Wednesday, June 26, 2013

David Sinton, born June 26, 1808

David Sinton was born in County Armagh, Ireland, the son of Quaker linen manufacturer John Sinton, of Unshinagh, and Mary McDonnell.  John Sinton  was a cousin of Irish Quaker industrialist brothers, Thomas and John Sinton.  Thomas Sinton made a significant impact upon the Irish linen trade, establishing the village of  Laurelvale in County Armagh.   The Sintons, like so many of Northern Ireland's linen families were Quakers.  

County Armagh, Ireland
John Sinton sailed with his family on a nine-week voyage to America in 1811, and settled at  Pittsburgh, when David was three years old.  He partnered in merchandising with a brother-in-law; the following year, the partnership was dissolved, and John Sinton moved to West Union, Ohio.  He sold goods there from 1812 to 1825, at which time he closed out his business at auction.

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
David left West Union in 1822, when he was 14 years old, and went to Sinking Springs in Highland County, Ohio.  There he went into the employment of James McCague, who kept a tavern and a country store, and remained at that place two years. McCague had a branch store at Dunbarton, Ohio, three miles south of Peebles; David was 16 years old when he went to keep store at Dunbarton.  McCague was a drinking man, and his wife and David attended to all the business. Sinton later said that the sales in the branch store at Dunbarton were principally whiskey; on Saturdays, the furnace hands from the Brush Creek Forge, Steam Furnace and Marble Furnace, gathered at Dunbarton, and got drunk. 

David Sinton went to Cincinnati in 1824 and went to work as a laborer. He put up twenty tons of bar iron from Pittsburgh, and placed barrels of sugar in lofts. He had a difficulty with a fellow-laborer in the same house, and later said: "I went to Mr. Adams, and asked him to discharge the other man. He refused to do so, and I discharged myself."

Disgusted with Cincinnati, he went home to West Union. James McCague asked him to return to Sinking Springs, and he worked for him for the following two years at eight dollars per month.

He decided he wanted to be a capitalist, and went into partnership with a Methodist preacher: they bought a still-house for one hundred and fifty dollars. David ran the still until he paid his debts, and then being ashamed of the business, he sold out. 

David had one older brother, William, who became a physician, but died in 1831 at the age of 27.  He also had two sisters: Isabella Eliza, who never left Ireland, and Sarah, who married John Sparks, an Ohio banker.  

He went to Cincinnati again and opened a commission house for John Sparks, his brother-in-law, and Daniel Boyle, of West Union.  It was not successful, and the house was closed in six months. David then went to Washington Court House, Ohio, to take change of a store for a Dr. Boyd; he remained there for six months at twenty-five dollars per month, until he received an offer for higher pay.  He went to Union Furnace Landing where he kept store and sold pig iron for John Sparks & Company for the next three years. 

David Sinton was 53 years old when the Civil War began.

Union Furnace and Village
Lawrence County, Ohio
In 1829, Sinton became manager of the furnace at four hundred dollars per year, when other furnaces were paying one thousand dollars per year for the same service. Union Furnace had cost seven thousand dollars, but was much in debt. Sinton made the furnace put out five hundred tons of iron per year, and made it pay dividends. 

Sinton became ill with cholera at Union Landing in 1833, at the time his sister, Sarah Sinton Sparks, died of it.  He nearly died at the same time.

Their father died at West Union, Ohio, Sunday, June 28, 1835, at the age of seventy-one, of cholera.  There were seven other deaths from cholera that day in West Union.  David Sinton was at Union Landing, and was notified by messenger.  The custom at the time in cholera cases was to bury the deceased the same day they died.  When Sinton reached West Union, his father had been buried for two days. 

Sinton wanted to push the business he worked for: he leased the furnace at a rental of five thousand dollars per year for five years. The stack fell down, and the bars gave out. While rebuilding the stack, he bought great quantities of wood, and had it stored about the furnace. Before the stack was rebuilt, the wood caught fire and was all consumed. Sinton was then twenty-eight years of age, and financially broken up. He had been up three days and nights fighting fire, and was utterly discouraged. He thought he would go to Mexico, but lay down and slept eighteen consecutive hours. The men who had brought in the wood, and worked at the furnace, wanted their money. Sinton professed his ability to pay, and the men were paid as they came up, in as small bills.  After the furnace started up, Sinton sold iron at thirty-five dollars per ton, which he made at a cost of ten dollars per ton. At that time the furnace made six tons per day. 

Sinton built Ohio Furnace during his lease on Union Furnace. It made ten tons per day, and Sinton ran it for a year before his lease terminated on Union Furnace. Union Furnace was then put and sold in partition, and Sinton and Thomas W. Means bought it in 1837.  They then owned and ran both Ohio and Union furnaces.

Thomas W. Means
Sinton married Jane Ellison, the sister of the wife of his partner, Thomas Means, on July 22, 1846 at Union Landing, Ohio. They had two children, Edward (1848-1869) and Anna Taft (1850-1931).  David Sinton moved his family to Cincinnati in 1849.  He originally had a townhouse at 340 West Fourth Street, which was later torn down to erect an apartment building.
Sinton Flats
Apartment Building
Downtown Cincinnati
Jane Sinton died in 1853, at the age of 27, in Manchester, Ohio. She was buried in the family plot at the Presbyterian churchyard there. David Sinton never remarried.

Grave of Jane Ellison Sinton
Manchester, Ohio
When the war broke out in 1861 broke out, pig-iron was eighteen dollars per ton, and Sinton had seven thousand tons on hand. Many thought he was ruined, but he held on to that iron until it went up to seventy -five dollars per ton, and then sold it. When iron rose in price, he continued making it, and selling it for cash. During the war, his two furnaces made thirty tons of iron per day for every day they ran.  In 1863, he began putting his money in Cincinnati real estate. 

His son, Edward, died of epilepsy in Hot Springs, Arkansas in 1869.  He was 21 years old.

Baum-Longworth-Sinton-Taft House
His residence in Cincinnati was the old Longworth mansion on Pike street, built by Martin Baum. The Baum-Longworth-Sinton-Taft House, a National Historic Landmark built about 1820 for Martin Baum, is the oldest domestic wooden structure locally and is considered one of the finest examples of Federal architecture in the Palladian style in the country.  Other residents of this mansion included Nicholas Longworth, who extensively redecorated the interiors and hired African American painter Robert S. Duncanson to paint landscape murals in the foyer, now considered as one of the finest suites of domestic murals dating from before the Civil War.
Sculpture of David Sinton
 by Hiram Powers
After Longworth’s residency, the villa with a copper roof was purchased by David Sinton, who lived in it with his daughter, Anna, and her husband.  At the age of 21, Anna Sinton married Charles Phelps Taft in the music room of the mansion on December 3, 1873.  Taft was editor of the Cincinnati Times-Star and brother of William Howard Taft.   

Sculpture of Anna Sinton
 by Hiram Powers
During his lifetime, Sinton was philanthropic in his donations to the arts and the Presbyterian church. He presented $100,000 to the Union Bethel, $33,000 to the Young Men's Christian Association, and $100,000 unconditionally to the University of Cincinnati.

The town of Sinton, Texas was named in his honor, as he was the majority stock holder in Coleman-Fulton Pasture Company. Soon after the San Antonio and Aransas Pass Railway was built through the county in 1886, Colonel George W. Fulton, founder of the Coleman-Fulton Pasture Company, received approval from the board of directors to give 640 acres for the townsite of Sinton on the south bank of Chiltipin Creek.

He died at home on August 31, 1900, at the age of  93.  He was Ohio's richest man at the time.  He left $20,000,000 (the 2011 equivalent of this is $500,000,000) to his daughter.  

Anna Sinton Taft

He was buried in Spring Grove Cemetery in Cincinnati.

Sinton Family Plot
Spring Grove Cemetery
Cincinnati, Ohio
It was said that Sinton money financed William Howard Taft's presidential bid. In 1908, Charles Phelps Taft’s half-brother, William Howard Taft accepted the nomination for U. S. president underneath the house’s portico. 

Charles Phelps Taft
Sinton's home is now the Taft Museum of Art.  The Tafts bequeathed their home and private collection of 690 works of art to the people of Cincinnati in 1927. After extensive remodeling and updating, the Baum-Longworth-Taft House opened as the Taft Museum in 1932.

The Taft Museum
Sinton was the great-grandfather of First World War flying ace David Sinton Ingalls.  

David Sinton Ingalls

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