A Biographical Dictionary of Leading Living Men of the City of Detroit

Edited by Albert Nelson Marquis


A. N. Marquis & Company


Copyright, 1908 by Albert Nelson Marquis

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Pages 16 – 18

Special Thanks to Bonnie Pattok for transcribing these pages .

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Page 16


Along the boundary which separates the United States from the Dominion of Canada, extending from Maine to Montana, there are twenty three customs districts through which pass all the merchandise that crosses the border for Canadian consumption of for trans-shipment through Montreal and Quebec to European ports. The custom houses are located at the crossing points of railroads along the land boundary, and at the leading ports on the Great lakes and connecting rivers.

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Page 17

The situation of Detroit at the gateway between the East and West, the fact that it is a terminal point of the two principal Canadian railway systems and the crossing point of several American railroads early established its supremacy as a point of departure for goods intended for the foreign markets. Its shipments are far in excess of those of any other port. For a number of years they were about one-sixth of the whole. The last two years they have exceeded one-fifth of the whole. They showed some fluctuations during the periods of tariff uncertainty and changing foreign trade from fifteen to twenty years ago. Those for 1889 were 50 per cent. larger than for 1888 and 43 per cent. Larger than for 1890. There was a large increase from 1890 to 1891 and a small falling off from 1891 to 1892, but since the latter year the tide of domestic merchandise that flows across Detroit river to foreign ports has steadily risen. In 1892 the total was about $6,000.000; in 1897 it was $11,500,000; five years later it had reached $18,694,000, and in 1907 it exceeded $40,000,000. These exports are as varied in character as they are large in volume. Of the 350 classes and sub-classes into which the schedule is divided, 290 are represented in the tables of Detroit exports. The largest single class is provisions, which in 1906 amounted to $11,560,000. Of this, hog

products accounted for $10,335,000. It represented in part the output of Detroit packing houses; in much larger part those of Chicago and Kansas City. Iron and steel and manufactures thereof were represented in 44 classes, with a total value of nearly $6,000,000, representing a great variety of Detroit manufactures.

Cotton and the manufactures thereof amounted to $5,042,000, of which $4,918,000 was for the raw material. The export of breadstuffs amounted to $2,562,000, of which $1,918,000 was in corn. The following classes also exceeded half a million dollars in value each: Live animals, $1842,000 of which $1,47200 was in cattle; coal and coke, $797,000 of which $751,000 was bituminous coal; cars, carriages and other vehicles, $615,000, of which $270,000 was in automobiles.

One of the most striking features of the exports from Detroit is the immense proportion of them that goes to the English speaking peoples. In 1903 Great Britain, its colonies and dependencies took $22,403,535 of our products and all the rest of the world only $345,659. In 1904 the proportions were $23,271,205 to the British possessions against $129,646 to other countries. In 1905 the proportions were $31,800,210 to $55,170; in 1906 they were $36,504,448 to $158,748. Of the latter, Japan is represented by $73,539 and Belgium by $67,436, with insignificant amounts to Germany, France, Switzerland and China, and one shipment each to Siam and the Fiji Islands.

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Page 18

In considering Detroit’s export trade it should always be borne in mind that the government statistical tables indicate the point of departure of merchandise sent abroad, and not the point at which it originates. Detroit’s location with reference alike to its own country and to Canada, and the character of its manufactures, tends to an especially distinct separation of these two classes. Many of its heaviest exports come from farther west and south while most of its own manufactures make their way to foreign markets through Atlantic and pacific ports. Exports of the latter class are numerous and varied. They include some very bulky articles as well as finer goods. Three or four of the largest dry kilns in Russia are of Detroit manufacture; Detroit-built cars roll over the railways of Canada, Mexico, Spain and Russia; the largest brewery in South Africa is fitted with pumps and water valves of Detroit make; Detroit-made automobiles are traveling in nearly every country that has passable roads, even to India, Burma and Siam; Detroit-made agricultural implements go to a number of European countries, and Detroit furniture is making headway in the same markets; Detroit pianos and Detroit self players are found in the homes of a number of European countries; Detroit stoves and radiators have been sold in England and on the continent; Detroit-made adding machines are sold in almost every country that has any system of commercial accounts; Detroit manufactories originated ready mixed paints, and those now have a wide distribution over the world; pharmaceutical preparations manufactured in Detroit go into every country whose people have physical ills to heal; heavy clothing to the Canadian lumber woods and mines; boots and shoes go to Canada and the West Indies; toys to France and Germany; plumbers supplies to Great Britain, to the continent of Europe and to South America; picture frame moldings to Germany; carriages to the mountains of South America; motor boats to England, Russia and Africa; smelting furnaces to the foundries of Germany; these are only a part of Detroit’s contributions to the army of commercial invasion of foreign markets.

The imports at Detroit are less extensive and less varied than the exports, but they are steadily increasing. For the fiscal year ending June 30, 1900, the were valued at $2,794,909; in 1903 at $4,311,186; in 1906 $5,596,153, and in 1907 $6,252,034.

The statements of the Detroit banks and trust companies reflect the general prosperity, and furnish an additional indication of the increase of business during the past four years. The following are aggregates of the principal items of statements made at the dates nearest together in 1903 and 1907

Sept. 9, 1903 Aug. 22, 1907
Loans and discounts $46,606,931 $63,523,946
Bonds, mortgages and securities 37,646,000 46,076,130
Due from other banks 12,728,684 16,271,926
Total resources 107,015,952 138,309,533
Capital stock and surplus 12,785,500 16,315,000
Commercial deposits 35,505,583 35,986,356
Savings deposits 43,158,110 54,600,705
Due to banks and bankers 12,540,035 15,547,761
The resources August 22nd were distributed as follows: Twelve state banks, $85,759,427; five national banks, $38,053,704; three trust companies, $14,496,403. The bank clearings for 1904 were $525,513,905; for 1905, $597,642,312; for 1906, $670,136,679. The clearings for the firs eight months of 1907 indicated a total of about $740,000,000 for the year.

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The Detroit banks are not inclined to encourage speculation and are conservative in respect to real estate loans and to enterprises that have not already obtained a good footing, but they are liberal in loans to well established business houses, whether mercantile or industrial. In some branches of manufacture production continues the year round, while sales are made mostly within a period of three or four months. Such concerns are heavy borrowers at certain seasons, but have no difficulty in securing accommodations, where there is a prospect of liquidation of the obligations at fixed periods. The trust companies also are especially favorable to home investments, and have financed long-time bonds for a number of manufacturing establishments. The relations of Detroit banks are especially intimate with other similar institutions in the state. Detroit is a reserve city, and it banks are depositories for nearly all the other banks in Michigan. It has regularly from $13,000,000 to $14,000,000 in deposits of other banks and bankers. There are about 380 banks and trust companies in the state. A comparison of the statements made at any given period shows that the twenty institutions in Detroit have about 40 per cent. of all the resources, over 40 per cent. of all the deposits and 43 per cent. of the savings deposits of the whole state.

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