Ellis Paxson Oberholtzer.

Philadelphia; a history of the city and its people, a record of 225 years (Volume 4) online

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ust 15, i860, and in the acquirement of his education he attended La Salle College,
which gave him a broad literary education, uopn which to rear the superstructure
of his professional learning. His preparatory law reading was done in the office
and under the direction of the late General William McCandless and in 1881 he
was admitted to the bar, from which time until his demise he continued an ac-
tive representative of the legal profession in the courts. He made rapid progress,
early achieving success, and was recognized as an orator of ability. He appeared
as counsel in much important litigation and was frequently called to the higher
courts. His devotion to his clients' interests was proverbial, yet he never forgot
that he owed a still higher allegiance to the majesty of the law. However, he
gave to those whom he represented the service of great talent and of unwearied
industry, preparing his cases with great thoroughness and care and guarding
every possible point of attack in the presentation of his cause before the courts.
Mr. Ward figured prominently in political circles, giving inflexible support
to the democracy and remaining loyal to the party at all times. From early man-
hood he was deeply interested in the political situation and had scarcely attained
his majority when he became recogriized as a local democratic leader. At the age
of twenty-two years he was elected chairman of the twelfth ward democratic
committee and held that position during the campaign of 1882, which resulted in
the election of Robert E. Pattison as governor of Pennsylvania. He often sacri-
ficed himself on the altar of political principle. Without the least hope of suc-
cess he again and again accepted the candidacy of his party for office, and at each
time such was his personal popularity and the confidence reposed in him that he
ran ahead of his ticket. In 1889 he was nominated for select counsel and in 1892
for state senator. In 1903 he was a democratic candidate for judge of the su-
perior court and ran eighteen thousand votes ahead of his colleague. He was not
an office seeker in any sense, however, and his various nominations for public
office were accepted by him as obligations to his party. In 1894 he was appointed
by President Cleveland chief of the division of navigation of the port of Phila-
delphia, but resigned two years later. He was a warm friend and stanch advo-
cate of William Jennings Bryan, with whom he became intimately acquainted,
and in both the campaign of 1896 and that of 1900 he made many speeches in
support of the Nebraska statesman in Pennsylvania and elsewhere.

On the 25th of January, 1899, Mr. Ward was united in marriage to Miss
Eleanor Cullen. He was most devoted to the interests of the home and those
who knew him well speak of his personal character as most exemplary. He held
to high standards of righteousness and truth and his reputation for honesty and
fair dealing was above suspicion. He had an extremely high regard for the obli-
gations that rested upon him as an attorney and the interest of his client was
always his first thought. His life was practically a sacrifice to his devotion to
those whom he served, for in disregard of the advice of his physician he left home
to appear in court as the representative of legal interests entrusted to his care.
The strain upon his health was more than he could endure and on the i8th of
July, 1908, he passed away. He was a member of the Lawyers Qub, Law Asso-
ciation, the State Bar Association, the Knights of Columbus and a director of the
Democratic Club of Pennsylvania. Those who knew him intimately found him
a most lovable character and those who came within the close circle of his friend-


ship found him a friend indeed. His faith in God was one of the supreme forces
of his life and he ever attempted to shape his course according to the divine
pattern. In all things he measured up to the full standard of honorable, upright
manhood, neglectful of no duty, unmindful of no obligation that devolved upon
him, ready at all times to do a service for friend or client at the sacrifice of per-
sonal ambition or gain. Such a life perpetuates one's faith in mankind and makes
one hold to the belief that the world is growing better when individuals are domi-
nated by such principles as prove the motive forces in the life history of John
A. Ward.


From a negligible factor in municipal affairs to a position of commanding
influence — from "The Neck" to South Philadelphia — such in brief is the history
of the past dozen years of that great section of the city south of South street and
between the Delaware and Schuylkill rivers. While the man who would write of
that development could not ignore the Business Men's Association, with its
agitations and recommendations, yet the credit for actual accomplishment must
be awarded to Recorder of Deeds William S. Vare. In the personal and public
life of the section, in its religious, industrial and social, as well as in its political
circles he has been an impelling force, generally and generously recognized.
Churches have benefited by his largess, the public schools have been his solicitude,
splendid municipal improvements have been and are being secured, to the ad-
vantage and embellishment of the section, ample police and fire protection is ad-
mitted, political adherents are duly cared for, and to the tale of the distressed
deaf ears have never been turned. There is no secret to his success. It has been
mainly a genius for hard work and the making of his constituents' interests his
own interests.

William S. Vare left the grammar school for the mercantile field and began
business life in an humble capacity in a department store. His industry and
aptness soon won him promotion to a position in the auditing department, where
he acquired those habits of method and thrift which have never left him. Shortly
after attaining his majority he was elected to the first ward republican executive
committee. His election as president of the committee followed and under his
masterly direction the opposition was reduced to insignificance. Possessing nat-
ural executive gifts, Recorder Vare has ably administered every public trust
committed to his care. The office of recorder of deeds, one of the most responsi-
ble and exacting in the city hall, with its many details and several hundred em-
ployes, he has brought to a plane of efficiency never before attained. Testimony
to this effect from an unexpected quarter came from Secretary Waldo, of the
Civil Service Reform Association. He was testifying before a legislative com-
mittee in 1909 and was asked his opinion of the conduct of the recorder's office.
He admitted it was admirably managed and attributed it to the "unusual executive
gifts" possessed by Recorder Vare. Mr. Waldo's testimonial will doubtless be
voiced by those having dealings with the recorder's office. He has so expedited



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tlie handling of deeds and mortgages that trust companies, conveyancers and
real-estate agents, who were formerly compelled to wait months to have such
instruments recorded, now have it done in as many weeks.

His work for South Philadelphia is household knowledge in that part of the
city. Unhesitating credit is given him for securing the noble building at Broad
and Jackson streets, which houses the Southern High and Manual Training High
School, the first sectional public high school in the city. The dedication was the
most imposing that ever attended a similar event and was due almost entirely
to the interest and liberality of Recorder Vare. Other modern public schools
are monuments to his concern for the youth of the section.

Efiforts of a quarter of a century to secure municipal appropriations for a
bridge across the Schuylkill river at Passyunk avenue came to naught until
Recorder Vare took hold of the undertaking and induced councils to appropriate
a sufficient sum to complete the work. He has been equally energetic and suc-
cessful in behalf of parks and playgrounds. One of his first achievements as
select councilman was to secure an appropriation for the John Dickinson park
of the first ward and later another sum for the Mifflin park in the thirty-ninth

Of all his public work in behalf of South Philadelphia, there is none in which
he takes greater pride than in the League Island park and South Broad street
plaza and boulevard. It was not until Mayor Reyburn's term that the city really
awoke to the necessity and value of the public park and playground. Recorder
\'are's efforts in behalf of League Island park and boulevard began years before,
thus again demonstrating his foresight and public spirit. He has been instru-
mental in securing large municipal appropriations for the work, which is being
energetically pushed. In the course of probably three years Philadelphia will
not have there a rival to Fairmount park in size and natural scenic beauty, but
the city will have one of the most beautifully appointed municipal parks and
boulevards in the world. It is planned to have artistically arranged walks and
driveways, artificial lakes providing boating and fishing in summer and skating
in winter, magnificent horticultural displays, superb electric efTects, a great base-
ball plot and athletic field, a casino and music hall and other necessary buildings.
The plaza will extend from Thirteenth to Fifteenth streets and from Oregon
avenue south for two blocks, where Broad street will be opened into a three-
hundred-foot-wide boulevard, which is to be continued to Pattison avenue, seven
blocks south, the northern boundary of the park. The park comprises three
hundred acres and extends from Eleventh to Twentieth streets and from Patti-
son avenue to Government avenue, which borders the navy yard.

By some strange oversight. South Philadelphia, although traversed by three
lines of cars running east and west, was practically without the benefit of the
free transfer system. This was a grievous inconvenience and injustice to thou-
sands of workers and a handicap to the local retail merchants. Enlisted by the
latter, Recorder Vare appeared before the board of directors of the Rapid Tran-
sit Company and so successfully did he plead his constituents' cause that the
section was granted free transfers at nearly every important junction.

The development of the water front and the filling in of the lowlands of South
Philadelphia are tremendous projects involving novel engineering problems and


the expenditure of millions of money. No one is more thoroughly acquainted
with the details or more anxious to assist Mayor Reybum in working out plans
than Recorder Vare.

Recorder of Deeds William S. Vare was born in the Vare homestead, Fourth
and Snyder avenue, on December 24, 1867. His mother, Abigail Vare, after
whom the board of education named the first modern elementary school which
graced the section, was a lifelong member of the Methodist church. She was
noted for her piety and charity and when, as a tribute to her memory the Re-
corder donated a year's salary of ten thousand dollars to the Messiah Methodist
Episcopal church at Moyamensing avenue and Morris street, which she had at-
tended, the trustees renamed it the Abigail Vare Memorial Methodist Episcopal
church. During the service at which this splendid gift was commemorated, one
of the speakers said : "The influence wielded by Mrs. Vare must have been ideal,
when she could give to the world such useful, noble sons." And another de-
clared : "We all know she was the mother of three fine boys, but I also know
that she was the mother, practically, of unnumbered needy ones." Recorder
Vare's contributions to charitable and religious associations are large and are
made without regard to creed.

On February 15, 1898, Mr. Vare was elected to select council from the first
ward, which then included the present thirty-ninth, and was reelected in 1901.
His platform of principles is that upon which he has since stood and which has
gained for him in no small measure his popularity and influence. Some of the
planks were: "My constituents' interests are my interests; a greater navy yard;
more small parks and the development of League Island park; completion of the
boulevard ; better street railway facilities ; additional school buildings ; better
police and fire protection, and streets graded and improved so that builders may
be encouraged and not handicapped."

In 1898 he was appointed a mercantile appraiser by City Treasurer Clayton
McMichael. He was not only elected president of the board but assigned to the
business districts of the city, in which are situated the large retail and wholesale
stores, hotels and important industrial establishments.

On November 5, 1901, he was elected to the position which he occupies to-
day — recorder of deeds — and resigned his seat in select council. John Virdin,
who was recorder and desired reelection, opposed him on the municipal league
and union party tickets. Vare's vote was one hundred and thirty-six thousand
nine hundred and ninety-six. Virdin's, ninety-one thousand, three hundred and
thirty-six, and the democrats secured less than eleven thousand. In November,
1904, he was again chosen for the office by a vote of two hundred and eleven
thousand and eighteen, the opposition getting but forty-two thousand five hun-
dred and twenty. Again in November, 1907, he was reelected by a vote of one
hundred and forty-seven thousand and fifty-eight, the combined democratic and
city party vote amounting to fifty-five thousand, three hundred and twenty- four.
His election for the third time to this most influential and responsible office was
without precedent. It had been regarded as a "one term" position, and Mr.
Vare's signal victory was a tribute to his able administration. That it was really
significant and deserved was proven at a public dinner given in his honor in that
year, when he was complimented by those who had dealings with his office upon


his thorough business administration. A demonstration in his honor, as flatter-
ing as it was deserved, came on his return from Europe in 1908, when upwards
of one thousand of his business and political neighbors and associates dined him
on the sward at Essington. The testimonial was under the auspices of the South
Philadelphia Business Men's Association and the ward political committees of
the section. A huge tent had been erected on the lawn in which the banquet was
served and speeches highly eulogistic were made by merchants and public men.
Mayor Reybum was among the city officials who were present and the welkin
rang as he advocated the chief guest as his "logical successor to the mayoralty."

In party, as in other fields. Recorder Vare is ready with purse, time and
talents. The South Philadelphia Marching Club, which has attended several
presidential inaugurations and visited Washington at the time of the Taft in-
augural as the John E. Reyburn Club, owes its success to Mr. Vare. It was
conceded to be the largest, the best equipped and the best drilled organization
which attended the ceremony. In what was to the republican party "the dark
days of 1905" the Vare bailiwick, the first legislative district, was the banner
one of the state. In the hard fought campaign of the fall of 1906 success was
achieved, it was admitted, through the substantial aid furnished by Mr. Vare, the
wards in South Philadelphia giving to District Attorney Rotan fifteen thousand
majority, with the result that he was elected by a majority of twelve thousand.

When asked to what he attributed his almost phenomenal success. Recorder
Vare declared : "I had the benefit of a Christian home training. I was taught
to be industrious, prudent in money matters and to value friendship."


Dr. Martin G. Brumbaugh, educator and author, was born in Pennsylvania,
in 1862, a son of George B. and Martha P. (Grove) Brumbaugh, who were na-
tives of Huntingdon county, Pennsylvania. The paternal ancestors came from
Germany to Philadelphia on the ship Nancy in 1754 and took up land in Mont-
gomery county near Norristown, the county seat. From there representatives
of the name removed to the Cumberland valley and utilized the rich soil of that
district for farming purposes. At the close of the Revolutionary war they were
residents of Cumberland, now Huntingdon, county. They were nonconformists
during the period of hostilities between the colonies and the mother country and
took no active part in the war. George Bmmbaugh, the great-grandfather of
Martin G. Brumbaugh, became a minister, while Jacob Brumbaugh, the grand-
father, was a deacon in the Dunkard church. George B. Brumbaugh, the father,
was also a minister, while merchandising and school teaching likewise claimed a
portion of his attention. In fact, the family has been largely represented in the
ministry and in the teacher's profession. On the distafif side Martin G. Brum-
baugh comes of an ancestry largely connected with agricultural interests and rep-
resented in the American army during the Revolutionary war.

In the public schools of Huntingdon county Martin G. Brumbaugh acquired
his early education, which was supplemented by the scientific course in Juniata


College, from which he was graduated in 1881. He then attended the Millersville
State Normal School and filled the position of county superintendent of schools
of Huntingdon county from 1884 until 1890, being called to the position when
but twenty-two years of age — the youngest man in Pennsylvania to serve in that
capacity. In 1891, at the age of twenty-nine years, he entered Harvard for post-
graduate work, left that university in 1892 and won his Master of Arts degree at
the University of Pennsylvania in 1893. The following year the University of
Pennsylvania conferred upon him the Doctor of Philosophy degree in course.

In the spring of 1894 Dr. Brumbaugh was elected to the presidency of Juniata
College at Huntingdon, Pennsylvania. In 1895 he was chosen professor of peda-
gogy in the University of Pennsylvania, which position he continued to fill until
granted a leave of absence in 1900 to go to Porto Rico as first commissioner
of education. He remained on the island for two years, organizing the school
system and promoting the educational interests there, and while residing in Porto
Rico was also a member of the senate, a member of the Superior board of Health
and president of the free library of San Juan. In 1902 he returned to the Uni-
versity of Pennsylvania to resume his duties as professor of pedagogy and so
continued until elected superintendent of the schools of Philadelphia in 1906.
A close student through the period of his manhood of all questions and prob-
lems which bear upon education, he has instituted many new and practical ideas
which have constituted an impetus in educational work throughout the country
through his exposition of his views in teachers' institutes. He has lectured be-
fore such organizations in almost every state for twenty years and was the or-
ganizer of teachers' institutes in Louisiana.

Dr. Brumbaugh's writings also cover a wide range. His first published vol-
ume, Juniata Bible Lectures, was brought out in 1893. He issued his Stories of
Pennsylvania in connection with J. S. Walton in 1897; An Educational Struggle
in Colonial Pennsylvania (a pamphlet) in 1898; History of the Brethren in 1899.
The same year he published the Standard Readers, five volumes, in Philadelphia
and the Standard Primer in connection with A. H. Hall. The Pennsylvania Ger-
man was published at Reading in 1899; a pamphlet, Educational Principles Ap-
plied to the Teaching of Literature, in Philadelphia in 1900; and in the same
year The Two Christopher Sowers was privately printed. His other publications
of the same year were his Rose Day Address at Manheim, Pennsylvania, and
Liberty Bell Leaflets. An Educational Setting of Stephen Girard's Benefaction,
an address in the chapel of Girard College, May 20, 1902, was published soon
afterward. In 1903 he brought out the pamphlet Why Women Teach and in
1904 another pamphlet. Nature as Educator, the latter being published by the
George School of Newtown. His pamphlet Need and Scope of Moral Training
of the Young was published by the Philadelphia Ethical Society in 1904; The
Making of a Teacher, by the Philadelphia Sunday School Times in 1905 ; the In-
troduction to Weber's Charity School Movement in 1905. He also wrote the In-
troduction to Corson's Life of Longfellow. In 1907 he prepared a pamphlet
on Moral Training of the Young and also a Historical Wall Map Showing the
Dunker Congregations of Colonial Pennsylvania. In 1908 Lippincott published
his Life and Works of Christopher Dock and in the same year he was one of the
four authors of the volume Training the Teacher, published by the Philadelphia


Sunday School Times. He is the editor of the Li[)pincott educational series and
of Van Middledyk's History of Porto Rico, publislied by Appleton in 1903. He
is a valued member of many educational societies, educational commissions, the
Valley Forge commission and various clubs. He belongs to the American Phil-
osophical Society, the Pennsylvania School Code commission, the College and
University Council of Pennsylvania, the National Educational Association, the
National Council of Education, the National Society for Scientific Study of
Education, the Modern Language Association of America and the Phi Beta Kap-
pa, a college fraternity. He is also a member of the Pennsylvania Historical So-
ciety and many others for historical, educational and scientific research. He was
formerly a trustee of the free museums of the University of Pennsylvania, a trus-
tee of the commercial museums of Philadelphia and president of the Playgrounds
Association of Philadelphia. In more strictly social organizations he is also
known, holding membership in the Franklin Inn, the University Club and the
F"ive O'clock Club. Those questions which are to the statesman and the man of
affairs of vital interest, which effect the economic, political and sociological con-
ditions of the country, awaken his attention and his discussion thereof on fitting
occasions has constituted an influential factor in public thought and action.


John Barcroft Lequear who in the last two years of his life was secretary of
the Duncannon Iron Company, to which responsible position he had attained
through successive promotions in recognition of his ability, was born in Hunting-
ton county, New Jersey, in 1851, and as the name indicates, was of French
descent. His ancestors, crossing the Atlantic from France, purchased large tracts
of land in New Jersey and were among the early settlers who contributed to the
development of that state. His father was engaged in the cultivation of peaches
in New Jersey. In the maternal line he was connected with the Barcroft family
of which his mother was a representative. She was a niece of Stacy Barcroft,
a pioneer merchant of Philadelphia, who owned a large shop here in the early

John Barcroft Lequear pursued his education in the schools of New Jersey
and when a young man entered business life as a clerk. His laudable ambition
prompted him to apply himself with diligence and his industry and perseverance
were rewarded by promotion from time to time. His identification with the
Duncannon Iron Company covered eleven years during which period he was
promoted from one important position to another until there were accorded to
his keeping responsibilities and duties connected with the office of secretary, in
which position he continued for two years when his life's labors were ended in
death. He was recognized as a man of excellent business ability, trustworthy at
all times, and many expressions of high regard and respect at the time of his
death indicated his standing among his business associates. The tributes to his
memory were most beautiful and were thoroughly merited.


At Point Pleasant, Bucks county, Pennsylvania, on the 14th of September,
1876, Mr. Lequear married Miss Ella Stover, a daughter of Ralph Stover, and
the descendant of another Ralph Stover, who served for seven years in state
legislature of Pennsylvania when George Washington was president. The family

Online LibraryEllis Paxson OberholtzerPhiladelphia; a history of the city and its people, a record of 225 years (Volume 4) → online text (page 12 of 62)