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Means, John

Posted by ceddleman 
Means, John
March 05, 2007 06:27PM
HISTORY OF KENTUCKY AND KENTUCKIANS, E. Polk Johnson, three volumes,
Lewis Publishing Co., New York & Chicago, 1912. Common version, Vol. III,
pp 1170-71-72-73-74. [Full page photograph of Mr. Means included with bio.]
[Boyd Co.]

JOHN MEANS--"A truly great life," says Webster, "when Heaven vouchsafes so
rare a gift, is not a temporary flame, burning bright for a while and then
expiring, giving place to returning darkness. It is rather a spark of
fervent heat as well as radiant light, with power to enkindle the common
mass of human mind; so that when it glimmers in its own decay, and finally
goes out in death, no light follows, but it leaves the world all light,
all on fire, from the potent contact of its own spirit." This quotation
appeared in the memorial tribute preached by Rev. William D. Ryan, pastor
of the Christian church, at the time of Mr. Means' death, February 14,
1910, and it is particularly apropos of this life. Following will be
given a brief resume of Mr. Means' career with further extracts form [sic]
the article referred to above.
John Means was one of the founders of Ashland, Kentucky, and was one
of the most active factors in it subsequent upbuilding and development,
besides which he was an essentially progressive business man, carrying
successfully forward large industrial and financial interests. His ancestry
was of Scotch origin, the name at one time having been preceded by the
syllable Mac. In America Mayne and Maynes are traceable to the same origin
and the Irish are disposed to spell the name Main or Mains. In Glasgow the
name John Main appears in the record of 1666 among the "Martyrs of
Covenant." Mr. Means' ancestors settled in North Ireland about the time of
the reign of William III and have always been Presbyterians in their
religious faith. In America they appear in two or three branches, one of
which originally settled in New England, another in Pennsylvania, members
of which subsequently removed to South Carolina, and others having come to
Carolina direct from Ireland. William Means settled on the Juanita river,
in Juanita county, Pennsylvania, in a [sic] early day, removing thence to
South Carolina, where he became an earnest partisan of the colonies in
their early troubles with Great Britain. Several of his sons participated
in the Revolutionary war, the youngest of whom was Colonel John Means,
grandfather of the subject of this review. Colonel Means was a native of
Union district, South Carolina, where his birth occurred on the 14th of
March, 1770. He was an extensive planter, an officer of the state militia
and a member of the South Carolina state legislature during the session of
1815-16. He was strongly opposed to slavery in principle and in 1819 he
removed to Ohio, taking with him his twenty-four slaves, to whom he gave
their freedom. He settled in Adams county, Ohio, and became a farmer and
iron manufacturer, being one of the pioneers in the iron industry and
being largely interested in the building and operating of the first iron
furnace in the Buckeye state. He was a member of the Ohio legislature
1825-27 and was an eminently influential man in business and public
affairs. He married Ann Williamson, who was a native of South Carolina
and whose maternal ancestry was traced back to Sir Isaac Newton. Colonel
Means died near Manchester, Ohio, on the 15th of March, 1837, his wife
passing away on the 17th of August, 1840. Of their six children, Thomas
Williamson Means, father of John Means, of this review, was born on the
23d of November, 1803, at Spartanburg, South Carolina. He spent six
years in a select school established by his father, chiefly for the
education of his own children, and he secured not only a good English
training but also gained a respectable knowledge of the classics. After
the family's removal to Ohio he spent some time on his father's farm and
he also clerked in a store at West Union, in which his father had an
interest. In 1826 he took a flat boat loaded with produce to New Orleans
and after his return to Ohio he became storekeeper at Union Furnace, which
his father and others were then building, some four miles distant from
Hanging Rock, this being the first blast furnace to be built in Ohio in
the Hanging Rock iron region; he had the pleasure of first firing this
furnace. In 1837 he in company with David Sinton became the owner of the
Union Furnace, which was rebuilt in 1844. In the following years was
constructed the Ohio Furnace. In 1847 Thomas W. Means became interested
in and helped to build the Buena Vista Furnace, in what is now Boyd
county, Kentucky, and in 1852 he purchased the Bellefonte Furnace, in
Kentucky. In 1854 he helped build the Vinton, Ohio, Furnace and in 1863,
with others, bought the Pine Grove Furnace and Hanging Rock Coal Works;
in the following year he became one of the owners of the Amanda Furnace,
in Kentucky. In 1845 he and David Sinton built a tram road to the Ohio
Furnace, this being one of the first roads of its kind in the country.
In connection with the Culbertsons he built the Princess, a stone coal
furnace, ten miles from Ashland. Under the supervision of him and David
Sinton the experiments for introducing the hot blast were first made and at
their Union Furnace they put up the second hot blast in the United States,
only a few years after its introduction in England, in 1828. He was longer
engaged and doubtless more extensively and they directly concerned in
the growth and prosperity of the iron business than any other man in the
Ohio valley. Besides his extensive furnace interests he had considerable
real estate holdings, owning as much as eighteen thousand acres of ore,
coal and farm lands in Ohio and nearly thirty thousand acres in Kentucky.
He was the originator of the Cincinnati & Big Sandy Packet Company and was
a principal stockholder and one of the incorporators of the Norton Iron
Works, at Ashland. He helped lay out and develop Ashland; was a large
stockholder in the Ironton Iron Railway; was one of the founders of the
Second National Bank of Ironton, Ohio, being president of the latter
institution for a number of years after its organization, in 1864; and was
a director of the Ashland National Bank. In his political convictions he
was originally a Whig, having cast his first vote for John Quincy Adams for
president. At the time of the founding of the Republican party, in 1858,
he became a stanch supporter of its principles and policies and during the
Civil war he was an ardent Union man. He passed the latter years of his
life at his home in Ashland, in which place he took up his residence on
the 6th of April, 1882, and his death occurred June 8, 1890. He was
married on the 4th of December, 1828, to Sarah Ellison, a native of
Buckeye Station, Adams county, Ohio, and a daughter of John Ellison, an
early settler in that county. She passed to her reward at Hanging Rock,
in 1871, at the age of sixty-one years. They became the parents of nine
children, eight of whom grew to maturity, of which John Means was the
first in order of birth.
John Means, the immediate subject of this review, was born at West
Union, Adams county, Ohio, on the 21st of September, 1829. He was
afforded excellent educational advantages in his youth but on account of
ill health left Marietta College, without graduating, in 1848. In the
following year he pursued a special business course and began life as a
storekeeper at the Ohio Furnace, then owned by his father and David
Sinton, of Cincinnati. Later he became bookkeeper of the furnace and in
1851 went to Buena Vista Furnace, in Boyd county, Kentucky, where he soon
assumed the position of manager, retaining this position until 1855, in
which year he located at Catlettsburg, where he became financial agent and
supply agent for the furnace, acting in that capacity until the inception
of the Civil war, which caused the fires to be extinguished in these great
furnaces. In 1857 he established his home at Ashland, where he continued
to reside during the balance of his life. He was one of the originators,
in 1856, of the Cincinnati & Big Sandy Packet Company, a business comprised
chiefly of large freighters in the iron region. This concern was
incorporated in 1866, after which time Mr. Means was a director in the
Kentucky Iron, Coal and Manufacturing Company, organized for the purpose
of founding and building the city of Ashland and for the establishment of
factories and railways. In 1865 he was elected president of that company
and served in that capacity for many years. He was one of the organizers
of the Lexington & Big Sandy Railway Company, Eastern division, in which
he was a large stockholder, served as director and vice-president and was
elected president in 1870, this being one of the largest and most
successful corporations in this section of Kentucky. To this concern
belongs the Ashland Furnace which was originated and planned by him, the
entire plant having been built under his supervision; his twin daughters
had the honor of first "firing" this great furnace, the date being August
30, 1869. Mr. Means was one of the organizers of the Ashland Coal
Company; the Hanging Rock Iron & Coal Company; and later he was one of the
principal owners of the Pine Grove, the Union and Ohio Furnace, and the
coal-mining interest of Hanging Rock, Ohio. He was one of the directors
of the Norton Iron Works and was treasurer of that company while it was in
progress of construction, in 1872. In the following year he was one of
the organizers of the Low Moor Iron Company, of Virginia, becoming
president of the same at the time of organization. He had a large interest
in the fifty thousand acres of mineral and other lands of the above
companies and he was generally concerned in the extensive enterprise
of his father, who in turn had interests in the son's affairs. In 1856 he
helped organize the Bank of Ashland, in which he was incumbent of the
position of cashier from January, 1866, to July, 1869, and after resigning
which position he continued as a director in the bank until its
liquidation, in 1872, and the organization of its successor, the Ashland
National Bank, of which he became vice-president. In 1870 he was interested
in laying out the town of Russell, Kentucky, opposite Ironton, Ohio, and
in the same year he bought land and laid out the Ashland cemetery, being
trustee in management of the latter for a number of years. He was among
the first to uncover the mineral wealth of Eastern Kentucky and was largely
instrumental in bringing capital and skill to this section for its
proper development.
In politics Mr. Means was ever aligned as a stalwart supporter of the
cause of the Republican party and during the war of the Rebellion he was
a strong Union man. In 1860 Mr. Means was elected trustee of the town of
Ashland and served continuously in that capacity as a member of the city
council for many years, some thirty in all. He was actively connected with
every movement in upbuilding the community since the establishment of
Ashland. During the Civil war he was commissioned by the military board
of the state to forward and pass over public ways all soldiers, recruits
and war equipage in this part of Kentucky and in 1872 he was appointed, by
Governor Leslie, as one of five commissioners from Kentucky to confer with
five commissioners from each of seven other states to present a memorial
to congress for the purpose of improving the Ohio river. He owned the
Ashland Academy property and was a most liberal patron of education and an
earnest supporter of the common-school system. In 1874 he was Republican
candidate to represent his district in congress and while he received a
heavy majority of the votes cast in his home county, the opposition
majority precluded the possibility of his election. He was a man of the
most extraordinary ability and capacity and never undertook any cause or
work, which he did not succeed in bringing to a favorable issue. His
religious faith coincided with the teaching of the Presbyterian church and
he was a loyal and generous contributor to all matters concerning the
church of this denomination in Ashland.
On the 25th of October, 1854, was solemnized the marriage of Mr.
Means to Mrs. Harriet E. Perkins, the youngest daughter of Dr. Samuel
Prescott Hildreth, of Marietta, Ohio. Dr. Hildreth was a member of the
Ohio legislature, was assistant state geologist and was one of the most
learned and most prominent men in that state. Mr. and Mrs. Means became
the parents of the following children--Thomas Hildreth is residing in the
old homestead at Ashland; Eliza Isabella is the wife of William B. Seaton,
of Ashland, concerning whom a sketch appears elsewhere in the work;
Lillian and Rosalie, twins, the form of whom is the wife of William E.
Maynard, of Brooklyn, New York, and the latter is the wife of Dr. Ernest
Luther Bullard, of Rockville, Maryland; Harold maintains his home at
Ashland and Ellison Cooke resides at Low Moor, Virginia. Mrs. Means was
summoned to eternal rest on the 13th of March, 1895, and on the 3d of
June, 1896, in New York City, Mr. Means wedded Miss Mary Peck Seaton, a
native of Greenup county, Kentucky, and a daughter of the later Samuel
Seaton, a pioneer and well known citizen of Eastern Kentucky. John Means
died at his home, in Ashland, February 14, 1910, and no greater tribute
can be paid to his memory than that expressed in the article written by
Rev. William D. Ryan at the time of his demise, a portion of the same
being here incorporated.
"In this day, when disinterested citizenship is all too rare a jewel,
it is helpful to reflect upon a course of high-minded patriotism such as
that of Mr. Means. For thirty years he sat in the city council. As
chairman of the committee on finance he gave to the affairs of the city
the same careful, efficient attention that his own business received. He
was never so absorbed in his own affairs that he refused to serve his
city. He sought no political preferment. In 1874 the nomination to
represent his district in congress was, without his solicitation, tendered
him. He accepted it and issued a declaration of his principles that was
notable for its dignity, its clearness and it manliness. In the election
of his opponent he lost nothing in prestige. Perhaps there is no need
more urgent to-day than for this high-minded type of citizenship who
recognize the obligations of patriotism in times of peace. Everything
that had to do with human betterment concerned him. Throughout his career
he has shown in a most practical way his interest in education. In the
early days he promoted and sustained the Beech Grove Academy. Since the
coming of the public schools he has given them his hearty and substantial
support. The site for the building where all the colored children of our
city are educated was his free gift, and one of our most beautiful school
buildings was named in his honor.
"There was a modesty and lack of all ostentation in Mr. Mean's work
as a benefactor. It is known that his ear was open to the cry of the
poor. There is perhaps not a religious or philanthropic organization in
the city that has not been aided by his liberality. In his giving, as
in all affairs of his life, he had firm convictions of his own and acted
in accord with them. It was his special delight to help the needy to
help themselves. Without breaking the seal of silence that was usually
about his benefactions, it may be said of him, as has been said of
another, 'He added to the sum of human joy and were everyone to whom he
did some loving service to bring a blossom to his grave, he would sleep
to-night beneath a wilderness of flowers.'
"With mind as alert and enthusiasm as wholesome as that of a youth of
twenty, this man of four score years would sit in his wheelchair and talk
on any subject that might most interest his caller. His range of interests
were remarkable in all its scope. In all lines of business he could, of
course, talk as an expert; likewise in civil engineering, in metal-lurgy
and in mining. But he could speak, too, with ripeness and wisdom in almost
any realm of thought. To discuss with him history, or literature, or
science, or questions of the day was to be delightfully entertained and
instructed. He knew and loved the best in literature, and he had the best
on his bookshelves. He had his heros in American history, among them
Lincoln, Grant and John Quincy Adams. An intensely active business career
had not crowded out taste and time for the finer things of life, and in
his declining years of dignified ease how great was his heritage of you
in the wider interests! His home was a radiating center of happiness,
around him wife and other loved ones, whose highest joy was found in his
comfort--a mutual devotion here that makes us whisper 'heaven' when we
think of his home. May the Christ of Gethsemane comfort these aching
hearts in this time of separation."
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