Ellis Paxson Oberholtzer.

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

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for a number of years. For some time prior to his death he was connected with
R. D. Wood & Company at Fourth and Delaware streets. The intricate and
involved financial problems incident to the conduct of an extensive and im-
portant business found ready solution with him, because of his thorough mas-


tery of everything which he undertook and his keen insight into business
situations. In his younger years he was active in pubhc affairs and his influence
was always on the side of progress and improvement. He voted with the re-
pubhcan party, but in his later years was not active in its ranks.

On the 8th of October, 1857, Mr. Newhall was united in marriage, in Phila-
delphia, to Miss Philena M. Peterson, a daughter of George Peterson, who for
many years lived retired but in early life was a wholesale grocer of Philadel-
phia. Unto Mr. and Mrs. Newhall were born three children, but the eldest,
Anna P., died November 23, 1905. The two surviving members are : William
Peterson, who is a salesman for the Dreka Company; and Lucy P., at home.
The family residence is at No. 308 West Upsal street in Germantown.

Mr. Newhall was a member of the Philadelphia Art Club for many years
and was a lover of art, much interested in the work of cultivating artistic taste
in this city. He was also at one time a member of the Manufacturers Club, and
throughout his life was allied with those movements that sought the broader
culture and the uplift of humankind. The aristocracy of worth as well as of
birth placed him in a prominent position in social circles of his native city.


Thomas Devlin stands today as a splendid representative of that class bear-
ing the proud American title "a self-made man." He is a manufacturer, capi-
talist and good citizen in whom the subjective and objective forces of life are
well balanced, making him cognizant of his own capabilities and powers, while
at the same time he thoroughly understands his opportunities and obligations.

It has been through utilizing the former and meeting the latter that he has
reached the position which he now occupies as head of the leading hardware
manufacturing plants of the world, the Thomas Devlin IManufacturing Com-
pany, and others, with Thomas Devlin as their president.

Bom on the Emerald isle, March 30, 1838, he is one of the four sons of
William and Mary (Sherry) Devlin, who emigrated to this country with their
children in April, 1854, settling in Philadelphia, making it their permanent home.
His education in Ireland was limited to the opportunities afforded by the com-
mon schools of Erin at that day, but with the natural love of education found
in so many of her sons, he was not content with that meager knowledge, but
after working hard all day availed himself of the advantages of a business col-
lege at night, studying far into "the wee sma hours."

At the age of sixteen he began his business career in the employ of what is
now known as the Philadelphia Hardware & Malleable Iron Works, of which
he is the president. At that time it was known as Thomas R. Wood & Company.
Mr. Devlin's initial start brought him the munificent salary of one dollar and a
half per week. In January, 1855, the works were purchased by E. Hall Ogden,
and in 1866 he admitted three of his employes, one being Thomas Devlin, as
members of the firm, sharing in a percentage of the profits in lieu of a salary.
This must have proved a satisfactory arrangement to the three employes, as in


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1 8/ 1 they bought out the business and it became known as Carr, Crawley &
Devlin Company.

In 1880 Mr. Devlin withdrew from that company and in partnership with
Louis J. McGrath founded the business at Third and Lehigh avenue, Philadel-
phia, under the title of Thomas Devlin & Company. The business prospered by
leaps and bounds and almost every available inch of space has since been ac-
quired to meet the demands of the rapidly growing business. In 1902 the firm
was incoq)orated under the laws of New Jersey under the title of the Thomas
Devlin Manufacturing Company, with offices and works at Third and Lehigh
avenue, Philadelphia, and the more extensive works in Burlington, New Jersey,
to which additions continue to be made for the maimfacture of steam-fitters,
gas-fitters and plumbers supplies as well as the many side lines manufactured by
the company. Mr. Devlin was elected as president and has continued as its
directing and executive head from the beginning. Mr. Devlin's rise was steady
and his rapid advancement is due to his determination to acquire a thorough
knowledge of every detail of the business from the very beginning, and he is
now considered an authority on all questions connected with the manufacture
of malleable iron products. The Philadelphia office and factory is of modern
constritction and with the up-to-date works in Burlington, New Jersey, einploy
from seven hundred to one thousand people, with a capital of one million dollars.
System is the hall mark of every department, and the loss of time, labor and
iTiaterial is at a minimum.

In 1892. Thomas Devlin & Company purchased the old Ogden business, later
the Carr & Crawley works, from which Mr. Devlin had withdrawn in 1880 and
which is now principally owned by Thomas Devlin and Louis J. McGrath, a dis-
tinct and separate chartered company known as the Philadelphia Hardware &
Malleable Iron Works, with Thomas Devlin as its president. The history of
the Philadelphia Hardware & Malleable Iron Works which begun business at
its present location in 1852, constitutes an interesting chapter in the commercial
life and development of the city.

The success in the commercial world attained by Mr. Devlin is a glowing
tribute to force of character, hard and untiring effort to master the business in
its most minute detail and the utilization of every available opportunity for ad-
vancement, and it must be a .source of honest pride and gratification to him to
be president of the company in which he began his life work as an office boy
August 4, 1854.

Shortly after purchasing the old plant the company originated a system by
which employes were given the earnings of a thousand dollars worth of stock
for a term of five years on the condition that the employes give to the company
continued and faithful service during that period and that the employes con-
tribute the sum of two dollars per week to be retained by the coinpany toward
the purchase of the one thousand dollars worth of stock of which they received
the earning capacity as above stated. This plan was of Mr. Devlin's original
conception, and it has resulted in the employes putting forth their best eflforts
stimulated by the desire to own a thousand dollars worth of stock, and in many
instances they have not been content with that amount but spurred on by en-


joying the dividend before they had completed the purchase they have added to
the first thousand dollars worth given by the firm.

Besides being president of the Thomas Devlin Manufacturing Company, the
Philadelphia Hardware & Malleable Iron Works and the National Specialty
Manufacturing Company, Mr. Devlin's name is connected as a member or di-
rector of many successful financial and industrial organizations : president of
The Philadelphia Foundrymen's Association ; a director of the Equitable Trust
Company, the People's National Fire Insurance Company, the Bank of Com-
merce, the Beneficial Savings Fund, the Chamber of Commerce, the Hardware
Merchants & Manufacturers Association, the Manufacturers' Club and many

While Mr. Devlin has always given his business the most minute and un-
tiring personal attention, he has found time to devote thought and support to
the commercial interests of the city, proving him a forceful element in his civic
relations and a stanch friend. He is an ardent advocate and champion of educa-
tion and worthy charities.

During the fleeting years he has found time to make five trips through Eu-
rope as his children completed their education, and two trips through our own
beautiful country from coast to coast, which with his native Celtic humor have
made him a welcome guest at many a banquet table. He is a member of various
civic and social organizations and associations of a business character, among
which may be mentioned the National Association of Manufacturers, the Na-
tional Foundrymen's Association, the Philadelphia Schutzen Verein, the Phila-
delphia Zoological Association, the Pennsylvania Society of New York, the
Langhorne Board of Trade and the Langhorne Golf Club. The Ainerican So-
ciety for the Extension of University Teaching, the American Iron & Steel
Institute, the American-Irish Historical Society, the Historical Society of Penn-
sylvania, the American Academy of Political & Social Science, the University
of Archaeology, the National Civic Federation, the Catholic Historical Society,
the Mercantile Beneficial Association, the Civil Service Reform, the United
Irish League, the Franklin Institute, the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick, the At-
lantic Inland Waterways Association and the City Parks Association of Phila-
delphia. As can be surmised by his extensive memberships he is an unusually
busy man, but despite his multifarious duties, his unostentation, uniform cour-
tesy to rich and poor alike who come in contact with him, and his genial and
afifable manner under all circumstances are a matter of general comment.

Mr. Devlin was united in marriage in Philadelphia, January 2, 1866, to Helen
Amelia Sanford, a daughter of Abel B. and Caroline A. (Tobey) Sanford, na-
tives of New Bedford, Massachusetts. Eleven children were born of this union,
eight now living. The family are active communicants of the Roman Catholic
church. Mr. Devlin's political indorsement has been given to the republican
party since Bryan's nomination in 1896. His pleasure in his success has been
that it has enabled him to provide his family with every opportunity for culture
and comfort and enabled him to contribute with a hearty and lavish hand to
many worthy charities.

Few men under the same conditions, hampered by limited opportunities,
would have had the perseverance to surmount the obstacles that beset his path


and take a place among men of brains reared in affluence and all it affords as
Mr. Devlin has done, and there are many who have started life equipped with
advantages of environment, aided by college educations who have not been able
to keep pace with him.

In his characteristic modest way Mr. Devlin never fails to give great credit
to J. Oscar Ogden, a brother of his first employer, E. Hall Ogden (Mr. Devlin's
senior by three years), whose kindly interest and pleasure at his success spurred
him on to greater attainments, and he never tires of praising this benefactor of
his younger days. Mr. Devlin's splendid attainments should be a source of
great pride to his family and friends, and Philadelphia should proudly regard
him as a sterling and upright son whose character and integrity are well known
among the business men of his city.

The writer is tempted to draw a little on his imagination before concluding
this short biographical sketch of the events in the life of such a man as Thomas
Devlin, whose beginning of his life work was begun under such adverse circum-
stances. I surmise many a youth who may read it will be curious to know what
he did first? What object he had in view, or had he any? How did he con-
duct himself? Did he have a plan of life? Did he follow it? Did everything
come out as he planned or was he ever disappointed? Did everybody help him
or did he depend upon his own resources? Did he save all he earned? Did he
play cricket, polo, golf, baseball or football? What sports did he patronize or
practice? How or where did he spend his vacations?

The above and many more questions if Mr. Devlin were to answer would
be both instructive and interesting to old and young alike. His trials and hard-
ships, experience of sadness, the offspring of keen disappointments, can without
overstretching the imagination, be assumed as part of his experience and must
have been encountered by him when his idols were rudely shattered by those
whose actions were dictated by the green-eyed monster. His achievements war-
rant the belief that all discouragements were met and handled so as to produce
the least ill effects, while hope, courage and rigid economy combined with hon-
est, earnest effort proved the best road to the desired goal.


Joseph B. Creager became well known in connection with the coal trade of
Philadelphia, being one of the most prominent representatives of the Newton
Coal Company. A native of Philadelphia, he was born in 1872 and was a son
of George E. Creager who for many years has been a resident of Philadelphia,
where he still makes his home.

Spending his youthful days under the parental roof, Joseph B. Creager en-
tered the public schools and therein continued his studies until having passed
from grade to grade he eventually became a high-school student. When still
a young man he entered the employ of Patterson & Company, coal dealers, and
with them received his initial training in that field. Later he entered the employ
of the Newton Coal Company and was sent to Pittston, Pennsylvania, where


their mines were located, acting as purchasing agent and as paymaster there.
He rendered the company valuable service in a position of large responsibility
and was held in high esteem by the corporation. It was characteristic of Mr.
Creager that he fully met every trust reposed in him and discharged every obli-
gation that devolved upon him, and thus his name came to be regarded as a
synonym for trustworthiness as well as unfaltering activity.

In 1896 Mr. Creager was united in marriage to Miss Leidy Clark, a daughter
of James Leidy Clark, who died on the nth of September, 1892, when forty-four
years of age. He was the son of James Clark, Sr., who for years was well known
in connection with the gold and silver refining business in this city. Unto Mr.
and Mrs. Creager were born two children, Clark and Beatrice. Mr. Creager
was devoted to his family and found his greatest happiness at his own fireside.
He was, however, a very public-spirited man, active and helpful in the support
of all projects which he deemed of value to the community. His life history is
one of general interest because of the active and influential part which he took
in the progress and development of the community in which he lived. His fra-
ternal relations were with the Masons and in his life he exemplified the beneficent
spirit of the craft.


Henry Howard Houston was fortunate in having back of him an ancestry
honorable and distinguished, and his lines of life were cast in harmony there-
with. He came of a race noted for its physical and mental strength. The Hous-
tons of Pennsylvania trace their lineage far back into the days of chivalry in
Scotland, the clan Houston coming into existence when the brave and fearless
Wallace attempted to win independence for the Scottish people. Its origin,
however, goes back to the time of Sir Hugo de Padvinian, the laird of the lands
of Kilpeter in Strathgrief, 1160. The baronetcy is now held by George Ludovic
Houstoun, of Johnstone, Renfrewshire, Scotland. The younger sons of the
original family migrated from their native land to the north of Ireland in the
early part of the seventeenth century and their descendants are now to be
found in the counties of Antrim, Tyrone and Londonderry. From Ireland came
the descendants of the family in Lancaster county, Pennsylvania, where settle-
ment was made between 1730 and 1735. From that branch was descended the
Houstons from Virginia and Tennessee, and the famous Sam Houston, the
first president of the republic of Texas.

Henry Howard Houston was born near Wrightsville, York county, Penn-
sylvania, October 3, 1820, and was the youngest son of Samuel Nelson Hous-
ton and the last living grandson of Dr. John Houston, of Wrightsville, who after
studying at Glasgow University in Scotland returned to his Pennsylvania home
in 1766. He later graduated from what is now the medical department of the
University of Pennsylvania, in 1769, and in 1773 he married Susanna, daughter
of John Wright, of York county, Pennsylvania. When the colonies attempted to
win independence from the mother country Dr. John Houston joined the colo-
nial army as a surgeon and with four brothers fought through the war, thus

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valiantly aiding in establishing the republic. His son, Samuel Nelson Houston,
was distinguished for his splendid physical manhood. After attending Burling-
ton College he gave his attention in early manhood to the study of materia
medica and pharmacy, but this did not repress tlie martial spirit that was
strong within him and he became an active member of Captain Shippen's Troop
of Horse in Lancaster county to take part in the war of 1812. In 1817 he mar-
ried Susan Strickler, a daughter of Colonel Jacob Strickler, and unto them were
bom five children, John James, Henry Howard, Emily Strickler, Eleanor Wright
and Martha Mifflin.

At an early age Henry Howard Houston left school and for several years
thereafter was connected with mercantile pursuits in his native town. He was
a young man of twenty years when he went to Lucinda Furnace, Clarion county,
where he spent three years in the employ of James Buchanan, afterward presi-
dent of the United States. He then joined Edmund Evans, with whom he went
to the abandoned Horse Creek Furnace, on the Allegheny river, in Venango
county, which they rebuilt and put in successful operation. Mr. Houston, in
February, 1847, entered the Philadelphia office of D. Leech & Company, the
then leading canal and railway transporters of Pennsylvania. He remained with
this company, attending to important business in its behalf in Pennsylvania
and in the cities of New York and Philadelphia until December, 1850. The
Pennsylvania Railroad had then complted its line to Hollidaysburg, and with
the state portage road which was constructed over the motmtains, and with the
state canal from Johnstown to Pittsburg, formed a through line from the east-
ern terminus of the road at Philadelphia to the Ohio river. Mr. Houston's merit
as a business man had attracted the attention of Colonel William C. Patterson,
at that time president of the Pennsylvania Railroad, and he was elected to or-
ganize the freight department of the new road. It was the right man in the
right place. There was an intense and bitter rivalry and the most vigorous
and unremitting eflforts were required to secure and maintain trade as against
competing lines. The Pennsylvania Railroad was completed to Pittsburg in 1853,
and from that time until 1865 Mr. Houston's labors were arduous and inces-
sant. He was fortunate in possessing sound health and the constant strain did
not seriously affect him. For fifteen years he managed these departments with
satisfaction to the company and credit to himself. In 1865 Mr. Houston entered
into special transportation on local and transcontinental railroads and was con-
nected in this enterprise with several gentlemen with whom he continued his
association throughout the remainder of their lives. Together they organized
the through freight lines which proved so efficient in the development of the
freight business and, incidentally, in the development of the county. They were
also engaged in lake and ocean transportation on a large scale. Mr. Houston
was successful in the early days of the oil excitement, making careful invest-
ments which resulted in handsome profits, so that he became known as a pros-
perous producer and operator in petroleum. He was a member of the board
of directors of the Pennsylvania Railroad Company, the Pittsburg, Cincinnati
& St. Louis Railroad, the Pennsylvania Company, the American Steamship
Company, the International Steamship Company, the Erie & Western Trans-
portation Company, and a number of other companies of minor importance.


Mr. Houston was married in 1856 to Miss Sallie S. Bonnell, of Philadelphia,
and six children are the issue. The first, a daughter, died in infancy. The eldest
son, Henry Howard Houston, Jr., was graduated from the University of Penn-
sylvania in the class of 1878. He made a tour of Europe, traveled up the Nile,
visited Palestine, and came to Rome by way of Turkey in Europe. He died
in that city in June, 1879, aged twenty years. It was in his memory that Mr.
and Mrs. Houston built Houston Hall at the University of Pennsylvania, which
has been so eminently successful that the plans have been copied by a number of
other educational institutions throughout the country. The third child, Eleanor
Anna, died at the age of twelve years, in January, 1875. The surviving chil-
dren are: Sallie B., the widow of Charles Wolcott Henry; Samuel Frederic;
and Gertrude, the wife of Dr. George Woodward. The family residence is at
Chestnut Hill, one of the most beautiful suburbs of Philadelphia.

Mr. Houston was a member of the St. Peter's Protestant Episcopal church
in Germantown and was rector's warden from the time of the organization of
the parish until his death. He was also instrumental in the erection of the
church of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, at St. Martins Station, Chestnut Hill. He
was a man of much force of character, quick and accurate in his estimate of
men and measures. He was of robust physique and an active man both mentally
and physically. His benevolence and charities were unostentatious but munifi-
cent. He took much interest in developing and improving the historic suburban
part of Philadelphia, including Chestnut Hill and Germantown. He was a trus-
tee of the University of Pennsylvania, one of the oldest and most popular institu-
tions of learning in the country. His principal benefaction to that institution
has already been noted. He was also a trustee of Washington and Lee Uni-
versity at Lexington, Virginia. His death occurred June 21, 1895.

The Houston family is identified with the Mifflins of Pennsylvania, whose
ancestors came over with William Penn, and who have become famous in the
political and judicial history of the Keystone state, Joseph Miffln having married
Martha Houston, an aunt of the subject of this sketch. The family is an hon-
orable one, and in Henry Howard Houston was found a worthy descendant of
his old Scotch ancestry.


The Rev. Dr. Dripps is a native Philadelphian, having been born in this city
March 19, 1844. He is of Scotch-Irish ancestry, and his parents came to this
country from the north of Ireland in 1843. His father, Mathew Dripps, was
born near Belfast; and his mother, whose maiden name was Amelia Millar, was
a native of Gracefield, Ireland. They came directly to Philadelphia, and while
here were connected with the Reformed Presbyterian church, of which Rev.
Dr. Theodore Wylie was pastor, and which was afterward merged into the
Chambers-Wylie church on Broad street. Six children were born to them in
this city, of whom two died in childhood, the others being J. Frederick, the
subject of this sketch ; Sarah Elizabeth, the wife of Woodruff Jones of Ger-


mantown ; William Charles, who is connected with John A. Gifford & Company,
of New York city; and Emma, the wife of La Verne B. Wyckoff, of Lodi, New
York. Another child was born after the family had removed to Brooklyn, New
York, Amelia, wife of Dr. Louis E. Tieste, of Brooklyn.

This removal to Brooklyn took place in 1854, and Mr. Dripps was for some
thirty years thereafter a leading map-publisher in New York city. He had
taken up this business while still in Philadelphia and his maps of various states
and cities, especially those of New York city and its environs, were among the
first to set a high standard for thoroughness and careful accuracy. One such
map of New York city below Fiftieth street, for example, has always been
accepted as valid, legal evidence of the location and exact shape of every house
and lot in that part of the city which it covers.

J. Frederick Dripps was prepared for college at the school of Benjamin W.
Dwight, who was a grandson of the first president of Yale and a most success-

Online LibraryEllis Paxson OberholtzerPhiladelphia; a history of the city and its people, a record of 225 years (Volume 4) → online text (page 26 of 62)