Ellis J. Gittins, vice president of the J. I. Case Threshing Machine Company, is a representative of that class of men whose life histories indicate the opportunities that are before the ambitious, energetic American youth. Starting upon his business career in a humble connection with the J. I. Case Threshing Machine Company, through the steps of an orderly progression he has advanced until he occupies the second position in the great corporation, with control over its sales.
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Mr. Gittins was born in Racine County, December 13. 1867, a son of Ellis and Jane (Gittins) Gittins, both of whom were natives of Wales, but in 1842 he left that little rock-ribbed country to seek a home in the new world and settled in Utica, New York. In Waterville, that state, he married Jane Gittins, who had come with her parents to the United States when twelve years of age. After a residence of about a year in Utica, Mr. and Mrs. Ellis Gittins, Sr., came to Racine County and settled upon a farm. The father devoted his remaining days to general agricultural pursuits and here passed away in 1884. His widow still survives at the notable age of ninety years.
Reared on the old homestead farm, Ellis J. Gittins obtained a country school education, supplemented by study in the high school of Racine. He was twenty-one years of age when on the 1st of December. 1888, he became an employee of the J. I. Case Threshing Machine Company and, closely applying himself to the mastery of the tasks assigned him, he won promotion from time to time with its increasing responsibilities but also its increasing remuneration. In March, 1889, he was sent to Fargo, North Dakota, to take charge of the office work of the branch house there established and subsequently he was given charge of the collection department. His next transfer took him to Lincoln, Nebraska, where he acted as local manager for the business for four years. Subsequently he spent two years in charge of the branch at Kansas City and then returned to Racine in 1902 as one of the sales managers. His next advancement brought him to the position of head sales manager and in October, 1915, he was elected to the vice presidency, continuing at the same time as sales manager. He thus has active voice in directing the policy of this great corporation, the history of which is given at length on another page of this work. He is familiar with every branch of the business, which he has studied closely through the twenty-eight years of his connection with the house, and therefore he is able to plan ready adjustment for any difficulty and find a correct solution for problems that arise. It has been said that a great corporation is not only a maker of money but a maker of men. It is the battle cry of trade that arouses the spirit of the individual and causes him to put forth his strongest, best effort to grasp the situation and come off victor in the strife. The Case Company gave to Mr. Gittins his opportunity, but it also found that he was adequate to the demands made upon him and his constantly expanding powers and developing talents have brought him to the second executive position in its managing force.
Mr. Gittins is a republican in his political views, thoroughly conversant with the vital and significant issues of the day, and he has the fraternal spirit which finds its exemplification in Masonry. In that order he has advanced through both routes, proceeding from the lodge to the Knight Templar degree of the York Rite and to the thirty-second degree of the consistory, while with the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine he has also crossed the sands of the desert.