Thaddeus Butler Draft
Thaddeus Butler was a man in his own league. He excelled at everything he took part in. Mr. Butler is one of the most successful businessmen Marion has ever encountered. His businesses excelled beyond others making them some of the leading businesses in northern Indiana. He also brought new factories and industry to Marion during the Gas Boom like Westerman Rolling Mills and Marion Steel and Iron. Thaddeus Butler impacted Marion significantly because of his talents and successes in business and because he brought many new businesses and factories to Marion.
Thaddeus Butler was born in Laketon in Wabash County on December 23, 1858. He was the oldest of three: Thad, Tom, and Winnie. He was the son of Tom and Harriet Butler. When Thaddeus was six he and his family moved to Wabash, where he grew up and attended grade school. When Thaddeus was eight-teen he moved to Marion to start work (Baldwin 54). This was the beginning of Thaddeus Butler’s outstanding business career.
Thaddeus Butler started work as an apprentice trimmer at Spiker & Harrison Carriage Company in 1876. Soon he started the job the company moved to Logansport, so did Butler (Baldwin 54). He quickly rose through the ranks in about nine months he became the foreman in the trimming branch of the company. A few weeks later the Spiker & Harrison Carriage Company caught fire and burned to the ground. Not only did Butler lose his jobs, but he lost all of his tools which made him an invaluable worker. Thaddeus stayed in Logansport and worked at different factory jobs; however, nothing permanently worked out for him. He decided to return to Marion and rent the old Spiker & Harrison Carriage Company building and start his own business (Who’s Who 41). Carriage and Buggy Manufactory was opened in late spring of 1880 (History of…545). Butler’s company was located on the corner of Adams and 6th. During the ten years Butler’s carriage company was open he was one of the most successful businesses in Indiana because of his “unusual” business talent. He sold over seven-hundred carriages and buggies in one year; this amount of product being sold surpassed any other firm in the state (Souvenir 45). Butler’s carriage company was one of the largest carriage factories in northern Indiana (Baldwin 54). Butler wasn’t just a businessman who only cared about selling his product; he really cared for his customers. During the time Butler was in the carriage business, he personally got to know farmers, who were the main customers at that time, everywhere in Grant County (Grant Co. IN 1194). Butler started a new trade system to allow farmers and other customers to pay for the carriages and buggies. This trade system soon spread through Indiana and then elsewhere in the country (Souvenir 45). When the Gas Boom arose in Indiana it caught Butler’s attention. After ten successful years in the carriage business, he decided to sell everything and go into selling real-estate (Grant Co. IN 1194).
The real-estate game is what accounts largely for Butler’s successes (Souvenir 46). Because of the Gas Boom in Indiana, real-estate was becoming very valuable. The Gas Boom was a time when a huge natural gas belt was found in Indiana and companies came from all over the U.S. to mine and use it. The Gas Boom got started in the late 1880’s (Glass 18). Butler stated to buy up large plots of land and selling them for profit to companies and businesses. The earliest account of him buying up land was in 1887when he bought six plots of land (Daily Chronicle 3). In 1890 Butler joined a partnership with George L. Mason, and William H. Wiley (George L. Mason 14). In this partnership Butler’s job was to locate businesses and bring convince the businesses to bring their factories to Marion and he was very successful at it (Grant Co. IN 1194). During the boom period, Butler laid out three additions to the Marion (Souvenir 46). He is the man responsible for building up the western part of the city. Butler is responsible for locating and bringing the following companies to Marion: Sweet & Clark Malleable Iron Works from Troy, NY, Westerman Rolling Mills from Lockport, NY, and Bortz and Eley Rolling Mills from Toledo, OH. Bortz and Eley Rolling Mills wouldn’t initially come to Marion so Butler bought the company and had it moved to Marion. When he moved Bortz and Eley Rolling Mills to Marion he reorganized it and it became Marion Steel and Iron Company (Baldwin 54). All of these companies and factories were “excellent establishments” and stayed in business until fire and trusts destroyed them (Grant Co. IN 1194). Butler stayed in the real-estate business for seven years until 1897 when he decided to go back into his own personal business (George L. Mason 14). Butler was responsible for changing Marion from a village of a town into a booming industrial town (Who’s Who 41).
In 1897 Butler left real-estate and went into his own business and started the Butler Cycle and Music Company in Marion, which he is most well known for (George L. Mason 14). Butler sold musical instruments, which were always a popular item, and bicycles, which were in high demand at the time of the start of the business. After the bicycle rage was over Butler went to strictly selling musical instruments (Who’s Who 41). During this time, Butler also was president of the Chute & Butler Company which manufactured high-end organs in LaFontaine, IN. He later moved the organ manufacturing branch of Chute & Butler to Peru, IN where the piano branch was. Soon after that he started the Butler Stool & Bench Company whom his son J. Edwin Butler was manager of. It manufactured stools and benches, primarily piano benches, located in Marion as well. Butler owned enough stores and businesses to make most of his products using his other businesses, essentially cutting out the middle man of having someone make the parts for him. Butler had three music stores: one in Wabash which he later sold to his brother Tom, one in Kokomo, and one in Marion, which he operated separately from the one in Kokomo. The Butler music stores were well stocked with the best music products and brand name, high-end instruments. Butler’s music stores were the largest retail music houses in northern Indiana (Baldwin 54). “The Butler Music Company was not only a prosperous establishment, but contributed to the larger development of Marion as one of the chief commercial centers in northern Indiana” (Grant Co. IN 1194). The Butler Music Company was successful until 1984 which is the last time it was listed in the city directory of Marion (Marion City Dir.1957 white pages 69). Butler did not only stick to his own business, though he had many, but he helped continue to make new businesses in Marion and keep it a thriving, industrial town (Baldwin 54).
Butler is not only responsible for bringing new businesses to Marion, but also helping organize and create businesses. He is responsible for organizing the United Telephone Company (Baldwin 54). At that time telephone service cost around four dollars a month plus the rental of the phone itself. Butler at this point was part of a joint-stock company which included: T. W. Overman, Wilson Addington, and J. A. Gauntt. They formed the United Telephone Company and their goal was to have an affordable phone so that everyone could have one. Due to the extremely high costs of equipment and the cost of the building and its upkeep the United Telephone Company did not stay in business for very long; however, they did accomplish they goal by have a phone line cost only one dollar and fifty cents plus the cost of renting the phone (Centennial…127). Butler is also credited for the organization of the West Marion Gas Company and the Queen City Electric Railway Company (Baldwin 54). Butler and his enterprises were “a very important factor in Marion’s commercial history” (Grant Co. IN 1193).
Because of Butler’s “unusual” talent in business and his success in bringing many new factories and businesses to Marion during the Gas Boom, Thaddeus Butler has significantly impacted Marion. He brought numerous businesses to Marion in the Gas Boom including: Westerman Rolling Mills and Marion Steel and Iron. He organized and helped start countless companies including: West Marion Gas Company and the Queen City Electric Railway Company. Butler was very successful in his own companies and businesses as well. His music stores were the largest in northern Indiana (Baldwin 54). Mr. Thaddeus Butler was “high in the community life of Marion, and his accomplishments have served to enrich the business and social life of the city,” (Grant Co. IN 1195).
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