Biography of Claude Meeker
Franklin County, Ohio Biographies





Claude Meeker, deceased, a native of Columbus, was the head of one of the largest bond, stock brokerage and investment banking business houses in Ohio, a firm founded by him more than a quarter of a century ago, and at a time when he had already distinguished himself in several fields of notable importance.

Claude Meeker was born in Columbus, December 20, 1861, the son of George W. and Harriet (Hatch) Meeker, and a descendant of William Meeker, who came to New Haven, Connecticut from England in 1639 and in 1664 founded what is now the city of Elizabeth, N. J., on a site he purchased from the Indians. The Meekers have taken important roles in the successive stages of American development since the earliest days of the country's history. George W. Meeker, father of Claude Meeker, was during his life time a foremost attorney of Columbus, and one time mayor of Columbus. All his life he was a vigorous worker in the Democratic cause and one of its leaders.

Claude Meeker entered the newspaper business at the age of eighteen, having studied two years at the University of Nebraska. Three years later having found his niche as a political writer, he became editor and part owner of a lively and successful weekly journal During all his career as a newspaper man, however, his principal activity was political reporting and comment, which was characterized by shrewd observation and thorough knowledge. He was a contributor to many national newspapers, among them the New York World, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, St. Louis Republic, Washington (D. C.) Post. For ten years he worked for the Cincinnati Inquirer, four years of that time a Columbus correspondent. He was also at various times on the staff of the Cincinnati Post and Times-Star.

The quality of Mr. Meeker's achievements as a journalist and as a critic of statecraft brought him wide recognition during the eighties and nineties and his natural bent for leadership led to high honors. While yet a youth he was one of the truly famous political writers of the Middle West. Mr. Meeker was really responsible for the nomination of former Governor James E. Campbell in 1889 as the Democratic candidate for governor. At that time he was a mere boy, although he had established a reputation as a writer for the Cincinnati Enquirer. Being possessed of knowledge of political tactics he began the movement for Campbell in 1887 when the leaders of the Democratic party had determined on the nomination of Colonel Thomas E. Powell. In spite of this fact, Meeker all but upset the slate. After Colonel Powell was defeated by Gov. Joseph Benson Foraker, the nomination of Campbell in 1889 came practically by acclamation. Campbell was one of the directing masters of the succeeding campaign, which has always been regarded as one of the classics of Ohio politics. Both Campbell and Foraker were young, neither being more than forty, handsome, war veterans and compelling speakers and debaters. Meetings of both of them, although they did not clash in joint debate were always attended by the whole countryside. The campaign was one of the high spots in Mr. Meeker's life. Becoming private secretary to Governor Campbell, he was one of the directors of his administration, regarded as one of the most successful administrations in the history of the state. During that time ballot law reforms and extensive changes in the state government were made. Defeat followed, however, in 1891, through the fact that the administration gave offense by insisting upon corrections in the government of Cincinnati.

In 1893 Mr. Meeker was appointed by President Cleveland to the post of American Consul at Bradford, England, at that time the world's greatest woolen center and the largest commercial consulate under the United States government. Mr. Meeker filled the post for four years. Among the incidental results of that incumbency was a series of literary papers: "Haworth: Home of the Bronzes," originally written for the Cincinnati Times-Star, compiled by him from information and observation in Yorkshire, his residence while in England, and the country where the famous Bronte sisters were born and dwelt. In 1895 the Bronte Society of Bradford published these papers in book form. They were again printed in 1922 with a preface by the secretary of the Bronte Society, commending both the historical accuracy and the literary form of the work. In recognition of this work Mr. Meeker was elected a lifemember of the Bronte Society.

Mr. Meeker established his bond, stock brokerage and investment banking business in 1897, following his return from the consular service. He was later one of the factors in the creation of the Cities Service Company, and took a part in the organization of the Ohio Cities Gas Company, which later became Pure Oil. Despite his business interests, Mr. Meeker retained close contact with public affairs. He organized numerous Democratic projects but always in the civic rather than the partisan sense. In addition to these activities he led many nonpartisan movements, the campaign for the White Cross Hospital in Columbus, and many others. Mr. Meeker's name with a project of that sort was regarded as a guarantee of success. He was active in the campaign for collection of funds for the purchase of the Thomas Jefferson estate at Monticello. He also was head of the Columbus branch of the Woodrow Wilson Foundation and the Annual Wilson birthday anniversary Memorial was one of his special cares.

On July 1, 1890, Mr. Meeker was married to Miss Elizabeth Parks, the daughter of Dr. J. M. Parks, of Hamilton, Ohio. Three children were born to them in England: 1. Campbell Meeker, who served as a lieutenant in the U. S. Army during the World War and later as a member of the New York Stock Exchange, now deceased. 2. Mrs. Marjorie Meeker Wing. 3. Mrs. Marion Meeker Helier.

Claude Meeker, died December 6, 1929.

From:
History of Franklin County, Ohio
By:Opha Moore
Historical Publishing Company
Topeka - Indianapolis 1930


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