The George Lawrence Company History


Portland, Oregon 1857 - 1985

The History of the George Lawrence Company begins as the Samuel Sherlock Company this history is long and complicated originating in 1857 with three men in the newly formed City of Portland, Oregon. These men were Samuel Sherlock, William Sherlock, Charles P. Bacon (George W. Lawrence the fourth man comes later) the original founders of what would eventually become known as The George Lawrence Company of Portland, Oregon. We will try to cover each of these individual's histories and how they came together to the ultimate forming of one of the Old West Saddle and Sporting Good Leather Manufacturers including a Full line of Gun Leather.

Charles P. Bacon

The History of Charles P. Bacon starts in Candor, Tioga County, New York on April 15, 1823 and at 18 years old he moved to Coldwater, Michigan with his Parents Dr. and Mrs. William Bacon. Just as a side note Dr. and Mrs. William Bacon remained married for more than 70 years with both having lived into their 90s living in Michigan their entire lives. In 1847 Charles P. Bacon moved to Illinois and it is believed at this time he learned the Livery and Harness Making Businesses. Again in 1850 Charles P. Bacon relocated once across the plains and without documented incident with Indians he arrived in the newly developing City of Portland, Oregon which at this time was a one street City Front Street. After short lived employment at various jobs he went into Partnership with William Sherlock who had arrived in Portland at the same time as Charles P. Bacon they started businesses in a Livery Stable and Draying or Hauling Materials Businesses in the growing City of Portland, Oregon. On January 17, 1855 Charles P. Bacon was married to Clara A. Clark formerly from Warren, Maine they were married in Portland, Oregon and they had 2 Children both Daughters. In 1857 through an interest in Saddlery and Harness Making Charles P. Bacon went into Business with Samuel Sherlock as his Primary Working Partner and William Sherlock as an Investing Partner they opened the original George Lawrence Company Saddlery on Front Street in Portland, Oregon although in 1857 it was named differently. The Business Partnership thrived for Twenty One Years although in 1878 Charles P. Bacon and William Sherlock both left the Saddlery Business. The 3rd Partner in the Business Samuel Sherlock was killed after being thrown from his horse on July 15, 1876 this is what brought about the changes in ownership. The next endeavor for Charles P. Bacon was the Blackhawk Stables located on Second Street between Stark and Oak in the now growing Portland, Oregon. As well as maintaining his business interests, Charles P. Bacon was active in civic matters although maintaining his Republican status he never sought Public Office. In Civic matters Charles P. Bacon was the County Assessor in 1854 he was also active in the Volunteer Fire Department and in 1856 he was the County Tax Collector.

William Sherlock

The beginnings for William Sherlock were humble having been born in County Wexford, Ireland to John and Dorotha Sherlock on December 25, 1817 with little more actually being known of his early years other then he received a formal education from an early age. In 1846 in Wexford, Ireland William Sherlock married Miss Dolly Pounder Sherlock with whom he had 11 children 6 Daughters and 5 Sons. In 1848 William and his wife Dolly Sherlock immigrated to the United States arriving at New York City, NY in later 1848 where they remained for a short time acclimating to their new country. In early 1850, William Sherlock relocated his Wife and now 2 Children once again across the Great Plains to Portland, Oregon arriving in Portland on March 4, 1850 at the same time as C. P. Bacon although arriving separately by different means. At this time in 1850, William Sherlock's younger brother Samuel Sherlock was just leaving Ireland to make the same journey William Sherlock made in 1848 with the ultimate destination to be Portland, Oregon. Upon arriving to Portland, it appears that William Sherlock and Charles P. Bacon became business partners. Shortly after their arrivals in Portland, they started a Livery Stable and Draying or Hauling Business, which Horses had long been a passion of C. P. Bacon Livery and Harness making were his means of making a living. In 1857 through an interest in Saddlery and Harness Making Charles P. Bacon went into business with Samuel Sherlock as his Primary Working Partner and William Sherlock as an Investing Partner they opened the original George Lawrence Company Saddlery on Front Street in Portland, Oregon although in 1857 it was named The Samuel Sherlock Company until 1876. The Partnership between William Sherlock, Samuel Sherlock and Charles P. Bacon lasted until 1876 when William Sherlock's brother and partner, Samuel Sherlock, died after being thrown from his horse on July 15, 1876. It was at this time that all four men who were involved in this business divided the business and the assets including many Real Estate Holdings. The next endeavor for Charles P. Bacon was the Blackhawk Stables located on Second Street between Stark and Oak in the growing Portland, Oregon. The year of 1876 proved to be very eventful for William Sherlock with his eldest daughter Dorothea married on April 27, 1876. Also previously stated, on July 15, 1876, his brother and Business Partner Samuel Sherlock died after being thrown from his horse. Last, but most important, William Sherlock's wife, Polly Pounder Sherlock, died as well. The details of how and the exact date she died I have not found.

At this time, as part of his compensation when dividing the assets of their business, William Sherlock in part took a 40 Acre Parcel of land which he developed in the later 1870s and early 1880s. That parcel was divided and developed into what is known as Sherlock Addition in Portland, Oregon and through Real Estate Investing, Banking and The Blackhawk Livery Stables is how William Sherlock made his fortune. After the passing of Polly Sherlock there was still 8 Children in the Sherlock household 1 had married in April of 1876 and 2 of the boys had died from earlier incidents that I am unclear about at this time. By the end of 1876 with many of the outside business affairs of William Sherlock were settled and he became a work from home father who spent majority of his time raising his family and tending his Real Estate Investments. The most famous of these investments was The Sherlock Building at 309 SW 3rd Avenue Portland, Oregon which having been built in 1892 it is currently listed on The National Register of Historical Places. On March 22, 1901 William Sherlock went for his morning buggy ride with one of his daughters as he had done every day for many years. Upon arriving back home, he complained of not feeling well and went for a nap. Although he did awake from his nap within a short time, he died while still resting in his home.

Samuel Sherlock

The history for Samuel Sherlock very much parallels the history of his Brother William Sherlock as the two shared many of the adventures in life separately but together as I will show through the following. The birth of Samuel Sherlock took place in County Wexford, Ireland approximately 1820 to John and Dorotha Sherlock. The early education that Samuel Sherlock received was at the Erasmus Smith Foundation School and that is where he learned leather work and Saddle & Harness Making which would later become his career. It was the Stories of the opportunities available in this Country relayed to Samuel Sherlock in Ireland from his Brother William Sherlock in Portland, Oregon that brought Samuel Sherlock and his young wife to this to this Country in 1851. Upon arriving in the United States Samuel Sherlock went to work for a time in New Haven, Connecticut also in Newark, New Jersey and he stayed on the East Coast for a total of 6 years both times as a saddle maker for existing businesses in those cities. The reason appears to be Samuel Sherlock's wife was giving birth to their first child after they arrived in the United States making that child the first born in the United States and the first Sherlock Child Citizen of this Country. In late 1856 Samuel Sherlock packed up his Wife and his two Children and they moved to Oregon traveling by water route through the Isthmus of Panama and arriving in Portland, Oregon in 1857. Upon his arrival to Portland, Oregon which was coming with great expectation Samuel Sherwood went to work for his Brother and C. P. Bacon in their Livery and Draying Business and he was commissioned to make to Side Saddles for which he was paid a good sum. In mid 1857 Samuel Sherlock, C. P. Bacon and William Sherlock entered into a business partnership calling their business The Samuel Sherlock Company located at 55 Front Street. In this Partnership Samuel Sherlock provided the Saddlery Business Craftsmanship and know how William Sherlock provided financial and business backing while C. P. Bacon provided financial backing and a love of horses while owning the Livery with William Bacon which meant a lot of business to the Saddlery. This Partnership was a very successful Partnership and lasted for 21 years with the business becoming busy enough that Samuel Sherlock guaranteed a job to his and William Sherlock’ Brother in law who wanted to come to Portland, Oregon and leave Ireland as did Samuel and William. The Brother in law was George W. Lawrence who on August 13, 1861 married Samuel and William Sherlock's Sister Rose D. Sherlock in County Wexford, Ireland and by trade George W. Lawrence was a Saddle & Harness Maker. When these arrangements for work and relocating were in place George W. Lawrence and his wife sailed across the Ocean and arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in late 1873 where they remained as a guest of many friends for a short time before moving to Portland, Oregon. On February 8, 1874 George W. Lawrence and his wife Rose Sherlock Lawrence arrived in Portland, Oregon where her Brothers Samuel Sherlock and William Sherlock had been awaiting the arrival of their family. Upon arrival in Portland, Oregon George W. Lawrence went right to work for The Samuel Sherlock Company and this gave the business to expand in size because of the additional work which could be produced.

Unfortunately on July 15, 1876 while riding his horse on his daily ride, Samuel Sherlock was thrown from his horse sustaining serious enough injuries that he died as the ultimate result of the incident. After the other 2 Partners C. P. Bacon and William Sherlock settled their interests in the Samuel Sherlock Company George W. Lawrence came to an agreement where he continued to run the business for the widow and Sons of Samuel Sherlock. This arrangement continued until 1892 when George Lawrence purchased the interests in the business from Samuel Sherlock's Widow. In 1893, with the minor financial interests of his three sons, (George Jr., John and William) George W. Lawrence Sr. changed the name to The George Lawrence Company and Incorporated the business in that same year 1893.

George W. Lawrence Sr.

The beginnings for George Walter Lawrence started in County Wexford, Ireland on May 14, 1832 and at an early age of nine, in 1841, his Father died leaving a Widow and five Children. After this tragedy Mrs. Lawrence maintained her home of 5 Children by keeping store for a local merchant where through hers and the family efforts they were able to prosper and properly educate all 5 Children. It was at the store where George W. Lawrence's Mother presided that George W. Lawrence received his early introduction to running a business and at the age of Fourteen years old, and in 1846 George W. Lawrence took an apprenticeship to learn Saddlery & Harness Making from James Davis a Saddlery & Dry Goods Dealer in Drogheda, Ireland. It was at this time that George W. Lawrence truly honed his business skills in learning not only Leather Work but Marketing and the Dry Goods Business. It was approximately 10 years that George W. Lawrence stayed in the employ of James David until 1857 when he moved to Dublin, Ireland where he continued in the employ of a Department Store in Dublin as a Buyer.

On August 2, 1861, Georgw W. Lawrence Sr. was married to Rosetta D. Sherlock in Dublin, Ireland their first Son George A. Lawrence Jr. was born in Ireland also in 1863. The Lawrence's had 6 Children all told: George Lawrence Jr., John A. Lawrence, William C. Lawrence, also 2 Girls Sophia and Mabel. The 6th Child had died and I have not found the name or cause. It was until 1870 that George W. Lawrence stayed employed at the department in Dublin at that time he found himself unemployed due to an ownership change. Over the next 7 years George W. Lawrence made his living supplying goods in small lots on jobbing terms to businesses of his acquaintance from the previous 13 years. The business opportunities in Dublin were becoming difficult at best and through word from his Brothers in law William and Samuel Sherlock arrangements were made for George W. Lawrence and his family to relocate to Portland, Oregon with a guarantee of work from Samuel Shelock to work at his and William Sherlock's Saddlery & Harness Business. In 1874 George W. Lawrence came to Portland, Oregon to join both of his brothers in law, Samuel Sherlock and William. Although a Dry Goods man by training with his 13 years experience in Ireland, he tackled and mastered every job that came along in Saddlery & Harness Business and was fully prepared to take charge of the business when Samuel Sherlock died two years later on July 15, 1876. Unfortunately on July 15, 1876 while riding his horse on his daily ride, Samuel Sherlock was thrown from his horse sustaining serious enough injuries that he died as the ultimate result of the incident.

After 2 of the remaining Partners C. P. Bacon and William Sherlock settled their interests in the Samuel Sherlock Company George W. Lawrence came to an agreement where he continued to run the business in the capacity of a manager for the Widow and Sons of Samuel Sherlock. This arrangement continued until 1892 when George Lawrence purchased the interests in the business from Samuel Sherlock's Widow. In April 1893, at the age of sixty-one, and in the face of one of the nation's worst panics, Mr. Lawrence secured additional capital and with his own savings and those of his sons and daughters, bought The Samuel Sherlock Company renamed and incorporated the business as The George Lawrence Company. In 1893 When the Lawrence Family purchased the business it was located in Portland, Oregon in a brick building which was 25 x 100 and two stories high and the Company maintained 12 full time employees. By 1905, the Company had built a large building starting it in 1903 at SW 1st and Oaks Street in Portland, Oregon for itself, covering one-quarter block at 100 x 100 and four stories high offering 60,000 Square Feet of working space. The layout of the building was Offices, Showrooms and Shipping on the Lowest Floor, Stock Rooms and Sample Rooms, Third Floor was Saddle Makers and the Fourth Floor was Harness Equipment for both Farming and Draft Horses. The Family maintained their home at 752 Flanders Street in Portland, Oregon. The wife of George W. Lawrence, Mrs. Rosetta D. Sherlock Lawrence died on March 2, 1918 and on December 14, 1923 George W. Lawrence Sr. Died, his Son George A. Lawrence Jr. who was a consultant and advisor to his father, was elected to the Presidency of the Company.

The George Lawrence Company Saddle, Harness and Sporting Goods Factory employed over 250 mechanics through World War I. After World War I The George Lawrence Company expanded into the following Industries Importers & Jobbers of Shoe Findings, Shoe Store Supplies, Automotive Supplies starting in March of 1923, Saddlery, Harness Hardware, Leather Suitcases Trunks and Bags. Also in the early 1900s The Lawrence George Lawrence Company also entered into the Leather Sporting Goods Business Gun Leather, Cowboy Accessories Chaps, Shooters Cuffs, Fishing Creels etc. As of 1925 all three of George W. Lawrence's Sons work for the business George Lawrence Jr. President, George A. Lawrence (Grandson) Vice President, William C. Lawrence Treasurer & Secretary, John A. Lawrence worked for the Company but was not listed among the Corporate Officers. After many years of stable growth throughout the first half of the Twentieth Century the second half of the Twentieth Century was far less kind especially after World War II where the need for Saddlery & Harness Goods declined drastically, as did the need for Gun Leather and some of the other staple products for the Company.

In 1985, all divisions of The George Lawrence Company except the leather goods manufacturing were divested and the manufacturing operation was moved. The Lawrence family sold the building built by George W. Lawrence in 1903 at SW 1st and Oaks Street in Portland, Oregon. It has been renovated on the inside and converted to a commercial building. In 1989, the leather goods business was sold to Gould & Goodrich Leather, Inc. and moved to Lillington, North Carolina. Now, under the name of Lawrence Leather Company, Jim Buffaloe is the sole craftsman carrying on the Lawrence tradition.

The current motto is - "When you own Lawrence Leather, you own a legend."

Samuel Sherlock - George Lawrence Company 1864
Samuel Sherlock - George Lawrence Company Founder - approx. 1864
William Sherlock - George Lawrence Company
William Sherlock - George Lawrence Company Founder
George Lawrence Saddles mark
George Lawrence Company Saddle mark 1893-1940s
Lawrence pack saddle mark
George Lawrence Company early pack saddle mark 1893-1940s
Lawrence chaps makers mark
George Lawrence Company Chaps maker mark 1893-1940s
George Lawrence Chaps mark
George Lawrence Company Chaps mark 1940s-1980s
George Lawrence saddle mark
George Lawrence Company Saddle Mark 1940s-1980s
Lawrence fishing creel mark
George Lawrence Company Fishing Creel maker mark 1920s-1980s
George Lawrence steel plate mark
George Lawrence Company Fishing Creel Steel Plate mark 1920s-1980s
George Lawrence gun leather makers mark
George Lawrence Company Gun Leather makers mark 1910-1940s
George Lawrence gun leather makers mark
George Lawrence Company Gun Leather makers mark 1930s-1940s

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