Ellis Paxson Oberholtzer.

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

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from India, China and Japan. He was the soul of generosity and took great
pleasure, not only in buying, but in distributing gifts. He made his home in
private apartments at the Hotel Stenton, Broad and Spruce streets, Philadel-
phia, where he lived for many years, unmarried, and where he died on May
1 8, 1908, deeply mourned by all who knew him and many whom he had be-
friended.



JAMES MOORE SWANK.

James Moore Swank, vice president and general manager of the American
Iron and Steel Association, in which connection liis services have been of im-
measurable value to the iron and steel industries of the country, was born in
Westmoreland county, Pennsylvania, July 12, 1832, his parents being George
W. and Nancy (Moore) Swank, both of whom were members of old Pennsyl-
vania families that have been represented in this state for six generations. Both
were natives of Westmoreland county. In 1838 the family removed to Johns-
town, Pennsylvania, where James M. Swank began his education in the public
schools. He was afterward a student at Eldersridge Academy and in the fresh-
man class of Jefferson College, Washington and Jefferson College in 1900 con-
ferring upon him the degree of Ph. D. In 1909 Temple University of Phila-
delphia conferred upon him the degree of LL.D.

From the outset of his business career Mr. Swank has manifested executive
ability that has kept him constantly in positions of responsibility. In 1852, when
only twenty years old, he edited for a few months a local whig newspaper, and
the following year he founded the Johnstown Tribune, of which he remained
editor and publisher, save for brief intervals, until December, 1869, when he
sold the paper and became clerk of the important committee on manufactures of
the house of representatives at Washington. His editorial work had brought
him into close connection with many of the vital questions of the day, and
throughout his entire life he has been a close student of these questions. His
broad knowledge, therefore, well qualified him for his new duties at Washing-
ton. In September, 1871, he was appointed chief clerk of the department of
agriculture, remaining in that position for exactly sixteen months.

Mr. Swank's identification with the American Iron and Steel Association,
with its office in Philadelphia, dates from December, 1872, when he was made
its secretary, and in the intervening period of more than thirty-eight years he
has concentrated his time and energies upon the duties that have devolved upon
him first as secretary and afterward as general manager of the association, the
success of which organization is in large measure due to his efforts. He still
remains its vice president and general manager, to which offices he was elected
in 1885, and it would be difficult to name any one who is in closer touch with




JA.\rKS M. SWANK



THT. mV? YORl
PUBLIC Llg8Ai^Y






HISTORY OF PHILADELPHIA 515

information relative to the historical, statistical and economic phases of the iron
and steel industries of this country.

The American Iron Association was formally organized in Philadelphia,
March 6, 1855, with Hon. George N. Eckert as its president. The constitution
stated: "The general objects of this association shall be to procure, regularly,
the statistics of the iron trade both at home and abroad ; to provide for the
mutual interchange of information and experience, both scientific and practical;
to collect and preserve all works relating to iron and steel ; and, generally, to
take all proper measures for advancing the interests of the iron trade in all its
branches." In November, 1864, the association was reorganized under its pres-
ent name. In 1873 the first edition of the Directory to the Iron and Steel Works
of the United States was published by the association under the direction of
Mr. Swank. This directory has since appeared regularly, at first biennially but
more recently every four years. -This directory fully describes and freely adver-
tises all the iron and steel works of the United States. The annual statistical
report of the association appears, as its name indicates, every year and gives
complete returns for the whole country of the production, imports, exports,
prices, etc., of iron and steel, iron ore, coal and coke, etc., during the year pre-
ceding its appearance; also statistical information concerning the iron and steel
industries of foreign countries. The Bulletin of the association, for many years
a weekly publication, now appears monthly or semi-monthly, as occasion may
require, and is sent regularly to every manufacturer of iron and steel in the
country, and usually to every senator and representative in congress. In addi-
tion to valuable statistical features its columns are devoted (i) to a condensed
review of the iron and steel markets, (2) to the most important trade news, (3)
to the preservation of historical facts of value relating to the iron trade, and
(4) to the discussion of revenue and other questions of public policy as they
arise. All this work is under the direct supervision and control of Mr. Swank
as general manager for the association. He has been the moving spirit in these
and other channels of influence the value of which work to the iron and steel
interests of the country can not be overestimated. He has written and com-
piled about one hundred protective tariff tracts.

In 1878 Mr. Swank published in book form an "Introduction to a History
of Iron Making and Coal Mining in Pennsylvania." In 1880 General Francis
A. Walker selected him to collect the statistics of the production of iron and
steel for the tenth census, and the following year he accompanied his final cen-
sus report with a historical sketch of the manufacture of iron and steel in all
countries and in all ages, and particularly in the United States, giving special
attention to the work of colonial and other pioneers in the manufacture of iron
and steel. He afterward enlarged the historical part of his report and published
it in book form in 1884, occupying four hundred and twenty-eight pages, under
the title of "History of the Manufacture of Iron in all Ages," of which a second
edition, occupying five hundred and fifty-four pages, appeared in 1892. In De-
cember, 1897, under the title of "Notes and Comments on Industrial, Economic,
Political and Historical Subjects," Mr. Swank published a volume of two hun-
dred and twenty-eight pages for the members of the American Iron and Steel As-
sociation as a souvenir of his completion of twenty-five years as the executive



516 HISTORY OF PHILADELPHIA

head of the association. In 1908 he published "Progressive Pennsylvania," a
work of three hundred and sixty pages, devoted chiefly to the presentation of a
record of the remarkable industrial development of the Keystone state down to
that year. In 1910 he published a volume of one hundred and thirty-eight
pages, "Cambria County Pioneers," devoted to the early history of that county
and particularly of Johnstown. With the publication of this last work Mr.
Swank's literary labors may be regarded as having ended. His writings also
include a history of the Department of Agriculture, which he prepared when
serving as its chief clerk.

Mr. Swank is not only considered an authority upon all subjects bearing upon
the development of our iron and steel industries but is also regarded as one of
the ablest advocates of a protective tariff and as the champion of policies and
measures bearing upon American industrial interests, his position as their ex-
ponent being the result of the most comprehensive study and investigation. He
possesses a remarkably retentive memory and can cite at will any information
regarding our tarifif and revenue policies or point to the source from which it
may be obtained.

Mr. Swank is descended on his mother's side from Judge John Moore, of
Westmoreland county, who was one of the delegates from that county to the
Constitutional Convention of 1776, which met in Carpenters' Hall, Philadelphia,
and framed the first constitution of the new commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
He was a member of the committee which was appointed by the convention to
frame a Declaration of Rights and a Constitution for the new state. Benjamin
Franklin was president of the convention. Judge Moore was bom in Lancaster
county in 1738 and about 1758 removed to the present county of Westmoreland.
In 1783 he was appointed president judge of the courts of that county, a posi-
tion which he held until 1790. He afterward represented the district of West-
moreland and Allegheny counties in the state senate, dying in 181 1.



WILLIAM STEWART WALLACE.

William Stewart Wallace, who since 1883 has been engaged in the practice
of law, was born in Philadelphia, May 30, 1862, a son of John Bower and
Maria Louisa (Le Page) Wallace. In the paternal line he is of Scotch-Irish
lineage, his ancestors being among those who in the last half of the seventeenth
century settled in the Province of Ulster, Ireland, whence, after a more or less
temporary sojourn and respite from religious persecutions they came to Amer-
ica a generation or more later. Like many other families of Scotch-Irish
origin, the Wallaces settled in Bucks county, Pennsylvania. Robert and John
Wallace were residents of Tinicum township in 1739 and were probably the
ancestors of those of the name appearing in that township and later in War-
wick and Warrington.

James Wallace, the great-great-grandfather of William S. Wallace, it ap-
pears, was a son of John Wallace and was probably born about the year 1725.



HISTORY OF PHILADELPHIA 517

About a quarter of a century later he first appears as a resident of Warwick
township, Bucks county, and soon figured as one of the prominent men of that
community. Records show that he was frequently called upon as an auditor
to settle decedent estates, to serve on commissions to lay out roads, and in other
public capacities, in 1768 he became coroner of Bucks county, filling the posi-
tion for five successive years, and in 1767 that he was a trustee of the Neshaminy
Presbyterian church. He watched with interest the progress of events that
led to the Revolutionary war, felt the injustice of the British policy and co-
operated with the colonists in the efforts to maintain their rights. On the 9th
of July, 1774, he was made a deputy at a meeting of the inhabitants of his
county at Newtown, to act as its representative at the meeting of provincial
deputies held at Carpenter's Hall in Philadelphia on the 15th of that month.
His name heads the list of Warwick Associators organized August 21, 1775,
and he was one of the most active members of the Committee of Safety from
its organization. He also served on the sub-committee of correspondence and
on many other important committees. He was again appointed to represent the
county in provincial convention May 8, 1775, and again in June, 1776, in the
provincial conference at Carpenter's Hall that resulted in calling a convention
that drafted the first constitution of Pennsylvania as a commonwealth. He
was a member of the committee to report regulations governing the election of
delegates to this constitutional convention and was one of the judges of that
election in Bucks. Committee service, however, did not comprise the extent
of his activities in behalf of his country nor indicate the scope of his ability.
The same year, 1776, he was appointed to purchase arms for use of the militia-
men and was also appointed to proceed to Philadelphia in order to ascertain
the process of making saltpeter and then to explain the method to the inhabi-
tants of the county and to receive and pay for it when manufactured. In this
connection he is spoken of in a letter from Judge Henry Wynkoop to the Com-
mittee of Safety at Philadelphia as a "gentleman of property, strictly honest
and firm attachment to our cause." Under the new state constitution he was
commissioned one of the judges of the civil and criminal courts of Bucks county,
March 31, 1777. His career of usefulness was suddenly cut short in the fall of
that year. About 1754 he married Isabel Miller, a daughter of Robert and Mar-
garet (Graham) Miller, of Warrington, and the granddaughter of William
Miller, Sr., one of the earliest Scotch-Irish settlers of Warwick. The latter
was the donor of the original churchyard and burying ground and one of the
first elders of the Neshaminy Presbyterian church of Warwick. He and his
wife lived until 1758 and 1757 respectively and were laid to rest in the original
churchyard. Their children intermarried with the Longs, Earles, Currys and
Grahams.

The children and grandchildren of James and Isabel Wallace intermarried
with the Carrs, Polks, Longs, Harts, Fords. Shewells, James and other Bucks
county families of those days. A more detailed account may be found in Davis'
Second Revised History of Bucks County.

One of the direct ancestors of William S. Wallace was Hugh Long, a great-
great-grandfather, who was the first lieutenant in Captain William Hart's com-
pany of the Bucks County Battalion of the Flying Camp. He is said to have



518 HISTORY OF PHILADELPHIA

succumbed to camp fever contracted in the service. Some of the Miller con-
nections were officers in the provincial service in an expedition against the In-
dians, and Robert Wallace, the great-grandfather of William S. Wallace, vi^as
an officer in the whiskey insurrection expedition, which occurred in the last
decade of the eighteenth century, and was also an officer of the war of 1812.

In the maternal line William S. Wallace is descended from French Hugue-
not stock from the Channel Islands of Guernsey and Sark, the immediate for-
bears being Peter and Mary (Baker) Le Page, who came to this country in the
early part of the nineteenth century.

William S. Wallace spent his youthful days in Philadelphia and acquired
his education here. Making a choice of the practice of law as a life work, he
began reading in the office and under the direction of Hon. James W. M. New-
lin and since his admission to the Philadelphia bar, in April, 1883, has engaged
continuously in practice. His work in later years being chiefly devoted to cor-
porations and more especially those representing coal, water, water power and
electric interests.

Mr. Wallace was married June 6, 1888, to Miss Mollie Comfort Brand, a
daughter of Jacob S. and Mary (Flack) Brand, of Chambersburg, Pennsyl-
vania. Recreation comes to him largely along intellectual lines and his interests
are indicated somewhat in his membership relations. He is a member of the
Law Academy, of which he was secretary in 1886. He belongs also to the
Sons of the Revolution and the Scotch-Irish Society of Pennsylvania and dur-
ing its existence was a member of the National Scotch-Irish Society. He be-
longs also to the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, the Bucks County His-
torical Society and the Site and Relic Society of Germantown. He is also a
member of the session of the Summit Presbyterian church of Germantown.



FAYETTE RUMSEY PLUMB.

Fayette Rumsey Plumb, a man of splendid executive ability, whose care-
fully formulated plans led to success, resulting in the development of a tool
manufacturing business of colossal proportions, left in his life work an ex-
ample that is, indeed, worthy of emulation. The advantages which he had at
the outset of his career were those of a liberal education and the traits inherited
from a worthy ancestry, but even with these it is individual merit and close
personal application that win success and the record of Fayette R. Plumb
proves no exception to the rule.

His grandfather, Ralph Plumb, a pioneer settler of Erie county. New York,
was prominently connected with mercantile interests of Buffalo during the war
of 1812. His father. Colonel Joseph H. Plumb, was one of the most distin-
guished and wealthy citizens of western New York, and it was in Gowanda,
Erie county, on the 2d of May, 1848, that Fayette Rumsey Plumb was born.
At the usual age he entered the schools of his native town and later matricu-
lated in Fredonia Academy of Chautauqua county. New York. A year later




FAVKTTK K. IM.IMB



THE NEW tori:

...... ,n \ moAfSV



HISTORY OF PHILADELPHIA 521

he became a student in the Model School of Trenton, New Jersey, where he
spent two years prior to entering Williston Seminary of East Hampton, Massa-
chusetts. Following his graduation from that institution with the class of 1867
he entered the employ of the hardware firm of Lloyd, Supplee & Walton, prede-
cessors of the Supplee Hardware Company. Two years' association with that
firm gave him a knowledge of the business that led to the formation of a part-
nership with Jonathan Yerkes for the manufacture of tools, the business being
established in 1869 under the firm name of Yerkes & Plumb. A plant was
erected at the corner of Church street and the Pennsylvania Railroad, and there
the business was continued until t88i, when a removal was made to the present
location at Tucker and James streets. The plant, which is one of the largest
manufactories of mechanics' tools in the world, is still operated by the sons of
Mr. Plumb. In 1886 Mr. Yerkes retired from the firm and on the ist of July,
1887, Fayette R. Plumb became sole proprietor. He possessed notable ability
in unifying forces for the attainment of harmonious results. Under his guid-
ance the business steadily grew, its ratifying trade interests reaching out in all
directions until the enterprise became one of the colossal industrial concerns of
Philadelphia and Mr. Plumb found himself in a very prominent position in the
business circles of the city.

On the 13th of December, 1870, Mr. Plumb was united in marriage to Miss
Katherine C. Middleton, and unto them were born five children who are yet liv-
ing, Fayette, Joseph, Ralph, William and Edith. They also lost two children,
Georgiana R. and Carroll.

Mr. Plumb passed away January 25, 1905, in the faith of the Presbyterian
church, of which he was a devoted member. He, indeed, occupied a promi-
nent position in industrial and financial circles in Philadelphia. He was one
of the directors of the Bourse, was president of the Manufacturers Club, vice
president of the Union League and connected through membership relations
with other important clubs and social organizations. His political allegiance
was given the republican party. He was aptly termed a man of purpose and
won a position among the world's captains of industry, yet the pleasure of suc-
cess nor the substantial rewards of business activity could not cause him to
swerve in the slightest degree from the high principles which in early life he
set up as the governing rules of his career.



CHARLES WILLIAMS.

Charles Williams, to whom the opportunities of life appealed as an obliga-
tion to be met, throughout his entire career made excellent use of his time and
talents not only for individual benefit but also for the assistance of his fellow-
men. His success was the legitimate and logical sequence of his own efforts
and the high regard in which he was uniformly held was instinctively given
him in recognition of his genuine worth.

He was born in Philadelphia, on the 22d of November, 1851, a son of
Samuel and Susan (Randall) Williams. His grandfather, Josiah Randall, had



522 HISTORY OF PHILADELPHIA

his home at Seventh and Wahiut streets, where the stately granite edifice of
the Philadelphia Savings Fund Society now stands. The early education of
Charles Williams was acquired in the Locust school and subsequently he at-
tended the Polytechnic College of Pennsylvania, where he studied civil engi-
neering.

In his early manhood he engaged in business as a railroad surveyor and
upon his return to Philadelphia became connected with the dry-goods house of
Cadbury, Thomas & Company. After a short period, however, he turned his
attention to the insurance brokerage business in connection with Charles Mather,
who is still engaged in business in Philadelphia. Upon severing his association
with Mr. Mather, Mr. Williams opened an office for the conduct of an inde-
pendent business as an insurance broker and operated in that field from 1873
until May i, 1888, when he accepted the agency of the Queens Insurance Com-
pany. He filled that position until the i8th of November, 1890, when he re-
signed to accept the agency of the Commercial Union Assurance Company,
Ltd., of London, opening offices at No. 416 Walnut street, where he continued
until his death on the loth of November, 1910. On the i8th of May, 1909, he
had admitted to a partnership in the business Horace Walton, who upon his
advice has succeeded Mr. Williams as manager of the Queens Insurance Com-
pany, and the firm of Williams & Walton thus had control of the interests of
both companies in Philadelphia. The firm occupied a place in the front rank
among the insurance men of the city, having a most extensive and desirable
clientage.

Mr. Williams was also prominently identified with the Philadelphia Fire
Underwriters Association and at his death was chairman of the executive com-
mittee, the highest honor obtainable in that connection. For thirty-seven years
he was engaged in the insurance business and was considered the leading man
in this field in eastern Pennsylvania. Moreover, he was regarded as one of
the most conscientious men in business on Walnut street, his word ever being
regarded as good as any bond solemnized by signature or seal. He never was
known to take advantage of another in any manner, but rather would go out
of his way to help others and would much rather suffer losses than to cause
others to suffer at his hands. His partner, Mr. Walton, who had known him
for over thirty years, said: "I owe everything to Mr. Williams and wish I was
able to express my high esteem of him better than by saying, 'He was every-
thing a man should be.' " All who came in contact with Mr. Williams speak
of him in terms of the highest respect and honor and his death caused great
sorrow among his business associates and friends.

In 1877 Mr. Williams was united in marriage to Miss Hannah N. Biddle,
and unto them were born four children, a son, William Biddle Williams, who
died in 1908, and three daughters : Frances Biddle Williams, now the wife of
Randall Morgan, the second vice president and general counsel of the United
Gas Improvement Company ; Eleanor Poultney Biddle Williams, now the wife
of Lawrence H. Wilbur; and Charlotte Biddle Williams.

Mr. Williams was most devoted to his family and found his greatest happi-
ness in ministering to their welfare. One of his strong characteristics is shown



HISTORY OF PHILADELPHIA 523

forth in a little custom which he observed. He was in the habit of keei)ing
strict account of his expenses for cigars and every three months would hand
iiis wife a check for the amount expended. This indicated not only his system-
atic methods but also his attitude of generous division with his wife, whose
welfare and interest were always a foremost consideration in his life. His
political allegiance was given to the republican party but he would never con-
sent to become a candidate for office. He held membership in a number of
societies and social organizations, including the Sons of the Revolution and the
General Society of the War of 1812. Becoming a member of the First Regi-
ment Pennsylvania National Guard, he served as captain and aide to General
Wallace Matthews, and later as major and quartermaster under Brigadier Gen-
eral George Snowden. He was a member of the Phi Kappa Sigma, was one
of the board of governors of the Merion Cricket Club and a member of the
Rittenhouse Club. He was also a Master Mason and held membership with
Chapter No. 251, R. A. M. He was a director in the Foulke and Long Insti-
tute and belonged to the Church of the Redeemer at Bryn Mawr. He also gave
generously but unostentatiously in charity, never seeking the applause of men
for his good deeds but content with the consciousness of duty well performed.
The years not only brought him success but also the good-will and warm friend-
ship of his fellowmen.



EDGAR V. SEELER, F. A. I. A.

Edgar V. Seeler, F. A. I. A., has practiced the profession of architecture in
Philadelphia since 1895. Among the more important buildings which he has
designed and erected, are the Real Estate Trust Company's office building,
Broad and Chestnut streets; the Plallowell building, adjoining; the Bulletin
building. City Hall Square ; the Curtis building, Independence Square ; the First
Baptist church. Seventeenth street above Walnut street ; the astronomical ob-



Online LibraryEllis Paxson OberholtzerPhiladelphia; a history of the city and its people, a record of 225 years (Volume 4) → online text (page 51 of 62)