Biography of George Mortimer Pullman
Orleans County, NY Biographies





Pullman, George Mortimer, was born in Brockton, Chautauqua county, N. Y., March 3, 1831, and is a son of James Lewis Pullman. who was born in Rhode Island, July 26, 1800. The parents of James L., soon after his birth, removed to a farm in Onondaga county. N. Y., where he spent his early youth in the quiet routine of agricultural pursuits. Becoming restless and longing for more stirring scenes, he determined to start out into the world, and with the parental blessing he left home and friends for the then thriving village of Auburn. There he established a successful business, and on September 4, 1825, was married to Emily Caroline Minton, who was born in that place August 14, 1808. This union was an exceedingly happy one. To them were born ten children, six of whom are now living. After the birth of the second son the family removed to the town of Portland, Chautauqua county, where seventeen event ful years were spent. There, four sons and two daughters were born. During this period Mr. Pullman became deeply impressed with the truths of the gospel. He was a diligent student of the Bible, and aided by his clear perceptions and logical mind, advanced steadily to find the doctrines of the Universalist Church distinctly revealed in it. He united with the First Universalist Church of Portland. In 1846 the family removed to Albion, where two more children were born, and where Mr. Pullman pursued the trade of a carpenter and the vocation of a mover of buildings. In this latter occupation he was frequently assisted by his sons, whom he had trained to habits of industry, thrift and frugality. Here he passed the remainder of his life, taking a deep interest in political affairs and the reforms of the times, exhibiting a christian spirit in all relations of life. He was an honored member af the I. O. O. F, and of Renovation Lodge A. F. and A. M. In Decemher, 1852, he was taken ill and died November 1, 1853. His widow survived until May 21, 1892, when she died at her residence, 611 Fifth avenue, New York city. Both were buried in Mt. Alboin cemetery. Their children were: Royal H., a noted clergyman of the Universalist Church of Baltimore, Md.; Albert B., a former officer of the Pullman Company, who died in Chicago in 1893; George M., of Chicago; Frances Caroline, who died aged two years; James M., D. D., a distinguished clergyman of Lynn, Mass.; William Eaton, who died aged about one and one half years; Charles L., an officer of the Pullman Company; Helen, wife of George West, of New York city; and Frank W., for two years assistant United States district attorney in New York, who died aged thirty years.

To George M. Pullman, the third child of this family, belongs the honor of making the family name known throughout the world. To him is due the lasting gratitude of the traveling public of two hemispheres. He inherited keen intelligence, great force of character, unbending integrity, and marked individuality. All these qualities were called into action upon the death of his father, when the support of the mother and four young children devolved upon him. He began as a clerk in a village store. at the age of fourteen, receiving a salary of forty dollars per year. Afterwards he worked at cabinetmaking with his brother in Albion. At the time the enlargement of the Erie Canal was in progress he succeeded in securing contracts with the State of New York for the removal of buildings along the route, from which be realized several thousand dollars. With this capital he went to Chicago and engaged extensively in raising buildings. He raised entire blocks of brick and stone buildings, an undertaking entirely novel thirty years ago. It was about this time that his attention was drawn to the discomforts of long railway journeys, and he determined, if possible, to improve the methods of traveling. In 1859 he remodeled two old day coaches belonging to the Chicago & Alton road, changing them into sleeping cars. They found favor at once, and created a demand for improved traveling accommodation. In 1863 he began at Chicago the construction of a sleeping car upon the now well known model which has inseparably associated his name with railway equipment. It was named the "Pioneer" and cost about $18,000. It formed part of the train which carried the remains of the martyred Lincoln from Chicago to Springfield in 1865. Soon after it conveyed General Grant, then in the first flush of his great fame, to his old Galena home. From this small beginning has sprung the vast system of Pullman cars which are known and used all over the world. Pullman's Palace Car Company, organized in 1867, soon became a prominent factor in the equipment of railroads. Its fleet has grown from thirty seven cars to 2,500; its working force from half a hundred to 15,000. Its cars are operated over nearly a hundred roads, and over a mileage equivalent to five times the circumference of the globe. From the first year of its existence it has paid its quarterly dividends with the regularity of a government loan, and its $36,000,000 of capital has a market value of $60,000,000, while its stock is so largely sought as a security for the investment of the funds of educational and charitable institutions, of women and of trust estates, that Out of its 3,246 stockholders, 1,800 are of this class, and 1,494 of these 1,800 are women. It was in 1880 that the town of Pullman was founded in obedience to the imperative demands of the Pullman Company's business for increased shop facilities. It was purely a business enterprise, but a business enterprise projected upon a broad and generous scale, and conducted according to principles recognizing the mutuality of interest of capital and labor as the best and most enduring form of practical philanthropy. The town now has a population of 12,000. Over this vast business Mr. Pullman has always had the presidency and a manager's directing eye, for to him alone is due its wonderful development. Another enterprise of magnitude and of great importance, in which Mr. Pullman has been prominently engaged, was the building in 1875-77 of the Sixth Avenue and Second Avenue Elevated Railroads, in the city of New York, he having been the organizer and president of the New York Loan and Improvement Company which undertook and carried forward to completion the construction of these roads. This undertaking which at the time of its projection and during construction was bitterly opposed by many property owners and surface railway companies, has resulted in a public convenience and a development of the upper part of Manhattan Island far beyond any estimates or expectations of that time.

But it is as a public benefactor that we should view him in connection with a history of Orleans county, at the county seat of which he spent his young manhood. As a business man Mr. Pullman is especially active, but he is as well a thorough gentleman, endowed with a remarkable personality. He is dignified and erect in bearing and possesses a keen yet kindly eye. In action he is at once masterful and sympathetic. In 1888 he built on one of the Thousand Islands in the St. Lawrence River a summer home for his mother, called "Castle Rest." In Chicago, on the site of the memorable massacre of 1812, he caused to be erected a bronze memorial group, which was unveiled and formally presented to the Chicago Historical Society on June 22, 1893. The ceremonies were held near the "Massacre Tree," which was blown down during the storm of May 17-18, 1894. But perhaps the most touching certainly the most enduring monument yet attempted is the handsome Memorial Universalist Church edifice, which Mr. Pullman is now (1894) erecting in Albion, and which is described in another page of this volume. The idea of this occurred to him in 1890, but it was not until 1893 that his plans assumed tangible form. Not only does he erect this church as a memorial to his parents, but also as a fitting memorial to the deep interest they manifested in the progress of Universalism. Moved by the sacred influence of his father's life he builds this beautiful edifice as a lasting tribute to the honor of a respected and revered family name.


Also see George Mortimer Pullman in the famous Americans biographies.


From:
Landmarks of Orleans County, New York
Edited by: Hon. Isaac C. Signor
Assisted by: H. P. Smith and others
D. Mason & Co., Publishers
Syracuse, N. Y. 1894


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