Eric Leonard Hedstrom
Eric Leonard Hedstrom was a pioneer in the coal-shipping trade on the lakes, both in Buffalo and Chicago. He was descended from good old Norse stock, and was born in Stockholm, Sweden, August 21, 1835, at the age of eight coming with his parents to America and settling in Lake County, Ill., near Chicago.
Mr. Hedstrom was given a good education, finishing with a collegiate course at Rochester University, and on returning to Chicago entered the coal office of A.B. Meeker & Co., then a leading firm in the Western trade. In 1864 the Company sent him to Buffalo to establish a branch office there, and some time later he was made a partner in the firm, still later commencing operations in his own name. Ere long he had one of the largest concerns operating in coal, coke, and iron in the country, with branches in Chicago and Racine. He was at one time connected with the Lehigh Valley Coal Company, handled its Western coal and had an interest in the railroad, and he afterward formed an alliance with the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western, the present firm still shipping that company's Scranton coal. The business in Buffalo was begun at the foot of Erie street, but was later moved to the Island, where Mr. Hedstrom built what was afterward the Lehigh docks, the first coal trestle in Buffalo. He was the chief promoter of the Buffalo Creek railroad, built to utilize the Blackwell Ship canal, and remained a stockholder of the road. The change from the Lehigh to the Lackawanna interest was made in 1879, when the latter company built its line from Great Bend to Buffalo, and needed a resident shipper at the western terminus of the line. The firm of E.L. Hedstrom are the only individual shippers of anthracite coal from Buffalo by lake. In 1880 the shipment of soft coal was added, they handling the first Pittsburg coal of any amount in the Buffalo market, and since that time the firm has become largely interested in the mining and handling of all grades of soft coal. The business grew steadily, until it was found that facilities not before employed were needed, and they built and operated the first steam coal fueling lighter used in Buffalo harbor. As it was found to be very convenient for fueling steamers when loading or unloading cargoes, other fueling concerns soon adopted the same device.
Mr. Hedstrom was no less prominent in general affairs of public and especially bene- volent nature than in business. Indeed it would seem that he was placed at the head of all the enterprises in which he took an interest, and at one time he was president of nineteen benevolent associations. He was for a long time president of the Buffalo Baptist Union, in which position he was able to extend the work of that denomination very materially. He combined in a rare degree that courtesy added to energy and business capacity which made his cooperation in benevolent affairs of inestimable value. In 1894 he was president of the Buffalo Merchants Exchange when the new building was first occupied, and was reelected the next year, but he did not seek political preferment, finding a more useful and congenial field in which to labor. He died in 1894, since which time the business has been continued by the estate without change of firm name, under the direct management of his son, Mr. Arthur E. Hedstrom, and Mr. Eugene C. Roberts. The trade continues in this way without apparent change, and is uniformly prosperous.
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This version of Volume II is based, with permission, on the work of the great volunteers at the Marine Captains Biographies site. To them goes the credit for reorganizing the content into some coherent order. The biographies in the original volume are in essentially random order.
Some of the transcription work was also done by Brendon Baillod, who maintains an excellent guide to Great Lakes Shipwreck Research.