Ellis Paxson Oberholtzer.

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

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tories of spelter and sheet zinc in the United States. In 1876 he withdrew from
the firm of Hussey, Wells & Company and in 1884 severed his connection with
the car springs business. In 1876, however, he became president and treasurer
of the Pittsburg Forge & Iron Company and continued as its directing head
until his death. His labors thus covered a wide field and proved one of the
most forceful elements in the development and direction of the steel industry
in Pennsylvania which for many years has been one of the chief sources of
revenue and profit to the state.

In 1877 Mr. Wells purchased, in connection with others, the Philadelphia
Press, securing, however, a controlling interest which he subsequently increased.
He conducted that paper as its president until shortly before his death, and was
thus active in formulating public opinion as he had been in shaping the indus-
trial and manufacturing development of the state. He stood at all times as
the advocate of progress through republican activities and in 1884 was one of
the republican electors from Pennsylvania. In the Pennsylvania senatorial con-
test of 1899, which terminated in a deadlock, he received on several days the
complimentary vote for United States senator of the entire fifty insurgent re-
publicans.

On the 5th of July, 1854, Mr. Wells was married to Miss Annie Clyde, who
died March 13, 1859, leaving a daughter, Annie Clyde Wells. On the 13th of
September, 1861, in Allegheny City, Mr. Wells wedded Mary Chaffey Clyde,
who died May 31, 1904. They had two children: Mary Chaffey, the wife of
Chauncy M. Criggs of St. Paul, Minnesota; and Benjamin Clyde Wells of
Philadelphia. Annie and Mary Chafifey Clyde were daughters of Benjamin
Clyde, at one time a glove manufacturer of Devonshire, England, and later a
merchant of Pittsburg, Pennsylvania.

The death of Mr. Wells occurred in Pittsburg, August 2, 1909. The public
press was unanimous in its opinion concerning his worth as a factor in the pro-
motion of business enterprises and of commercial and industrial development
in Pennsylvania and in molding public opinion through the publishing of the



HISTORY OF PHILADELPHIA 425

paper which he controlled. Unlike many men of large business interests, he
felt deep concern in questions of public policy and activity, regarding business
not as the chief object of life, but only as one phase of existence. His broad
and varied interests and activities gave him a wide outlook and comprehensive
understanding of situations, which in their discussion through the press left an
indelible impress upon public thought and action.



BENJAMIN CLYDE WELLS.

A native of Pittsburg, Benjamin Clyde Wells was born November 8, 1868,
a son of Calvin and Alary (Clyde) Wells, of whom mention is made on a pre-
ceding page. His education was acquired in Phillips Academy at Andover,
Massachusetts, and in Sheffield Scientific School of Yale University, from which
he was graduated with the degree of Ph. B. in 1894. He then became asso-
ciated with the Philadelphia Press as secretary and treasurer and shortly be-
fore the death of his father he became one of the owners of the paper and was
chosen president of the company. Mr. Wells is also vice president of the
Illinois Zinc Company of Peru, Illinois, and a director of the Pittsburg Forge &
Iron Company of Pittsburg.

On the 1st of October, 1895, at Uniontown, Pennsylvania, was celebrated
the marriage of Benjamin C. Wells and Miss Louise Dewey, of Stanford, Con-
necticut. They have four children: Mary Clyde, born July 21, 1897; Calvin,
born October i, 1898; Louis Badger, born July 18, 1903; and Elizabeth Dewey,
born November 18, 1906. The family residence is at Bryn Mawr and they at-
tend the Presbyterian church there. Mr. Wells holds membership with the
Union League, the Merion Cricket Club, the Bachelors Barge Club of Phila-
delphia, the University Club of New York and also St. Anthony's Club of New
York.



J. LESLIE DAVIS, M. D.

Dr. J. Leslie Davis, a specialist in the treatment of diseases of the ear, nose
and throat, was born in Jessamine county, Kentucky, in 1872. His father, Luther
A. Davis, also a native of Kentucky, was a son of William and Martha (Rick-
etts) Davis, the latter a direct descendant of a brother of James Wilson who
was a signer of the Declaration of Independence. William Davis went to Ken-
tucky at an early day from Virginia and was one of the pioneer farmers of the
former state. Luther A. Davis also became a farmer and stock-raiser and won
substantial success as a breeder of high grade saddle horses. During the Civil
war he and his brothers were soldiers in the Eighth Kentucky Cavalry, Colonel
Cluke's regiment, under General Morgan's command. He was a Baptist in re-
ligious faith and a democrat in his political belief. He married Mary Donnohue,
a native of Clark county, Kentucky. She was a grandniece of Daniel Boone



426 HISTORY OF PHILADELPHIA

and the ancestry is traced back to Oliver Cromwell. Her father, John Donno-
hue, was a local historian of note and was also well known as a farmer and
stock-raiser. Like her husband, Mrs. Davis belongs to the Baptist church.

Dr. Davis, the third in order of birth in a family of six children, attended the
public schools of Kentucky and also Georgetown College, from which he was
graduated in the class of 1897. He entered Jefferson Medical College in 1898
and therein completed the prescribed course in 1901. He afterward became
resident physician at the German Hospital and since leaving that institution has
practiced his profession in the specialty as mentioned above. In this branch of
medical science he has been very successful, his study and research bringing
to him efficiency and skill and ranking him with the foremost representatives of
this branch of the science. In addition to his private practice, he is laryngologist
and otologist to St. Agnes Hospital, St. Mary's Hospital and the Pennsylvania
Sanitarium, and is demonstrator of head and neck anatomy in the Jefferson Med-
ical College. He belongs to the Phi Alpha Sigma medical fraternity.

Dr. Davis is a member of the American Medical Association, the American
Academy of Ophthalmology and Otolaryngology, the Philadelphia County Medi-
cal Society and the Medical Club of Philadelphia. He is also a member of the
Art Club of Philadelphia, the Southern Club and the ]\Ierion Cricket Club.



SAMUEL DISSTON.



Without special advantages at the outset of his career, Samuel Disston rose
to prominence in the industrial world and was equally widely known in financial
circles. Merit and ability made him a member of the famous firm of Henry
Disston & Sons Iron & Steel Works Company, and his success in that connection
enabled him to extend his efforts into various other fields where important indus-
trial and financial interests were managed. His life work was eminently suc-
cessful and he did much to shape the business history of Philadelphia.

Mr. Disston was a native of Nottingham, England, born in 1839. His
father, William Disston, also of Nottingham, came to the United States with his
family when his son Samuel was a small boy. The latter acquired his educa-
tion in the city schools, but the necessity of providing for his own support
prompted him to start out in life when comparatively a young lad. He sought
and obtained the situation of office boy with the Henry Disston Company and
at the outset of his career seemed fully cognizant of the fact that industry,
energy and integrity are the salient features in the attainment of advancement
and success. Gradually he worked his way upward, his identification with that
business covering a period of fifty-eight years. Long before the close of that
period he was active in administrative direction and executive control of the
business, and his judgment and energies constituted important factors in the
growing success of the concern.

He also became a factor in other business lines. He was secretary, general
manager and one of the directors of the firm of Henry Disston & Sons, saw man-
ufacturers ; secretary, general manager and director of Henry Disston & Sons




SAMUEL UI8STUX



HISTORY OF PHILADELPHIA 429

File Company; secretary, general manager and director of the Henry Disston &
Sons Iron & Steel Works Company; a director of the Eighth National Bank; a
director of the Northern Trust Company; and a member of the board of wardens
for the port of Philadelphia. The firm with which Mr. Disston was so long con-
nected is one of the most important industrial concerns of Philadelphia and the
Disston saws and files constitute an important element in the export trade of the
country, while the sales in America are very' extensive.

On the 29th of April, 1874, Mr. Disston was united in marriage to Miss Jen-
nie Cherry, of Philadelphia, a daughter of James Cherry, an early resident of
this city. Seven children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Disston of whom four are
yet living, Henry C, Jeannette, ,Samuel Horace and Edna.

In the membership of the Presbyterian chiu"ch Mr. Disston was well known
and he also held membership relations with the Union League and the Country
Clubs. Throughout his life he wa$.a student of men, of events and of literature.
He thus became an unusually well informed man. His reading was particularly
broad, bringing him into contact with the master minds of all ages, and he had
in notable measure the power of assimilating and making his own that which
he read. Life for him had a purpose. He felt that each man had a work to do
in the world and recognized his obligation to his fellowmen. In every relation
of life he measured up to the highest standard and was regarded by all who
knew him as a dependable man upon all occasions and under all circumstances.
The word failure had no part in his vocabulary, not so much because he wished
the result but because he felt that certain things were to be done and he was the
man upon whom devolved the responsibility of their accomplishment. Success
always crowns the efforts of such an individual and Mr. Disston's record is no
exception to the rule.



EDWARD HORNOR COATES.

In the public movements which are of philanthropic, educative, scientific and
esthetic value, Philadelphia has always taken a leading part. With many of
her citizens Edward Hornor Coates has cooperated to secure successful and
lasting results. Thomas Coates, the first of his name in ^America, coming from
Leicester, England, and following the founder of Pennsylvania, settled here in
1683. His daughters married into the Paschall, Shoemaker, Morris and Reynell
families, and his son, Samuel, w-edded Mary Langdale. John Reynell was, with
Dr. Thomas Bond and Benjamin Franklin, a founder and for twenty-three years
president of the Pennsylvania Hospital, while his nephew, Samuel Coates, sec-
ond, later served that institution as treasurer and president for forty years.
The latter acted for thirty-seven years as treasurer of The Library Company of
Philadelphia and in 1800 was elected a director of the first Bank of the United
States.

Born November 12, 1846, Edward Hornor Coates is a son of Joseph P.
Hornor and Elisa (Henri) Coates. Educated at the Episcopal Academy and
completing a classical course, he was graduated from Haverford College in



430 HISTORY OF PHILADELPHIA

1864. Entering the house of Gardner Brewer & Company as a clerk, he became
in 1868 a member of the firm of Claghorn, Herring & Company, and later of
the firm of Edward H. Coates & Company, retiring from active business in 1888.

Interested in art and literature, he was in 1878 elected a director, and after-
ward treasurer and chairman of committee on instruction, and in 1890 was
chosen president of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, holding the
office for sixteen years and resigning in 1906. In 1883 he was chairman of the
Commission of the University of Pennsylvania for the Investigation of Animal
Locomotion ; and is interested in other lines of investigation and study. He was
president of the Gilbert Stuart Memorial Association in 1890 and of the Trans-
atlantic Society in 1900. He is a manager of the Pennsylvania Hospital and
the Pennsylvania Hospital for the Insane ; vice president of the Insurance Cor-
poration for the Relief of Widows and Orphans of Clergymen of the Episcopal
Church in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania ; a director of the Pennsylvania
Company for Insurances on Lives and Granting Annuities, the first life in-
surance and trust company incorporated in the United States ; a director of the
Insurance Company of North America; and a manager of the Philadelphia
Saving Fund Society. He was one of the founders of the Rittenhouse Club
(1875) and of the Contemporary Club of Philadelphia (1886) and an incorpora-
tor of The American Academy in Rome (1905).

On January 7, 1879, ^^- Coates married Florence Earle, writer, musician
and poet.



MORRIS WENGER.



To say of him whose name heads this review that he has risen from a com-
paratively humble position to rank with the leading merchants of Philadelphia
would seem trite to those familiar with his history, yet it is but just to say in a
volume that will descend to future generations that his record is such as any man
might be proud to possess, for his recognition and utilization of opportunity have
brought him to an enviable place in commercial circles, wherein he commands the
confidence, good-will and respect of colleagues and contemporaries. He is now
conducting an extensive and growing business as a ladies' tailor and furrier, the
establishment having had its inception on the ist of September, 1903, at 1629
Chestnut street.

Mr. Wenger was a young man of twenty-eight years when he began business
here on his own account. He was born February 16, 1875, in Lachovitz, Russia,
although the family came originally from Bavaria, Germany. His father,
Nathan Wenger, was at the time of the son's birth one of the most
successful fur merchants of northern Europe, buying skins direct from the
trappers and selling to dealers all over the world. The business had been
established by his grandfather, Morris Wenger, Sr., in Bavaria, Germany, so
that Morris Wenger of this review is of the third generation to continue in
the same line. His father's big warerooms had deep fascination for the boy and
Nathan Wenger had hopes that his son, Morris, would carry on the business es-




ILOKKIH WENCIKU



:ii



. - !



HISTORY OF PHILADELrHIA 431

tablislied by liis father to the third generation, but through an unfortunate specu-
lative venture in railroad development Nathan Wenger, who was eager to aid
friends in what he was led to believe a most important and promising enterprise,
sustained heavy losses and eventually had to give up bis fur business. This was
a blow from which he never recovered and he died at the age of fifty-five years,
leaving his widow and several children in straitened circumstances.

The educational advantages of Morris Wenger were somewhat limited owing
to the necessity of providing early for his own support. Upon his father's death
he apprenticed himself to a leading Parisian ladies' tailor and furrier and after
several years of close application to the business became a master in those lines.
The years in which he had played as a boy in his father's warehouse, asking in-
numerable questions about the furs and the animals from which they were taken
and, in imagination, making sales to patrons, proved an excellent initial experi-
ence for the business in which he was destined to engage. He was unconsciously
absorbing an intensely practical knowledge of pelts and skins, as well as of the
methods of curing and dyeing furs of all kinds. During his apprenticeship to the
tailor's trade his work showed marked superiority, especially in accentuating the
perfections and concealing the defects in a woman's figure. Mr. Wenger was
employed in various notable European establishments for a period of ten years,
during which time his skill was frequently employetl by the royalty. In the
meantime he was drafted for military service and was on duty in connection
with the Russian Fort Artillery.

Being displeased with conditions in the old world, he decided to come to the
United States and sailed for New York in 1897. From the metropolis he made
his way to Philadelphia, where he soon secured employment as a foreman in
one of the leading ladies' tailoring establishments, and, after acquainting himself
with the English language, became cutter and fitter in the same shop. Three or
four years' service in that connection brought him an understanding of Ameri-
can business methods and with the capital he had managed to save from his
earnings he began business on his own account at No. 1629 Chestnut street in
the early fall of 1903. The excellence of his workmanship and his earnest ef-
forts to please his patrons soon brought him a substantial patronage and the
growth of his business necessitated removal to larger quarters, which were se-
cured on Walnut street. About this time he decided to extend the scope of his
business by adding a fur department and deal extensively in furs, having pre-
viously made fur garments of every description for many customers. He has
kept a watchful eye on general fur market conditions for many years, making his
purchases most carefully. He is an expert judge of skins and furs and goes
each year to Europe to make purchases. He has won a most enviable reputation
as a maker of tailored gowns and of fine fur garments and also as a dealer in
furs. He has always been an e.xceptionally hard worker and the minutest details
of both branches of his business receive painstaking individual attention. Origi-
nality in design and lines is a feature in the construction of gowns and wraps,
and he has evolved many clever ideas, entirely new. The main idea of this
rapidly growing business has been an earnest endeavor to give each woman the
very richest modes, always considering the exclusive becomingness adaptable in
each instance. His business continued to grow and as his Walnut street quarters



432 HISTORY OF PHILADELPHIA

were inadequate he decided to erect a business house, which was done at No. 1229
Walnut street. Here he has a splendidly equipped establishment, every attention
being paid to the comfort of patrons and employes as well as to the care of the
stock. There is a large storage room for furs which their owners may wish to
have protected from moths, fire or burglars, and the "House of Wenger" is to-
day one of the leading establishments not only of Philadelphia but of the east.

The beautiful coat of arms long used as a dignified trademark has been a
source of comment. It has been in possession of the Wenger family for many
generations, having been granted about the year 1220 for notable bravery in war
and diplomatic cleverness in peace and is of German origin. Many facts relating
thereto have been dimmed by the passage of time though not a little relative to
the coat of arms of the family history is on file in the rooms of the Pennsylvania
Historical Society.

Mr. Wenger belongs to Equity Lodge, No. 591, A. F. & A. M., and Keystone
Chapter, No. 175, R. A. M. He is also a member of Joshua Lodge, Order B. B.
and gives his political allegiance to the republican party. Always
interested in promoting trade and business conditions, he is a member of the
Walnut Street Business Association and of the Philadelphia Chamber of Com-
merce. He is a notable example of success achieved in spite of difficulties and
obstacles, and his life history may well serve as a source of inspiration and en-
couragement to others.



FRANCIS TAYLOR CHAMBERS.

Francis T. Chambers, attorney at law, confining his practice to the federal
courts, was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, March 3, 1855, and is a son of Francis T.
and Elizabeth Lea (Febiger) Chambers. His ancestors came from England to
this country in 1644 and settled in Virginia. His grandfather was at one time
governor of Iowa.

Francis T. Chambers received his primarj' education at West Chester Acad-
emy at West Chester, Pennsylvania. A Yale man, he was graduated with the
Bachelor of Science degree in 1875 and won his professional degree on the com-
pletion of the law course in the University of Pennsylvania. He also read law
under the direction of William Henry Rawle and following his admission to
the bar in 1877 was associated with the late George Harding for ten years, or
until 1887, in the practice of patent law. He now practices in the federal courts
throughout the countrj', making a specialty of patent law, in which field he has
gained national distinction, being connected with many of the important liti-
gated interests which have involved the ownership of patents and had to do
with the disposal of large sums of money. Among the well known cases with
which he has been associated those of Tilghman versus Proctor & Gamble, Car-
negie Company versus the Cambria Steel Company, and the Paper Bag Machine
Case are especially notable. His investigations, research and experience along
these lines have been so broad and so thorough as to render him largely an au-
thority upon the subject of patent litigation. A member of the legal fraternity




FRANCIS T. CHAMBERS



HISTORY OF PHILADELPHIA 435

said of him that he possessed in a marked degree those quahfications that make
a lawyer rise above the ordinary and that he lias well won the name and fame
which are his. His commercial interests extend to the Soutlnvark Foundry &
Machine Company, of which he is a director.

On the 20th of June, 1890, Mr. Chambers was married to Miss Nanette
Schuyler Bolton of West Chester, Pennsylvania, and they have three children :
Katherine Schuyler, Christine Febiger and Francis Taylor Chambers.

Mr. Chambers holds membership with the more important clubs and social
organizations of Philadelphia, including the Rittenhouse, Penn, Racquet, Auto-
mobile, City and Philadelphia Country Clubs. He belongs also to the Episcopal
church and gives his political allegiance to the progressive republican party. A
gentleman of quiet dignity and courteous manner, his worth at once impresses
itself upon those whom he meets. A man of quick discernment and a faculty
for separation of the important features of any subject from its incidental and
accidental circumstances, he has thus been able to discriminate between the essen-
tial and the non-essential not only in the field of law, but also in the solution of
intricate and involved sociological and economic questions.



MAJOR MOSES VEALE.

In a history of those to wdiom life has meant more than just the struggle for
the attainment of success, whose generous spirit and benevolent nature have
sought expression in good deeds and cooperation in organized effort for the
public good. Major Moses Veale deserves prominent mention. His title, too,
was won by active, zealous and valiant service in the Civil war, and when
hostilities were over his life was largely given to the benefit of his fellowmen.

The tw-o families from which he is descended in the paternal and maternal
lines, the Veales and the Sharpes, were of English origin. The Veales were
well placed at Idyslegh, in North Devon, England, in Queen Elizabeth's time,
the Rev. Walter Veale being rector there more than three hundred years ago.
In the same century in the year 1639, the American progenitor of our subject
came to the new world and settled in Massachusetts. One of the New England
branch of the family was captain of a company of Green Mountain Boys at the
battle of Bennington. Long before this the great-great-great-grandfather of
Major Veale, a resident of Salem, Massachusetts, had purchased a large tract of
land near Bridgeton, New Jersey. The house erected there two hundred years
ago is still standing and is now owned by Henry Veale. Several members of the
family from New Jersey were soldiers of the Revolutionary war. Captain
Moses Veale, the father of Major Veale, was made one of the first prisoners of
war of the Rebellion and Major Veale's younger brother, Delancy Sharpe Veale,
fell at the battle of Gettysburg. The emigrant ancestor of the Sharpe family
lived at Salem, New Jersey, in 1675. He was appointed by the King of Eng-
land judge of the district of Suffolk, New Jersey. One of his descendants was
Delancy Sharpe. who belonged to the first American navy and was one of the
heroes of the Revolutionary war and the war of 1812.

Vol IV— 2 1



436 HISTORY OF PHILADELPHIA

Major Moses Veale was born at Bridgeton, New Jersey, November 9,
1832, and spent his boyhood in Philadelphia. After completing his education in



Online LibraryEllis Paxson OberholtzerPhiladelphia; a history of the city and its people, a record of 225 years (Volume 4) → online text (page 43 of 62)