In an earlier post, we looked at the early life of Horace Lafayette Reed before his arrival in Mansfield. At the end of the Civil War, Captain H. L. Reed made his way to Mansfield and began working with his older brother, John Henry Reed. J. H. Reed, a few years earlier, had taken over the popular business of Sturges & Pritchard, dealers in books, stationery, and wallpaper. It didn’t take long for the business to be known as J. H. Reed & Brother and, in 1868, the total sales for the business were $92,724.64. In 1872 the business began operating on the corner of Main and North Park Streets on a site purchased from the Sturges Family. The business suffered for some reason and an ad in the Mansfield Herald on September 3, 1874, shows the business was taken over by C. N. Pendleton. J. H. Reed stayed in Mansfield for a few more years before heading out to Nebraska and eventually Riverside, California, where he planted oranges and became instrumental in the citrus industry. John Henry Reed died in Riverside, California on February 20, 1920.
Captain H. L. Reed wasn’t discouraged and, in 1875, went into business with John B. Ink and Pinkey Lewis, opening Reed, Ink, and Lewis. The business did well and, in 1879, posted sales of $74,580. On January 3, 1884, it was reported in the Mansfield Herald that Pinkey Lewis was retiring from the firm. John Ink stayed on for another 10 years, leaving in 1894. After this, the firm became known as H. L. Reed and Company and Reed took on a new partner, his son-in-law, James L. Lauck. The store continued to be successful and on February 7, 1903, The H. L. Reed Company was incorporated, with Reed serving as both president and treasurer and Lauck serving as secretary and assistant treasurer. Henry Goetz, who had started with the firm in 1880 when he was 14 years old, was named the manager of the new company. By this time Reed was suffering greatly from his Civil War wounds, one leg had been amputated and he was confined to a wheelchair. His health began to fail and on September 17, 1915, Captain Horace Lafayette Reed died.
Reed was not only a well-respected businessman but, according to his obituary, a senior deacon of the First Congregational Church. He was especially interested in the Sunday School at the Mayflower Congregational Church, which he attended and aided in all possible ways. He was the first president of the Mansfield Chamber of Commerce, a member of the executive committee of the Mansfield Savings Bank, and had a life membership in the Loyal Legion of the G. A. R., which was one of his most prized possessions. The store would survive for another 78 years until on Monday, April 19, 1993, Reed’s Department store closed its doors for the last time.
In Douglas Cook’s book Reeds… A Tale of the American Spirit, he reprints a poem by an anonymous author which was written and circulated at the time of H. L. Reed’s death titled “Our Gallant Captain’s Final Muster Out.”
Another of our Boys in Blue has crossed the great divide,
He’d served his country all these years ‘till arms were laid aside.
He smiling answered Lincoln’s call “Three hundred thousand more”
And as smilingly the Saviour’s calling from the Other Shore.
A Christian, sunbeam Captain in life’s battle every day
Scattering helpful sunshine all along the weary way
The poor man’s stay and comfort, the mourner’s soothing friend,
Thinking still of others to his own life’s peaceful end.
His battles were not ended with our peace declared,
He kept God’s armor buckled on all his conquest shared,
The soldier boy is going home with no more foes to rout,
And the angels smiled this morning at his final muster out.
The march through death’s dark valley had no terror for his soul.
For he knew the Christ was with him, clear to the shining goal,
Green pastures all before him with heaven all about
And God’s smile answering his own at his final muster out.