Benjamin H. Warder

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"Champion" farm machinery was distributed by multiple companies.

Benjamin Head Warder (15 Nov. 1824, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania — 13 Jan. 1894, Cairo, Egypt)[1] was an American manufacturer of agricultural machinery. In 1902, the company he co-founded merged with four others to form International Harvester.[2]

Youth[edit]

He was one of the 9 children of Jeremiah Warder (1780-1849) and Ann Aston (1784-1871), Quakers from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, who had settled in Springfield, Ohio by the time of the 1830 United States Census.[3] Jeremiah had been a member of his father's shipping firm, John Warder & Sons (later Warder Brothers). John Warder had invested in Ohio land, and bequeathed Jeremiah $10,000 in land.[4]

Career[edit]

In 1850 (or 1852), Benjamin co-founded Warder, Brokaw & Child Company, and paid $30,000 for patent rights to "The Champion," a combined reaper & mower invented by William N. Whiteley.[5] Warder's company manufactured the machines, but distribution was shared, at first, with Whiteley and others. By 1860, the Springfield firm was just Warder & Child. In 1866, it was reorganized as Warder, Mitchell & Company, with John J. Glessner and Asa S. Bushnell as junior partners. Senior partner Ross Mitchell retired in 1880, and the firm became Warder, Bushnell & Glessner Company.[6]

It manufactured harvesting machinery – reapers, binders, mowers and hay rakes – under the "Champion" brand name.[7] Warder and Bushnell managed the factories in Springfield, which covered 20 acres.[8] The company opened a branch office in Chicago in 1865, headed by Glessner, which grew to become its most profitable: in 1871, the Chicago office sold about 800 machines; in 1884, it sold 25,000 machines. By 1886, the company employed more than 1000 workers, and was exporting to foreign countries.[9] In 1908, the 2,000,000th Champion machine was sold.[10]

Springfield, Ohio's nickname, "The Champion City," comes from the company's brand name.[11]

Retirement[edit]

Warder retired from business in 1886, and moved his family to Washington, DC, where his house at 1515 K Street NW was under construction. Boston architect Henry Hobson Richardson is credited with the design, but died four months into the project. Richardson's successor firm, Shepley, Rutan and Coolidge, completed the house in 1888. Upon moving to Washington, Warder purchased the late Asa Whitney's country estate of Whitney Close from the heirs of Catherine M. Whitney on June 4, 1886, for the sum of $60,024. He immediately set about subdividing the 43 acre tract of land into building lots for a new community named Whitney Close.[12] This was followed by the subdivision and development of other country properties in the area. These subdivisions -- including Whitney Close, Schuetzen Park, and Bellevue -- were organized into a single neighborhood known as Park View in 1908.[13] Park View's Warder Street commemorates Warder's role in founding the neighborhood.

As a memorial to his parents, he commissioned Shepley, Rutan and Coolidge to design a new public library for Springfield, Ohio. Warder Public Library was begun in 1887 and completed in 1890.[14]

He built a speculative office building at 9th & F Street NW, Washington, DC (1892), designed by architect Nicholas T. Haller.[15]

Benjamin H. Warder died in 1894, while on a trip to Egypt.

Family[edit]

Benjamin's grandmother Ann (Head) Warder had written a series of journals, including mentions of Benjamin's grandfather and father, now held by the Pennsylvania Historical Society.[16]

Warder married Ellen Nancy Ormsby in 18xx, and they had 3 daughters:

  • Elizabeth (Betsey), married Ralph Nicholson Ellis (15 Feb, 1906).
  • Ellen Nancy, married Ward Thoron (15 Nov. 1893, divorced 1911); married Mjr. Henry Leonard (27 July 1914).
  • Alice (1877-1952), married John W. Garrett (24 Dec. 1908).[17]

Arts patronage[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ He had an uncle of the same name, Benjamin H. Warder (1796-1857), Philadelphia, PA merchant; and a nephew of the same name, Benjamin H. Warder (1866-1897), buried in Ferncliffe Cemetery, Springfield, OH.
  2. ^ The other companies were McCormick Harvesting Machine Company, Deering Harvester Company, Milwaukee Harvester Company, and Plano Manufacturing Company.
  3. ^ Warder Family Papers from Earlham College Libraries.
  4. ^ Will of John Warder, executed 1828 from Rootsweb.
  5. ^ Model of William N. Whiteley's reaper, 1877 from Smithsonian Institution.
  6. ^ Warder, Bushnell & Glessner from Glessner house.
  7. ^ Stained glass window advertisement (1893) from Heritage Center of Clark County.
  8. ^ Springfield factory, circa 1900 from Wisconsin History.
  9. ^ Alfred Theodore Andreas, History of Chicago Volume 3 (Chicago: A. T. Andreas Publishing Company, 1886), p. 504.[1]
  10. ^ Herbert Newton Casson, The Romance of the Reaper (New York: Doubleday, Page & Company, 1908).[2]
  11. ^ Champion City from Greater Springfield Chamber of Congress.
  12. ^ "Important Real Estate Sales," The Washington Post, June 5, 1886. p. 2.
  13. ^ Park View Citizens' Association. Directory and History of Park View, 1921. p. 29, 32.
  14. ^ Warder Public Library from Dayton Daily News.
  15. ^ Warder Building from HABS.
  16. ^ Ann Head Warder Papers, Pennsylvania Historical Society.
  17. ^ TIME Magazine profile.
  18. ^ Warder Tomb from St. Croix Architecture.
  19. ^ Warder Tomb from SIRIS.
  20. ^ Warder gifts from SIRIS.