Charles E. (Charles Elliott) Fitch.

Encyclopedia of biography of New York, a life record of men and women whose sterling character and energy and industry have made them preëminent in their own and many other states (Volume 5) online

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Online LibraryCharles E. (Charles Elliott) FitchEncyclopedia of biography of New York, a life record of men and women whose sterling character and energy and industry have made them preëminent in their own and many other states (Volume 5) → online text (page 3 of 58)
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a bill giving, through general legislation,
to the New York & New Jersey Bridge
Company certain rights for the construc-
tion of elevated railroad structures upon
West Street, in New York City, along
North river ; two related to the Park ave-
nue tunnel in New York City and another
was one conferring unusual powers upon
a gas company. Governor Odell while in
office was a strict partisan and an active
politician, doing all that he could honor-
ably and consistently to advance the in-
terests of his party ; but his highest claim
upon the gratitude and esteem of the peo-
ple are the financial reforms which were
consummated during his administration.
He was throughout the watch-dog of the
treasury and to him are due the lowering
of the burdens of taxation, the elimina-
tion of unnecessary or ill-considered
appropriations and the scrupulous regard
for the economies, without diminishing



the usefulness of any of the departments
of government. He declined a renomina-
tion in 1904, and has since devoted him-
self almost exclusively to his large busi-
ness interests. He married, August 20,
1877, Estelle Crist, of Newburgh (died
1888) ; and (second) Mrs. Linda (Crist)
Trophagen, sister of his first wife.

PARKER, Alton Brooks,

Jurist, Statesman.

Hon. Alton Brooks Parker, who was
the Democratic nominee for the presi-
dency in 1904, was born May 14, 1852, at
Cortlandt, New York, son of John Brooks
and Harriet F. (Stratton) Parker. Both
parents were persons of more than ordi-
nary intelligence and gentility — qualities
which were reflected in the son. The
Parker family was prominent in Massa-
chusetts, and John Parker, paternal great-
grandfather of Alton Brooks Parker,
served for three years in the Revolution-
ary army.

Alton Brooks Parker was educated in
the public schools of his native town, the
Cortlandt Academy, and the State Normal
School at the same place. He taught
school for three years after concluding his
studies, and then engaged in the study of
law in the offices of Schoonmaker & Har-
denbergh, both accomplished lawyers, and
the first named soon afterward becoming
Attorney-General of the State. He sub-
sequently took a course in the Albany
Law School, from which he graduated,
and he was admitted to the bar on attain-
ing his majority. He then formed a law
partnership with W. S. Kenyon, of Kings-
ton, an association which was maintained
until 1878. Meantime he had already
entered upon a public career. In 1877,
at the age of twenty-five, he was elected
surrogate of Ulster county, the youngest
surrogate ever elected in the county, and
his popularity is attested by the fact that

all other candidates on his ticket (the
Democratic) were defeated by upwards of
a thousand votes. In 1885 Governor
David B. Hill appointed him a justice of
the State Supreme Court to fill a vacancy
occasioned by the death of Judge Theo-
dore R. Westbrook, and on the expiration
of the term he was elected to the place
for the full fourteen year term, no Re-
publican candidate being nominated
against him. Meantime he had declined
other preferments — his party nomination
for Secretary of State, and for Lieutenant-
Governor, and later the proffer of the
position of First Assistant Postmaster-
General by President Cleveland. In 1885
at the earnest solicitation of many of the
principal men of his party, he accepted
the chairmanship of the executive com-
mittee of the Democratic State Commit-
tee, and in this position exhibited master-
ly qualities of leadership in the campaign
which resulted in the election of David
B. Hill as Governor in succession to
Grover Cleveland.

In 1889, under a division of the courts.
Judge Parker was selected to serve upon
the Court of Appeals in a special session
— the youngest man to occupy that posi-
tion. After the completion of this work,
the judiciary of New York City requested
Governor Flower to appoint Judge
Parker to sit in the general term of the
First Department. The Governor com-
plied, and Judge Parker added to his
celebrity as a jurist, and to such a degree
that in 1897 he was made the Demo-
cratic nominee for Chief Judge of the
Court of Appeals, and was elected by a
majority of 60,889, over the distinguished
Judge William J. Wallace (Republican),
whereas in the election of the year before,
the State had given McKinley a major-
ity of 268,469. This great tribute to his
character and talents gave Judge Parker
great prestige, and in 1902 he was urgent-
ly requested to accept the Democratic



nomination for Governor, but he was
averse from leaving the bench, and de-
clined. However, he had become a char-
acter of national importance, and in 1904
he was the logical candidate for the presi-
dential nomination. In the convention, no
other name than his was seriously con-
sidered. But one ballot was taken, he
receiving 689 out of the 869 ballots cast,
and the nomination being made unani-
mous. He at once resigned from the
bench, and retired to his home at Esopus,
on the Hudson river, where during the
campaign he received many delegations
comprising the influential men of his
party. His letter of acceptance was
marked by modesty and dignity, as were
his few public utterances during the cam-
paign. The election resulting in his de-
feat, he at once resumed his law practice
in New York City, and in which he still
continues. He has handled many impor-
tant cases and represented many large
interests. An incident of his practice was
his appearance as counsel for the man-
agers of the impeachment trial of Gov-
ernor Sulzer, in 1913.

From the year of his political defeat, he
has been one of the principal leaders of
his party. In 1908 he was a delegate-at-
large to the National Democratic Con-
vention, and a member of its platform
committee; in the convention of 1912 he
was again a delegate-at-large, and tem-
porary chairman ; and during the same
years he occupied similar positions in the
Democratic State Convention. He was
president of the American Bar Associ-
ation in 1906-07; of the New York
County Lawyers' Association in 1909-11 ;
of the New York State Bar Association in
1913 ; and first vice-president of the Amer-
ican Academy of Jurisprudence in 1914.
He married, October 16, 1873, Mary L.,
daughter of M. I. Schoonmaker, of
Accord, New York.

N Y— Vol IV— 2 17

ABBOTT, Lyman, D. D.,

Pulpiteer and Writer.

The Rev. Lyman Abbott, D. D., a
leader of the "New Theology," who suc-
ceeded the Rev. Henry Ward Beecher as
pastor of Plymouth Church, Brooklyn,
New York, made his own place as a theo-
logian and a pastor, while at the same
time he maintained the traditions of that
well known church to a degree that could
hardly have been anticipated. Himself a
member of the church for more than
thirty years, in sympathy with its doc-
trines and its history, he was the natural
resource of the church during the anxious
period that followed the death of Rev.
Henry Ward Beecher, when, by his tact
and wisdom in utilizing the lessons of
affliction, he contributed greatly to the
maintenance of lofty ideals and spiritual
consecration in the deeply-moved con-
gregation. For more than a year he
served as acting pastor, until the church,
finding that the pastor they sought was
already with them, called him to remain
permanently, and he served acceptably
and usefully until his resignation in 1899.

Rev. Lyman Abbott was born in Rox-
bury, Massachusetts, December 18, 1835,
third son of Professor Jacob and Harriet
(Vaughan) Abbott, and brother of Ben-
jamin Vaughan and Austin Abbott, both
of whom attained eminence in the law.
Professor Abbott was the voluminous
author of the famous "Rollo Books," and
other series for the yoimg. Lyman Ab-
bott was graduated from the University
of the City of New York, Bachelor of
Arts, 1853, and then became a law student
in the offices of his brothers, Benjamin V.
and Austin Abbott, who were both suc-
cessful practitioners, and under their skill-
ful guidance and preceptorship he made
rapid strides and was admitted to the
New York bar, and for four years the


three brothers were associated in the
active practice of their profession. At
the expiration of that period of time, Ly-
man Abbott abandoned the law for the
ministry, and studied theology under the
guidance of his uncle, the Rev. John S. C.
Abbott, the historian. He was ordained
to the ministry in i860 and in the same
year was ofifered the pastorate of a Con-
gregational church in Terre Haute, Indi-
ana, where he remained until 1865, when
the secretaryship of the American Union
Commission, devoted to the welfare of
the freedmen, was ofifered to him, which
position he accepted, the duties of which
brought him to New York City. He also
entered upon the pastorate of the New
England Congregational Church, New
York City, and assumed the dual func-
tions of the secretaryship and pastorate
until 1868, when he resigned the former,
and in 1869 he resigned the pastorate, and
devoted himself to editorial work on the
religious press. For some time he was
assistant editor of the "Christian Union,"
in association with the Rev. Henry Ward
Beecher, and upon the retirement of the
latter he became editor-in-chief. His call
to Plymouth Church, after the death of
its famous pastor, summoned him from
the active editorial management of the
"Christian Union." A disciple of his
former pastor, he had made his paper the
leading exponent of the views on theology
and church polity which were familiar to
Plymouth Church, and unexpectedly, to
himself as well as to his church, he found
in the historic pulpit a field as surely his
own as the editorial sanctum, and in the
congregation so great an inspiration that
in a very short period of time he became
known as a preacher of the first rank.
He admirably directed the energies of his
people, who were aroused by the death of
Mr. Beecher to a new sense of individual
responsibility for the future of the
church, and who found in the changing

conditions of population about the church
ample fields for new work along new
lines. His influence with young men was
marked, and he possessed the faculty of
drawing the congregation closely to him-
self through his tact and wisdom in the
maintenance of lofty ideals, and also in
drawing large audiences of non-church
goers over whom he exerted a wonderful
influence for good. He resigned the
pastorate of Plymouth Church in 1899 in
order to devote his effort entirely to the
editorial conduct of the "Outlook." He
is recognized throughout the country as
the representative of liberal thought and
progressive theology. He delivered a
series of sermonic lectures on "The Bible
as Literature," in which he supported the
Driver-Briggs variation of the Kuenen-
Wellhausen school of higher criticism of
the Bible.

For a number of years Dr. Abbott
shared with Phillips Brooks and others
the discharge of pastoral duties at Har-
vard University. He edited the Literary
Record of "Harper's Magazine" and of
"Illustrated Christian Weekly," being the
founder of the latter named in 1871 ; since
1893 editor-in-chief of the "Outlook." He
is the author of: "Jesus of Nazareth,"
"Old Testament Shadows of New Testa-
ment Truth," "A Layman's Story," "How
to Study the Bible," "Illustrated Com-
mentary on the New Testament," 1875 ;
"Dictionary of Religious Knowledge"
(with late T. J. Conant) 1876; "A Study
in Human Nature," 1885 ; "In Aid of
Faith," 1891; "Life of Christ," 1894;
"Evolution of Christianity," 1896; "The
Theology of an Evolutionist," 1897;
"Christianity and Social Problems," 1897;
"Life and Letters of Paul," 1898; "The
Life That Really Is," 1899; "Problems of
Life," 1900; "Life and Literature of the
Ancient Hebrews," 1900; "The Rights of
Man," 1901 ; "Henry Ward Beecher,"
1903; "The Other Room," 1904; "The



Great Companion," 1904: "Christian
Ministry," 1905 ; "Personality of God,"
1905; "Industrial Problems," 1905;
"Christ's Secret of Happiness," 1907;
"The Home Builder," 1908; "The
Temple," 1909; "The Spirit of Democ-
racy," 1910; "America in the Making,"
191 1 ; and "Letters to Unknown Friends,"


He is a member of the New York
Bar Association, American Bar Associ-
ation, New York State Historical Asso-
ciation, Indian Rights Association, Amer-
ican Forestry Association, Remabai Asso-
ciation, New York, Association for the
Blind, Association for Improving the
Condition of the Poor, National Confer-
ence of Charities and Correction, Aldine
Association, the New York University
Alumni, American Peace Society, Maine
Society, the Religious Educational Asso-
ciation, the Armstrong Association, New
York Child Labor Commission, National
Child Labor Commission, American Insti-
tute of Sacred Literature, New York
State Conference of Religion, Universal
Peace Union, National Civil Service Re-
form League, American Economic Asso-
ciation, Association for International Con-
ciliation, American Academy of Political
and Social Science, Prison Association of
New York, American Society of Sanitary
and Moral Prophylaxis, Legal Aid Soci-
ety, Italian Immigrant Society, Grenfell
Association, Metropolitan Museum of
Art, Committee of One Hundred, Com-
mittee of Fourteen. His recreations are
driving, walking, travel. He received the
degree of Doctor of Divinity from New
York University, 1876, Harvard, 1890, and
Yale, 1903; that of Doctor of Laws from
Western Reserve, 1900, and Amherst,
1908; and that of Doctor of Higher
Literature from Miami, 1909.

Rev. Lyman Abbott married, October
14, 1857, Abby Frances Hamlin, daughter
of Hannibal Hamlin. She died in 1907.

Children : Lawrence F., Harriot F.,
Herbert V., Ernest H., Theodore J., and
Beatrice V.

LOW, Seth,

Educator, Pnblicist,

Seth Low, ninth president of Columbia
College, and a former mayor of New York
City, was born in Brooklyn, New York,
January 18, 1850, son of Abiel Abbott and
Ellen Almira (Dow) Low ; the father was
a prominent merchant in New York City.

Seth Low attended the Brooklyn Poly-
technic Institute, and in his sixteenth
year entered Columbia College and was
graduated four years later at the head of
his class. During his last year in college
he attended lectures in the Columbia
Law School, but did not complete the
course, leaving to become a clerk in his
father's tea importing house. In 1875
he was admitted to partnership in the
firm, and when his father retired in 1879,
he was among the partners who suc-
ceeded to the business, which was finally
liquidated in 1888. Meantime he had
become a member of the Chamber of
Commerce, in which he soon became use-
ful, frequently serving upon important
committees, and at times delivering
addresses which commanded attention.

During this period, he had become in-
terested in social and economic subjects.
In 1876 he became a volunteer visitor to
the poor, in a movement which reformed
and subsequently abolished the out-door
relief system in Kings county, and which
two years later led to the establishment
of the Bureau of Charities, of which he
was the first president. In 1880 he was
president of the Republican campaign
club organized to promote the election of
Garfield and Arthur, and the conspicuous
success of that body in swelling the party
vote, brought its president into public
view as a leader of men. As a result, in



1881 he was elected mayor of Brooklyn
on a reform ticket, by a most decided
majority ; and as the result of a highly
successful administration, marked by
various salutary reform measures, among
which was that of competitive examina-
tion for appointment to municipal posi-
tions, he was reelected in 1883, leaving
the office in 1886 with a national reputa-
tion as a practical reformer and exponent
of honest municipal administration.
After a visit to Europe, he again engaged
in business, in which he continued until
1890, when he was called to the presi-
dency of Columbia College (of which he
had been a trustee), in succession to Dr.
F. A. P. Barnard, and which position he
occupied with distinguished usefulness
until 1901, when he left it to become
mayor of the City of Greater New York.
Immediately upon taking up his duties as
president of Columbia College, he began
to infuse new life into that venerable
institution, and his entire management
was marked by most wise judgment. In
1890, his first year, the several instruc-
tional departments, which had been main-
tained independently of each other, were
organically united and brought under the
control of a university council created for
that specific purpose. In the following
year the old historic College of Physicians
and Surgeons was brought within the
university corporation, and the School of
Mines was broadened into the Schools of
Applied Science. By the year 1892 the
university had been so expanded that the
old buildings had become inadequate, and
a change of location was determined
upon. A committee recommended the
site of the old Bloomingdale Asylum for
the Insane, on the Morningside Park
heights, valued at more than two million
dollars, which amount was paid by the
year 1894 — a result in large measure due
to the persistent interest of President
Low — and seven and a half million dol-

lars were expended in the erection of the
new buildings. The efficiency of the
university was further enhanced by the
establishment of the Columbia Union
Press, for the publication of historic and
scientific documents, after the manner of
the Oxford Clarendon Press of England.
President Low's benefactions during this
period were most princely. In 1894 he
gave to the university the sum of ten
thousand dollars for the endowment of a
classical chair in honor of his former
teacher, Professor Henry Drisler. In
1895 he gave a million dollars for the
erection of the new university library ;
and in recognition of his munificence the
trustees established twelve university
scholarships for Brooklyn boys, and
twelve in Barnard College for Brooklyn
girls, besides establishing eight annual
university scholarships. In 1896 Presi-
dent Low gave $10,000 to Barnard Col-
lege, and $5,000 to the New York Kinder-
garten Association. He was meantime
busied with various benevolent and char-
itable labors. In 1893, during the cholera
epidemic, he rendered useful service as
chairman of a committee appointed by
the New York Chamber of Commerce to
aid the authorities in precautionary
measures, and the quarantine camp estab-
lished at Sandy Hook by the national
government was named Camp Low in his
honor. With his brother, Abbott Au-
gustus Low, in 1894 he built and pre-
sented to the mission station of the Prot-
estant Episcopal church in Wu Chang,
China, a completely equipped hospital for
the use of the mission, and named in
memory of their father.

Mr. Low resigned the presidency of
Columbia University in 1901, to enter
upon the duties of mayor of the City of
Greater New York, which position he
held for two years, fully sustaining his
reputation as an executive, governed by
the highest possible standards. Since his


retirement from that high office he has
been busied with personal affairs, giving
a large share of his attention to the
benevolent and charitable causes which
have always commanded his interest. As
a master spirit in the field of social and
economic science, he has frequently been
an arbitrator of labor disputes. In 1900
he succeeded Charles P. Daly, deceased,
as president of the American Geograph-
ical Society ; and has also served as presi-
dent of the Archaeological Institution of
America ; as vice-president of the New
York Academy of Sciences ; as president
of the American Asiatic Society ; and is
president of the National Civic Feder-
ation ; trustee of the Carnegie Institution,
Washington City ; and is a member of the
American Philosophical Society, the New
York Academy of Political Science, and
the American Academy of Political and
Social Science. He received the degree
of Doctor of Laws from Amherst Col-
lege in 1889; from the University of the
State of New York, from Harvard Univer-
sity, from the University of Pennsylvania
and from Trinity College in 1890; from
Princeton University in 1896; from Yale
University in 1901 ; and from the Univer-
sity of Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1910. He
married, December 9, 1880, Annie, daugh-
ter of Benjamin R. Curtis, of Boston,

HILLIS, Newell Dwight, D. D.,

Clergyman, Anthor.

Rev. Newell Dwight Hillis, the present
pastor of Plymouth Church, Brooklyn,
New York, one of the most widely known
institutions in Brooklyn, is a man whose
methods and style are peculiar to him-
self, and he is comparable with none
other. Orderly and logical in his mental
processes, thoroughly trained in theology
but too broad-minded to make subtle
theological distinctions, a profound lover

of the truth, his teachings are eminently
practical and helpful to "all sorts and
conditions of men." With wonderful
command of language, never hesitating
for want of a word or misusing one, his
utterances flow with almost poetic rythm.
His illustrations, drawn from every-day
life and from recollections of scenes of
nature, are captivating, and he impresses
the hearer with the conviction that he
seeks to aid him to a better personal life
and a broader scope of mental vision.

Plymouth Church, the scene of his pas-
toral labors, had its origin in the desire
of the supporters of the Congregational
polity to multiply churches of that de-
nomination, notwithstanding the opinion
of many at the time that Congregational-
ism could flourish only in New England,
but the immediate and almost unlooked
for success of the Church of the Pilgrims,
of Brooklyn, then less than two years
old, encouraged a contrary belief. In
1846 the church edifice, then recently
vacated by the First Presbyterian Church,
was purchased, and later the property on
Cranberry street, extending to Orange
street, where ever since Plymouth Church
has stood, was purchased. The church
was reopened for religious worship. May
16, 1847, and Henry Ward Beecher, then
pastor of the Second Presbyterian Church
in Indianapolis, who had come to New
York to make the address at the anniver-
sary of the American Home Missionary
Society, was invited to preach the open-
ing sermon, and after the formal organiza-
tion of the church he was unanimously
called to the pastorate. The history of
the church has been marked by many
episodes which have attracted public at-
tention. Among them was the vigorous
part played by pastor and people in the
anti-slavery agitation. More than once
living slaves were brought upon its plat-
form and their liberty purchased by the
congregation. During the Civil War the



church was foremost in deeds as well as
words for the maintenance of the Union
and for stimulating a patriotic spirit. The
inner life of the church has always been
deep and full. It never was a field for
religious excitement, though it has shared
with other churches the fruits of great
revival seasons.

Newell Dwight Hillis was born Sep-
tember 2, 1858, at Magnolia, Iowa, a son
of Samuel Ewing and Margaret Hester
(Reichte) Hillis, and a descendant of a
Scotch-English origin, Hyllis being the
ancient form of the family name, and his
ancestors fought under Cromwell, remov-
ing to Ireland after the restoration of the
monarchy. Members of the American
branch of the family served in the Revolu-
tionary War and during the War of 1812.
The mother of Dr. Hillis was of German

Dr. Hillis first attended the schools
of his native town, completing the course
in the high school, after which he was a
student in the academy at Magnolia. He
supplemented the knowledge thus ob-
tained by a course at Lake Forest Univer-
sity and in McCormick Theological Semi-
nary, graduating at the former named in
1884 and at the latter in 1887. with high
honors, receiving the degrees of Bachelor
of Arts and Master of Arts from the
former named. In early life his thoughts
turned in the direction of the ministry,
and when seventeen years of age he be-
came a missionary for the American Sun-
day School Union, and for two years
labored efifectively in establishing
churches and Sunday schools. He was
ordained to the Presbyterian ministry in
1887. His first pastorate was the First

Online LibraryCharles E. (Charles Elliott) FitchEncyclopedia of biography of New York, a life record of men and women whose sterling character and energy and industry have made them preëminent in their own and many other states (Volume 5) → online text (page 3 of 58)