Sunday, April 17, 2016

Hurlburt Lloyd Phillips (1856-1903)

Portrait from the Centennial History of Chautauqua County, 1902.

   Once in a great while I receive the pleasant surprise of discovering an oddly named political figure with connections to my home county, and that is precisely the case with Hurlburt Lloyd Phillips, a businessman and "active Republican" in Jamestown, New York. While not an office holder per se, Mr. Phillips earns inclusion here on the site due to his being a two time delegate to the Republican National Convention from New York. 
   Although a resident of Chautauqua County, New York for a majority of his forty-six years, Phillips was a native of Ohio, being born in the town of Geneva on December 7, 1856.  One of seven children born to Robert and Augusta Bartholomew Phillips, Hurlburt removed with his family to Northfield, Minnesota while still a child and attended school in that city.  In 1872 Phillips removed to Jamestown, New York and completed his education at the Jamestown High School
   Following his graduation Phillips entered the business life of Jamestown, joining local farmer Austin Heath in the buying and selling of cattle. In 1883 he entered the employ of a prominent local furniture manufacturer, J.M. Beman, in the firm of Beman, Breed and Phillips, a business which underwent a name change in 1886 to Phillips, Maddox and Company. Their company, located at 22 Steele Street in Jamestown, is notable for being amongst the first "to develop and manufacture the polished wood top table for the parlor and library" and was also acknowledged as having been:
" A pioneer in the 10 or 12 table factories of the present day, which have made Jamestown famous as the most important market in the country for goods of this character."
   In 1887 Hurlburt L. Phillips sold off his interest in the aforementioned company and for a time "went west to engage in business." He returned to Jamestown early in 1888 and in that year joined the Jamestown Lounge Company. This company continued as a co-partnership for one year, and in December 1889 incorporated, with Phillips being made the company's president. Earlier, in February 1888, Phillips had married to Nellie Buchanan (1856-1895). The couple would be married for only seven years, with Nellie dying at age 39 in 1895. Two children would be born to their union, Parmelee (a daughter who died aged 4 in 1894) and an infant child who died in 1889.
  Under Phillips' stewardship the Jamestown Lounge Company became a producer of high quality upholstered furniture, specializing in hardwood frame lounges, couches, sofa/davenports and "library and living room furniture." The company would experience rapid growth and following Phillips' death in 1903 continued to expand, and was profiled in the 1918 Furniture Manufacturer and Artisan as being:
"Rated with the largest and most important manufacturers of upholstered furniture in the United States, and there are only two or three factories in the country with a larger output; perhaps none specializing strictly on living room and library furniture."
Portrait from the Jamestown Evening Journal Trade edition, 1895.

   Active in a number of other business ventures both local to and outside the Jamestown area, Hurlburt Phillips served as a director of the Union Trust Company and was also affiliated with the Interstate Consolidated Mining Company of Canada, serving as its director. Phillips would also maintain a longstanding connection to both the Jamestown Hose Company and the Jamestown Fire Department, serving as both a foreman and acting chief. 
  Acknowledged as an "active Republican" in Jamestown, Phillips refused to be a candidate for elected office, but this aversion to any potential candidacies didn't stop him from representing New York's 34th district as a delegate to both the 1892 and 1900 Republican National Conventions. During the 1892 convention proceedings Phillips served as an alternate delegate and in 1900 journeyed with the rest of the New York delegation to Philadelphia, where William McKinley was renominated for a second term as President. In addition to his time as a delegate, Phillips was also a member of the Jamestown Board of Education, his dates of service being unknown at this time.
  Phillips continued to actively involved in the business and civic life of Jamestown until shortly before his death. A few weeks prior to passing he had contracted pneumonia, which was later compounded with "articular rheumatism".  Phillips visited New York City in the spring of 1903 and in early May became very ill at the Hotel Victoria. Despite having only days to live, Phillips' married on his deathbed to Mary Lamberton, to whom he was engaged to be married the following month. Two days following his marriage Hurlburt Phillips died at the Hotel Victoria. Just 46 years old at the time of his death, Phillips' passing was acknowledged as a "distinct loss" to the Jamestown community, and he was later interred beneath a modest headstone at Lakeview Cemetery.
  As Mr. Phillips is buried locally, his gravestone wasn't that difficult to locate when it came time to search for it! Also interred in the Phillips family plot are Nellie Phillips and the couple's two children.  



The graves of Hurlburt and Nellie Phillips.

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