Biography of William J. Ellenberger
Cuyahoga County, OH Biographies

WILLIAM JOHN ELLENBERGER, one of the leading business men and one of the public spirited citizens of Lakewood, was born on Cedar Avenue, Cleveland, on the 30th of April, 1871, and is the son of Frederick Herman and Margaret Ann (Hudson) Ellenberger. The father was born in Canal Dover, Tuscarawas County, Ohio, in 1849, and was the son of William Ellenberger, who came from Friedesheim, Germany, at an early date and became one of the pioneers of Tuscarawas County. There he became one of the active business men and one of the reputable citizens of that community. He died there in 1856, leaving a widow and several children.

Frederick H., better known as Herman, came to Cleveland the same year his father died, or when he was about seven years old, and thereafter made his home with his aunt in that city. He received a fair education, principally at the old Brownell Public School, and for a time was taught by a lady teacher who afterward became Mrs. John D. Rockefeller. At the age of fifteen years he began operations for himself in the business world, and accepted a clerkship in a cigar store, where he remained for some time. Later he secured a position with Thomas and Butts, for many years leading lumber dealers in this part of the state. There Frederick gained much of the information which became valuable to him in his subsequent lumber operations. He managed to lay up considerable money for his own future, and with it he was able a little later to enter into partnership with the N. Mills & Company lumber concern. There he remained in constant work for several years, still further perfecting his knowledge of the lumber traflic, but in 1895 withdrew from that establishment and entered into partnership with his brother, Albert W., under the firm name of the Ellenberger Lumber Company.

In 1901 he relinquished his interests in this company and in conjunction with his brother bought out the Smeed Box Company and began an active business along somewhat different lines. At the same time he and his brother became the owners of the Worden Tool Company, another departure from the old lumber industry. He was made general manager and treasurer of the Smeed Box Company, and served as president of the Worden Tool Company until his death on the 11th of October, 1914. He was identified with the lumber industry of this part of the state for over forty seven years, and at the time of his demise was one of the oldest members of the Cleveland Board of Lumber Dealers, which organization, at the time of his death, passed resolutions of sympathy and condolence.

He was a steadfast and unwavering member of the Free Will Baptist Church. He took unusual interest and concern in the growth and development of the Sunday school. He was one of its most earnest and active workers. For many years he was a faithful member of the Cuyahoga County Sunday School Association, of which the present Cleveland Sunday School Association is the successor. He also became a member of the Ohio State Sunday School Association, and was much interested in the establishment and progress of the International Sunday School Association. For twenty five years he served with much credit as superintendent of the Sunday schools of the Cleveland Free Will Baptist Church.

His wife, formerly Margaret Ann Hudson, was born in Richmond, England, in 1848, and was the daughter of William Hudson, who came to the United States at an early date and settled in Cleveland. He left his family in England, probably to get well located here before their arrival. But he died ere long and was buried in the old Erie Street Cemetery. He was living when his daughter left England to join him, but when she reached Cleveland she learned for the first time that he was dead and buried. The daughter is still living. To Frederick and Margaret Ellenberger were born two sons, William John and Walter Edward. The latter now resides near Hiram, Ohio, and is successfully engaged in agriculture and stock breeding. Frederick Ellenberger and family moved to Lakewood in 1901, where he purchased two acres of land on Detroit Avenue, built his home and there passed the remainder of his day.

William John Ellenberger was educated in the Walton School, the Cleveland West High School and Oberlin College, receiving, as a whole, an excellent schooling. His first important labor was with the Worden Tool Company in their works for two years. Then he worked for the N. Mills Company and finally with the Ellenberger Lumber Company. When the latter was incorporated he became one of its directors. Then for a time he was with other business concerns, among which was the Cleveland Car Company, being a director. When his father and uncle bought the Smeed Box Company he became secretary, and upon the death of his father he assumed the management of the company as secretary treasurer. He also was a director in the Worden Tool Company, in the Security Savings & Loan Company and in the Mutual Mortgage Company. He was also treasurer of the Metropolitan Motor Insurance Company and a director in the J. L. Free Company. He is treasurer of the Brecksville Country Club, a member of the Chamber of Commerce, West Side Chamber of Industry, Rotary Club, Sleepy Hollow Country Club, member of the Board of Stewards of the Detroit Avenue Methodist Episcopal Church, member of the Executive Committee of the Cleveland Sunday School Association and member of the Governing Board of the Lakewood Young Men's Christian Association.

In early manhood he married Flora May Hulburt, a native of Seville, Ohio, and daughter of William and Caroline (Chambers) Hulburt. Six children were born to this union: Irene Imogene, who married Frank J. Roubal; William H., who died in 1907, at the age of seven years; F. Herman, who is now with the Smeed Box Company; Philip E., a student at Ohio Wesleyan University; Carl, in high school; and Ernest L., in high school. Mr. and Mrs. Ellenberger have for many years resided in the old Ellenberger home in Lakewood.

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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