Tag Archives: Hammersley

William H. Hammersley, Sr. – Profile (with death)

From History of Walworth County Wisconsin by Albert Clayton Beckwith, Vol. II,
Publ. 1912 – Page 848-850

william-h-hammersley-srIn the death of William H. HAMMERSLEY, Sr., Lake Geneva and vicinity lost one of its most valued citizens. The latter part of his life, covering over forty years, was spent here and during that time he took an active part in the general progress of the county. He belonged to that type of progressive business men who believe in carrying the Golden Rule into their everyday affairs. Always quiet and unostentatious in manner, he nevertheless left a strong impress of his individuality upon all whom he met. He had the happy faculty of seeing the beautiful things of the world, enjoyed nature, loved flowers, appreciated noble traits in mankind and had an optimistic outlook on life, so that to know him was to respect and admire him for his exemplary characteristics.

Mr. HAMMERSLEY was born January 8, 1832, in Hanley, England, and was the son of William S. and Ann (PEDLEY) HAMMERSLEY. His paternal grandfather, Ralph HAMEMRSLEY, died in England when about seventy-five years old. He was a man of strict integrity, a consistent Christian and for many years was a deacon in the Congregational church.

William S. HAMMERSLEY, father of the subject, was a manufacturer of chinaware in England, which business he followed until 1843, in which year he emigrated to America, locating in New York city, where he became an importer of china and earthenware. In 1855 he moved to Flint, Michigan, and retired from business, and now he and his wife are both deceased; they were members of the Presbyterian church. They were the parents of the following children: Ann Jane, widow of Henry C. WALKER, lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan; William H., of this review; Lucilla Oakley is the wife of Edward M. MASON, of Girard, Kansas;
Fannie is the wife of W. B. BUCKINGHAM and lives at Stevens Point, Wisconsin.

William H. HAMMERSLEY, Sr., was twelve years old when his family brought him to the United States. He had attended school in his native land, and soon after coming to New York he began clerking in his father’s store. When he reached manhood he became associated with his father in business and so continued until 1853. On October 6th of that year he was united in marriage with Elizabeth S. SMITH, daughter of Henry and Phoebe Ann (BARKER) SMITH. She was born in Erie county, New York, near Buffalo, and in her early life the family move to New York City, where she lived until her marriage. Her parents had come from Saybrook, Connecticut, to New York state and settled at Butterworth Falls (correction: Buttermilk Falls, now Highland Falls), near West Point, subsequently moving to Erie county, where Mrs. HAMMERSLEY was born.

In 1863 Mr. HAMMERSLEY and family came to Walworth county and lived a year on the farm. He then went to Lake Geneva and went into business as a dealer in drugs, books and stationery. He had a well stocked store and enjoyed a large trade. In later years he also engaged in the floral business, having charge of the Lake Geneva Floral Company. He was very successful as a business man and was known to all with whom he had dealings as a man of the highest integrity.

Politically Mr. HAMMERSLEY was a Republican and he took more than a passing interest in public affairs, and held a number of township offices, such as township clerk, and he was chairman of the board of supervisors.

Three children were born to Mr. and Mrs. HAMMERSLEY: Grace C. is the wife of C. D. GILBERT, a grocer of Lake Geneva, and they have one daughter, Lizzie; Charles H., who was a florist in Lake Geneva, married Ida C. GILBERT, which union was without issue, and his death occurred in 1894; William H. married Emma M. SEYMOUR and they have three children, Seymour, Henry and Evelyn; he is in the drug business in Lake Geneva, having succeeded his father.

William H. HAMMERSLEY, Sr. was a Royal Arch Mason, a prominent member and officer of the Congregational church, and an earnest Christian. He was one of the prominent and influential men of the southern part of the county, being a man of steadfast purpose in all the relations of life, whether religious or secular, conscientious and faithful to every trust. He was summoned to his reward on April 14, 1906.

741 Main Street – Hammersley Block

The Hammersley Block is a two-story commercial vernacular building that shares party walls with both of its neighbors. It has a red brick front and is decorated with a pressed metal cornice that features dentils and a sawtooth motif. Above the second story openings are heavy label moldings that suggest the late Italianate style. Openings are filled with single-light sashes. The original storefront of this building was typical of the era: large show windows with transoms, iron columns, and a central entrance. In 1929, though, the building was given a “modern” copper and glass front that has been identified as being from the Brasco Manufacturing Company of Chicago.

The new storefront appears hi a catalog from the Brasco company published in 1927. It features a much deeper central entrance so that the display windows are considerably longer. The storefront has a thin copper framework and low copper aprons under the show windows so that the primary construction material is glass. Above the show windows at the front of the building there is a multi-light transom and between the long show windows there is an arched ceiling. The two entry doors flank a narrow showcase and the entire entrance is topped with a large fanlight. This beautiful storefront is in excellent condition.

The Hammersley Drug Store was one of the most prominent businesses in downtown Lake Geneva. The business began with W. H. Hammersley in 1865, who operated the drug store until 1905, only one year before his death. He was located in the old building on this site, which he replaced in 1885-86. Upon his death, his son, also William H., succeeded him in the drug store. In 1920, his sons, Seymour and Henry, entered the business and operated it until a fourth generation took over, operating the store until the 1980s.

“Forty Years in Business,” Lake Geneva News, 28 September 1905, p. 1; “W. H. Hammersley,” Lake Geneva Herald, 13 April 1906, p. 1; “W. H. Hammersley Associates His Sons With Him,” Lake Geneva News, 8 April 1920, p.l.

The second important and long-time drug store in Lake Geneva was the Hammersley Drug Store. W. H. Hammersley was a native of England who came to the United States hi 1844. He was in business in New York with his father, who imported china and crockery. He remained in this business until 1863, when he came to Lake Geneva. In 1865, he began his drug store business, also selling books and stationery in a small frame building. In 1885-86, Hammersley had a new brick block constructed for his store (741 Main St.) and the business remained in this location for almost 100 years. In 1906, Hammersley’s son, W. H. Jr. took over the business, then passed it on to his sons, Seymour and Henry, who had graduated from the School of Pharmacy at the University of Wisconsin. During the mid and late twentieth century, a fourth generation of Hammersleys carried on the drug store, affiliating with the Walgreen chain. The Hammersley Drug Store stayed in operation into the 1970s.

The Hammersley Block is one of the best-preserved buildings in the historic district. It still retains its 1929 copper storefront and most of its historic second story details. The Hammersley Drug Store was one of the longest and most popular of Lake Geneva’s retail businesses, and W. H. Hammersley Sr. was a prominent member of the community. Because of its long-time association with the Hammersley Drug Store, the Hammersley Block is historically significant for commerce.


William S Hammersley – Obituary

Found in The Stevens Point Journal (Stevens Point, Wisconsin) on 3 March 1888 (Page 4):


HAMMERSLEY–In Stevens Point, February 28th, 1888. William S. Hammersley, in the 83rd years of his age.

Deceased was born at Staffordshire Potteries, England, August 23, 1805, and when a young man, succeeded his father in the manufacture of crockery at that place. In 1843, together with his wife and four children, he came to New York, where he was engaged in the importation of crockery until 1856. In the latter year he closed out his business and removed to Flint, Michigan, in which city he owned a homestead at the time of his death. His wife died at Flint in 1870. Four children survive him, the oldest, Mrs. H. C. Walker, residing at Ann Arbor, Mich., the second, Mr. Wm H. Hammersley, at Lake Geneva, Wis., the third, Mrs. E. M. Mason, at Girard, Kansas, and the youngest, Mrs. W. B. Buckingham, in this city. Late last summer Mr. H. was reduced very low by an attack of inflammation of the bowels, and Mrs. Mason was called from her home to be with him. He rallied from this sickness and as soon as able to travel was prevailed upon to come to Stevens Point to spend the winter. Before the severe weather came on he walked down town nearly every day, but after the cold weather set in was not outside the yard. He had been gradually failing all winter, until the vital forces refused to do their work, and he calmly sunk into the last sleep last Tuesday at about noon. He was about the house the day before, and retired about the usual hour, but did not get up Tuesday morning. He had been a member of the Congregational or Presbyterian church since boyhood.

The remains were taken to Flint, Mich., Wednesday evening, accompanied by Mr. and Mrs. Buckingham.

Mr. Hammersley on the Ship Thomas P. Cope

William S.  Hammersley “was a manufacturer of chinaware in England, which business he followed until 1843, in which year he emigrated to America, locating in New York City, where he became an importer of china and earthenware.” When he made that transatlantic crossing on 20 May 1843, he seems to have come alone, with his family to follow sometime later.

The ship he came on was the Thomas P. Cope:

The Thomas P. Cope was a packet ship that sailed between Philadelphia and Liverpool, making 21 round-trip voyages between 1839 and 1846. In December 1846 the ship was struck by lightning and burned for six days before sinking. (source)

Independence Seaport Museum 014


Cover Photo Source.

Ralph Hammersley & “Jane”

Who is the “Jane” that was married to Ralph Hammersley, and mother to my 4th GGF William Shufflebottom Hammersley? Don’t know yet, but here are two candidates:

  • Stevenson, Jane – Married a Ralph Hammersley on 12 August 1798 in Uttoxeter, Stafford, England (Source)
  • Greatback (or Greatbatch), Jane – Married a Ralph Hammersley on 9 November 1804 in Stoke-Upon-Trent, Stafford, England (Source) (Source)


With William’s birth coming on 23 August 1805 in Hanley, Stafford, England, either of these “Jane’s” could be his mother based strictly on the years of their marriages. The notation that the Ralph that married Jane Greatbatch was a Pot Dealer is a nice link given William’s career path, but still not proof enough. Hot on the trail …

William Henry Hammersley (1832 – 1906)

Source: Portrait and biographical record of Walworth and Jefferson counties, Wisconsin (1894) LINK

William-Hammersley-SrWilliam H. Hammersley, Sr., is engaged in business in Lake Geneva as a dealer in drugs, books and stationary. He has a well-appointed store, filled with a good stock, and since 1865 he has engaged in business along this line. He is now recognized as one of the leading merchants of the place, and it is with pleasure that we present this record of his life to our readers.

A native of England, Mr. Hammersley was born in Hanley, Staffordshire, on the 8th of January, 1832, and is a son of William S. and Ann (Pedley) Hammersley, who were also natives of the same country. The paternal grandfather, Ralph Hammersley, died in England at about the age of seventy-five years. He was a man of strict integrity, who lived a consistent Christian life, and for many years served as Deacon of the Congregational Church, with which he held membership. The father of our subject was a china manufacturer in his native land, and carried on business along that line until 1843, when he emigrated to America. Locating in New York City, he became an importer of china and earthenware. In 1855, he removed to the West, and, settling in Flint, Mich., retired from active business. He and his wife were members of the Flint Presbyterian Church, and both are now deceased. They were the parents of four children, a son and three daughters: Ann Jane, widow of Henry C. Walker, who is living in Ann Arbor, Mich.; William H.; Lucilla Oakley, wife of Edward M. Mason, of Girard, Kan.; and Fannie, wife of W. B. Buckingham, who is living in Stevens Point, Wis.

When a lad of twelve summers Mr. Hammersley of this sketch bade adien to friends and native land, and came to America with his mother and the other children of the family. His education was acquired mainly in England, for soon after coming to America he served as clerk in his father’s store. Having remained under the parental roof until he had attained to man’s estate, he then became associated with his father in business and the connection was continued until 1855. The following year he came to the West, and lived in Flint, Mich., until 1858, when he returned to the Empire State, and there spent the succeeding five years of his life.

On the 6th of October, 1853, Mr. Hammersley was united in marriage with Miss Elizabeth S. Smith, a daughter of Henry and Phoebe Ann (Barker) Smith. Their union has been blessed with three children: Grace C., wife of C. D. Gilbert, by whom she has a daughter, Lizzie; Charles H., who married Miss Ida E. Gilbert; and William H., who married Miss Emma M. Seymour. The latter have two children, Seymour and Henry.

In 1863, Mr. Hammersley came with his family to Walworth County, and for a year resided upon a farm. He then came to Lake Geneva, where he has made his home for thirty years, devoting his entire time and attention to his business interests. There is only one merchant now carrying on operations in the town who was here at the time of Mr. Hammersley’s arrival. He has therefore witnessed the growth and development of the place, and his fellow-townsmen say that he has ever borne his part in the work of advancement and progress.

Both Mr. and Mrs. Hammersley hold membership with the Congregational Church, and take an active interest in church and benevolent work. In his social relations he is a Royal Arch Mason. In politics, he is a Republican, and has held various township offices. He has been Chairman of the Town Board of Supervisors, and was also Township Clerk. He is true to every trust reposed in him, whether public or private, and is one of the valued and highly respected citizens of Lake Geneva.

Clarence Day Gilbert (1852 – ?)

Source: Portrait and biographical record of Walworth and Jefferson counties, Wisconsin LINK

clarence-day-gilbertCLARENCE D. GILBERT, an enterprising grocery merchant of Lake Geneva, has the honor of being a native of Walworth County. He was born in the town of Walworth, September 21, 1852, and is the eldest of three children whose parents were Charles H. and Eliza (Day) Gilbert. The other two, Carrie and Harry, however, are now deceased.

The father and mother were both natives of the Empire State, and the former followed agricultural pursuits throughout his life. About 1850 he emigrated westward, locating in Walworth County, Wis., where he purchased a farm of one hundred and sixty acres. This he cultivated and improved until after the breaking out of the late war, when he responded to the country’s call for troops, and enlisted in the Union service as First Lieutenant of his company. Prior to this he was Captain of a company of militia at Walworth Corners for about two years. In 1864 he was taken sick, and died at the age of thirty-eight, while on his way home. His wife survived him for about two years.

The paternal grandfather, Andrew Gilbert, followed milling in the East until 1850, when he too came to the Badger State, where, in connection with his son Charles H., he engaged in farming. He served as a soldier in the War of 1812, and was ever a loyal and faithful citizen. His death occurred in Delavan, Wis. , where he spent the last three years of his life. He had reared a large family, and reached the allotted age of three-score years and ten. The maternal grandfather was a native of New Hampshire, but lived for many years in the East.

In taking up the personal history of our subject we present to our readers the life record of one who is widely and favorably known in Walworth County, for here he has spent the greater part of his life. In the usual manner of farmer lads his early boyhood days were passed, but at the age of twelve he left the farm and spent two years in Delavan. He then removed to Lake Geneva, where he completed his education, after which he embarked in the milling business, carrying on business along that line until twenty- two years of age when he went to Red Wing, Minn. There he engaged in the same business for a period of five and a-half years, and on his return to Lake Geneva he embarked in the grocery business, which he has followed continuously since 1881.

On the 22d of October, 1874, Mr. Gilbert was united in marriage with Miss Grace Hammersley, daughter of William H. and Elizabeth (Smith) Hammersley. They have one daughter, Lizzie. Their home is a pleasant residence and is noted for its hospitality. Mr. Gilbert is a Republican in politics, and his wife is a member of the Congregational Church. In this community they have many friends, and their many excellencies of character have gained them the high respect of all.