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 Richard Robert “Dick” Donnelley

Richard Robert “Dick” Donnelley

Hamilton, Hamilton Municipality, Ontario, Canada
Death 8 Apr 1899 (aged 60)
Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, USA
Burial Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, USA
Memorial ID 11284 · View Source
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Founded the publishing company R. R. Donnelley which published phone books, catalogs (including one for Montgomery Ward) and other items. The company included Lakeside Press and, for a time, the offices were in a building designed by Howard Van Doren Shaw.

"The most valuable rule in life," says Richard R Donnelley, the "Prince of Printers," in Chicago, "is to stick to your first deliberately chosen business. Stick to it through thick and thin; stick to it in adversity as well as in prosperity. In many instances the great and successful enterprises of today were abandoned by former owners, disheartened by small returns, and tempted to others adventures by alluring and perhaps deceptive appearances. Stick - stick - stick - whether your line is typesetting, or pork packing, or dealing in dry goods or any other kind of goods!"

Richard Robert Donnelley began life as a printer's boy. He was born in the prosperous city of Hamilton, Canada, November 15th, 1836; his parents had recently come from Ireland, his father being Irish, and his mother English. The Donnelleys of Armagh had for centuries been manufacturers of linen. His mother was Jane Eliot and traced her lineage back to Sir John Eliot, one of the great men of Cromwell's time.

Widow Donnelley sent her boy to the Hamilton public schools. He and his mates determined to emigrate to Jamaica, and made a bank of a teapot, wherein to deposit their shillings for the voyage. Playing truant to see the circus put an end to the dream of Jamaica, and also to Donnelley's school life. He was apprenticed to the printer's trade, and duly initiated as office drudge. Soon he went into another office as a printer - at one dollar a week for wages - and boarded at home.

The boy began to read evenings. His new life stimulated his ambition. He contracted with his employer to work nights and mornings to attend school in the daytime. For two years he attended the high school, studying by day and working by night. He became a thorough printer, qualified to direct, as well as to labor at the case, and he looked about for broader opportunities. Going to Chicago, he became a partner of William Piggot; thence he went to New Orleans to take charge of the job department of the "Delta." The war shattered his fortunes, as it did those of many others, and he went back to Hamilton, and the job case.

Misfortune could not crush Donnelley, however, and a few years later he was back in Chicago, doing a large printing business. In 1870 he led in organizing the Lakeside Printing Company, with a capital of half a million dollars. The Great Chicago Fire destroyed their building, and he lost $60,000; but in three days he had leased a building at $5,000 a year, and started for New York for credit. Though he frankly declared his wealth was represented by zeros, he was confident he could soon put significant figures before the ciphers.

In 1874, the Lakeside Publishing Company became the compilers and publishers of the Chicago "City Directory." In 1880, the Chicago Directory Company assumed the work, under Mr Donnelley's management, which, in 1886, passed to his son, Richard H Donnelley. From a "Printer's Devil," in his native Hamilton, to the "Prince of Printers," in Chicago, he stuck to his business through thick and thin and prospered. Mr Donnelley has continued to prosper, and certainly the lesson of his life is one to be studied and remembered by all ambitious of honorable success.

The Steam-Electric Magazine
May 1899 - Volume 03 - Pg 158

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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 29 Jul 2000
  • Find A Grave Memorial 11284
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Richard Robert “Dick” Donnelley (15 Nov 1838–8 Apr 1899), Find A Grave Memorial no. 11284, citing Oak Woods Cemetery, Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave (contributor 8) .