Monday, October 28, 2013

Victorian Details

Isaac has given me a wonderful gift, a gift I attempt to pass along each week to those of you who follow my blog.  It is because of Isaac that I pause to see the things I have taken for granted or completely ignored most of my life, until Isaac made them important to me.  It is because of the loyal followers of my blog that I am constantly on the lookout for things they, you, might find interesting.
During our visit to Concordia, KS for the Orphan Train Celebration, (See "Orphan Trains," 1/31/13; "Shared Orphan Stories," 2/2/13; and "More Orphan Train Stories, 6/12/13) we did a little sight-seeing.  One building caught our eyes.  It now houses an antique shop, and we took a few minutes to enjoy the treasures inside.  However, it was as I was leaving the building that a particular architectural feature seized my attention.  The building had several sets of stairs, and the risers were particularly beautiful.  I paused to photograph one set on which the name of the foundry appeared.  Recently, I decided to research what might be found about Sweet & Crider.
Charles Edwin Sweet was born a few years after Isaac, in 1884, but he died the same year of Isaac's death, in 1895.  He attended  only a few months of school before going to work to help with his family's finances, driving a team when he was only seven on the canal in New York state where they lived.  He arrived in Kansas with his family ahead of Isaac, settling in Greenleaf, Washington County, KS in 1872.  Sweet began carrying mail, then bought a stage line that he operated until 1878 when the railroad arrived.  By the time Isaac settled in Stafford County to stake his claims in 1878, Sweet had become financially successful enough to form a business partnership, selling hardware and implements in Concordia.  He was a self-made, successful man in businesses and real estate, although he also suffered some financial failure through poor investments and speculations when hard times swept the country.  Among those disappointments were a bank in Red Lake Falls, Minnesota, a flour & grist mill, and the firm of Sweet & Crider foundry. 
Interestingly, Charles Sweet and Isaac B. Werner have certain things in common.  After selling his drug store in Rossville, IL, Isaac invested in land with his brother in Minnesota, (just as Sweet invested there), and between his time as a druggist in Rossville and leaving to stake his claims on the Kansas prairie, Isaac entered into a partnership operating a mill in Rossville (just as Sweet invested in a flour and grist mill).  It seems that Isaac's decision to leave his successful drugstore business and the milling operation to become a farmer was not as successful financially as Charles Sweet's decision to prosper as a businessman, making his land investments in city lots rather than farm land.  However, the hard times during the late 1800s seem to have challenged both men.
(Remember, you can enlarge the photographs by clicking on them, and be sure to notice all the stairs  with the intricate iron work on the building.)


Talya Tate Boerner said...

I notice so many more details since I've begun writing. My iPhone is filled with pictures of the most random things including lots of building architecture.

When will Isaac's story be in a book I can buy??

Lynda Beck Fenwick said...

Good luck to both of us as we seek the perfect publisher!

The Blog Fodder said...

Lyn, can you fix the birth date?
"Charles Edwin Sweet was born a few years after Isaac, in 1884, but he died the same year of Isaac's death, in 1895".
The stairs are lovely.
Any answers as to why men leave successful businesses to go farming?

Lynda Beck Fenwick said...

Blog Fodder, Yes, he was born in 1848, and although the article I found referred to him as one of the oldest businessmen in Concordia, he was quite young at the time of his death. I suspect many young businessmen of that time were drawn to the idea of owning land...believing as Thomas Jefferson did that America's landed gentry were the soul of the nation. Some of us just have that love for the land in our blood!