Written by Bob Imhof | Photos provided by Bob Imhof
Oscar “Doc” B. Grant was the son of Senator Robert Young Grant and Sarah F. (Smedes) Grant and was born on July 6, 1840 in Liberty, Sullivan County, New York.
In 1862, Senator Robert Young Grant died, and his tanning business and farming interests were subsequently taken over by his then twenty-two-year-old son, Oscar B. Grant.
Oscar served in the US Navy during the Civil War – his commission was signed by President Abraham Lincoln.
About 1870, Oscar affectionately known as “Doc,” dismantled the tannery in Liberty, New York having moved to Ridgway, Elk County Pennsylvania in 1867 where he continued in the leather tanning business in partnership with Charles Horton son of W. S. Horton under the name of Grant & Horton.
Grant & Horton were the second parties to locate a sole leather tannery in Elk County, the first having been built in Wilcox and were located at the junction of Aylsworth Run and the Clarion River about one mile from the Elk County Courthouse and just West of the Borough line in Ridgway Township. The business was very successful and grew in extent each year with a great deal being foreign exports. After the tannery was opened in 1867, the partners found that their business during the spring and fall was often cutoff from access with the Philadelphia & Erie (Pennsylvania) Railroad for during the rainy seasons the bottom of Main and North Broad Streets was way below the surface. To remedy this, Grant, Horton and Dickinson built a plank road from the tannery to the railroad station at their own expense, an improvement that has been kept and upgraded over the many years by both the borough and the township.
Charles Horton later sold his interest to his son. The firm of Grant and Horton operated the tannery known as the Ridgway Tannery until it was merged with the US Leather Company in 1893. The United States Leather Company (1893-1952), was one of the ten largest corporations in the United States circa 1900, and one of the original companies in the Dow Jones Industrial Average. It was often referred to by contemporary sources as the “Leather combine” or “Leather trust”. After 1908 this corporation was headquartered in the Masonic Temple Building on Court and Mill Streets in Ridgway.
Oscar B. Grant became 1st vice-president of US Leather Company.
Mr. Grant was the husband of Sarah M. (Wells) Grant and they lived at 610 West Main Street, Ridgway, Elk County, Pennsylvania. Their home was completed in 1876 – Victorian with a wrap-around porch.
In 1890 Mr. Grant was elected by Ridgway Township citizens to the position of school director along with Jacob Steiss.
Oscar B. Grant, a man of wealth, hated automobiles and would never ride in one, but when he died at the age of 80 on September 3, 1920, ironically, the horse drawn carriage had given way to the modern coach, and this civil War veteran was carried to his last resting place in the “devil wagon” he despised.
For interesting places to visit and historical places to find, go to VisitPAGO.com