PORTRAIT AND BIOGRAPHICAL ALBUM
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ROSS MITCHELL. Probably in the career of no man in the city of Springfield has there been more forcibly illustrated the results of perseverance, industry and resolution than in that of Mr. MITCHELL, whose portrait appears on the opposite page. He now occupies the position of a retired manufacturer, a capitalist and an extensive owner of real estate. His battle with the world commenced when he was a lad of twelve years as, by the death of his father he became the main dependence of his widowed mother and her four children. The first $78 which he earned was lost through the breaking of a bank, but this instead of discouraging him, only incited him to more determined effort, and he still pursued the habits of industry and frugality which enabled him in due time to place another sum at interest, until, in company with his brother James, he had the snug amount of $1,500. From that modest nest-egg he accumulated the fortune which he now enjoys. He bears the reputation of a benevolent and public-spirited citizen—one who never turns a deaf ear to the call of distress and who is always willing to assist those less fortunate than himself.
The native place of Mr. MITCHELL was Landisburg, Perry County, Pa., and the date of his birth November 14, 1824. His father, James Blaine MITCHELL, was a native of Carlisle, Cumberland County, Pa., and at an early age he learned the trade of a carpenter and builder. He followed this in his native State, for a few years, then in May, 1836, removed to Dayton, Ohio, this State, where he sojourned two years, then removed to Woodbury Mills, on Mad River, renting the mills which he operated until 1840. That year he removed to Midway, but in 1849, he changed his residence to the vicinity of Hertzler’s Mills and died that same year. The wife and mother survived her husband only about twelve months. Their family consisted of eight children, only three of whom lived to mature years and of whom Ross is the eldest and the only survivor. James W. died in the fifty-sixth year of his age and a sister, Margaret, died in the thirty-fourth year of her age.
The paternal grandfather of our subject was one of the substantial farmers of Cumberland County, Pa., where he passed his entire life. He was a man of strong character and prided himself upon his Scotch-Irish ancestry. The mother of our subject bore the maiden name of Cynthia GOWDY. She was born in Perry County, Pa., and departed this life at Hertzler’s Mills.
Mr. MITCHELL was a lad of eleven years old when he came to Ohio with his parents and on account of the death of his father was only able to attend school probably not to exceed one hundred and fifty days in all his life. He was determined, however, to gain all the knowledge he could and studied his book by the uncertain light of the fire-place, using cooper shavings and hickory bark to assist him in deciphering the lines, and in this way read all the books in the New Carlisle Library. His days were employed, while his father lived, in assisting the latter in the sawmills, in the operation of which he became quite an expert. After his father’s death he secured the position of clerk in a country store and in the absence of a customer made himself useful at the sawmill near by.
Mr. MITCHELL continued with his employer until the latter sold his stock of goods and mills and accompanied him when he removed to Springfield. He then took charge of the books and the distillery business, being thus occupied probably eight months. In the fall of 1854, he accepted a position as assistant book-keeper with the firm of WARDER, BROKAW & CHILDS, manufacturer of reapers, mowers and farm implements at Lagonda. The following year he became head book-keeper of the concern, a position which he occupied until 1865. Then, still on the advance, he was admitted to a partnership in the business, Mr. CHILDS having retired and the firm became WARDER, MITCHELL, & CO.
The following year the above mentioned company admitted Gen. A. S. BUSHNELL to a partnership in the business, but the style of the firm remained unchanged, continuing as before until 1881, when the partnership was dissolved, Mr. MITCHELL disposing of his interests to the firm which then became WARDER, BUSHNELL & GLESSNER, whose main office is now in the city of Chicago, where they occupy a handsome building in the business portion of the city. Mr. MITCHELL at that time was suffering considerable from ill health.
After a season of rest and recreation Mr. MITCHELL began dealing in real estate and later commenced the manufacture of linseed oil in company with Messrs. WELSH & DODSON, and they subsequently sold their interest in the business to the National Linseed Oil Company. Prior to this time he had become interested in the Springfield Metallic Casket Company, of which he is Director and one of the principal stockholders. He is similarly connected with the Mast Manufacturing Company, and is a Director and stock holder of the Philip WISEMAN Hardware Company, and he is also a stockholder and Director of the Gas Light and Coke Company, likewise a stockholder in the Kanopolis Land Company, of Ellsworth County, Kan. He is a stockholder and Director in the Royal Salt Company of Kanopolis, a stockholder and Director in the First National Bank at Springfield, a stockholder and President of the Citizen’s Street Railway Company, and a stockholder and Director of the Fireman’s Insurance Company of Dayton.
In politics Mr. MITCHELL is conservative, leaning toward the Republican party. He was for two years a member of the City Council, representing the Eighth Ward. In religion he is a Lutheran and one of the Elders of the Second Lutheran Church of Springfield. He put up in 1882-83 the MITCHELL Block at the corner of High and Limestone Streets, which is one of the handsomest structures in the city, five stories in height, the lower part being used for stores and the floors above for offices. He is also the owner of six good farms in Clark County, besides a farm near Urbana of three hundred and ninety-seven acres, with a total of twenty-five hundred and ninety-four acres, besides fifteen sections of land in Central Kansas. The family residence stands in the midst of handsome grounds partially surrounded by native trees and evergreens and is located on a rise of ground commanding a fine view of the surrounding country.
Mr. MITCHELL was first married October 7, 1852, to Miss Catherine Ann, daughter of Casper and Susan (WIRT) MILLER. Mrs. MITCHELL was born February 20, 1827, in Dauphin County, Pa., and died September 12, 1878, at her home in Springfield. There was born of this union five daughters, of whom the eldest and youngest died at the ages of fourteen years and eight months respectively. Mrs. MITCHELL was a lady greatly beloved by her family and friends and occupied a high position in the social circles. She was possessed of great good sense and modesty, an amiable disposition and more than ordinary intelligence. Effie J., the eldest daughter living, is the wife of Prof. E. L. SHENEY, of Dayton; Fanny married the Rev. G. P. RAUP, a prominent business man of Moorefield Township, and now managing the farms of Mr. MITCHELL; Anna Mary is the wife of the Rev. S. E. GREENAWALT, who has charge of a congregation at Osborn, this State.
The present wife of Mr. MITCHELL, to whom he was married in 1881, was formerly Miss Sarah, daughter of the Rev. Ezra KELLER, the founder of Wittenberg College and its first President. No children have been born of this union. Mrs. Sarah MITCHELL was born September 16, 1845, in Maryland. Her mother bore the maiden name of Caroline ROUTZAHN, and her parents are now both deceased. Mr. MITCHELL, a few years since, became totally blind from a cataract, but had a successful operation performed which restored his sight.
Portrait and Biographical Album of Greene and Clark Counties, Ohio
Chapman Bros., Chicago, Copyright 1890.