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History of Seattle from the earliest settlement to the present time (Volume 3) online

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Heber Eugene Plank, agent in charge of the Seattle office of the General Electric
Company, was born February .4, 1884, in Morgantown, Pennsylvania, a son of D. Heber
Plank, M. D., who was a practicing physician and surgeon of that place for a number of
years and passed away in 1906. The mother bore the maiden name of Ida E. Bertolet and
her death occurred in 1913.

Heber Eugene Plank was the third in order of birth in their family of six children.
At the usual age he entered the public schools, passing through consecutive grades until
'graduated from the high school, while afterward he pursued a special course of study in
the Pennsylvania State College, from which he was graduated in July, 190S, receiving the
degree of Bachelor of Science on the completion of the course in electrical engineering.
Following his graduation he was employed by the General Electric Company at Schenectady,
New York, and has since remained with them. He has advanced from time to time and
two years ago was transferred to the Seattle office as manager. He is one of the prominent
representatives of the profession on the Pacific coast, his ability being continually augmented
by his further study, investigation and practical experience.

Mr. Plank is an associate member of the American Institute of Electrical Engineers.
Fraternally he is connected with the Masons and exemplifies in liis life the beneficent spirit
of the craft. His interest in municipal affairs and in the development of the city along all
worthy lines is manifest in his identification with the Chamber of Commerce. He belongs
also to the Seattle Golf Club and to the University Club. During the period of his residence
in Seattle he has gained a wide acquaintance and won many friends and his position in
social as well as professional circles is an enviable one.


Dr. Louis Herbert Maxson, successfully engaged in the practice of medicine and surgery
at Seattle, was born September 8, 1883, at Brooklyn, New York. Mention of his family is
made in connection with the sketch of Dr. Frank T. Maxson, on another page of this work.
Dr. Maxson of this review is indebted to the public schools for the educational privileges
which he enjoyed, pursuing his studies at Washington, D. C. in Vallejo. California, and in
the high school at Boston. Massachusetts. His literary course was pursued in Boston
University, from which he was graduated with the Bachelor of Arts degree in 1906.
Determining upon a professional career and deciding upon the practice of medicine, he
entered the University of Pennsylvania and after four years of study there was graduated
with the M. D. degree in 1910. At graduation he was elected to membership in Alpha Omega
Alpha and in Sigma Xi, two honorary fraternities.

Almost immediately after his graduation Dr. Maxson came to the northwest, reaching
Seattle on the 2d of July, 1910. He was already somewhat familiar with this section of the
country, for in 1S08 he" had gone to Bremerton with his parents, his father being a civil


engineer in the United States navy. Dr. Maxson now resides at No. 1511 Ninth avenue,
West, and has his office in the American Bank building. He has won for himself a creditable
name and place in professional circles. He now belongs to the North End Medical Society
of Seattle, of which he was the secretary in 1912 and 1913, the King County Medical Society
and the Washington State Medical Society. In politics he is independent. In 1913-14 he
served on the Cedar river watershed as camp physician and sanitary officer of the city
health department. He believes in disseminating knowledge concerning sanitary and health
conditions and it has ever been his policy to prevent disease wherever possible. In his
practice he is now specializing in anaesthetics and has gained proficiency in that field.

On the 20th of June, 1914. in Seattle, Dr. Maxson was united in marriage to Mrs.
Margaret (Ashworth) Niblett, a native of Newcastle, W'ashington, and a daughter of
William Ashworth, a pioneer of North Lake Union. They have one son, John Ashworth,
born in this city May 10, 1915. Dr. Ma.xson is one of the younger physicians of the city
but already has made a most creditable place in professional circles. Mrs. Maxson is a
member of the Native Daughters, the Century Club and the Musical Art Club, and she
is well known in Seattle musical circles, being a pianist of exceptional ability. Dr. Maxson
possesses a good baritone voice and has sung in several of the city churches. They occupy
an enviable position in those social circles where true worth and intelligence are accepted as
passports to good society.


Byron Phelps, of Seattle, filling the position of county auditor in King county for the
second term, has passed the seventy-third milestone on life's journey and yet in spirit
and interests seems still in his prime. Because he has never abused nature's laws, because
his life has been intelligently guided and his powers developed through the exercise of
effort, he today possesses the physical and intellectual vigor of a man of much younger
years and is one of the valued citizens of the Sound country.

He was born in Forest, Livingston county, Illinois. March 4, 1842, a son of Orin and
Elizabeth H. (Jones) Phelps. The father was a native of Boston, Massachusetts, born
September 30, 181 1, and the mother's birth occurred at Bordentown, New Jersey, December
26, 1820. Both were well educated. They became Illinois pioneer settlers, taking up their
abode upon a farm in that state in 1838. In the early times they met many of the hardships
and privations of frontier life. As the country became more thickly settled, Mr. Phelps
not only carried on farming and stock-raising but also engaged extensively in contracting
and building and became widely known in that connection. He built many bridges which
stood the test of time and would now be curiosities, being constructed entirely of wood
without metal, even wooden pins being used instead of nails. When counties and townships
were organized in his section of the state he was called to serve in various official
positions, including those of school director, collector, treasurer and surveyor. He died in
1898, while his wife passed away in December, 191 1.

The ancestors of the Phelps family took an active part in the Revolutionary war, both
on land and sea, and one of them, Captain John Phelps, commanded a company in the
colonial wars and also served as a captain in the Revolutionary war. The first of the name
in America was Henry Phelps, who came from London to the new world in 1634, and the
direct line of descent is traced down through Henry, John, John, Captain John, Dr. Moses,
Sewall and Orin to Byron Phelps. Dr. Moses Phelps served not only as a soldier but
also as a surgeon in the Revolutionary war and was with W^ashington's army at Valley
Forge. It will thus be seen that Byron Phelps is eligible to membership with the Sons
of tlie .-\merican Revolution. He knows little concerning his maternal ancestry save that
his grandfather, Charles Jones, served in a Pennsylvania regiment in the War of 1812.

In his boyhood days Byron Phelps attended the subscription schools through the three
winter months for four years, and this constituted his entire educational training, his broad
knowledge having been gained through wide reading and in the school of experience.
He worked upon the home farm, was employed in a general store and afterward owned



and successfully couductcd a retail hardware store. He has given an interesting picture
of the condition of the country in which he lived and tells of the influence of such an
environment upon Abraham Lincoln, who often tried cases at Pontiac, the county seat of
Livingston county, in which the farm of tlie Phelps family was situated. His father once
sat as a juror on a case wliich Lincoln tried, and when Byron Phelps became clerk of
the county, some of the papers which Lincoln wrote out were still on hie. Before this,
Lincoln had been attorney for an aunt of Air. Phelps. The Lincoln home was not far
distant from the Phelps home and the environment and conditions were practically the

Speaking of this, Mr. Phelps said ; "The ordinary and generally accepted opinion is
that Lincoln came up in poverty and had a hard struggle for existence. I mention this
because the e.xact opposite are the facts. We had an abundance, profusely so. The coun-
try was new, unsettled and in a state of nature, the soil was everywhere fertile and most
easy of cultivation. Plenty of excellent hard timber, good water easily obtained, wild
flowers and wild fruit abounded, with untold thousands of game and lish of the very best
and of almost endless variety, it was indeed a land flowing with milk and honey, obtainable
with very little efl'ort. * * * Under these conditions Lincoln grew up to the stature of
six feet, four inches, without warp or twist in either body or mind. He was neither
homely, awkward nor ugly, but was a stately, dignified, gifted man, akin to all that was
worthy of being akin to, largely due to the environment which brouglit him forth. He, in
fact, was so well poised, so well balanced, as to appear strange, awkward and homely to us
not so gifted. True, he had but few books to read, but he set the whole world to writing
books. According to the nowadays too often accepted standard of success being based
upon money or property accumulated. Abraham Lincoln was a decided failure, yet he had
a thoroughly correct knowledge of finance and wealth. He had been farmer, merchant,
boatman, surveyor, lawyer, legislator, soldier, president, always frugal and never in debt,
yet when he died his estate was worth scarcely twenty thousand dollars."

It was in this period of Illinois' development, when the land made ready returns for
labor and ere fierce competition was introduced, that Byron Phelps was reared. Possessing
natural mechanical ingenuity and inventive genius, much of his attention was given to
transforming his ideas into practical, tangible form, and he has been granted fifty United
States patents on various inventions, consisting of improvements on farm machinery, in
locks and various articles of hardware. He has also received sixteen foreign patents
and many of these inventions have proven successful, some of them being now used in
most countries.

Mr. Phelps was a youth of but nincleen years when in response to tlic country's call
for aid he enlisted as a private soldier, joining the Third Illinois Cavalry on the 7th of
August, 1861. Promotion followed in recognition of his ability and valor. He was
promoted to sergeant on the 24th of August, became second lieutenant in January, 1864,
and first lieutenant in February, 1865, and in the same year he acted as regimental adjutant
and was adjutant of the brigade commanded by Colonel B. F. Marsh. Throughout the
period of the war he was engaged in active duty under Generals Fremont, Curtis, Sherman,
Grant. Scholield and Thomas, participating in the battles of Pea Ridge, Yazoo River,
Champion Hills, Black River, the siege of Vicksburg and the battles of Franklin and
Nashville, Tennessee, besides manj' skirmishes and raids incident to cavalry service. He
was once wounded and for three years, nine montlis and thirteen days he remained at
the front.

On the 20th of March, 1866, at Fairbury, Illinois, Mr. Phelps was united in marriage
to Miss Henrietta Skinner, the wedding ceremony being performed by the Rev. Thomas
Hempstead, a Presbyterian clergyman. She was born in Devonshire, England, February
13, 1845, a daughter of Francis and Sarah (Hill) Skinner, who emigrated to the United
States in 1851, settling in Illinois, where the father successfully followed farming. To
Mr. and Mrs. Phelps have been born five children, namely : Harriet N., who is the wife of
Will H. Parry ; Edwin Harrington, who wedded Miss Margaret Chisholm ; Rblla Carl,
who married Miss Frances Wilson; Donna Buckingham, who gave her hand in marriage
to David H. Cale ; and Charles Rotheus, who died June 27, T872, at the age of four years,
six months and twenty-two days.

Vol. 111-17


Mr. Phelps has made a close study of religion and holds that the beliefs of all are
sacred to all alike. His faith is generally that of the Unitarian church. In 1866 he
became a Mason but has never taken an active part in the virork of the craft. Since 1908
he has affiliated with the Sons of the American Revolution, since 1868 with the Grand
Army of the Republic and since 1890 with the Military Order of the Loyal Legion,
acting as commander of the Washington State Commandery in 1913. His interest in
community afifairs is indicated in the fact that he is identified with the Chamber of
Commerce, the Seattle Commercial Club and the Municipal League.

In politics Mr. Phelps was a Douglas democrat at the beginning of the war, but ere
its close became a republican and so continued until through the last decade, when he has
largely followed an independent course. In 1912 he supported the progressive party, fully
believing in and indorsing the platform of 1912 and therefore giving to it his earnest
support. By contributions and otherwise he has aided the cause of equal suffrage. He
is a believer in civil service laws governing the appointment of all public employes,,
county, state and national, and believes absolutely in entire non-partisanship in city, county
and state affairs. Utterly opposed to war, he does not think that there should be main-
tained either a large army or navy, no matter what other countries may do. His opinion
has been expressed in these words : "I believe in properly living for my country rather
than dying for it. In my opinion, the highest and best type of courage and patriotism
is exemplified in the men and women who are good citizens, meeting day by day the trials
of life as best they can." Upon the question of capital and labor he has said : "I indorse
the solution of that subject by Abraham Lincoln when he was president of the United
States, and desire to act accordingly." Mr. Phelps has further expressed his opinions
regarding public affairs as follows : "I believe in governmental control and management
of all public utilities, including money and credits, and generally in the public ownership of
the same, but am not inclined to hurry in these matters, because the general trend of public
necessity and public opinion all points that way. With the many thousands who honestly
oppose these views, I have faith to believe they will see their errors, and abandon them as
readily as I will mine. In general we all strive earnestly for the right."

That many indorse Mr. Phelps' belief and position is indicated in the fact that he was
elected mayor of Seattle in March, 1894, at which time the city charter prohibited an
individual from serving for two consecutive terms. During his administration business and
industrial conditions were the worst that the city has ever experienced and the times most
discouraging, yet the city officials under his guidance and with his cooperation accomplished
much public good. The Cedar river water ordinance. No. 3990, was recommended by the
mayor, passed by the council, submitted to popular vote as advocated by Mr. Phelps and
ratified by a large majority at the polls, resulting in the inauguration and completion of
the present Cedar water system. There is an abundant gravity flow of pure snow water
the year round and one of the best water supplies enjoyed by any city, the same stream
serving ample water power for the city light and power plant since put in operation.
Under the guidance of Mayor Phelps no office rents were paid by the city, partitions being
placed in the rooms of the old city hall and all of the various city offices installed therein.
Many unnecessary official positions were abolished. Men not needed in the police and
fire departments were discharged and the salaries of all city employes were reduced from
twenty to fifty per cent to meet the exigencies of the times. The cost of city light was
reduced one lialf. Alany ve.xatious city problems were solved, such as the railroad right
of way on the water front, then known as the old Ram's Horn right of way; the comple-
tion of the Lake Union and Lake Washington sewerage tunnels, etc. The city accounting,
which had always before been in a state of chaos, was properly systematized and correct
methods installed, whereby every cost, throughout all the departments, could be instantly
arrived at. In less than thirty days after the administration of 1894 to 1896 had been
installed, in the public works of the city one, hundred dollars of money accomplished as
much as three hundred dollars previously had. The city finances for the first time in
years were placed on a cash basis, and the warrant scalpers went out of business as never
before in the city's history. The first pavement of streets was inaugurated against
great and persistent opposition. The brick pavements then constructed lasted for more
than nineteen years and at the end of that time were as good as most cities had ever


enjoyed. Notwithstanding the worst financial depression the country had ever experienced
(1892 to 1896), the public debt of the city was reduced tnany thousands of dollars in
general. The public appointees were of the best and retained their positions longer than
those before or since. In fact, many yet remain, rendering efficient public service. There
were no defalcations, or shortages in any of the departments, or no accusations of any.
The city council, then under the dual system of a board of aldermen and house of delegates
each of nine members, was one of the most able councils in the city's history, and with it
all departments worked for a common end. Under ordinance passed by it, a charter com-
mission was elected which formulated the present city charter, which has been amended
from time to time to meet the requirements of a rapidly growing city. The administration
of the city's affairs was clean, simple and straightforward, and for economic management
has not been surpassed in Seattle before or since, all of which is attested by the public
records. Mr. Phelps' economical and businesslike administration naturally aroused opposi-
tion and he received severe criticism from those who wanted office but were not appointed.
It is always an unpleasant and an unpopular duty to abolish offices, discharge unnecessary
officials and introduce an all-around reduction of salaries, but he never faltered in his
course which he believed to be right.

Mr. Phelps has filled the following offices, serving as town clerk in 1868, for one year;
as county clerk of Livingston county, Illinois, for four years, beginning in 1869; as deputy
county treasurer of King county, Washington, being appointed in 1888; elected county
treasurer of that county in i8go; reelected in 1892; elected mayor of Seattle in 1894; elected
county auditor in 1912, and reelected in 1914. As will be seen, he has served two terms
as county treasurer of King county after having been deputy treasurer. Under the laws
then in force, a personal bond of six hundred thousand dollars was required, the treasurer
being the sole collector and disburser of every species of taxes — county, state and

Mr. Phelps has ever been an original and independent thinker, a student of past
history and of present conditions, with an outlook into the future that is clear and com-
prehensive, being based upon his knowledge of the past and the present. He has never
measured life from a money standard, but rather according to the opportunities oflfered
for intellectual and moral progress. He has made his efforts count for good as a factor
in the world's work, contributing to the substantial progress of the community in which
he lives.


Dr. Orange Edwards, who dates his residence in Seattle from July, 1900, since which
time he has been actively engaged in the practice of medicine and surgery in this city, was
born August 17, 1870, in Brown county, Ohio. The ancestry of the family can be traced
back to Robert Edwards, who was the founder of the American branch and was born in
Scotland. Leaving the land of the hills and heather, he came to the new world when
a young man, receiving from King George III a land grant, now in the heart of New York
city, which was to continue with undisputed ownership until 1890. Robert Edwards lived
to a very remarkable old age. George Edwards, son of Robert Edwards, was a soldier and
officer in the War of 1812 and also served as a member of the legislature during territorial
days. John B. Edwards, father of Dr. Edwards, was born in Ohio and devoted his life to
agricultural pursuits, in which he was quite successful. He was also very active in local
affairs and a stanch republican. He died in the spring of 1913 at the age of seventy-seven
years. His wife, who bore the maiden name of Caroline Wright, was also a native of
Ohio and represented one of the old families of the Buckeye state.

Dr. Edwards, who was the fourth in order of birth in a family of five sons, pursued
his early education in the public and high schools of Russellville, Ohio, until he completed
the course by graduation. He afterward entered the Ohio Northern University, wliich
conferred upon him the Bachelor of Science degree upon his graduation with the class of
1895. His early life was spent upon the farm with the usual experiences that come to' the


farm lad and following the completion of his college course he took up the profession of
teaching in his native county, devoting three years to that work. He regarded this, however,
merely as an initial step to other professional labor and entered upon the study of medicine
in the Medical College of Ohio at the Cincinnati University, completing his course with
the class of 1898. Immediately afterward he entered upon practice at Paxton, Illinois, where
he remained for two years, and in July, 1900, he came to Seattle. Passing the required state
examination, he has since continued in general practice, but in the meantime, ambitious to
achieve the highest efficiency possible in his chosen calling, he took post-graduate work in
the New York Polyclinic in 1899. He remains a close, earnest and discriminating student
of the profession and keeps abreast with modern scientific investigation and research.

In October, 1899, Dr. Edwards was united in marriage at Russellville, Ohio, to Miss
Eva Blanche Miller, a daughter of Johnson Miller and a native of Ohio, representing an
old and prominent family of the Buckej'e state. Dr. and Mrs. Edwards have one daughter,
Evangeline, who was born in Seattle, August 7, 1901. The family reside at No. 616 First
avenue. North, and theirs is a hospitable home, its good cheer being greatly enjoyed by
their many friends.

Both Dr. and Mrs. Edwards hold membership in the Bethany Presbyterian church and
they are highly esteemed wherever known. Fraternally he is connected with the Knights
of Pythias, while along strictly professional lines he is connected with the King County,
the Washington State and the American Medical Associations. Aside from his private
practice, which is now large and important, he has been chief examiner for the Metropolitan
Life Insurance Company since September, 1901. For fifteen years he has been a resident
of Seattle and throughout the entire period has made steady progress in his profession, his
increasing ability and his conscientious service gaining him high rank.


Seattle may justly feel proud of Elisha Henry Alvord, who, after six years of constant
study and experimentation, has succeeded in inventing a multiple compartment pulp-press,
which is destined to revolutionize the paper-pulp industry and which is regarded by mechan-
ical engineers as the most notable achievement in the field of industrial invention in the last
three decades. Mr. Alvord is a native son of Washington, born near Kent on the 24th
of December, 1863. His father, Tliomas Aloody Alvord, is still living at the age of
eighty-four years. He mined in California from 1853 to 1858 and spent one year on the
Eraser river. In 1859 he located one mile south of Kent, where he remained until 1897,
when he joined the rush of miners to Alaska. After spending a year there' he returned
to Seattle, where he has since lived.

Elisha Henry Alvord attended the country schools until 1880 and then entered the

Online LibraryClarence BagleyHistory of Seattle from the earliest settlement to the present time (Volume 3) → online text (page 46 of 142)