In my earlier post titled “Christmas Eve, 1923” (click here), Joseph Gearhart writes about selling some or all of his interests in the company so he can retire. He notes that the conditions of the sale, which were proposed some years earlier, had changed since the business was now so successful, and that he wanted to extend the option of the transfer of stock until April 16th, 1924.
Well, it looks like by May 13th, 1924, the stock transfer did occur. In the letter below, we see that Joseph agrees to sell 255 shares of stock valued at $29,953.40. I’m not sure who is buying the stock though. The letter says that “we” promise to pay… Who is “we”? Going back to the earlier Christmas Eve letter in 1923, I can conclude that his son, Emory, would have been one of the buyers. I don’t know if he was the only buyer, or perhaps he was buying out his father with a group consisting of perhaps his brothers John and/or Leonard. I don’t know.
Anyway, in today’s dollars, Joseph would be receiving $371,506. The company was worth more than that, so Joseph didn’t sell all of his shares nor did he sell the property on which the buildings resided, nor did he sell the building behind the factory. I’ve seen a number on the total worth of the company, so I’ll dig through the information and pull it out.
Based on this, May 13, 1924 marks the date that Joseph officially retired from the company. I can’t help but think this event, the absence of the founder and community leader at the helm, may have opened up the door for one of the other community leaders to start thinking about a hostile takeover. Just one year later, in 1925, Charles Kurtz played a big role in forcing the company into receivership and subsequently benefiting from the sale of most of its manufacturing equipment and factory space.