Biographies of early Kendallville businessmen listed
The following are biographies of early Kendallville
merchants featured in Alvords turn-of-the-century Noble
County history book:
Descended from Scotch-Irish ancestry, Archy Campbell was born in 1856 in Syracuse, N.Y. He lived in New York, Canada and California before coming to Kendallville, where in partnership with his brother, John A. Campbell, he engaged in the mercantile business.
After four years, Archy Campbell purchased his brothers interest in the store. In 1887 Jacob C. Fetter was admitted to partnership. In 1894 the two became engaged in banking, with great success.
Campbell married Kate R. Mitchell in 1880, and they had four children: Donald, William, Joseph and Gertrude.
Campbell, who was known for his energy, integrity, wisdom and courtesy, became one of the wealthiest men in Noble County. He was president of the local educational board and was involved with efforts to help the poor.
Jacob C. Fetter
Jacob C. Fetter was born in 1861 in Richland County, Ohio. In 1864, the family moved to DeKalb County. He taught school for three terms in DeKalb County before accepting a position in a store in Butler, where he worked until 1884, when he became a merchant in Kendallville with H.D. Ward. The firm was Ward & Fetter. After the firm was destroyed by fire, he formed a partnership under the name of Campbell & Co., which proved successful. In 1894, he engaged in banking, under the name of Campbell & Fetter.
In 1891, he married Flora Park. He enjoyed a high reputation as a progressive and honorable businessman, ever ready to advance educational, moral and material prosperity in the city and the county.
Dr. Warren S. Williams
Dr. Warren S. Williams was born in 1862 in Defiance County, Ohio. He graduated from the high school in Kendallville in 1882. He studied medicine under his father, Dr. Nathan Williams, and then entered the medical department of Western Reserve University. In 1884 he began to practice in Kendallville with his father.
He had an extensive office practice, besides visiting many of the best homes in the large farming community around Kendallville. He was a warm-hearted family physician and as a surgeon he was known for being calm, no matter how grave or critical the situation.
For eight years he served as a member of the City Council. In 1886 he married Jennie Otis, the sister of Amos Ray Otis. They had three children: Harold, Lucille and Anna.
John Deibele was born in Germany in 1839. In 1852, he came to New York City and made his way west as far as Adrian, Mich., before coming to Kendallville, where he began learning the coopers trade. He then worked with the Hopkins Bros. sawmill for three years, and then learned carpentry. After being a contractor and a builder for five years, he entered a partnership with Charles Arnold in a planing-mill. After one year, Diebele became the sole owner and added machinery for the manufacture of sashes, doors, blinds, moldings and all material used in the construction of buildings. Over the years other lines were added and the volume of business grew, making it one of the leading industrial enterprises of Noble County.
Diebele, a self-made man, was known for his force of character and strong will as well as his interest in public affairs. His first wife, Hannah, with whom he had five children, died. His second wife, Rosa, also bore him five children.
He served on the City Council in Kendallville and worked in the German Methodist Church and had a number of houses and lots in Kendallville as well as his valuable manufacturing plant.
Amos Ray Otis
Amos Ray Otis, Kendallvilles well-known druggist, was born in Dalton, Ohio, in 1868. He lived in Hicksville and Defiance, Ohio, before entering the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy, where he studied one year. He worked in a large drug establishment in Brooklyn, N.Y., for one year before coming to Kendallville, where he worked for G.H. Lohman for two years.
In 1894, Otis opened one of the finest drug stores in northeastern Indiana, and he became known as one of Kendallvilles best merchants.
In 1893, he married Allie Williams. They had one child, Warren. Mr. and Mrs. Otis were great favorites in the social circles of Kendallville.
Samuel B. Brillhart
Samuel B. Brillhart was born in Stark County, Ohio, in 1842. In 1862, he moved from his fathers farm to Kendallville and engaged with his brothers in the flouring-mill business until 1872 when he purchased their interest. In 1890 fire destroyed the plant.
He was employed by McCray Brothers, dealers in refrigerators and conductors of a cold storage establishment, as a traveling salesman until 1898 when he was appointed postmaster of Kendallville by President William McKinley.
In 1873, he married Zoe Owen. They had one child, Don, who graduated from the literary department of the University of Michigan.
Brillhart was known as polite, affable and obliging.
David C. Walling
David C. Walling was born in Erie County, N.Y., in 1835. The family moved to Kendallville in 1866. Walling went to an academy at Fredonia, N.Y., leaving when he was 18 to become a machinist in Fredonia. In 1855 he accepted a position in Norwalk, Ohio, where he continued for 11 years.
In 1866, Walling came to Kendallville and entered into partnership with William W. Hildredth and Simeon Flint. Their machine and general repair business was called Hildredth, Flint & Walling. In 1872, Hildredth disposed of his interest to A.B. Park & Bros., and the firm was changed to Flint, Walling & Co. They continued to manufacture agricultural implements and do general mechanical work until 1874 when the plant was greatly enlarged and the manufacture of windmills and pumps was introduced. It became one of the largest industries of its kind in the United States, if not in the world.
In 1889, the famous Steel Star Mill, one of the firms specialties, was introduced. In addition to the Star Mill, the firm made all kinds of water tanks, steel towers for mill and tank supports and at least 100 kinds of pumps.
Walling married Frances Peters in 1865, and they had eight children. Known as a man of remarkable ability and superior judgment, he served on the school board of Kendallville and as an elder in the First Presbyterian Church in Kendallville.
Jacob Keller was born in Germany in 1838. In 1854, he was a stranger in a strange land seeking employment in New York City. He had jobs in New York City, New Jersey and Texas. After careful study, he decided to move to Kendallville. In the spring of 1864, he engaged in business with Messrs. Kaufman & Jacobs, merchants. In 1889, Keller opened for business a private banking house, known as the Noble County Bank. Two years later the bank was incorporated, with Keller as its president.
In 1875, he married Pauline Hyman from Ligonier. They had four children. Due to poor health, Keller had to leave Kendallville in 1891 and made his home for several years in Chicago, where he believed the pure air of the lake would be beneficial.
In 1888, he visited Europe where he saw many of the places familiar in his boyhood days. He returned home with better health and a more intense admiration for the benefits Americans enjoy. He served for two terms on the City Council.
George P. Alexander
George P. Alexander was born in Somerset County, Pa., in 1844. His family moved to Wayne County, Ohio, and then to Allen County, Ind., before moving to Kendallville. As a young man he learned the plasterers trade and bricklaying, which he did until 1864 when he joined the Indiana Volunteer Infantry. He was commissioned captain, and his bravery earned him the favorable notice of his superiors.
Returning to Kendallville, Capt. Alexander engaged in general contracting and building until 1876, when he was appointed clerk in the railway mail service. He continued four years and then resigned to engage in mercantile pursuits. During the next 15 years he had a large business in the grocery line, retiring in 1894. He served on the City Council.
In 1868, he married Olivia Demmon who was her husbands able and willing co-laborer. They reared two girls and attended the Christian Church.
Abraham M. Jacobs
Abraham M. Jacobs was born in Kendallville in 1864, but when he was 8 his parents took him to Europe, where he remained until 1882. Then he entered Bryant & Strattons Business College of Chicago, and then became a bookkeeper with J. Keller and Co. of Kendallville. When the Noble County Bank was organized, he became a director and its cashier.
In 1889, he married Nannette Keller, daughter of Jacob Keller, and then had two children. He was a member of the City Council for several terms and was a faithful and conscientious public servant.