John Caulfield

Page 456-457 - John Caulfield was one of the sterling and honored pioneer citizens of Grand Rapids at the time of his death, which here occurred on the 19th of January, 1919, after he had here maintained his home more than sixty years. Mr. Caulfield was born at Hilltown, near Rosstrevor, a picturesque and popular seaside resort in County Down, Ireland, and the date of his nativity was December 25, 1838. His early education was obtained in the national schools of his native district, and at the age of fifteen years, after having successfully passed the required examination before the government school inspectors, he was promoted to a well-ordered private school on the estate of Lord Roden, where he continued his studies some time. As a youth Mr. Caulfield became imbued with an ambition to enter mercantile pursuits, and for a time he was connected with a large grocery establishment in Newry. In 1857 he embarked on the sailing vessel "John C. Calhoun" and thus found transportation to the port of New York City, whence he came forthwith to Grand Rapids and found a position in the wholesale and retail grocery establishment of George W. Waterman, one of the prominent pioneer merchants of the little village that was destined to become the second city of Michigan. With this concern Mr. Caulfield continued his connection until 1864, when he entered into partnership with John Clancy and engaged independently in the wholesale and retail grocery trade. A year later Mr. Clancy, who had extensive lumbering interests, retired from the firm, and thereafter Mr. Caulfield individually continued the business with marked success, his ability and discrimination having enabled him to meet and weather various financial storms. In 1869 he purchased the old Collins Hall building, at the corner of Canal and Erie streets, and changed the title of the same to Empire Hall. In this building, which contained one of the leading public auditoriums of the city at that time, he installed his grocery business, which he there continued until the store and stock were destroyed by fire, in 1871. He soon resumed his business operations, however, and he continued successfully in the wholesale grocery business until 1886, when he sold he same and turned his attention to directing his other and varied capitalistic interests, largely represented in real estate holdings and exploitation. His son, John J., eventually became associated with him in the extensive real estate business, and the subject of this memoir became one of the heaviest real estate owners in Grand Rapids and vicinity, he having platted and developed many of the important subdivisions of the city and having become one of the influential figures in financial affairs in his home city and county. His political allegiance was given to the Democratic party and he and his wife were lifelong communicants of the Catholic church. On the 14th of February, 1864, was solemnized the marriage of Mr. Caulfield to Miss Esther Egan, of Cascade, Kent county, and they became the parents of seven children, two sons and five daughters, including Mrs. Anna Caulfield McKnight, of whom specific mention is made elsewhere in this publication. The other children are Mrs. Joseph Kirwin, Mrs. Bertrand F. Lichtenberger, Miss Marie Caulfield, Miss Agnes Caulfield, George and John J. Caulfield.

Transcriber: Nancy Myers
Created: 5 May 2004