Biography of Minot I. Wilcox
Lucas County, OH Biographies

Minot I. Wilcox belongs to that class of business men in whose business career there are no spectacular phases, no plunges into wealth or success, no rapid mounting to the pinnacle of commercial or industrial fame. His course was like that of a river that steadily flows onward, gaining breadth and volume as it proceeds with the consequent power attendant thereon. He cast in his lot with the business men of Toledo in pioneer times and through the fifty seven years of his residence here his activities touched many lives and constituted a stimulating force in the city's continued advancement.

Minot I. Wilcox came to Ohio from New York, his birth having occurred in Jefferson county, that state, on the 7th of April, 1829. He was the youngest in a family of nine children and his youthful days were spent on a farm, which his father had hewed out of the midst of the forest in northern New York, early in the nineteenth century. That district was then largely a frontier region with but limited opportunity along educational and other lines. His grandfather was a New Bedford (Mass.) whaler, and it may have been an inherited taste for marine interests that led Minot I. Wilcox to devote nearly half a century to the cordage and ship chandlery business at Toledo, following his removal to the middle west in the early '40s. Here he established business in 1844 and for many years there was no name better known or which stimulated a higher degree of respect among shim ping men around the entire circuit of the Great Lakes than did that of Minot I. Wilcox. In his youthful days he spent a year as an apprentice to the ship joining trade and afterward worked in various mills in the east and in Toledo subsequent to his removal from Point Peninsula, New York, to this city in 1841. He was ambitious to engage in business on his own account, however, and after three years spent in the employ of others in this city he and his brother in law formed a partnership for, the conduct of a ship chandlery establishment under the style of Reed & Wilcox. The partnership was continued for six years and following its dissolution he and his brother Leonard organized the firm of Wilcox Brothers and carried on business at the corner of Madison and Water streets until 1868, when a removal was made to the location now occupied by M. I. Wilcox Company, No. 212 Water street. In May, 1880, Leonard Wilcox passed away, after which his brother continued in the business alone until he incorporated his interests in 1887, under the style of the M. I. Wilcox Cordage & Supply Company, of which he became president. This is practically the only firm in Toledo doing a cordage business and at the head of the enterprise is Oren S. Wilcox, a second cousin of the founder. At the beginning the firm carried a small stock of ship supplies and also dealt in butter, eggs, meat, tallow and the many small necessities which were required by the boats that in the early history of the city tied up at the wharves for replenishment. The business grew steadily with the passing years and Mr. Wilcox came to be regarded as one of the prominent and representative merchants of the city. He did not confine his attention alone to the cordage business but for twelve years was senior partner in the firm of Wilcox, Stock & Company, manufacturers of steam dredges and shovels. He also became the chief executive officer of the Maumee River Steamboat Company, which owned the steamer Pastime and he was vice president of the Vulcan Iron Works Company and one of the directors of the Milburn Wagon Company.

He also made investments in various other business interests of Toledo and upon the organization of the Merchants National Bank he became one of its directors. He was later elected vice president and in 1893 was chosen president of the bank, to which position he was reelected in 1898. His business interests and activities thus covered a wide scope and his constantly expanding powers enabled him to cope with each enterprise in a manner that furthered his own fortunes by advancing the success and growth of the business with which he became associated.

In 1855 Mr. Wilcox was united in marriage to Miss Emma Finney of La Fargeville, New York, a daughter of Henry Finney and a niece of the late President Finney of Oberlin College. In 1864, under the three months call for troops, Mr. Wilcox joined the One Hundred and Thirtieth Ohio Regiment and was given a major's commission. He also served as a member of the board of fire commissioners of Toledo at an early day and at all times he stood as a champion of those projects and plans looking to the betterment and progress of the city. He and his wife lived to celebrate their golden wedding anniversary in 1905 and six weeks later Mrs. Wilcox was called to the home beyond. She had been very active in the charitable work of the city and many were the beneficiaries of her bounty. Her passing was undoubtedly one of the causes of the rapidly failing health of Mr. Wilcox, who died on the 19th of November of the same year. His remains were laid to rest by the side of his wife, the funeral services being conducted by the Rev. Cyrus Townsend Brady of the Trinity Episcopal church. Mr. Wilcox never belonged to any secret societies except Toledo Lodge No. 402. I. O. O. F. and he was the last survivor among its charter members. In the later years of his life his reminiscences concerning Toledo and her early days were most interesting. He knew the city when it was a small town of comparatively little commercial and industrial importance and he lived to see its rapid growth and development until it ranks as the metropolis of northwestern Ohio and one of the chief ports along the Great Lakes. In the evening of his days he often exhibited with pride his certificate of membership in the volunteer fire department, which he joined in 1856. There was never a time when he did not respond fully and freely to a call of civic duty nor did he ever hesitate to extend a helping hand where aid was needed by an individual. He thus sought to alleviate the hardships of life for the unfortunate and he was at all times a stanch and faithful friend to those with whom he associated. There are many who yet cherish the memory of his companionship and honor him as a man of undaunted commercial integrity and as an upright patriotic citizen. He stamped the impress of his individuality upon Toledo records through a period of fifty seven years as a pioneer business man and banker, and his example is well worthy of emulation by those who desire to win success and an honored name simultaneously.

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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