Y. T. M. Co. Cancels
As noted in connection with the letter X, the nether end of the alphabet (with the notable exception of W) provides few opportunities actually to match cancels and patent medicine industry companies, so the Youthful Tint Mfg Co, whose boxed “Y T Co” cancel is recognized by Mustacich and Giacomelli as appearing on every value save RB20, presents both a high and obvious target for which to aim. While the company itself left traces of its existence, its founder, C D Hess, is much harder to isolate as an individual. This much is known: the Youthful Tint Manufacturing Company was founded and incorporated in 1884 in Rochester, NY. Its officers in 1903 were C D Hess, President and Superintendent; F Judson Hess, Vice-President and Secretary; and S F Hess, Treasurer and General Manager. It required so many values of the battleship revenues for its use because it manufactured extensive lines of perfumes, cosmetics and theatrical make up, and, thus, sold goods at every price level. Its product lines were marketed under the trade names of “Hess,” “Mrs. Hess,” “R S Soule et Cie,” and “Youthful Tint.” Among its colorfully named products were CherryolaRouge, Exovia Paste for Facial Enamel, and perfumes such as Heather Bells, Japonotis, Roumania Damask Rose, Tonquin Musk, and Yezzo.
Albeit the names “Hess” and “Mrs Hess,” were prominently featured in the company’s advertising and on its products, C D Hess was known and identified almost exclusively by his initials, as was Mrs C D Hess. Because of this initials only usage, a mystery arises about the identity of C D Hess and his wife. Census records seem to indicate that the C D Hess of the Youthful Tint Mfg Co was Charles D Hess. According to these records, he was born in New York State in 1844, and, by 1880, had married Delia, for whose father he was working as a clerk in the father-in-law’s tobacco store in Rochester, NY, just four years before he struck out for himself in Rochester with his Youthful Tint Mfg Co. To flesh out a portrait of this C D Hess, one might consult Civil War records, which were a touchstone for late 19th Century careers. In fact, there are forty-one listings for Charles Hess enumerated on the National Park Service’s website of Civil War soldiers. Because of the relatively short durations that army units served during the Civil War, more than one listing may belong to the same individual. Even so, there were multiple individuals named Charles Hess who fought in the Civil War. The only individual actually identified as Charles D Hess served in the 28th Battery, New York Volunteer Light Artillery assigned to guard New York City’s harbor. The unit’s war casualties were 8 men who died of disease. A more dashing C D Hess from New York State served both as a Lieutenant and later Captain in Company G of the 13th New York Volunteer Regiment, which suffered casualties of 4 officers and 67 men killed or mortally wounded in battle as well as 29 deaths from disease. However, that C D Hess turns out to be listed in both the National Park’s and New York State’s record of its Civil War veterans as Clarence D Hess. His “Mrs C D Hess” rushed from their home in Dansville, NY, south of Rochester in western New York, to serve as a volunteer nurse in Washington, D C in 1861 after First Bull Run and remained there to work beside Clara Barton at nursing Union soldiers.
In fact, a “Mrs C D Hess” greeted and spoke to President Abraham Lincoln in Washington at the White House on April 14, 1865, the day of his assassination, but she is not the “Mrs C D Hess” of the Youthful Tint Mfg Co story. This “Mrs C D Hess” was formerly Julia Grover, whose brother, Leonard Grover, was a theatrical agent in Washington D C. According to a biographical website – which discusses at some length that this C D Hess’s first name was extremely hard to ascertain – her C D Hess was a second and different Charles D Hess. This latter Charles D Hess perhaps lived an even more flamboyant life than the former. He was born in Cohocton, NY, a small town south of Rochester in western New York in 1838. Like the former Charles D Hess, he also married young and went into his in-laws’ business, in this case, as an actor and singer in his brother-in-law’s theater in Washington, DC. Performing in spite of a bad cold soon wrecked his voice, and thereafter, he switched over to theater management. Here arises a conundrum. The biographical sketch of C D Hess, the Washington theater manager, suggests that he fought for the Union at both battles of Bull Run. However, when examined closely that account actually borrows the war record of Clarence D Hess, a natural choice, since a soldier might naturally volunteer from his birth place and Cohocton is extremely near Dansville. Since geography has not changed in the 150 years following the Civil War, and since the only C D Hess born in 1838 was a Clarence D Hess, and, since Clarence’s wife would have had a doubly good reason to stay in Washington after 1861 had she come from there in the first place, she, indeed, might have been the “Mrs C D Hess” known to Abraham Lincoln.
Adopting the hypothesis that the latter C D Hess was actually the aforementioned Clarence D Hess, not another Charles D Hess, unravels this part of the C D Hess puzzle relatively quickly. After his service in the Union Army, this latter C D Hess returned to Washington and resumed his activities as a theater manager now at Grover’s National Theater. On April 14, 1865, his wife was visiting at the White House. According to a meticulous 1922 account of Lincoln’s last hours, Lincoln ran into her on his way to take a carriage ride with Mary, and apologized to her for not being able to attend her husband’s theater that evening. The latter C D Hess shortly thereafter attained the dubious distinction of announcing on the stage of the National Theater that Abraham Lincoln had been shot at Ford’s Theater. Tad Lincoln was sitting in the Presidential Box at the National Theater together with Grover’s son, a scene graphically portrayed in the recent film Lincoln. This C D Hess later successfully managed the Crosby Opera House in Chicago until months before it was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1871, and then formed and managed touring companies of opera singers, which at one point in 1885 included Lillian Russell. While he wrote a long account of the development of opera performance in America for a 1901 issue of Cosmopolitan Magazine, after 1891 he appears to settled in Indiana with a second wife, the former Clara Walton, a leading advocate of woman’s Masonry, and remained there until his death in 1909. The confirmation of his death and burial is found in a web posting about graves located in Indiana and is found under the name Clarence D Hess.
Returning to the Hesses of the Youthful Tint Mfg Co, its C D Hess seems to have resided in Rochester, NY from its founding in 1884 until his death in 1908. Delia Hess’s actual role in the company is unknowable. Since most of the product that the Youthful Tint Mfg Co made was for women, some of the advertising was pitched in Mrs C D Hess’s name, featuring endorsements by women addressed directly to her. She may have actually played some role in the management of the company, for there are other ads in local upstate New York newspapers soliciting in her name for female canvassers to conduct surveys of housewives in “every city and village of New York State,” perhaps an early effort to engage in marketing research through customer focus groups. The F Judson Hess listed as Vice-President seems to have been a nephew of Charles D, born in 1863, son of Solomon F Hess, the Treasurer of the Company, born in 1831. F Judson probably ran the company after Charles D’s death. In 1924, he is mentioned in a family history of the Hess family that traced the family’s origins in America back to Johannes Hess, born in Hesse Cassel, Germany in 1692, who emigrated to the Mohawk Valley in eastern New York State in 1722. His oldest son, Augustine, who served in the Revolutionary War, along with five of his own sons, is identified as the ancestor of F Judson Hess (and presumably C D Hess as well). F Judson Hess died in 1936.
Perhaps both Charles D and Clarence D Hess preferred to use initials in part to trade on each other’s fame, for, ironically, ads for the one C D Hess’s theatrical make-up appeared on the same theater trade magazine pages as the listings for the opera houses that the other C D Hess’s touring companies played in. Perhaps they both tacitly felt they benefitted from the overlap, for, make-up endorsed by a theater manager himself must be the premium goods, and a theater manager who has a side-line in perfumes and cosmetics must be wealthy enough to keep a traveling company afloat. Ads for theatrical products carried endorsements by such notable actors as Edwin Booth and DeWolf Hopper in the form of thank you notes addressed to C D Hess. Then again, perhaps neither man ever noticed, and it is left to those who ferret through such proverbially “dusty” records to even notice the juxtaposition.
© Malcolm A. Goldstein 2013