George Lilly

Biography of George Lilly

George Lilly
George Lilly

GEORGE LILLY. The late Mr. Lilly was one of the industrial leaders who in the past quarter of a century have placed Anderson among the large productive centers of manufacturing in Indiana, His death on December 5, 1913, was consequently a distinct loss to all of Madison County, He was one of the founders and until his death president of the National Tile Company, This is an industry of which the community is properly proud, It has been in continuous existence for nearly a quarter of a century, and during this time it has been as much of an institution, and in many ways more valuable to the existence and welfare of a large portion of the population, as the court house, post office, or any other particular institution which is regarded distinctly as belonging to the public, The National Tile Company’s plant was established in 1889, as the Columbia Encaustic Tile Works, with capital stock of seventy-five thousand dollars, Despite the fact that the plant was destroyed by fire in 1892, its growth was steady and its prosperity sure, and it has for some years been one of the most substantial of Anderson’s larger industries, with a capital of five hundred thousand dollars, Mr. B. O. Haugh and George Lilly were the principal partners in the original enterprise, For many years Mr. Lilly was vice president and treasurer of the company, but on the death of Mr. Haugh became president, and the full official directory up to the time of Mr. Lilly’s death was as follows George Lilly, president; Louis E. Lathrop, vice president; Harry Haugh, secretary; and Louis S. Jones, treasurer. The chief output of the National Tile Plant is tiles for walls, flooring and fireplaces, The company has made a reputation for the high quality of these wares, which are now shipped throughout the United States as well as South America. They are particularly popular on account of their fine finish and durability, as well as for their distinctive coloring, The company have on their payrolls from three hundred and fifty to four hundred persons, It needs little calculation to understand that such an industry should be a large factor in the aggregate business enterprise and economic welfare of a city like Anderson. The works comprise a number of brick buildings, and the machinery used in the manufacture is of the latest and most improved pattern.

Mr. George Lilly was a native of Pennsylvania, born at Reading, Berks County, in February, 1860, and was therefore in his fifty-fourth year at his death, His parents were James W. and Mary E. (Kerper) Lilly, In 1860, the family came to Indiana, first locating in Madison, and later moving to Lafayette, where the father was employed in the railway service for some time, He subsequently engaged in farming, and served a term as sheriff of the County. Still later he was employed as superintendent in the railroad shops at Lafayette, and remained superintendent and machinist until his death in 1866. George Lilly attained his primary education in the public schools of Indianapolis, and after graduating from the high school he was connected with the Big Four Railroad. Leaving railroading in 1884, he became connected with the imuffling business in Indianapolis, Then in 1889 when twenty-nine years of age, he came to Anderson and associated himself with Mr. Haugh’ and Mr. Lathrop, in establishing the title factory.

Mr. Lilly married Miss Carrie Olmstead, of Cincinnati, a daughter of Hiram B. Olmstead, a prominent banker of that city, The one daughter born to their marriage is Ella Marie, a graduate from Mount Vernon Seminary in Washington, D. C. Mr. Lilly was one of the prominent Masons,. being affiliated with Fellowship Lodge No, 681, A. F. & A. M.; Anderson Chapter No. 52, R. A. M.; Anderson Commandery of the Knights Templar; and also with the Scottish Rite, including the Thirty- Second Degree, his membership being in the Consistory at Indianapolis, and with Murat Temple of the Mystic Shrine at Indianapolis, In politics he was Republican, and had served one term as a member of the County Council, He was a member of the State Committee, and chairman of the Eighth District, at the time of his death, The Lilly home is at 416 West Twelfth Street.

Many tributes were paid by friends and business associates to the character and achievements of Mr. Lilly, but concerning his most intimate character, the most noteworthy was a brief discourse delivered by his pastor, Many of the more beautiful things of the intellectual and spiritual realm had been translated by Mr. Lilly into his practical relations with his fellow men and he was ever an upright kindly gentleman, whether on the street or in the factory or in his own home.

“He was a citizen of the great business world, with- spotless integrity, With him a good name was rather to be chosen than great riches, and through these years, with the ebb or flow of fortune, he was truly a man of God… Books were his passion. How eagerly he sought the most perfect specimens of the printer’s art! How he demanded that the page should be illuminant with the mark of merit, and his splendid library was collected with the most splendid culture and taste.

“His heart, in the midst of all this, went out in such outpouring of love in those ways which lead up to books, What great care he bestowed upon that office to which he was called as trustee of one of our finest schools, Western College for Women, Oxford, Ohio, and one of the last visits I had with him he was seeking a man worthy to be trusted to be placed at its head. To his church he gave of himself and of his means. He cast his bread upon the water. He was a consecrated man and in his church he was truly a man sent from God. . . .

“Then the love that abideth is the love that endureth. The love that for thirty years and more transformed the four walls into a paradise; beautiful and absorbing in its beginning it seemed that each new day added sweetness to the sparkling cup of the new wine of passion in his household, These beautiful years ended with a sorrow like the great world’s altar stairs, that slope through darkness up to God, There are intense moments when it is like this-‘ Oh for the touch of a vanished hand, and the sound of a voice that is stilled,’ The good, the true, the pure, the just, take the charm for ever from them and they crumble into dust, The love that planned this home and for thirty years and inure kept it holy is as eternal, and by far more imperishable, than the encaustic tile shapen and put on the market under his directing ire.

“Death came to him as it will come to all men, but death came as the fruition of his life-as the dewdrop finds the heart of the rose. And when life’s infinite summons came, it was with the sense of the Everlasting arms that were underneath, and that the eternal God is our abiding place.”



Madison County IN,

Forkner, John. History of Madison County, Indiana: a narrative account of its historical progress, its people and its principal interests. Chicago: The Lewis publishing company, 1914.

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