Harvey J. Hollister

Harvey J. Hollister. No publication purporting to give consideration and recognition to those who have been leaders in financial, industrial and general civic affairs in Michigan, and more especially in the city of Grand Rapids, can maintain its functional consistency if there is failure to accord a tribute of special honor to the late Harvey J. Hollister, whose gracious personality and large and worthy achievement made him one of the most honored and popular, as well as most influential citizens of Grand Rapids, where his death occurred September 24, 1909. Harvey J. Hollister was not only a native son of Michigan but was born here about seven years prior to the admission of the state to the Union, his parents having been numbered among the sterling territorial pioneers of Macomb county. At Romeo, that county, a place that was then a typical new England village planted on the western frontier, Harvey J. Hollister was born August 29, `1830. He was a son of Colonel John Bentley Hollister, a pioneer surveyor in Michigan Territory. Colonel Hollister was a descendant of Lieut. John Hollister, who came from England and settled in Wethersfield, Hartford county, Connecticut, in 1642. Upon coming with his family to Michigan Territory, Colonel Hollister settled at Romeo, Macomb county, and there he died when his son, Harvey J., was little more than a boy, the other two children to survive the honored father having been the son, John H., and the daughter, Jeanette. The widowed mother likewise was a resident of Michigan at the time of her death, and here her children were reared and educated. Harvey J. Hollister was fortunate in being reared in a home of culture and refinement, and in his childhood and early youth he received excellent educational instruction under the immediate preceptorship of his mother, besides which he attended, at Romeo, one of the eight branches or schools maintained at that period by the newly founded University of Michigan. At the age of seventeen he taught one term of school, and in the meantime his widowed mother had established the family home in Grand Rapids. After his brief pedagogic experience Mr. Hollister was for a time employed as clerk in a drug store at Pontiac, and in 1849 he came to Grand Rapids, where his elder brother, the late Dr. John H. Hollister, had procured for him a clerical position in the dry goods store of William H. McConnell. A few months later he took a position in the drug store of the late W. G. Henry, with whom he remained three years. He then became accountant and clerk in the dry goods establishment of John Kendall, and thus he was actively concerned with pioneer business enterprises in the little frontier village that was destined to become the second in importance of all Michigan cities. In 1853 Mr. Hollister became confidential clerk in the now historic Exchange Bank of Daniel Ball, who has been designated as the "Pioneer Great Man of Grand Rapids." This bank, one of great influence in its period of service, was established on the site likewise occupied by its three lineal successors the banking house of M. L. Sweet & Company, the First National Bank, and the Old National Bank. In each of these institutions Harvey J. Hollister was the guiding spirit, and at the time of his death he was vice-president of the Old National Bank. Mr. Hollister represented in his personality and remarkable ability a very bulwark of financial stability during the long years of his active and influential association with banking enterprise in Grand Rapids, and his conservatism, constructive resourcefulness and great administrative ability were potent in the upholding of the financial interests of Grand Rapids during numerous periods of panic and industrial depression. Of him it has been written that he became a strikingly important factor in all of the essential interests of the city," and that "his life and best abilities were most closely identified with the general welfare not only of Grand Rapids but also of the entire state of Michigan." Mr. Hollister served as a member of the board of control of the Michigan State Public School (for indigent children), at Coldwater; as president of the Michigan Social Science Association; as a trustee of Olivet College; and as president of the Grand Rapids Y. M. C. A. Well fortified in his convictions concerning political and economic policies, he was a stalwart advocate of the principles of the Republican party, though never an aspirant for public office of political order. He and his wife were numbered among the most zealous and influential members of the First Congregational Church of Grand Rapids, which is now the Park Congregational Church. Mr. Hollister gave both personal influence and capitalistic support to many corporate and business enterprises of importance. He was a stockholder and director of the Grand Rapids & Indiana Railroad, now a part of the Pennsylvania Lines, and was identified in a similar way with the Michigan Trust Company, the Antrim Iron Company, the Grand Rapids Brass Company, the Cummer Lumber Company and other large industrial concerns that made for development and progress in Michigan. Mr. Hollister was a young man at the time of his marriage to Miss Martha Clay, who was born at Putney, Vermont, and whose death occurred in 1900. From a appreciative tribute that was written by E. A. Stowe and that was published in the Michigan Tradesman of May 20, 1925, are taken the following quotations: "While all his life he was deeply engrossed by public and private business, Mr. Hollister was a careful, systematic student of current affairs, and found time to develop a strong and delightful social side, which not generally understood, was highly prized by those who were his intimates. Broad-brained and fair-minded in all that pertains to the purely spiritual side of life, he was first, last and all the time positive in his faith as to the future of Grand Rapids, and absolutely loyal to the best interests of her people and institutions." Of his children, Mrs. McGeorge Bundy, of Norfolk, Virginia, George C., of New York, and Clay H. survive.

Transcriber: Nancy Myers
Created: 24 March 2005
URL: http://kent.migenweb.net/white1924/personal/hollisterhj.html