Biographies of Buchanan County Residents:
George W. Buell
Transcribed by Danielle Thompson
the History of Buchanan County and the City of St Joseph and Representative
GEORGE W. BUELL. Prominent among the energetic and successful businessmen of St. Joseph, was the late George W. Buell, for many years president of the Buell Manufacturing Company of this city and who, during all his life, was identified with the milling industry. Mr. Buell was born in Rodman, Jefferson County, New York, and died at St. Joseph, Missouri, July 4, 1900.
His father, Norman Buell, was born in Rodman, New York, April 25, 1806, and was descended through a long line of ancestors from William Buell who came to America in the early part of the 17th century from Chesterton, Huntingdonshire, England, and settled in Dorchester, Massachusetts, from which place he removed to Windsor, Connecticut. His oldest child was Samuel Buell, who was born at Windsor and lived subsequently at Killingworth, Connecticut. Samuel Buell’s oldest child was Samuel of Killingworth, whose 11th child was Joseph of Killingworth and Somers, Connecticut, and later of Newport, New Hampshire, and Orwell, Vermont. Joseph Buell’s oldest child was Matthew Buell, whose places of residence are given as being the same as his father’s. When the news reached Somers, Connecticut, that there bad been fighting at Lexington, Matthew Buell hastened to the scene of action. He is said to have been the last man to leave the field after the battle of Bunker Hill. He held a commission as lieutenant and served three years in the war. Lieutenant Buell’s eldest child was Matthew Buell, who was born in Newport, New Hampshire, and later lived in Somers, Connecticut, where his eldest son, John, the grandfather of our subject, was born, and from which town he removed to Rodman, New York.
Our subject’s father was a manufacturer of woolens in Illinois, and in his father’s mill George learned the business, becoming a master of the details of woolen manufacturing at an early age.
In 1848 the family removed to St. Joseph, Missouri, and here our subject soon started a small sawmill, which he located on Blacksnake Creek. Later he removed to Weston, Missouri, where he engaged in flour milling. This, however, did not agree with his health and he returned to S. Joseph where he started a woolen mill on the site of his old sawmill. From the beginning this business prospered and as a natural consequence rapidly developed, his operations showing a profit of from $11,000 to $29,000 per annum.
In 1877 at the solicitation of John S. LEMON (who had come into possession of a small woolen mill at Blue Rapids, Kansas) and others, our subject joined with them in the incorporation of the Buell Manufacturing Company, of which he became president, holding the office until the time of his death. Though Mr. Buell was handicapped in many ways by the other directors, under his skillful management the plant became the largest of the kind in the West. It now has a capital stock of $200,000. Its product of blankets, robes and flannels is sold in every State and Territory of the Union, even to Alaska where prior to Mr. Buell’s death a large trade had been established. The wool used in this mill is nearly all grown in Missouri, of which 1,000,000 pounds are used annually. They keep 175 hands employed, their pay roll amounting to about $5, 5000 a month, much of which goes to swell the prosperity of St. Joseph. Their annual production has reached more than $250,00 per annum. In 1882 Mr. Buell authorized the erection of the present fine plant, which including the improved machinery which was introduced reached a cost of $250,000. It covers 17 acres of land, and is one of the great industries to which St. Joseph points with pride, as having grown up within her own borders through the energy of home endeavor. From 1860 until his death 40 years later, Mr. Buell was the head and front of this great enterprise, its main directing spirit, and to him its wonderful development was due.
The late Mr. Buell was twice married; first to Juliet BANCROFT, who was born in Clay County, Missouri, and who was a niece of George Bancroft, the historian. She died in 1871, leaving a family of six children: Adelaide, wife of N.W. SHERMAN of Chicago; William Norman, of Gilman, Colorado; John Oliver, of St. Joseph; Florence N., wife of E. V. RILEY of Chicago; Benjamin Bancroft, of San Francisco; and Mattie May, wife of Charles MILLER of Chicago. On September 8, 1875, Mr. Buell was married to the lady who still survives him with two children: Juliet, wife of Francis McCORD of St. Joseph; and George W., Jr., of San Francisco. Mrs. Buell was formerly Clara Ellen MAPSTONE, the second daughter of Richard Mapstone, a native of Bristol, England, and for a long period a prominent real estate dealer in St. Joseph. Mrs. Buell was born in Michigan. Her pleasant home in St. Joseph is situated at No. 730 North 22nd street.
In addition to his large manufacturing interests, the late Mr. Buell was interested in other business enterprises in association with such prominent men as J. W. BAILEY, John S. LEMON and W. N. BUELL. He was not only a man of great business ability, but was also a broadminded, public-spirited citizen, one who was universally esteemed in St. Joseph. For more than 30 years, the old Buell home at 10th and Charles streets was noted for its lavish hospitality and was the scene of many delightful entertainment’s. He was a 32rd degree Mason, being a member of all the Masonic bodies in St. Joseph. He was a man of charitable impulses and gave largely to the First Baptist Church, of which he was a consistent member and of which he has been an official for 24 years.