James A. Paisley was a mastermind in the coal industry in the Great Lakes region. In 1889, James formed J.A. Paisley Coal and Builder’s Supply Company based in Ashtabula, Ohio and became well-known in the area. In 1902, James sold his business and became a traveling coal salesman, furthering his relations and knowledge with businesses across Canada and Ohio. In 1907, he ventured to buy property in Pennsylvania where he incorporated the Valley Camp Coal Company. James would continue to form new relationships with companies, one of which was with Cleveland Cliffs where he assisted in purchasing vessels for Cliffs to go towards their subsidiary company Grand Island Steamship Company.
It was through Cliffs that the Paisley Steamship Company was formed. During WWI, the need for raw materials was increasing. It was a common practice for larger established companies to form new subsidiaries to assist in the war effort. In 1916, Cliffs formed two, the Paisley Steamship Company and Morrow Steamship Company, which was previously covered in this exhibit, to participate in the coal trade.
Following the war, Cliffs no longer required the two companies. James then purchased Paisley and Morrow from Cliffs and joined them under his other business Valley Camp Coal Company through the subsidiary Valley Camp Steamship. James changed the colors of the Paisley and Morrow Steamship vessels to match those of Valley Camp; black hulls and white upper decks. The primary difference seen on the vessels was on the smokestack, Paisley used a white band with a red diamond and a white “P” at the center and Morrow used a white “M.”
The Morrow and Paisley Steamship companies both used a swallowtail flag and had identical decorations of angled red, white, and blue stripes. The only difference was the company letters spelled at the center of the flag. This three and half foot long swallowtail flag belonged to the J.A. Paisley Steamship Company.
In 1935, Paisley and Morrow were merged with Columbia Steamship Company when Valley Camp was acquired by Columbia. After the merge, James Paisley took sole management of both Paisley and Morrow Steamship. Paisley led both companies through many successful years until his death in 1952. In 1954, Oglebay Norton purchased the vessels of Columbia, including those of Morrow and Paisley and ceased operations of the two subsidiary companies.