Sunday, August 3, 2014

The Tiffany's of Memphis: C.L. Byrd & Co. 1880

Memphis Daily Appeal
November 6 1880

"The jewelry house of C.L. Byrd & Co. at 275 Main street, was founded in 1841.  In all these years it has maintained a high reputation for fine workmanship, fair dealing and superior goods.  It is enough to say anywhere within several hundred miles of Memphis that an article which was bought or made at Byrd's to insure that it is of the quality and value represented.  This is the result of integrity, allied with enterprise and public spirit.  

At present the house carries an unusually large and varied stock of goods, including gilt clocks, marble clocks, gilt mantel sets, marble mantel sets, bronze statuettes and Faience statuettes.  Hand-painted porcelain plaques, Faience plaques, toilet sets, opera glasses, ice water sets and hand-painted vases.  Silver plated wash stand sets, napkin rings, card receivers, cake baskets, pickle dishes, etc.  To this list might be added watches, diamonds, sterling silverware, silver-plated ware, fancy goods in endless variety, etc; in a word, almost any and everything to be found at Tiffany's or any first class jewelry establishment in the country.  The long continued popularity of the house has been maintained by virtue of its genuine merit, happily combined with courtesy, taste and a thorough knowledge of the business in all its details."
Originally posted in the Public Ledger March 1 1883.

In 1879, C.L. Byrd was commissioned to make a presentation medal of gold to commemorate the forty-third birthday of Chief of Police, Philip R. Athy, presented by his comrades who survived the yellow fever epidemic of 1878:

"The medal is circular in form, a little larger than a ten dollar gold piece, and it is exquisite in style, appearance and finish.  A raised star adorns the center on one side, and around the star is a wreath of green, garnished with colored flowers.  An inscription is also within a wreath on the opposite side of the medal which reads, "Presented to P.R. Athy by his surviving members of the police force as a token of regard."  An eagle of chased gold with outspread wings is attached to the medal.  Above this is three links and a bar of gold to which is an attachment pin.  The testimonial is extremely beautiful, and as a specimen of workmanship reflects credit on the house of C.L. Byrd & Co., whose reputation is widely popular for taste in the design and execution of handsome medals."
Originally posted in the Public Ledger March 27 1879

The Sudden Demise of Charles L. Byrd
The Jeweler's Circular
March 8 1893
Memphis TN Mar. 2--The sudden death of Charles L. Byrd, the well-known jeweler, cause much surprise in business circles yesterday morning.  He died on an incoming Iron Mountain train as it was passing Wynne About 7 o'clock yesterday morning.

A week ago, in company with his wife and father-in-law, W.S. Bruce, he started for Hot Springs.  His rheumatism at that time seemed to confine itself largely to his right hand and wrist.  The waters of the famous resort were of no avail and the rheumatism began to spread, reaching the region of his heart.  On Tuesday night the party started homeward. Mr. Byrd's condition became alarming shortly after the train started.  At Bald Knob a physician was summoned and he at once that the patient's heart was affected.  Mr. Byrd's condition became worse, and as the train was standing at the Wynne depot he breathed his last. A telegram was sent to Frank Byrd, of Memphis, announcing the demise of his brother. 

Magnificent Angel Memorial marking the
resting place of Frank C. Byrd's family.
Elmwood Cemetery
Although only 42 years old, Mr. Byrd had been at the head of the well-known house of C.L. Byrd & Co. for nineteen years, having succeeded his brother.  He was born in Mount Gilead, O., but came to memphis shortly after the war. Seventeen years ago he married the daughter of W.S. Bruce (Alice).  Beside his wife, he leaves a mother, a brother and a sister.  The deceased was a successful business man, of many admirable traits of character.  he was always straight-forward in his dealings with his fellow men and his strong character and open methods were in a large measure responsible for his success.  A modest man, he was courteous and affable as well.  Mr. Byrd was a member of Desoto Lodge of Masons.  The of the funeral has not yet been set, but will probably be Friday.

Charles and Frank Byrd were the sons of Charles Bird (1810-1890) and Mary Geller (1815-1897) of Mount Gilead Ohio.  During the Civil War, Charles L. Byrd served with Co. G 187th Ohio Infantry.  His wife, Alice Bruce Byrd filed a widow's application May 13, 1908.

Charles and his wife Alice, along with her parents are interred at Elmwood Cemetery.  Frank's wife, Louise May Chearella Byrd and his son Frank C. Byrd are also at Elmwood.  Frank died in 1920 in Los Angeles, California.

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