Ellis Paxson Oberholtzer.

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

. (page 18 of 62)
Online LibraryEllis Paxson OberholtzerPhiladelphia; a history of the city and its people, a record of 225 years (Volume 4) → online text (page 18 of 62)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


He was born in Ireland, June 14, 1828, and spent his youthful days in that
country, but on attaining his majority sailed for America in the fall of 1849
as a passenger on the steamship Wyoming, which was thirty-one days in com-
pleting the voyage. He started with but limited capital and had but eighty cents
on reaching Philadelphia. He also owed his passage money to his brother John,
who came a year before. Both his parents remained residents of the Emerald
isle until called to their final rest. The father died at the age of eighty-seven
years, and the mother at eighty-six years in County Derry, Ireland.

The educational privileges of Bernard Corr were limited and in his native
country he had learned and followed the weaver's trade, but soon after coming


to the United States he secured a position in a local store and it was only a few
years before he came to be recognized as a man of influence and importance in
business activities, notwithstanding the fact that he possessed nothing but in-
dustry, energy and pluck when he came to the new world. Carefully saving
his earnings, his economical expenditure and his unfaltering industry at length
brought him sufficient capital to engage in business on his own account. He
had both the energy to persevere and the ability to supply modern ideas to mod-
ern conditions, and the present establishment of Bernard Corr, wholesale liquors,
at Beach and Brown streets, stands as a monument to his enterprise. His first
establishment was on Second street above Columbia avenue, and later he re-
moved to Fourth and Jefferson streets, from which point he came to his
present location. He is still vigorous and active as he possesses the strong stimu-
lus of Irish blood, but he does not take the heavy burdens of life upon him today
as he did forty or even twenty-five years ago. The house conducts a wholesale
business in brandies, wines, liquors, etc., with a large local trade, and makes
shipments throughout Pennsylvania and adjoining states. The patronage has
become extensive and that Mr. Corr has ever maintained cordial relations with
his patrons is indicated by the fact that the names of some of them have been
upon his books for more than thirty years. The wholesale liquor trade, how-
ever, does not measure the extent of his activities or services. He has been a
director of the Kensington National Bank and also of the Fairmount Park
Transportation Company. Moreover, his real-estate holdings are very extensive,
for as the years have passed he has made judicious investment in property until
his holdings are now very large.

In Philadelphia, in 1851, Mr. Corr was united in marriage to Miss Catharine
Timmany, and unto them were born six children: Michael B., who died at the
age of twenty-two years; Bernard J., who died at the age of twenty-eight; Cath-
arine, the wife of James Gorman ; Ina B., the wife of Charles J. Jones ; Mamie
G., the wife of Stanley J. Smith ; and Catharine, who died in infancy. Mr. Corr
has been a director of the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick and is a member of the
Catholic church.


Samuel Baird Huey, whose name became known and honored in legal, mili-
tary, social and philanthropic circles, was distinctively a man of affairs and one
who wielded a wide influence. He was born in Pittsburg on the 17th of January,
1843. Samuel B. Huey was of Scotch-Irish descent. The history of the family
in America is traced back to 1763. One of his great grandfathers lost his life
at the battle of Trenton while serving with Washington's army in the Revolu-
tionary war. His parents were Samuel Culbertson and Mary Scott (Baird)
Huey. The father was prominent in Philadelphia's business circles and remained
as president of the Penn Mutual Life Insurance Company up to the time of his
death, which occurred in li


Samuel Baird Huey acquired his education in the pubHc schools and at the
age of twelve years matriculated in the high school, from which he was grad-
uated with valedictorian honors. He afterward entered Princeton College, from
which institution he was graduated in 1863, winning prizes for debate and
oratory. He was also recognized as one of the athletic champions of his alma
mater and served as captain of the cricket team. Soon after leaving college he
became a captain's clerk on the United States steamer San Jacinto, and in 1864
was made ensign on the staff of Rear Admiral Baily. In 1865 he was promoted
to the position of assistant paymaster and took an active part in blockading
Forts Fisher and Wilmington, being engaged on blockade duty mtil the end of
the war.

Returning home after the close of hostilities, Samuel B. Huey entered the
office of John C. Bullitt for the study of law and in 1868 was graduated from
the law department of the University of Pennsylvania with the LL. B. degree.
Remaining in the office of his preceptor, he began the practice of his chosen pro-
fession, wherein he continued until 1872. In the meantime Princeton College
had conferred upon him the degree of Master of Arts; also during the interim
he had taken an interest in military affairs and had become a member of the
First Regiment of the National Guard of Pennsylvania, being made captain and
assistant quartermaster on the staff of Brigadier General H. P. Muirheid. He
was afterward major and aid-de-camp on the staff of Major General J. P.
Bankson and eventually became assistant quartermaster general of the First
Brigade of the Pennsylvania National Guard.

Mr. Huey also reached a place of distinction at the Philadelphia bar and dur-
ing the existence of the bankruptcy law of 1868 he probably had the largest
practice in bankrupt cases of any member of the bar in the district. He
was often requested by Judge Cadwalader during stress of business before the
court to sit with him and pass upon cases then up for hearing. He was also
much sought for in corporation cases, especially tax cases to be threshed out at
the state capital. He was admitted to the supreme court of Pennsylvania in
1872 and on motion of General Benjamin F. Butler was admitted to practice
in the United States supreme court in 1880. His knowledge of corporation law
brought him a large amount of business from insurance companies, he thus rep-
resenting the Penn Mutual, the Phoenix and the Aetna Life and the Spring
Garden Fire Insurance Companies. He was also counsel for many prominent
business firms of Philadelphia and New York and took an important part in the
reorganization of the Philadelphia & Reading Railroad Company.

Mr. Huey was married June 4, 1868, to Miss May Hunt Abrams, who is still
living. They became parents of five children : Arthur Baird, an attorney of
Philadelphia; Emma H., now the wife of Alexander W. Wister, Jr.; Samuel C.
and Malcolm S., who are engaged in the brokerage business in Philadelphia ; and
Mary Dorothy. The death of Mr. Huey occurred November 21, 1901. For
five or six years prior to his death he served as president of the board of educa-
tion and took a very active interest in all educational work. He was also presi-
dent from 1897 until his demise of the board of trustees of Williamson College.
His more strictly social relations were with the Lawyers Club, the Country Club


and Belmont Cricket Club of Philadelphia. He was also prominent in Masonry,
holding the office of master of Lodge No. 346, A. F. & A. M.

In politics Mr. Huey was an earnest republican and acted as a delegate to
city and state conventions. He was connected with many organizations and
projects for the public benefit, was for a number of years a director and the sec-
retary of the Union League and on his retirement from the office of secretary in
1888 he was unanimously voted its gold medal and elected its vice president.
He held membership with the Loyal Legion and the Grand Army of the Re-
public and never did his interest in the military history of the country or in the
welfare of his old comrades flag. He was a director of the Art Club from its
inception to the time of his death, was one of the first board of governors of
the University Club and for years was a director of the Young Men's Christian
Association. He was also on the directorate of the West Philadelphia Institute
and the Western Home for Poor Children and was an elder in the Presbyterian
church. His activities thus touched many interests which have important bear-
ing upon sociological and economic conditions, upon material, intellectual and
moral progress. He never neglected a duty, failed to meet an obligation nor
improve an opportunity where the interests of the general public were involved.
He was one of those forceful characters whose very support of any movement
constitutes an influence in its behalf.


The initiative force and business ability which are so necessary in the conduct
of important and extensive commercial enterprises are found in Robert Foster
Whitmer, the president of the William Whitmer & Sons Lumber Company of
Philadelphia. His name is written large on the history of the lumber business
of this state and has become a synonym for originality, resourcefulness and un-
tiring industry in the conduct of lumber interests. He was born in Hartleton,
Pennsylvania, January 25, 1864, and is a son of William and Katharine (Forster)
Whitmer and is descended from a distinguished line of ancestors.

The Whitmers originally came from Alsace-Lorraine and later removed to
Holland and emigrated to America with the Huguenots in 1747, locating in
Lancaster county, Pennsylvania. On the maternal side he is descended from the
Forsters who were prominent in colonial days in Pennsylvania. His grandfather,
William Forster, was a veteran of the war of 1812, being a member of Captain
Donaldson's company. His maternal great-grandfather. Major Thomas Forster,
was a revolutionary soldier and one of the associates who signed the documents
renouncing the oath of allegiance to King George III in Lancaster county, Penn-
sylvania, in May, 1775, and was very prominent and active in all affairs in colonial

William Whitmer, the father of our subject, was a prominent lumber mer-
chant. He was bom at McAllisterville, Union county, Pennsylvania, December
II, 1835, a son of Peter Wliitmer. He was brought up on his father's farm and
received only a common-school education. He began his business career as a



tit. rlc.'^'^' X'jiAii.



clerk in a general store at Hartleton, Union county, Pennsylvania, and eventually
becaine the owner of the business, which he conducted until 1872, when he re-
moved to Sunbury, Northumberland county, Pennsylvania. He there formed the
firm of Whitmer & Company, lumber dealers, which later became Whitmer &
Foster and upon the retirement of Mr. Foster, it became the firm Whitmer &
Trexler. This firm operated largely in the mountainous regions of Pennsylvania
and with the Linden Hill Lumber Company, operated also in the virgin forests
of West Virginia. By his operations in West \'irginia Mr. Whitmer became
convinced that the mineral wealth of that state was greater than its arboreal
wealth and this caused him to develop many coal properties. He was president
of the Bethel Coal Company, operating in Mercer county, and the projector of
the Dry Forks Railroad built by his son Robert, which opened to the market a
vast tract of forest overlying valuable coal deposits.

Mr. Whitmer was one of the organizers of the Trust & Safe Deposit Com-
pany of Sunbury, Pennsylvania. In 1893 he formed the house of William Whit-
mer & Sons, Inc., of Philadelphia, being its president up to the time of his death,
which occurred in Philadelphia, October 20, 1896. Mr. Whitmer had removed
to Philadelphia in 1894 and was a member of the Tabernacle Presbyterian church.
His remarkable business success was due to his straightforward dealing and con-
scientious devotion to work combined with great natural ability.

He was married July 19, 1859, to Katharine A. Forster, by whom he had two
daughters and a son. The son Robert Whitmer was educated in the public
schools of Union and Northumberland counties and later attended the Pennsyl-
vania State College, having shown at an early age the aptitude of a bom scholar.
In 1885 he was graduated from Lafayette College and immediately entered busi-
ness life at Sunbury in the office of Whitmer & Company, making it his purpose
to acquaint himself with every detail of the business. He soon became a recog-
nized authority on questions of the lumber trade and was a most efficient assistant
to his father, senior member of the firm. He was made vice president of the
William Whitmer & Sons Lumber Company when it was incorporated in 1895
and the office of the business removed to Philadelphia. On the death of his
father in October, 1896, he became the president of the corporation and of others
that his father had founded. He was fully equal to the strain imposed by these
added responsibilities, conducting the diversified interests he controlled with a
certain conservatism that did not, however, hinder him from adopting new
methods where they seemed desirable and opening new avenues of business.
He is now the president of the Parsons Pulp & Lumber Company of West Vir-
ginia ; president of the Dry Forks Railroad Company of West Virginia, an
enterprise projected and constructed by him which has proven a very profitable
undertaking. He is also vice president and manager of the Champion Lumber
Company of North Carolina, one of the largest and most extensive producing
companies in the South. He likewise is president of the Newport and Tennessee
Railroad Company.

The social side of Mr. Whitmer's nature is by no means undeveloped. On
the contrary he is recognized as a valued member of many of the leading clubs and
societies of Philadelphia, among which are the Union League, Racquet Club,
Philadelphia Country Club, St. Andrews Society, Scotch-Irish Society, and the


Sons of the Revolution. His worth of character and unswerving integrity have
given him high standing in their membership. He is determined and resource-
ful in business, and when one line of activity seems closed, seeks out another
path whereby to reach the desired goal. His methods are purely of a con-
structive character and in no business transaction has he ever allowed the in-
terests of another to suffer because of the course which he pursues. His busi-
ness methods have never sought nor required discussion and he enjoys in large
measure the confidence and good-will of his colleagues and contemporaries.

Mr. Whitmer was married April 23, 1891, to Miss Mary Packer, a daughter
of John Packer, of Sunbury, Pennsylvania, one of the most eminent legal minds
of this state, who for several years represented his district in congress. Mr.
and Mrs. Whitmer have become the parents of five children as follows : Martha
Cameron, Katharine Forster, Robert Foster, Jr., Rachel Packer and Ellen


In the English line the ancestry of the Lovett family can be traced back to
the year 1301, since which time the Lovetts have held the manor of Liscombe,
knights and squires of the same blood following one another through twenty
generations without confiscation of property, forfeiture or intermission of any
kind. This family, which has survived in its own place so persistently, went, as
the name implies, with other adventurers in the wake of the conquering Nor-
mans. They seemed to have been originally wolf-rangers in the Ardennes, and
it is possible that the lands, partially waste, in Bedfordshire and Northampton-
shire which the Doomsday Book assigns to William Lovett, were in need of
his skill as a wolf hunter. A brass tablet now in Salisbury church in memory
of Thomas Lovett, who died in 149 1, records that William Lovett held his lands
on some such condition and that the family badge, a black wolf, was thus de-
rived. The first Lovett of Liscombe married the daughter and heiress of Simon
de Turville, and the manor of Liscombe has been held ever since by their
descendants in the male line with the single exception that for forty years it
was in possession of the daughters of Sir Jonathan Lovett. The only part of
the house which can have existed through the whole of this period is the chapel,
which, though now dismantled and out of repair, is still a beautiful example of
the early English architecture.

John Lovett was the progenitor of the American branch of the family. He
was born in London, England, in 1755, and came to the new world about 1795.
He married Jane Johnson and ten children were born unto them, six in England
and four in New York. John Lovett died in 1809 and was interred in St. Paul's
churchyard. Mrs. Lovett was a Jacobite and on account of this and his political
views in opposing the crown John Lovett was imprisoned in the Tower of
London but was afterward pardoned and at once came to America. His wife
died in New York in 1807.


Thomas Lovett, the third son of John Lovett, was horn in London in 1787
and was eight years of age when he came with his parents to New York. In
181 1 he was united in marriage to Miss Louisa Doubleday, who after the death
of Mr. Lovett married Charles Fosdick Fletcher, of Lancaster, Massachusetts.
Thomas Lovett's two brothers, Robert and George Lovett, married sisters of
Louisa Doubleday. Six children were born unto Thomas and Louisa Lovett :
Louisa; Charlotte, who was born in 1815 and was married in 1836 to Edmund
Bunnell Bostwick, her death occurring in 1899; Anna Matilda; Emma; Thomas
Robert; and George Sidney. Of this family Emma was married to Commodore
Samuel Livingston Breese in old St. Johns in 1855. Commodore Breese was
made rear admiral by act of 1862 and was commandant of the Brooklyn navy
yard during the Civil war. One of the sisters married Captain Lansing of the
navy and another became the wife of George Maulsby, medical director of the
navy. Thomas Lovett, the father of these children, was an importer of ma-
hogany with headquarters in New York city.

His son, Thomas Robert Lovett, born in New York in 1821, attended Yale
College for one year and afterward graduated from Trinity College, Hart-
ford, Connecticut. He studied law and was admitted to the bar but did not prac-
tice. In 1846 he purchased as trustee for his mother, Mrs. Charles Fletcher, the
historic and renowned old mansion, Kalorama, in Washington, D. C. The origi-
nal residence was built in 1750 by a brother of George Washington. The family
removed from New York to this mansion and Mrs. Fletcher's descendants still
retain holdings in the property. Many people of note were entertained there :
Washington, Jefferson, Lafayette, Madison, Scott, Monroe, Fulton, Decatur,
and many others. The Lovett family proved themselves worthy successors of
the brilliant men and women that had preceded them. Thomas Lovett accom-
panied Minister Marsh to Constantinople in 1850 as an attache of the legation.
In 1862 Kalorama was leased to the government for hospital purposes and the
family removed to Mount Airy, now a part of Philadelphia, where they have
resided since that time. In 1865 Kalorama was burned.

Thomas Robert Lovett was much interested in libraries and after his death,
which occurred in 1875, his sister, Mrs. Charlotte (Lovett) Bostwick, erected in
his memory and endowed the Lovett Memorial Free Library at the corner of
Germantown avenue and Sedgwick street, mention of which is made in another
part of this work. George Sidney Lovett was born in New York city in 1823
and was educated at Yale. He married Caroline de Beelen, a granddaughter of
Baron de Beelen of Belgium, who was sent to America by Empress Maria
Theresa of Austria. The Baron was so pleased with the country that he re-
nxained, selecting York, Pennsylvania, for a home. His granddaughter Caroline
was educated in the Georgetown Convent. Six children were born of this
union : Antoine de Beelen Lovett, living at Geneva, New York ; Louise Double-
day Lovett, secretary and treasurer of the Lovett Memorial Library ; George
Sidney Lovett, of Colorado ; Anna, who married George Herbert Beaman, re-
siding in Washington, D. C. ; Charlotte Bostwick Lovett. also of Washington,
D. C, and Caroline de Beelen, who married Robert Southall Bright, an attorney
of Philadelphia. Kalorama was the setting of this happy marriage of George
Sidney Lovett and Caroline de Beelen, the young couple having met there for


the first time at an entertainment given by the Lovett family to the Belgium
minister, Baron Bodisco. In 1872 the mansion was rebuilt by George Lovett.
He died in 1882. In 1875 Mr. Lovett was married a second time, the lady being
a daughter of Admiral Charles S. Boggs, of Varuna fame. She was a descendant
of one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence and a grandniece of
Captain James Lawrence of the United States navy. Seven years later the still
attractive mansion Kalorama was abandoned and torn down in order that the
site might be divided into city lots to correspond with the levels of intersecting


Prominently known in Philadelphia and long recognized as an expert in
industrial fields in which he has labored, John J. Murphy is now president of
the Central Union, having a membership of one hundred thousand people. He
was bom in Philadelphia, April 2, 1874, and is a son of James F. and Emma
Murphy. The father was born in Trenton, New Jersey, July 27, 1853, and was
connected with the Philadelphia Gas Company as one of its most trustworthy
and efficient representatives until 1897, when he became watchman for the Scott
Mills and is still acting in that capacity.

John J. Murphy attended the public schools to the age of fourteen years,
when he began providing for his own support as errand boy in the Nickson box
manufactory, there remaining until 1888. He afterward spent nine months as
helper in the Cramps shipyard and later engaged with the Robert White Card
Stamping & Designing Company, being there employed for two and a half years.
On the expiration of that period he returned to the Cramps shipyards as pattern-
maker, in which capacity he served for four years, after which he acted as pat-
tern-maker for various firms until April, 1906. At that date he was elected
secretary of the Pattern Makers Union, which has a membership of five hun-
dred, and on the 12th of July, 1908, he was elected president of the Central
Union, with a membership of one hundred thousand. In his work in these con-
nections he has been very successful, displaying marked executive ability and
notable administrative power. He is also the first vice president of the Pattern
Makers League of the United States and Canada. He is in thorough sympathy
with the legitimate purposes of organized labor to maintain their rights against
the oppressive methods rf men who seek to secure labor at less than a living
wage or without making adequate return for services rendered. In the organ-
ization with which he is connected he is doing excellent work for the benefit of
the members along various lines.

On the 14th of June, 1899, Mr. Murphy was married in Philadelphia to Miss
Elizabeth Hogen, but their married life was of short duration, as on the 6th
of September of that year she was called to her final rest. On the loth of April,
1902, he wedded Miss Anna Michel of Philadelphia, and they have three chil-
dren: William F., six years of age, attending the public schools; Henry, two


years of age ; and John Lewis, in his first year. The family residence is at
No. 2349 East Fifth street.

In his poHtical views Mr. Murphy is a republican. Fraternally he is con-
nected with the Sons of Veterans and in religious faith is a Catholic. He pos-
sesses that democratic spirit which recognizes the rights and privileges of every
individual and also the universal truth of the brotherhood of man.


Dr. John Chalmers Da Costa, actively identified with college and hospital
work during the years of his connection with the profession and equally well
known as a contributor to medical literature, was born in Philadelphia in 1863.
His ancestors were early residents of this city. His paternal grandfather was
for years engaged in the East India trade and, connected with land transporta-

Online LibraryEllis Paxson OberholtzerPhiladelphia; a history of the city and its people, a record of 225 years (Volume 4) → online text (page 18 of 62)