in which he had been so long engaged. Mainly because of Mr. Tisdale's decision to relinquish the management of the company, the directors decided to liquidate the business while Mr. Tisdale was still able to manage its affairs and look after the important details connected with the closing of the books.
Mr. Tisdale was really one of the pioneers in the insurance business in Cleveland, and in his accurate and comprehensive knowledge of the intricacies of fire and marine insurance, he had no superiors and few peers. He had made of insurance a close and exhaustive study and was considered an authority in such matters, his advice in this as well as other matters of business being often solicited. He was the possessor of a keen and analytical mind, easily comprehending the most intricate commercial problems, and possessed to an eminent degree those qualities which would have insured success in any undertaking to which he might have addressed himself. He was one of the early members of the Cleveland Board of Trade and was most active in his efforts to advance and conserve the commercial, business, and industrial life of the community. He had great faith and great pride in Cleveland and he was zealous of its prosperity. He ever stood for a high standard of civic life, giving his support unreservedly to all movements which promised to benefit the city socially, morally, educationally or religiously.
Politically, Mr. Tisdale was an earnest supporter of the principles of the Republican party, in which he firmly believed, but he was not a politician in the ordinary acceptance of the term and never aspired to public office for himself. Religiously, he was for many years a devoted member of St. Paul's Episcopal Church, having long served as a member of the vestry and being at the time of his death senior warden of the church. Large-hearted and generous, he gave freely of his means to all worthy objects, though in this, as in all other things, he was entirely unostentatious, many of his charities being known only to the recipients of his bounty.
Mr. Tisdale was a lover of his home and family, and there he found his greatest enjoyment. For more than thirty years he lived in a substantial and attractive home on Euclid Avenue in what is now the business district of the city.
Mr. Tisdale married Caroline M. Burt, of Sacket harbor, New York, and of this union two daughters survive, Mrs. James B. Savage and Caroline A. Tisdale, both of whom still resided in Cleveland.
Thus briefly have been outlined the leading facts in the career of one who impressed his personality on the business and social life of his community in his day and who, through all the years of his life here enjoyed to an unusual degree the spontaneous love and admiration of those who knew him. Genial and sympathetic in his relations with those about him, he was one whom to know was to love, and the world in which he moved was brighter and better for his presence. He moved as a man among men, and his daily life was but the expression of a positive character, "standing foursquare to every wind that blew," and allowing no sinister influence to swerve him from the bath of rectitude and honor. The stalwart proportions of his living presence were realized in the void made by his death.
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