Nicholas Longworth


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Civil War Harper's Weekly, March 7, 1863

We have posted our entire collection of Civil War Harper's Weekly newspapers online for your research and enjoyment. These old newspapers contain fascinating images and stories of the key elements of the War, and offer unique insights into this conflict.

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Nicholas Longworth

Jewish Persecution

Jewish Persecution

Queen of the West

Capture of the Queen of the West

Paying Teamsters

Paying Teamsters

Free People, Long War

How Free People Conduct a Long War

Battle of Vicksburg

Battle of Vicksburg


Madisonville, Louisiana

New Orleans

Poor of New Orleans



Vicksburg Blockade Runner

Running the Blockade at Vicksburg

Vicksburg Battle

Picture of the Battle of Vicksburg

Vicksburg Map

Map of Vicksburg

Napoleon Cartoon

Napoleon Cartoon



VOL. VII.—No. 323.]



Entered according to Act of Congress, in the Year 1863, by Harper & Brothers, in the Clerk's Office of the District Court for the Southern District of New York.


We publish herewith a portrait of the late Western millionaire, NICHOLAS LONGWORTH, who died at Cincinnati on the 10th ult.

Mr. Longworth was born at Newark, New Jersey, in 1783. In early life it is said that he was brought up to the trade of a shoemaker. He soon abandoned this, and tried his hand at trade in South Carolina. In 1804, when just twenty-one, he removed to Cincinnati, and entered the office of Judge Jacob Burnet as a law student. He pursued his studies about six mouths, and then dashed into the practice of his hastily-acquired profession in the rough and irregular way peculiar to that

primitive period. He foresaw, at an early period of his residence in the West, the future greatness of the then insignificant village of Cincinnati; and though unsustained in his opinions by those of his fellow settlers in the new community, took advantage of their unbelief, and began a series of systematic investment of every thing he could make by his services as lawyer and land-agent in the well wooded acres surrounding the original clearing of Fort Washington and Losantiville. He bought for trifling sums whatever was rejected by every body else, and thus acquired the title, which his heirs still retain, to some of the most valuable portions of the present city and its immediate suburbs. By this means he accumulated, in the course of a few years, an amount of property that, in 1819, he gave up practicing law, that he might devote himself to the management and improvement of his estate.

Perhaps the first step toward the accumulation of his wealth was an incident which occurred to him during his legal practice. The story is told by those who knew him well and kept a careful record of his career. Mr. Longworth once received as a legal fee from a criminal accused of horse-stealing, and who had nothing else to give, two second-hand copper stills. These were in the charge of one Joel Williams, who kept a tavern adjacent to the river, and who was a large property holder at that time. On presenting his order, Mr. Williams told Longworth that he could not part with the stills, for he was just building a distillery in Butler County; but he would give him a lot of thirty-three acres on Western Row in lieu of the articles. Mr. Longworth, whose view of the value of property was always in advance of public opinion, gladly closed with the proposal. Those thirty-three acres occupied a front on Western Row from Sixth to Seventh streets, running west; and this transaction alone, taking into view the prodigious advance in real estate, in itself furnished the basis of an immense fortune, the ground itself being in 1851 worth nearly two millions of dollars, and of course is of much more value now. His property increased so rapidly that in 1850 his taxes rated higher than any other man in the United States except William B. Astor, the taxes of the latter amounting to $23,116, while those of Longworth were over $17,000.

It was, however, as a vine-grower and horticulturist that he was most famed. He always manifested a fondness for the cultivation of fruits and flowers, and at an early period astonished the Western people by the beauty and extent of his garden. He took much pains to gather from all parts of the West the most valuable and interesting of our native vegetable productions, and placed them in circumstances to test their susceptibility to improvement by aid of the best systems of garden and green-house culture then known. Many of our beautiful native plants, now familiarly known as favorite florists' flowers, are indebted to him for their introduction into cultivated society, their native home being the forests and prairies of the Western States. He was always curious after new and interesting things of Nature's producing. It was the remark of an old citizen of Cincinnati that, if Mr. Longworth was to be suddenly thrown, neck and heels, into the Ohio River, he would come to the surface with a new variety of fish in each hand. His chief interest in horticultural matters, however, has been expended upon the strawberry and the grape. The perfection of variety and culture to which he has, by his experiments and labors, brought these two important fruits of the country have established their extensive and systematic cultivation in all parts of the West.

The Catawba Grape is a native of North Carolina, having been first brought into public

notice as a wine-grape by Major Adlum, of Washington; and the knowledge of the fact that wine, in an experimental way, had been made from its fruit, induced Mr. Longworth to enter systematically upon its cultivation, and to take measures for manufacturing the wine on a scale extensive enough to encourage the establishment of numerous vineyards, and to afford a market on his own premises for all the Must that could be made and delivered to him in a circuit of fifty miles. At the same time be offered a reward of five hundred dollars to whoever should discover a better variety. It proved a great stimulus to the growth of the Catawba vine in the neighborhood of Cincinnati to know that a man of Mr. Longworth's means stood ready to pay cash, at the rate of from a dollar to a

dollar and a quarter a gallon, for all the grape juice that might be brought to him, without reference to the quantity. It was in this way, and by urgent popular appeals through the columns of the newspapers, that he succeeded, after many failures, and against the depressing influence of much doubt and indifference, in bringing the enterprise up to its present high and staple position. When he took the matter in hand there was much to discourage any one not possessed of the traits of constancy of purpose and perseverance peculiar to Mr. Longworth. Many had tried the manufacture of wine, and had failed to give it any economical or commercial importance. It was not believed, until Mr. Longworth practically demonstrated it, after many long and patient trials of many valued vari-

eties from France and Madeira, none of which gave any promise of success, that a native grape was the only one upon which any hope could be placed, and that of the native grapes, of which he had experimented upon every known variety, the Catawba offered the most assured promise of success, and was the one upon which all vine-growers might with confidence depend. It took years of unremitted care, multiplied and widespread investigations, and the expenditure of large sums of money, to establish this fact, and bring the agricultural community to accept it and act under its guidance. The success attained by Mr. Longworth soon induced other gentlemen resident in the vicinity of Cincinnati, and favorably situated for the purpose, to undertake the culture of the Catawba, and several of them are now regularly and extensively engaged in the manufacture of wine. The impetus and encouragement thus given to the business soon led the German citizens of Hamilton County to perceive its advantages, and under their thrifty management thousands of acres, stretching up from the banks of the Ohio, are now covered with luxuriant and profitable vineyards, rivaling in profusion and beauty the vine-clad hills of Italy and France. The oldest vineyard in the county of Hamilton is of Mr. Longworth's planting. The annual product of these vineyards may be set down at between five and six hundred thousand gallons, worth at present from one and a half to two dollars a gallon ; but the price, owing to the rapidity of the consumption, will probably advance rather than decline. It is the prophecy of Mr. Flagg, Mr. Longworth's son-in-law, that, in the course of comparatively few years, the annual product of the Sparkling Catawba will be counted by millions of bottles, while that of the still sorts will be estimated by its millions of gallons. Mr. Longworth alone bottled annually over 150,000 bottles, and had five years ago in his cellars a ripening stock of 300,000 bottles. These cellars are situated on the declivity of East Sixth Street, on the road to Observatory Hill. They occupy a space ninety feet by one hundred and twenty-live, and consist of two tiers of massive stone vaults, the lower of which is twenty-five feet below the surface of the ground. Here are carried on all the various processes of wine-making, the mashing, pressing, fining, racking, bottling, labeling, and boxing; and beneath the arches and along the walls are the wine butts, arranged and numbered in the order of the several vintages ; piles of bottles stand about, ready for the bottlers.

The charities and eccentricities of "Old Longworth," as he was fond of calling himself, are a never-ending theme among Ohioians. His charities were regulated, and he never gave when he did not fully understand the case. He seldom refused work to those who asked for it, devising it for the occasion when he really had none waiting, and furnishing the necessary implements to those who had none of their own. The class to which he was accustomed to give work, chiefly of the sort requiring picks and shovels and garden tools, were not always of the most honest description; and he used to relate numerous instances in which his spades and hoes and similar inplements—saws, pickaxes, and what not—had been carried off at the close of the day by those to whom he had loaned them to enable them to earn what he paid them for their day's work. The chief objects of his usual charities were those utterly destitute, and the least likely to obtain assistance from any body else. He had a whimsical theory that those whom every body will help were not entitled to any aid from him, and that he would confine his donations to the worthless and wretched vagabonds that every one else turns away from. A committee of Mormons, on a begging expedition, was once sent to him by a friend, with a note intimating that, as these people were not Christians, and seemed to be abandoned by every body that professed to be, they probably came within his rule, and he could consistently assist them. He did so without hesitation.

Over his immense wine-cellars he erected a large four-story building of brick, for the accommodation of poor laborers of both sexes. The different floors are reached by separate stairs and galleries, and each is divided into fourteen good-sized apartments, suitable for a man and his family, or two or three women. These rooms are generally all occupied, and those who are unable to pay are charged no rent. The building is well known among those for whose use it was built as the barracks. Notwithstanding the really charitable design of this construction, its tenants have (Next Page)


Nicholas Longworth

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