Biography of Robert H. York
Cuyahoga County, OH Biographies

ROBERT H. YORK. Death coming suddenly March 15, 1924, deprived Cleveland of one of its business leaders in the person of Robert H. York, who for a number of years had been an important figure in some of the city's most prosperous enterprises, including the Heights Savings & Loan Company, the Berkshire Manufacturing Company and the Metropolitan Motor Insurance Company.

The late Mr. York was born at Saginaw, Michigan, October 29, 1866, a son of Barney H. and Julia (Harkness) York. The York family is of English stock. His grandfather came to Ohio from the vicinity of Bedford, Massachusetts, buying. land in Sandusky County and building his home at what became known as York's Corners, now the thriving little City of Clyde. Barney H. York was born at York's Corners, Ohio, in 1834, and died at Cleveland in 1884. His wife, Julia Harkness, was a native of Bellevue, Ohio, where her father, Dr. L. G. Harkness, was an early physician. Julia Harkness' sister became the wife of Henry M. Flagler, a distinguished Ohioan who was first an official of the Standard Oil Company and during the last thirty years of his life the capitalist who did more for the development of Florida than any man before or since. For some years Henry M. Flagler was engaged in the grain business in Ohio, and lost his first modest fortune of about $50,000 in the salt industries at Saginaw, Michigan. Barney York was likewise interested in the lumber and salt industries in Michigan as an associate of Mr. Flagler. For a number of years Barney H. York was in the grain and elevator business at Clyde, and in 1867 he located at Cleveland, where he became a member of the firm of Flagler & York. Subsequently he was a partner with the late Doctor Otis in the Otis Elevator Company. Following the burning of the elevator, in the early '70s, he became a member of the firm of Gardner, Clark & York, owners and operators of the Union Elevator Company, to which he belonged at the time of his death. Barney H. York was very active in the business affairs of Cleveland, having been vice president of the old board of trade and president of the Chamber of Commerce. The Old Stone Church held his membership, and he belonged to the Masonic fraternity. His widow survived him nearly forty years, passing away at Cleveland in June, 1922. There were three children: Georgiana, widow of John D. Maclennan, of Toronto, Canada; Robert H.; and Roy F., who made his home at Baltimore, Maryland.

Robert H. York was an infant when the family settled in Cleveland, where his education was acquired in the city schools and in old Bridgeman Academy. He also graduated from the Phillips Academy of Andover, Massachusetts, one of the most exclusive preparatory schools in the East. After leaving that school he went to St. Augustine, Florida, and at a salary of five dollars a week became an employe of his uncle, Henry M. Flagler, who at that time, about 1885, was engaged in the building of Porice de Leon Hotel, the first of the enterprises by which he did so much to develop the Florida east coast. Subsequently Mr. York had two years of travel abroad and spent two years in Colorado, and when he resumed his residence at Cleveland he entered the service of the Standard Oil Company in the cooperage department, under Martin Snyder. Mr. York for fifteen years was in the brokerage business, and his later years were occupied in looking after his varied business interests.

He was one of the organizers and .at the time of his death president of the Cleveland Heights Savings & Trust Company; helped to organize and was president of the Berkshire Manufacturing Company; and was president of the Metropolitan Motor Insurance Company. He was also vice president of the Securities Company; vice president of the Sterling Knight Motor Company, and a director in the Ritters Trust Company.

His interests brought him relationship with many of the prominent social organizations, including the Manhattan and Brook Club of New York City, the Union, Tavern, Roadside, Cleveland Country, Mayfield Country, Kirtland County, Chagrin Valley Hunt, and Pepper Pike Country clubs, all at Cleveland.

Mr. York married Miss Clara Gordon, daughter of Dr. and Mrs. O. F. Gordon, of Cleveland. He is survived by Mrs. York, and there are three children: a daughter, Mrs. Thomas H. White, of Cleveland; a son, Barney H., a member of Hord, Curtiss & Company, attorneys at Cleveland; and Gordon F., a student in Yale University.

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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