This is Leonard Gearhart’s office. I think it would also compare accurately to the offices of Joseph, John, and Emory as well, although I suspect that Joseph’s office likely had framed pictures of patents, display cases of machines and the other furnishings appropriate to his stature as an inventor and founder of the company. I do know that this particular photo shows Leonard’s office because I flipped it and zoomed in to the name on the door at the far right of the photo. Sure enough, it says L. A. Gearhart.
There is not much business information about Leonard, because several of the otherwise useful references about the business do not include him, and other references note that he was “away”. However, I can definitely confirm that he worked at the Gearhart Knitting Machine Company between 1919 and 1921. According to the Articles of Agreement written by Joseph on Febrary 10, 1919, John, Leonard, and Emory were each given specific responsibilities for running various parts of the company during that time. The term of the agreement ran for three years. On February 1, 1921, Leonard ended his Agreement.
Based on information provided by Dinah Dague, Leonard’s granddaughter, he apparently led a very long and adventurous life. She writes the following:
Leonard A. Gearhart was born in 1874 in Clearfield, Pa. He was the oldest son of Joseph E. and Mary (Middleton) Gearhart. He was at least six feet tall, slender, with blue eyes. He had a great personality and an impish grin. When Emory and Leonard were young, they dug a tunnel from their house to the river. Before Leonard, John, and Emory were married, they were considered three of the most eligible bachelors in the area.
Leonard was a wanderer. He traveled quite extensively when he was younger. One of the stories told to me by my mother was that Leonard’s family arranged for him to attend Williamsport Seminary College. Instead, he took a tramp steamer to China or Japan, my mother wasn’t sure which. He had to wire home to his father for money to come home. Another time, he was supposed to go to school but never made it. He was in the west, while it was still the “wild west”.
He was a very hard worker, and tried his hand at many different jobs in the Clearfield area. He worked at the Harbison Walker Refinery, the American Mons Nickel Mill and the Gearhart Knitting Machine Factory. Leonard and each one of his brothers got a chance to run the Gearhart Knitting Machine Factory.
He was athletic. He loved walking, hiking, and many other pursuits. He loved the woods.
He was 44 years old when he married 18 year old Rilla A. Hooven. I have been told by people who knew my grandparents that Rilla was one of the most beautiful women in this area. In her youth and in later years, she was quite a nice looking woman. Rilla was petite, weighing 98 pounds, with black hair and snapping brown eyes. She was very intelligent, despite limited schooling. She was quite a talented artist. She worked at Kurtz Brothers as a bookbinder.
Leonard was affectionately known to his grandchildren as “granddaddy”. His wife Rilla was known affectionately as “granny”. When he started to tell a story, or say something, he began with “I mind the time”.
My Note: I do not have evidence to indicate that Leonard ran the company in a position such as General Manager or Vice President, but I do have letters which show that John was Vice President and that Emory was General Manager. Leonard, however, did have a position which would justify a very nice private office. I would be very interesting in further information regarding the roles of John and Leonard within the company.