Los Angeles County
HULETT C. MERRITT
MERRITT, H. C., Investment Banker, Pasadena, Cal, was born at Duluth, Aug. 17, 1872, the son of Lewis J. Merritt and Eunice Annette (Wood) Merritt. He married Rosaline Calistine Haben of Saginaw, Mich. (granddaughter of Gen. Olivier, of Napoleon’s staff), July 13, 1892. They have two children, Hulett Clinton, Jr., born Oct. 15, 1893, and Rosaline Eunice Merritt, born Nov. 3, 1895.
Mr. Merritt is a descendant of the French Huguenots who were driven from France, settled in England and moved to America in Colonial times, and of William Wright, an early pilgrim father, who came across the Atlantic in the ship “Fortune” in 1621 with his wife Priscilla. Every generation that followed the original William Wright had its men of consequence. There was Sir James Wright, the last royal governor of Georgia, of the Colonial days, who was born in 1714. Silas Wright, governor of New York and U. S. Senator; Robert Wright, governor of Maryland; James Wright, governor of Indiana, and Richard Wright, one of the founders of Methodism in this country.
General Wesley Merritt of the United States army is a descendant of a related family.
Mr. Merritt’s grandfather was one of the founders of Duluth, in 1854. His homestead of 160 acres is today the heart of the Duluth business district, covered with skyscrapers and warehouses.
Mr. Merritt graduated from a business college at the age of sixteen and was immediately taken into full partnership in the real estate and investment banking business by his father under the firm name of L. J. Merritt & Son, in Duluth. Within three years this concern became the largest, strongest and most aggressive investment house in the Northwest.
Hulett C. Merritt, with his father and uncles, financed and built the Duluth, Missabe & Northern Railway, connecting the world’s greatest iron ore deposit in the Missabe range with Lake Superior. At the age of twenty-one, which was as early as he was legally eligible, he became a director of this railway, which has a greater record for profit than any other railway line in the world. Representing his firm, who owned two-thirds of the capital stock of the Missabe Mountain Iron Co., he conducted successfully the negotiations with that great steel magnate of Pittsburg, Henry W. Oliver, who for himself and the Carnegie Steel Co. leased from the Missabe Mountain Iron Co. their great ore mine, paying 65 cents a ton royalty and guaranteeing to mine not less than 400,000 tons annually. This was the highest royalty ever obtained for the lease of an iron mine in the history of the iron trade. His work in this deal won for Mr. Merritt a national reputation as a negotiator.
He next helped form the Lake Superior Consolidated Iron Mines, known as the Merritt-Rockefeller Syndicate, and in the enterprise he was the largest stockholder outside of John D. Rockefeller. In April, 1901, the Merritt-Rockefeller Syndicate turned over all the ore and railway holdings to the U. S. Steel Corporation for $81,000,000, one of the largest single financial transactions recorded in America. Through these transactions Hulett C. Merritt became one of the ten principal members of the U. S. Steel Corporation.
The U. S. Steel Corporation, as is generally known, is the greatest single corporation on earth. At its organization it represented a capital close to one and three-quarter billions of dollars. It began at once to dominate the iron and steel industry of the world. Its employes number 240,000 and its annual production reads like a resume of the wealth of a great nation. To be one of the first ten men controlling such a corporation was the distinction achieved by Mr. Merritt before he had passed his twenty-eighth birthday.
On the Pacific Coast Mr. Merritt has been as active as in Minnesota. He has been president and treasurer of the United Electric, Gas & Power Co., controlling the electric light and gas plants of seventeen cities in Southern California, and the street railway system of Santa Barbara. The company has been consolidated with the Southern California Edison Company.
During the panic of 1907 he bought, for spot cash, two of the best downtown business corners of Los Angeles. He financed the Olds, Wortman & King building of Portland, Ore., covering an entire city block and the largest building in the city. He was vice president of the West Adams Heights Association, with Henry E. Huntington, who also was vice president, and Frederick H. Rindge, president.
His activities, at the present time, are concentrated in several important companies. He is president and treasurer of the Spring Street Co. and the Pacific States Corporation, owning several million dollars’ worth of business and residence property in Los Angeles and Pasadena. He controls the Tagus Ranch Co., California Farmland Co., and the Superior Beet Sugar Corp., owning together a sugar factory, which has been in successful operation for three years, and 10,000 acres of the most valuable agricultural land in California. He is president and Treasurer of the Merritt Banking & Mercantile Co. and Itasca Mercantile Co. of Minnesota, operating banks and department stores in Minnesota. He is president of the Missabe Co., a concern of varied activities in the iron region of Lake Superior. He is president of the Pacific Co., the Hill Street Co., Merritt Building Co., and Merritt Bond Syndicate; president Wolvin Building Co., owners of one of the largest office buildings in Duluth, occupied entirely by the U. S. Steel Corporation. He is a director with James J. Hill and Louis W. Hill in the North Star Iron Co. (Great Northern Iron Ore Properties). He holds directorates in innumerable financial, public utility, banking, manufacturing and mercantile corporations.
He has been, for a number of years, chairman of the board of trustees of the First Methodist Church of Pasadena.
He is a member of the California Club, Country Club, Annandale Club, Bolsa Chica Gun Club, all of Southern California, and of clubs in Duluth and New York City.
He maintains offices in Los Angeles, Duluth and New York City.
Transcribed by Joyce Rugeroni.
Source: Press Reference Library, Western Edition Notables of the West, Vol. I, Page 451, International News Service, New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Boston, Atlanta. 1913.
© 2010 Joyce Rugeroni.