Elias Disney was the father of Walt Disney. This autograph promissory note reproduction is one of the most valuable items on our website. This promissory note originated from the boyhood home of Walt Disney (then a teenager; only 15 years of age). Very few personal Disney family items have been known to appear outside the collections of the Walt Disney Family Museum (San Francisco), the Walt Disney Archives (Burbank), or the Walt Disney Hometown Museum (Marceline).
ELIAS DISNEY PROMISSORY NOTE for $1,000 represents the promise of Elias Disney to repay that amount, plus 6% interest to The O-Zell Company, as issued on February 5, 1917. The note was referenced as being due after 60 days on April 6, 1917. The note was later marked in red fountain pen: Paid in Full; The O Zell Co. per E.A.S.
Walt Disney's father, Elias Disney, struggled to maintain his health (believed to impacted by typhoid fever; followed by complications from pneumonia) and it became clear that he would no longer be able to manage the beloved family farm in Marceline, Missouri. It was there that the Disney children (Herbert, Raymond, Roy, Walter and Ruth) had spent their childhoods. Elias and Flora Disney sold the family farm on November 28, 1910 and the family moved to Kansas City shortly thereafter.
As Roy and Walt grew, they were given responsibility for delivering newspapers on the route that Elias Disney had obtained from the Kansas City Star in June of 1911. (In actuality, the route was registered in the name of Roy O. Disney.) While the boys were not allowed to keep their earnings, Elias appears to have begun investing in a new beverage bottling company by the name of The O-Zell Company (1301 West 15th Street, Chicago, Illinois) as early as April 1912. Early marketing materials advertised their company slogan as: "The Pure Fruit Drink." Elias Disney would continue to purchase and hold stock in this company both in his own name, and in the name of his wife Flora and of his sons Roy and Walter through the early 1920's.
The document is personally inscribed and also signed on the reverse side by O-Zell's president, Ernest A. Scrogin. Mr. Scrogin is notable in Chicago history as having served as attorney for the Anti-Saloon League during the prohibition movement. The promissory note is 8" x 3.25"; and hand inscribed in black fountain pen on stock that O-Zell has purchased from Horder's Stationery Stores of Chicago, Illinois. As a side note, Edward Y. (aka E.Y.) Horder was the president of the small chain of stationery stores. He was sufficient successful that he was able to purchase two homes in Oak Park (200 & 210 Wesley Ave). Horders photo is also noted below... for information only; not included with auction.
At the time of this issue (February 5, 1917), Elias, Flora, and Ruth were about to move to Chicago as Elias negotiated for a management role with O-Zell. Though Elias would soon sell the Kansas City newspaper route prior to their move (March 17, 1917), Walt Disney continued to deliver newspapers for the new owner and remained behind at the family home at 3028 Bellefontaine. At that time his brother Roy would once again return to the home. Their brother Herbert and his family were also living there.
It was also during this summer of 1917 that Walt love for trains would deepen as he worked with the railroad as a news butcher selling candy, fruit, and sodas. When the summer was over, Walt Disney would rejoin his parents in Chicago and would follow his father in working for O-Zell. While in Chicago, Walt Disney would attend McKinley High School and would also take night classes at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts.
From July thru September of 1918, Walt Disney then found work at the Chicago post office. It was during this time that he signed up with the Red Cross and arrived in France on December 4, shortly after the first World War had ended.
While O-Zell's corporate officers and agents may have excelled in selling company stock to investors, the company never succeeded in producing the profits that once seemed so promising. The company shifted from manufacturing bottled fruit drinks to producing jams, jellies, and preserves. Ultimately O-Zell was reformed under a new name (The No-Peer Packaging Company) before closing sometime after 1920.
This promissory note was acquired through the estate of Ruth Disney Beecher (Walt's little sister and Elias & Flora Disney's youngest daughter). Upon the death of her parents, Ruth Beecher served as custodian for the documents until her death in 1995. In 1974 the documents were somehow removed from her home and were ultimately recovered and returned to her. These historic Disney family documents were later offered for auction (through Holabird-Kagen Americana; Reno, NV) by the Beecher family's surviving heirs.