Biography of Matthew F. Bromley
Cuyahoga County, OH Biographies

MATTHEW FREDERICK BRAMLEY. The life record of Matthew Frederick Bramley reads like a romance, but it is founded on facts, and is but the outcome of determined and persistent effort on the part of an honest, hard working young American, who, in spite of numerous obstacles, steadily advanced until today he is one of the prominent citizens and substantial business men of Cleveland, with activities extending into numerous channels of industry, and covering years of political and civic service. He. was born on a farm at Independence, Cuyahoga County, Ohio, January 4, 1868.

Matthew Frederick Bramley is a son of John P. and Mary Ann (Newton) Bramley, natives of Nottingham, England, who were married in this country. John P. Bramley was only twelve years of age when he. came to the United States and located in Cuyahoga County. Here he became interested in farming, and he also operated a sawmill at Brecksville, Cuyahoga County. Coming then to Cleveland, for the subsequent thirty years he was an active member of the Cleveland police force, and for ten years was on the police pension rolls, after his retirement from the force. His death occurred at Cleveland.

In 1870, when only two years old, Matthew Frederick Bramley, or Fred, as he is known to his intimates, had the misfortune to lose his mother, and he and his two brothers were reared on the farm by their paternal grandparents. When his father remarried the children were taken to Cleveland, and were sent to school. When but a very small boy Frederick Bramley began to make himself useful by carrying papers on a regular route, and some of the older people remember the bright, cheerful little fellow who was so faithful even then in discharging the obligations he had incurred. Home conditions not being congenial, Frederick Bramley and his brothers ran away, but at different times, and he went to the farm of his uncle, and there he learned to be a farmer so thoroughly that he subsequently leased his father's farm, and, although still young in years, conducted it during the summer months, and during the winter ones cut and hauled cordwood to the market.

However, he longed for the advantages of the city, and when he was nineteen he left the farm and returned to Cleveland, and the first winter, unfortunately, engaged in work so strenuous and exhansting from its exoosure as to impair his health to such an extent that he still feels the effects. This work was hauling ice from the ponds to the breweries, and in it he broke down utterly, and suffered from a long illness. When he had partially recovered he commenced driving a team for paving contractors, and in that connection gained a knowledge which was biter to prove of great benefit to him. Still later he was teamster for the late Henry Everett, who was then erecting his fine residence at Case and Euclid Avenue, which palatial home is still the handsomest on Eudid Avenue, and one of the landmarks of that section of Cleveland.

Recognizing the faithfulness of the young man, Henry Claflin, president of the Claflin Paving Company, made him foreman of teams. From that employment he went on the old Case farm as foreman for J. F. Siegenthaler, who had leased this property at the intersection of Lorain and Linwood avenue. Mr. Bramley remained on. this farm for several years, and during that period married his employer's daughter, and they lived in a log house on the farm. It was while on the farm that he and a number of representative citizens of the neighborhood organized a band of "White Caps," to drive from it some undesirables. Mr. Bramley was a lieutenant of this efficient little band, who borrowed guns from the Berea militia, and succeeded in carrying out their intention.

All of this time Mr. Bramley was struggling against the ill health which had resulted from his serious illness, and so he left the farm and entered the old Produce Bank of Cleveland at a salary of $7 per week. On this meager amount he maintained his family, although they continued to live in the old log house on the farm, for which he paid a monthly rental of $8. While serving in the bank he came into contact with two of its officials, who made Mr. Bramley the proposition that he solicit paving contracts for them, they promising to furnish the money to finance them. Delighted at the prospect of going into something which would enable him to get a real start in the world, Mr. Bramley began soliciting and had but little difficulty in acquiring three paving contracts. It was then that the man rose to the opportunity, and, through almost superhuman effort, succeeded in completing these contracts, and doing so to the satisfaction of his customers, and with a reasonable profit to himself. This was the commencement of his fortune, and from then on he has steadily advanced, and he is still largely interested in the paving business, as president and treasurer of the Cleveland Trinidad Paving Company, which he organized thirty years ago, and which is today the largest paving company in the world, with branches at New York City, Columbus, Ohio, Detroit and Saginaw, Michigan.

In 1916 Mr. Bramley organized the Templar Motors Company, one of the important automobile industries of Cleveland, of which he was president and general manager, and this he developed into a very large concern. During the World war the Templar plant supplied the United States Government with large quantities of shells on contract. He is also president and principal owner of the Luna Park Amusement Company, of which he was the promoter and organizer. This is one of the largest and most popular outdoor amusement parks at Cleveland or in the United States.

Successful as he has been in business, Mr. Bramley has not confined his activities to this one field, but has been for years very prominent in civic and political affairs. In 1898 he was elected on the republican ticket to the Lower House of the State Assembly, and in 1900 was elected to the same body to succeed himself, and while thus serving was the author of a number of very important bills, and supported many more of an admirable character which are now on the statute books. He served as a member of the Cleveland City Hall Commission from 1898 to 1908, and as a member of the Cuyahoga County Building Commission from 1895 to 1908. He is a former vice president of the Cleveland Chamber of Industry; is a member of the Cleveland Chamber of Commerce, and the Cleveland Safety Council, of which for two years he was president.

Very prominent in Masonry, he has been advanced in that order to the thirty second degree, and he also belongs to the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, the Knights of Pythias, the Cleveland Athletic Club, the Cleveland Yacht Club and the Westwood Country Club.

On July 23, 1891, Mr. Bramley married Miss Gertrude Siegenthaler, of Cleveland, and they have two children: John Harold and Margaret Elizabeth.

A History of Cuyahoga County
and the City of Cleveland
By: William R. Coates
The American Historical Society
Chicago and New York, 1924

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