Submitted by Cindee Mines
The story goes that Alfred Rea Hughes went to the Cleveland office of John D Rockefeller and sat until Mr. Rockefeller would see him and Mr. Rockefeller respected his tenacity and finally met with him, becoming business partners. Now, I have not found any actually proof that this is true, but when Mr. Hughes started the Warren City Tank and Boiler Company on Griswold Street in 1893, oil tanks were in high demand. He built his plant along the railroad track to get the tanks shipped out quickly. It became successful very quickly and many employees stayed for decades which is a sign of good wages and treatment. The Warren Tank and Boiler building is where Alcan was, now Novelis on Griswold Street.
Alfred R. Hughes was born in Coalbrookdale, England on July 24, 1862 and immigrated to Niles, Ohio with his family at the age of 10. He was a very enterprising young man and started working at the age of 12 at Doctor McKinley’s drug store in Niles. Eventually he went to work for the Reeves Brothers Boiler Works in Niles. In 1893 the Reeves Brothers moved their plant to Alliance, Ohio and wanted Mr. Hughes to move with them. He wanted to start his own business and so decided to move to Warren to do just that. It was not the best time to start a new business as the country was still suffering from the money panic of 1893. But with skillful management the company succeeded.
Alfred Hughes was married in Niles to Jennie Edwards on Sept. 4, 1888. Her brothers became partners with her husband in the business. Alfred Hughes was President, W. F. Edwards VP, and B.W. Edwards secretary-treasurer. So it was very much a family affair. Even where they lived in Warren became a family affair with Benjamin Edwards building a home next to the Hughes at 660 N. Park. This home became the AAA Club in the 1950’s.
When the Hughes first came to Warren in July,1893 they lived at 135 Belmont Street, per the old street numbering, now 161 Belmont. About 1902 they purchased a large 25 room home at 634 N. Park from Mr. Kernohan who moved to the Packard Flats just down the street. This became know as the Hughes mansion for many of us. His company Warren City Tank and Boiler became one of the biggest in Trumbull county, sending tanks all over the world to places like Canada, China, Japan and Turkey. Mr. Hughes was not only dedicated to his company but to his adopted city of Warren also. He had the band stand in court house park built as a gift to the city, he was a trustee of the Warren Public Library, and VP of Warren City Hospital from it’s beginning in 1906 until 1918 when he became President. During WW I his business was crucial to the war effort and he served as Chairman of the Red Cross War Fund of Trumbull County. Mr. Hughes was of course a member of many social clubs including Elks, Masons, and the Trumbull County Club. He was also a member of the Warren Board of Trade and a director of the Western Reserve National Bank.
He and family were members of the First Presbyterian Church and gifted the large organ to the church. His family included his wife Jennie who passed away before him in 1930, and 2 children born after they had moved to Warren. Raymond Edwards Hughes was born on October 22, 1893 and his sister Margaret E. Hughes born Sept. 2, 1906.
Alfred Rea Hughes passed away Sept. 17, 1935. At the time of his death his estate was valued at $939,486.00 That is about $16, 498,210.69 today. Mr. Hughes left the largest of his bequests to city hospital-$20,000 ($351,000) and first Presbyterian Church $10,000 ($175,600) with smaller gifts to the YM and YWCA, the Warren and Niles Public Library, St.Joseph’s Hospital, and 6 employees. He also provides 15% of the estate to be turned over to the Alfred R. Hughes Family Fund for Charitable purposes. Besides his home on N. Park Mr. Hughes also owned 8 lots on Perkins Circle. According to the Warren paper the “deceased requests that some memorial to him, useful to the public, be built on eight lots owned by him in Perkins Circle. He directs that money from the Family Fund be used for this purpose.”
Out of respect for this well-known businessman, the flags were flown at half-mast on downtown businesses, city hall and the court house on the day of his funeral. Many businesses and the library were closed so people could attend the services.
Alfred Hughes and his family are buried in the Hughes Mausoleum in Oakwood Cemetery in Warren.
On a side note, Alfred’s son Raymond married Elizabeth Camp Pond. Other well-known names in Warren’s history.