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New Castle's All Time Leading Citizen

Levi Allen (LA) Jennings

1834 - 1914

   In trying to come up with the all time leading citizen of the city of New Castle, IN there are several names that come to mind; Benjamin Parker, Gen. Wm. Grose, Charles S. Hernley, Thomas M. Randall, Gen Omar Bundy along with several other prominent citizens who have contributed to the growth and prosperity of the city of New Castle over the last one hundred and eighty years. Thomas Randall, along with Charles Hernley were the ones who envisioned New Castle as a city ready for growth at the turn of the century and were the ones responsible for bringing to New Castle the many factories and other businesses of the twentieth century. But Levi Allen Jennings contributed more for the citizens than any of the others, providing homes, creating employment, and bringing the big city merchandise to New Castle with his businesses houses. One of the leading causes for the lack of business growth and expansion in New Castle today is that there exist no take charge "movers and shakers" left in the community with those visions of the future of New Castle as there were in those early times. Hopefully that person is still out there somewhere just waiting for the right time and opportunity to put some life back into the city of New Castle, IN once again. Those were the good old days. They are gone forever, most likely never to return. HCGS

This article appeared in The New Castle Courier in 1881
Levi Allen (LA) Jennings

   In collecting material for a statistical write up of New Castle, it is well to include historical matters and facts regarding the resources and institutions of the city, and embrace notices of the men whose enterprises has been the means of erecting such buildings. The gentleman whose name heads this article is prominently identified with the erection of quite a number of buildings, both business and dwelling.
   Mr. L. A. Jennings, the subject of this article came to this city in the year 1867. He went into the hardware business, and at the same time ran a sash and door factory, plane mill, and a lumberyard. He finally sold out the hardware store and ran the mill alone. He was not satisfied with this business alone and added, from time to time, machinery for the manufacturing of furniture. He built himself an office and wareroom and went into the business quite extensively. He commenced in buying hard and soft lumber of all kinds and again went into the hardware business. In 1877 and 1881 he built the large, elegant and commodious block on East Broad Street. This block would be a credit to any city of a hundred thousand inhabitants, and one that the entire population should feel proud of. It is 132 by 60 feet in size, and three stories high, with a good and commodious basement, the whole being finished in the most approved and handsome style. It is by far the finest building ever erected in New Castle and is stands as a monument to the untiring industry, energy and enterprise of a citizen who is not afraid to back his community.
   Besides this elegant structure Mr. Jennings has built quite a number of dwellings in different parts of the city. He is proprietor of a large addition to the town of New Castle, and has built quite a number of dwellings in the town for the accommodation of renters. Mr. Jennings is the most enterprising citizen of our beautiful city. He is imbued with a spirit of energy that has brought him forward, not only as a businessman, but also a private citizen, to a position of respect and esteem that is seldom attained by men in this age of the world. It is to him New Castle owes her prosperity and growth. The new railroads that are now being built through our fine city were brought here largely through his instrumentality.
   Mr. Jennings' enterprise and ability were so well thought of by the stockholders of the New Castle and Rushville Railroad that they elected him as a director, and afterwards to the office of president of the railroad. Those honors were conferred upon this gentleman without any solicitation from him, and were as much of a surprise to him as they were to his friends. It is to him more than any other half dozen men in this County that our prosperity is due. Not only is he a public-spirited man, but he is a friend of the man who will help himself as well. The lots he has offered to the public have been on such reasonable terms that the laboring man was able to purchase and erect a home without starving his family. New Castle has reasons to feel proud of Mr. Jennings as a citizen and a public benefactor, and can with pardonable pride, point to him as her kindest, most enterprising and public spirited resident.
   This gentleman has succeeded in accumulating considerable wealth during his business career. He is not like a great many men, when they get a sum of money ahead, lock it up and let nobody be benefited by it; but, on the contrary, Mr. Jennings is always investing his money not only where it will do him good, but at the same time be of some benefit to his fellow man. He is very popular among all classes, and especially this is the case among those who have to work for a living. They see in him a true friend. It is through his enterprise and executive ability that so many men have been given employment. The various enterprises of which Mr. Jennings has been the leading spirit, have been the means of putting and keeping in constant circulation thousands of dollars each year, and he has given many a poor man employment when he otherwise would have gone without anything to do, and, perhaps their family would have suffered the consequences.
   Mr. Jennings, after the erection of his new building, stocked it with an assortment of goods the like of which has never been seen in this city before. In fact, there are few retail houses in Indianapolis or Cincinnati that carry as large, and none, we believe, that carry any larger stocks than is to be found at this popular place of business. Mr. Jenning occupies three floors, each 132 by 24 feet in size, and the second floor of the entire block, which is 132 by 60 feet.
   On the first floor will be found a very large and complete stock of hardware, silverware, tin-ware, stoves, and queens-ware, glassware and house furnishings goods generally. The second and third floors are devoted to household furniture. The stock is very large, in fact, had he the room to properly display his goods he could cover more than double the room he now occupies. In the furniture line there are bedroom sets, parlor sets, library sets, fancy and plain chairs of every variety and price, elegant folding lounges and sofas, and in short, an endless variety of everything in the furniture line.
   The basement is used as a tin shop for the manufacture of tin ware and for the storage of stoves, and keeping of oils, paints, glass and etc. A room 100 by 36 feet, on the second floor of the adjoining building is used as a carpet room. The lighting is splendid, and there are few carpet rooms in metropolitan cities that can compare with this one. The stock of carpets there to be seen is very large, and embraces everything from the cheapest hemp and rag carpet to the most handsome and elegant body Brussels and velvet carpets.
   Everything in stock at Mr. Jennings establishment is first-class in every respect. His goods are all fresh and desirable, and excellent for buyers to select from. And that he is prepared to offer extra inducements to buyers that no one will question who will look at the matter fairly. He carries a very large stock, buys in large quantities, and handles only the most desirable of goods. In the furniture line he is prepared to offer bargains than cannot be duplicated in this section of the country. He manufactures himself, buys his material direct, and as a consequence has no large cost to pay the middlemen.
   We cannot do this elegant and complete establishment justice, in our limited space, nor give such a mention of Mr. Levi Jennings as we would desire. But we will say that we regard this gentleman as our most valuable and worthy citizen, and as a man it is not going too far to say that Levi Allen Jennings has achieved a position and success acquired by very few, and that he enjoys the highest esteem and confidence of the general public, who see in him a man worthy of their trust and patronage.

2006 UEB


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