Friday, June 6, 2014

The Baltimore Bolgianos: Perseverance, Sadness, Recovery

I posted a few days of info about the old firm of Bolgiano & Son. Their history is a bit confusing with many Bolgianos drifting in and out of the business over more than a century.  Some even went out on their own and established new seed companies away from Baltimore! (More on that some other day) This outline is for the Baltimore Bolgianos.

Bolgiano Business Family Tree
  • 1818 - Joseph A. Bolgiano, Founder 
  • Joseph A. Bolgiano and son John in partnership? Hence the "Bolgiano & Son".
  • 1895 (a bit before then) - John Bolgiano sues Joseph A. Bolgiano after partnership was dissolved 
  • 1897 - Brothers Charles J. Bolgiano and Roland Bolgiano are partners
  • 1913 - Roland Bolgiano retires
  • 1920 - Oct.27 - Bolgiano & Son in receivership
  • 1920 - Nov. 19 - death of Charles J. Bolgiano

Charles J. Bolgiano
Charles J. Bolgiano, president of J. Bolgiano & Sons, seedsmen of Baltimore. Md, was found dead seated in his automobile in his garage at the rear of his home, 8 Elmhurst road, Roland Park, Md., at 7:15 a. m., November 19. The body was found by his son, Charles Alfred Bolgiano. who said when he opened the garage doors the place was filled with black smoke and gas from the engine of the machine, which was running. The hood over the engine was open and his father, he said, was on the front seat, directly behind the steering wheel. Dr. J. Joyce, North and Fulton Avenue, brother-in-law of Mr. Bolgiano. and Dr. M. Gibson Porter were summoned. They said it was their opinion that death was caused by heart failure, brought on by the gas from the engine of the automobile. The son said his father arose at 6:30 o'clock that morning and heated water to pour in the radiator of the machine so that the engine, which was chilled, might be easily started. He said he saw his father enter the garage and close the doors behind him. When he heard the engine running, he said. he went to the garage to join his father on the trip down town. Coroner Morrissey rendered a verdict of accidental death due to poisoning by carbon monoxide gas. Later in the day, W. Thomas Kemp, attorney for Mr. Bolgiano. and one of his close personal friends, gave out the following statement:
“Charles J. Bolgiano was suffocated by motor gas in his garage at Roland Park about 7 o'clock this morning. Shortly before 8 o‘clock his eldest son, going to the garage, discovered the accident, and at once summoned the physicians, who, however, were unable to revive his father. From all information obtainable, the death of Mr. Bolgiano was clearly accidental. He arose at the usual hour this morning, bathed, dressed and went to the garage to fix his automobile, which had been giving him trouble for a day or so.  He started the engine, but did not open the doors, and his son later went to the garage to assist his father and found the place filled with smoke and fumes from the automobile, with the engine still running, and his father unconscious. Mr. Bolgiano's death at this time is particularly sad and unfortunate. He had suffered business reverses which precipitated bankruptcy about a month ago, but only yesterday at a meeting of the larger creditors which Mr. Bolgiano and his brother and other members of the family attended, a plan of reorganization was submitted, which was received favorably, and sufficient funds had been pledged by Mr. Bolgiano's brother and other relatives to finance the plan and rehabilitate the business.
“I attended this meeting with Mr. Bolgiano, at the Baltimore Trust Company, and later Mr. Bolgiano came to my ofiice. where we remained until late in the afternoon yesterday. Before leaving he made an appointment to call at my office at 10 o'clock this morning to complete preparations for the reorganization. At this .time he seemed very cheerful and optimistic. His death is a great shock to me personally, for he has been for many years past not only a client, but a close friend."

At the time of his death Mr. Bolgiano was 42 years old. 
He and his brother, Roland Bolgiano. now of Los Angeles, Calif. succeeded their father, the late Joseph A. Bolgiano, in the seed business in 1897. They conducted the business as partners until about seven years ago, when Roland's health broke down. He resigned from the firm and went to California to live.   On October 28 last receivers were appointed for the business - after Charles J. Bolgiano was adjudicated a bankrupt by consent in the United States district court. It was stated in the papers that his assets, consist— ing of land, buildings, stock in trade and securities, were more than $l.000,000, but he admitted he was insolvent. The receivers appointed were George Weems Williams. W. Calvin Chestnut and W. Thomas Kemp.
The firm was incorporated on November 13 last and Charles J. Bolgiano was elected president. Roland Bolgiano said the day of his brother‘s death, that the new concern of which his brother was head was progressing rapidly and that the stock in the Pratt and Light street store amounted to over $150,000.
Surviving him are his widow. who was Miss Emily Cullen Robinson; his sons, Charles Alfred and John Norman Bolgiano; his daughters. Misses Nora E., May, Emily M., Mary Virginia and Charlotte A. Bolgiano; his brothers, Roland and Frank W. Bolgiano. the latter of Washington, D. C.. and his sister, Mrs. J. Burch Joyce.
Mr. Bolgiano was high in Masonic circles. of which he was a thirty-second degree member. He was connected with the Scottish Rite and Mystic Shrine. He was a leading member of the Methodist Episcopal church of Roland Park.
The business was established over a century ago, in 1818.