The Walbridge Family

The Walbridge family was influential and powerful in the mercantile, banking, and transportation businesses of Toledo. The first Walbridge to leave his mark on Toledo was Horace S. Walbridge. He was born on July 21, 1828 to Chester and Mary Walbridge in Syracuse, New York. When he was three the family moved to Columbus, Ohio. In 1834, they moved to Port Lawrence, which eventually became Toledo. The familys poverty prompted Horace to become self-supporting at the age of 12. His first job was as a clerk for merchant Stephen Marsh and over the following years he was employed as a clerk in other stores. Horace superintended the construction of a sawmill in Ottawa Lake, Michigan in the winter of 1845-1846. ("Horace Walbridge Dead", Toledo Blade, 31 January 1893). In the spring, he took a large cargo of straw hats to Cincinnati on the canal.

In 1846, Horace Walbridge was employed by the forwarding and commission agent Thomas Watkins. When Watkins died in 1852, Horace took charge of P. Buckingham & Co. Walbridge was on a salary of $1000 a year and at the end of 1852, he became a firm member. In 1857, the company closed and he became a partner in the commission house of Brown, Walbridge & King. Eventually , his partners left and his brother Ebenezer joined him. The firm then changed its name to H.S. Walbridge & Co. [Horace S. Walbridge. Portrait and Biographical Record Of The City of Toledo and Lucas and Wood Counties (Chicago: Chapman Publishing Co., 1895), p.383). At the beginning of the Civil War, Horace Walbridge helped fund General James Steedmans regiment. ("Republican Candidate for Mayor," Evening Post, 3 April 1895). His company went out of business in 1868, but by that time he had been involved for three years with the Chicago business of Walbridge, Watkins & Co. Horace Walbridge left that firm because he was involved with new areas of the business. [John M. Killits, ed. 1923. Toledo and Lucas County, Ohio, 1623-1923, vol. 3 (Chicago: S.J. Clarke Publishing Co., 1923), p.511].

Horace Walbridge was president of the Toledo and Woodville railroad from 1869-1874. He was also known as a financier having been president of Northwestern Savings Bank. Walbridge was also a vice-president at Toledo National Bank and served on the board of Northern National. Horace Walbridge was the first president of Woodlawn Cemetery in 1877. In that year a new H.S. Walbridge Co. was formed with his son Thomas. (Portrait and Biographical Record). He owned hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of land in Toledo, California, Wisconsin, Missouri, and Kentucky. His investments helped found such companies as Maumee Rolling Mills and the Gendron Iron and Wheel Co.

Horace Walbridge was known for his quiet anonymous philanthropy. He would find the name of a deserving family and give them a check for $25, $50 or $100. Walbridge gave the poor families of Toledo wood, coal, and food. In his office vault there were mortgages with unpaid interest that he could have foreclosed.

He at one time had been a member to the Toledo city council, and a president of the Toledo Society for the Suppression of Vice. On October 18, 1854 he married Isabella Watkins and was the father of five children. Horace S. Walbridge died on January 31, 1893. Horace Walbridge Dead.

Thomas H. Walbridge was the son of Horace. He was born around 1855 and was educated in the Toledo Schools. In 1876, he received a civil engineering degree form Rensselear Polytechnic. He was founder and the president of the Toledo Savings Association for more than 32 years. He owned and developed the Walbridge Farm Dairy Co. They were one of the first companies to supply bottled milk in northwest Ohio. He was president of the board of trustees at Woodlawn Cemetery. Thomas Walbridge was president of the park board. He helped defeat objections to the bond issues that created Riverside, Ottawa and Walbridge parks. In 1924, Thomas retired from Horace Walbridge and Company. Thomas Walbridge was married to Mary Young and they were the parents of Stanley and Thomas. After Mary died in 1899, he married Irma Logan and they had one child, Katharine. Thomas H. Walbridge died on August 9 , 1934. ("Toledo Civic Leader Dies", Toledo Blade, 10 August 1934). ("Thomas H. Walbridge", Toledo Blade, 10 August 1934).

Mrs. Elizabeth Walbridge was the wife of Silas Cornell Walbridge. Silas was the son of Ebenezer R. Walbridge, and a vice-president of the Berdan Company. ("Death Takes Noted Toledo Businessman", Toledo Blade, 14 April 1930). Mrs. Walbridge was born Elizabeth Cummings in Toledo during the year 1870. She looked after the welfare of the community. In 1908 she was named president of the District Nurse Association. When World War I began, she and other women organized to sew bandages for French relief. In 1916 she organized the Toledo chapter of the Red Cross. Five years later she became Toledos first Christmas mother. As Christmas mother she was chairman of the general Christmas committee. Mrs. Walbridge worked with churches, philanthropic, social and fraternal organizations to provide clothing, toys and dinners to the needy. ("Mrs. S. Cornell Walbridge Outstanding in Welfare and Social Work", Toledo Blade, 11 April 1949).

Mrs. Walbridge was well known for her collection of autographs and first editions. She was the owner of a signed order of Napoleon Bonaparte and a Benjamin Franklin autograph. Her collection also included a copy of Henry Wadsworth Longfellows poem Excelsior written in his handwriting. She was also in possession of the autographs or letters of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Thomas Moore, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Mark Twain, Joseph Conrad and others. ("Mrs. S. Cornell Walbridge Assists Essayist And Critic", Toledo Blade, 5 May 1934). Elizabeth Walbridge died in April 1949. ("Mrs. S. Cornell Walbridge Outstanding in Welfare And Social Work")

William Spooner Walbridge

William Spooner Walbridge was the president of the William S. Walbridge Co. and the Kent-Owens Machine Co. He was born in Boston, Massachusetts on September 19, 1854. His father Levi was a partner in a furniture company. He attended the Boston public schools while he worked at his father's firm. After the death of their father, William and his brothers took over their father's part of the firm. William was senior partner in the company known as Walbridge and Briggs. He was a prominent businessman in Boston, but in 1898 moved to Toledo to become the treasurer of the Toledo Glass Company. He later became treasurer and vice-president of the Owens Bottle Machine Company. [John M. Klllits, ed. Toledo and Lucas County, Ohio, 1623-1923. vol. 2 (Chicago: S.J. Clarke Publishing Co., 1923), p.69]. With Michael Owens and Edward Libbey, William S. Walbridge developed the glass making machine. He later became president of Kent-Owens which manufactured the machines.("W.S. Walbridge Rites to be Held Tomorrow," Toledo Times, 24 November 1935).

William S. Walbridge was a director of the Northern National Bank and of Citizens Safe Deposit and Banking, Co. He was also a director at the Collin-Norton Company. He later founded his own investment firm, the Williams. Walbridge Co. ("Industrial Leader Dies," Toledo Blade, 24 November 1935). In 1927 he resigned as chairman of the board at Owens Bottle Co. He still continued to serve on their board of directors. ("William S. Walbridge," Toledo News Bee, 23 November 1935).

On October 25, 1882, William S. Walbridge married Alice Langdon Libbey who was a sister of Edward Drummond Libbey. Harvey Scribner, ed. 1910. [Memoirs of Lucas County and the City of Toledo, vol. 2 (Madison Wis: Western Historical Association, 1910), p.109]. He owned a collection of ancient and modern glass containers, flasks, and bottles. He authored a book on bottles titled American Bottles: Old and New. ("Industrial Leader Dies," Newspaper transcript in Toledo Biography Scrapbook Local History Room, Toledo-Lucas County Main Library). He was also known as a charitable man who passed on his wealth wherever he could. ("William S. Walbridge," Toledo Times, 26 November 1935). Walbridge was a trustee and president of the Convalescent Home for Crippled Children. He became personally acquainted with many of the children at the Charles Feilbach School for Crippled Children. ("W.S. Walbridge Rites to Be Held Tomorrow.") Over his lifetime groups such as the Toledo Society for Crippled Children, the Toledo Society for the Blind, the YMCA and the YWCA received his generous donations.("Value of W.S. Walbridge Estate More than $60,000," Toledo Blade, 3 December 1935).

His civic interests included being a member of the Anthony Wayne Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution, the Toledo Country Club, and the Rotary Club. ("W.S. Walbridge Rites to be Held Tomorrow.") William Spooner Walbridge died on November 23, 1935 at the age of 81. ("Industrial Leader Dies.") His wife Alice had preceded him in death.


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