Ellis Paxson Oberholtzer.

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

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people in that school of political economy was one of the foremost duties to
which an enlightened statesman could apply himeslf. When the spirit of the
'tariff reform' reaction which sprang up in the '70s through the Wood bill in
congress and afterward in the Morrison bill and finally reached its highest
point after the advent of Cleveland, spread over the country he assumed much
of the direction of a propaganda for staying its spread and for bringing for-
ward the doctrine that protection is a need for the permanent maintenance of



HISTORY OF PHILADELPHIA 239

the home market, even after an industry has been established. He quietly
organized various protective forces for the circulation of economic literature,
for reaching the press and for counteracting what the tariff reformers called
their 'campaign of education.' In his judgment the most critical period in the
history of the country was the year 1888, when Cleveland's famous anti-protec-
tion message provided the chief issue of the canvass and when Harrison's election
saved the country from what he doubtless sincerely believed, aside from his
own personal interests, would otherwise have been its industrial ruin. It was
largely in this zeal for protection as a fundamental principle deserving of being
lastingly imbedded in the constitution itself as a national safeguard, that he
founded the school or department of political economy which bears his name
in the University of Pennsylvania."

Shortly before his death Mr. Wharton gave to the university a lot on Wood-
land avenue, opposite the Wistar Institute, and planned to give two hundred and
fifty thousand dollars for a building to be erected on that site as a permanent
home for the school. Only a few days before his death he tendered to the city
about twenty-five acres of forest land near Fernrock Station on the North
Pennsylvania Railroad, for park purposes if the city would properly maintain
this as a park, which gift was completed after his death by his daughters.

Mr. Wharton held membership with the American Philosophical Society,
before which he frequently read papers on astronomy. He also prepared many
papers on metallurgy, which he delivered before scientific bodies. He was a
moving spirit in the Industrial League of Philadelphia, whose purpose was to
secure the adoption of a protective policy by the government and in a strong,
logical and convincing argument in the Atlantic Monthly he responded to the
attack of Gideon Welles, then the secretary of the navy, upon the protective
tariff. His writings frequently took on poetic form, but his verses were never
given to the public, being reserved for the pleasure of his intimate friends.

In 1854 Mr. Wharton was united in marriage to Miss Anna C. Lovering, a
daughter of the late Joseph S. Lovering, of Philadelphia. He passed away in
January, 1909, survived by his widow and three daughters : Mrs. J. Bertram
Lippincott, Miss Mary Lovering Wharton and Mrs. Harrison S. Morris. Per-
haps his greatest pleasure in his wealth came to him through the fact that it
enabled him to provide his family with every luxury. He built three palatial
homes: Ontalauna, his Philadelphia residence on the old York road at Chelten
avenue; a summer home at Jamestown, Rhode Island; and another situated
on a large estate in New Jersey. With remarkable preservation of physical and
mental powers he enjoyed life to the full until his last year. When eighty-one
years of age he went abroad and while touring Europe met the emperor of
Germany. He greatly enjoyed foreign travel, in which he sometimes indulged,
and the art centers of Europe yielded of their treasures for the adornment of
his homes. Those who knew him well spoke of him as a great and good man.
This simple eulogy is in keeping with the spirit of his life, for he never sought
to attract public attention, yet few men have accomplished more in the three
fields of finance, science and philanthropy than did Joseph Wharton.

One of the Philadelphia papers said of him editorially : "He was among the
foremost men of his time in the development of one of the great sources of



240 HISTORY OF PHILADELPHIA

Pennsylvania wealth; he conceived and carried out many enterprises of magni-
tude in business and finance and to perhaps no other man in this part of the
country could have been more fittingly applied in its full and legitimate sense the
now much abused term 'captain of industry.' His influence was felt far and
wide in his own state and largely beyond it, in the shaping of one of the cardinal
policies of the nation and in cultivating for it the good will and support of his
countrymen. For more than a half century he was a thinker and a planner in
affairs of pith and moment in American industrial life. * * * He never
courted popularity or applause. He was far, however, from isolating himself
when, in the years of the fullness of his strength, from those endeavors which
originate in the beneficence of useful or practical public spirit. * * * With
the severity and sobriety of his intellect in the process of reasoning out his
conclusions there was united keenness of foresight and also when the time
would come for putting them into action the zest and freshness of a concen-
trated vigor that went straight to the mark of his purpose. He loved and en-
joyed work not alone for the money that it brought him and for the health
which he thought it imparted to a man of clean habits but because of the satis-
faction of contemplating the opportunities which his plans and enterprises gave
to thousands of men of all kinds to work for their own good. In his view
modern business was a science which required no less preparation, when prop-
erly pursued, than the professions and was entitled to no less respect."

His own career seemed the crowning point to the achievements of his an-
cestry in Philadelphia through generations. He gave decided impetus to the
development of the material resources of the state and country, but he gave
just as liberally to intellectual advancement and to the growth of humanitarian
spirit, recognizing fully the responsibilities and obligations of wealth. Mr.
Wharton was a member of the religious Society of Friends, as were all his
ancestors for many generations. The principles and habits of these people,
which he inherited, added to by training and personal contact, had a large share
in the formation of his character. He belonged to the more liberal and less
trinitarian branch, whose views he strongly advocated.



ANDREW ROVOUDT WIGHT.

Various traits of character and many activities with which he was concerned
brought Andrew Rovoudt Wight prominently before the public and gained him
many friends, but perhaps his most important service outside the field of busi-
ness lay in his active and effective work in the field of political reform. A life-
long resident of Philadelphia, he was born December 8, 1859, and died January
20, 191 1. His parents were Andrew and Elizabeth (Rovoudt) Wight. His
father and grandfather were Philadelphia merchants and came of Scotch an-
cestry, while the Rovoudt family is of French origin. His father was widely
known to booklovers, owning one of the finest private libraries of Philadelphia.

Andrew R. Wight pursued his education in the public schools of Philadel-
phia and entered business life as an errand boy with E. Bradford Clarke in




AXDREW l;. WKiHT



I THE NE'a'yOHII
' ^-'iBLIC LIBRARY I



M'l'cn, LKKOX AtSS




HISTORY OF PHILADELPHIA 243

1876. It is perhaps a trite saying that there is always room at the top, yet few
people occupying minor positions in the business world seem to appreciate this
fact or recognize their opportunity for advancement. Mr. Wight knew, how-
ever, that fidelity to the interests of his employer and unfaltering service would
win him promotion. Gradually he was advanced from one position to another
of larger responsibilities and upon the death of Mr. Clarke, in March, 1887, he
became a member of the firm which was organized to continue the business.
His progress still continued and advancement through various official positions
brought him at length to the presidency of the company in 1900 and for years
he was the guiding spirit in control of its affairs. In fact, much of the success
of the E. B. Clarke Company is due to his executive ability and power of co-
ordinating and harmonizing forces. In addition to his connection with that
company he was president of the Pastorius Building & Loan Association.

Aside from his business perhaps his greatest activity was displayed in the
field of politics, in which he fi-r^t became recognized as an active factor in 1905,
being prominent among those who instituted the independent movement that
reform methods might be introduced in the political organization in which had
sprung up much that was detrimental to the general welfare and was sacrificing
the public good to personal aggrandizement. Subsequently he became a mem-
ber of the city committee of the city party, of which he was made chairman
on the 27th of March, 1907. He was regarded as one of the ablest men in the
councils of the independent movement and was widely recognized for a singu-
lar degree of unselfishness and usefulness. Parctically some part of every day
from the time that he became an active factor in city affairs was given to some
work in connection therewith. His high qualities won for him the deep personal
attachment of hundreds of young men in Germantown, Chestnut Hill and other
sections of the city. He rendered especially valuable service to the independent
movement in raising campaign funds and in perfecting organization for the fur-
therance of the work. He was the first of the active group of workers who
inaugurated the independent movement of 1905 to pass away. Throughout the
period of his illness he continued to devote his time regularly to city affairs.

Much of the nature and character of his interests and activities is indicated
through his membership relations. He was vice president of the Young Repub-
lican Club, chairman of the Keystone and William Penn parties of the twenty-
second ward and president of the Old Township Club. He was likewise a mem-
ber of the Pennsylvania Society of the Sons of the Revolution, being a descend-
ant of Captain Burkhart, of Germantown, who won his title by active service in
the war for independence. Mr. Wight was a member of the Site and Relic So-
ciety of Germantown, a member of the Pennsylvania Arbitration and Peace
Society, a charter member and one of the directors of the City Club of Philadel-
phia and a member of the Whitemarsh Valley Country Club. He likewise be-
longed to the Retail Grocers Association, Meridian Sun Lodge No. 158, F. &
A. M., and the Bibliophile Society of Boston, Massachusetts.

On the 27th of February, 1887, Mr. Wight was married to Miss May Wright,
of Trenton, New Jersey, and they had one son, Andrew Rovoudt Wight, Jr.
Both Mr. and Mrs. Wight held membership in the Presbyterian church and
were deeply interested in various lines of church work. In fact, all practical



244 HISTORY OF PHILADELPHIA

projects for the benefit and uplift of humanity and for the promotion of reform
and progress in citizenship awakened his attention, received his indorsement
and, if possible, were given his active cooperation. His life was, indeed, a busy
one and his labors were resultant forces for good.



CAPTAIN FRANK FURNESS.

Captain Frank Furness is best known to the public as an architect of ability,
who for forty-five years has followed his profession in Philadelphia, the firm
of Furness, Evans & Company, however, being widely known throughout the
east. There are other chapters of equal and perhaps more romantic interest
in the history of Captain Furness and these cover his experiences in the Civil
war. His title is an indication of his active service in defense of the Union.
Throughout the period of his connection with the army he was the exemplifi-
cation of loyalty and bravery on the part of a soldier. He took part in the long
hard marches, the hotly contested battles and the dreary waiting in winter
quarters such as fell to the lot of every soldier, but in addition to this there
are specific stories of his bravery. The following story illustrative of this has
been given by a contemporary biographer : "At Trevillian Station, June 12,
1864, he voluntarily carried a box of ammunition across an open space swept
by the enemy's fire to the relief of the outposts, whose ammunition had become
exhausted, but which was thus enabled to hold its important position. On the
afternoon of June 12, 1864, the Reserve Brigade was engaged, dismounted,
shortly after midday, at Trevillian Station, Virginia. The brigade had been
actively engaged in the battle of Trevillian Station on the day previous, June 11,
1864. The brigade was commanded by Colonel Alfred Gibbs, the division by
General Wesley Merritt. Captain J. Hinkley Clark, who commanded the Sixth
Pennsylvania Cavalry, one of the regiments composing the brigade (Reserves)
being taken seriously ill, the command of the Sixth Pennsylvania Cavalry de-
volved upon Captain Frank Furness. The orders received by oiificers command-
ing regiments were to hold the ground at all hazards. It has since been learned
that the ammunition that General Sheridan had with him on his raid was almost
exhausted and it was necessary that the demonstration should be made in order
to keep the enemy fully occupied until after dark, when General Sheridan had
concluded to continue his raids. In front of the portion of the line occupied
by the Sixth Pennsylvania Cavalry, about fifty yards in front of the established
line was a farmhouse and outbuildings. The Confederates occupied the house
and the outbuildings not occupied by the Sixth Cavalry. It was a matter of
the greatest importance that this position should be held, for if it had been
occupied by the Confederates, our entire Federal line would have suffered.
Therefore an outpost, so to speak, was established by the commanding officer
of the Sixth, occupying the buildings which particularly commanded the Fed-
eral line. At this particular spot the fighting was desperate, although the entire
line was fiercely engaged. The space between the house and the outbuildings
above alluded to was entirely clear and open, it being a grass field. This was



HISTORY OF PHILADELl'HIA 245

the position of afifairs and it was some two hours after the time when the line
first became fiercely engaged that Captain Furness received word from the out-
post above mentioned, through a non-commissioned officer, who crawled on his
hands and knees from the outpost to the main line through the grass, that their
ammunition was almost exhausted and that if more were not immediately sup-
plied, the outpost was in imminent danger of being captured by the Confeder-
ates. Captain Furness caused two boxes to be taken from the already scanty
supply and placing one on his head asked what officer or man would volunteer
to carry the other. Captain Walsh Mitchell at once seized the other, likewise
placing it on his head and said that he would cheerfully follow Captain Furness.
The two officers ran across the open space between the outpost and the main line
in clear sight of the Confederates and safely deposited the ammunition at the
disposal of the officer commanding the outpost, rendering it possible by careful
husbanding its ammunition for the outpost to hold its position, saving the main
line from severe loss, which it did until long after dark. Whether or no it was
that the Confederates were amazed at the audacity of the two officers carrying
the ammunition, for some reason the fire encountered by them on the return
trip to the main line was very much fiercer than on the former one, the air
seemed filled with lead, Captain Mitchell remarking to Captain Furness, 'For
God's sake, run zig-zag, so they can't draw a bead on you.' The words were
no sooner out of Captain Mitchell's mouth than he received a bullet through the
top of his cap and another through the skirt of his coat. With no other damage
than this, Captain Furness and Captain Mitchell regained the main line of battle.
As before stated, the regiment remained holding its position in spite of shot
or shell, for they were vigorously subjected to these annoyances, until long after
dark. Through some oversight on the part of the brigade commander, no
orders for withdrawal were received by the officer commanding the Sixth Cav-
alry, the men crouching down and carefully holding their sabres and carbines
to avoid all rattle, so close was the proximity of the enemy. The Sixth Penn-
sylvania Cavalry rejoined Sheridan's command, finding their mounts and taking
up the line of march, continuing the same throughout the remainder of the
night and until the afternoon of the next day. This was not the only occasion
on which Captain Furness distinguished himself, and General Wesley Merritt,
in recommending him for a medal of honor says : 'This is not the only instance
in which Captain Furness did splendid service, and I recommend that he be
given a medal of honor. He was offered brevet for services at the time, but
did not see fit to accept them.' General A. P. Morrow in endorsing the above
said: 'I subscribe to this statement with great pleasure, as I remember the
occasion and circumstances very well, and Captain Furness is certainly entitled
to a medal of honor, and as I saw him win it, so I hope to see him wear it. I
have personal knowledge of his heroism, as I was in command of the outpost
which was so reinforced with ammunition by his extraordinary daring.' "

On another occasion Captain Furness, prompted by the most humanitarian
principles, did what comparatively few soldiers north or south would have
done. It was at Cold Harbor on the ist of June, 1864. He saw some distance
before him a wounded Confederate soldier, who was making desperate efforts
to leave the line of battle on account of severe wounds which he had sustained.



246 HISTORY OF PHILADELPHIA

At length he could proceed no farther and fell to the ground. Captain Furness,
seeing his need, went to his aid. Years afterward, wishing that he might know
of the fate of this wounded Confederate, he gave a sketch of the battle, time
and place, with an account of the incident. This was largely copied by the
press throughout the south. One paper after describing the battle and hour
and the locality, continued : "The open space from the point where the rebels
turned and retreated to the belt of woods was strewn with their dead, dying and
woimded, and thirty yards in front of the breastwork lay a wounded soldier,
who made frantic and terrible attempts to regain his footing but he was sorely
wounded, and after a few struggles, stretched himself exhausted on his back.
An officer of the Union forces, seeing the sad plight of his wounded adversary,
took a canteen of water from one of his sergeants and slinging it over his
shoulder, jumped over the breastwork and ran to the wounded Confederate.
When he arrived beside him he found that he had been wounded in the lower
part of the thigh and his pantaloons from his knee to his foot were clotted
with blood so that his leg looked like a dark red alligator hide. The officer
asked the wounded man if he had a handkerchief. The Confederate replied
that he had and that it was in the breast pocket of his jacket. The officer
kneeling down beside his wounded foe, put his hand in his breast pocket and
found a handkerchief, and also felt, while withdrawing the handkerchief, a
toothbrush and book, but he of course did not see these, as he wanted only the
handkerchief. Binding the handkerchief tightly above the wound, he tried to
make a tourniquet with his revolver. This, however, he could not do, the hand-
kerchief not being long enough, so he then passed it round the leg, crossing the
ends, and pulling them tight with all his strength, he knotted them above the
wound, the knot pressing well into the leg, thus greatly staunching the flow of
blood. The officer then shifted the wounded man into as comfortable a position
as the ground would permit and scraped up with his hands the sandy soil to
form a pillow for the head of the wounded man. 'Now,' said the officer, 'this
is all I can do for you, my man. I wish I could do more, but time flies and
so must I. Here is a canteen of water. I'll leave it by your side. Good-bye.'
The wounded man replied: 'You may be a Yankee, but by Gad, you are a
gentleman.' And they parted. The officer went walking to the breastwork
and the poor, wounded Confederate — where? Did he die on the field, or was
he found and cared for by his comrades only to die of his wounds, or did he
recover and live? What was the sequel? Who can tell ? The officer got through
the terrible war unhurt and is alive and well, but he would dearly like to know
what became of the gallant soldier he left in such a sad plight. There was one
curious thing in connection with this incident that occurred to the officer in
thinking the occurrence over and that was from the time of his kneeling beside
the wounded man until he returned to the breastwork he was conscious of the
fact that not one single shot from the Confederate line was fired at him. Shortly
after the officer's return to the breastwork the rebels again advanced on it with
the same disastrous result as followed their previous attempt. The Union in-
fantry then relieved the cavalry, which withdrew, and the fiercest fighting of
that bloody day was over that long, clear space, with belts of open timber on
either side. Poor, brave, wounded Confederate, the chances for your escape



HISTORY OF Plin-7\DELrillA 247

were small indeed. Sliould this meet tiie eye of a southern survivor of that
horrible day, who can in any way recall or is cognizant of such an incident as
has been above described, if he will kindly communicate with Captain Frank
Furness he will in a measure gratify the desire on the part of the officer to
know the end of it all. But there is only one chance in ten thousand that a
sequel to this unfinished story will come to light."

When the war was over and the country no longer needed his aid, Captain
Furness, returning to the north, opened an office in Philadelphia, where in pro-
fessional circles he has since been widely known as an architect. In the forty-
five years of his connection with the business interests of this city he has made
steady progress, keeping at all times abreast with the advancement that is being
made by the profession, and the evidence of his skill is seen in some of the
finest structures which adorn this city. He is now at the head of the firm of
P\irness, Evans & Company, ranking with the leading architects of the east.
While he has now passed the Psalmist's span of three-score-years-and-ten, he
is yet active and energetic, with the vim and vigor of a man of much younger
years, and the period of his usefulness will undoubtedly long continue.

Captain Furness was married in 1868 to Miss Fannie Fassitt, a native of
Philadelphia, and they have three living sons : Ratcliff, Theodore and Wilson.

By recognition of congress several medals of honor were awarded Cap-
tain Furness for meritorious work. He is equally deserving of high recognition
of his ability and fidelity in days of peace. He measures up to the highest stand-
ards of manhood and citizenship and throughout his business career has won
his success by individual merit and ability. In all that favors and fosters Phila-
delphia's development he is deeply interested and his cooperation has consti-
tuted a helpful element in the substantial improvement of the city.



WILLIAM ESTES NEWHALL.

The name of William Estes Newhall has figured prominently in connection
with financial affairs, with political interests and with the promotion of the
material welfare and art development of Philadelphia, for he manifested active
interest in all of these lines and his efforts in any connection were ever an
impetus to growth and progress. He was born in Philadelphia, November 13,
1834, a son of Paul and Hannah (Johnson) Newhall, both of whom were na-
tives of Lynn, Massachusetts, and representatives of old New England families.
The father was for many years a commission merchant here and his success
enabled him to give to his son, William E. Newhall, excellent educational ad-
vantages, the latter pursuing a course of study at Haverford.

His school days being over, he began his business career as a broker, and
afterward became connected with the brokerage house of Pierson S. Peterson



Online LibraryEllis Paxson OberholtzerPhiladelphia; a history of the city and its people, a record of 225 years (Volume 4) → online text (page 25 of 62)