Thursday, November 17, 2011

The History Of Henry Likly And Company

There really isn't a lot of information available on these old steam trunks.My curiosity got the best of me and I decided to do some research on Henry Likly and the Henry Likly trunk company.Thanks to google books I found a couple old publications from the late 1800's and early 1900's that were in the public domain. Both books were on the history of Rochester N.Y. and had mini biographies about Henry Likly and his steam trunk enterprise.

Who was Henry Likly ?

Henry Likly was born on January 18th, 1836 in Perth Canada. In the spring of 1848 after his father died he and his mother moved to Rochester N.Y.  He continued his education in the Rochester N.Y. public school system and upon graduation took an apprenticeship with the A.R. & T.H. Pritchard company where he learned the trade of manufacturing trunks and traveling bags.

Henry Likly was married in 1861 to Miss Helen E. Callister. They had two children, William C. Likly born March 31,1867 and Henry Likly born March 12, 1870. Henry Likly Sr. was a registered Republican, Freemason, and member of the Odd Fellows fraternity. Mr. Likly died on December 17, 1897.

The History Of The Henry Likly Trunk Company.

The Henry Likly Trunk Company was established in 1844 as A.R. & T.H. Pritchard. Upon graduating from school Henry Likly took an apprenticeship with A.R & T.H.Pritchard and mastered his trade in the trunk manufacturing industry.In January of 1868 Mr. Likly was given a partnership in the company. The company then became A.R. & T.H. Pritchard & Company, three years later it became A.R. Pritchard & Likly.When Henry Likly and his brother in-law became the sole proprietors of the business the name was changed to Henry Likly & Company. This was the name from 1870 when A.R. Pritchard retired until 1925 when it simply became "Likly's".I couldn't find much more information after that or why the name was changed to just Likly's. As far as I can tell the company was ran by his children after his death in 1897.

In New York State the Henry Likly trunk company was the largest factory of its time. Located at 340 Lyell Ave in Rochester N.Y. the factory covered two acres of land, the building was 4 stories tall and utilized 60,000 square feet of space. During this period it was one of the best equipped manufacturing plants in the United States. The first floor was where the lumber was sawed and prepared, the second floor was the woodworking and box shop where the frames were made, the third floor was designated for trimming and finishing, and the top floor was probably reserved for the executives, sales and accounting. There products were shipped all over the U.S. and even to parts of Europe. For the local residents the Likly company also maintained a retail outlet at 96 State St in Rochester N.Y. 

At its peak the company used over one million feet of lumber annually and turned out over 30,000 trunks yearly. The company produced all kinds of trunks mostly for traveling and packing but they also specialized in theatrical trunks and really fine high end trunks. This guy was the Louis Vuitton of Rochester.

References for this article.

History of Rochester and Monroe County,New York
 William Farly Peck
The Pioneer Publishing Company 1908
Public Domain PDF file http://books.google.com

The industries of the city of Rochester
The Elstner Publishing Co. 1888
Public Domain PDF file http://books.google.com

I also used chacha.com to get the year when Mr.Pritchard retired and the name change to Likly's in 1925.

Your Bloggers Commentary.

When I first began researching this I just wanted to know when the company was established and when it closed so I could get a general idea of how old my trunk was. It's probably safe to assume my steam trunk is over 100 years old. I definitely know it was made between 1847 and 1925.  As I started researching this I got swept away in the nostalga of it all and a real admiration grew for Mr.Henry Likly himself.

I grew up in Buffalo N.Y. about an hour outside of Rochester N.Y.. Researching this I was reminded at just how great these two dying industrial cities had been at one time. Home to steel workers, and craftsman who drank beer from local breweries at corner pubs after a hard days work. The first cities of electricity. The blue collar towns where the residents built great products that were shipped throughout the U.S. and Europe.  A time when people took pride in their craft,learned a trade, and truly climbed the corporate ladder. A time when the American dream was truly alive and well, the streets were paved with gold, and the sky was the limit for anyone who wanted to roll up there sleeves and apply themselves. Mr.Likly obviously did just that !

I don't think you could find a more appropriate story of the American dream then the story of Henry Likly. Here is a guy that moved here from another country, he was raised by a single mom, went to public school, apprenticed in a company learning the business from the ground up, and eventually owning the very company he started at. This is the America of my history books, this is the dream we were all taught about as children growing up, this is what made us a truly great country and why people from all over the world emigrated to this fine land. One hundred years later, the quality products this man created and envisioned are still beautiful works of art worthy of display and reminiscent of a different time in American history.

The time before outsourcing, or importing cheap parts from turd world countries with cheap labor. A time when things were produced localy and people supported each other and their local business's. This was the time when business men cared about their community, and were proud to be employers. This was the vision of the founding fathers and why they fought for this great land.

Do we still have this ? Could Henry Likly succeed today ? Would he of sold out his community for cheap foriegn labor and outsourced jobs ? I wonder what Henry Likly would of been like in today's world ? I'd like to think if Henry Likly were alive today he would somehow be above it all.
Image taken from The industries of the city of Rochester
The Elstner Publishing Co. 1888

21 comments:

  1. I actually just bought his house in the Cleveland area.

    Shaker Hts to be precise. I could send pictures of the house if you would like.

    Please contact me.

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    1. Hi Lilla, that is so interesting that you live in a former trunk maker's home. I posted some information on this blog about the probability that there were two different Likly's in the trunk business, one in Rochester, NY and one in Cleveland. Any chance you have any old items from Likly & Rockett? Thanks,
      Marvin Miller, Hartford City, IN ThisOldTrunk.com

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    2. Hi Lilla..the home you live in is the home of a relative of Henry's.

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    3. @ Marvin...are you related to the Miller's that bought "Likly's" ??? I'd love to hear from you.

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  2. I am Wendy Lynn Likly Welch> Henry was my Great-Grandfather.My father is Henry Kenneth Likly Jr.
    It was tradition in the Likly family that each son named either Henry or William...depending on the father's name....Henry would name his first born son William, while William would name his first born son Henry and so on down through the years until my Uncle Bill (William T Likly) and my dad decided it was too confusing...I have a lot of trouble researching our family tree!!!lol.

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    1. Wendy - I like to contact you regarding genealogy and Likly family can you contact me?
      Paul

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    2. Paul...I'd love to share what I've learned. My dad has been filling me in on the family history. He's 79 yrs old and the great grandson of the first Henry Likly. The relatives are buried in our family plot at Mt. Hope Cemetery in Rochester NY.

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    3. I'm loving the irony that I posted this 2 1/2 years ago, and I just was searching family stuff and ended up back here...and here you are..posting not even 2 days ago!!! lol.....nice to meet you!

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    4. Hi Wendy - I can't figure out this google + stuff... and how to contact you except at this blog. Can you contact me at richmond.paul.w@gmail.com ?
      Thanks!

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    5. Hey , my name is Jen and I really don't blog. But am trying to c about this trunk I'm wanting , and it needs restored . But is it worth restoring , its a awesome trunk love it and if u would email me. I would never b able to find u lol. Jteecheatwood@gmail.com. thank u. Ps any one if u can give advise, on this has a diamond with gold yellow , Lilly Rochester . HELP PLZ

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  3. My grandfather Henry Kenneth Likly Sr took over the business and expanded to another retail store in Pittsford Plaza in Pittsford NY and a store in the first enclosed plaza in the country, Midtown Plaza in Rochester NY.When he decided to retire he offered the Business to my Father and Uncle but neither were interested.They had both graduated from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business and were starting their own careers.the Stores were sold to a family named Miller who kept the stores open until the mid 1980's.May I add that I have just started a small leather crafting business out of my home and make custom moccasins...and the circle is complete!!!

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  4. @ springdaisy414 thanks for commenting and I'm sorry it took so long to reply. I just checked my email and seen I had comments. What a pleasant surprise to find the great granddaughter of Henry Likly replied. Thanks so much for the added information and I hope you enjoyed the post. I really came to admire your great-grandfather after researching the company history. Any added information would be welcomed.If you have a website for your leather crafting business please leave a link in the comments and I will also link it on my side bar. Thanks again for commenting and the added information.

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  5. @Lilla Coelho Thanks for commenting. I just checked my email and discovered I had comments. I would love a picture of the Henry Likly home to post in the blog. Thanks again for commenting.

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  6. @Lilla Coelho I couldn't find your email address you can email me if you would like :

    diy.steam.trunk@gmail.com

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  7. Hello, I am an antique trunk collector, restorer, and researcher. I have owned a couple Henry Likly trunks from Rochester, NY in the past and also a couple Likly & Rockett trunks from Cleveland, OH. I am still wondering if these are the same Likly, or maybe a relative? Does anyone know? There was originally a company in Cleveland called McDonald, Likly, and Rockett Trunk company that later became Likly & Rockett. The Henry Likly & Co. trunks were made in Rochester NY. So I think these were two different Likley's. I have some labels from these different trunks if anyone is interested. My website is ThisOldTrunk.com Thanks, Marvin Miller

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    1. Likly Rockett in Cleveland was owned by my aunt and uncle Charlotte and Carl Zeihm until their deaths in the 1970s. I am not sure when they acquired the firm but they had it all my life...I am 60. I believe I saw some record that Carl filed in the 1920s. I can't provide much info as I was just a kid. However, I don't believe they did any actual manufacturing of trunks but were a retail outlet of fine luggage. The store was on Euclid near playhouse square. Son Carl Jr. opened a store in Mansfield.

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    2. Family...the Likly & Rocket company was started by Henry's Brother, William Likly in Ohio...this is what I've been told by my Dad, Henry Kenneth Likly Jr.

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  8. Hello, I thought you all may be interested in this beautiful LIKLY advertising sign my Dad has on eBay this week. It's charming! Best wishes, Kate http://www.ebay.com/itm/Old-gilt-lettered-sign-advertising-Likly-Baggage-luggage-steam-trunk-suitcase-/111027419547?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item19d9bff99b

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  9. Hello, I just found your page while researching a Likly and Rockett trunk that we purchased last week in Ohio. I love the history that you have here and find it incredible that you have a representative of the family involved. Just getting started but thanks for the information you have here. This is why I buy old things.

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  10. Hi, I found your website while researching on the new trunk I just purchased. The trunk looks a lot like this Likly trunk http://www.etsy.com/listing/108972480/vintage-antique-steamer-trunk-storage except it says W.F. Livingston and Sons Baggage Charleston, SC. Any ideas if this company is connected with Likly?

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  11. I have a leather-covered trunk with the same left-side latch with imprint you see at http://ancientpoint.com/imgs/a/e/j/k/o/antique_steamer_trunk_with_cleveland_in_metal_rivits_on_the_side_old_vintage_10_lgw.jpg

    but the trunk has no other identifying marks. I have a feeling the imprint is that of the latch manufacturer, not the manufacturer. Any comments?

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