DAVID AITKEN, SR. The career of David Aitken, Sr., successful business man of Cleveland, is but another illustration
of what may be accomplished by a man who though handicapped by early environment yet possesses natural ability
and a determination to rise above his early surroundings and make a place for himself in the business world. Left
an orphan at an early age, without relatives or family friends, bound out to a farmer at the age of eleven years,
and denied early educational advantages, Mr. Aitken has by his own efforts made for himself a position as director
in one of Cleveland's largest mercantile houses.
Mr. Aitken was born in the City of Toronto, Canada, on February 16, 1874, and at the age of eleven years was bound
out to a Mr. Robinson, a farmer of Orangeville, Ontario. He finished his indenture with the farmer at the age of
eighteen, and left the farm to become a clerk in a department store in Orangeville, Ontario, where he spent the
next four years, during which time he laid a good business foundation for his future efforts. Leaving the department
store in 1896, he tried prospecting in the gold fields of Canada, but not meeting with expected success he turned
his steps in other directions, and eventually found employment as clerk in a store at Rat Portage, Western Canada.
In the spring of 1897 Mr. Aitken came to the States, and at Erie, Pennsylvania, found a position as storekeeper
for the Erie plant of the Edison Light & Power Company, and continued in that position for four years, and
then resigned, in April, 1901, to come to Cleveland. One of his first acts after coming to this city was to take
out his naturalization papers and become a citizen of the United States.
Mr. Aitken's first position in Cleveland was as store manager for the Cleveland Supply & Manufacturing Company
(now the Erner Electric Company). With that company he was advanced to the position of city salesman, and later
to that of state representative of the concern for Ohio, resigning that position in April, 1902, to join the organization
of the George Worthington Hardware Company, one of the city's largest and most important business concerns, with
which he has risen to the management of one of its departments and to a place on the company's board of directors.
He was the first man in Cleveland to sell the idea of a hardware house putting in a department for the handling
of electrical supplies, a policy now followed by practically all of the leading hardware houses of the country.
Mr. Aitken is active in civic affairs, and is a director in the Electrical League, a member of the Cleveland Chamber
of Commerce, a director in the Brookwood Club, and a vestryman of the Church of Incarnation, Protestant Episcopal.
He is a member of Halcyon Lodge, Free and Accepted Masons, Mount Olive Chapter, Woodward Council and M Sirat Grotto.
Mr. Aitken was united in marriage with Miss Margaret E. Schaaf, of Erie, Pennsylvania, and four children have been
born to them: Milton, born in Cleveland in 1903, graduated from Case School of Applied Science with the class of
1923; David A., born in Cleveland in 1906, is a student at Case School of Applied Science; Irene A., born in Cleveland
in 1908; and Russell, born in Cleveland in 1910.
A History of Cuyahoga County
and the City of Cleveland
By: William R. Coates
The American Historical Society
Chicago and New York, 1924
Cuyahoga County, Ohio Biographies
Names A to G
Names H to P
Names Q to Z
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