Saturday, 30 November 2013



The writer of these ancient musings once upon a time wrote an article on housekeeping, a subject of which he knew little or nothing, and, like many others of his sex, he put his foot in it. He learnedly discussed the question of annual housecleaning, which he supposed, would meet with the approval of the women; but, strange to say, such an unknowable thing is the human mind, he did not come across a single woman who agreed with him that the annual housecleaning is entirely unnecessary drudgery. He listened to the comments of a score of women concerning the article. Some were hotly antagonistic; others treated it and the writer with sarcasm and contempt. Some showed signs of mild amusement, while others treated the whole thing with hilarious ridicule; and so, although the Muser promised to propose a remedy, he was so squelched that he has put it off from month to month. Now, after many housecleaning seasons have come and gone and the good housekeepers have had time to make up their minds on the question, let us offer a few suggestions as a real remedy for the ills of housekeeping. Not that this venerable Muser expects to see the remedy applied expects to see the remedy applied – least of all, in the household of which he pretends to be the head, but isn’t.


Let us begin by declaring that the average housewife is a slave. This may be a fanciful thought that comes into their dear little heads after housecleaning on a hot summer day. The women suffragettes tell us that their sex are born slaves, and most housewives will cheerfully admit it. Why are they slaves? How can they emancipate themselves? Those are the questions that this humble Muser, who supposed in his ignorance and innocence that the women wanted emancipation, wanted to discuss. He advocated, for one thing, the abolition of housecleaning. He was told by twenty or thirty women who were whiling away the hours of a bright September afternoon at the pleasant game of bridge to guess again, because housecleaning cannot be abolished. That settles it. The Muser does not agree with them, but is willing to compromise by pretending to. Now, then, if that prince of humbugs cannot be abolished, but must continue to be observed with religious zeal, what other things can be advocated? The Muser has a spindle on which hangs the texts which he sometimes uses when preparing a column or so of stuff for the Saturday Spectator. In looking through these texts the other day, he found notes such these: “The folly of darning stockings.” “Don’t have carpets.” “Burn up half the furniture.” “Live in a tent or a cottage.” These notes, after a neglect of many months, and while suffering from an attack of shingles, and by discussing them to pass away the weary hours of lying in bed, he hopes to revolutionize the present system of living. If he fails, he will have had the pleasure of expressing his mind – and that is the chief function of most writers and public speakers. Of course, he will not revolutionize anything, for the women themselves, who are most concerned, prefer things as they are. They do not want to be reformed.


To begin with, the average households are too large, and we have too much in them. We demand too much machinery. The average Hamilton woman spends the summer in her cosy little cottage down on Burlington Beach, and while she does her light housekeeping and listens to the sad sea waves, she says, “I wish I could live in a house like this all the time. Would it not be nice not to have a larger house to live than I have here?” Her sentiments are the sentiments of every woman who has a summer cottage down on the Beach. Now, if they are sincere – and they are for the moment – why all the expense and fuss and work and worry of living in and maintaining a large house? That idea forms the basis of the remedy which the Muser has to propose. If housecleaning is a necessary evil, then lessen the evil by having less house to clean. That’s the remedy in a nutshell. There are houses in Hamilton of from eight to twelve rooms, and large rooms at that, occupied by small families – often by three or four; while there are some very small houses, occupied by foreigners, that are inhabited by twelve to fifteen persons.


Under the present system of living, there is a tremendous waste of time, fuel, food and energy. Just think of it! In every home in this town enough fuel is burned to warm a dozen families, if properly applied. There is enough coal or natural gas burned in each range to cook the meals of three or four families, and this happens everyday, in every home, every year and all the time. No matter how much the manager of the gas works may warn people to be saving of the gas because of the shortness of supply, the waste continues, and the customers curse the gas company for the enlarged monthly bills, and swear that they never used that many thousand feet. The plain remedy for this is co-operation. All of this has been freely discussed in these musings. Co-operative housekeeping – that is the remedy for everyday housework and servant girl question. Meals cooked and served in one place to a dozen families. One steam-heating plant in each residence block. A man and a woman employed in each block to sweep and dust each house once a week. These and countless other co-operative schemes are not only possible, but very practical and sensible.

“Did you ever read Robert Ellis Thompson’s idea of co-operative living? Or Bellamy’s Looking Backward? There you have the whole thing figured down to a system.

The remedy, or antidote, or substitute for housecleaning is the momentous subject that interests us just now, partly because a dear mother of a family of bright children nearly broke her neck falling down the back stairs. And these back stairs, you know, are used to hold things that have been started to the attic, but ought to have been burned. And that brings us right to the point. One-half of a woman’s work is caused by the lumber in the house. Why, you ought to see our attic! There is stuff there that has to be handled over once or twice a year. And for what? To gratify a sentiment perhaps. But, really, much of that stuff is useless, and would better be burned. Moths and mice and dust, and probably horrible microbes live there in peace and plenty. That is our attic; and yours is just like it gentle reader. And there is the cellar. There are old bottles enough down there to “put up” all the catsup the Royal Connaught could use in a year. There are blue bottles, green bottles and bottles in herited, bought and received as gifts. Then there is all the other stuff all through the house – old chairs, pictures, carpets, rugs, bric-a-brac, ragged sofa pillows and all sorts of truck. What hours of labor they are the cause of! What back aches! Before company comes, things must be picked up. After company goes, ditto. Once a year, the old carpets used to be taken up and shovelfuls of dirt gathered from beneath. but since the introduction of vacuum electric sweepers, all the carpets are gone over once a week. And so forth to the end of life. Now “wot’s de use” as the kid in the Spectator counting room says. What is the use, dear madam? Why not insure all the has-beens from cellar to garret and then set fire to them, and then from the ashes of your backaches, your maid’s knees and your blackened and bruised fingers, why not build a cottage that will be home-like, with no back stairs or attic, that will be sanitary, sane and sensible? (That alliterative sounds for all the world like Mrs. Thrifty’s market reports in the Spectator.) Banish all that is useless. Chop up and burn up just one-half of the stuff that now cumbers your house. Cast out carpets, draperies and everything that catches dirt. Let the open plumbing idea prevail all through the house. Have no dark closets or corners. Have no poisonous wallpaper. Have light and air and plenty of room. It is depressing to sit in a room all cluttered up with useless furniture. It gets on the nerves. It irritates. It tires one to see it. It tires the dear mother to take care of it. Now you dear women who groan over the spring and fall housecleaning, and yet say it cannot be abolished, take the Muser’s advice and minimize the evil by cleaning out the rubbish.


No woman will take this advice, not even Mrs. Thrifty, and that is the reason it is given. It wouldn’t be safe to give advice that everybody would take, for most of the advice given is wrong. In this case, however, while admitting that circumstances are such that they can not literally be followed, the Muser believes that his ideas are sound on the question of housecleaning, and he furthermore believes that if every housewife had the courage of her convictions, and would stand by them, not only housecleaning, but all housework, would be lessened one-half. To summarize : Have smaller houses, fewer rooms, less lumber, less almost everything. Live this winter more as you lived last summer in tent or cottage. In short, live the simple life. To conclude, this is the accumulated wisdom and advice of one who has passed through sixty-two years of the changing scenes of married life.



For some reason, there is less romance in and more holding back from love making than formerly. Not that youth is les susceptible, but young men have either become more selfish or more anxious concerning ways and means than their fathers were, more solicitous to have an income that will warrant them in marrying and beginning home life, and more doubtful about making a young wife contented with a humble beginning than men used to be. The announcement of marriages in the columns of the daily papers is almost one of the lost arts. A young fellow nowadays does not think it possible to support a wife on as small a salary as $25 or $30 a week. You can remember, my old Hamiltonian, when wages were as low as $9 a week, that every man wanted a home of his own and a dear wife to bid him welcome in the evening when his day’s work was done. It is different now. Girls, on the other hand, have become self-supporting to an extent hitherto undreamed of. You can remember the days when a girl who had to work for a living got as high as $6 or $8 a month. Indeed, it is not many years ago that a girl clerk in a store thought she was on Easy street if she was paid $4 a week. Nowadays competent clerks in Hamilton stores receive not less than three times as much in their pay envelopes, and many of them are paid from $15 to $20 a week. The girl who is fortunate enough to get a higher, or a college, education and fits herself for a professional career in teaching, medicine or newspaper work, has become more independent and is more particular about accepting a married life unless she can live in the same independent style of her spinsterhood days. Great is the delight a woman has in earning money, in finding that her talents are of value, and her services worth an honorable sum, almost equal to the amount a man can earn. Thousands of girls earn their bread and assist their families. Sometimes these girls know that they cannot easily be spared from home, for on their weekly pay envelopes depends the support of father or mother, or of the younger children. Life has on too manifest a complexity in many places. Artificial wants are multiplied. A man might make a very comfortable home for a girl who would live simply within his means, but he cannot afford much hired help or much entertaining. Feeling this acutely he often does very scant justice to the sensible girl who would accept him and cheerfully accommodate herself to his day of small things.

Saturday, 23 November 2013


Stanley Mills dabbles now and then in the bygone days in his editorial introductions to his daily advertisements in the Hamilton newspapers. It makes an interesting chapter, and in future days, they will be valuable guideposts to the coming generation of enterprising business men. He caught the raconteur from some of his ancestors, and evidently he improves on their style. Now, the reason we refer to the habit that Stanley Mills has fallen into – and it is a good one – it is because he has suggested an idea that the readers of the Spectator might think over and adopt. Stanley has gathered some of the letters written by George Hamilton Mills, one of the early settlers of Hamilton, had them copied on a typewriter and bound in substantial covers. In reading over this typewritten history, he fives much valuable information of ancient Hamilton that carries the old-timers away back to the beginning of the last century, information that is not to be found in any other form, therein of more than ordinary importance. But this is sufficient introduction to our story. If every family in Hamilton would put their ancient history into typewritten pages, substantially bound, what a treasure they might leave to their children and to the future historian. A few days ago in these musings, we gave some account of the Mills family, so that it will not be necessary to repeat.
George Hamilton Mills, the founder of the Hamilton branch of the Mills family was descended from John Mills, a Scotchman, who went to the United States before the American revolution, and settled in Staten Island, New York. He was a staunch supporter of the British cause, on account of which he suffered the loss of property. He was what was called a United Empire Loyalist. The father of George Hamilton Mills was born in Newark, New Jersey, and moved to Canada in 1794. Being the son of a loyalist, he was entitled to a grant of 500 acres of land from the Canadian government, but for some reason, he never came into possession of the land. Upon his arrival in Canada, he took up the business of a fur trader with the Indians, which he carried back to the States and exchanged for goods suitable to the requirements of the Indians. He became friendly with several tribes located to the south and west of Lake Ontario, which secured him kindly treatment wherever he went. About the year 1800 he decided to settle permanently in Canada, and in 1802 was united in marriage to Christina Hess, a daughter of one of the early settlers in Hamilton. She was born and baptized in Pennsylvania in the year 1747. An extract from the baptismal record in the church in which she was baptized would look queer in such a record today. It read “All these splendid children are born of one bosom, pure marriage bed, from Michael Hess and his married wife, Gertrude, under the hearty congratulations that God Almighty might bless them, soul and body, here temporal and there everlasting.” The good mother died in Hamilton in December, 1857.
James Mills, the father of George Hamilton, in 818, bought the property extending from Locke to Hess streets, and from the mountain to the bay, for which he paid at the rate of two dollars per acre. Being unable to pay for more than one hundred acres, he sold the easterly part to his brother-in-law, Peter Hess, at the same rate. It was upon this farm that George Hamilton Mills was born on the 10th of November, 1827, the youngest, but one, of the family. The oldest brother was named Michael, and next to him came Samuel, later a Dominion senator. There was quite a family of girls and boys. The old farm house was a frame building 9on King street west, and was considered the largest mansion for miles around. One of his early school teachers was Patrick Thornton, a Scotchman. Evidently he did not think much of George’s scholastic ability, for when he left school, the teacher paid him a rather doubtful compliment : “George, you have considerable ability, but your application is not worth a straw.” George was sent to Victoria college, Cobourg, of which Egerton Ryerson was the principal, and later to a public school taught by Dean Geddes. At this school he made rapid progress in the study of Latin, Greek, French and mathematics. Dean Geddes was a pain-staking teacher, though not an advanced scholar. In 1846, George was articled to John Wilson as a law student, and completed his course in Judge Burton’s office. In 1851, he was called to the bar.
George H. Mills’ first entrance into political life was in 1857, when he was elected alderman for St. George’s ward. During his first year in the council he made a close study of municipal affairs, and was one of the early advocates for planting trees and ornamenting the Gore. There was an element in the city council at that time that favored the selling of the Gore to capitalists on which to build an arcade, but through the persistent efforts of a few men in the council the scheme was defeated. History tells of other aldermen in later years wanting to dispose of the market square for a location for business houses and for a concert hall. In the early days, the mayor was elected by members of the city council, and in 1858, on being returned as alderman for St. George’s ward, Mr. Mills was the choice for the office of mayor. It was his experience that the council was not an easy body to manage, as with the exception of four or five, all were ignorant men. It may interest some of the old-timers to know the men who were elected in 1858 to manage the town affairs, so we will give the list :
St. Lawrence ward – Aldermen John F. Moore, William Davidson, Councillors Edward McGiverin, Alexander Graham
St. Patrick’s ward – Aldermen C. J. Tracy, John Patterson, Councillors James Mullin, Dr. G. Ryall.
St. George’s ward – Aldermen B. N. Law, George Mills, Councillors James Walker, George Murison.
St. Andrew’s ward – Aldermen Lawrence Devaney, M. W. Brown, Councillors Thomas Routh, Owen Nolan.
St. Mary’s ward – Aldermen Geo. Roach, W. Holton, Councillors Thomas Walker, John Waugh.
Previous to the year 1857, many public works had been in progress, giving employment to large numbers of men, but in 1858, all enterprises ceased for lack of money to carry them on, and the result was the flooding of the cities and towns with unemployed men and poor families. Wages were low in those days, and the men generally spent their earnings without thought of the morrow, and by October in that year there was ample evidence of coming distress. During the fall and winter months, men by the hundreds were begging for work, and asking for food for the families. It was a critical time in the old town, and Mayor Mills had a busy time of it in planning to relieve the distress. The council decided upon opening new streets in order to furnish work, and men drew lots for jobs that paid only fifty cents a day. In his memoirs, Mayor Mills says that he never met with a better behaved lot of men, , considering the trials they were passing through. The city hall was crowded with men, women and children whose faces clearly indicated their poverty, and the mayor determined on visiting them at their homes that he might better judge of their needs. He took with him Donald Dawson, a policeman, and they went down into the sinks of poverty, crime, drunkenness and sorrow. It was a sad plight, and never before had Mayor Mills the faintest idea that such a condition existed in this beautiful city. The mayor had no heart for re-election, and when his term expired, he declined to again become a candidate. Mayor Mills took Quite an active part in securing the erection of the Crystal palace, in order to Bring to Hamilton the provincial agriculture exhibition, and in 1859, the fair grounds (now Victoria park) were purchased.
Here we might give a bit of information the writer has been asked for. The Hamilton Horticultural society was instituted in the year 1850. B. Kelly, of Burlington nurseries, was president; David Murray, Rosedale nurseries, vice-president; Charles Meston, recording secretary; F. W. Fearman, corresponding-secretary; James Gay, treasurer. Directors : John A. Bruce, John Haig, George Stewart. There was also in existence the Hamilton Horticultural club and the Horticultural Library association , of which Warren Holton, of the Burlington nurseries, was president. What a wealth of information was contained in the old city directories of sixty and seventy years ago. In the year 1860, George Hamilton Mills was elected president of the horticultural society. In the early days but little attention was given to floral culture, and as there was not substantial wealth in Hamilton, refinement and taste in that direction was very limited. In 1875, Mr. Mills was instrumental in securing the first governmental recognition of the society in the form of a money grant. For this, the society made him a life member.
Early in the year 1861, it became apparent that Hamilton would not be able to meet the interest indebtedness on the debentures held in England. There was stagnation in all classes of business with corresponding depreciation in the value of real estate. The city taxes were uncollectable and the treasury was empty. Mayor McKinstry was mayor, and it was decided by the council to appoint a committee to wait upon Sir A. T. Galt, minister of finance, and ask of the government immediate help to meet the interest indebtedness. Finally, he began to see light. Hamilton, at that time, was the owner of Great Western railway script and Mr. Galt suggested that if the committee would send down to him $75,000 of the script as a deposit by way of security, he would provide for the payment of the interest in London. It was like the man who was heavily indebted giving his note and thanking providence that the debt was paid. Three years later, the city was obliged to compromise with its creditors. That was about the time that the mayor’s throne was seized and sold for the city debt, and Thomas Beasley, who was the city clerk, hid the tax collector’s books in Buchanan, Harris & Co.s’ safe to keep them out of the hands of the sheriff, who was trying to levy upon them at the command of the creditors. Clerk Beasley quietly left Hamilton for Rochester, N. Y. to keep out of the way of the sheriff. There was a hot time in this old town in those hard-up days. In 1864, the legislature placed a restriction upon the city to prevent it from again running into debt upon visionary provocation. It might be a good thing if the city solicitor would hunt up that old law now that the board of control is about adding $300,000 of an overdraft this year in the twelve millions, or more, of indebtedness which has already piled up.
In 1865, the city of Hamilton was the owner of 1,500 shares of Great Western railway stock, the par value of which was $150,000. That same year 1,234 shares at par value of $12,400 were sold at the instance of the creditors of the city, under order of the chancery court, for $52, 184, a loss to the city of $80,216. In 1871, the Great Western took a sudden rise in the market, and Alderman Mills, as chairman of the finance committee, sold 200 shares for 20,000 ponds. In 1872, still being chairman of the finance committee, he exchanged 114 shares, so that the two transcations amounted to a sale of stock at par value to the extent of $21,000. In December, 1872, the city purchased 2,025 Great Western debentures at 91%, and later 650 shares at par. Mr. Mills evidently intended to make money for the city while he was chairman of finance, and in 1873, he purchased 1,405 shares from all of which purchases, the city made a handsome profit. In 1874-1877, the shares of the Great Western dropped down to the fifties, and never again did they rise to the surface. Hamilton seized the opportune time to buy and sell.
It is doubtful if there are half a dozen of the old-timers who can recall to memory that even in as late a day as 1873, the minister of crown lands had entered into negotiations for the sale of Hamilton’s summer resort (the sand strip) to a man named Livingston for a nominal sum, and that letters had already passed promising Livingston the property. At the time, J. M. Williams was Hamilton’s representative in the Ontario legislature; and Ald. Mills got busy to stop the outrageous selling or substantially giving away public property. In company with Mr. Williams, Ald. Mills called upon the crown lands minister and entered a protest against completing the sale. The result was that the government minister saw the error of his ways, and the sand strip was saved to become Hamilton’s celebrated summer resort. It cost the city $500 to repay Livingston for money expended.
In the year 1877, there was a plan proposed to exchange Victoria park for Dundurn park, and to help out the project, Ald. Mills became a candidate for that year for re-election to the city council. Had the scheme succeeded, Hamilton would have come into possession of Dundurn in trade for the old Crystal palace property. The palace grounds were really an obstacle to the growth of the city in the west and north. Had the exchange been made, the old palace grounds would have been divided up into building lots from which a handsome revenue would have accrued to the city in the way of taxes. It would have benefited the city in another way by the reclamation of the Dundas marsh. If the marsh could have been turned into arable land, Hamilton and Dundas would have finally become united, to the advantage of both. It was a beautiful dream, but the ratepayers knocked the idea when they came to vote on it. It was argued that Hamilton could not stand the luxury and expense of the ownership of Dundurn. However, the city bought it, in course of time, paying twice as much for it as it would have cost had the exchange been made.
The life memoirs of George Hamilton Mills contain matter that would be of historic value to Canada. Stanley Mills has certainly done his part in its compilation, and having it bound in substantial covers to insure its preservation.

Saturday, 16 November 2013


We will have to go back a matter of sixty years to find the time that the Angels of Mercy came to Hamilton and made their home in this city. But let us briefly tell how they happened to make Hamilton their home. Away back early in the sixties, three Americans, H. L. Higby, James Rockewell, and A. L. Woodruff came over from the State of New York for the purpose of starting a felt hat factory, there being nothing of that kind in Canada in those days. The situation of Hamilton made it a desirable place for manufacturing industries, being located at the head of navigation and the Great Western railway opening up western Canada  and the great west of the neighboring republic. Hamilton rejoiced because the American capitalists selected it as the home of such an important industry. The site selected for the factory was at the north end of Wellington street, formerly occupied by the Sawyer’s, manufacturers of agricultural implements. The new industry was considered to be one of the most important in Canada. It gave employment to not fewer than 150 persons, male and female, paying an average of $3 a day, who were constantly employed in the manufacture of felt hats, and the success which attended the enterprise promised much for the future. It was only a year previous to the establishment of the Hamilton factory that felt hats had to be imported from New York or Europe to supply the Canadian market. The new industry turned out from thirty-five to forty hats everyday of superior quality, for which a home market was readily found. The firm used 100,000 skins of the finest wool, 500 cords of wood, 600 tons of coal, and 300 barrels of alcohol each year. The value of the hats manufactured in a year amounted to about $150,000, which at that early date of Hamilton industries was considered to be a great and prosperous enterprise. The temporary embarrassments under which Hamilton labored after passing through the great commercial and industrial panic of 1857 was enough to disheartened any people, but Hamilton had in those days a class of men of business enterprise. Had they not built the first important line of railway in Canada, from the Niagara to the Detroit rivers, a few years previous, 220 miles; Hamilton to Toronto, 37 miles; Harrisburg to Guelph, 28 miles; Komoka to Sarnia, 81 miles; making in all 345 miles? The total amount of capital raised and spent in the construction of the railways was $25,195, 727, and the Great Western began paying dividends in less than five years after it was opened for traffic. Now the government, after paying millions of dollars of the public money in paying running expenses, are discussing the question of buying up the old road.
There came with the firm of A. I. Woodruff and Company, as a Bookkeeper and financial manager, a bright, young business fellow from Utica, New York, George Harvey Bisby. In time, the company added to its business of felt hats making, the buying of wool. And here is where William Dubert Long came into the life and enterprise of Hamilton. Mr. Long was a native of the state of Missouri, being born in Farmington, in November, 1846, which brings him up to the ripe age of seventy-nine years – and he is not what might be called an old man yet, for his business faculties are as bright as when he landed in Hamilton in the month of July, 1862, with only $12 of cash capital to begin a home in a strange country. A bit of Mr. Long’s history may not be out of place in connection with this story. His father owned a laundry in Farmington, Missouri, in which Mr. Long worked during his boyhood years. Not having a liking for that business, he secured employment as a steamboat hand on the Missouri and Mississippi rivers, and like Mark Twain became a river pilot in time. Early in the beginning of the American civil war, he quit the river and came to Hamilton where he secured employment with the firm of A. L. Woodruff and company at the munificent salary of $18 a month, out of which he paid $17 a month for his board. When he left St. Louis, he had about $135, with which to pay traveling expenses, and by the time he got employment, his cash capital was seriously diminished till it got down to around $15. He brought a letter of introduction to A. Murray, which he never presented. He began as a clerk in a store, receiving his board, but no wages, where he remained till the opening came in the hat factory. Being brought up on a Missouri stock farm, Mr. Long was an expert in sheep and wool, and when the Woodruff company started purchasing wool, Mr. Long was substantially put in charge of that department. During the American civil war, Mr. Long was made an agent of the United States government for the purchase of horses for the cavalry and artillery service; and here knowledge gained in his youth on the Missouri farm was brought into play to its fullest extent, as every man who had an old plug of a horse tried to palm it off on the government, but the farm lad was too expert a judge of horses to permit of the grafters getting in their work.


When the Woodruff company entered into the wool-buying business, they opened an office on James street north, opposite the old Mechanics’ institute, and it proved to be a practicable undertaking. At the close of the American civil war, the Woodruff company disposed of their hat factory and wool trade, and the members of the firm returned to their old home in New York. In the year of 1867, W. D. Long had a cash capital of $135 to begin with, but he had a good friend connected with one of the local banks who promised to help out the new firm. The first day they opened business, their purchases were very heavy, and when they closed business in the evening to their astonishment, they counted up a profit of not less than $500. Wool was wool in those days, and the man of experience knew how to buy. The banker, who was Mr. Long’s friend cashed the new firm’s checks as fast as they were presented, and the farmers who had wool to sell went home that night with the cash in their pockets, a thing they had not been accustomed to do, as wool in those days in Canada was sold on commission by brokers, and the farmers had to wait for the returns before getting their checks. The cash way of doing business by the new firm of wool buyers soon became known among the farmers, and the result was long lines of wagons, loaded with wool, stood in front of the warehouse waiting to be passed on and delivered. The first warehouse soon became too small, and the firm leased that part in the old stone barracks on James street, now occupied by Balfour, Smye and Co., afterward moving into larger quarters on Macnab street. About twenty years ago, the firm of Long and Bisby bought the present location on the corner of Main and John streets, formerly owned by John Stuart, who occupied it as a wholesale grocery, enlarging the building to its present proportions, and the business has continued in the same place down to the present day. Mr. Long was an expert in wool, and was an authority among the large buyers in the United States and Canada, and the result was that the bulk of the wool raised in Canada substantially passed through the house of Long & Bisby. The local firm was interested in a number of the largest woolen mills in the United States and Canada, which gave them a standing with the trade as well as adding largely to their daily income.


William Dubert Long’s ancestors originally came from Tennessee into Missouri. His great grandmother taught one of the first Sunday schools west of the Mississippi river. The family were among the early settlers of Farmington, and followed the avocation of farmers. His father added tanning to farming and brought his boys as practical tanners. W. D. Long liked farming well enough during the summer months, but when it came to spending the winter in a tannery, it was a little too much for his aesthetic tastes. Like all boys brought up in river towns, he preferred the jolly life of a salesman to even that of a tiller of the soil. For some time he traveled for a wholesale house, and would have been successful in trade but the tuneful calliope on the Missouri and Mississippi rivers were like the bugle notes to a soldier’s heart. It was back to steamboat life for him. Being a bright young fellow, he was soon advanced from a deck hand to a more respectable position till he finally became a river pilot. Missouri was not a comfortable state to live in at the beginning of the civil war, especially for men who were loyal to the old flag, and Mr. Long preferred to seek a temporary home away from the sound of the war drums and the roar of shot and shell, so he came to New York state, and finally settled in Hamilton, arriving in this city in the month of July 1862, with a cash capital of $12. Times were hard in Canada on account of the civil war, and work was scarce, but such little things did not disturb the young Missourian, and when he could not find a job with a pay envelope attachment, he took one in a store as a porter for his board. As stated above in this bit of history, Mr Long did not have to wait for a paying job, for it soon came his way in the Woodruff hat factory, at $18 a month, out of which he paid $17 a month for his board and washing, leaving him a balance of one dollar at the end of the month.
Five years from that time, Mr. Long, with a cash capital of $135, became the partner of his future father-in-law, George Harvey Bisby, in what finally became the leading wool purchasing house in Canada. History does not tell the amount of cash Mr. Bisby was able to put into the business, but it is very reasonable to suppose that it no more than equaled Mr. Long’s investment. The firm of Long & Bisby was well-mated, working in harmony with each other in all their speculations, Mr. Long being the buyer and seller and Mr. Bisby being the financial manager and bookkeeper. In time there was another tie that bound the two members of the firm closer together. Mr. Long had a dear sister living down in old Missouri, and her brother not being in the marrying line, she was finally induced to come to Hamilton and keep house for him. Mr. Bisby fell in love with the Missouri girl, and in time, she became housekeeper for husband and brother, thus uniting closer the fortune of the firm of Long & Bisby, which continued till the death of Mr. Bisby of the 11th of May, 1900.

On the sixth day of April, 1903, Messrs. Long and Bisby decided to share the burdens of business with younger hands. They did not need any new capital in the business, but had a desire to help a few faithful employees who had been long in their service. A limited company was organized, comprising W. D. Long, George Harvey Bisby, Horace Long, George Matheson and Benjamin Lewis. Horace Long was a younger brother. He died in Hamilton in October 1903. Benjamin Lewis also died a few years after being admitted into the firm.
The business at the present time is substantially managed by Dubert Long Wilson, George Matheson and William Hunt. Wilson and Hunt are nephews of Mr. Long and Mrs. Bisby. George Matheson came from Scotland in 1873, and shortly after his arrival in Hamilton entered the service of Long & Bisby, that being his first job in Canada. At the beginning of the late war, he was appointed by the Dominion government as official appraiser of wool when the semi-embargo was put on the wool trade between Canada and the United States, and is a director of the board of wool dealers of America.
Mr. Long is the owner of the old home farm in Farmington, Missouri and he considers it one of his most valuable assets. It was the home in which he was born, and now and then he takes pleasure in visiting the scene of his boyhood. Mr. Long and Mrs. Bisby have one brother and one sister still living at the old home in Farmington, and it is needless to say that they are generously provided for.
To the credit of Mr. Long, he is not ashamed of his original entry to Hamilton with just a modest capital. Too often do the fortunate ones forget the days of their small beginning, and when wealth comes to them later in life they cannot remember the days when a dollar bill seemed as large as a roll of wall paper. Mr. Long was only 22 years of age when he left his Missouri home to seek fortune in Canada, and he made good from the start. He was full of day’s work, and when he could not get wages on account of the hard times then prevailing in Hamilton, he worked as a humble porter for his board. Such men were not born to remain at the foot of the ladder, for in less than fifty-seven years he climbed to the top, and now in the afternoon of life he can say with heartfelt gratitude, “Soul, take thine ease.” He became a man of independent fortune in fifty-seven years. And no man can say that ever a dollar of his wealth was wrung from the unfortunate or poorly paid employee. He had the giving hand of benevolence. And in his sister, Mrs. Bisby, he had a generous help-mate in dividing with the unfortunate.
          On Several occasions, we have given in these Saturday Musings brief sketches of the origin of the mountain sanatorium, and herewith we will merely recall what has been done by a few generous souls in Hamilton to give back life and hopes to the hundreds of afflicted ones who have entered its doors who never again expected to mix with the world. The sanatorium began in a tent on the mountain side with a few persons afflicted with that terrible disease, the white plague. John McMehemy, Hamilton’s efficient relief officer, should receive all the credit for its birth. Then the wife of one of Hamilton’s leading business men – whose name would be told if she would only permit it – was inspired with the idea of building a special hospital  for those who were supposed to be incurable, and to this object, husband and wife contributed, not only the entire cost of the building, but also its furnishings and equipment. It was the inspired gift of a dear mother’s heart to the mothers of children and friends from whom all hope had gone.
          Then came the suggestion from the firm of Long & Bisby that Hamilton should have a sanatorium for the treatment of tuberculosis, and following the suggestion came prompt action by those benevolent men, purchasing a farm on the mountain brow and deeding it, free of all charges, to the Hamilton Health association. And this was not all of their initiatory giving, for many of the early shacks and more permanent buildings were paid for by them. They were consistent contributors to the sanatorium, and always liberally. Even after the death of Mr. Bisby, his good wife took up his part of giving. But the crowning gift of all was a recent one. There was great need for a comfortable home for the women nurses employed in the hospitals of the institution, and figure as low as possible, it would take $75,000 to erect a substantial building. The board of directors were at their wit’s end as to where the money was to come from. The government was not in a giving mood, and while it was agreed that the home was a necessity, not a dollar could be squeezed out of the public treasury.
          The Missouri angels of mercy came to the rescue, and when the project was explained to Mr. Long, he promptly decided in favor of it. After consulting with his sister, Mr. Long notified the board of trustees to go on with the erection of a home for the nurses, and to draw upon him for $75,000 to pay the cost. There was joy at the next meeting of the board when the story was told of the voluntary gift of such a large sum, and it was hoped that the foundation would be ready when the Prince of Wales recently visited Hamilton, that he might take part with Mr. Long and Mrs. Bisby in laying the corner stone.
          Just think of it, Hamilton people, what a blessing was the coming to this old town, nearly sixty years ago, of a Missouri boy, contributing with his kind-hearted sister and her husband more than one hundred thousand dollars for the founding of a sanatorium for the treatment of the white plague! God bless them! Their ban account is still overflowing with wealth, for well have they learned the lesson that “giving doth not impoverish.” May they live many years to enjoy the pleasure of seeing the benefits of the sanatorium in restoring thousands to health.