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 31 of 58)
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school. In 1896 he entered Columbia
University, graduating with the class of
1898, after which he took a post-graduate
course at Syracuse University, a course



which he completed in 1899, graduating
with the degree of Bachelor of Law. He
was admitted to the Onondaga county
'bar in October, 1899, began and has since
continued in general practice in Syra-
cuse, his law business extending to all
State and Federal courts of the district.
Mr. Rill is a Republican in politics and
has ever been active and influential in the
local affairs of his party. In 1909 he was
elected supervisor from the Nineteenth
Ward of the city of Syracuse, and in 191 1
was elected president of the Common
Council, serving two terms, then refusing
a third term. He has always given public
afifairs much of his time and the best of
his ability. Since 191 1 he has been chair-
man of the Republican County Commit-
tee, but has steadfastly refused the many
offers made to make him party candidate
for different offices. He prefers to serve
his party and city in private capacity,
taking the just view that the interested,
thoughtful private citizen is of greater
value to the State than the office seeker,
ever "with an ax to grind." Mr. Rill is
a power in party councils and as chair-
man of the county committee wields wide
influence, influence used solely to further
party interests, never for his own bene-
fit. He is a past master of Central City
Lodge, No. 305, Free and Accepted Ma-
sons, holding the office of master during
the year 1910, and by virtue of his office
a member of the Grand Lodge of the
State of New York, holding in that body
membership on the committee on de-
ceased brethren. In Scottish Rite Ma-
sonry he has attained the thirty-second
degree, belonging to Syracuse Con-

In 1902 he married Lillian G. Draw-
bridge, by which marriage he has two
children: Elizabeth C, born September
2, 1905, and Willard A.. Jr., born August
17, 1910.

WARD, Brig.-Gen. Thomas,

Army 0£Bcer, Military Instructor.

After more than forty years of service
in the United States army, which in-
cluded the latter half of the Civil War,
Brigadier-General Thomas Ward, now a
resident of Rochester, New York, can
look back over a lifetime of service to his
country and devotion to the Stars and
Stripes. He was born at West Point,
New York, March 18, 1839. It is scarcely
to be wondered at that one, reared in
such an atmosphere and environment as
that of West Point, and who reached his
young manhood in such stirring times as
the years immediately preceding the
Civil War, should be fired by a patriotic
zeal, and should decide upon a military
career. His parents were Bryan and
Eliza (Henry) Ward. Bryan Ward died
in 1852, at the age of fifty-two years. He
had been registrar of West Point Mili-
tary Academy for many years, and was
succeeded by his son William, who held
the office for more than fifty years. Of
his children we have on record: Lieu-
tenant Matthew Henry Ward, a volun-
teer in the Ninth Michigan Cavalry, who
was promoted at the close of the war to
the Second Regular Artillery, and died
soon after the close of the war from a
disease contracted while in service ;
Philip W. Ward, enlisted, was with
Burnside's Cavalry, and died at the close
of the war from exposure and disease
contracted on the field ; Bryan Ward, Jr.,
nursed his brother, Brigadier-General
Thomas Ward, through an attack of
typhoid fever, contracted the disease, and
died at the early age of sixteen years.

Brigadier-General Thomas Ward re-
ceived a thorough and careful prepara-
tory education, then entered the United
States Military Academy at West Point,
from which he was graduated in 1863.



He was commissioned second lieutenant
of the First Regiment of Artillery, June
II, 1863. For gallantry displayed at Cold
Harbor he was brevetted first lieutenant,
June 3, 1864; July 18, of the same year,
he was prom,oted to a first lieutenancy ;
March 13, 1865, he was brevetted captain
for gallant and meritorious service dur-
ing the war, and was recommended, April
27. 1866, by General James H. Wilson, his
commanding general in the field, fcr the
brevet of major, "for bravery of the
highest degree, zeal and good manage-
ment, during the entire service with me
and particularly during the rapid an 1
exhausting marches and fights incidental
to operations against the South Side and
Danville railroad, known as 'Wilson's
Raid,' June 21 to July i, 1864." In this
connection the following quotation from
the official records will be of interest :
"Captain Ward was recommended for an
additional brevet by his commanding
general, for bravery, zeal and good man-
agement during the rapid and exhausting
marches and fights incidental to oper-
ations against the South Side and Dan-
ville railroads, Virginia ;" but on account
of a blunder the paper was filed in the
W'ar Department without further action
at the tim,e, and the error was only dis-
covered by accident twenty-three years
later, as the following correspondence
will show. General Wilson received a
letter from the Adjutant-General's Office,
War Department, under date of March
inviting his attention to the

following endorsement :

Wilmington, Delaware, April 27, 1866.
Respectfully forwarded. I take pleasure in
saying that the conduct of Captain Ward during
his entire service with me and particularly during
the rapid and e-xhausting marches and fights in-
cidental to operations against the South Side and
Danville railroads was in the highest degree

commendable for bravery, zeal and good manage-
ment. To my personal knowledge, the abandon-
ment of his guns was entirely unavoidable and
due to the utter exhaustion of his horses rather
than to anything else whatever.

I take pleasure in recommending him for the
brevet of captain.

(Signed) J. H. Wilson,

Captain Engineers and
Brevet Brigadier-General, U. S. A.

SloCKBRiDGE, Wilmington, Delaware,
March 24, 1889.
My Dear Major: It gives me very great pleas-
ure to say in reply to your letter of yesterday,
that I of course intended to recommend you for
the brevet of Major instead of Captain, when you
actually held that rank in the line, and now I
hasten to enclose a letter to the Adjutant General
correcting as far as possible the blunder into
which I fell in my endorsement of April 27, 1866.
Regretting more than I can find words to ex-
press, that I should have made such a palpable
mistake, and that it was not discovered and cor-
rected sooner, I am.

Cordially your friend,
(Signed) James H. Wilson.

Wilmington, Del.. March 24, 1889.
To the Adjutant General,

War Department, Washington, D. C. :
Sir : Referring to a certain statement made by
Major (then Captain) Thomas Ward in 1866 in
regard to his military history, and also to my en-
dorsement thereon, dated April 27, 1866, in which
I recommended Captain Ward for the brevet of
Captain in the United States Army, when he held
at the time that rank in the Artillery, I beg to say
that my intention was to recommend him for the
brevet of Major and to request that this state-
ment, in justice to Major Ward, who was a most
gallant and meritorious officer, be filed with the
original document now in the possession of your

Deeply regretting that the obvious error has re-
mained so long uncorrected and trusting that my
request can be complied with, I have the honor
to be,

Very respectfully.
Your obedient servant,
(Signed) James H. Wilson.
Late Major General Volunteers and
Brevet Major General, U. S. A.



War Department,
Adjutant General's Office,
April 13, 1889.
The foregoing request of General Wilson has
been complied with. His statement is to be filed
with the original letter and Major Ward fur-
nished an official copy.

(Signed) R. C. Drum,
Adjutant General.

After the Civil War, General Ward, as
an officer of the regular army, was
stationed at various posts, the following
instances being of sufficient interest to
note :

General Ward was in command of the
battery encamped in Annunciation
Square, New Orleans, Louisiana, from
May 10 to 20, 1873, suppressing political
riots, and in garrison at Jackson Bar-
racks, New Orleans, until July 7, 1873.
November i, 1876, he was commissioned
captain. He commanded Battery D,
First Artillery, during the strikes and
railroad riots from August i to 27, 1877,

nightly Club of Oswego; National Geo-
graphical Society; Society of American
Wars ; Genesee Valley Club ; and affiliated
with the Masonic fraternity at Schenec-
tady, while he was at Union College.
He is very refined, quiet and unassuming
in manner; of pleasing personality, and
has won a large circle of loyal friends.
He is of tall and commanding presence,
well preserved, and has never used liquor
of any kind.

General Ward's record as a military
man reflects credit on his native State.
He was on duty at Vancouver Barracks,
Washington, as adjutant-general of the
Department of the Columbia from 1889
to 1893, which included Alaska. During
that time General Ward toured Alaska
to Chilkat and took with him his two
sons — the elder, who is now Major Philip
R. Ward, and Thomas, Jr. Next he was
stationed as adjutant-general of the
Department of the Columbia, with head-
at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and at quarters at Denver, 1893-96. He was on
Reading, Pennsylvania, from August 28 General Hancock's stafif as captain, at
to October 24, of the sam,e year. He was Governor's Island, when Hancock ran for

promoted to major and assistant adjutant-
general, June 28, 1884; lieutenant-colonel
and assistant adjutant-general, August
31, 1893; colonel and assistant adjutant-
general, September 11, 1897; adjutant-
general, headquarters of the army, Au-
gust 25, 1900; brigadier-general. United
States Army, July 22, 1902; and in June,
1907, he was appointed president of the
board of visitors to the United States
Military Academy at West Point.

In 1873-77 he was Professor of Military
Science in Union College, Schenectady,
New York, and that institution conferred
on him the honorar}' degree of Master of
Arts. He belongs to the Phi Beta Kappa
and Sigma Phi Alpha college fraternities ;
member of the Loyal Legion and the
Grand Army of the Republic ; Metro-
politan Club, at Washington, D. C. ; Fort-

the office of President of the United
States. At that time General Ward was
inspector-general of the Department of
the East, which took in the New England
coast and as far west as Sault St. Marie,
and as far south as Florida. He retired
frorn military service in 1902, and after a
short residence in Oswego, became a
resident of Rochester, New York, where
he has lived ever since.

General Ward married, April 20, 1870,
in Oswego. New York, Katherine L.
Mott, born April 17, 1851, died November
II, 1914. She was a daughter of Thomas
S. Mott, one of the leading politicians of
New York State in his day, the right
hand man of Senator Conklin, and presi-
dent of the First National Bank of
Oswego. General and Mrs. Ward had
children: Major Philip R., was gradu-



ated from West Point, and is now in the
Coast Artillery, commanding Fort
Preble ; Bessie DeWolfe, married Edwin
Allen Stebbins, of Rochester ; Katherine
Mott, at home ; Thomas, Jr., midshipman
in the United States Navy, of whom
further; John IMott, now with Dr. Fitch,
engaged in Red Cross work in France at
the hospital at Yvetot ; two sons who
died in childhood.

Thomas Ward, Jr., was a worthy scion
of his family, which has given so many
brave men to the world. He was a hand-
some young man, of fine military bearing,
and would, no doubt, have added still
more to the prestige of the family name
had his career not been cut short at so
early an age while in the brave discharge
of his duty. Following are a few extracts
and copies of letters telling graphicall>
the story of his tragic death :

From the "Saturday Globe," Utica,
New York, April i6, 1904:

The worst catastrophe in the recent history of
the American Navy was that at Pensacola, Flor-
ida, Wednesday, when five charges of smokeless
powder exploded and killed thirty-three men, of
whom five were officers, besides injuring five
others, two of them fatally. A miracle alone pre-
vented this accident in peaceful waters from
paralleling the horror of war in Asiatic seas on
the same day. Within a few feet of the second
explosion was a magazine containing thousands
of pounds of high explosives. Had this been
ignited, the ship and her crew of six hundred
would have gone to the bottom. This fortunate
intervention of Providence and the heroic conduct
of her commander, Captain William S. Cowles,
are the two bright spots in the black record of
destruction, though the noble actions of some of
the other officers should not be overlooked. The
after twelve-inch guns were being fired. Numerous
shots had been fired and the left gun was being
loaded, one section, two hundred pounds of
powder, having been rammed home and the sec-
ond section having cleared the hoisting car. At
this instant a wind from off shore blew a portion
of the flame from the muzzle back into the breech
where the charge was being rammed home. This
ignited the charge, there was an explosion and

some of the burning stuff dropped into the han-
dling room below, whose four charges were ready
to be hoisted. These exploded. The flames were
soon leaping from every portion of the turret,
and the fumes from the powder overcame the
men who sought to extinguish them. Meanwhile,
terrible scenes were witnessed in the turret and
in the handling room. * * * When the bodies
were finally taken from the turret and the room
below, they were perfectly nude, every strip of
clothing having been burned off. They were
hardly recognizable. The flesh hung from their
bodies in strips and would drop off when touched.
The twenty-five men of the turret were found
lying in a heap just under the exit. Two separate
explosions had occurred, which accounts for the
position of the men. The first explosion in the
turret did not cause any deaths, and every man
started for the exit to get fresh air. They had
just reached it when the second and more terrible
explosion, directly beneath, sent the flames up
through the exit through which they were en-
deavoring to pass. * * * Thomas Ward, Jr.,
one of the officers killed by these explosions, was
twenty-one years old, and was appointed to the
Naval Academy at Annapolis, from Utica, New
York. He was graduated a little more than a
year ago, and when the Missouri went into com-
mission, was placed on her as one of the officers.

Navy Department,
Bureau of Navigation,
Washington, April 14, 1904.
General Thomas Ward, U. S. Army,
Oswego, N. Y. :
The President directs me to convey to you his
sympathy in your bereavement in the death of
your son, while in the faithful discharge of his

Permit me at the same time to express my own
sympathy and to assure you that you have that
of the entire Navy.

(Signed) William H. Moody,

Navy Department,
Washington, June 9, 1904.
To Brigadier General Thomas Ward,
United States Army;
Sir : The Department is in receipt of a report
from the commanding officer of the Missouri,
referring to the accident in the after turret of
the vessel on April 13th last, in which it is stated
that J. W. McDade, ordinary seaman, the one
living witness to the occurrence said in conver-
sation with Midshipman Ward's messmates, that



when the explosion took place he remembers
Midshipman Ward rushed over to the door of
the twelfth magazine in which he (McDade) was
at the time and gave some order about the maga-
zine, but what he said he could not hear and con-
sequently he made no mention of it before the

He further stated that at the instant the flame
enveloped all and that young Ward fell and lost
his life at the door of the magazine (see note).

Upon further questioning by the commanding
officer, McDade stated that while he remembered
Midshipman Ward rushing over to the magazine
door, he did not hear what he said.

The letter concludes :

Believing the Department should know every
detail officially as to how those died who lost
their lives at their posts of duty, this incident
shows that Midshipman Ward was himself alive
to the fact of the very great danger, rushed at
once, closed the magazine door and saved the

I communicate this to you with sincere sympa-
thy, believing that it will help to relieve your sor-
row; to know your son's unhesitating faithful-
ness to his duty at the cost of his life.

A copy of this letter will be placed with Mid-
shipman Ward's record in the Navy Department,
and another copy will be sent to the Commander-
in-Chief, North American Fleet, for publication
to the fleet, and to be read on the quarter deck of
the United States Ship Missouri at muster.

I have the honor to remain,

Your very respectfully,
(Signed) William H. Moody,


In igio the class of 1903 placed in Ban-
croft Hall, .Annapolis, a tablet inscribed
as follows:






United States Navy

Class of 1903

They died April 13, 1904, as

a Result of an Explosion

in the after turret of

the U. S. S. Missouri during

record target practice

while in the performance

of duty.



NOTE. — The door of the magazine was so built
as to open outward and downward to the floor,
turning upon a hinge at the base. Young "Ward
undoubtedly threw the door up. as it was
reported at the time that the fingers of the man
saved in the magazine were injured as the door
closed upon him.

MERCER, Alfred, M. D.,

Physician, Philanthropist.

Alfred Mercer, M. U., late of Syracuse,
New York, a son of William Mercer, who
died in England in 185 1, and his wife,
Mary (Dobell) Mercer, who died in Eng-
land in 1863. was born in High Halden,
Kent, England, November 14, 1820, carne
to America with his parents in 1832. and
died in his ninety-fourth year, at his resi-
dence, No. 324 Montgomery street, Syra-
cuse, New York, August 5, 1914. His
parents were almost sixty years of age
when they came to this country, were
imbued with the English social and busi-
ness habits, and the change to America
proved too great for their comfort or
enjoyment. They therefore returned to
England the following spring, but believ-
ing that this country offered better
advantages than England for an am-
bitious young man, they left their
youngest son, Alfred, in America with an
elder brother, who had already resided
here several years.

The youth spent two years at the
Genesee Wesleyan Seminary, sttidied
medicine in the office of Dr. John F.
Whitbeck, in Lima, Livingston county,
and was graduated from the Geneva
Medical College in 1845. I" 1846 he
visited his parents in England, and
devoted a few months to the study of
medicine and stirgery in the hospitals of
London and Paris. Returning to Amer-
ica in 1847, he opened an office in Mil-

1U UAj


waukee, Wisconsin, but in 1848 returned Dr. Mercer was a conscientious, kind

to this State and practiced in Livingston and self-sacrificing practitioner and

and Monroe counties until 1853, when he student, cheerfully doing no little of hi:5

settled permanently in Syracuse, where work without pecuniary reward. He was

he became one of the best known and beloved by a host of patrons. He at-

most trusted physicians and surgeons in tended his first thousand cases of labor

the Empire State. without losing a mother or child. He

It was one of Dr. Mercer's pleasures performed many of the major surgical

to relate, and most entertainingly, his operations before the days of asepsis

early experiences. He traveled by boat with nearly, if not quite, as successful
on the Erie canal when Syracuse was

only a salt manufacturing locality. He
spoke of the hardships which physicians
of the early times were called upon to
endure. Dr. Mercer was the first phy-
sician in Central New York, in about
i860, to recognize the value of, and to
use, the microscope as an aid to his pro-
fessional work. From 1864 to 1866 he
was health officer of Syracuse. Upon the
removal of the Geneva Medical College
to Syracuse, in 1872, when it became
a department of Syracuse University, he
was made a member of the faculty, in
which he long occupied the chai'r of
Minor and Clinical Surgery. In the
faculty he strongly advocated higher
standards in medical education. Sub-
sequently he was for many years Profes-
sor of State Medicine and later Emeritus
Professor of State Medicine, of which
chair he was the incumbent at the time
of his death. From its inception for many
years he was acting surgeon, and later up
to the time of his death consulting sur-
geon, to the Hospital of the House of the
Good Shepherd. He was president of the
Syracuse Board of Health from 1882 to
1889 and served as New York State Com-
missioner of Health from 1884 to 1890. He
was a member of both the American and
r.ritish Medical associations. He was also
a m.emlier of, and held various official posi-
tions, in the New York State Medical Soci-
ety, the Central New York Medical Asso-
ciation, the Onondaga Medical Society,
and the Syracuse Academy of Medicine.

results as are attained to-day. He wrote
and spoke often and vigorously and con-
vincingly on questions of public healtli.
He contributed his share in the struggle
which resulted in bringing to Syracuse
one of the best water supplies in the
world, that from Skaneateles Lake. He
responded with much painstaking to
occasional requests to present addresses,
historical and scientific, at anniversaries
of medical societies or of the college.
He also contributed papers to the
periodical literature of his profession.

When he had rounded out his nine-
tieth year, a dinner was tendered him by
the medical fraternity and citizens of
Syracuse, at which they vied with each
other to do honor to the man who had
done so much for humanity and for the
people of Syracuse in particular. Letters
and messages came from near and far on
this occasion. Appreciation of his work
was thus heartily and lovingly shown.
When Dr. ^Mercer died, it appeared as if
a personal loss had come to nxany a resi-
dent in the city. The expressions of grief
were sincere and heartfelt.

A hint as to the breadth of Dr. Mercer's
thought and sympathies in politics and
religion and his practical kindness of
heart may be gleaned from the following
provisions found in his will : "To keep
green in memory the heroism of the men
who rescued Jerry, men who could not
look on a slave, I give six hundred dol-
lars to the Onondaga Historical Associ-
ation to be known as the Jerry Rescue


Fund, the interest of which shall be used
every five years to procure some person
to deliver a Jerry Rescue Oration on
October i. * * * fhere is one true
charity, providing for helpless children."
Following this is a bequest of a house
and lot to the Onondaga Orphan's Home.
The proceeds of the sale of this property
became a nucleus of an endowment fund
which has by later additions from others
become a very substantial sum. He also
left an envelope addressed to his son
which contained shares of New York
Central Railroad Company stock, with
instructions for their division among
Catholic orphans, Jewish orphans, and
the aged women cared for by the Syra-
cuse Home Association. Soon after the
death of his son Fremont, the boy's
money in the Onondaga County Savings
Bank was given to the Onondaga
Orphans' Home as a fund, the interest of
which now annually buys books for the

Hr. Mercer married (first) in 1848,
Delia, eldest daughter of Aaron Lam-
phier, Esq., of Lima, New York, who died
February 14, 1887, leaving a son. Dr.
A. Clifford Mercer, mentioned below,
and a daughter, Ina, now the wife of
Professor Lepine H. Rice, of Syracuse.
Dr. Mercer married (second) July 25,
1888, Mrs. Esther A. (Morehouse) Esty,
of Ithaca, New York. Dr. Mercer's
other children were Eliza, who died in
1855, '" li^r fif'^h year: Charles Dobell,
who died in 1884, in his twenty-sixth
year; Fremont, who died in 1874, in his
twelfth year ; and Mary, who died in 1869,
in her third year.

We cannot bring this short review cf
the life of Dr. Mercer to a more fittuig
conclusion than by quoting from a

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 31 of 58)