James Secor was born in Goshen, New York in 1834, the son of Benjamin and Sarah (Ketcham) Secor. In 1844 he and his family moved to Michigan. He worked on the family farm until the age of twenty. It was in that year that he moved to Toledo. His brother Joseph was a partner in the wholesale grocery business of Secor, Berdan and Company, and James was made clerk of the company. He was so successful with his new job that in 1858, James became a partner and was made general manager. Previously, the company had supplied country stores with not only groceries, but also dry goods. The sales of the company, until James became manager, had been around $250,000. After James dropped dry goods in 1860, the profits increased 100%. Eventually Secor, Berdan & Ketcham became one of the leading grocers in Ohio and the surrounding area. James remained manager until his retirement in 1888.
When he retired, James turned his attention to the banking world. He helped to organize such institutions as the Union Safe Deposit and Trust Company, the Union Savings Bank, and the Woolson Spice Company. He served as president of all three companies.
James was a member of the Toledo Club, the Toledo Country Club, the Middle Bass Club, and the First Congregational Church. In January, 1867 he married Charlotte A. Steele. The couple had four children, only one of which, Jay K., survived. James was a member of the Republican party and was a keen hunter. In 1901, while James Secor was hunting in a marsh, he collapsed and died aged only 66 years. He is buried in Woodlawn Historic Cemetery in Section 5, lot 42.[Harvey Scribner, ed. Memoirs of Lucas County and the City of Toledo vol. 1 (Chicago: S.J.Clarke Publishing Company,1923), pp.103-104. John M. Killits, ed., Toledo and Lucas County, Ohio 1623-1923 vol. 3 (Chicago & Toledo: S.J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1923), p.673].
Jay K. Secor
Jay K. Secor, son of James Secor, was born in Toledo on April 28, 1872. He was a Toledo banker and broker. Jay graduated from the Toledo public schools, then Andover Academy in Massachusetts. He returned to Toledo and became employed at the Northern National Bank. He worked there in various capacities for several years. Later in his life, he returned to the bank as a vice-president and director. (Toledo Biography Scrapbook, Local History Room, Toledo Lucas County Public LIbrary). He became a partner in the firm of Secor & Bell, established in 1898, which became Secor, Bell & Beckworth in 1920. This company was one of the first in the Toledo area to open a direct, private line to the New York stock exchange. It was a dealer in stocks and bonds as well as handling the securities and financial transactions in Toledo.
Jay was also president of the Citizens' Ice Company, president of the Toledo Bridge & Crane Company and Vice-president of the Union Savings Bank. He was a director of many companies including the Toledo Steamship Company and the W.L. Milnek Department Store. He had an active social life and was especially interested in outdoor activities. He belonged to numerous clubs including the Toledo Club, The Toledo Country Club, the Chamber of Commerce, Castalia Fishing Club of Ohio, the Erie Shooting Club, the National Golf Club of Ohio, the Dartmouth Salmon Fishing Club of Quebec, and the Ohio Society of New York. Jay Secor was a charitable man who was a leader of the Red Cross drives during World War I. He also served as a trustee of the Toledo Museum of Art
Jay was the president of the firm that constructed and owned the Secor Hotel, which was opened August 1, 1908. The hotel was named in honor of Jay who had done much to promote the new building. Painted portraits of James and Joseph Secor hung inside.
Jay Secor was ill the last two years of his life which seriously limited his business activities. He had left for Florida as part of a vacation intended for his health. He died there on February 21, 1921 at the age of 48. It was believed that his death was caused by heart disease.
Jay Secor married Mary Young Barnes on his birthday in 1898. She was the daughter of G.W. Barnes of Colorado. It was estimated that Secor's estate was worth between $4,000,000 and $5,000,000. [Harvey Scribner, ed., Memoirs of Lucas County and the City of Toledo, vol.2 (Madison: Western Historical Association, 1910), p.522].
Joseph K. Secor
Joseph K. Secor was born in 1822 in New York. He was the eldest son of Benjamin and Sarah (Ketcham) Secor and the brother of James Secor. In 1840, Joseph came to Toledo. On his arrival, he entered the employ of Valentine H. Ketcham who was in the wholesale grocery trade. He became the partner of Mr. Ketcham and the company name was changed to Ketcham & Secor. In addition to dealing in wholesale groceries, the company was known as a private banking house until 1863. Joseph Secor helped organize it into the First National Bank after the National Banking Act of 1863. He became its director and vice-president. It was a position he held until January 1, 1890.
Joseph K. Secor also served on the Toledo City Council in 1873. He was on the advisory board of the Toledo Industrial School as well. In 1850, he married Elizabeth Ketcham. They were the parents of two children.
In 1850 Peter F. Berdan joined the company. He later became a partner when Ketcham retired in 1854. The company name was changed to Secor, Berdan & Company. Joseph K. Secor remained with the company until he retired in 1888. On April 16, 1892, Joseph Secor died. Elizabeth Secor died on May 28, 1911. He is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery section 85, lot 10. [Toledo Biography Scrapbook, Local History Room, Toledo Lucas County Public Library. Charles S. Van Tassel, ed., The Story of the Maumee Valley, Toledo and the Sandusky Region. (Chicago: S.J. Clarke Publishing, 1929), pp.225-28. See also Harvey Scribner, ed., Memoirs of Lucas County and the City of Toledo, vol. 2. (Madison: Western Historical Association, 1910), p.522].