CALVIN S BRICE was born in Denmark, Sept. 17, 1845. His wife was born at Mansfield, Ohio, Aug. 15, 1843. Their children are Stewart Meily, Helen Olivia, Margaret Catharine and Thomas Kirkpatrick Brice. Mrs. Brice was Olivia M., daughter of John Henry Meily and Catharine (Fisher) Meily. Mr. B.'s parents are Wm. Kirkpatrick Brice and Elizabeth (Stewart) Brice.

 

1875 Historical Atlas of Allen County, Ohio by H H Hardesty & Co. Publishers, Chicago.

 


 
One of the leading promoters of our earlier railroads was the late Calvin Stewart Brice, who for many years was identified with Lima's growth and interests, maintaining a home and legal residence in Lima until his death.  For many years Mr. Brice was prominent in the nation as a lawyer, railroad manager and political leader.  He was born at Denmark, Ohio, on September 17, 1845. His father, William Kirkpatrick Brice, was a Presbyterian minister, and his mother was a woman of much intellectual force and charm of character.  The family removed in 1848 to Columbus Grove in Putnam County, Ohio, and there Calvin spent his boyhood to the age of 13 under the home care of his mother and the scholarly instruction of his father. He then entered the preparatory academy of Miami University at Oxford, Ohio.  His studies were interrupted in 1861 by the Civil War, when he enlisted in Captain Dodd's university company, and was stationed at Camp Jackson at the State capital.  In the fall he returned to college only to enlist again the next year in what later became Company A, 86th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, of which Prof.  R. W. McFarland, of Miami University, one of the most noted mathematicians in the United States was captain. He spent the summer of 1862 campaigning in West Virginia and then returned to Miami to be graduated in June, 1863.  He then came to Lima, Ohio, taught for some months in the public schools and was employed in the auditor's office of Allen County.  In July, 1864, he again returned to the war at the head of a company recruited by himself with a commission as captain of Company E, 180th Ohio Volunteer Infantry.  He
served in Virginia, Georgia, Tennessee and the Carolinas until the end of the war, and for meritorious service was appointed lieutenant colonel, but was not mustered in.  In the fall of 1865 Mr. Brice went to Ann Arbor, where he attended lecturers in the law school of the University of Michigan.  The next year he was admitted to practice at the bar and in the United States courts forming at once a partnership with James Irvine at Lima, Ohio, and for a dozen years pursued his profession here with success.  His high character, ability and devotion to the interests of his clients made him deservedly one of the foremost lawyers in the State

Meanwhile he became intensely interested in railroad affairs and at last transferred his activities from his profession to that important business.  His first railroad connection was with the legal department of the old Lake Erie & Louisville road.  He became a stockholder in that road (now known as the Lake Erie & Western) and played a leading part in its development, next undertaking the great " Nickel Plate" enterprise, which he carried through successfully.  This made him a man of wealth and a figure of national importance and interest.  He was thereafter prominently connected with numerous other railroads and was for years one of the most active and efficient factors in the railroad development of the Southern States.

The vast railroad interests of Mr. Brice did not prevent him from entering other fields of investment and development, or from the enjoyment of social relations.  At Lima, he organized and managed the gas light company; re-organized and assumed a controlling interest in the First National Bank of Lima, which institution has ever since ranked as one of the most substantial in Ohio.  Mr. Brice was also identified with the Chase National Bank of New York, and a leading spirit and director of the Southern Trust Company.

His scholarship and interest in education made him a trustee of his alma mater, Miami University, and his generosity, coupled with his love for that grand old school, caused him to contribute largely to its needs, and "Brice Hall," named in his honor, arose upon the beautiful campus of the university.  He was vice- president of the Ohio Society in New York, and of the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity, of which Greek-letter society he remained an honored member till his death.  He was also an active member of the Manhattan, Lotos, Athletic, and other leading clubs of New York City.

During Li Hung Chang's visit to the United States he spent his time asking questions all kinds of questions.  He found in Calvin S. Brice a man who could answer a larger percentage of his questions than anybody else.  In fact, Senator Brice was probably the best informed man, not only in a general way, but as to particular localities, of any man in the country.  Even places that he had never visited he had informed himself about.  Li Hung Chang took a great fancy to Senator Brice and sought his company on every possible occasion.  Being impressed with the railroad development of this country, he sought to interest Senator Brice and did so, the result being that the Senator started out to organize a syndicate to be composed of 50 persons, each of whom should subscribe $5,000 for the purposes of a preliminary survey for a railroad in China.  The Senator did not crowd the subscription question nor did he allot places in the syndicate until after many times the number of men to form the syndicate had indicated a desire to join.  It probably represented the most wealth of any syndicate that was ever organized in this or any other country, embracing a number of London and Paris bankers as well as the leading financial interests of this country.  In a word, it was a syndicate exactly to his liking and choosing.  Its formation gave him as great pleasure as any one thing of the later years of his life and its prompt carrying into completion was prevented first by the death of Senator Brice and later by the death of Li Hung Chang. In the proposition he had Li Hung Chang's endorsement and hearty support and had both lived there would have been no halting in the early completion of this great enterprise in China.  At the time of his death he had quite fully matured plans for a seaboard out-let for the Lake Erie & Western Railroad, diverging at Bluffton over the Northern Ohio, via Akron and Youngstown to the East.

Mr. Brice as an earnest Democrat in Politics and for many years was conspicuous and influential in the councils of his party.  In 1888 he was a delegate at large from Ohio to the Democratic National Convention and as chairman of the campaign committee conducted the campaign of that year and in 1889 was elected chairman of the Democratic National Committee.  His prominence in politics made Mr. Brice the logical choice of his party and he was elected United States Senator from Ohio for the term 1891-97.  In that office he exerted exceptional influence among his associates.  He served on important committees, and was a member of the "steering committee" of his party in the Senate.  His business experience, penetrating quality of mind and cautious and conservative though optimistic temperament make his judgment highly prized and his advice sought. 

Mr. Brice was married in 1869 to Catherine Olivia Meily, a woman of fine intellectual gifts and much charm in social leadership.  He died at New York on December 15, 1898, leaving five children three sons and two daughters.

Mr. Brice commenced life a poor boy, with only a sound constitution, and active,, incisive mind, and genuine brand of American grit.  He knew the value of an education, and he obtained it .  He was not an orator, but no man ever put more common sense or business energy in a five-minute talk; and in 30 minutes at a meeting of railroad directors he would transact business involving the expenditure of millions.  He never failed to answer a letter and to answer it promptly punctuality and directness were rules of his life.  When the writer, of this sketch once asked him to aid a young man in the South who was struggling to a legal competency, but one question was asked, " Is he honest?".   Upon receiving a strong affirmative answer, Mr. Brice turned to his
stenographer, and in one sentence directed work for the young man which gave him a legal prominence which he enjoys to-day.

Mr. Brice never forgot a friend, and in this may be seen the main element of his success.  He had no tie or desire to punish an enemy, if he had one.  When urged not to recognize a man who had vigorously opposed him in a political convention, Mr. Brice replied, "Life is too short," and the gentleman was accorded the same courtesy as any other man in the convention.  He had the power of self-control to a remarkable degree, and when he turned from his office to his home, or his friends, business care was put aside, and there environed by the love of family, in his palatial home, he was delighted by the grace of culture, and the beauty of art, and there his friends were also welcome.  Well may the language of Anthony applied to the noble Brutus, be applied to Him:

His life was gentle; and the elements so mixed in him, that Nature might stand up and say to all the world, "This was a man!"