Biography of Col. Sheldon C. Reynolds
Lucas County, OH Biographies

In the death of Colonel Sheldon C. Reynolds, on November 22, 1912, Toledo lost a citizen who in a peculiarly effective way combined both faith and works. He was never a public man in the sense of being an officeholder, though his career brought to Toledo a far reaching and substantial benefit. Colonel Reynolds had vision. But his ideals were constructive, and when it came to carrying out his plans and purposes he was one of the most practical of men. A great many years ago he became identified with the flour milling and grain business. He selected Toledo as the scene of his operations. From the first he linked his own fortunes with that of the rising city on the southern shores of Lake Erie. It was his distinction to become the first great grain merchant in the city. More than any other individual factor he made Toledo one of the chief grain ports around the Great Lakes. His career meant so much to Toledo that it is only necessary to present the facts of his career to indicate his prominence.

Sheldon Clark Reynolds was born in Essex county, New York, November 29, 1835, and was nearly seventy eight years of age when death called him. He was the youngest son among the ten children of Jesse and Sarah (Sheldon) Reynolds. His father was born in Dutchess county, New York, September 15, 1793, and served as a soldier during the second war with Great Britain, better known as the War of 1812. By occupation he was a farmer, and a thrifty, substantial New York citizen. His death occurred December 10, 1853. Colonel Reynolds' mother was born September 6, 1794, and died July 20, 1851.

His early environment was that of a New York state farm. When fourteen years old he went to Bridgeport, Vermont, and spent the next two years in the home of his sister. At the age of sixteen he entered the employ of his brothers, W. R. and W. B. Reynolds, who were at that time engaged in a general dry goods business at Jackson. Michigan. With three years of experience there he bought the interests of his brother, W. R., and for one year was a partner of the other brother, W. B. Reynolds. The second brother then transferred his interests to W. R. Reynolds and the firm of W. R. Reynolds and S. C. Reynolds continued', a prosperous existence at Jackson for fourteen years, or until 1869.

The advent of the Reynolds brothers in Toledo, in. 1869, was much more significant when considered from the present point of view than was realized at that time. On coming to the city the brothers bought the Armanda Flouring Mills, an industry that was soon in a prosperous condition, under the firm name of Reynolds Brothers. In 1872 W. B. Reynolds sold his interest to the other brothers and in 1875 the mill property was sold to other parties altogether.

At that time Colonel S. C. Reynolds entered the grain commission business. Associated with him was Charles L. Reynolds, his nephew, a son of W. R. Reynolds. Later Colonel Reynolds' son, Frederick J., and Mr. J. H. Bowman were added to the firm. The transactions of this firm for the year 1875 totaled two thousand carloads of grain. Ten years later, in 1885, this one firm handled eighty five thousand carloads. That was a banner year and the records show that no other individual firm in the United States handled a larger amount of grain that year.

Some idea of Colonel Reynolds progressiveness in making Toledo a grain port is found in the statement that he was the first grain merchant to bring carloads of wheat and other foodstuffs to Toledo, from west of the Mississippi and Missouri rivers. He built up a. splendid and far reaching industry, with connections all over the west, covering the great grain areas north and south, and he was in close touch with the market centers of the entire globe. It should be no exaggeration to attach to Colonel Reynolds the title of captain of industry. For forty three years he was really and truly a leader in the big affairs that made the city of Toledo what it is. His operations naturally extended to a broad field. He was a banker and a dominating influence in the general industrial and commercial advancement of the city. He not only helped to lay the foundation but to rear the superstructure of much that is considered most enduring and permanent in the present fortunes of this lake port.

Up to the time of his death at advanced years, Colonel Reynolds maintained his position of influence in financial and commercial affairs. He held large interests in the city's most important bauking institutions, and his work as a founder, promoter and director could hardly be described within the space of a few pages. He was at one time the largest stockholder in. the First National Bank, also was a large stockholder in the Second National Bank and Toledo Savings Bank & Trust Company, and was interested in various other financial institutions. He was a member and the largest stockholder in the Produce Exchange, and among the first to start the movement which brought about the erection of the Produce Exchange building on Madison street. For more than twenty years, up to a month before his death, he was a director of the Wabash Railroad Company. He served in a similar capacity for the Hocking Valley Railway, the Wheeling & Lake Erie, the Kanawha & Wheeling & Lake Erie, and the Kanawha & Michigan railways. At the time of his death he was chairman of the board of directors of the First National Bank, which he had formerly served as president, and of which his son, Frederick J., is now chairman of the board of directors. For a number of years he was president of the Lake Erie Transportation Company, and the banner ship of that line bears his name, "The S. C. Reynolds."

Colonel Reynolds was survived by his widow, Mrs. Martha A. Reynolds, and one son, Frederick J. Colonel Reynolds and his wife had four children, three of whom died in infancy. Though not a member, Colonel Reynolds was for more than thirty five years a liberal supporter of Trinity Episcopal church. Perhaps his favorite form of recreation was sailing on the Great Lakes, and his beautiful steam yacht, "The Sigma," carries him to practically every port and harbor around the circuit of these inland waters.

Toledo and Lucas County, Ohio
BY: John M. Killits, A.M., LL.D.
S. J. Clarke Publishing Company
Chicago and Toledo

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