Earlier this year, we received a call from a woman with a chair she thought we might like for our collection. It turns out that this chair had a label on the bottom showing that it was made in Norristown, Pennsylvania, AND it had the name of the craftsman, R. C. Titlow!
I did some digging and came up with some more information.
Reuben C. Titlow announced the opening of his business in Norristown with a notice in The Norristown Register and Montgomery Democrat on May 22, 1844. Here’s what it said:
“Reuben C. Titlo Respectfully informs the public that he has commenced the cabinet making business in the shop lately occupied by Jerome Walnut, in the lower end of the Borough of Norristown, where he will be happy to wait on all those who desire furniture. The newly married are especially invited to call. His furniture is made of good materials and durable. He endeavors to gain credit by the manufacture of good furniture and therefore does not slight his work; his desire is to furnish people with furniture in the future, and not get a job once, and by slighting it, never receive their patronage again. His work is not made by apprentices.
Old furniture repaired in a superior manner, at short notice.
By strict attention to business, prompt execution of orders, and moderate prices, he hopes to receive a liberal share of public patronage.
He would also beg leave to inform the public that he carries on the coffin making business, and can wait on all those who may desire his services. Having a hearse, he will attend on funerals in the country.
Reuben C. Titlo.”
A few years later in 1847, he moved his store and advertised in The Norristown Times Herald and Free Press. Below you can read the ad:
It seems that the apprentice he advertised for was found in David Y. Mowday. According to Bean’s History of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, Mowday learned cabinet-making and undertaking from Titlow, for whom he was an apprentice and later a journeyman. Mowday was very successful and his business lasted well after his death. Undertaking became the main focus and Mowday Funeral Home continued well into the 20th century.
Aside from information about Reuben Titlow’s business, I also found information about his life. The newspaper announced his marriage to Sarah B. Levering of Barren Hill on the 21st of November, 1844, by the Reverend Frederick R. Anspach. He died February 12, 1858, at the age of 41. The inventory of his estate lists quite a bit of furniture, including bureaus, chairs, and bedsteads. There were also 16 coffins. His wife survived him, and in the 1860 Norristown Business Directory she is listed as a widow with “Cabinet ware rooms North Side Egypt (now Main) Street above Green, house same address.” An interesting fact is that David Y. Mowday began his business the same year Titlow died, in 1858.
Although I could find no images of him, you can visit Reuben C. Titlow’s grave in Historic Montgomery Cemetery! He’s buried in Lot Q-33/34 with a Masonic symbol on his headstone. Check our website to find out more about Historic Montgomery Cemetery.