Pulaski County

Biography - Oscar Bartlett

OSCAR L. BARTLETT. In the ten years of his residence in Mound City, Illinois, Oscar L. Bartlett has, from a small beginning in the manufacturing business, steadily upbuilt his factories and enlarged the scope of his operations until he is now recognized as one of the leading manufacturers of his product (that of hoops, paper plugs and meat blocks) in the United States today.

Oscar L. Bartlett was born in Delaware county, Indiana, April 20, 1865, and is a son of William T. Bartlett and a grandson of Elisha Bartlett, the father of William Bartlett. Elisha Bartlett was originally a native of Virginia, and as a young man he moved into Albany, Indiana, where he settled and spent the remainder of his life and finally passed away at the home which he had established and maintained there. He was the husband of Mary Strong, and William T. Bartlett was their first child. They were the parents of nine children in all, the others being: James, Reuben, John, Calvin, George, Flora, (the wife of Abram Cline), Elizabeth and Minnie (who was the wife of Hal Wolverton at the time of her demise).

William T. Bartlett was born on November 3, 1844, and he lived the quiet life of the country boy at their farm home near Albany, receiving only such education as the public schools of their district afforded. In early manhood he bought a farm in Delaware county, Indiana, and on this place he spent his life. He was a quiet, unpretentious man, a good citizen, and always a valuable friend and neighbor. He was drawn for service in the Federal army during the last year of the Civil war and reported for duty, but was furloughed home until called for. By some oversight, he was never notified to report, and technically speaking was in the employ of the Government until the day of his death, a peculiar circumstance and of exceeding rare occurrence.

While still a very young man Mr. Bartlett married Dorothy Bales, a daughter of a well known farmer of the Albany district. She was born October 25, 1845, being but little more than a year her husband's junior, and she died at the family home December 22, 1879. Their union was blessed with four children. They were: Oscar L., of whom we write; Mary Wilday, who became the wife of B. F. Houseman and now resides in Dunkirk, Indiana; Nina Bessie, who wedded Charles Clark; and Tina Bessie, a twin of the former, who married Charles Barnes, and the two families are also residents of Dunkirk. William Bartlett passed away at the family home on July 25, 1903, having survived his wife by twenty-four years.

Oscar Bartlett received in his youth such advantages as were made possible by attendance upon the district schools of his locality. As a youth he spent some time at work in the logging district, where he learned something of the business, and it was there he conceived the idea of establishing himself in the milling industry. When, after a few years, he saw an opportunity to get into the milling business, in a small way, he readily embraced it, and his first enterprise in that line was the establishment of a hoop factory at Eaton, Indiana. He devoted his time to this business between 1892 and 1894, after which he transferred his operations to Muncie, Indiana, and added the process of heading to his hoop manufactory. This plant he conducted, exclusive of other interests, until 1901. His practical experience by this time was such that he was emboldened to enlarge the field of his operations, and in the year 1901 he established his hoop factory in Mound City. The industry has grown steadily from its inception, so that today his hoop mill has a capacity of fourteen millions of hoops annually, and is without any exception the largest plant of its kind in the United States. The products of his factories are now entering into the export trade of the country, and butchers in many European countries carve their steaks upon a sycamore meat-block made in the Bartlett plant in Mound City, Illinois. It is an established fact that his factory supplies three-fourths of all the meat-blocks used in the United States today, and it would be a difficult feat to find a township in this broad land which does not make daily use of at least one butcher's block from the plant of Oscar Bartlett. His paper plugs, which department he has added in recent years, supplies plugs to multitudinous paper mills in the United States, and twenty millions of them are annually placed upon the market. The combined industries of the Bartlett plant provides a market for a goodly amount of both skilled and common labor, and the payroll of the Bartlett interests is no small item in Mound City.

Mr. Bartlett was married February 5, 1887, at Muncie, Indiana, to Miss Viola Brandt, daughter of the late David Brandt, an Eaton, Indiana, merchant of repute, and Susan (Ashenfelter) Brandt, both of German extraction. Mr. and Mrs. Brandt were the parents of three children, Mrs. Louie Peterson, William Brandt, and Viola, now Mrs. Bartlett. The only child of Mr. and Mrs. Bartlett is a daughter, Lurleane, now the wife of W. L. Harris, a cotton merchant in New York city, and one daughter, Eleanor Lurleane, is the issue of that union.

Mr. Bartlett is not a man who has displayed any marked interest in civic affairs, which is no doubt due for the most part to the necessarily temporary residence at various points which his scattered business interests have until recent years enjoined upon him. However, his operations in the industrial sphere make him a valuable factor in any municipality which is so fortunate as to hold any of his varied interests, and Mound City owes a deal of her growth and advancement to the industry of which Oscar L. Bartlett is the head.

Mr. Bartlett is a member of the Knights Templar in Masonry but beyond that he has no especial fraternal interests. His political inclinations are always in accordance with the demands of the moment, independent of party interests.

Extracted from 1912 A History of Southern Illinois, volume 2, pages 632-633.

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