RUMSEY, LIGHTNER & CO.,
226 LA SALLE ST. CHICAGO.
JUN 10 1899
RUMSEY, LIGHTNER & CO.
Members of the Chicago Board of Trade from Rumsey, Lightner & Company included:
#1363 Israel P. Rumsey
#2181 Frank P. Schmitt
#394 Frederick Dickinson
From A History of the City of Chicago: Its Men and Institutions, 1905:
Rumsey, Lightner & Co., commission merchants, was organized in 1892 by Israel P. Rumsey, M. C. Lightner and F. P. Schmitt. Mr. Rumsey, the senior member, has been in the commission business in Chicago continuously since 1866, excepting about two years. between 1889 and 1892, and has been at various times the head of different firms, some of which have done the largest flour and grain receiving business on the Board of Trade. Mr. Lightner died in 1895, and Frederick Dickinson was admitted to the firm, and Mr. Lightner's interest purchased. The firm is doing a strictly commission business, receiving grain, flour and seeds from Western shippers, and also buying and shipping for Eastern mills and grain men on a commission basis. Connected with the business is the buying and selling for future delivery, which enters largely into the Board of Trade commission business. The city offices of the firm are at 226 La Salle street, in addition to which they operate branch offices of Minneapolis, Milwaukee and Peoria.
Israel Parsons Rumsey, of the firm of Rumsey, Lightner & Co., commission merchants, was born February 9, 1836, in the town of Stafford, New York, the son of a Genesee County farmer. At the age of seventeen, after an academic education, he was placed in the wholesale and retail dry goods store of Howard & Whitcomb of Buffalo, New York, at the meager salary of $25 and board for the first year. He remained in Buffalo until 1857, when he celebrated his majority by going as far West as Keokuk, Iowa, where he obtained a situation in April of that year. It was about this time that whole armies of young men were coming West. Seeking employment, and failing to find it, the greater number of them returned to their Eastern homes.
Rumsey, however, determined never to "take the back track," as it was called, and upon the failure of the firm that had employed him, he bought the delivery route of the principal daily paper of Keokuk, "The Gate City," and went to delivering papers, working thereat from one o'clock in the morning until seven. It was not long, however, before he was called back to the same store at much advanced wages, and at the same time being made the acting proprietor, or agent, of the party who purchased the stock, in which capacity his former employers found themselves as clerks under his charge.
Here he remained until the spring of 1858, when he was ordered to move the stock to Chicago. This change brought him to the city which has since been his business home. He obtained a situation in the fall of 1858 with the grain and provision house of Flint & Wheeler, one of the largest receiving houses in the city. He made rapid progress in mastering the position of salesman, and in 1860, when Flint & Wheeler changed their business more into the line of banking and exchange, they gave much assistance to Mr. Rumsey's first commission firm, which was organized under the name of Finley, Hoyt & Rumsey.
Mr. Rumsey was fairly well established in the commission business, and rapidly making a name for himself, when the Civil war broke out. His patriotism would not allow business prosperity to keep him from giving his services for the suppression of the Rebellion. His forefathers had fought for their country in 1776 and in 1812. Rumsey felt it was a duty he owed his country to fight for it in '61, and in April of that year he helped to organize "Taylor's Chicago Battery," which Was mustered into the United States service July 16, 1861, as Company B, First Illinois Light Artillery: Mr. Rumsey was elected its junior second lieutenant.
The battery left Chicago for Cairo in May, 1861, and was camped at Bird's Point, Missouri, during the fall of '61, and Rumsey's first engagement was in the battle of Belmont, Missouri, on November 7. of that year, which was General U. S. Grant's first battle of the Rebellion. Grant's army was organized for the Tennessee camp in February, 1862, Mr. Rumsey was assigned to the Second Brigade of General John A. McClernand's division, and was acting assistant adjutant-general for General W. H. S. Wallace during the campaign, until reaching Shiloh, Tennessee, which included the battles of Fort Henry and Fort Donelson. On April 3, 1862, General W. H. L. Wallace was assigned to the command of the Second Division of General Grant's army at Shiloh (known as General C. F. Smith's division), and Mr. Rumsey was retained on General Wallace's personal staff, he being such a favorite of the general's that the latter kept him close to him and even insisted on their lying under the same blankets.
Late in the afternoon of the memorable day of April 6, 1862, General Wallace fell mortally wounded, and his body lay upon the field of carnage all night. Mr. Rumsey was detailed among those to accompany the remains to Ottawa, Illinois, where they were interred, and upon his return to his battery found that he had been promoted during his absence to the rank of senior second lieutenant. The battery was assigned to General W. T. Sheman's division, just before the battle of Shiloh, and remained in the same Second Division, Fifteenth Army Corps, until July, 1864. During this time Lieutenant Rumsey took part in all the battles and marches of that most active and reliable division of Sherman's Army of the Tennessee, and "which was never whipped," from Shiloh, Tennessee, April, 1862, to Atlanta, Georgia, July, 1864, and which included the siege of Corinth, battles of Chickasaw Bayou, Arkansas Post, siege of Vicksburg, Jackson, Louisiana, the movement of General Sherman's army from Vicksburg to Memphis by boats, the march from Memphis to Chattanooga, Tennessee, Mission Ridge, General Sherman's march to relief of Burnside at Knoxville, and the campaign to Atlanta. During the siege of Vicksburg he was again promoted from senior second lieutenant to captain of the battery.
Captain Rumsey returned from the war in the fall of 1864, and entered into the flour brokerage business with his brother, John W. Rumsey, whose enlistment in Battery A had just expired, under the name of I. P. & J. W. Rumsey. Two years later they entered upon the receiving of flour, later adding grain, and the firm name was changed to Rumsey, Williams & Co. The name has been changed several times. The next change was to I. P. Rumsey & Co., then to Rumsey & Walker, then to Rumsey & Buell, in all of which firms Mr. Rumsey remained at the head, and continued so until 1889, when he sold his interest to Messrs. A. C. Buell and James Templeton, and retired from the Board of Trade.
This retirement, however, was but temporary, for after two years of engaging in the manufacturing business, his losses convinced him that the saying still held good, and that "old men should not change their business." He accordingly reentered the commission business, in 1892, organizing the firm of Rumsey, Lightner & Co., which still exists under the present title, although Mr. Lightner died in 1895.
Mr. Rumsey is a large stockholder in, and vice-president of, the Cleveland Grain Company of Cleveland, Ohio. This company controls and owns several elevators on the "Big Four" Railroad, that at Cleveland
holding over half a million bushels of grain and doing a business of over $2,000,000 a year.
Mr. Rumsey has at times been quite active in local politics. He organized the campaign for high license in Eugene Cary's run against Carter H. Harrison for mayor of Chicago, the outcome of which was the increase of the liquor license from $100 to $500, and which yields the city over $3,000,000 annually. Mr. Rumsey was a power in the politics of the Fourth Ward, where he resided. He was instrumental in nominating S. D. Foss for alderman on the Independent ticket some years ago, and was made chairman of the campaign committee which carried Foss to victory, much to the surprise of the Republican party, which was especially
strong in that ward. The election of O.O.Wetherell on the Independent ticket, against both party nominees, is another example of Mr. Rumsey's enthusiastic work in local politics. He has been closely identified with "The Citizens' League for the suppression of the sale of liquor to minors and drunkards;" since its organization in 1877, and its president since the death of its first president, Mr. F. F. Elmendorf, in 1883. The history of this league is phenomenal.
Mr. Rumsey was on a number of important committees and active in the preliminary work of securing the World's Fair for Chicago. In this connection he made several visits to other states, and was sent to Washington to look after the expenses there, as the motto of the finance committee was "A million for success, but not a dollar for boodle."
He is prominent in Presbyterian church life and work, and was for eight years one of the board of managers of the Presbyterian Hospital. He is a trustee of the Presbyterian League, chairman of the finance committee that raised the money to build the Grace Presbyterian and Sixth Presbyterian churches, in which he was for many years an elder. He is also identified with the Loyal Legion and Thomas Post, No. 5, of the Grand Army, also a member of the Union League Club.