EDWARD L. DE GARMO, one of the leading dry-goods merchants of Warrensburg, has been engaged in business here for thirty years, and no one stands higher in the respect of his fellow-citizens than he. In a long business career, covering over forty years, during which time (especially during the war, when so many business firms went down) he has passed safely through every panic, he has never assigned, failed in business, or compromised a debt, but has always paid one hundred cents on the dollar. He is a self-made man, having been the architect of his own fortune and having gradually worked his way upward from the humble walks of life by his own worthy characteristics. Some years since he took his two sons into business with him as partners, the firm name now being E. L. De Garmo & Son.
The parents of Edward L. De Garmo were Jacob and Susan (Beardsley) De Garmo, the former born in 1797, in Albany, N. Y., and the latter in Bridgeport, Conn., in 1812. The father was of French extraction, and his father was one of the early settlers on Manhattan Island. Having come to this country with considerable means, he left his son Jacob a goodly inheritance. The latter grew to manhood in Albany and then engaged in the wholesale drug business in his native state. About 1840 the family moved from New York City to Tennessee, where the father engaged in large land speculations, being interested in the development of some property which had a wealth of minerals yet unmined. About three years later he moved to Kentucky, settling at Augusta, and a few years later he went to Louisville, where he passed the remainder of his life. He died while on a visit to a son in Hillsdale, Mich., in 1879. His wife was of English ancestry, and her parents lived in Paterson, N. J. After her husband's death Mrs. De Garmo continued to dwell in Louisville, Ky., until 1888, when she went to California to visit her two sons, and died at Denver, while on her way to Warrensburg, September 23, 1890. She was buried at Louisville, Ky. , while her husband is sleeping his last sleep in the cemetery at Hillsdale, Mich. They were the parents of ten children. John, the eldest, was engaged in business in this city several years, and died in St. Louis in 1887, leaving two children. George, a mechanic, was formerly a manufacturer of nails and iron fences; he is the father of three children, and now lives in Philadelphia. Henry, who was a minister, died in Colorado, whither he had gone for his health; he left one daughter. Cornelia died at the age of twenty-one years. Garrett and William are both living in California, the former being the owner of a fruit farm, and the latter a resident of Los Angeles. Like his elder brother, Henry, Charles is a minister in the Episcopal Church, and has a parish in Philadelphia. Two children died in infancy; and our subject completes the family.
The birth of Edward L. De Garmo occurred in Philadelphia, Pa., September 4, 1831, and his boyhood days were spent at the family residence in New York City. When he was nine years old he went with his parents to Tennessee, where he had but little chance for obtaining an education.
Through the efforts of his father, school was held in an old log building with a dirt floor. Logs served the purpose of seats, a hole in the side of the building admitted the light, and a box of sand answered for a blackboard. When they moved to Augusta, Ky., his opportunities were better and he attended college there for six years, after which he returned to Louisville. Later he went to Vienna, Ind., where, for a short time, he was engaged in the coopering business. He then went to New Albany, Ind., where he engaged to serve an apprenticeship of three years as a cabinetmaker, his father having met with financial reverses.
The first year he received $2.50 per week, the second $3 (out of which he had to pay for his board and clothes), and the third was to receive $5 per week. When about two years had passed he was much surprised one day when his employer came to him and told him that as he had been so faithful he would henceforth allow him journeyman wages. The next day he earned $3 and felt rich indeed. He continued with his employer for another year, after which he went into business for himself with one of his brother apprentices in North Madison, Ind. A year later he took charge of the office and warerooms of Robins & Pindell, wholesale manufacturers of furniture, and during the five years that he was in their employ he managed to save quite a sum of money. In 1856 he moved to Hope, Ind., and
there engaged in general merchandising until the close of the war.
In 1861 Governor Morton requested Mr. De Garmo to enter the secret service of the state, this request coming in response to a letter asking the Governor to commission him as Captain of a company which he had organized and which had elected him to the Captaincy. He acceded to Governor Morton's wishes, and rendered valuable service until peace was declared. No one, not even his wife, knew of it until the war ended. At one time during the Morgan raid his neighbors brought him all their money, $20,000, and valuables to be kept for security in his safe. He did not wish to take the responsibility, but did so upon being urged. Wisely determining not to place them in the safe, however, he marked each roll separately and put them in a large earthen jar and buried it under his house, the
place of burial being known to no one but himself. His safe was robbed, his store set on fire, and his stable, containing a very fine horse, a carriage, sleigh, harness, etc., burned, but the money and valuables were saved, much to the
surprise of those who had entrusted them to his keeping. In the secret servdce he had many exciting experiences. Once he received word that his property was to be burned and he murdered, so he prepared for the parties, but as they became apprised of his movements never came. At one time, in a skirmish with the enemy, he was shot in the forehead, and on another occasion received a sabre cut on the head. In 1865 Mr. De Garmo and his partner came to Warrensburg, bought a lot, and put up the third business house on the south side of Pine Street,
|1883 Sanborn Insurance Map, Warrensburg, Missouri|
|Eureka Woolen Mill, Warrensburg, MO|
stocking it with a general line of merchandise. On Christmas Eve, 1865, a disastrous fire consumed nearly all of the buildings on Pine Street, and our subject and his partner sustained a very heavy loss. Afterward they assisted in
erecting the Eureka Mills,
the first mill constructed in this city after the war, and as soon as they were in running order sold out to other parties. Next they built the storehouse in which Mr. De Garmo now runs a business and put in machinery for the manufacture of woolen goods. This establishment they operated until 1886, when they closed it out, still continuing in the dry-goods business, however. In 1887 our subject bought the farm of two hundred and fifteen acres in this county which he still owns, living upon it over a year for the benefit of his health, when he returned to business in this city. June 14, 1854, at Madison, Ind., Mr. De Garmo married Miss Mary Schmidlap, who has borne him four children, namely: Lewis Edward, Cornelia, Frank and Hettie L, Lewis E., who was born in Madison, Ind., and is now a dry-goods merchant in Chicago, was formerly in business with his father and brother, but wanted to go to a larger city. He was married in that city to Dora Mick, and has one child, Lewis Emniett. Cornelia, born in Hope, Ind., married J. W. Suddath, whose sketch appears elsewhere in this work. Frank, born in the same place, October 9, 1862, was married, October 8, 1890, to Mary E O'Donnell, of Jackson County, Mo. She is also a native of Indiana, her birth having occurred September 5, 1864, and by her marriage became the mother of two children: Mary Cora, born August 28, 1891, and Margaret Frances, August 1, 1893. Lewis E. and Frank De Garmo were employed in the woolen-mills until the business was closed out, when they became identified in business with their father. Both sons were educated in the State Normal at Warrensburg, and Frank's wife was one of the teachers in that institution for four or five years. Hettie, also born in Hope, Ind. married Emmett Mick, of Chicago, general salesman for Carson, Pirie, Scott & Co., and they have one child, Louise. Mrs. De Garmo' s parents, Caleb and Sarah Schmidlap, were of German ancestry and birth, but came to this country when quite young. After a time they established a grocery and bakery business in Madison, Ind., and by industry and frugality saved a sufficient amount of money to enable them to retire from business entirely. They lived in their beautiful home, comfortably and happily, for many years, and reared a family of ten children. In religious belief they were Methodists, and in that faith they trained their children. "Father" Schmidlap (for by that title he was familiarly called) was a Master Mason and active in that fraternity. He died some years ago at eighty years of age and was buried at Madison, Ind. The mother is living in Warrensburg with her daughter Mary, and though eighty-nine years old, is hearty and strong, and is passing her declining years in the midst of plenty and comfort. Of her children, six are living, all well-to-do and prosperous. In 1852 Edward De Garmo cast his first Presidential ballot for General Scott, and has ever since voted the straight Republican Presidential ticket. He has served on the City Council two terms, and has been a member of the School Board for a like
period. Besides being instrumental in building the new Presbyterian Church of this city, he also took an active part in getting the normal school
placed here. In 1866 he and his wife joined the Presbyterian Church of this city. He had been reared in the Episcopal faith, to which his mother adhered, and his wife was formerly a Methodist. He has been Sunday-school teacher and Superintendent, and an Elder in the church for many years, and has represented the church in the Presbytery and Synod many times, also in the General Assembly, the highest position a layman can hold. For years he was one of the main supporters of the church, with which his children are also identified, and for many years they were faithful workers and teachers in church and Sunday school, as was also Mrs. De Garmo.
|Edward L. DeGarmo, Mary A. DeGarmo, Warrensburg, MO|
Sunset Hill Cemetery