The O.H. Phillips Company of Larimore, North Dakota, was founded by Oscar Henry Phillips. When the company was first started, the only merchandise that was sold was farm machinery. The business was later expanded to include lumber and fuel. Ultimately, Phillips would sell automobiles through his company as well. Throughout the O.H. Phillips Company's history the primary focus remained on the sale of farm equipment.
Oscar Henry Phillips was born September 5, 1859, near Fairfield, Iowa. In 1886, he moved to Larimore, North Dakota, with a car full of used machine parts. Soon after his arrival in Larimore, Phillips went on to start the O.H. Phillips Co. In addition to running his company, Phillips also served as director and vice president of Larimore's Elk Valley Bank. O.H. Phillips was the mayor of Larimore from 1893 until 1899. He remained very active and interested in Democratic politics until his death in 1917.
Oscar Henry Phillips married Lena Olmstead on December 10, 1890. Together they had two daughters, Marion and Helen. Oscar Henry Phillips died suddenly on July 1, 1917, the result of what doctors termed a "sudden apoplectic fit." He is buried in Larimore's Belleview Cemetery. After his death his wife, Lena Phillips, took over the responsibility of managing both the business and his estate. She passed away in her sleep December 10, 1959, at her home where she had lived since marrying O.H. Phillips in 1890.
The O.H. Phillips Co. Records contain a great deal of information pertaining to the O.H. Phillips Co., as well as documents pertaining to Oscar Henry Phillips' estate and its management.
Included first in the collection are official county court documents dating from 1917 to 1923. The 1917 documents were issued before Oscar Henry Phillips passed away in July of that year. Since almost all of the documents were issued after Phillips' death, the majority of them pertain directly to his estate and its management.
Following the court documents is a photocopy of Oscar Henry Phillips' funeral notice as it appeared in the Grand Forks Herald dated July 3, 1917. The funeral notice gives a brief account of Phillips' life and tells where and at what time the funeral was held.
Also found in the collection is a deposit slip from the Elk Valley Bank where Lena Phillips maintained an account. Included after the deposit slip are receipts from Belleview and Riverside cemeteries. These receipts are for money paid for maintenance of various plots in the cemeteries. Located after the cemetery receipts is a receipt for a liberty bond in the amount of five hundred dollars which was deposited at the Elk Valley Bank for safekeeping.
Another document that is included is an inheritance tax order and notice of hearing regarding the estate of the late O.H. Phillips. This court document, dated May 2, 1918, was sent to Mrs. Phillips and bore the signature of the judge of the Grand Forks County court.
The collection also contains some receipts from donations that Lena Phillips made. One of these receipts is from a donation to the Wesley College Educational-Jubilee Campaign. The donation was in the amount of one hundred dollars. The other receipt is for a centenary pledge, and was also in the amount of one hundred dollars. Following the receipts is a settlement record made out by the O.H. Phillips Co. and dated January 28, 1919. This record of settlement pertains to a loan given to H.E. Olmstead and notes that as of that date he had paid off the entire balance due the company.
Included after the settlement record is a copy of a lawsuit filed against various persons including Lena Phillips by Frances Olmstead. Phillips was Frances' niece, and was left some inheritance by Mr. Olmstead when he passed away. Frances Olmstead's lawsuit declared that her husband's last will and testament was void because, as his wife, she was entitled to a one-third share and interest in his estate. Her claim was that he had, by his will, deprived her of that one-third share to which she was entitled. Not providing at least a one-third portion of an estate to a wife was illegal under the revised statutes of the state of Oklahoma, where Olmstead resided. Attached to the copy of this lawsuit is the newspaper notice declaring that a suit had been filed, and that the defendants, including Mrs. Phillips, needed to respond on or before November 12, 1920 in order to avoid losing the suit by default.
Following the lawsuit are two documents directly pertaining to loans given by Lena Phillips. Located after these documents are check stubs dating from 1921-1925. These check stubs list the amounts that various checks were written out for, and, in many cases, what the checks were used to purchase. Included after the check stubs is a business ledger containing information about transactions which took place from 1923 until 1933. These entries detailed amounts credited to various people. The amount of interest, the name of the person to whom the money was credited, and other pertinent information is included for each ledger entry. Included after the ledger is some typed personal correspondence, which helps to shed light on loans which were given to certain individuals, as well as gives small bits of more personal information. These letters are to Lena Phillips from a woman who names herself only as Clare, and who was Lena Phillips' agent and held her power of attorney to file papers and act on other legal matters in her stead.