James Henry Caldwell
City of Troy

This biography is from Troy and Rensselaer County, New York, Volume III, by Rutherford Hayner, Lewis Historical Publishing Company, Inc., New York and Chicago, 1925. It was submitted by Debby Masterson.

JAMES HENRY CALDWELL, manufacturer, banker, and man of large affairs, has made Troy, New York, his home and the scene of his major enterprises since 1888. In that time, in addition to the acquisition of industrial, financial and commercial interests of far-reaching importance, Mr. Caldwell has found time for participation in many spheres of the life of his adopted city and has rendered valuable service to her educational, religious, philanthropic and charitable institutions, besides enriching materially through his many commercial developments. A prominent citizen of Troy and one of the few men to whom the business groups of Northeastern New York look for leadership, Mr. Caldwell has directed his activities in fields that have materially benefited the general good of that section of the State and made for economic stability. The Ludlow Valve Manufacturing Company was the enterprise that brought Mr. Caldwell to Troy, and though he entered it in a minor capacity, it was not long before he assumed complete control, being chosen president in 1909. Since that time he has devoted himself to building up the organization and extending its influence until now it has the proud reputation of being the largest valve and hydrant manufacturing corporation in the world, a position which it attained within the period of Mr. Caldwell's presidency.

James Henry Caldwell is a descendant of English ancestry, the son of Edward Holland and Caroline Amelia (Shields) Caldwell, grandson of James Henry and Margaret (Placide) Caldwell, and great-grandson of Edward Henry Caldwell, of Manchester, Lancashire, England. The line of the family was founded in the United States in 1814 by James Henry Caldwell, son of Edward Henry Caldwell, who settled in the South, where he attained unusual prominence and laid a solid basis for the family's fortune and prestige.

James Henry Caldwell, son of Edward Henry Caldwell, was born in Manchester, England, May lo, 1793, and died in New York City in 1863. He came to the United States in 1814, and settled in Fredericksburg, Virginia, and on January 7, 1820, removed to New Orleans, Louisiana. His first operations were in real estate, and in the improvement of a new section of the city called the South Side. He built up the greater part of that section with handsome residential structures, and erected many of the well-known buildings in the older city, including the famous St. Charles Hotel, one of the noted hostelries of the South before the Civil War. He built the first theatre on the South Side, and was at the head of theatrical enterprises in that city, in other cities of the South, and in the Southwest as well. He owned the American Theatre, which he built in 1822, and two years thereafter it was lighted by gas, the first time it had been used in the city for illumination. He built also the National Theatre, of Nashville, Tennessee, in 1825; the Cincinnati Theatre, of Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1832; the St. Charles Theatre, in New Orleans, in 1835, at that time the largest building of its kind in the United States; and in 1840 he completed his chain of amusement enterprises by erecting the Mobile Theatre. Encouraged by his success in lighting his own amusement houses by gas, which he himself had conveyed to these buildings, Mr. Caldwell organized the New Orleans Gas Light Company, with a capital of $300,000. Failing to get any of the citizens to join him in this pioneer, but promising, enterprise, he determined to light the city at his own expense, which remarkable feat he accomplished in September, 1833. The charter which he obtained gave the city the right to purchase the works at the termination of a forty-year period. The company, headed by Mr. Caldwell, later secured a new charter from the Louisiana State Legislature, and under the name of the Crescent City Company, continued the illumination of the city streets with gas until 1887, when electricity was substituted. Mr. Caldwell is still spoken of in New Orleans as "the father of gas." When he acquired the first gas franchise in New Orleans, he was given the monopoly of lighting the city and the suburbs, St. Mary (now the first district of the city), and Marigny (now the third district). The success he met with in lighting the city was so satisfactory (New Orleans being one of the first cities to use gas for public lighting) that he asked for an enlarged charter, which was granted, and the New Orleans Gas Light Company was succeeded by the New Orleans Gas Light and Banking Company, with a capital of $6,000,000. Under the new charter the company was required to establish five branch banks and gas companies in different sections of the State. This was done and banks were located in Fort Hudson, Springfield, Napoleonville, Harrisonville and Alexandria. Later there was still further expansion and the inclusion of related enterprises, the company becoming very strong and powerful, combining as it did gas companies, banks, loan institutions, and improvement companies, all of which tended to an almost impregnable financial and public service utility corporation. Mr. Caldwell was president, and became politically prominent also. When the question of paving first arose in the city he was strongly in favor of Belgian blocks as against cobble stone and oyster shell paving, and succeeded in having a great deal of the block pavement laid along with the cheap cobble and shell paving. The system he advocated was more expensive, and therefore was strongly opposed, his advocacy of the more efficient system costing him his political position in the city, although time justified his selection of materials. Engineering reports many years later proved beyond peradventure of a doubt that it had been cheapest in the end to lay the Belgian blocks. Mr. Caldwell was a member of the Louisiana State Legislature and held high political offices in the city for twenty-four years. After being reinstated in public favor, councils voted him a silver pitcher as acknowledgment that his position on paving materials had been correct. He afterwards held gas franchises, built from his own means, and operated plants in Mobile, Cincinnati, and Memphis, the gas-making machinery for the earlier plants all having been bought in England. He was a power in the business world of the South, accumulated a large fortune, was a Democrat, and held his political preferment for that party.

James Henry (i) Caldwell married (first) Mrs. Wormsley, of Fredericksburg, Virginia, widow of a very prominent and influential man of that city. She bore him two children: William Shakespeare; and Sophie, who married Robert Dean. He married (second), in 1836, Margaret Placide, daughter of Henry Placide, of New Orleans. Children: 1. James Henry, Jr., born 1838, died 1870, in Mobile, Alabama; was a gentleman of large means and very charitable. 2. Alice, died in infancy. 3. Edward Holland, of whom further.

Edward Holland Caldwell, son of James Henry (i) and Margaret (Placide) Caldwell, was born in New Orleans, January 8, 1844, and died in New York City, October 5, 1872. He was associated with his father in the gas and banking companies ; was president of the Mobile Gas Light and Coke Company, and made his residence in Mobile. He was a man of large means and lived the life of a prosperous Southern gentleman of ante-bellum days. The family were Catholics in religion, except Edward Holland, who embraced the Protestant faith. He was a Democrat in politics and was influential in that party, holding important offices in Mobile. He was prominent also in the Masonic order, in which he held the thirty-second degree in the Scottish Rite. He and his wife, Caroline Amelia (Shields) Caldwell, a native of Mobile, were the parents of the following children : i. James Henry, of further mention. 2. lulward Shields, born January i, 1867; ^ capitalist of Asheville, North Carolina, and an extensive traveler ; married Harriet Rutter. 3. Sarah, married (first) Nathaniel Rutter of New York City, a banker, who died in February, 1890, leaving a son. Edward Caldwell Rutter, a graduate of Yale University; married (second) Nathaniel C. Rcynal, of New York City. Their children are: Nathalie; Jules; and Amelia, deceased. James Henry Caldwell, eldest son of Edward Holland and Caroline Amelia (Shields) Caldwell, was born in Mobile, March 21, 1865. He prepared for college in private schools in Maryland and in New York City, and in 1882 entered the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute of Troy, being graduated with the degree of Bachelor of Science in 1886. For several years after his graduation he filled the post of civil engineer with the Mobile Gas Light Company, and it is an interesting fact in the history of the Caldwell family and of the city of Mobile that fifty-four years after James Henry Caldwell lighted the streets of New Orleans with gas, his grandson, James Henry Caldwell, built and placed in successful operation the plant that performed a similar service for the city with electricity. Until 1888 Mr. Caldwell continued a resident of Mobile, being associated with the family interests, which were principally in gas, electric and other public utility companies. He was successively vice-president and president of the Mobile Gas Light and Coke Company, and the Mobile Electric Light Company, both properties of the Caldwell estate.

In 1887-88 Mr. Caldwell traveled extensively at home and abroad, and in the latter year became identified with the Ludlow Valve Manufacturing Company of Troy, making that city his residence. In 1892 Mr. Caldwell was elected vice-president of the firm; in 1893 the duties of general manager were added to his responsibilities; and in 1909 he became president of the company. The Ludlow Valve Manufacturing Company manufactures valves and hydrants, and its career, always successful, has reached a surpassingly high point in production and prosperity under Mr. Caldwell's guidance. His achievements in the development of this company give him place among the most able industrialists of his day, and have made the Ludlow Valve Manufacturing Company known wherever the materials that are its product are used. In this connection Mr. Caldwell made extraordinary use of the scientific equipment which he had striven for at college.

Mr. Caldwell has entered into numerous fields of business endeavor and his services have been widely sought in advisory capacities by his associates in the region. Success in one enterprise spread his reputation, and many naturally turned to him for the never-failing counsel. He was one of the organizers of the Troy Trust Company, and its first president, serving for eight years and resigning because of the pressure of his other affairs. He is a trustee and vice-president of the Troy Savings Bank, a director of the National State Bank of Troy, and was president of the Commercial Telephone Company until its absorption into the American Telephone and Telegraph Company system. He is president of the Van Rensselaer Hotel Company, treasurer of the Rensselaer Improvement Company, trustee of the Troy Gas Company, and is a director of the following corporations: the Albany and Vermont Railroad Company, the Rensselaer and Saratoga Railroad Company, the Troy and Bennington Railroad Company, the Saratoga and Schenectady Railroad Company, the Lansingburg and Cohoes Railroad Company, the Troy and Cohoes Railroad Company, the Troy and West Troy Bridge Company, the Columbus, Marion, and Bucyrus Company, and several others.

Mr. Caldwell has taken a constant and loyal interest in the civic institutions of his city and has been able to render effective service to the cause of education and to the organizations whose sphere is the aid of those in need, despite the innumerable claims upon his attention in the business world. He is president of the Troy Public Library; vice-president and trustee of the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, his alma mater; and he is also president and trustee of the Samaritan Hospital, of which he was one of the founders; and trustee of the Day Home Nursery. To these interests he has given a generous share of his time and means, and their welfare and successful continuance have been close to his heart.

Mr. Caldwell is senior past president of the Troy Chamber of Commerce. His fraternity, in which he has held membership since his college days, is the Delta Phi. His clubs are the University, the Engineers', the Machinery, and the Recess of New York City ; and the Troy, and the Elks, of Troy. He is a member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the American Water Works Association, the American Gas Institute, the Illinois Gas Association, the National Founders' Association, the Geographical Society, the National Geographical Society, the American Museum of Natural History, and was, until it passed out of existence, a trustee of the Troy Academy. His religious alliance is with the Episcopal church, and he is senior warden of St. Paul's Church, of that denomination, in Troy.

James H. Caldwell married, in Troy, May 3. 1887, Margery Josephine Christie, daughter of John T. Christie, of Troy, and granddaughter of John and Margaret (Roberts) Christie, who came to the United States from Scotland in 1832, and settled first in Troy, later moving to New Jersey. Mr. and Mrs. Caldwell are the parents of three children: 1. Margery, married, June 16, 1916, Livingstone W. Houston, of Troy, and has two children: Margery C. and Nancy. 2. John Christie, born June 10, 1893, educated in St. Mark's School, of Southboro, Massachusetts, and the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, now associated with the Ludlow Valve Manufacturing Company; married Helen Greatsinger Farrell. 3. Carolyn, educated in the Emma Willard School of Troy, Miss Masters' School of Dobbs Ferry, New York, and Miss Wickham's School of New York City; she married, May 28, 1921, Cebra Quackenbush Graves, of Bennington, Vermont, and New York City.

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