Micajah C. Henley

 

THE ROLLER SKATE KING

Micajah C. Henley (b. 1856, d. 1927) was a successful Richmond, Indiana manufacturer who was widely known for his patented roller skates & bicycles. His Roller Skate Works could turn out 2,000 pairs of roller skates in one day. He was  granted at least two (2 of several held by Henley & Company) U.S. Patents for improvements to the Roller Skate in 1880 and 1881. Henley’s Roller Skates were perhaps the best selling Roller Skates of the late 1890s.

The Henley Machine Works at North 16th street manufactured bicycles, roller skates, scooters, lawn furniture, (& lawn swings) iron working machinery, tools, boring, milling and screw driving machines used in wood manufacturing, gas meters, fence machines, lawn mowers, and the company also provided nickel plating services.

 

The Henley Bicycle Works on North 16th Street, Richmond, Indiana

In 1904 Henley diversified his Richmond operation to include the automotive industry. He built a large Auto Agency & service garage on Main street and commenced selling and servicing vehicles. In 1906,  he sold the business and also leased the real estate  to a firm known as Draper & Whitsell.

M.C. Henley started his business from the garage of his home on North 14th street and within a few years, his company had constructed a large works. The Henley Machine Works was built on North 16th street, on the south side of the railroad tracks, one block north of E street. The buildings are still standing today.

 





Micajah C. Henley and his wife, Addie W. (b. 1856, d. 1943) are buried at Earlham Cemetery in Richmond, Indiana.
M.C. Henley Sketch; by Dan Tate; October 15, 2009  


Late in 1893, to early 1894,  the U.S. Senate, (Committee on Finance), sent the above questionaire to many of the nation’s manufacturing firms. The information gathered from this questionaire would help the  committee determine the effects of the McKinley Tariff. Henley  was in favor of  the Tariff…his answers to the questions are listed below;      

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          No. 2061.

Reply of M. C. Henley, of Richmond, Ind., manufacturer of machinery.

[Established in 1882. Capital invested, $50,000.]

Annual production is $50,000 in special ironworking machinery; boring, drilling, and screw-driving machines for work in wood; lawn mowers, gas meters, roller skates, fence machines, nickel-plating. Business up to 1886, principally manufacturing roller skates during the great demand for these goods up to about last-named year, and this not being in the line of regular manufacturers, cuts no figure in these answers. Principal manufacturing from that year up to first of year 1893 was ironworking machinery and rapidly increased up to 1893.

Fiscal year ending September 1, 1892, was best year in manufacturing of machinery. Commenced running short time in November, 1892, and gradually reduced force and wages, until September 1, 1893, when I closed down the ironworking machine tool department altogether, and it has been closed ever since on account of general prevalent depression in business and consequent falling off in demand for machine tools.

Business depression, I believe, is caused solely by threatened reduction from McKinley tariff. Do not come in competition with foreign trade. Wholesale prices remained firm until 1893, since the early part of which year prices have declined 10 to 20 per cent. Good, lively, healthy stimulating competition from domestic manufacturers. Am a high-protective tariff believer from conviction and principle. McKinley tariff is mild, but is best we ever had specific. Wages are lower; have fallen off 10 to 25 per cent. Total cost of living and expenditures for same $500 to $750 per year for past five years.

Wages $750 to $1,000 per year. Wages now reduced to $500 to $750 per year. Expenditures for living no less than before. Have no suggestions, but would earnestly ask your committee to aid in reestablishing the prosperous times which have obtained during past thirty years, and especially during the four years prior to 1893, by using your influence individually and collectively in condemning and voting against any interference with the McKinley tariff law.

The price of living decreased steadily until 1893, since first of which year no change is apparent. Fifty per cent of our component materials are raw. Our goods are necessities. I would pay 8 per cent if I needed it, and owing to general demoralized conditions in business and financial matters would want better security and highest rates of interest if I loaned money and ran current risks. I am opposed to foreign pauper immigrated labor. We employ 33 1/3 per cent skilled labor. Wages average $1.25 per day for 1894, $1.35 for 1893, $1.60 for 1892; number of hands employed averages 54 for 1894, 56 for 1893, 60 for 1892.

We export about 5 per cent of our manufactures. The cost of manufacture has decreased 5 per cent. Labor has decreased. Selling prices have decreased 20 per cent since 1892. All of our production is domestic. If raw material were free revenue would be reduced and customs duty would have to be imposed to raise revenues. Make no changes from present tariff law.

Source: Replies to Tariff Inquiries; Washington; Government Printing Office ~ 1894

***

The M.C. Henley home on North 14th street, c: 1906

Henley Marketing

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One Response to Micajah C. Henley

  1. Beth Johnston says:

    I am kin to Mr. Henley. Thanks for a very interesting write up

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