Thomas Sperry

Last updated

Thomas Sperry
Thomas Alexander Sperry.png
Born
Thomas Alexander Sperry

(1864-07-06)July 6, 1864
Knoxville, Tennessee
DiedSeptember 2, 1913(1913-09-02) (aged 49)
New York, New York
OccupationBusinessman
Spouse
Kate Major
(m. 1891)
Signature
Signature of Thomas Alexander Sperry.png

Thomas Alexander Sperry (July 6, 1864 September 2, 1913) was the co-founder and the "S" of S&H Green Stamps, together with Shelley Byron Hutchinson of Ypsilanti, Michigan.

Contents

Biography

Thomas Alexander Sperry was born in Knoxville, Tennessee, on July 6, 1864. He married Kate Major on January 1, 1891. [1]

Sperry's son, also named Thomas, was born in Cranford, New Jersey, in 1898. He was involved with real estate businesses and died in Palm Beach, Florida, in 1973. [2]

Sperry Sr.'s home in Cranford was destroyed by a fire in 1912, with the fire causing an estimated $150,000 in damages, including the loss of a number of paintings — many from the Charles W. Morse gallery. Sperry's horse trainer and chauffeur were able to rescue several paintings from the house's music room before they were stopped by flames, including an oil painting of Sperry's son on the horse on which he had won a ribbon the previous day at the Plainfield Horse Show. After a firefighter threw down a painting of Sperry's wife in her wedding gown, Mrs. Sperry was quoted as calling out "Don't save that! Save something worth while." [3]

Sperry died in New York City at the age of 49 years on September 2, 1913, of ptomaine poisoning contracted during the return voyage after a two-month trip to Europe. Sperry was brought ashore in a stretcher and his condition was too bad to travel to his home in Cranford. [4]

His daughter, Katherine Sperry, married Walter Beinecke in 1917. His niece, Carrie Sperry, had married Walter's brother, Frederick Beinecke, in 1912. Their son is William Sperry Beinecke. The family donated land in Cranford to the Rahway River Parkway along the Rahway River. [5] [6] [7]

Business

Together with Hutchinson, Sperry founded the Sperry and Hutchinson Company in 1896. [2] Sperry and Hutchinson started their business in Michigan and became what The New York Times described as "the first independent trading stamp company to distribute stamps and books to merchants". The stamps gained popularity during the early 1900s as the S&H program offered incentives to shoppers, rewarding them for making timely payments in cash, helping to maintain customer loyalty to participating merchants. [8]

S&H Green Stamps had peak popularity during the 1960s; a significant percentage of supermarkets and gasoline stations gave the stamps to customers with their purchases. The firm had 800 redemption centers nationwide where stamps were traded for products. For a period in the 1960s, the firm was printing more stamps annually than the United States Postal Service. [8]

Conflict

In 1921, Hutchinson sued the estate of Thomas A. Sperry in court in Trenton, New Jersey, alleging that Sperry had defrauded Hutchinson of part of his shares in the company, allowing William Miller Sperry, brother of the founder, to gain control of the firm. Hutchinson alleged that he had been cheated out of $5 million as a result of secret dividends that diverted company funds to Sperry. [9]

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Cranford, New Jersey</span> Township in Union County, New Jersey, United States

Cranford is a township in Union County, in the U.S. state of New Jersey, located 18 miles (29 km) southwest of Manhattan. As of the 2020 United States census, the township's population was 23,847, an increase of 1,222 (+5.4%) from the 2010 census count of 22,625, which in turn reflected an increase of 47 (+0.2%) from the 22,578 counted in the 2000 census.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Union County, New Jersey</span> County in New Jersey, United States

Union County is a county in the northern part of the U.S. state of New Jersey. As of the 2020 United States census, the county was state's seventh-most-populous county with a population of 575,345, its highest decennial count ever and an increase of 38,846 (+7.2%) from the 2010 census count of 536,499. Its county seat is Elizabeth, which is also the most populous municipality in the county, with a 2020 census population of 137,298, and the largest by area, covering 13.46 square miles (34.9 km2). The county is located in the North Jersey region.

Sperry may refer to:

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Rahway River</span> River in the United States

The Rahway River is a river in Essex, Middlesex, and Union Counties, New Jersey, United States, The Rahway, along with the Elizabeth River, Piles Creek, Passaic River, Morses Creek, the Fresh Kills River, has its river mouth at the Arthur Kill.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Northeast Corridor Line</span> Commuter rail line in New Jersey and New York

The Northeast Corridor Line is a commuter rail service operated by NJ Transit between the Trenton Transit Center and New York Penn Station on Amtrak's Northeast Corridor in the United States. The service is the successor to Pennsylvania Railroad commuter trains between Trenton and New York, and is NJ Transit's busiest commuter rail service. After arrival at New York Penn Station, some trains load passengers and return to New Jersey, while others continue east to Sunnyside Yard for storage. Most servicing is done at the Morrisville Yard, at the west end of the line. The Northeast Corridor Line is colored red on NJ Transit system maps and its symbol is the State House. The Princeton Branch is a shuttle service connecting to the line. Connecting SEPTA Trenton Line service between Philadelphia and Trenton is listed in the timetable.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">S&H Green Stamps</span> Series of American trading stamps

S&H Green Stamps was a line of trading stamps popular in the United States from 1896 until the late 1980s. They were distributed as part of a rewards program operated by the Sperry & Hutchinson company (S&H), founded in 1896 by Thomas Sperry and Shelley Byron Hutchinson. During the 1960s, the company issued more stamps than the U.S. Postal Service, and distributed 35 million catalogs a year. Customers received stamps at the checkout counter of supermarkets, department stores, and gasoline stations among other retailers, that could then be redeemed for products from the catalog. Top Value Stamps ceased operations in the early 1980s, after which S&H would accept savings books for those left with unredeemed Top Value books, before S&H themselves also ceased business.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Rahway Valley Railroad</span>

The Rahway Valley Railroad (RVRR) was a short-line railroad in the Northeastern United States which connected the Lehigh Valley Railroad in Roselle Park and the Central Railroad of New Jersey in Cranford with the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western in Summit. Operating over a span of 95 years (1897–1992) in Union County, New Jersey, in its prime it was one of the most successful shortline railroads in U.S. history, turning a profit during the Great Depression. During its lifetime, the RVRR was instrumental in the development of Kenilworth as well as Union Township, Springfield and other towns along its route. Later years saw traffic decline; in 1986 the line could not secure liability insurance. The railroad was sold to the Delaware Otsego Corporation which did little to revitalize the nearly 90-year-old line. Traffic continued to decline until service ended in 1992, with a single customer remaining.

The Cranford Township Public Schools is a comprehensive public school district serving students in pre-Kindergarten through twelfth grade in Cranford in Union County, New Jersey, United States. The district is governed by a nine-member elected board of education.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Rahway station</span> NJ Transit rail station

Rahway station is an NJ Transit train station in Rahway, New Jersey that is located 20.7 miles southwest of New York Penn Station, with service on the Northeast Corridor and North Jersey Coast lines.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Boland brothers</span>

Frank Edward Boland, James Paul Boland and Joseph John Boland were early aircraft designers from Rahway, New Jersey who started the Boland Airplane and Motor Company.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Robert Ferro</span> American writer

Robert Ferro was an American novelist whose semi-autobiographical fiction explored the uneasy integration of homosexuality and traditional American upper middle class values.

Cranford, New Jersey is home to a diverse number of historic architectural styles, historically significant buildings, and landmarks. Structures dating from 1740 through the present can be found in a relatively small area of the township.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Suffrage Hikes</span>

The Suffrage Hikes of 1912 to 1914 brought attention to the issue of women's suffrage. Florence Gertrude de Fonblanque organised the first from Edinburgh to London. Within months Rosalie Gardiner Jones had organized the first American one which left from The Bronx to Albany, New York. The second hike was from New York City to Washington, D.C., and covered 230 miles in 17 days.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Droescher's Mill</span> United States historic place

Droescher's Mill is located in Cranford, Union County, New Jersey, United States. The mill was added to the National Register of Historic Places on January 8, 1974. It is the oldest continuously operated commercial building in New Jersey.

Echo Lake Country Club is a private, member-owned country club located in Westfield, New Jersey. The club was founded in 1899 and the golf course was designed by Donald Ross in 1913.

William Miller Sperry (1858–1927) is the namesake of the William Miller Sperry Observatory in Cranford, New Jersey. According to his sworn passport application, he was born on September 14, 1858, in Bristol, Tennessee. He moved to Cranford in 1898 and succeeded his brother Thomas Sperry as president of S&H Green Stamps. Buried in Fairview Cemetery, Sperry was the donor behind Sperry Park bordering the Rahway River in Cranford. The site is also part of the Rahway River Parkway, a greenway of the Union County Department of Parks and Recreation Sperry's great-granddaughter, Frances Beinecke, is an environmentalist and the former president of Natural Resources Defense Council, and his grandson is William Sperry Beinecke.

William Sperry Beinecke was an American philanthropist and businessman.

<i>General George Washington at Trenton</i> 1792 painting by John Trumbull

General George Washington at Trenton is a large full-length portrait in oil painted in 1792 by the American artist John Trumbull of General George Washington at Trenton, New Jersey, on the night of January 2, 1777, during the American Revolutionary War. This is the night after the Battle of the Assunpink Creek, also known as the Second Battle of Trenton, and before the decisive victory at the Battle of Princeton the next day. The artist considered this portrait "the best certainly of those which I painted." The portrait is on view at the Yale University Art Gallery in New Haven, Connecticut, an 1806 gift of the Society of the Cincinnati in Connecticut. It was commissioned by the city of Charleston, South Carolina, but was rejected by the city, resulting in Trumbull painting another version.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Rahway River Parkway</span> Greenway of parkland along the banks the main stem Rahway River

The Rahway River Parkway is a greenway of parkland along the banks the main stem Rahway River and its tributaries in Union County, New Jersey, United States. Created in the 1920s, it was one of the inaugural projects of the newly-created Union County Parks Commission. It was designed by the Olmsted Brothers firm, sons of landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted. The Rahway River Greenway plan expands on the original design. Many of the crossings of the river are late 19th century or early 20th century bridges. The East Coast Greenway uses paths and roads along the parkway.

George Washington French Gaunt was an American farmer and politician from New Jersey.

References

  1. The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography. Vol. XV. James T. White & Company. 1916. p. 360. Retrieved December 25, 2020 via Google Books.
  2. 1 2 "Thomas Sperry, 75, Dead; Real Estate Operator Here" . The New York Times . April 22, 1973. Retrieved October 29, 2008.
  3. "Sperrys Flee From Flames By Ladder; Their Country Home at Cranford, N.J., with Its Valuable Paintings, Destroyed". The New York Times . June 8, 1912. p. 9. Retrieved December 25, 2020 via Newspapers.com.
  4. "Thomas A. Sperry Dies. Originator of Trading Stamp System a Victim of Ptomaine Poisoning". The New York Times . September 3, 1913. p. 9. Retrieved December 25, 2020 via Newspapers.com.
  5. Paul Wesley Prindle, Ancestry of William Sperry Beinecke (1974) (Katherine Sperry, daughter of Thomas Sperry, married Walter Beinecke on February 17, 1917)
  6. The Yale Alumni Weekly Vol XXVI No 1 (noting marriage at Cranford's First Presbyterian Church)
  7. "Caroline Sperry Beinecke on her wedding day, 1912". Immigrant Entrepreneurship. Archived from the original on December 20, 2016. Retrieved December 25, 2020.
  8. 1 2 Slatalla, Michelle (March 9, 2000). "Online Shopper; Clicks, Not Licks, as Green Stamps Go Digital" . The New York Times . Retrieved October 29, 2008.
  9. "Sues For $5,000,000.; Hutchinson Renews Litigation for Trading Stamp Profits". The New York Times . Trenton, New Jersey. July 22, 1921. p. 18. Retrieved December 25, 2020 via Newspapers.com.