Biography of George Worthington
Cuyahoga County, OH Biographies

GEORGE WORTHINGTON became a resident of Cleveland in the year 1835,. and now that he has passed from the stage of his mortal endeavors it is easy to gain a perspective view that indicates significantly the value of his life and labors as touching the civic and business interests of the Ohio metropolis in an earlier period of its history. There was much of largeness and vital constructiveness in the career of this man of thought and action, and the very solidity of his character could not but insure effective service in connection with the activities of his long and useful career. He meant much to Cleveland, and the city and its interests ever meant much to him, as shown in his ioyal support of measures tending to advance the general welfare of the community, as well as his cooperation in the furthering of business enterprises of major importance. His mature judgment and administrative ability made for the maximum success of any undertaking with which he consented to identify himself, and his work, in whatever field, was always constructive, straightforward and marked by that characteristic integrity of purpose that so definitely denoted the man of resourceful strength and sterling natural attributes.

George Worthington was born at Cooperstown, New York, September 21, 1813, a son of Ralph and Clarissa (Clark) Worthington, representatives of families that were early founded in this country. Mr. Worthington was reared and educated in the old Empire State, and there gained also his initial experience in connection with business affairs. In 1835, as noted in the opening paragraph of this memoir, he came to Cleveland, and here he founded the George Worthington Hardware Company, and in the local hardware trade he built up the leading establishment of his day one that continues to have similar precedence at the present time, as the enterprise is still continued, and under the original corporaie name that consistently perpetuates the name and achievement of the honored founder. Mr. Worthington's original hardware store was maintained on the site of the present Bethel Building. He later purchased the business of the firm of Cleveland, Stalling & Company, established at the corner of Water and Superior streets, where later was erected the building of the National Bank. In the development of his business Mr. Worthington admitted William Bingham to partnership, and the latter sold his interest in 1841. Thereafter Mr. Worthington had as associated principals in conducting the ever expanding business two other citizens whose names likewise became prominent in local business circles, Gen. James Barnett and Edward Bingham.

About the year 1862 Mr. Worthington effected the organization of the Cleveland Iron & Nail Works, with William Bingham as his coadjutor in the enterprise. Within a year the concern completed. the erection and equipment of its manufacturing plant and initiated active operations, with special attention given to the manufacturing of gas pipe. Under the able and progressive administration of Mr. Worthington this grew to be one of the large and important industrial concerns of Cleveland. He became interested also in the ownership and operation of blast furnaces, and, all in all, was one of Cleveland's most influential captains of industry in his day.

In 1863, shortly after the passage by Congress of the act providing for the establishing of national banks, Mr. Worthington organized the First National Bank of Cleveland, he having been the first president of this institution and having continued ably to guide its administration in this capacity of chief executive until the tune of his death, which occurred in the year 1871. He made a special journey to Washington, District of Columbia, to obtain the charter for the new bank, and this trip was attended by no little peril and difficulty, owing to the fact that the Civil war was then in progress. Mr. Worthington likewise gave the benefit of his initiative and executive ability to the upbuilding of the Ohio Savings & Loan Bank, of which he was a director at the time of his death. He was concerned also in the insurance business, was president of the Cleveland Iron Mining Company, and was for years a director of the Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati & Indianapolis Railroad. It should be noted that the wholesale business of the George Worthington Hardware Company had grown prior to his death to be one of the largest of the kind west of New York City. Mr. Worthington was one of the most liberal and progressive business men and citizens of his day and generation. in Cleveland, and his capacity for the achievement of large things was equaled by his courage and tenacity of purpose when he once set his hand to the wheel and initiated the guidance of any vessel of industrial enterprise with which he became concerned. He was a leader in civic and material development and progress in his home city, and in all of the relations of life he ordered his course in such a way as to merit, and receive the unqualified confidence and good will of his fellow men.

While Mr. Worthington had a full equipment for effective service in offices of public trust, his tastes and inclinations militated against his consenting to become a candidate for such preferment. His political allegiance was given to the republican party, and his religious faith was that of the Presbyterian Church. In this religious denomination he became one of the organizers of the Old Stone Church of Cleveland, and later he was one of the thirteen members that withdrew from this organization to become founders of the present Third Presbyterian Church, in the beautiful edifice of which a fine memorial window of most artistic design offers an enduring tribute to this honored member and founder.

The domestic chapter in the. life of Mr. Worthington was one of ideal relations, and there can be no desire to offer any revelation of its gracious intimacies through the medium of this publication. It is sufficient to state that on the 16th of November, 1840, Mr. Worthington was united in marriage with Miss Maria Cushman Blackinar, who was born in the State of New York, September 14, 1817, and who preceded him to the life eternal, her death having occurred March 3, 1862. Of the eight children of this union only four are living at the time of this writing, in 1924. Ralph is a resident of Miami, Florida; George maintains his residence at Bennington, Vermont; Mary is the widow of Clark I. Butts, to' whom a specific tribute is offered on other pages of this publication; and Clara is the wife of W. B. Hale.

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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