Ellis Paxson Oberholtzer.

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

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American Railways Company, The American Gas Company, and other corpora-
tions, Mr. Bioren being a member of some ten boards of direction, including
both of those above named. He is likewise financially interested in other im-
portant business enterprises, including the Delaware Fire Insurance Company
and the Merchants Union Trust Company, of both of which companies he is
the president.

Mr. Bioren was married in 1909 to Miss Maria T. B. Lansdale, a daughter
of W. Moylan Lansdale, Esq., of this city, and the winter months are passed
in Philadelphia, while the remainder of the year is largely spent at their home
at Riverton, New Jersey, save for periods of travel, which at different times
have taken Mr. Bioren to Europe so that he is now quite familiar with conti-
nental and insular Europe. He is a notable equestrian, and has made long jour-
neys on horseback on gunning trips, such constituting for him a dual pleasure
because of his love of riding and of the chase. Tennis and golf are likewise
outdoor recreations in which he is much interested. He is president of the
Riverton Country Club and a member of the City Club and the Racquet Club
of Philadelphia. The social interests of his life constitute an even balance to
his manifold business interests, producing a well rounded development that,
makes him the more forceful and resourceful in business because of his activi-
ties in social and recreative lines.


Ruby R. Vale, whose activity has not been confined to the work of counselor
and advocate but has compassed such authorship and compilation as has con-
stituted the standard for legal opinion in many instances, is a practicing attorney
at the Philadelphia bar. He was bom in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, on the 19th of
October, 1874, a son of Joseph Griffith and Sarah (Eyster) Vale. The father,
distinguished attorney, author and orator, was a native of Menallen Meeting
House, York county, Pennsylvania, and died in 1902 at the age of sixty-five
years. He came of Quaker ancestry and was a graduate of Whitehall Academy.
He read law in Harrisburg and after his admission to the bar entered upon act-
ive practice, remaining a representative of the profession in Cumberland county
for thirty years. He was very successful in practice, was the author of several
volumes describing the Army of the Cumberland during the Civil war and also
of a dramatic work. An orator of superior ability, he delivered the dedicatory
address at the unveiling of the monument to Mollie Pitcher at Carlisle, Pennsyl-
vania, and also delivered the state oration at the dedication of the Chickamauga
battlefield when it was converted into a national cemetery. He had also been
appointed by President Harrison as one of the members of the battlefield as-
sociation. He served in fifty-two engagements in the Civil war as a member of




the Seventh Pennsylvania Cavalry, entering the army as first lieutenant, while
later he became captain of Company K and afterward was inspector on the staff
of General Minty. He was wounded three times, was captured in upper Georgia
and was imprisoned at inorence. South Carolina. During the Spanish-Ameri-
can war he raised a regiment in the Cumberland and Schuylkill valleys of Penn-
sylvania. On the organization of the republican party he became one of its
stanch advocates, while later he was identified with the greenback party and was
its candidate for the vice presidency and also for congress. Later he returned
to the ranks of the republican party. His vwfe died in Cumberland county,
Pennsylvania, in 1892, at the age of fifty years. She was a member of the
Lutheran church, was of French Huguenot lineage and was a representative of
the Ruby family whose name figured prominently on the pages of Revolutionary
war history.

Ruby Ross Vale, the youngest son in a family of six children, attended the
Carlisle public schools, the Dickinson preparatory school at Carlisle, from which
he was graduated with the class of 1892, and Dickinson College, from which he
was graduated as Bachelor of Philosophy in 1896, while in 1899 that institution
conferred upon him the honorary degree of Master of Arts. In 1899 he com-
pleted his course in the Dickinson College of Law and won the LL. B. degree.
In 1910 the degree of Doctor of Law was conferred upon him, he being the
youngest man to whom this degree has been given. He comes of a family of
lawyers, his grandfather, father, uncle, brother and several other relatives in
both the paternal and maternal lines having been representatives of the bar. He
read law under the direction of his father, also with Hon. F. E. Beltzhoover, of
Carlisle, and his uncle. Judge Josiah M. Vale, of Washington, D. C. Following
his graduation from the law college he entered upon active practice in Philadel-
phia, where he has remained to the present time, giving his attention to civil law
with corporation law as his specialty. He manifests quick discernment and the
faculty of separation of the important features of any subject from its incidental
or accidental circumstances, and his mind, naturally logical and inductive in its
trend, has in its development brought him to a position of distinction as a rep-
resentative of the Philadelphia bar.

Mr. Vale was married in Milford, Delaware, in 1901, to Miss Maria Eliza-
beth Williams, a daughter of Robert H. Williams, one of the leading business
men and bankers of that place, and the granddaughter of Peter F. Causey, a
former governor of Delaware. Mr. and Mrs. Vale have two children, Maria
Elizabeth and Grace.

Mr, Vale is a member of the Phi Kappa Psi and Theta Nu Upsilon, two col-
lege fraternities. He is also connected with the Masonic lodge at Milford, Dela-
ware, belongs to the Law Association and the Law Academy of Philadelphia and
to the Pennsylvania Bar Association. He likewise holds membership in the
Academy of Political and Social Science, is a member of the Belle-Lettres Lit-
erary Society and in more strictly social lines is connected with the Racquet
Club of Philadelphia and the Athletic Club. His political allegiance is given to
the republican party, and he is interested in those subjects which concern the sci-
ence of government and the laws governing the nation but is little concerned with
local politics.


Known in Philadelphia as one of the prominent attorneys of the city, Mr.
Vale's name has become familiar to the profession at large as the author of
Elementary Principles of Pennsylvania Law, a two-volume work published in
1901, while a second editon was brought forth in 1902. In the latter year he in-
dexed and arranged the Pennsylvania Law of Negotiable Instruments and was
annotator of Rules of the Superior Court of Pennsylvania; in 1903 was com-
piler of Vale's Supplement to Brightly's Digest of Pennsylvania Decisions; and
in 1907 compiler of Vale's Digest of Pennsylvania's Decisions in ten volumes.
The consensus of public opinion accords him position in the front rank of Phil-
adelphia's attorneys and the Pennsylvania court reports give proof of his superior
ability .


While Ellis Yarnall took his place in the world as a man of aflfairs and dis-
played marked capability in controlling important and extensive business inter-
ests, his real life work, that which touched closest his nature and wrought for the
development of the talents with which nature endowed him, was in the field of
literature. The men and master minds of all ages became his friends and com-
panions and he was never happier than when his thought was kindled by those
unquenchable fires that illuminate the pages of the greatest writers of past and
present. Philadelphia numbered him among her most scholarly men, and his
lofty character and unusually interesting career have been perhaps best portrayed
in the words of Walter George Smith, in writing for the Alumni Register of the
University of Pennsylvania. He said : "Ellis Yarnall was born in Philadelphia
on June 25, 181 7, and died in the same city on September 19, 1905. His life,
therefore, exceeded by almost a generation the scriptural period allotted to man-
kind. His ancestry was of old English families, his father and mother being mem-
bers of the Society of Friends. He was, therefore, educated in that faith, and
although his religious convictions led him in early manhood to enter the Episco-
pal church, he retained through life a great respect for the society whose
philosophy left strong marks upon his character.

"In a fragment of autobiography found among his papers, Mr. Yarnall says :
'My grandfather, Ellis Yarnall, was born in 1757. His grandfather, Philip, came
over about 1684 with his brother Francis, from Claines, Worcestershire, as a
part of the Penn colony of immigrants. Both brothers were Friends. My
grandfather was of devout life from his earliest years ; his brother, Eli Yar-
nall, was a minister in the Society and was held in reverent regard always. I
recall as a boy, the some thing almost of emotion, with which his name was men-
tioned by the elders of my family. My grandfather seemed to me, from my
earliest knowledge of him, in such absolute fellowship with the Society of Friends
that there was little room in his mind for the presentation of belief by any other
religious body. I bethought me of the Dominicans and Franciscans as I looked
at his bowed head and noted the gravity of his demeanor. * * * Qn my
mother's side my descent is from Peter Folger, spoken of by Cotton Mather as


a godly and learned Englishman. lie was the grandfather of Franklin. Frank-
lin's mother was the sister of my ancestor, Abiah Folger.' The mother of Mr.
Yarnall was a daughter of Thomas Coffin, 'a seafaring man of the Island of Nan-
tucket,' who died in Philadelphia at the age of forty years, after an adventurous
life. Another of his daughters was Lucretia Mott, so well known for her part in
the cause of anti-slavery.

"Speaking of his change of faith, Mr. Yarnall writes, 'For one hundred and
fifty years Philadelphia had been the stronghold of this religious body. In the
earliest years the Quakers had great influence here; the population of the city
was in 1825 perhaps one-eighth what it is now, but the nominal Friends now are
about the same in number as they were then. The Quaker costume was seen
everywhere on the streets, and at the yearly meeting in April both sides of Arch
street were white with the shawls of the women and black with the broad brims
of the men. All this has changed, and the Quaker costume is rapidly disappear-
ing. In my own case the love of books, which came to me very early, brougnt
me face to face with the church of England, landing me in the Episcopal
church, my elder brother preceding me. No doubt the great schism in the So-
ciety of Friends in 1826 weakened the attachment of both my father and mother
to the Society. For two hundred years my Yarnall ancestors were, as I have
said. Friends.'

"Mr. Yarnall's early education was derived from the training received at the
Latin School of Thomas Dugdale, an academy of the Friends, and afterwards
at the school of Sears C. Wakler, a graduate of Harvard and a noted mathe-
matician. Subsequently he attended the academy of Mr. Crawford, at that time
perhaps the best preparatory school in Philadelphia. At an early life he began
his business training in the firm of E. & C. Yarnall, while his brother, the Rev.
Thomas C. Yarnall, D. D., who had been his schoolmate, pursued a collegiate
course at Yale. He was fortunate in having formed at an early age a taste for
the best among the master writers of English literature, and by constant study
and an unusually retentive memory his mind was enriched until he became a ripe
scholar. His unusually strong physical constitution enabled him to bear great
fatigue, and until his last illness, which was of a very few hours' duration, he
never lost his health and buoyancy of spirit. Notwithstanding his venerable years
his alert bearing and keen interest in affairs remained with him until the end,
making him a delightful and instructive companion, able and willing at all times
to learn or to teach, to associate with the learned and the unlearned, the gentle
and the simple with an easy charm of manner that made him the friend of all
who could appreciate his fine enthusiastic temper and deeply reverential belief
in all that was pure and noble.

"Mr. Yarnall was so fortunate in his young manhood, largely through his
friendship with Professor Reed, as to make acquaintance in England with
Wordsworth, with the Rev. Derwent Coleridge, a son of the great poet, the
Arnolds, the Forsters, and others whose names have become fixed in the galaxy
of men and women who made the best elements of the brilliant and intellectual
society that moulded literary, and to some extent, political thought during the
greater part of the last century. Again and again he revisited England, was a
guest at Rydal Mount and at Fox How, breakfasted with Rogers in London,


and met on terms of intimacy and mutual confidence on each recurring visit the
friends whom he had won by his own most attractive gifts of nature and culti-
vation. His love for all things English became almost a passion. He followed
the great debates in Parliament both on questions of domestic and of foreign
concern with an interest as keen and an enthusiasm as earnest as if he were
himself an Englishman. But his love for England in no way detracted from
his ardent patriotism and affection for his own country. For many years, cov-
ering especially the period of the Civil war, he was the American correspondent
of the Guardian, the leading church paper of England. He had to combat the
widely prevalent sympathy, based partly on a jealous apprehension of the spread
of democratic ideas, and partly upon ignorance of American conditions, of the
upper classes in favor of the seceding states, and he did so with a courage and
perspicuous knowledge that had its effect.

"The Union cause owes more of its success, so far as that success was de-
pendent upon the avoidance of foreign interference in behalf of the southern
Confederacy, to the intelligent and unselfish efforts of private citizens such as
Mr. Yarnall, than we can realize. At the crisis precipitated by the ill-judged
action of Captain Wilkes, of the United States Navy, in taking from the British
steamship 'Trent' the Confederate ministers. Mason and Slidell, war seemed
all but certain between the two nations, and subsequently the bad faith of the
British ministry in permitting the departure of the Alabama to prey on Ameri-
can commerce irritated our countrymen to the point of exasperation. With
such difficult and delicate subjects as these Mr. Yarnall, by reason of his wide
influence upon public men in England and the United States, was able to deal
in a spirit of firmness and of tolerance that had an unmeasured but undoubtedly
excellent influence in bringing about a complete and satisfactory understanding.
Without any of the prestige that comes from official position, his calm and
earnest patriotism joined with an abiding love for all that was great and good
among English-speaking people, won him a respectful hearing whether from the
anxious sad-eyed President Lincoln, or from some powerful member of the
British cabinet. During the war he joined in the foundation of the Union
League, an organization of powerful efficiency in sustaining the patriotic efforts
of the citizens of that city to maintain the endangered Union.

"Mr. Yarnall differed from the purely academic student. He loved litera-
ture and he venerated the great writers, because of his profound appreciation of
their messages to mankind. But with all his love of literature and the exceed-
ing charm of association with the intellectually great, he was none the less him-
self a man of action. He constantly engaged in manufacturing or mercantile
pursuits during almost his entire life, and when at leisure mingled in the society
of accomplished men and women. Still, his chief satisfaction and pleasure,
aside from the happiness he derived from his family and his friends, was in
literature. Except his letters to the Guardian, and his as yet unpublished cor-
respondence, he has left but one volume of his own writings. This work, pub-
lished in 1899 under the title of 'Wordsworth and the Coleridges,' is a most
interesting and vivid series of recollections, not only of those eminent men,
but of many others, men and women who fill great places in the modern history
of England and English literature. Written without the least appearance of


effort and with the evidently earnest desire to make hetter known tlie cliarac-
ters that had won his admiration, this book is an unconscious revelation of his
own inner nature.

"His life had its trials and sorrows, but nowhere in this delightful book does
there appear a shadow of discontent or complaint. A spirit of reverent faith in
the goodness of God, an undoubting confidence in the truth of the principles
upon which he had settled his mind, profound respect for conservative opinion,
united in giving to all his views a certain stability not easy to shake, but his
fine sense of humor and perfect gentleness won him an affectionate regard even
from those whose opinions differed widely from his, on subjects as deep and
far-reaching as those of religion or politics. If he had been less gifted than
he was he would still have been a most interesting personality, by reason of the
great range of his personal observations. As he tells us in the opening chapter
of his book, he could remember distinctly the triumphal visit of Lafayette in
1824, and three years later the news of the battle of Navarino. All the vicissi-
tudes of political and business life covering a period of upwards of seventy-five
years, had passed under his critical observation, and never during all this long
life did he lose his unhesitating belief in the goodness of God and his hopes for
the constant betterment of humanity. He had imbibed from long study and re-
flection that spirit of calm reliance upon the overruling wisdom of God that
distinguishes the writings of Wordsworth and felt profoundly the privilege of
having known him and so many of those whose minds had been influenced by
his teachings. Six months before the death of Wordsworth he had spent some
hours with him at Rydal Mount, and in his recollections of this visit he has left
us a vivid description of his appearance and conversation.

"In a passage of this admirable chapter he tells us in words that arrested the
attention of James Russell Lowell, 'It seemed almost as if he was awed by the
greatness of his own power, the gifts with which he had been endowed.' With
a similar impression derived not from personal association but from the reading
of his poems, Lowell says to the same effect : 'The fact that what is precious in
Wordsworth's poetry was a gift rather than an achievement, should always be
borne in mind in taking the measure of his power,' and he adds, 'Wordsworth's
better utterances have the bare sincerity, the absolute abstraction from time and
place, the immunity from decay, that belong to the grand simplicities of the
Bible. They seem not more his own than ours and every man's, the word of
the unalterable mind.' These observations are quoted by Mr. Yarnall and am-
plify his own impressive description. Well may he have felt as he tells us that
it was 'a solemn time,' 'indeed a crowning happiness to stand * * * by his
side on that bright summer day, and listen to his voice.' He tells us 'I thought
of his long life; that he was one who had felt himself from early youth a dedi-
cated spirit —

"Singled out
For holy services."
One who had listened to the teachings of nature and communed with his own
heart in the seclusion of these beautiful vales and mountains until his thoughts
were ready to be uttered for the good of his fellowmen. And there had come
back to him in all the later years of his life offerings of love and gratitude and


admiration from perhaps as great a multitude as had ever before paid their
homage to a Hving writer.'

"The impression made upon Mr. Yarnah's mind by his association with Mrs.
Wordsworth was also very deep. In words of touching simplicity he speaks
of sitting by her side in church on her eighty-eighth birthday — 'Her meek coun-
tenance, her reverent look, I saw once more — the face of one to whom the angels
seemed already ministering,' and then when parting from her house he adds, T
received, if I may so say, Mrs. Wordsworth's final blessing, and went my way
thankful it had been given me to draw near to one so pure, to a nature so nobly
simple. Not only her children, but all who have come in contact with her will
rise up to call her blessed. Surely thrice blessed was the poet with such a wife.'
"The power exercised by Wordsworth over those who knew him was singu-
larly strong and must have been something distinct from his poetry, deep, truth-
ful and impressive as that poetry is. Ellis Yarnall was probably the last sur-
vivor of his American friends, as Aubrey de Vere was of his own countrymen.
Until the very last years of his life, when the infirmities of age compelled him
to forego his custom, Aubrey de Vere made an annual pilgrimage to Words-
worth's grave and said his 'De Profundis' for his friend, and again and yet
again Mr. Yarnall went also to that sacred spot 'which,' he says, 'as I believe,
many generations will visit, and whence a voice, we may hope, will ever speak
to men of the beauty of this fair earth and the higher glory of which it is the

"Similarity of tastes and a common admiration for the great poet of the
Lakes naturally led to the formation of friendships with members of the Words-
worth, Coleridge and other English families that were an unceasing satisfaction
to Mr. Yarnall, and as a result he made many visits to their homes and carried
on a most interesting correspondence with them. As Aubrey de Vere has said
of him (he knew him only from his book and in a brief correspondence shortly
before his death), he must himself have been a remarkable man to have won and
maintained the friendship of such men and women. It is to be hoped that his
correspondence with John Duke Coleridge, afterwards Lord Coleridge, and
Chief Justice of England, may some day be given to the public. Beginning in
1856 and continuing until the death of Lord Coleridge in 1894, it presents a
record of a noble and high-minded interchange of thought between two accom-
plished men, almost without a parallel in modern literature. Public events, art,
literature, the conduct of life, religion and philosophy all find appropriate con-
sideration in these letters, written on the one side in the stress and hurry of
professional work or under the strain of lofty and official responsibility, and on
the other sometimes from the quiet fireside and at others amidst the anxieties
of business life. They always breathe a spirit of noble and earnest purpose that
is an inspiration to the reader.

"Mr. Yarnall married an English woman, Margaret Anne Harrison, daughter
of Daniel Harrison, Esq., of Shirley House, Beckenham, Kent, and found in
her companionship and the education of their children an ideal happiness. Her
death occurred some years before his own, and she has left a memory with
those who knew her, showing how great were her gifts of mind and heart.


"During thu latter years of his life Mr. Yarnall resided in a delightful home
at Haverford, on the grounds of Haverford College. It was well named "Alay
Place' for it possesses a sunny, cheerful atmosphere both within and without.
The noble trees and long green sward of the college campus give a thoroughly
English air to tlie landscape, heightened by the background of the college build-
ings. Here surrounded by his books and in the congenial society of his family
the sunset of his life passed peacefully. Until late in life he was a graceful
skater, and he refers in one of his letters to Lord Coleridge of his enjoyment of
this sport on the Schuylkill river with his children. As he grew older he found
pleasure in long walks, and until the day of his death his active figure was well
known on the streets of the city. Although he had seen almost all of the friends
of his youth and manhood pass away before him, he lost none of his interest in
the aflfairs of the world ; but drawing closer to the few of his generation who

Online LibraryEllis Paxson OberholtzerPhiladelphia; a history of the city and its people, a record of 225 years (Volume 4) → online text (page 36 of 62)