Ellis Paxson Oberholtzer.

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

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worked his way steadily upward from a humble and obscure position to one of
large responsibility and importance.


On the 28th of July, 1899, in Los Angeles, California, Mr. Whitehouse was
united in marriage to a Miss Smith, who now presides with gracious hospitality
over their attractive home at No. 10 South Fifty-second streeet. In his politi-
cal views Mr. Whitehouse is a republican, believing that the principles of that
party are most conducive to good government.


Admitted to the bar in the closing days of 1873, Mr. Sayres is now specializ-
ing in his practice in real-estate, conveyancing and mercantile law and in that
branch of jurisprudence relating to the orphans' court. He was born in Phila-
delphia, July 30, 1850. Plis ancestral record is one of close connection with the
colonial history of the country. His great-grandfathers, Captain Matthias Sayres
and Samuel Humes, were soldiers of the Revolutionary war. His grandfather,
Dr. Caleb Smith Sayres, a well known physician of Delaware county, Pennsyl-
vania, served as a surgeon of the Eighth Battalion of Pennsylvania Militia. He
likewise filled the office of justice of the peace for a number of years when the
office was one of dignity and importance. Edward Smith Sayres, the father of
Edward Stalker Sayres and well known for an extended period as a leading mer-
chant of Philadelphia, was connected with government service as honorary consul
to Brazil, vice consul to Sweden and Norway, vice consul to Denmark and vice
consul to Portugal and at the time of his death was dean of the consular corps
of Philadelphia. He married Jane Humes, a daughter of John Humes, a mer-
chant of Philadelphia and register of wills in this city from 1830 until 1836.

Edward Stalker Sayres in pursuit of his education attended successively
the Friends private school of Philadelphia, a private classical academy conducted
by Eliphalet Roberts and the Friends Central high school at the corner of Fif-
teenth and Race streets. Predisposed to the profession of law from an early
age, he began reading under the direction of John Hill Martin and, passing the
required examination, he was admitted to the bar on the 27th of December, 1873,
also to the supreme court of Pennsylvania and the court of claims of Washing-
ton. His practice is confined to the orphans' court, to real-estate conveyancing
and mercantile law.

Mr. Sayres is an honorary member of the Law Academy of Philadelphia, of
which at one time he was recorder, belongs to the Law Association of Philadel-
phia and is a member of the council of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania.
In more strictly social lines he is known as one of the founders and the secretary
of the Merion Cricket Club, which was organized in 1865. He is a member of
the Rittenhouse Club, Radnor Hunt and Bryn Mawr Polo Clubs.

In the field of business organization where militant force is needed to estab-
lish and place upon a successful and substantial basis financial interests of
breadth and importance, Mr. Sayres is frequently seen at his desk. He was in-
terested in the formation of the Land Title & Trust Company and for a brief
period was its secretary. He is a director and counsel for the Delaware In-
surance Company of Philadelphia, was vice president of the Merchants Trust
Company and is now a director of the Merchants Union Trust Company and a




life member and one of the council of the Mercantile IJeneficial Association. He
is also a director of the American Gas Company. His interests are most varied
and cosmopolitan in character. He was one of the founders and is recording
secretary of the Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania, member of the
Geographical Society of Pennsylvania, and of the National Geographical
Society of Washington, D. C. He is likewise secretary of the Society
of Colonial Wars in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, is a member of
the board of managers of the Pennsylvania Society of the Sons of the Revolu-
tion and has several times been a delegate to the national conventions. He is
likewise treasurer of the Society of War of 1812 and has himself an interesting
military chapter in his life history,, having served in Company D, First Regi-
ment of Infantry of the Pennsylvania National 'Guard, which he joined in 1874.
He was on active duty at the time of the coal riots in 1875 and the labor riots
in 1877, being with his command in the round house at Pittsburg. He was first
lieutenant commanding his company in 1879 a"d 1880 and is now a member of
the Old Guard of Company D and a member of the Veteran Corps of the First
Regiment of Infantry of the National Guard of Pennsylvania. He is a member
and was for some years treasurer general of the Military Order of Foreign
Wars of the United States and for some time a member of the council of the
Colonial Society of Pennsylvania.

Mr. Sayres has been married twice. In 1881 he wedded a daughter of the
late S. Weir Lewis. She died October 9, 1882, and in 1888 Mr. Sayres married
a daughter of the late F. Mortimer Lewis, a sister of the late Professor Henry
Carvill Lewis. By his first marriage he has one daughter, Linda Lewis, who
is now the wife of Morris Shallcross Phillips, a son of John Bakewell Phillips,
of Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, and Pasadena, California.

The manifold interests already mentioned do not exclude Mr. Sayres' active
participation in the support of other vital interests which go to make up human
existence. He is well known for his active and effective work in philanthropic
circles, serving as vice president of the board of trustees of the Northern Home
for Friendless Children and its associate institution for soldiers' and sailors'
orphans and likewise vice president of the board of managers of the Children's
Hospital of Philadelphia. He was one of the original members of the Civil
Service Reform Association of Pennsylvania and for many years active as its
treasurer and a member of the executive board. He is a vestryman of St.
James Protestant Episcopal church, at Twenty-second and Walnut streets.


Cyru^ H. K. Curtis, the executive head of the Curtis Publishing Company

and the founder and promoter of the largest magazine publication in the world,

finds a fitting monument to his splendid life work in the recently erected Curtis

building on Independence and Washington squares, which constitutes a fitting

feature of that historic district showing to what heights the enterprise of the

American citizen may reach in a republic which had its birth in the venerated
Vol. rv— 23


old Independence Hall across the square. Although the family is of English
lineage, the ancestral history is distinctively American in its lineal and collateral
branches through ten generations. A contemporary biographer has said: "The
name of Curtis, having in it the meaning of civil, gentle, courteous, was brought
into England with the Norman Conquest. The earliest families recorded in
England settled in the counties of Kent and Sussex; Stephen Curtis lived in
Appledore, Kent, in 1450, and several of his descendants were mayors of Ten-
terdon. The four brothers who came together to Boston were Richard, Thomas,
John and William, all of whom have many descendants except John, who had
no family. The name is found in old records spelled Curteis, Curties, Curtice,
Curtiss and Curtis, as well as many other ways.

"(I) William Curtis probably belonged to the Curtis family of Kent, Eng-
land. He came from Nasing, England, in the ship 'Lion,' in 1632, and settled
in Roxbury, Massachusetts. He had been preceded in the previous year by his
eldest son and was accompanied by his brothers, Richard, John and Thomas.
The latter went to York, Maine, and the other two settled in Scituate, Massa-
chusetts. William Curtis was born in England in 1590 and brought with him
four children and his wife, Sarah, a sister of Rev. John Eliot, the 'Indian
Apostle.' He died December 8, 1672, aged eighty-two years, and his widow in
March, 1673, aged seventy-three. Children: William, Thomas, Mary, John,
Philip and Isaac.

"(II) WilHam (2), eldest son of William (i) and Sarah (Eliot) Curtis,
was born about 161 1, in England, and came to Massachusetts in the first voyage
of the ship 'Lion,' in 1631. In 1632 he bore arms in Scituate, Massachusetts,
where he spent the remainder of his life. His farm was on North river, next
south of the Wanton farm, and he was a member of the Second church. His
children were: Joseph, born 1664; Benjamin; William, January, 1669; John,
February, 1670; Miriam, April, 1673; Mehitable, December, 1675; Stephen,
September, 1677; Sarah, August, 1679; Samuel, June, 1681.

"(Ill) Benjamin, second son of William Curtis, was born in January, 1667,
at Scituate, Massachusetts, where he built the Curtis mills, on Third Herring
brook. He married Mary Sylvester, in 1689; children: Mary, born August 22,
1691 ; Benjamin; Ebenezer, August i, 1694; Lydia, February 27, 1696; Sarah,
December 20, 1697; Ruth, January 14, 1700; Susanna, March 23, 1702; De-
borah, August, 1704; William, July, 1706; David, June 26, 1708; and Peleg,
September, 1710.

"(IV) Benjamin (2), eldest son of Benjamin (i) and Mary (Sylvester)
Curtis, was born December 14, 1692, at Scituate, Massachusetts, where he was
selectman in 1727-28, and removed to Hanover, where he died February 21,
1756. He married, December 13, 1716, Hannah Palmer; children: Benjamin,
baptized April 27, 1718, died young; Thomas; Luke, baptized March 11, 1722;
Hannah, baptized March i, 1724; Caleb, May 8, 1726; Nathaniel, borji March
31, 1728; Benjamin, October 4, 1730; Rachel, October 4, 1730; Mary, July 15,
1732; and Relief, October, 1738.

"(V) Thomas, second son of Benjamin (2) and Hannah (Palmer) Curtis,
was born in 1720, being baptized September 4 that year, at Scituate, Massachu-
setts, and removed early to Hanover, where his children were recorded. He


married (first) August 20, 1741, Sarah Utter, who died December 28, 1753, and
(second) February 26, 1756, Ruth, daughter of Thomas and Faith Rose, born
September 13, 1732. By his first marriage he had four children and by his
second four, as follows: Hannah, born 1742, died 1749; Deborah, born 1744,
married Levi Corthell; Sarah, born 1746; Thomas; Lydia, born and died 1754;
Faith, born 1757; Ruth, 1759; Hannah, 1762.

"(VI) Thomas (2), eldest son of Thomas (i) and Sarah (Utter) Curtis,
was baptized June 10, 1749-50, at Hanover, Massachusetts, and, like his father,
became a shipmaster. He married, June 6, 1770, Abigail Studley, of Hanover,
and among their children was Reuben, born at Freeport or Yarmouth, Maine.

"(VII) Reuben, son of Thomas (2) and Abigail (Studley) Curtis, was
born in 1788, and became a Baptist clergyman; he was ordained at Gray, Maine,
and became an evangelist, laboring in many diiTerent towns of Maine. He mar-
ried, December i, 1808, Abigail, daughter of Nathan and Elizabeth (Foster)
Safiford, born May 22, 1791, who after his death married Mr. True, of North
Yarmouth. Reuben Curtis had children as follows: Reuben, Cyrus L., Eliza-
beth, Florentine, Mary, Deborah, Abbie, Maria and others.

"(VIII) Cyrus Libby, son of Reuben and Abigail (Safiford) Curtis, was
born January 7, 1822, and resided for some time in Portland, Maine; he was a
decorator by occupation, and in his political views was republican. He was
well known in musical circles, having a gift in this direction. He married July
3, 1844, Salome Ann, daughter of Benjamin and Salome (Coombs) Cummings,
born 1819, died 1897, and their children were: Cyrus H. K., Florence G., born
in August, 1855, died in 1888."

Cyrus Hermann Kotschmar Curtis, the only son of Cyrus Libby and Salome
Ann (Cummings) Curtis, was born in Portland, Maine, June 18, 1850, and
pursued his education in the graded and high schools of that city, but in 1866,
when a youth of sixteen, took his place in the business world as one of the
wage earners. For four years previous he had contributed to his own support
by selling papers and for three years had been publishing a boys' paper called
"Young America." The disastrous fire which swept over Portland in 1866
destroyed his embryo printing plant and, thinking to find a broader field in
Boston, he became a resident of that city, where, in 1869, he was editor of two
papers. His entire life has been devoted to the field of journalism, and he
stands today as the executive head of the largest establishment of the kind in
America. He has been identified with publication interests in Philadelphia since
1876 and in 1883 brought forth the first issue of the Ladies Home Journal,
which has become the greatest and most popular periodical of its kind in the
world. At that time Mr. Curtis was publishing the Tribune-Farmer, a weekly,
and wishing to furnish interesting material for women readers he started the
Ladies Home Journal as a department of the other paper. It had a circulation
of twenty-five thousand the first year and the paper bore little resemblance in
size or finish to the production of the present. That its material was attractive
is indicated in the fact that the circulation was doubled in six months and at
the end of three years there were four hundred thousand subscribers. He then
sold the Tribune-Farmer and the history of the development of the Ladies
Home Journal since that time is a familiar one to the reading public. In all


things Mr. Curtis has been the leader, but he has not attempted to work out
details or to organize or to direct in details. He has outlined policies and then
chosen men to execute them. He has the rare faculty which enables him to
unfold an idea to his staff and has the more rare faculty of being able to choose
for his chiefs men whose business ability well qualifies them for the execution
of the work which is entrusted to them in embryonic form. He never hinders
an assistant in his development but allows them to work out methods and poli-
cies, the result of which is seen today in the stupendous success of the under-
taking. The paper has been constantly increased in size, improved in its literary
tone, in its artistic merit until today it is regarded as the standard which others
follow. The popularity of the journal is indicated in the fact that every fif-
teenth woman in the United States is a subscriber thereto and if the leaves of
a single edition of the journal were placed side by side they would reach more
than one and a fifth times around the world. It is not within the province of
this article to describe the equipment of the home of the journal, suffice it to
say that it is the exemplification of the modern, the practical and the useful.
In 1897 the Saturday Evening Post, founded in 1728 under the name of
The Universal Instructor in All Arts and Sciences and Pennsylvania Gazette,
was issued by Samuel Keimer, the first employer of Franklin in Phila-
delphia. The latter became owner of the paper in the following October and
erased all of the title except Pennsylvania Gazette. In 1897, when it became the
property of the Curtis Publishing Company, it had a circulation of thirty-five
hundred. It has now passed the million mark. Said a present day writer :
"These papers are unique. They have no imitators ; they do nothing that any-
one cannot do, but it is that which cannot be imitated and therefore does not
need to be copyrighted or patented. They touch the motives of life."

Every man is judged by his work, and the work of Mr. Curtis has largely
been the building up of these two publications. When the work became too
great for the direction of a single individual he surrounded himself with men
in whom the spirit of progress and the dynamic force were strong. The ad-
vertising department alone is a mammoth business in itself. The rates of the
journal are perhaps higher than those of almost any other publication, but
patrons think it worth while as the constantly increasing volume of adver-
tising indicates. The policy of the company has been to exclude from the col-
umns of its magazines all advertising of questionable character and the broad
guaranty which is given the readers has done much to elevate the standard of
advertising and encourage legitimate enterprises. Quite the same care is given
to the preparation of the advertisers' copy as is shown in the make-up of the
editorial pages. Skilled artists from all parts of the world are sought and given
charge of that part of the business; the ablest writers of the present day are
its contributors and much has been done to encourage merit among the younger
generation in the literary field. Over all Mr. Curtis has supervision. His long
experience has trained him to use each moment to the best advantage and now,
in the period of a well earned and well merited success, he knows how to use
his leisure that life may give of its best. There is another phase of his publi-
cation business which is of intense interest as evidencing his humanitarian point
of view in relation to all employes. The splendid new building of the Curtis


Publishing Company gives distinct heed to those lessons which experience and
modern science have taught concerning sanitation, light, nourishing food, ade-
quate clothing, proper exercise and sufficient recreation to keep the physical and
the mental nature at the normal. All these things were studied and considered
in connection with the erection of the Curtis building and the welfare of the
company may, like the magazines, be accepted as standard and constitute an
example for others.

As his wealth has increased Mr. Curtis has extended his financial interests
and in addition to large investments he is a director in the Merchants National
Bank of Philadelphia and a trustee of the Mutual Life Insurance Company of
New York.

On the lOth of March, 1875, '" Boston, Mr. Curtis married Louise, daughter
of Humphrey C. and Mary (Barbor) Knapp, who was born in Boston, October
24, 1851. Their daughter and only child, Mary Louise, was married in Oc-
tober, 1896, to Edward W. Bok and has two children: Curtis, born in 1897; and
Cary, born in 1904.

Mr. Curtis attends the Episcopal church and is a member of several clubs,
including the Union League, Manufacturers, City, Franklin Inn, Poor Richard,
Automobile and Corinthian Yacht Clubs of Philadelphia ; Columbia Yacht and
Aldine of New York ; Eastern Yacht Club ; the Portland Yacht Club ; the Me-
gomticook Country and Yacht Clubs of Camden, Maine; and Huntingdon Val-
ley Country Club of Philadelphia. A republican in his political views, he takes
no active part in politics and has held no public office. He stands today as a
representative of the most admired type of business men, resourceful, loyal,
honorable, progressive.


Banker and commission merchant, the extent and importance of his opera-
tions placing him in the rank of those who are controlling the commercial and
financial development of Philadelphia, his native city, Henry Gorgas Michener
was born August i, 1852, a son of John Hanson and Sarah Keyser (Gorgas)
Michener. He entered the University of Pennsylvania, a liberal literary course
qualifying him for the practical duties of a business career. His enterprise and
activity have carried him into relations of importance with the business in-
terests of the city. Judiciously placing his investments and wisely directing his
energies, he has never regarded any position as final but rather the starting
point for larger achievement. By reason of these strongly marked characteris-
tics he has come to the presidency of the Bank of North America, of which he
is also a director, and he holds similar official connection with the National Op-
tical Company. His name is also of the directorate of the American Surety Com-
pany, the Land Title & Trust Company, and the Delaware Insurance Company,
so that he has voice in the management of enterprises ranking among the fore-
most financial concerns of the city. Moreover, he is a member of the firm of
J. H. Michener & Company, provision merchants, the business having been or-


ganized and conducted for a long period by his father. This house deals ex-
tensively in provisions at No. 956 Front street. He is a man of strong deter-
mination, enabling him to accomplish what he undertakes, with a keen discern-
ment that enables him to recognize his opportunities and with an energy that
finds its stimulus in positions of difficulty. Reaching out to large undertakings
and affairs of magnitude, he has proven his worth in every trial and Philadelphia
has profited by his activity.


At the zenith of a career of singular honor and usefulness, John Heman
Converse, president of the Baldwin Locomotive Works, philanthropist and one
of the most influential members of the Presbyterian church, died in his summer
home in Rosemont, Pennsylvania, on the morning of May 3, 1910. The funeral
services were held on the afternoon of May 5 in Bryn Mawr Presbyterian church,
which was crowded to overflowing, many coming from other cities and from a
distance. Interment was in West Laurel Hill cemetery, Philadelphia.

The eulogy at the church by Rev. Dr. Charles A. Dickey was so appropriate
and true that it is quoted here in part as follows : "John Converse was not dili-
gent in business to bring wealth and its perilous luxuries into a selfish life, nor to
give himself the vulgar hoard of riches, nor to feed his pride, nor to flatter his
ambition, nor to fill his worldly life with gratification. No. He strove to triumph
in the building of a great commercial plant, he qualified himself as a successful
financier, he filled with fidelity all the positions to which the appreciation of his
fellowmen appointed him, he rose up early and retired late that he might conse-
crate all his time, all his ability, his whole self and substance, to the bettering
of his fellowmen and to the triumph of the kingdom of his Master — Jesus

"This great company, gathered to express appreciation and affection is small
compared with the multitude that will rise up and call him blessed. They will
come from dark homes that he lighted with generous deeds of which only those
who were cheered by the light had any knowledge. They will come from foreign
lands in which his generous hand sowed seed of comfort and hope. The multi-
tude will include countless men and women and children who found their way
into the everlasting kingdom through the efforts that his loyalty and love made

During the last ten years of his life Mr. Converse experienced very much
trouble, which undoubtedly shortened his life. Two of his children were long and
seriously ill from nervous prostration, which caused him great anxiety. In going
through a dark passage in the shops of the Baldwin Locomotive Works, thinking
that he was about to step on a level instead of the steep stairs before him which
he did not see in the dark, he fell and broke his arm. In January, 1906, his wife
died and in September of the same year came the failure of The Real Estate
Trust Company of Philadelphia, through the criminality of its president, in whom
Mr. Converse as a director had had implicit confidence. The blow came to him
and others in the directorate like a bolt from a clear sky. When the actual state




* I


of affairs was revealed he was stunned. He was among the first to rally, how-
ever, and it was his spirit that helped to save the day and put the institution on
its feet. The losses were about five million dollars. Largely through Mr. Con-
verse's efforts the directors made up the losses and rehabilitated the institution,
Mr. Converse contributing nearly a million dollars. But not the least disap-
pointment experienced by him during his later years was his discovery that he was
afflicted with Bright's disease, which he learned upon making application for a life
insurance policy. The prpspect that in consequence of this infirmity he might not
live long enough to carry out his philanthropic projects caused him deep concern
and from that disease restflted' the angina pectoris from which he died.

He became a member of the Society of Colonial Wars in 1902 by right of

descent from Deacon Edward Converse ( 1663) Captain Stephen Pren-

tis (1666-1758) and some eighteen other prominent colonial ancestors. In 1905,

Online LibraryEllis Paxson OberholtzerPhiladelphia; a history of the city and its people, a record of 225 years (Volume 4) → online text (page 48 of 62)