RAILCAR GOLD Chapter 16 . . Founders . . Part 1
RAILCAR GOLD is a historically accurate multi-generational fictional tale of hidden treasure, primarily set in York County, Pennsylvania during the latter half of the Nineteenth Century. This is Part 1 of Chapter 16 . . . Founders. A new part will be posted every Thursday. Recent chapters stand alone, starting here; however new readers may want to start at the beginning.
CHAPTER 16 . . . FOUNDERS . . . Part 1
As construction of the Spring Garden Car Works proceeded, John Small and George Billmeyer discussed plans for an appropriate dedication celebration. They decided the central focus should be on honoring the founders of the company: Charles Billmeyer and David E. Small. George Billmeyer wrote these remarks to serve as a dedicatory introduction and to honor his Dad:
Charles Billmeyer and David E. Small formed a partnership twenty-nine years ago to build railcars. The business has flourished, such that we are now dedicating this modern state-of-the-art Spring Garden Car Works.
Within the York Car Works, we had 80,550 square feet of floor space to build railcars. Now, with the addition of the Spring Garden Car works, the floor space for the combined plants reaches an astounding 266,125 square feet.
Some people have questioned such a large expansion. I’m pleased to announce, we already have orders in hand to completely fill BOTH plants.
Lets look at the Billmeyer & Small partnership. Billmeyers and Smalls have been doing business in York for generations.
My Great-Grandfather Andrew Billmeyer was in the printing business. His establishment was located on the square in York. When Andrew retired, he sold that store on the square to George Small. The ensuing hardware store on that site would grow into the P. A. & S. Small Company, that we all know today.
My Grandfather , Daniel Billmeyer, was also in the printing business. The Small hardware store was a regular advertiser in his newspaper.
My Dad, Charles Billmeyer, was only four-years-old when Grandfather died. My Grandmother Sarah raised Dad, although he got plenty of fatherly advice as he grew up; by constantly hanging around that Small hardware store.
That store is where Charles Billmeyer got his first job. That store is where Dad first struck up a friendship with another P. A. & S. Small employee; David E. Small.
Charles Billmeyer became intrigued with the railcar building industry upon making deliveries to the Union Car Works throughout 1847. At the time the Union Car Works was a nice customer of P. A. & S. Small.
Dad talked John Nevin into giving him a job at the Union Car Works in 1848. John liked Dad’s work ethic, and increasingly showed him the ropes on how the business operated. On the 1850 United States Census, Dad proudly listed his occupation as Car Builder.
Charles Billmeyer was eventually assigned the responsibility of managing lumber inventory at the Union Car Works. Most of the Works’ lumber came from the lumber yards of H. Small & Sons; just across North Street.
H. Small & Sons consisted of Henry Small and his sons David, John and Jacob. The oldest son David was the same David Small that Dad had struck up a friendship with at P. A. & S. Small.
David E. Small was the restless son; he wanted something more than just the lumber business. Dad always claimed that David had the idea to form a partnership and go into the railcar building business. David E. Small claims that it was all Charles’ idea.
Perhaps we’ll never know who actually initiated the idea. What we do know is that this Spring Garden Car Works is being dedicated today because of the vision and drive of its founders Charles Billmeyer and David E. Small.
The words for John Small’s part of the dedication, honoring his older brother David E. Small did not flow, as freely, although he assured George that he would have those remarks ready by the time construction was completed on the Spring Garden Car Works.
Go to Part 2