GEORGE VEST SLACK, a native of Missouri, is today one of the outstanding business men of The Bronx, and his
varied career, viewed in perspective, proves the reasonableness of the old adage: "If at first you don't succeed,
try and try again." Mr. Slack has succeeded, and to a noteworthy degree, but only after traveling up and down
and over and across the length and breadth of these United States and Old Mexico, trying first one field of endeavor
and then another in his tireless search for a profession or vocation that suited his tastes and his abilities.
As the executive head of an important structural steel company, and several subsidiary contracting concerns, he
has found the employment which suits him and which has brought him a distinct and unqualified success, as the following
account of his active career will show.
George Vest Slack was born in Calhoun, Henry County, Missouri, on October 17, 1878, a son of Henry and Martha (Carter)
Slack, the latter, who was born in Point Pleasant, Virginia, having died on January 1, 1880, when her son was but
two years of age. The father, Henry Slack, who is still living in his eighty fourth year (1926), was for many years
a successful stock raiser and a general store keeper in Calhoun, Missouri.
George Vest Slack received his early education in the public schools of his native community, following which he
took a course in the Perkins and Harpels' Business College, in St. Louis, Missouri. He embarked upon his business
career when he was nineteen years of age, and leaving his home he went to San Francisco, California, near where
he obtained his first job as a farm hand on Granet & McEwen's ranch at twenty dollars a month and board. But
this happened to be one of those dry years when work was not steady and it took every cent he earned to pay his
expenses. So he looked around for another job, and was engaged as a "broncho buster" on the well known
ranch of Miller & Lux, and in this strenuous manner did he finish oat his first year on the Pacific coast.
He then returned to his home town and worked on his father's four hundred and eighty acre farm, where, for the
years 1898 and 1899, he and his father contracted to a mutual profit, fifty fifty, partnership arrangement for
raising and selling cattle. After feeding and raising the stock, the junior Mr. Slack shipped several carload lots
to the St. Louis market, and upon their sale he discovered that he had been doing business at a loss for the past
two years. Anxious to retrieve his losses, he left the farm and went to Kansas City, Missouri, where he at once
secured employment with the Midland Bridge Company, doing structural steel work on the Eighth Street and Agnes
Avenue viaducts of that city. Upon the completion of these viaducts, Mr. Slack went to Cordova, Old Mexico, wheee
he worked on the Vera & El Pacifico Railway, helping to build the first two structural steel drawbridges to
be erected in that country. Upon the completion of this work, Mr. Slack returned to the States and found employment
with the Bridge Departments of the Missouri Kansas & Texas and Santa Fe railroads, in whose employ he was identified
for several months. He then came East to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where he'wase engaged by McClintock & Marshall
for a short period, following which he decided to come to New York City.
Mr. Slack's advent into the metropolitan area took place in the year 1902, and upon arriving in New York City he
immediately was offered work by Terry & Tench, contractors, in the structural steel work on the world's largest
power house at Fifty ninth Street, Manhattan, which was being built by this firm for the Interborough Rapid Transit
Company. Mr. Slack was engaged in this work until the job was completed, following which he was employed as a structural
steel expert in the erection of the Rockville Centre Bridge, for trolleys crossing the Long Island Railroad; the
Housatonic Bridge, at Lenoxdale, Massachusetts; the Williamsburg Bridge, across the East River; and the bridge
at Mattituck; for the New Jersey Bridge Company; also across Deal Lake from Asbury Park. Upon the completion of
the aforementioned bridges, Mr. Slack decided to go into business for himself, doing structural steel work on contract,
opening offices at Nos. 213-15-17 West One Hundred and Twenty fifth Street, where he remained until the great fire
in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1904. Recognizing the almost limitless possibilities for building in the stricken city,
Mr. Slack immediately removed his office to Baltimore, where he erected more than sixty of the new buildings for
various steel companies and contractors. As a lucrative side line, he entered the general contracting business
in Baltimore in 1908, and paved many miles of streets, and built many miles of sewers for the City Sewerage Commission.
Subsequently, the peak of building having been passed, he removed back to New York City, establishing his headquarters
in East Bronx where an extensive and intensive development was taking place. Here Mr. Slack has remained, doing
a great deal of sewer building under the firm name of Slack & Slack, and engaged in the general contracting
business. He also conducts Slack's Building Materials Company, and for the use of this company has recently built
a new dock on Westchester Creek, with warehouses and garages covering an area of one hundred and fifty by three
hundred and seventy nine feet, located on Westchester Creek and Commerce Avenue. His general offices are at No.
134 Westchester Square, and he also conducts the Baychester Material & Equipment Corporation. Altogether, with
his various business, commercial and industrial affiliations, Mr. Slack has become one of the most prominent and
influential men of The Bronx, where by the very nature of his work, he is contributing in a very real and tangible
way to local progress and advancement. Fraternally, he has also been active, and holds membership with Washington
Lodge, No. 3, Free and Accepted Masons, of Baltimore, Maryland; and with Bronx Lodge, No. 871. Benevolent and Protective
Order of Elks. He is also a member of The Bronx County Jurors' Association, the Arthur, H. Murphy Association,
the Chippewa Democratic Club, and the Schnorer Club of The Bronx.
George Vest Slack was married at the City Hall, New York City, on March 23, 1905, to Amelia E. Bilzer, a daughter
of Edward and Caroline Biker, and they make their home at No. 1628 Yates Avenue, The Bronx, New York.
The Bronx and its people
A History 1609-1927
Board of Editors: James L. Wells,
Louis F. Haffen
Josiah A. Briggs.
Historian: Benedict Fitspatrick
Publisher: The Lewis Historical Publishing Co., Inc.
New York 1927
Bronx County, NY
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