Old Stock Yard Collectible Stock and Bond CertificatesMarietta and Cincinnati Rail Road Company
Original stock certificate - 1st preferred shares
Issued to and signed by John Mills, one of the railroad's founders and a prominent Ohio businessman (read more below)
1863 - Ohio
2 Revenue stamps attached
Hand signed by president and register
Beautiful certificate with pink underprint and attractive vignettes
More information on John Mills from the Marietta College Library:
John Mills (1795-1882), born in Marietta, was involved in mercantile, banking, and manufacturing businesses his entire life. He was president of the Bank of Marietta from 1824 to 1843, and later president of the Marietta branch of the State bank, director of the Marietta National Bank, and of the First National Bank. His other business pursuits included the Marietta Chair Company, the Marietta Gas Company, and the Marietta & Cincinnati Railroad. Mills was also engaged in many community organizations, and served as a trustee of Marietta College from the time of its establishment.
By the second decade of the 19th century, Cincinnati was hailed the "Queen City of the West." Commerce was bustling along the Ohio River and her tributaries, right down the mighty Mississippi to the Gulf; the Erie Canal connected her to Lake Erie by 1845. By the mid-1820s, railroads were being built in the east at an ever-increasingly rapid pace, many early ones associated with mines and canals, with the first common carriers in the east being built by the 1830s. West of the Appalachian Mountains, visionaries were also building railroads in anticipation of connecting them to the Eastern seaboard by a route more direct than the Great Lakes or Gulf of Mexico. In the mid-1840s, there was still no railroad through the mountains, but several entrepreneurs were building regional carriers, and trying to anticipate where they would connect with the eastern lines.
The Marietta and Cincinnati Railroad was chartered in 1845, originally as the Belpre and Cincinnati. But Marietta won out as the eastern "connecting point," promoted by Willam P. Cutler, grandson of Mannasseh Cutler, nominally President of the railroad. At least four letters in this group are from Cutler. Another supporter was Alphonso Taft, father of William Howard Taft and Secretary of War (for three months), then Attorney General under Grant.
Col. John Mills was a resident of Marietta and one of the founders of the railroad, although he appears to have been a "behind the scenes" partner. Another active advocate was Mills' brother-in-law, Noah Wilson (Mills' wife, Deborah Selden Wilson died in 1842). Besides his involvement with the railroad, Mills was also the President of the Marietta Chair Company and Marietta Gas Company and associated with the First National Bank (from his obituary in the Athens Messenger, Athens, OH, March 23, 1882).
The Marietta and Cincinnati was not the only railroad vying for the eastern connections. In Feb. 1852, before much construction had begun the the road, Noah was in Cincinnati working on the company affairs:
The peculiar state of our Railroad matters as ?? forth by Mr. Cutlers letter received before I left here made it necessary in the opinion of our Board that a Committee consisting of a quorum should come immediately to this city to look to our interests. Cutler, Latham, Madeira, Smart, Beeson, Campbell & ??? are all here trying to get the $150,000 once voted to our Company & with the determination if we cannot obtain it that we will at least defeat the "rival" Company & if in our power prevent them from obtaining it. I think we are making some progress; the present indicators are at least favorable. Last evening we met the directors of the Little Miami Rail Road Co & had a ... talk with them & think we have made a favorable impression & fair matter with them. Monday evening we are to meet the Committee on Roads a& Canals of the City council which consists of sixteen members. On Monday Evg. next our whole matter comes before the City council - in the interregnum we shall do all in our power to make friends in the Council & try to secure favorable action.... June found him in Philadelphia, trying to make arrangements with companies there and back in that city in September arranging financing.
An analysis of early Ohio railroads was published mid-20th century by John Pixton, Jr. In it, he outlines the Marietta and Cincinnati's economic dilemmas and history. He notes that many of the factors which ultimately doomed the line were beyond the understanding and control of the managers, including a national recession, strikes and accidents on the line and a Civil War, but a large factor in pre-war railroads was lack of experience - no one really knew how to estimate operating and construction costs, it was a new industry. At one point Mills received a hastily scribbled letter from Cutler - so hastily written that it has no place or date, but possibly 1854 or '55:
The desperate state of our affairs makes it absolutely necessary that a most vigorous effort should be made at once here & at Greenfield to sell some of our domestic bonds. Mr. Walker & myself are here this evening from Athens to assist in the effort. The Athens $100,000 is completed. You are fully aware of the importance of the stockholders meeting of the Hillsboro Company for election of Directors. There is no way but for you & Mr. Nye to attend to this matter. I must give attention to the matter of raising money if possible here. If you can agree with Keys upon a Board, it would be well to do so at once. I must leave the matter however entirely to yourself.Pixton notes that another unforeseen development was the rise of northern Ohio, and the lines connecting the east with Chicago, leaving Cincinnati and southern Ohio in the backwaters. But Cutler and the others in Ohio were ever optimistic, and believed that even if there were parallel lines east-west through Ohio every 10 miles that they would still be profitable. And although the Marietta & Cincinnati Railroad went into receivership three times, and was ultimately absorbed by the B & O, the old M. & C. line was still the profitable main stem of the B & O through Ohio in the mid-20th century - for all of its failures, the early visionaries were right.
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