Ellis Paxson Oberholtzer.

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

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field acknowledge his worth, ability and skill.


Dr. Thomas Clifford Potter, who rose to distinction in his profession, his life
work being of incalculable benefit to his fellow men in his professional relations,
was born in Philadelphia, September 3, 1847, and throughout his entire life re-
sided in this city. He was but a young man when the Civil war was inaugurated
and with patriotic spirit responded to the country's call for troops, enlisting in
the Two Hundred and Twelfth Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, which was
the Union League regiment. He was made a member of the commissary depart-
ment at the age of eighteen years.

Three years after the war he took up the study of medicine in the University
of Pennsylvania, where he won his M. D. degree in 1871. His initial profes-
sional experience came to him in eighteen months' practice at Blockley Hospital
and he gained that wide knowledge which can only be obtained through the va-
ried experience of hospital work. He then located in Germantown, where he
made rapid progress in his profession, his ability becoming widely recognized
and winning for him an extensive patronage. He not only labored untiringly to
meet the demands of private practice but was also active in the establishment of the
Germantown Hospital and for many years was a consulting physician at that in-
stitution. The County Medical Society numbered him among its valued repre-
sentatives and he was also a fellow of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia.
The high ideals of his profession which he cherished found embodiment in prac-
tical effort toward their adoption. At all times he held to the highest standards
of professional ethics and in consequence and also by reason of his marked abil-
ity won the high regard and confidence of his fellow practitioners.

Dr. Potter was twice married. In 1876 he wedded Miss Mary Marshall
Phillips, a daughter of Moro Phillips, of this city, now deceased. After a legal
separation Dr. Potter, about seven years prior to his death, wedded Mrs. Sarita
Elizabeth Bond Reed, the widow of Judge Henry Reed, who survives him.

The death of Dr. Potter occurred January 7, 1906, at his home at No. 5920
Greene street, occasioned by a disease with which he was stricken early in the
previous spring while on his way home from a visit in England. His son, Thomas
Clifford Potter, Jr., is a resident of that country. Dr. Potter was a member of
the Veteran Corps of the First Regiment of the National Guard of Pennsylvania
and also of Ellis Post, No. 6, G. A. R.., and those organizations observed a mili-
tary ritual at the grave when he was laid to rest in North Laurel Hill cemetery.

He was a man of high and honorable purpose, of ready sympathy and gen-
erous spirit, and he again and again utilized the opportunities of doing good
which came to him in his professional capacity. While among his patrons were
many of the wealthy and prominent citizens of Germantown and of Philadelphia,


— — . - >.i i«i t;


lie was also attending physician to many from whom he knew he could receive
no adequate compensation. He was a constant student of the science of medicine
and surgery and was not only quick to adopt the new methods that were intro-
duced by others which his judgment sanctioned but also manifested much of the
spirit of the initiative in his methods of practice, his labors being attended by
splendid results. He did his full share in contributing to the world's work. He
found his friends and companions among men and women of intelligence and cul-
ture, of whom his abilities ever made him the peer.


It seemed an untoward fate that forced Bernhard Beerger to seek a home in
America, but when all things are considered it perhaps constituted one of the
most beneficial as well as eventful epochs in his life. The opportunities of the new
world lay before him and in their utilization he has worked his way upward, gain-
ing thereby that greater development which comes only as one's powers and abili-
ties are tested and at the same time winning a substantial measure of success in
the conduct of a growing business as a banker and passenger agent of Philadelphia.

He was born in Budapest, Hungary, December 15, 1864, and in his youthful
days accompanied his parents, Morris and Helen Beerger, to St. Petersburg, Rus-
sia. The father followed farming in that country, where he died in 1880. He was
a son of Abraham Yoel and Sophia Beerger, the former at one time a rabbi in the
city of Jerusalem, Palestine. A brother of our subject. Dr. Adolph Polgar, (which
is pronounced Beerger in English, meaning citizen) is now clergyman for the Hun-
garian parliament.

Following the removal of the family to St. Petersburg Bernhard Beerger there
pursued his education until he was graduated from the Russian Judicial University
with the degree of LL. D. He then entered upon the practice of law, which he fol-
lowed successfully until the Russian government requested him to renounce his
religion and become a member of the Russian Greek church, offering him the po-
sition of district attorney, or leave the country within two weeks. This was in the
beginning of the reign of Alexander HI. He refused to renounce his religion, and
choosing the latter course, twenty-six years ago emigrated to Philadelphia, where
he immediately started in business. Most liberally educated, he can speak eigh-
teen languages and can read and write twelve. He felt that his mental equipment
should qualify him for business even in a country where -he was unknown, and he
has never overestimated his powers. Here he first engaged in various lines, mak-
ing progress along each, and twelve years ago he established himself in the real-
estate, insurance and banking business. He was also appointed agent for the"
United States Express Company and opened agencies for all of the European and
American steamship lines. He sells steamship passenger tickets to all parts of the
world and likewise forwards money to any points on the globe, besides conducting
a passage banking and exchange business. He is a commissioner of deeds for
New Jersey and New York and notary public for the state of Pennsylvania. He
also conducts a real-estate and insurance brokerage business in all branches and at


the same time draws up legal documents in all languages. His business in its
various branches has now grown to extensive proportions, justifying his faith in
America as a land of opportunity and his understanding of his own powers.

In May, 1895, Mr. Beerger was married to Miss Gussie Solesky, a native
of Russia, and unto them have been born three children : Morris Charles, now thir-
teen years of age; Helen Leah, nine years old; and Anna Sarah, an infant.

Mr. Beerger is a republican leader in the city of Philadelphia but has never
sought nor desired office. His business and residence are at No. 710 South Fifth
street. He is a member of the Congregation of Children of Abraham Synagogue
on Lombard street below Sixth street, for he adheres to the orthodox Hebrew
faith. He is also a member of Imperial Lodge, No. 1095, 1. O. O. F. ; Gannanoqua
Tribe of the Improved Order of Red Men; and Rabbi Levinthal Lodge, No. 166,
Independent Order B'rith Shalom. Such in brief is the life history of Bern-
hard Beerger, and the record is one which wins him honor and respect. As the
years have passed he has amassed quite a fortune and together with his wife is
the owner of seventy-two houses in Philadelphia, his real-estate interests, there-
fore, returning to him a very gratifying annual income.


Among those who are upbuilding the high standard maintained by the Uni-
versity of Pennsylvania since its establishment is Marion Dexter Learned, edu-
cator and author, professor of the German language and literature. He was born
near Dover, Delaware, on the loth of July, 1857, his parents being Hervey Dex-
ter and Mary Elizabeth (Griffith) Learned. The earliest authentic record places
the family in the county of Surrey, England, in 1612. In the year 1635 Thomas
Ewer, who married Sarah Learned, arrived in Massachusetts. Many of the an-
cestors of Marion D. Learned were prominent in military circles, rendering valiant
service to the cause of liberty in the Revolutionary war and in the war of 1812.
His great-grandparents were John Wilson and Hannah (Wight) Learned, whose
son, Hervey Learned, married Elvira Derby, a daughter of Samuel Derby. They
were the parents of Hervey Dexter Learned, who was born June 29, 1830.

In the attainment of his education Professor Learned attended the Wilming-
ton Conference Academy in his native city and was graduated therefrom in 1876.
He completed a course in Dickinson College, Carlisle, Pennsylvania, in 1880, and
four years thereafter were devoted to teaching the languages in Williamsport.
After further study he matriculated in Johns Hopkins University and later en-
tered the University of Leipsic. On his return to his native land he again be-
came a student in Johns Hopkins University, which in 1887 conferred upon him
the Doctor of Philosophy degree. He remained in the institution in which he had
been appointed instructor in German in 1886 until 1895, and in 1889 was made
associate in German and in 1892, associate professor in German. In 1895 he
left Johns Hopkins University to take his present chair as professor of the Ger-
man language and literature in the University of Pennsylvania and under his
guidance this has become one of the strong departments of the university. Pro-


fessor Learned founded and is the editor of the quarterly journal "Americana
Gerinanica," now the "German American Annals." He is a pioneer in the scien-
tific study of the relations of Germany and America and is the author of various"
treatises on both literary and scientific subjects, including a "Guide to the Manu-
script Materials Relating to American History in the German Archives," the
"German American Turner Lyric," "New German Grammar," the "Life of
Francis Daniel Postorius," "Abraham Lincoln, an American Migration," and
"Pennsylvania German Dialect." He has also produced a new series of mono-
graphs entitled "Americana Germanica" in several volumes and is also active in
the ethnographical survey w^hich he organized in 1902 and began in Lancaster
county, Pennsylvania, the results of this being published in "German American
Annals." Professor Learned was the pioneer and the first man who gave aca-
demic lectures on the literary and other cultured relations of Germany and
America. The order of the Knight of the Royal Prussian of the Red Eagle was
conferred upon him by the Emperor of Germany.

Professor Learned belongs to a large number of literary and scientific socie-
ties and in 1889 was elected to the presidency of the Nationalen Deutsch-Ameri-
kanischen Lehrerbund, in which connection he continued until 1900. He is a mem-
ber of the American Philosophical Society, the Franklin Inn Club, the Authors
Club of London and other organizations of a social or educative value. He was
the promoter, together with Albert Cook Myers, of the Pennsylvania history ex-
hibit at the Jamestown Exposition in 1907.

It would be tautological in this connection to enter into any series of state-
ments showing Marion Dexter Learned to be a man of high literary attainments
and of broad general knowledge, for these have been shadowed forth between the
lines of this review. Added to these qualities there is an abiding human sympathy
that has won him the honor, devotion and friendship of his fellowmen, and his
friendship is cherished in the select circle where research into the realms of ad-
vanced thought constitutes a source of keen interest and pleasure.


Called to the chair of comparative anatomy at the age of twenty-four years
and making continuous progress along the line of original research. Dr. Harrison
Allen has come to be recognized as one of the most eminent authorities on
anatomy in America. He was born in Philadelphia in 1841 and died Novem-
ber 14, 1897. After mastering the branches of learning ^hat constitute the cur-
riculum in the Hancock grammar school he entered the Central high school, from
which he was graduated with the class of 1856. He made preparation for his
profession as a student in the medical department of the University of Pennsyl-
vania and is numbered among its alumni of 1861. The following year was spent
as a resident physician at Blockley and at the outbreak of the Civil war he
entered the regular army. From 1863 until 1865 he was assistant surgeon, sta-
tioned at Washington, and in 1865 was brevetted major. His experience in the
military hospital greatly broadened his knowledge and at the same time he did


effective work for his country in that department of the service where the hor-
rors of war are most familiar. He was in charge of Fairfax and Mount Pleas-
ant Seminary Hospitals from 1862 until after the close of hostilities and then re-
turned to Philadelphia to resume the private practice of his profession.

In 1865, however, when Dr. G. B. Wood established the auxiliary department
of medicine in the University of Pennsylvania, Dr. Allen, then only twenty-
four years of age, was called to the chair of comparative anatomy and zoology,
which he filled until 1878. In that year he was offered the professorship of
physiology in the medical department and continued his teaching until 1883, when
his practice had grown to such a degree that he felt compelled to resign. He
was then made emeritus professor of physiology, such being his connection with
the university until 1892. Upon the death of Dr. Joseph Leidy in 1891 two
chairs in the medical auxiliary department were left vacant and Dr. Allen vol-
untarily tendered his services and offered to furnish original research to grad-
uate students in anatomy. He considered this a branch of science as pure as
mathematics or astronomy and through his efforts opportunity was furnished
the students for deeper and more comprehensive research. During the period of
three years in which he was thus connected with the university he made a close
and discriminating study of anatomical locomotion, the results of which have
been published. About that time General Isaac J. Wister had entered upon the
project of establishing an institute of anatomy and Dr. Allen was induced to
accept the directorship, but after filling the position for a year found it too great
an undertaking for a busy physician and resigned in June, 1894. All this time
his private practice had been extensive and he was, moreover, visiting physician
to the Philadelphia Hospital from 1874 until 1878; assistant surgeon to Wills
Eye Hospital from 1868 until 1870; assistant surgeon to St. Joseph Hospital from
1870 until 1878; and professor of anatomy in the Philadelphia Dental College
from 1866 until 1878.

In addition to this he wrote extensively, his contributions to medical litera-
ture being considered of great value by the profession. He is the author of
many papers and books that treat of various phases of the profession. He kept
in close touch with the work done by other distinguished representatives of the
fraternity as a member of the Pathological Society of Philadelphia, the Phila-
delphia County Medical Society, the American Laryngology Association of
Anatomy and the Neurology Society of Philadelphia. His interest in a still
broader field of scientific research was indicated in his membership with the
Academy of Natural Science, the Natural History Society of Boston, the Phil-
osophical Society and the Biological Society of Washington. He was also cor-
respondent of the Society of Natural Sciences of Chili, and in 1878 and again
in 1890 he visited Europe as a delegate to the International Medical Congress at

In 1869 Dr. Allen was married to Miss Julia Colton. a daughter of S. W.
Colton, of Philadelphia. They became parents of two children : Harrison Allen,
Jr., who was a student in the medical school of the University of Pennsylvania
in 1899, and Dorothea Allen.

It would be tautological in this connection to enter into any series of state-
ments showing Dr. Allen to be a man of high professional and scientific attain-


merits, for tliese have been shadowed forth between the lines of this review. The
analysis of his life, however, would not be complete without mention of the great
sympathy that was ever one of the strong motive forces in his work. His broad
hunianitarianism as well as his life of scientific research prompted his efforts.
He found his companionship among men of strong intellect, who had far ad-
vanced into the realms of knowledge, and yet he had the faculty of placing the
humblest at ease in his presence. The world is richer and better for his work,
as his contributions to medical literature are of distinct value.


While the practice of law is the central interest in the life of Franklin Spen-
cer Edmonds, it has not precluded his activity in connection with movements and
projects which are tangible elements in municipal progress and in the promo-
tion of educational and social interests. His opinions always bear weight in po-
litical circles and few men not actively connected with politics as office seekers
have given such close attention to the study of the vital and significant problems
that are today before the country.

Mr. Edmonds, a native son of Philadelphia, was born March 28, 1874, his par-
ents being Henry R. and Catherine Ann (Huntzinger) Edmonds. He won his
Bachelor of Arts degree upon graduation from the Central high school of Phila-
delphia in 1891 and was instructor of his class, in 1896 the Master of Arts degree
being conferred upon him. He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania
with the Bachelor of Philosophy degree in 1893 and in 1903 won his Bachelor of
Law degree from the university. He was Andrew D. White fellow in political
science at Cornell University in 1894-5 and much of his life has been devoted to
active participation in educational work or in projects stimulating development
along educational lines. In 1893 and 1894 he served as assistant secretary of the
American University Extension Society and the following year became instructor
of political science in the Central high school of Philadelphia, acting as instructor
and professor from that date until 1904, since which time he has been honorary-
lecturer. He withdrew from educational work to enter upon the active practice
of law in Philadelphia, but his ability as an educator led to his appointment as
professor of law at Swarthmore College, at Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, in 1904.
As a practitioner before the bar he has gained more than local distinction. With a
mind analytical, logical and inductive, his reasoning is sound, his arguments force-
ful and logical and with notable readiness he solves the intricate and involved
problems of the law. He is a member of the law firm of Mason & Edmonds and
is also solicitor for Pocono Pines Assembly, the Pennsylvania Museum and
School of Industrial Art and solicitor of the Philadelphia Teachers Association.

Interested from early manhood in the important problems of municipal gov-
ernment as well as the more far-reaching questions of national life, he has done
much to mold public thought and action through his discussion of the issues of
the day and through his active work in support of the principles in which he be-
lieves. In 1905 he was a candidate for the select council on the city party ticket


and upon the same ticket was a candidate for receiver of taxes in 1907. Two years
before he had served as chairman of the city committee of the city party when
the reform party was victorious in Philadelphia and in 1905 and 1906 he was a
member of the Lincoln party state committee and chairman of two city party
and county conventions. Where national policy is involved he advocates republi-
can principles and his broad reading and investigation enables him to hold his
own in discussion with those who are considered authority upon the leading polit-
ical problems of the age. He believes that many of these problems will find their
solution in the education and instruction of the masses. He has in greater or less
degree throughout his life been an educator, whether in the direct work of the
schoolroom, from the platform or through the press. He was editor of The
Teacher from 1898 until 1901 ; from 1900 until 1903 was president of the Educa-
tional Club of Philadelphia ; and from 1903 to 1905 was president of the Phila-
delphia Teachers Association. His authorship includes the Century's Progress
in Education, History of Central High School from 1838 until 1902, and other
educational articles. He is associated with many of the leading educational so-
cieties and organizations of wide research, holding membership in the American
Historical Association, the American Economical Association, the American Po-
litical Science Association, the American Statistical Association, the American
Academy of Political and Social Science and the Pennsylvania Historical So-
ciety. He is likewise a member of the board of public education of Philadelphia
and he belongs to the Beta Theta Pi fraternity and to the Phi Delta Phi, a legal
fraternity and is a member of Phi Beta Kappa. Mr. Edmonds holds membership
in the Episcopal church and belongs to the Church Club, the University Club, the
City, Franklin Inn, School Men's and Lawyers Clubs. He finds his friendship
among men of wide learning and his pleasure in investigation concerning the
problems of far-fraught meaning to individual, state and nation.

Mr. Edmonds was married in 1909 to Elise Julia, a daughter of Mr. and Mrs.
A. M. Beitler, and now resides at 7818 Lincoln Drive, St. Martin's.


Robert Steel, one of the best known turfmen and wholesale liquor merchants
of Philadelphia, was born in this city on the 6th of March, 1840, a son of James
and Sarah (White) Steel. His entire life was passed in this city save as his
business or other interests took him elsewhere, and he was widely known in
business circles. In the early '70s he was to be found at Eighth and Chestnut
streets, where he opened a buffet in connection with his wholesale liquor house.
This became a favorite meeting place for politicians and men about town. In
1888 when the Brook's law went into effect Mr. Steel sold his interest to his
brother, Davis W. Steel, and devoted his entire attention to the wholesale busi-
ness. For years afterward he remained at the corner of Broad and Chestnut
streets, but when the property was sold to the Girard Trust Company for build-
ing purposes he removed from that location and finally established himself at
No. 1508 Chestnut street. It is said that it was due chiefly to Mr. Steel that




the lease was not surrendered so that the Girard Trust Company could begin
building a skyscraper on that corner.

There was, perhaps, no better known turfman in i'hiladelphia than Robert
Steel, or one more widely recognized among the patrons of the turf as a suc-
cessful breeder of thoroughbred horses. His beautiful country home and cock
farm, known as Cedar Park, was one of the show places in this locality. He
was unusually successful as a breeder and owned some of the best sires in the
country. He continued in the business for more than thirty years and it was
he who picked out the stallion Vandal owned by Joseph A. Batto. A very promi-
nent and popular figure in a number of clubs, he held membership in the Jew-
elers, Turf, Columbia, Belmont Driving and Cedar Park Clubs, and to the Will-
iam R. Leeds Association.

Mr. Steel was married and had two sons: Henry, the oldest, who lost his
life in the flood at Germantown ; and James, now deceased, who was formerly
associated in business with his father. Robert Steel departed this life when
si.xty-three years of age. He was one of the well known men about town and
was a personal associate and friend of many prominent men of his time. He
possessed a genial disposition and good qualities that made him popular with
his associates.


J. Henry Scattergood was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on the 26th
of January, 1877, and has always resided here. His paternal ancestors were
all prominent members of the Society of Friends, who settled in Burlington,

Online LibraryEllis Paxson OberholtzerPhiladelphia; a history of the city and its people, a record of 225 years (Volume 4) → online text (page 23 of 62)