Biography of General Ceilan M. Spitzer
Lucas County, OH Biographies

General Ceilan Milo Spitzer left the indelible impress of his business ability and public spirit upon northwestern Ohio and there still stand as monuments to his resourcefulness, power and business capacity some of the finest office structures in Toledo. As a merchant, banker and in other connections he contributed in notable measure to the material development of this section of the state and the worth of his work was widely acknowledged.

Ceilan Milo Spitzer came to Ohio from New York, his birth having occurred in Batavia of the Empire state on the 2d of November, 1849. He came of a distinguished and honored ancestry, being a great grandson of Dr. Ernestus De Spitzer, while other representatives of the family left their impress upon the history of the localities and states in which they lived. His parents were Aaron Bovee and Laura Maria (Perkins) Spitzer, the latter a descendant of James Draper of Roxbury, Massachusetts, and Quartermaster John Perkins of Ipswich, Massachusetts, who were the first of their respective families in America. Nathaniel Perkins, the great grandfather of General Spitzer, served as aide de camp to Washington during the Revolutionary war before he had attained his majority. A great great great great grandfather of General Spitzer was Hendricks Cornelius Van Buren, who served as a soldier in the Indian war of 1663 and was stationed at Fort Crawl in Papshire. He was also one of the ancestors of President Martin Van Buren. Through the maternal line General Spitzer also traced his ancestry through five generations to Jacob Jane Schermerhorn, who was the founder of the family in America bearing his name and who emigrated from Waterland, Holland, in 1636, settling at Beverswick in the New Netherlands, where he was a man of wealth and prominence. He died in Schenectady, New York, in 1688. General Spitzer was indeed fortunate in having hack of him an ancestry honorable and distinguished and was happy in that his lines of life were cast in harmony therewith. Like his forbears he embraced the opportunities that came to him not only for the upbuilding of his own fortune but for the development of the country and northwestern Ohio is indeed his debtor. He was but two years of age when in 1851 the family home was established in Medina, Ohio, where he became a public school pupil, while later he attended Oberlin College. In 1869 he instituted his business career, being then a young man of twenty years, by purchasing a half interest in a drug store at Seville, Ohio, where he conducted business for two years and then sold out, becoming the active associate of his father in opening the Seville Exchange Bank, under the style of C. M. Spitzer & Company. Success attended the new enterprise from the beginning, soon becoming one of the strong financial concerns in that part of the state. This led to further development along banking lines and in 1877 a branch house was opened at Medina, while in 1878 General Spitzer organized the German-American Bank of Cleveland, which developed so rapidly that Mr. Spitzer purchased the interest of Ludwig Wideman, who had became a partner in 1873. Through the succeeding two years General Spitzer and his father conducted a general banking and investment business in Cleveland and soon made for themselves a place in the financial circles of that city as they had in the other sections in which they operated. In January, 1880, owing to a financial depression the Cleveland bank failed and it was necessary to settle with the creditors on a forty per cent basis. Ten years later the real character of General Spitzer was manifest when voluntarily and without either legal or moral necessity he paid all the bank debts dollar for dollar. This naturally gave him a splendid reputation in the business world but without thought of that General Spitzer had made restitution, happy in the fact that he could reimburse those to whom the bank was indebted.

The bank at Fremont, Ohio, was opened in 1880 by General Spitzer, associated with Ludwig and Jerome P. Wideman, but was sold the following year, at which time the firm of Spitzer, Wideman & Company of Toledo was organized. The following year General Spitzer purchased the interests of his partners and was joined by his cousin, Adelbert L. Spitzer, under the firm style of Spitzer & Company. It was thus that General Spitzer became an active factor in the business interests of this city, with which he was closely associated from that time forward. In 1887 the firm established a branch office in Boston, Massachusetts, which in May, 1899, was removed to 20 Nassau street, New York, so that the firm then entered the financial circles of the American metropolis. On the 1st of February, 1911, a change in partnership led to the adoption of the firm style of Spitzer, Rorick & Company, the General remaining active in the affairs of the corporation until his retirement from business about two years later. In the meantime he had become associated with many banking institutions of Ohio as a stockholder and director and was long recognized as a. dominant force in the financial circles of the state. He was also a director of the Wheeling & Lake Erie Railroad and became the first president of the Spitzer Building Company, which in 1893 erected the first modern steel fireproof office building in Toledo, to which an annex was added in 1900, the building today containing seven hundred offices. General Spitzer also became president of the Nicholas Building Company, which in 1905 erected the Nicholas building, named in honor of his grandfather. This is a sixteen story fireproof steel structure, containing more than eight hundred offices. General Spitzer and his cousin, A. L. Spitzer, conducted and owned these buildings jointly for a. number of years but in February, 1911, the ownership was divided, General Spitzer taking the Nicholas building and A. L. Spitzer the other.

In the year 1884 General Spitzer was united in marriage to Miss Lilian Cortes McDowell, now deceased, a daughter of Alexander McDowell and a lineal descend. ant of Elizabeth Penn, sister of William Penn. Mrs. Spitzer was a cousin of General Irvine McDowell, who for many years, or until his death, was stationed at the Presidio in San Francisco, being in command of the entire Pacific coast division of the United States army.

A contemporary biographer has said: "General Spitzer was always a picturesque figure in the financial world. He was the friend of President McKinley, Senator Hanna and other famous men and visited California with President McKinley and Goveror Nash, at which time he assisted in christening the Battleship Ohio at San Francisco." He was a member of the Royal Automobile Club of England and for many years kept a touring car there in order to make continental motor tours, in which he found his chief recreation He traveled extensively abroad and his beautiful home, Innisfail, on Collingwood avenue in Toledo contained many rare and wonderful specimens of art and curios collected in all parts of the old world. About a year after his retirement from business he erected a beautiful winter home in Los Angeles, said to be one of the finest in southern California and both of his homes were adorned with rare paintings, fine Oriental rugs and many art treasures. In January, 1900, Mr. Spitzer was appointed by Governor George K. Nash, quartermaster general of Ohio with the rank of brigadier general and thus gained the title by which he was generally known. He exercised a wide influence over political and public affairs, although he would never consent to become a candidate for office. His opinions, however, carried great weight in the councils of the republican party and his advice was frequently sought concerning public measures and matters of public policy. He belonged to the Toledo and Country Clubs of Toledo, the Bankers Club of America at New York and the Ohio Society of New York. Death called him February 18, 1919, when he had almost reached the Psalmist's allotted span of threescore years and ten. Life had been to him purposeful and earnest. He had utilized and improved his opportunities and had builded not only for himself but for the public as well and not only for the present but for future generations.

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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