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WITT, STILLMAN

WITT, STILLMAN (4 Jan. 1808-29 Apr. 1875), railroad president and philanthropist, was born in Worcester, Mass., to John and Hannah (Foster) Witt. At 13 he moved to Troy, N.Y. and apprenticed with Canvass White of the U.S. Engineer Corps, then was sent by White to administer Cohoes Mfg. Co., employed to build a bridge at Cohoes Falls and on other building projects. Then, still connected with White, he became an agent of the Hudson River Steamboat Assoc. in Albany. With the emergence of railroads in the 1840s, Witt became manager of Albany & Boston Railroad Co. In the late 1840s, Witt moved to Cleveland, forming the firm of Harbach, Stone & Witt which built the Cleveland, Columbus & Cincinnati Railroad, completed in 1851. The firm then constructed the Cleveland, Painesville & Ashtabula Railroad, and the Chicago & Milwaukee Railroad. Witt managed the large interests he had acquired in railroads and other properties, becoming director of the above railroads and others. In 1863, Witt was an incorporator of Cleveland Rolling Mill Co. He also helped build the Cleveland & Newburgh Railroad in 1868.

In 1869, Witt bought and donated a boarding home for the Women's Christian Assoc. (later YWCA); in 1873, donating money for a second home, later known as the Stillman Witt Boarding House. Witt was active in many other Cleveland charitable and educational organizations, especially those for women. In the 1850s, he served on the first directorate of the CLEVELAND FEMALE SEMINARY. Witt married Eliza A. Douglass in 1834. They had 4 children: Emma, Eugenia, Giles, and Mary (Mrs. Daniel Eells), who was actively involved in the Women's Christian Assoc. Witt died while at sea on Steamship Suevia, a trip he took for restorative purposes.