Askew Saddlery Company History



Kansas City, Missouri 1866-1928

The Askew Saddlery Company was the ultimate culmination of two of Kansas City, Missouri's most prominent and pioneering businessman the Uncle and Nephew William Askew and Frank Askew. The story of the Askew Saddlery Company was only a small endeavor in lives of these two Gentlemen who were very important to the building of Kansas City, Missouri as a city as well as the nation with regard to the Civil War. The following is a brief synopsis of the life of both of these individuals and these biographies will be separate but will overlap and come together at the development of the Askew Saddlery Company in Kansas City, Missouri 1866.

William Askew

The birth of William Askew took place in St. Clairsville, Ohio November 18, 1824 and he was considered among the Business and Manufacturing Pioneers of early Kansas City, Missouri respectfully the Askew name is still very well known in that area as well as Ohio. William Askew was the youngest of four brothers and was the recipient of a minimal education at best and at the age of fifteen years old, he was serving an apprenticeship in Saddlery and Harness like his brother, Isaac Askew - born November 17, 1810 - the Father of Frank Askew. In 1845, the United States started the annexation of Texas which fought for their secession from Mexico in 1835 – 1836 including the incident at the Alamo where many famous and revered American Pioneers were killed. In 1846, the United States was involved in the Mexican War and William Askew was among the soldiers recognized as performing valiantly in that exchange. He rose to a commissioned rank in the Command of Colonel Curtis of the Third Ohio Regiment. After the war in 1848, William Askew returned home to St. Clairsville, OH where he was given the opportunity to recover over 18 months from a disease which left him seriously ill, contracted during the war and upon his recovery, he went into the Nursery Business with his Father Isaac Askew.

Over the next 12 years, William Askew lived a steady life in Ohio until the beginning signs of the coming Civil War in 1861 and which began April 12, 1861. William was already enlisted into the Company A Twenty Fifth Ohio Regiment. By May of 1862, William Askew was promoted to the Rank of First Lieutenant and in October of 1862, William Askew accomplished the Rank of Captain in Command of Company I of the Twenty Fifth Ohio Regiment. In the 25 months or 2 years and 1 month that William Askew served in the Union Army, he was involved in many of the bloody battles of the Civil War including, but limited to, The Battle of Chancellorsville and The Second Bull Run. By 1864, he had returned to St. Clairsville, Ohio. After The Civil War, in 1866 William Askew moved to Kansas City, Missouri and had established a reputation as a very good businessman and a stand up soldier to be depended upon in any conditions. William Askew went into the Leather Hides and Harness Hardware Business with his Brother Wilson Askew and their Nephew Frank Askew they partnered with a Mr. Dubois. This was the very beginning of the Askew Saddlery Company, although at this time in 1866 the business was named Askew, Dubois & Company. After what appears to be a long standing relationship, William Askew was married to Miss Laura E. Patton whom according to some records was 42 years of age at the time of the marriage in 1867, William Askew would have been approximately 43 years old. William Askew and his Wife Laura Patton Askew had one child together, a son named John W. Askew who unfortunately died at the age of 7 years old and left William and Laura childless for the remainder of their lives. The business grew over the coming years with various small name and product changes originally dealing in Leather Hides and Harness Hardware Askew Dubois & Company. Then by 1873, Mr. Dubois retired and the business was renamed W., W. & F. Askew for William, Wilson & Frank Askew, with Wilson having joined the business along the way and then in 1878, when William Askew retired from the Company, it was renamed again to Askew Brothers Saddlery Company. And finally in 1894, the Company was incorporated as Askew Saddlery Company Company with Wilson Askew listed as President and Treasurer, with Frank Askew listed as Vice President and Secretary at the time of the incorporation filing.

They supplied Horse Gear as well as Cowboy equipment Chaps, Gun Leather and a range of Leather and Dry Goods and the Askew Saddlery was among the favorite Saddleries of Cowboys, driving their beef to market in Kansas City, Missouri and Chicago, Illinois. William Askew has compiled a great wealth in not only the Saddlery and Harness Business but he had many Real Estate holdings in Kansas City and a multitude of other places as well by the time of his death on January, 26 1900, just two weeks after his Wife's death on January 12, 1900. After flourishing for many more years, the Askew Saddlery Business did decline with the invention of the Automobile and after out-living many of their competitors, the Askew Saddlery was purchased by The Harpham Brothers Saddlery in 1928 just before the Great Depression of 1929.

Frank Askew

The birth of Frank Askew took place in St. Clairsville, Ohio on January 9, 1837. His parents, both natives of St. Clairsville, Ohio, were Isaac Askew and Elizabeth McElroy Askew, the parents of Isaac Askew came to Clairsville from Delaware where he lived as a Saddle & Harness Manufacturer of Quaker descent. Elizabeth McElroy Askew as her maiden name McElroy suggests Elizabeth came from a Scottish – Irish Descent. In the beginning the education of Frank Askew was uncelebrated and he attended public schools in St. Clairsville, Ohio but with his excelling in his studies, he went on to College Preparatory at Madison Seminary at Antrim, Ohio. The formal education Frank Askew received was from the University of Michigan from where he graduated in 1858 with his Bachelors' Degree in Business Administration and later in 1900, he was voted at a reunion, being the eldest member, as President of the Alumni Committee a position he held until his death in 1902. While attending college, Frank Askew was known as a hard worker, having worked many varied jobs such as a Clerk in a Dry Goods Store and Clerk in the Office of the County Auditor. Upon completion of his education at the University of Michigan, Frank Askew went to work in the office for the Clerk of the Court of Common Pleas at St. Clarsville, Ohio. During this period (1858-1861), he devoted himself completely to learning Law as a profession. Even though Frank Askew pursued this endeavor with the vigor he did, he never sought to take the Bar Exam for admission to the Bar, although it was noted by many of his counterparts that he was quite capable and prepared to pass the examination.

He relinquished his position with the Court in April of 1861 at the outbreak of the Civil War and was a Commissioned Officer in the rank of Lieutenant in the Seventeenth Regiment of the Ohio Volunteer Infantry, notably one of the first Volunteer Infantries organized after the outbreak of the Civil War. His command served in Virginia during their three month term of enlistment and then he moved on to the organization of the Fifteenth Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry as a Commissioned Captain in late 1861 or early 1862. By December of 1862, Frank Askew had excelled to the Rank of Lieutenant Colonel and with meritorious service he was appointed the Rank of full Colonel by July of 1864. The Civil War ended May 13, 1865 and at the close of the war, Frank Askew received from the President of the United States the Brevet of Brigadier General for Gallant and Meritorious Service throughout the Civil War, which he engaged in from beginning to end. During the service of Frank Askew, he served with the famous Army of the Cumberland which included fighting in Battles at Stone River, Murfreesboro, Chickamauga, Franklin and Nashville, also every campaign connecting this to the Major Battle for Atlanta, which lasted more than 3 months. It is said that during the last two years of the Civil War, Frank Askew was almost constantly in Command of his Regiment, and he was thought to be a fearless and extremely capable officer, thought of very highly by his counterparts. Out of honor to the memory of the fallen men and comrades, as well as in regards to the survivors of the war, Frank Askew maintained membership in the Farragut - Thomas Post of the Grand Army of the Republic of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion.

In 1866, Frank Askew relocated to Kansas City, Missouri - the same as his uncles William Askew, the youngest and Wilson Askew, both brothers of his father Isaac Askew, William & Frank Askew joined forces with a partner, a Mr. Dubois. William Askew co-founded the firm of Askew Dubois & Company which dealt in Leather Hides & Harness Hardware and with the family's background in Saddlery and Harness Manufacturing, success wasn't too far off in the future. In 1870, General Frank Askew was married to Miss Mary Updegraff, a lady educated and cultured, also the daughter of a Real Estate Broker in Kansas City, Missouri named David Updegraff. The couple, Frank & Mary parented 4 children - son Francis D. Askew, who attended Ohio State University and eventually became the Askew Saddlery Bookkeeper; Son Arthur B. Askew, who unfortunately passed away at 6 months of age; daughter Mary, who was educated in private seminary in Kansas City and then attended college at North Hampton in Massachusetts; and lastly Ralph K. Askew, who graduated from Andover College in 1897 and went to work for the Askew Saddlery. Since 1866, the business grew over the coming years with various small name and product changes originally dealing in Leather Hides and Harness Hardware, Askew Dubois & Company. Then by 1873, Mr. Dubois retired and the business was renamed W., W. & F. Askew for William, Wilson & Frank Askew and then in 1878, when William Askew retired from the company it was renamed again to Askew Brothers Saddlery Company. Finally in 1894, the company was incorporated as Askew Saddlery Company with Wilson Askew listed as President and Treasurer and with Frank Askew listed as Vice President and Secretary at the time of the incorporation filing.

In 1866, when the factory was started, the company employed approximately 6 men and by 1900, the turn of the century, the company employed about 135 factory workers with many office, sales and administrative positions as well. The Askew Saddlery Company was among the first established company to cater to a clientele of working Cowboys who were driving their beef to market in Kansas City, Missouri or Chicago, Illinois. The product most noted from the Saddlery was the Askew Saddle, known for being a superior product of excellent materials and workmanship and available in different Saddle designs. These products were so desired that the supply from the Company spanned throughout Missouri as well as neighbor areas also. In politics, Frank Askew was a Republican; although when asked, he never wanted to participate in politics or the political Lifestyle. Some of Frank Askew's most notable accomplishments was to be deeply involved in the development of the education system in Kansas City, Missouri and the surrounding areas as well with a grade school currently in Kansas City named Askew Public School. There was a measurable eight year period where Frank Askew accomplished more for the education system with time and money than any other period in history. Since his involvement in 1879, Frank Askew was named to the Board of Education and was Chairman of the Building Committee, a position he held until he resigned from the Board Building Chairman position in 1886. The list of accomplishments of Frank Askew relative to his work with the School Board in Kansas City, Missouri is extremely well documented and all of those accomplishments are too many to list in this tribute to these men. Mrs. Mary Askew died on April 18, 1898 having been an upstanding and active member of the Westminster Presbyterian Church in Kansas City, Missouri. On April 28, 1902 Frank Askew passed away after a life of accomplishments and adventures, leaving a legacy of being a man among men, a man of his word, fearless in all of his endeavors, who enjoyed the flavor of life and enjoyed passing that to others.

After flourishing for many more years, the Askew Saddlery Business did decline with the invention of the automobile and after out living many of their competitors, the Askew Saddlery was purchased by The Harpham Brothers Saddlery in 1928 just before the Great Depression of 1929.

Frank Askew - Civil War
Frank Askew in uniform during the Civil War (1862) - 25 years old.

Frank Askew - 1900
Frank Askew in approximately 1900, age 60+
Askew saddlery building
Askew Saddlery, 2007, now Askew Lofts (Apartments)