Saturday, April 11, 2015

Part 2: The Soldiers' Business Messenger and Dispatch Company

This is the second installment, although delayed, of my research of The Soldiers' Business, Messenger and Dispatch Company executive team. If you want to read my first article on the messenger service please click here.
For me, real excitement starts with the drive home after finding the Scripophily gem. I have experienced this maybe a handful of times over the last several years. You know the feeling, although verification of my suspicions is necessary, a feeling of calm washes over me as I imagine the hours of research, digging for explanations by learning the details of these long forgotten investments. My goal for this blog entry is to wrap up my research of the rare stock certificate found at the local flea market in New Jersey.

Almost every evening, for several weeks after this find, I settled in on my comfy couch searching for more information about the company. The certificate is signed by four (4) different Generals, two from the civil war and two promoted after the war when they enlisted with the New York War Staff soon know as the National Guard of New York, including one recipient of the Medal of Honor from the Civil War, Major-General Alexander Shaler - signed as President (Recipient of the Medal of Honor and Founder and President of the National Rifle Association).

The certificate is issued to Brigadier General, New York War Staff Seldon E. Marvin (Major 1861-5 U.S.V.) (1835-1899)  served as a U.S. Army paymaster. Marvin had previously served as the Adjutant of the 112th New York Volunteers. Photo by Addis Washington D.C. After the War Marvin served as the Adjutant General for the State of New York.

Brigadier General,
New York War Staff
Seldon E. Marvin

1862-1896 Army Version
Medal of Honor

General J. Henry Liebenau was a distinguished adjutants of the Seventh Regiment enlisted in the Second Company joining in 1849.  He was regularly promoted unti he resigned in 1863 and in 1864 was reappointed adjutant of the Seventh Regiment After a brief service in 1866 as aide de camp for the staff of Governor Fenton he was appointed commissary general of subsistence. Later in 1870 he was appointed division inspector upon the staff of the First Division and was for two years acting chief of staff and he resigned and finally retired from the military service in 1874. General Liebenau died in New York in 1878.

Major-General Alexander Shaler, Recipient of the Medal of Honor -  was born on March 19, 1827 in Haddam, Connecticut whose family immigrated from Stratford-on-Avon, England, to Boston in 1662, and organized the town of Haddam. Alexander grew up in New York City and married Mary McMurray on March 31, 1847. Shaler joined the New York Militia as a Private in 1848, and by 1860 was promoted to Major. Deploying briefly to the Defense of Washington, D.C. with the Seventh Regiment, New York Volunteer Infantry, Shaler became Lieutenant Colonel in the 65th New York, receiving the promotion to full Colonel in time to lead the 65th during the Second Battle of Fredericksburg, at Marye's Heights. 

During this battle, in a most critical moment during the attack, the Union charged in columns up two main roads after mortally wounding the highest ranking officer to gunfire and was about to be over taken by the severe fire of the enemy's artillery and infantry. At that moment, Colonel Shaler pushed forward with a supporting column, into the Confederate lines and turned the Confederate flanks. Shaler personally took up the colors and led his men into the fortifications of General Jubal.

Early capturing the position and an officer, earned a promotion to General and the Medal of Honor. Shaler’s unit would also see battle at Salem Church, Gettysburg, and the Overland Campaign, and Shaler personally would ascend to the rank of Brevet Major General, spend time commanding a Union prisoner of war camp also spent time as an inmate at Libby Prison following his capture at the Battle of the Wilderness, and then spent the remainder of the War in the Department of the Gulf.

After the end of the War, Shaler returned to New York City, where he immersed himself in civic activities.
1867-1870       President of the New York fire department between
1870-1873       Fire commissioner
1874-1875       Reorganized the fire department of Chicago after the great fire of 1874 and serving as consulting engineer to the board of fire and police.
1883-1887       President of the health department of New York City
1883-1887       One of the founders and president of the National Rifle Association and an incorporator/club commander of the Army and Navy New York Commandery of the   Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States.
1883 and 1884 President of the Association of Union Ex-Prisoners of War New York City
1887-1896       Member of the Union League Club the GAR the New York Historical Society the American Geographical Society the American Museum of Natural History the General Society of Mechanics and Tradesmen and the Society for the Preservation of Scenic and Historical Places and Objects.
1867-1869       President of the Soldiers' Business Messenger and Dispatch Company, President and Director of the National Rifle Association
1899-1900       Mayor of Ridgefield New Jersey and President of the board of health and the board of education and of the Improvement association.

Alexander Shaler died December 28, 1911 in New York City, interred in Ridgefield, New Jersey.

After several attempts, I was able to find a copy of the bylaws listed as an item located in the Library of Congress (LOC). A trip to the nations capital was not practical so while I continued to explore the LOC website I discovered a web form intended for submitting questions about ongoing research. So I drafted a brief explanation of my research to date asking for any assistance. To my absolute amazement, a response email was received five hours later from Eric Frazier, Reference Librarian in the Rare Book and Special Collections Division of the Library of Congress. Eric emailed a copy of the company bylaws including a link to the copyright holders I am certain I will be visiting the Library of Congress website soon. THANK YOU Eric!

J. Henry Liebenau
Discovered in the by-laws was the accessible requirement of ownership of the stock required for all officers and directors. Each director was required to own at least 25 shares of stock. An additional round of financing was assessed in 1868 and since the shares were proportionally assigned, current shareholders were required to contribute a total $100,000 of additional capital. For those that did not pay, an advert was placed in the newspaper containing their name, the amount owed and the number of shares held. In some cases it was a matter of .43c but that was still considered an unpaid debt.

On most share certificates issued since that time period are marked "Non-accessible" as the investment made did not obligate the investor to future contributions. Non-accessible stocks typically had the words "fully paid and non-accessible" printed on the stock certificate. Investopedia explains 'Non-accessible Stock' as accessible stocks proved unpopular, and most companies switched over to issuing non-accessible stock in the late 1880s . Although equity was no longer sold at a discount compared to its share price, investors were more confident about buying non-accessible stocks because they no longer had to be concerned about the possibility that the issuer would show up sometime in the future and force them to make additional investments after the initial transaction.

Major-General Alexander Shaler
Recipient of the Medal of Honor
A lawsuit against The Soldiers' Business, Messenger and Dispatch Company was based on a mortgage for consideration of goods and chattels part of which were in the State of New York and part in New Jersey. The mortgage was filed in the former but not in the latter state. Details of the suit held that the mortgage was valid and operative against creditors in New York but not valid in New Jersey. Testimony documented from court records shows what portions of the mortgaged property were severally in New York and New Jersey when the mortgage was delivered.

In the spirit of the law, the court upheld the idea that the assets geographically located in both states were intended to be included in the original mortgage and as a result the assignee had an expectation that those asset would be included in the dismantling of the company.

The end of The Soldiers' Business, Messenger and Dispatch Company came in the form of bankruptcy filed in April 1869 which resulted in a challenge over a dispute of which assets could be used to discharge the filing in Smith v. The Soldiers' Business, Messenger and Dispatch Company.

Pittston Gazette July 25,1900 Pittston, PA 
Library of Congress - Bylaws of The Soldiers' Business, Messenger and Dispatch Company
Investopedia 'Non-Assessable Stock'

January's event at the National Stocks and Bond Show was exciting, educational and well, just pure fun. I presented Internet Excavations by a New Scripophilist. I shared some of my search techniques locating corners of the internet where old certificates go to hide. Please consider for a day learning about old stocks and bonds. Send any comments, suggestions, funny stories or confessions to Well... maybe not confessions.

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