People of Steel: Samuel Livingston Mather

Infographic highlighting Samuel Livingston Mather and his contributions to the steel industry and the Cleveland are.

Samuel Livingston Mather

Significant working years mid-1870s-early 1930s

Expanded the iron operations in the Great Lakes region, specifically Cleveland

Samuel Livingston Mather, Jr. was the grandson of the Cleveland Iron Company founder Samuel Mather and son of company executive Samuel Livingston Mather, Sr. The eldest Mather was one of the founders and shareholders of the Connecticut Land Company, which sought to expand into the Ohio Region post-American Revolution. He migrated to the Great Lakes region and joined local associates to establish a mining company just before the Soo Locks opened. Once the Locks opened, shipping ores became much easier, and the Mather family became wealthy from mining and shipping. Cleveland Iron Company eventually merged with Iron Cliffs Mining to form Cleveland-Cliffs Iron Company.

After finishing school, Samuel Livingston Mather, Jr. was planning to go to Harvard University but was injured in a mining explosion that fractured his skull and left arm and injured his spinal. These extensive injuries took three years to recover from and diverted Mather from his Harvard plans. He went to Europe to convalesce. After his return, Mather became an executive in his father’s company and married his three-doors-down childhood neighbor Flora Stone, daughter of an industrialist and railroad magnate and sister-in-law to the 38th U.S. Secretary of State, John Hays, who helped clear the way for the Panama Canal.

In 1883, Mather co-founded Pickands Mather and Company, a direct competitor to his father’s company, dealing in pig iron and iron ore mined in the Minnesota Mesabi, Gogebic, and Marquette Iron Ranges. Pickands Mather became one of the largest Great Lakes shippers of iron ore and one of the four largest iron ore companies in the United States. It is suggested that Mather sought to create this new company to impress his father-in-law.

Mather died of a heart attack in 1931, just ten days after the burial of his grandson who died by suicide after being despondent over the loss of his mother. When he died, Mather was the richest man in Ohio. He contributed much to the Cleveland area, an estimated $7 million in his lifetime. He established the Community Chest, which evolved into what is now the United Way. During WWI, he raised $4.5 million for the American Red Cross. He often gave anonymously. Upon his death, his heirs contested several of his will’s bequeaths and won. During her lifetime, wife Flora dedicated herself to charities helping the sick, homeless, and impoverished of the Cleveland area and promoted education for women.

Raad about more People of Steel in our other blog posts.