Wayne County Biographies

Part of the Indiana Biographies Project

William Test

William Test, the founder of the Richmond Woolen Mills, now conducted by James W. Test & Company, woolen manufacturers of Richmond, Indiana, was born near Dunlapsville, Union county, Indiana, April 21, 1830. His parents were Samuel and Hannah (Jones) Test. The mother was a native of Pennsylvania and the grandfather, Samuel Test, Sr., was born in New Jersey, from which state he came to Cincinnati. He operated a woolen mill at Covington, Kentucky, for several years and later located on a farm at Quakertovvn. He then moved to Richmond, where he died in his eighty-fifth year. While on the farm at Quakertown, his son, Samuel Test, Jr., father of our subject, erected a woolen mill at that place, the building at present being used by J. Milton Stanton, as his store. Mr. Test conducted this mill until 1835, when he sold it and came to Richmond, where he built a carding mill on the site of the present woolen mill. He also engaged in the manufacture of cotton yarns. After his death, which occurred August 10, 1849, during the cholera epidemic, when he was about fifty years old, his plant was discontinued. The old farm is now the home of his son Oliver. His family consisted of seven sons, namely: Josiah; Zaccheus, a literary scholar, educated in German, Latin, Greek and Hebrew, and a teacher of Greek and Latin in the Richmond high school; William, the subject of this biography; Rufus, who was associated in business with his brothers William and Josiah; Oliver, who now resides on a farm and is in the ice business; Erastus, a professor in Purdue University, at Lafayette, Indiana; and Linley M., in the insurance business in Peru, this state.

The three brothers, William, Josiah and Oliver, bought a woolen factory at Hagerstown, April 11, 1854. This they enlarged and improved, and operated it for many years. Josiah died in 1864, and Rufus (who had taken the place of Oliver in the firm) and William purchased his interest in the business. The firm was now known as William Test & Brother, manufacturers. The original capital was six thousand dollars, but this was largely increased by their extensive trade. It had in later years become a manufactory of woolen goods and yarns and did a flourishing business, giving employment to from twenty-five to thirty hands. The present plant at Richmond was purchased soon after the war, by William, Rufus and Oliver. Alpheus Test, the youngest brother of their father, had put it in operation in 1857 and had operated it for nearly ten years when the brothers bought it, paying therefor the sum of sixteen thousand dollars. It was then manufacturing all kinds of woolen goods and yarns. This plant was soon afterward destroyed by fire, and the brothers suffered an almost total loss, except for a small amount of insurance. They rebuilt on a much larger scale, adding a separate mill about an eighth of a mile below, almost on the site of their father's old mill, which employs some twenty hands and is devoted to the manufacture of yarns. They put in all the latest improvements, self-operating mules, etc., and made up nearly one hundred thousand pounds of wool annually. Rufus retained the management at Hagerstown, while Oliver and William were in charge of the plant here. Then the hard times came and many of their debtors failed, causing them a loss of about thirty-five thousand dollars. The Hagerstown property was disposed of and the company here was reorganized under the name of James W. Test & Company, Rufus and William both retiring from the firm.

William Test was married in October, 1859, to Miss Emily Woodard, a daughter of Josiah and Millie Woodard, whose home was near Fountain City, Indiana. She died March 9, 1893. Their family consisted of Hannah M., who was a teacher in the country and city schools until her mother's death, since which time she is staying at home; Wilhelmina, a stenographer and typewriter in Peru, Indiana; James W.; William H., who is a graduate of Purdue University, and has occupied the chair as assistant professor of chemtry in that institution for the past six years; and Emily Janet, a student in the Richmond high school.

James W. Test is the manager of the present company, and has proven himself to be a man of remarkable business ability. He was married October 9, 1895, to Miss Grace Emswiler, of Peru, Indiana, and two bright children have blessed their home,—Sarah Emily and Philip Emswiler. William Test has two daughters belonging to the Friends church at Richmond. The family are well and favorably known, and stand high in the community.

Biographical and Genealogical History of Wayne, Fayette, Union and Franklin Counties, Indiana, Volume 1, The Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago, 1899