No man in Burlington is better known than John H. Wyman, for he is the oldest business man of the city in years of continuous connection with its commercial interests. Entering mercantile life here when a youth of fifteen years, he has steadily worked his way upward through the utilization and mastery of opportunity, and has found in each transition stage of his career the chance for further progress and great accomplishment. He is now at the head of the firm of Wyman & Rand, incorporated, dealers in carpets, furniture, and queensware*, and occupies a foremost position in public opinion because of a business policy that he has ever maintained, that neither seeks nor requires disguise.
Mr. Wyman is a native of Lancaster, Mass., born in 1837, and is a representative of one of the oldest families of New England. His ancestors came from England in 1635, settling in the colony of Massachusetts; and in 1666 members of the family removed to Woburn, Mass., where they built a house, which is still in possession of their descendants. The Wyman family, always noted for patriotism, loyalty, and public spirit, was well represented in the colonial wars and in the war of the Revolution. John R. Wyman, father of our subject, born and reared in Massachusetts, was married there to Miss Harriet Rand. They came to Burlington about 1852, but remained for only a few months, returning to Massachusetts, where they continued to reside until called to their final rest. The father, who was a farmer by occupation, died in 1878.
J. H. Wyman acquired his early education in the schools of his native State, and when fifteen years of age accompanied his parents on their removal to Burlington, but unlike them did not return to New England. Allying his interests with the great and growing West, he embraced the opportunities for business advancement here offered, and in the course of years has become one of the most prominent merchants of the State. He was fifteen years of age when he entered the general store of J. S. Kimball & Company as a clerk, remaining in their employ until 1864, when he purchased an interest in the business, in which he continued as partner for five years. He then withdrew, and entered business alone as a retail dealer in carpets, and this enterprise has since been conducted with good success. In 1879 he became associated with C. W. Rand as a member of the Wyman-Rand Carpet Company, and later they added a stock of furniture, queensware, glassware, curtains, and other household furnishings. The business was incorporated under the style of Wyman & Rand in 1894, and a wholesale and retail business has since been conducted. Mr. Rand died in 1897, but the former firm style has been retained, Mr. Wyman being president of the incorporated company. The business has suffered from two conflagrations, the first fire occurring in 1892, the second on the 5th of January, 1904. Each time a heavy loss was incurred, but the business was resumed on a more extensive scale than ever before, and has continually grown until it has reached very extensive proportions. There are forty-five thousand square feet of floor space in the present building, which fronts on both Fourth and Jefferson Streets. A fine line of goods is carried, and the house enjoys an extensive and satisfactory trade. Their methods are in keeping with modern business ideas, and the plans inaugurated by the firm are attended with practical results that indicate their expediency. Mr. Wyman is a man of good business discernment, of energy and reliability, and the house of which he is the head has become one of the leading commercial enterprises not only of Burlington but of the State.
Mr. Wyman has been in business in this city for fifty-two consecutive years, and is furthermore entitled to distinction from the fact that he was the first to sell goods out of Burlington — its first commercial traveler. In 1859 he drove a team on a trip to Des Moines, selling goods for J. S. Kimball & Company. From 1885 until 1890 the firm of Wyman & Rand maintained branch stores at Ottumwa, Keokuk, Iowa; Hannibal, Mo.; and Carthage, Ill. They have a large storage building on Washington Street, while the retail store has been conducted at its present location for twenty-three years.
Mr. Wyman was married to Miss Angeline Smith, a native of Burlington and a daughter of Samuel Smith, a government contractor, who built the first grist-mill for the Indians in what is now Des Moines. He also built the first courthouse at Rock Island, Ill., but made his home in Burlington. Mr. and Mrs. Wyman were married in Burlington in 1858. They have one daughter, Frances, who is a graduate of the Burlington schools, and afterward spent six years as a piano student in Berlin, Germany, under Musquoski. She is now engaged in teaching a class in music in Burlington. Two children born to Mr. and Mrs. Wyman are deceased. The family home is at 727 North Sixth Street.
Mr. Wyman is a member of Friendship Lodge, Knights of Pythias, also of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, and for a half century has been identified with the Congregational church. His career should inspire all who read his life's history with a truer estimate of the value and sure reward of character. His business career, though not without its reverses and obstacles, has been marked by consecutive progress relative to the growth of the city, and today he stands pre-eminent among those who have gained success and an honorable name simultaneously.
*queensware: a type of light white earthenware with a brilliant glaze developed from creamware by Josiah Wedgwood and named in honour of his patroness, Queen Charlotte.