William Bingham II was named for his grandfather, William  Bingham (1816-1904).  The elder Bingham was born in Andover, Connecticut and went to Cleveland when he was 20 years old.  His father, Capt Cyrus Bingham helped him get established in  business and in 1841 he and a partner Henry  C. Blossom  bought an existing hardware  business which they organized as  William Bingham & Co.  It dealt in tools and metals.  Bingham served on the Cleveland City Council where he was the leader in creating a city waterworks.  He was the first president of the Union Club when 81 city business and civic leaders formed the club in 1870.  He had married Elizabeth  Beardsley in 1841.  They had three children.  Their son Charles William was to be William  Bingham II’s father.


Charles W. Bingham  (1846-1929) was a very active, capable person both in business and Cleveland’s cultural institutions.  He graduated from Yale in 1868, spent three years in Europe studying geology, mining,  and chemistry.  He returned to Yale for an MA in 1871 then went to work for his father in Bingham & Co.  From 1881 on he was president of the Standard Tool Co., producer of twist drills, a branch of Wm. Bingham & Co.  The history of Cleveland indicates that he served on several  banking boards and arranged business matters for family members.  Another source says that after his father died he headed the  Bingham company.


 Charles Bingham married Mary Payne on June  8, 1876, and they had five children:


Oliver Perry, b Cleveland on 2 December 1877, d 11 February 1900 at Palm Beach, Florida,  of injuries sustained while a member of the Yale crew team.


William Bingham 2nd, born July 31, 1879; died February 17, 1955, at Miami Beach, Florida


Elizabeth Beardsley, b Cleveland 29 Sept 1881, married Dudley Stuart Blossom.


Frances Payne  born Cleveland, 29 March 1885; d Cleveland, 9 Mar 1977 married Chester Castle Bolton


Henry Payne (later usually called Harry) born in Cleveland December 9, 1887; died in  NYC 25 March 1955 (just over one month after his brother William) was married three times.


William Bingham 2nd’s early life is a mystery: there is mention later of his attending  Cleveland’s Union School but there is no mention of him joining a Bingham family enterprise.  He did not attend  college.  And he is not mentioned with other members of his family in the online Cleveland History.  His name comes up there only  in connection with the  Bingham Foundation which was formed by his sister Elizabeth Blossom after William 2nd’s death in 1955.  He never married.  It does seem that he did not have a strong  physical constitution and was concerned over his personal health.


In 1911, William Bingham 2nd, 31,  and his friend William J. Upson of Cleveland came to Bethel as patients of Dr. John G. Gehring’s clinic.   Both men ultimately decided to become Bethel residents.  Until 1932 when Dr. Gehring died, Gehring, Bingham,  and Upson along with Frank E. Hanscom, Principal of Gould Academy and Gehring’s wife, Marian True Gehring allied themselves as a unique leadership core within Bethel Hill village.  For William  Bingham II it meant that the rest of his life in Bethel would be concerned with the Bethel Inn, Gould Academy, health and medicine and philanthropic pursuits . 


Bingham and Upson soon were part of the  “Gehring family” (The Brotherhood as they were called in The Master of the Inn).  In August 1911 a fire at the Prospect Hotel  destroyed enough of the place for the owner to tear down the remainder of the plant and close the business. The hotel had been a key element in the operation of Dr. Gehring’s clinic since the clinic’s success had swelled the ranks of resident patients.  All of course needed housing for their stay in Bethel.


Bethel, Maine


The Age of Philanthropy



The Binghams and Paynes lived on Euclid Avenue along with other Cleveland millionaires. As neighbors, Charles W. Bingham (Yale Class of 1868) and his wife Mary Perry Payne grew up with close connections. Charles, memorialized by Bingham Hall on Yale’s Old Campus, was the son of William Bingham, founder of the W. Bingham Company for industrial hardware. Mary’s brother Henry Willson Payne was a year ahead of Charles at Yale, and another brother, Oliver Hazard Payne, left his Yale class of 1863 to serve in the Civil War.

Elizabeth Beardsley Bingham married Dudley Stuart Blossom Sr. (Class of 1901) who was the grandson of Henry C. Blossom, her grandfather William’s business partner. Her older sister Frances Payne Bingham married Chester Bolton, grandson of one-time Cleveland mayor William B. Castle, who had connections to the Newell/Otis clan. 

The millionaires of Euclid Avenue spent a lot of their money on their lavish mansions and extravagant parties, but they donated significant portions of their wealth to a number of charitable institutions.

The Union Club of Cleveland

Bingham’s grandfather, William Bingham, was one of 81 founding members in 1872 and the first president of the Union Club .  William 2nd was also a member of the Union Club.

“The Union Club is to be by no means a mere hall of conviviality. It will be a place where cultured gentlemen will meet to read and discuss the topics of the day... Properly conducted, such a club becomes the social and intellectual force of a community, the stimulant of a broader culture, and worthier growth.” From the History of the Union Club

Union School, Cleveland

Bingham Hall, Yale Univ. ,

New Haven, Ct

A Collegiate Gothic dormitory constructed in 1928 of Longmeadow brownstone and cast stone It encloses the southeast corner of Old Campus; home of the original buildings that formed Yale.  Bingham Hall was built with funds donated by the sons and daughters of Charles W. Bingham, BA 1868.


William Bingham II—Benefactor

Compiled as a chapter of

The Bethel Journals by

Donald G. Bennett

December 2008

William Bingham II, circa 1917, Bethel

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