THE CASE OF BENJ. RATHBUN THE STORY OF A FAMOUS BUILDER OF BUFFALO,WHO

SERVED FIVE YEARS IN STATE'S PRISON FOR

FORGERY, AS TOLD BY HIMSELF.

Transcribed by the Buffalo Historical Society. 1913.

It is generally known in Buffalo that my business transactions have been of an immense amount and various in their character. Extensively engaged in the building business in all its various branches, the improving of real estate, merchandising on a corresponding scale, dealing in lands, manufacturing railroad cars, post coaches and pleasure carriages in all their variety, running various lines of stages and omnibuses and many other minor branches of business, it became absolutely necessary to appoint an agent or overseer to each respective department, my own time being continually occupied in devising and carrying out extended plans of improvement and superintending the various works I had in progress. My financial operations were of necessity constant and heavy in their amount, and bring constantly employed both in body and mind in my out-door operations, it necessarily forced the entice management of all my pecuniary transactions into the hands of another.

For some years, my only brother, Lyman Rathbun, has been my confidential agent and cashier. From his long experience in that branch of my business the skill and management he had exercised in conducting it in all its varieties through the change and pressures of times had not only gained my entire confidence, but I have reason to believe he had the confidence of all those who have moneyed transactions with him, that he possessed extraordinary financial powers.

So confident was of his superior utility to myself in his management of that tart of the concern that I had for a long period of time given up the entire direction, control and management of all my finances to him. I never interfered with the management and for a hung time have not written any letters to my agents on money matters but what were dictated by him, and in all such vases have followed his advice and direction, for he had so entirely the control of that part of the business that I seldom knew when, where, or how funds were raised, and never when payments were due, but from him.

I furnished him my signature in blank on notes, drafts and checks, in all the variety of forms both as drawer and endorser, and in addition to which he had a full power of attorney to sign my name and transact all manner of business for me.

He had in his employment and under his immediate and exclusive control his two nephews, Rathbun Allen and Lyman Rathbun Howlet both of whom were hired by him, and by his particular request were taken tinder his immediate and exclusive control. These two young men were constantly in his employ, while other clerks were sometimes called to his aid in many of his outdoor money transactions. My name being furnished in blank in all the variety of forms necessary for his use. He in all instances procured the necessary endorsements. I left the entire management to him. So completely had he time control of all my financial concerns, as well as of my confidence, that I did not know anything in detail or the amount of my liabilities until since the failure, nor do I even now know the foil extent, having no opportunity of getting at the facts.

The management of the other branches if my business was also entrusted to agents of respectability and in whom I had the most entire confidence.

James DeLong was my general agent in all outdoor operations, to make contracts, collect the payments on contracts, and a general superintendent of all outdoor affairs. Samuel Haines, a general agent and overseer of the mechanical part of the building operations, each branch having its respective foreman. W. S. Gardner and J. W. Thwaites, architects. W. F. Wright, A. Hemstreet, 0. Stickney, W.W.. Mason, J. Phelps, C. Talmage and A. Phelps, foremen carpenters. A. Loomis, C. G. Howel, T. Young, W. Brewster, A. Sweet, G. Williams, W. B. Olmstead, B. Hopkins, S. Hobert and C. M. Russell, foremen joiners. D. Canfleld, superintendent of mason work. R. Demsey, T. Demsey, F. Singer, R. Sour, foremen stone masons. G. Phillips, N. Jones, H. Rumrill, R. Gorham, S. Gorham, B. Gorhasn, T. B. Tilden, D. Moon, T. Phillips and H. Cummings, foremen brick masons. J. Mantling. Superintendent of flagging and paving. J. Scott, overseer and bead foreman of plastering and stucco corniching in all its various branches. W. Creery, foreman plastering and corniching. E. Lee, overseer and head foreman of the stone cutting business in all its various branches-contractor and measurer of cut stone, etc. J. McEntire, foreman of stone-cutters' shop. R. G. Buchanan, overseer and head foreman of house painting and glazing, with other foremen under him. A. Gardner, superintendent of steam engine and fore- man at machinery. G. W. Platt, foreman tinning roofs, copper gutters, conductors. etc. H. S. Chamberlain and J. Fairchild, foremen black- smiths. T. S. Rainey, foreman of all horse shoeing. A. Hawkinss, foreman boat builder.

0. H. Willis, agent for purchase of lumber, superin- tendent of lumber yard, receiver of lumber from vessels, boats, etc. N. R. Woodruff, measurer of lumber. J. M. Rease, superintendent of canal and river boats and delivering building materials to the different foremen. L. Kimball, purchaser of lumber at stores and in streets as it comes to market. B. Smith, superintendent the delivery of supplies to the various foremen of the different branches-receiver and measurer of building stone, etc., etc. E. J. Weeks, warehouse clerk. R. H. Best, general overseer of all the teaming depart- ment in all its varieties. S. Holden, overseer of brick yards. Geo. Martin Rose. superintendent of stone quarry and general overseer of all the laborers. Nicholas Ketz, Francis Safford and Lawrence Young, foremen laborers.

J. E. Haddock, clerk to take amount of all laborers' time every day and give each a certificate of their time every week, which certificate was presented to time paymaster and entered in a pass hook, one of which was required to be kept by each and every mechanic and laborer, in which was entered his debit and credit every week. That hook always showing the balance (if any) due the holder, and that hook was a sufficient order and authority for any clerk to pay goods to the amount due the owner. (The cash always paid by the paymaster.) These hooks were very important, as they served as a cheek to overdrawing and in fact as im- portant to both parties as a hank hook is for the customer of a bank where frequent deposits are made ... Continued here

-Source: Severance, Franh, H. Ed. Buffalo Historical Society Publications Volume Seventeen. 1914. Union and Times Press. Buffalo.

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BENJAMIN RATHBUN THE STORY OF A FAMOUS BUILDER OF BUFFALO

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