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Nathan Horn
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Birth: Jul. 12, 1862, Poland
Death: Sep. 8, 1930
District of Columbia
District Of Columbia, USA

A History of Remarkable Achievement How a Young Man, Reaching This Country With But a Solitary Quarter in His Pocket, Has Built Up One of the Largest and Famous Tailoring Establishments in America

Few men in the business world are gifted with the determination and courage that have marked the career of Nathan Horn. Had it not been for his unconquerable spirit and unflagging energy, today undoubtedly he would be cutter or clerk in a store not his own. As fortune has it, Mr. Horn now is owner of one of the largest retail tailoring establishments in the United States. From poverty to riches is a step few in this world achieve, and let it be said that the success of Mr. Horn was not by chance, but rather by pluck and keen business sagacity. His life reads like a tale from the pages of the Arabian Nights.

Fifty years ago in a small village of Poland, Nathan Horn was born. His father was a thrifty tailor who knew his trade well. Under his tutelage Nathan learned the art of cutting and designing. Village life, with its limit of opportunities became irksome to the lad, and at the age of 18 he decided to set sail for America. He kissed his wife of but a few months good-bye, promising, however, that as soon as he prospered in the new country he would send for her.

The voyage was rough, and many times during the trip he was seized with pangs of homesickness. His courage stood him in good stead, for when he stepped from the docks of New York to land he had but a single quarter in his pockets. He did not sit on the benches facing the picturesque Hudson, but turned his face toward the business section. For several days he tramped the streets in a futile attempt to procure work. Biscuits as pliable as hardtack composed his scanty meals. Weak from hunger and privation he stumbles into a little tailor shop in the district now known as the East Side, and asked for work of any kind. He was put to pressing and it was but a short time till he had saved enough to bring him to Washington.

Pat Curtain at that time had a little shop on Capitol Hill, and, being in need of a cutter, he set Nathan to work on a roughly hewn bench. Nathan Horn was a frugal lad, and every cent he earned above his expenses was placed away. From a few dollars his savings grew until they reached the sum of $1,500. Now, in Poland, such a sum is considered a tidy fortune, and young Horn flush with his prosperity, decided to quit the tail flush with his prosperity, decided to quit the tailor's bench and return to his wife in his native land. With his earnings securely tucked away in the bosom of his shirt he started on his journey homeward.

Returns to Poland.

It was a happy family reunion when Nathan reached the small Polish village of his birth. After consulting with his wife, he decided to invest his all in a tailoring establishment that would make the eyes of his former companions open in surprise. For a year Mr. Horn battled to keep his business alive, but the fight was too desperate, and he saw his fortune slowly fade as the days went by. When he finally closed the doors of his store he found himself without a penny, but fortunately, free from debts. The average young man would have been overcome with such ill fortune and willing to end his days in obscurity and poverty. Not so with young Horn. He converted his personal property into cash, again kissed his wife good-bye, and set out for America.

When he landed in New York he had not a dime to his name. Starvation faced him. Work had to be immediately forthcoming or he would become a public charge, with deportation staring him in the face, His search for work was fruitful, and he started the first day to put away a small amount of his savings. Within a month he was again in Washington, his pockets empty, but he filled with a spirit of energy.

A Good Friend.

Strolling down Pennsylvania avenue on the day of his arrival in the District, he chanced upon an old acquaintance of the name of Charlie McLaughlin, who at that time conducted a saloon at 221 Pennsylvania avenue, an Irishman, large of girth with a heart to match.

" How are you making out?" asked the Irishman, slapping Nathan on the back.

" Out of work, out of funds, but not out of spirits," replied Nathan Horn.

" That will never do," replied his friend, and, reaching into his pocket, he drew forth a roll and peeled from the top a $10 bill. "Here is a loan. Take you time about paying it back".

Young Horn directed his steps toward F street. Horse cars were jogging leisurey along that thoroughfare, and clouds of dust rolled up as farmers' teams passed by. F street was then sleeping, and business houses were scarce. Nathan glanced into a cobbler' shop hard by Ninth street. In a moment's time he had made up his mind that he would occupy half of that store, if he had to mesmerize the cobbler in so doing.

Rents Half a Store.

In less time than it had taken him in deciding this step he convinced the cobbler to accept $5 as his share of the rent. With the remaining $5 he purchased irons, tables, and a rickety chair. Then he opened for business. During the first week people passed his shop, but paid little heed to the tailor.

" You are playing in hard luck," tersely put the cobbler, after the first week. "You will need that $5 you gave me, so here it is. If you make good at the end of the month, pay me what you owe me. I will take the chance."

Horn did not lose faith in himself, but pegged away, the best he could. Customers soon came to him, and at the end of the month he remembered the cobbler and his jolly, fat Irish friend. By application his business soon outgrew the cramped quarters of the cobbler shop, and the tailor then moved a block away in a store of his own. By slow stages he built up a business.

" I was earnest and energetic," said Mr. Horn, looking back over his business career, "but I had not learned the advantages of persistent advertising. A man can't expect to hew his own way alone in this world. Had I been as sagacious as now I could have saved myself many sleepless nights and days of worry. The magic of advertising was foreign to me."

Strikes the Panic.

No sooner had young Horn established himself in business, limited in a way, than the panic of 1893 paralyzed trade all over the country. His customers wore their past season's suits, and he was hard put to scrape together enough to meet his rent. Meanwhile his wife had joined him, and he was faced with the problem of supporting a family on practically nothing.

It is at this juncture of his career that he learned the lesson that was to win him success within a short time. While ruminating over his troubles and vainly attempting to conceive plans of relieving his financial embarrassment, a cousin whom he had not seen for many a day walked into his store.

" Well, Nathan you look as if your best friend has deserted you. This will never do, for if you keep up this brooding you will be in your grave in no time," ventured his cousin. "Why don't you go out and seek business? It will never come to you, and especially at this time, when dollars are as scarce as hen's teeth."

" How am I going to do that?" replied Horn, hopelessly.

" Advertise. That is the way we do out in Chicago—and you see I am not starving. Go to your biggest paper in town, Nathan. Tell them that you want to let people know that you are making suits that they will not be ashamed to wear, and won't cripple their pocketbooks."

First Advertisement.

That was the awakening of Nathan Horn. To be sure, it was with considerable trepidation that he thrust a $10 bill in his pocket and paid a visit to The Washington Post.

" I have a message I want to tell the men of the District," said Mr. Horn, as he with some hesitancy, slipped a bill over the counter in the business office of The Post. " I want to let them know that I am selling suits for $12.50." continued he, "and for value they can't be surpassed." Turning on his heel, he fled from the office, firmly believing that he has cast his$10 to the winds. The next day he scanned the Sunday paper, and was considerably crestfallen when he saw the space allotted his advertisement. He had expected to see his name spread over at least one page.

On the Right Road.

Tailorwise he was seated on his bench the next Monday, idle, but hopeful. His idleness was not of long duration, for within a short time customers came. At the close of that week his books showed 30 orders that he had taken—and they were still coming He employed two tailors, but found that he couldn't keep abreast of his growing business. And this all was during the panic, when men walked the streets searching for work and the cobwebs grew on the entrance doors of other merchant shops.

" I was afraid of my success," related Mr. Horn. "I imagined that it would disappear as magically as it had appeared. I hesitated to take a larger store or employ more tailors. All my friends were failing in business, and this helped deter me from being progressive."

Not a great time after Mr. Horn had inserted his first advertisement an energetic young man entered his shop and requested a few moments of his time to talk business. The young man with the energy was a solicitor from The Post, and he advised Mr. Horn to start a consistent advertising campaign.

" But how can I?" argued Mr. Horn. "My tailors now have so much to do they are on the point of rebelling. If it were not for the sight of the hundreds of idle men my workers would have walked out long before this."

" Why don't you move to larger quarters, hire some of the idle men, and build up a business that will bring credit to your name?" argued the solicitor.

Larger Quarters.

That night Mr. Horn and his wife held a conference, and he laid before her the arguments of the advertising man. Mrs. Horn listened with eagerness to her husband's recital. They both agreed that growth never comes to those who hesitate, and they decided to accept the advice of The Post solicitor.

The next day Mr. Horn went direct to the office of The Post, sought out the young solicitor, and told him he was ready to fire away. From that day on his business grew with the rapidity of a mushroom. Stores were rented, and then abandoned for lack of space. During this period of prosperity, however, Mr. Horn never advertised a fact that he didn't back up with the goods. He purchased in large quantities, in order to obtain choice cloths at reasonable prices, and he gave his customers the benefit of this saving. In advertising he showed as much determination as he did in the building of his business. If one advertisement failed to bring results he didn't raise the flag of truce and surrender, but kept firing away, always keeping his name before the public, and satisfying each purchaser as he came.

Thousands of dollars Mr. Horn has spent in advertising, but in return he has received a volume of business that has tripled his expenditures many times over. One of Mr. Horn's business axioms is to set aside each year a certain percentage of the profits for advertising, for a firm's advertisements reflect their prosperity. If a merchant is just making both ends meet he hesitates to advertise, he lacks the courage to take the initial step. On the other hand, the prosperous business man knows wherein his success lies, and, accordingly, is not fearful of expending a percentage of his profits.

To start an advertising campaign and then to quit is likened by Mr. Horn to the old man who slew his goose to discover the origin of the golden eggs.

Present Business.

Today, on Seventh street, bounded by F and G streets, stands a monument to the business ability and sagacity of Nathan Horn. It is his new store, which he occupied several months ago. In point of size it is the largest tailoring establishment in the District. It is the last word in point of accommodations and artistic effects. Today 50 tailors are employed by Mr. Horn, four salesmen are kept ever busy attending to the customers, and an army of cutters and designers are ever alert fashioning cloths along models of the latest styles.

" All my success I attribute to the advertising columns of The Post," spoke Mr. Horn yesterday, "Had I lacked the courage to accept the advice of my cousin in Chicago I today would be behind a counter or bending over a heated goose."

Sunday, March 24, 1912,
H1, Horn's Section.


Parents: Aaron and Esther (Florman) Horn
Family links: 
  Betsy Belle Bronovnitz Horn (1863 - 1946)*
  Jennie Horn Makover (1882 - 1971)*
  Fannie Horn Littman (1889 - 1967)*
  Elihu Horn (1889 - 1938)*
  Lillian Horn Johnson (1893 - 1989)*
  May Horn Starbecker (1895 - 1984)*
*Calculated relationship
Adas Israel Cemetery
District of Columbia
District Of Columbia, USA
Created by: Jennifer
Record added: Jun 21, 2010
Find A Grave Memorial# 53942947
Nathan Horn
Added by: Katie P
Nathan Horn
Added by: Katie P
Nathan Horn
Added by: Jennifer
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Rest in peace.
- Doodlebug
 Added: Mar. 1, 2014
Rest in peace.
- Darlene T.
 Added: Jun. 12, 2011

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