Hires, Charles Elmer
- Stephen A. Brown
Hires, Charles Elmer (19 August 1851–31 July 1937), manufacturer and businessman, was born on a farm near Roadstown, New Jersey, the son of John Dare Hires and Mary Williams, farmers. After a meager early education, Hires, similar to many of his generation, moved away from his parents’ farm and began a four-year apprenticeship in 1863. He clerked at a pharmacy in Bridgeton, New Jersey, and then, at age sixteen, journeyed to Philadelphia with little more than fifty cents in his pockets. There he combined working for a physician-druggist with night classes at both Jefferson Medical College and the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy. An unsuccessful return to Bridgeton—in which he attempted with two associates to open his own pharmacy—caused him to travel once again to Philadelphia where, at the age of eighteen, he began his own pharmacy. An early indication of his entrepreneurial talents was a business venture involving the purchase and resale of a clay that Hires identified as fuller’s earth. Renaming the substance Hires’ Potter’s Clay, he sold it to various wholesale drug houses, proclaiming it a successful grease and spot remover. All told, he made several thousand dollars profit from these transactions. In 1875 Hires married Clara Kate Smith; they had five children....