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Free Genealogy Biography of Henry Shoemaker
Pennsylvania Volunteer of the Civil War

Henry F. Shoemaker

Henry F. Shoemaker, banker and railroad president, had the advantage in his early career of an influential and prosperous father, but his great success in life is due mainly to his own undisputed ability. He was born March 28, 1845, in Schuylkill county, Pa. His ancestors came from Germany, landing in Philadelphia, June 20, 1683, and forming part of the settlement of Pastorius, the German Quaker and friend of William Penn. The family has been prominent in Philadelphia and the Schuylkill and Wyoming valleys of Pennsylvania for several generations. John Shoemaker, his great grandfather, served in the American Revolution; both his grandfathers were soldiers of 1812; while Henry F. Shoemaker himself was a Union volunteer in the Civil War.

The men of the family engaged at an early period in the mining for anthracite coal, and Col. George Shoemaker, of Pottsville, Pa., a great uncle, was the first to introduce this fuel to market, bringing it to Philadelphia by wagon. His father was John W. Shoemaker, an operator of anthracite coal mines at Tamaqua, Pa., his mother being Mary A. Brock, daughter of William Brock.

Mr. Shoemaker was fitted for an active career by education in the schools at Tamaqua, Pa., and in the Genesee Seminary in Lima, N.Y. He acquired a liking for the coal business at an early day, boyish curiosity leading him to visit his father's colliery almost daily during his vacations. He was a young man of great promise and his manly nature was shown in 1863. when Pennsylvania was invaded by General Lee and the Confederate army. Governor Curtin called for volunteers to defend the State. The young man, then only eighteen years of age, went to his father's mines, gathered together a company of sixty volunteers and took them in haste to Harrisburg Although elected captain of the company, he exercised the good judgment characteristic of him in after life, and declined, owing to his youth, in favor of an older man, accepting the rank of first lieutenant instead. The company was mustered into the Federal service as part of the 27th Pa. Vols., 27th Regiment, attached to the 6th Corps, and served until the Confederate army had been beaten at Gettysburgh and retreated south of the Potomac. The emergency over, the detachment from the mines returned to their homes.

At the age of nineteen, Mr. Shoemaker went to Philadelphia and entered the wholesale coal shipping house of Hammet, Van Dusen & Co., where he mastered the mercantile department of the coal business. He then began the coal shipping business on his own account under the firm name of Shoemaker & McIntyre, succeeding from the start. A progressive man, he formed in 1870 the firm of Fry, Shoemaker & Co., and engaged in the mining of anthracite coal at Tamaqua, Pa. The property consisted of the Newkirk colliery, one of the largest in the locality. Mr. Shoemaker continued to reside in Philadelphia in charge of the shipping and sales branch of the business, while his partners devoted themselves to Operating the mines. The Philadelphia & Reading Railroad Co. having entered upon a policy of acquiring control of the mining of anthracite coal along its lines by an ownership in the collieries, Mr. Shoemaker disposed of his coal interests to the railroad company in 1875.

Early in 1877, he entered the world of transportation as secretary and treasurer of The Central Railroad of Minnesota, and late in that year removed to New York city. In 1878, he became interested in the construction of The Rochester & State Line Railroad, now known as The Buffalo, Rochester & Pittsburgh, and was largely instrumental in its extension to the coal fields of Pennsylvania. In 1881, he embarked in Wall street and established the banking house of Shoemaker, Dillon & Co. The firm made a specialty of large issues of railroad bonds and met with great success in several extensive negotiations. In 1886, Mr. Shoemaker entered a syndicate which assumed control of The Wheeling & Lake Erie Railroad, and thereafter he pushed on and became an active spirit in a number of important roads. In 1887, he was elected president of The Mineral Range Railroad, and in 1888, he bought a large interest in the Cincinnati, Hamilton & Dayton Railroad, and later, with others, became one of the dominant spirits in the company and was made chairman of its executive committee. In 1893, for himself and associates, he purchased a majority of the shares of The Cleveland, Lorain & Wheeling Railroad, which under the new management has become one of the most prosperous coal roads in Ohio. Several lines in which he is interested are coal carrying roads, and Mr. Shoemaker is largely interested in the mines adjacent thereto.

He has been successful in his undertakings and is now president of the The Dayton & Union and The Cincinnati, Dayton & Ironton Railroads; chairman of the executive committee of The Cincinnati, Hamilton & Dayton Railroad, and a director in The Cincinnati, Hamilton & Indianapolis, The Cincinnati, New Orleans & Texas Pacific, and The Cleveland, Lorain & Wheeling Railroads, and The Alabama Great Southern Railroad, Limited, of London, England. He was also at one time engaged in the mining of bituminous coal in the Kanawha valley, W. Va. He was a large owner and director in The New Jersey Rubber Shoe Co., whose factories are located at New Brunswick, N.J., with a capacity of 10,000 pairs of boots and shoes per day which has now become a part of The United States Rubber Co., one of the largest mercantile and manufacturing corporations in the country.

Mr. Shoemaker was married April 22, 1874, to Miss Blanche, daughter of the late Hon. James W. Quiggle of Philadelphia, at one time Consul at Antwerp and later Minister to Belgium. As a result of this union, there are three children, two sons and one daughter. He resides in New York city, and by reason not only of his financial standing, but his refinement of character, courteous manners and spotless record, has gained the confidence and esteem of the business world.

He is a member of the Union League, Lotos, Riverside Yacht and American Yacht clubs of New York city, The Sons of the Revolution, and Lafayette Post, No. 140, of the Grand Army of the Republic.

Source: Beers, J. H. and Co.; Commemorative Biographical Record of Washington County, Pennsylvania; Chicago: J. H. Beers & Co., 1893.

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