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Posted on July 15, 2021 at 10:17 AM by Melissa Dalton
After learning about the business of Allison & Townsley, I was interested in learning about the men behind the company. This week, we take a look at that life of Thomas P. Townsley, and explore how he became a successful businessman.
Like many quests into the records of the early 1800s, it can get a bit murky due to several generations recycling names. The Townsley family was no exception. Thomas Townsley’s grandfather (also named Thomas) was one of the earliest white settlers of Cedarville Township in Greene County, and almost every generation has a Thomas, George, John, and/or James. To fully delve into the family would take a bit of time, but we were able to flesh out the highlights of his life!
Thomas P. Townsley was born to George and Mary (Lowry) Townsley on May 27, 1817 in Xenia, Ohio. Thomas attended school in Xenia, and continued his education at Miami University in Oxford, graduating in 1836 (Fig 1). After graduation, Townsley returned to Xenia to pursue a business career.
Fig 1. Miami University Student Catalog, 1858 (Ancestry.com)
Townsley’s early career was with the railroad company, but he also was a teacher for a period of time. However, he was keenly interested in investing in his own business, and spent close to a decade saving his earnings to have enough capital to follow his career goals. In 1847, Townsley went into business with James Allison, and opened a dry-goods business, Allison & Townsley (Fig 2).
Fig 2. Xenia City Directory, 1870 (Ancestry.com)
Townsley married Agnes Paull of Pennsylvania in 1850. The couple had several children, but only two, George L. and James B., lived to adulthood (Fig 3).
Fig 3. 1850 U.S. Census with Townsley family outlined in red (Ancestry.com)
Townsley had other business ventures outside of the dry-good business (read last week’s blog to learn about the Allison & Townsley business). He was an organizer of the Second National Bank (along with his business partner), and was president from 1864 until his health forced him to resign his post. He also was involved in the establishment of the Field Cordage Company (another business venture with Allison).
Of interesting note, Townsley attended the William Henry Harrison convention of 1840 (who was part of the Whig Party), and later was selected to attend the constitutional convention in 1873-1874 as a representative of his district (Fig 4). Townsley was highly honored by this election, and did his duty to ensure he represented the district well.
Fig 4. Article about Harrison convention participants, Xenia Daily Gazette, 25 Nov 1896 (NewspaperARCHIVE.com)
The Townsleys were members of the Presbyterian Church, and were highly respected members of the church, as well as the community at large. In 1896, Agnes Townsley died and was buried in Woodland Cemetery. Two years later, in 1898, Thomas Townsley died at the age of 81. He was buried with his wife in Woodland Cemetery (Fig 5).
Fig 5. Death Record of Agnes Townsley & Thomas Townsley (Greene County Archives)
Next week we will explore the life of James Allison, and where his business pursuits took him throughout his life!
Until Next Time!
Greene County Archives
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