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Business Men of Dayton 1905-1906
Joseph W. Merkle to Ivar Rennerfelt

Joseph W. Merkle



            The supervision of all the intricate details of an immense foundry where all types and descriptions of castings are molded from one ounce in weight to massive structural pieces weighing many tons, is the function of Joseph W. Merkle, director and superintendent of the Ohio Foundry Company.  The plant over which Mr. Merkle presides with efficiency and satisfaction was organized four years ago with a capital stock of $60,000 by Mr. Merkle, J. A. Gauthier, John Wessalosky, Joseph Westendorf and Charles Krebs.  The foundry, begun in a modest way, was quartered on Huffman Avenue, but several years ago the plant was destroyed by fire.  Rapidly increasing business, moreover, necessitated a change and the company subsequently secured a large foundry plant that skirts Walnut Street, State Street and Freemont Avenue, with offices at Wayne Avenue and State Street, in the building formerly occupied by Stoddard Manufacturing Company.

            From a very modest beginning, the plant has grown steadily and substantially until today, with greatly increased facilities, the company employs more than 150 men, 75 of whom are molders.

            J. A. Gauthier is the president of the Ohio Foundry Company; John Wessalosky, vice-president, and Joseph Westendorf, secretary, with Mr. Merkle also a director, in direct charge of the operation of the plant.

            Mr. Merkle is an out-and-out foundry man.  Born in Erie, PA., 37 years ago, he at an early age learned the molder’s art and trade.  When yet a young man, he removed to Springfield, OH., where he continued his work at molding, but later engaged in the coal business.  However, his foundry experience being so long and varied he determined to return to his chosen calling and four years ago came to Dayton and assisted in the organization of the Ohio Foundry Company.

            Thoroughly familiar with every phase of the foundry business a better selection than that of Mr. Merkle for the superintendency of a business of the kind could not be made and the character of workmanship, the variety and quality of product, the many technical details that enter into the founder’s trade and which are fully represented by the Ohio Foundry Company are testimonials of his ability and qualifications.

            The Ohio Foundry Company records a growing business extending into many states other than Ohio.  Light castings of all kinds and gas engine equipment are the company’s special products.

            Mr. Merkle is also identified with other than business interests.  He is a mason and is active in Odd Fellowship.  He resides with his wife and two sons at 331 Hickory Street.



George F. Merry



            After spending about ten years with wholesale optical houses to learn the business, Mr. Merry came to Dayton in 1890 to open the first fully equipped optical establishment, which is now located on Main street in the Phillips House block.

            Mr. Merry spares no expense in keeping fully abreast with the times in all new appliances of practical value to meet the requirements of his large business.  His examination room for the use of which there is no charge, is in almost constant use.  Mr. Merry displays a very fine line of thermometers and barometers for all purposes.  In order to make his store more interesting to the general public, Mr. Merry carries an especially fine line of leather goods, art novelties, tally and dinner cards, and does engraving of fine wedding invitations and monogram dies.  Mr. Merry has become very well known in this city and is one of its progressive young businessmen. 



C. B. Miller



            Mr. C. B. Miller, the prominent Washington street coal dealer, is a native of this city.

            Almost constantly for the last five years he has stood at the scales from eight to ten hours each day, to see that his customers got all they paid for.

            Mr. Miller has succeeded in building up a fine business in all kinds of coal and feed.  He is at present enjoying a much-needed rest at a Michigan resort but expects to return in a few days to his post of duty, the scales, at 628 Washington Street.

            Mr. Miller possesses a jovial pleasing disposition, and has a wide circle of friends throughout the city.



Harry J. Miller



            Very few Daytonians have a correct idea of the inside workings of the city department of infirmary.  That Mr. Miller has made the best of his opportunities goes without saying, as the ”Dayton Plan” is being followed by many other cities.  An important point of the Dayton plan is careful management of each individual case, based on exhaustive investigation – a terror to evil-doers and those who would “work the city” for relief or those who fail in their duty towards those dependent upon them.  Such as these have learned to their sorrow that the Dayton plan, as enforced, offers them no safe haven, but the deserving never fail to find in Superintendent Miller a veritable friend in need.  One of the most potent factors in keeping down the expenditures for relief has been the attitude of the department toward families who have been dependents elsewhere and have sought settlement in Dayton – a one-time mecca for that sort of people – and because applicants for relief before they had gained a legal residence.  Such families have not been allowed to remain in Dayton, but have been shipped, bag and baggage, back to the place from whence they came.

            In many instances, also, the department had discovered that families or individuals who have been long in the city could be cared for elsewhere by relatives or friends.  Such have been furnished the necessary aid to get away.

            Mr. Miller has personal acquaintance with nearly every family that has asked for relief from the city funds during the last five years.  He has accurate knowledge of genealogical trees and family ramifications, and has inspected more family skeletons than any man in Dayton ever did before.

            Mr. Miller is sympathetic, but intensely practical, striking at the roots of every case and doing the thing necessary to obtain the desired end.

            Many persons unmindful of marital or parental responsibilities have found at their cast, that Mr. Miller has marked ability as a detective.  The department is acknowledged to be the most efficient aid to the work of the police.

            Dayton is to be congratulated.  The department of the infirmary is in good and efficient hands.  It knows no politics beyond the mere matter of appointment, which is in the hands of the board of public service, and there neither “influence” nor “pull” count in the least.  The department is administered on a business basis from start to finish.



E. H. Morrill, Jr.



            E. H. Morrill, Jr., general passenger agent of the Dayton and Western traction road is one of the youngest, most efficient and successful traction men in this section of the country.  He is not yet past thirty years of age, and possesses many years of experience upon steam railroads, as well as electric lines.

            He has been associated with the Dayton and Western Company for about two years, having come to Dayton from Chicago, where he was employed by the great Burlington route of steam railroads.

            Although the Dayton and Western system of traction road was in existence some time before Mr. Morrill came to Dayton, yet much of the credit of the development of the present perfect system of passenger traffic management is due to him.

            A short time prior to his advent into the local field, Valentine Winters, president of the company, conceived the idea of placing his road as nearly as possible upon the same basis as those of the steam roads.  He was attracted to the ability of Mr. Morrill as a manager and regulator, and at once employed him.

            His first mission to this city in the employ of the Dayton and Western Traction Company was for the purpose of placing the ticket auditing system of the road upon the same basis as that of other roads in whose employ he had been for some years.  This accomplished, the new system created a demand for a general passenger agent whose experience and ability would permit him to take full charge of the vast amount of business which was sure to follow, and Mr. Morrill was chosen for the place.  The entire passenger and advertising business of the road was placed in his hands, and from the equipment at hand he has boomed the road to the front until today it is one of the best in the country, and is known from coast to coast, wherever commercial men visit.  One of the first things done by Mr. Morrill to make the road popular was the devising of a trademark, the first ever adopted by any electric road in the United States.  This, the arrow, pointing the surest and most direct route with the words, “The way to go,” was entirely original with him, and was at once adopted by the company.  Since that time the trademark of the Dayton and Western has become known far and wide, and not alone has it made the name of the road famous, but Dayton as well.

            When Mr. Morrill came to this city, the terminus of the Dayton and Western Traction Company was at Eaton, and nothing but the regular traction cars were operated.  Soon after he was placed in charge of the passenger department, President Winters conceived the plan of placing parlor buffet cars upon his road, and after a conference with Morrill it was decided that all that was necessary to make this feature a success was the traffic.  He was ordered to get the business and assured that the equipment would be ready at hand.  Within a short time the volume of business which had been gathered, warranted the extension of the service to Richmond, Ind., which was done, and shortly afterward arrangements were made, whereby the famous cars of the road, known as the “Interstate Limited,” were run through to Indianapolis without change, making one of the safest and most complete trips of any traction company in the country.

            During the administration of Mr. Morrill, the system of the Dayton and Western Company has been reduced to the same basis as that of the various steam roads.

            Although his ability and years of experience have been a valuable asset to Mr. Morrill in his work in the city, yet much of his success with the company has been due to his pleasing personality, and affable manner which has won for him hosts of friends among the local as well as traveling public.



J. C. Morrison



            The above is the likeness of J. C. Morrison, the well-known and popular bridge builder, who maintains a suite of offices on the seventh floor of the Callahan Building.   He comes of a family which has been known for years in this section of the country as bridge contractors, his grandfather, Thomas Morrison, having obtained and executed the contract for the old Third street river bridge built in 1838 that recently fell a victim to the rapid march of progress in an about Dayton.  This structure was built in 1838 and since that time and for some time previous, the Morrison family has occupied a prominent place among the bridge contractors, not only of this city or county but the State of Ohio.

            The father of the subject of this sketch, David H. Morrison, was a civil engineer and bridge builder from 1840 to 1882, and enjoyed the distinction of building the first iron bridge west of the Allegheny Mountains.  This structure spanned the Wabash River at Peru, Ind.

            Mr. J. C. Morrison became associated with his father in 1870 and together the father and son built up a lucrative business which they conducted with marked success until the elder Morrison’s death in 1882, when the son assumed entire control and has succeeded in effecting a steady and material increase until today he is one of the most widely known and thoroughly successful contractors in his line in the country.  He is now making a specialty of the new concrete and steel structure and in this feature has been eminently successful as well as in the other lines in which he has been engaged.



F. J. Nutting



            F. J. Nutting, who is sole owner of Nutting’s Machine Works, has been engaged in designing and building special machinery, tools and fixtures for the rapid production of multiple parts for the last 25 years and has been connected with some of the largest concerns in the country.  One year ago this month he opened a factory for this class of work here in Dayton with only two or three men.  But the very rapid increase in his business compelled him to take larger quarters which are situated on Pine and Marshall Streets, where he has a fine three story building with an abundance of light, steam power, steam heat and electric light throughout.  The building has modern sanitary arrangements on every floor and the equipment of machinery, for both machine work and pattern making, is the most modern that money can buy.  With a competent set of draftsmen, who have a light airy room he is equipped to obtain the best possible results from both men and machinery.

            He has at present forty men and contracts amounting to about thirty thousand dollars, but has room to grow and can employ 75 men in his present quarters.

            In addition to being able to furnish estimates for the construction of all kinds of tools and machinery, Mr. Nutting is also devoting attention to the designing and building of special automatic machinery, having already developed an enviable reputation as an originator of inventions of wide demand and great usefulness.



Edwin G. Orr



            The buying and selling of dry goods stores, hotels, mills, in their entirety, and in fact every sort of a business house, is a unique brokerage business, but this is what Edwin G. Orr, of this city, does, and with great success.  Such a business was unknown in this city until 17 months ago, when Mr. Orr made his advent from Pittsburgh, where he had ten year’s experience in the same line, and ten years preceding in the mercantile business.

            His success in this line in Dayton has been more than satisfactory.  Mr. Orr stands alone in the brokerage fraternity, doing business under exclusive contract only.  His business extends over a territory embracing Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky and receives inquiries from nearly every state in the union.

            Square dealing and fair remuneration for services rendered characterize the method of Mr. Orr, and are responsible for his success.  He is a man of few words and does things while others are talking.  His motto is – what has been done for others can be done for you.



Charles S. Owens



Mr. Charles S. Owens, architect, has for the past five years made a specialty of building homes in this city and has to his credit a large number of small residences and several large expensive ones.

            Mr. Owens has had a wide and varied experience in the building line, and as his architectural tastes are along the lines of extreme simplicity, he has selected the building of small modern residences as a specialty.

            In addition to the above work he employs quite a force of carpenters at work about the city on small carpentering jobs.  Many persons in his line look out only for the big jobs, but Mr. Owens tries to get the small ones first, believing that a small job well done will bring him a big one.  Mr. Owens’ office is in the Davies Building, where he conducts his real estate business in connection with this other work.



George G. G. Peckham



            A story of pluck, indefatigable energy, business acumen and strong personal characteristics combine in the makeup of George G. G. Peckham., president and general manager of the Peckham Carriage Company of this city.  The big establishment over which Mr. Peckham officially presides reflects the measure of his ability and genius.

            The subject of this brief sketch is a young man, but 31 years of age, though he has attained a position in the commercial and social circles of the city rarely possible to a man of his age.  Mr. Peckham was born in Troy, Oh.  He came to Dayton in 1892, where he pursued a course at Wilt’s Commercial College.  In 1893 young Peckham entered the service of the Leidigh Carriage Company, remaining with them four years.  With a complete knowledge of the carriage business, and with an equally promising future to beckon him onward, Mr. Peckham established a business of his own in the spring of 1899, which was subsequent to the failure of the Leidigh Company.  The business was established at 18-20 South St. Clair Street in modest quarters, which have been gradually enlarged until the present establishment of the Peckham Company embodies more than one-forth of a solid block.  The three story building adjoining the old quarters to the north were secured and a lease taken of the ground in the rear of the two buildings.  On this was erected a three story brick structure, occupying Nos. 13-15 Kenton Street.  These three buildings are connected as one.

            In 1901 the firm became an incorporated institution under the name of the Peckham Carriage Company, the capitalization being $40,000.  The officers of the company are:  President, G. G. G. Peckham; vice president, E. E. Coate; secretary-treasure, B. J. Borchers.

            The company began with the exclusive handling of carriages, etc., but three years ago automobiles were added.  The Peckham Company distributes exclusively the products of the famous Wescott Carriage Company of Richmond, Ind., including all classes of buggies, phaetons, surreys, wagons, etc.  A manufacturing department is maintained in connection and also a complete repair shop.  Mr. Borchers is in charge of the carriage department of the business.

            The indispensable automobile department, for which feature Mr. Peckham is responsible, is complete in every detail.  The large stock includes the following standard makes: The Pope-Toledo, Packard, White Steamer, Cadillac and the Waverly, the latter being an electric machine.  The above machines are distributed by the Peckham Company throughout counties in southwestern Ohio.

            A garage, or automobile livery, is operated in connection with their department, all cars for rental being supplied if desired, with competent chauffeurs.  A finely equipped repair shop is likewise maintained in connection with the automobile department.  Over the automobile department, Mr. Coate, vice president of the company, exercises supervision.

            The company also maintains in connection with the above a local branch of the Diamond Rubber Company of Akron, the world’s largest manufacturer of automobile tires and accessories.

            To all the details of the triune business George Peckham never fails to accord either business or casual callers that degree of amenity that carries with it deserved popularity.

            From a modest inception the business has grown in all departments that this year will represent approximately $200,000.

            Besides his interests in the company, Mr. Peckham is identified with other commercial enterprises, being a director and vice president of the Peckham Coal and Ice Company of Troy, and a director of Pneumatic Tire Protector Company of this city.  His interest in the general industrial and commercial welfare of the city is well known, Mr. Peckham being a member of the Commercial Club and the Board of Trade.

            Mr. Peckham is an honored member of the Masonic Fraternity and an active worker in the councils of several Masonic bodies.  He is an officer of Dayton Lodge, F. & A. M., a member of the constituent Scottish rite bodies.  He is also a Shriner with attachment to the Antioch Temple.  He is also an active member of the Dayton Automobile Club and his social proclivities are also directed into the affairs of numerous purely social organizations.

            Mr. Peckham resides with his wife and little daughter in a comfortable home at No. 18 Mound Street.



J. E. Peterson



            Mr. J. E. Peterson, the subject of this sketch, was born on a farm in Clinton County, Ohio.  He received a good common school education to which, by his own efforts, he added a college course, graduating from Antioch College, Yellow  Springs, with the degree of B. S.

            He was a teacher, and also superintendent of schools for several years, standing high in the profession, which is testified to by his having secured a state life high school certificate in 1898.

            When he decided to take up optical work he qualified himself withy characteristic thoroughness and chose Dayton for a permanent location, his office being Room 1000, U. B. Building.

            Along with his other accomplishments Mr. Peterson possessing a pleasing tenor and signs in the quartet choir of the First Reformed Church of which he is a member.

            He is also a member of several fraternal and social organizations.  He is president of the Miami Valley Fruit Company, which owns 1,200 acres of the finest fruit land in the Fort Valley, (Georgia) peach region, and has 80,000 growing trees.

            Mr. Peterson is a firm and consistent believer in the judicious use of Printers Ink.  Combine with this patronage of the advertising columns of the daily papers, the business and professional qualifications necessary to sustain it, and one can readily account for his merited success.

            Mr. Peterson possesses the skill and technique that is so essential to the dignity of his important profession, he announces his services to those in need of them and the responding clientele finds that it is not deceived.



Ira A. Potter



            Ira A. Potter & Co.’s Plasters were originated in New York State in 1875, by himself and wife, after he had been troubled with rheumatism for six years, and tried all kinds of medicines and different doctors and continued to get worse.  When he could not get out of bed alone, they got up this plaster, and in one week after using three was entirely cured, and has not had it since.  Mr. Potter made and gave them away free until 1883 before he put them into the market, and experimented with all kinds of diseases with great success.  He has the recommendations of hospitals and doctors, and makes a special plaster for doctors.  He supplies wholesale houses and retail drug stores in every state.  Mr. Potter came here sixteen years ago, and has established a good trade.  He has a branch office in Watertown, N.Y.  Mr. Potter is located at 2032 East Third Street, Dayton.



John T. Reese



            John T. Reese, better known as “Jack” Reese, the subject of this sketch, is one of the organizers of the Buckeye Plumbing and Heating Company, which is engaged in a business involving the heating and plumbing of large business blocks, factories and residences or any other structure that has need of equipment for these purposes.  This company has affected some of the largest contracts in their line in the city, and in addition has done a great deal of work in other cities.  It now has workmen engaged on a number of substantial contracts in this city and elsewhere.  Mr. Reese is one of the most widely known men engaged in this business in the city and probably has had as much experience, barring a few exceptions, as any one now engaged in the same line in the city.  He first launched in the business in 1889 and has been exceptionally successful in his career, having been continuously engaged in the same line ever since.



Richard B. Reeves



            The hustling agent for the Adams Express Company has worked up to his present important position from a position as express wagon driver.

            Dick Reeves, as he is generally known, has spent 33 years with the Adams Co., having commenced with them in Louisville, Ky., in 1870.  Several bad scars are the result of one of Mr. Reeves’ many exciting experiences in train messenger service.  These were received in a bad train wreck in Kentucky in 1872.

            Mr. Reeves served 10 years in Chicago – six years in Omaha – 4 years at Springfield, Oh., and was in 1899 made manager of the Dayton office, which is considered a very important office by the company.  The Southern Express Company, which covers the entire Southern states, is a property of the Adams Co., and their business for Dayton is handled by the Adams Company.

            The Dayton office is a “test office, “ and as business increases or decreases here, it is expected to do the same in other cities – a sort of a barometer.  Lovers of oysters that have anxiously awaited September should not forget the efforts of the express company that make it possible to get oysters in Dayton for breakfast that rested quietly at the bottom of the Atlantic at 3 p.m. the pervious day.

            Mr. Reeves is a member of several fraternal societies, the Odd Fellows, Masons, Woodmen, etc., and in a business way is acquainted with thousands of Dayton’s citizens.



Charles Reiter



            The above cartoon is a representation of Mr. Charles Reiter, who is associated with Mr. George B. Butterworth, in the electrical construction business, their establishment being located at 18 West Second Street, where they have produced a business that, although extensive at the present time, is rapidly growing and the prospects indicate that this firm will become leaders n this section of the country.  Both are well experienced in their line and their long association with the business has enabled them to form a large acquaintanceship and become widely known.  Mr. Reiter inaugurated his work in electrical construction in Indianapolis in 1892.  After devoting himself to the work for a year in that city, during which he learned the fundamental principles of the business, he went to Chicago, where he remained during the same period of time.  He then returned to Indianapolis, continuing in the same line there during four years, after which he came to Dayton, associating himself with Charles Reitz, whose place of business was them located at 21 West Fifth Street.  Later he was employed by the firm of A. R. Martin and Company and finally went with Butterworth and Guyton, where he remained for five years until the dissolution of partnership when he associated himself with Mr. Butterworth, with whom the partnership still continues.  Mr. Reiter has had an unusually varied experience in electrical construction work and has probably worked on more repair contracts than any one in this city.  The firm of Butterworth and Reiter recently installed the large telephone system at the Soldiers’ Home, which is probably one of the largest and best private systems in the State of Ohio.  Work is now in progress under the supervision of this firm at Piqua, and at Lancaster, in the connection with the Boys’ Industrial Institution at the latter place.  A great deal of work outside the city is done by this firm, whose reputation for satisfactory results is second to none.  Mr. Reiter, the subject of this sketch, was born in this city and has spent practically all of his life here with the exception of the time during which he has been temporarily employed at other places in connection with the business in which he is now engaged.  He is but thirty years of age and is entitled to great credit for what he has accomplished within the short period during which he has been engaged in fighting life’s battles.



Ivar Rennerfelt

AN E.E., M.E., M.A.


            Mr. Ivar Rennerfelt, Vice President and Chief Engineer of the Sterling Electric Motor Company, this city, manufacturers of “Sterling Motors and Generators,” for direct and alternating current. 

            The E. E. and the M. E. were bestowed on Mr. Rennerfelt by the Royal Institute of Technology of Stockholm, Sweden.

            The M. A. degree conferred at the Royal University of Upsala, Sweden, where he also took a post-graduate course in Mathematics and Physics.

            Before he took charge of Technical department for the Sterling Motor Company, Mr. Rennerfelt spent considerable time with Edison Bluminating Company of New York City, and in Richmond, VA., as Chief Engineer.  Before coming to this country he was connected with the largest electric company in Germany, the General Electric Company of Germany and the Allgemeine Electricitats Greselshaft and the Union Electricitats Gesellschaft. 

            Mr. Rennerfelt is at present developing a new line of power motors for direct current; also building an entirely new type of induction motor, possessing a number of very interesting features not to be found in any of the old style induction motors.

            Mt. Rennerfelt has by hard and constant study of the power of electricity, become an authority of more than local reputation.


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