The Barnum and Richardson Company has been mentioned many times on this website already, and for good reason: Barnum & Richardson owned Beckley Furnace for most of its useful life. There’s a lot more to be said about the Barnums and Richardsons, however, and particularly the Barnum family.
US Senator William H. Barnum was not only a principal of Barnum & Richardson, he was an entrepreneur in a golden age for entrepreneurs — so much was it a golden age for entrepreneurs that it is known today as the Gilded Age, and the entrepreneurs were known as robber barons.
Here’s a historic document. It’s from the papers of the Henrico Coal Company (in Richmond, Virginia) showing both Senator Barnum and his son, William Milo Barnum, a New York City attorney, as officers of that company.
(You can see this as a larger PDF file by clicking 51038)
The source of this document is a microfilm of a portion of the papers of William M. Barnum in the Library of the University of Washington — located in the Library of Virginia, in Richmond, VA. Interestingly, another company’s records also appear on that microfilm, the minutes book of the Kanawha Improvement Company (1887-1890), which was actually a railroad company in West Virginia.
We’ll be documenting more of these outside connections in future posts.