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

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pass on, giving out of its rich stores of wisdom and experience for the benefit
of the younger generation. Such was the history of Israel W. Morris, suc-
cessful business man, scientist and historian whose strong mind retained its
grasp upon the affairs of the world to the last and gave generously from a rich
storehouse of wisdom for the benefit of mankind.



EFFINGHAM BUCKLEY MORRIS.

Effingham Buckley Morris was born in Philadelphia, August 25, 1856, a son
of Israel Wistar and Annie (Buckley) Morris. The emigrant ancestor, An-
thony Morris, came to Pennsylvania with William Penn. He was a justice of
the provincial court by Penn's appointment and was several times mayor of
Philadelphia. Samuel Morris, the great-great-grandfather of E. B. Morris, was
captain of the First Troop of Philadelphia Cavalry, serving as body-guard to
General Washington during the Revolutionary war in the campaigns in this
neighborhood.

Effingham Buckley Morris pursued his early education in Dr. John W.
Faires classical school of Philadelphia and subsequently entered the University
of Pennsylvania, being graduated from the department of arts in 1875 and the
department of law in 1878. He entered upon active practice in association with
P. Pemberton Morris, LL. D., professor of practice and pleading at law and
equity in the University of Pennsylvania, and upon the retirement of Professor
Morris succeeded to his practice. He was general attorney for the Lehigh
Valley Railroad from 1881 until 1887, general counsel for the Girard Trust
Company from 1885 until 1887, and has been and is counsel for various other
corporations. Since 1887 he has been the president of the Girard Trust Com-
pany, is the chairman of the Pennsylvania Steel Company and also of the Cam-
bria Steel Company, a director of the Pennsylvania Railroad Company, and of
its allied lines, also of the Philadelphia National Bank, Fourth Street National
Bank, Franklin National Bank, Philadelphia Savings Fund Society, the Penn-
sylvania Fire Insurance Company, the Keystone Watch Case Company and
sundry other corporations. He is a trustee of the estate of Anthony J. Drexel,
deceased.

His public service has been of an important character. A member of the
common council of Philadelphia, he was elected as a candidate of the "com-
mittee of one hundred" in the eighth ward in 1880-81. He was a trustee for
the holders of Philadelphia city bonds secured on city gas works from 1882
until 1887, defeating David H. Lane in the election by the councils for that
position. By appointment of the United States courts in 1886 he became re-
ceiver of Schuylkill Navigation Company and in 1888 arranged for settlement
of its affairs in the reorganization of the Reading Railroad. He is also a trus-
tee of the University of Pennsylvania. He has been frequently called to
positions of public trust wherein the disposition of large interests have been



HISTORY OF PHILADELPHIA 581

involved and his comprehensive legal knowledge, business ability and executive
force, have well qualified him for the performance of the duties that have de-
volved upon him.

On the 5th of November, 1879, in Philadelphia, Mr. Morris was married to
Miss Ellen Douglas Burroughs, the youngest daughter of H. Nelson Burroughs,
of Philadelphia, and a descendant of Dr. Samuel Fuller, who made the historic
voyage on the Mayflower in 1620 and was the first physician in New England.
The children of Effingham B. and Ellen D. Morris are : Rhoda, now the wife of
George Clymer Brooks, of Drexel & Company ; Eleanor, the wife of Stacy B.
Lloyd, assistant general solicitor of the Pennsylvania Railroad ; Caroline, the
wife of John Frederic Byers, of the firm of A. M. Byers & Company, iron
manufacturers of Pittsburg; and Effingham B. Morris, Jr., a student at Yale
in the class of 191 1, who played center on the football team of that year.

Mr. Morris is an independent republican, but of more vital importance to
him is the faithful discharge of public duties on the part of incumbents in office
than their political adherence. He is a member of the Philadelphia, Ritten-
house. Union League, University, Racquet, Merion Cricket, Radnor Hunt, Bryn
Mawr Polo Clubs and others.



A BUSINESS WHICH HELPED TO MOLD A PROFESSION.

Almost within the scriptural allotment of the span of human life a new pro-
fession has been born and nurtured and developed into a magnificent maturity.
In the early years of the nineteenth century so much of dentistry as was then
known was practically a secret art. It had little literature which could be called
scientific, its followers were, for the most part, without professional standing
or feeling. Each was a law unto himself, guarding jealously such advances in
practice as he might make lest others should reap pecuniary advantages from
his "discoveries." The fact that dentistry as a beneficence to the human race
was a part of the healing art. that whatsoever information would increase its
power for good should of right be the common property of all its practitioners,
was but dimly recognized. In 1839 came the awakening, the new birth of den-
tistry, in the establishment of the dental college, the dental journal, and the den-
tal association, — education, literature, fellowship, — the triad foundation of mod-
ern dentistry.

Five years afterward there came upon the scene the man to whom more than
any other modern dentistry is indebted for its wonderful material progress.

He founded a business which during its entire history of sixty-seven years
has been so much a part of the practical advancement of dentistry that the
growth of the one is reflected in the progress of the other. They have literally
grown up together. Believing implicitly in the future development of dentistry,
he set himself to meet its needs as they should arise. — "to make the best goods,
to sell them at a not unreasonable profit." It was a sagacious business policy,
as the outcome has proved, not only during the life of the founder of the house
but since.



582 HISTORY OF PHILADELPHIA

Fortunately, those who have come after him in its conduct, have also been
broad-minded men who, following along the same lines, have through the larger
development of dentistry carried the business to even greater successes. The
story of its work in the upbuilding of dentistry is told in the brief sketches of
the three men who have been each in his turn, the controlling factor in the des-
tinies of the house, — Samuel S. White, James W. White and William H. Gil-
bert.



SAMUEL S. WHITE, D. D. S.

Samuel Stockton White was born at Hulmeville, Bucks County, Pennsyl-
vania, June 19, 1822, the eldest of the three children of William Rose and Mary
(Stockton) White. His father dying when the lad was eight years old, the
mother removed to her native place, Burlington, New Jersey. At the age of
fourteen he was indentured to his uncle, Samuel W. Stockton, the first manu-
facturer of porcelain teeth in the United States, whose business attained to any
commercial importance, "to learn the art and mystery of dentistry and the man-
ufacture of incorruptible teeth." Shortly after attaining his majority he began
(in 1844) business for himself at the corner of Seventh and Race streets, Phila-
delphia, practicing dentistry on the first floor and conducting his infant industry,
the making of mineral (porcelain) teeth in the garret. At the time the newly
born dental profession was in its swaddling clothes. Although there were prac-
titioners of high individual skill, the art of dentistry was but little developed.
Each dentist made for himself the generally crude instruments he used or
adapted those of some other line of effort to his needs. Some attempts had
been made to manufacture teeth on a commercial basis but the best of the pro-
ductions were but sorry imitations of nature's organs.

These were the conditions when Mr. White began the manufacture of por-
celain teeth. A skillful mold-cutter, with the artist's temperament, he individ-
ualized the forms of the various teeth as they had never been before. This
great advance gained immediate recognition and the demand for his teeth be-
came so insistent that in order to secure needed capital he took in as partners
in 1845 Asahel Jones of New York and John R. McCurdy of Philadelphia, the
firm name becoming Jones, White & McCurdy. In 1846 the pressure upon his
time caused him to relinquish the practice of dentistry to devote himself there-
after entirely to the problems of manufacturing. That change marked the be-
ginning of a "new departure" in dentistry, the necessary sequence of its new
birth. If dentistry were to take its place among the great professions, it must
be progressive. The devices for improved practice which individual dentists
worked out for their own needs must be made available to the entire profes-
sion. With better tools necessarily better practical work would be done. Den-
tistry would pass rapidly from one stage of development to a yet higher, were
its needs in the way of instruments fitted to express its best ideas at each ad-
vance provided. The inventive spirit among dentists must be aroused and
stimulated.



HISTORY OF PHILADELPHIA 583

Mr. White saw the needs and set himself to the task of meeting them. It
was slow work at first, hut lie had begxni the manufacture of porcelain teeth
with the idea that "the best is the cheapest." Their success led him to the belief
that there would always be a sufficient proportion of the dental profession will-
ing to pay a reasonable price for the best that could be produced to keep him
busy, and his entire business career was shaped on that belief.

How well that belief was justified is shown by the growth of the business.
Several removals were forced by the need for larger and yet larger quarters.
Branch houses were established in New York in 1846; in Boston in 1850; in
Chicago in 1858. In 1859 Mr. McCurdy withdrew from the firm and in 1861
Mr. Jones also retired.

The first public recognition of Mr. White's efforts was a testimonial signed
by many leading dentists throughout the country recording the superiority of
his porcelain teeth, which was presented in January, 1846. This was followed
by many medals and diplomas. In 1853 the Philadelphia College of Dental
Surgery conferred upon him tlie honorary degree of Doctor of Dental Surgery,
"As a testimonial of our appreciation of the value of services rendered to the
dental profession in the manufacture and improvement of mineral teeth."

The popularity of his porcelain teeth, in which he made many and notable
improvements, was not confined to this country. It was White's teeth which
in the early '50s made the reputation of "American" teeth in Europe. At the
great world's fairs of London, Paris and Vienna, they received the highest
awards.

Steadfast adherence to his determination to make only the best that could
be produced led to equal success in the other departments of his manufacture,
the development of which proceeded rapidly after the entire control came into
his hands. Of steel instruments, for example, he produced in 1867 after sev-
eral years of experimental work, a line so refined in forms, so perfectly adapted
to all the requirements, that they were at once acclaimed the finest the world of
dentistry had ever seen. In the early '70s the dental engine revolutionized den-
tistry. The form that Dr. White introduced is today ( 191 1 ) still the most
popular and most widely used foot-power dental engine. Such examples might
be multiplied to cover the entire world of dentists' supplies.

The continuing growth of the business led Dr. White to the erection as a
home for it, of the five-story and basement marble-front building at the corner
of Chestnut and Twelfth streets, running through to Sansom street. It was oc-
cupied in the autumn of 1868 and housed the entire manufacturing plant in
addition to the store and offices, with nearly three hundred employes. Here
Dr. White continued to enjoy an unexampled prosperity for eleven years, his
business constantly expanding, his helpfulness to the dental profession increas-
ing with its expansion.

Dr. White died December 30, 1879, in the fullness of his powers, leaving a
heritage whose luster time will not dim. The thirty-five years of his business
career, from 1844 to 1879, ^^Y properly be called the formative period of mod-
facture of dentists' supplies, not merely because he came to lead the world in
ern dentistry. During those years he was the paramount figure in the manu-



584 HISTORY OF PHILADELPHIA

the aggregate of his business but rather because of the intimate relation be-
tween that business and the progress of dentistry.

From the time he set himself to meet the practical needs of dentists he sys-
tematically encouraged practitioners to study means for improving their arma-
mentarium. An idea for an improvement, no matter how crude, sent to him
would be worked out to its highest development. If the idea proved a practical
advance it was put before the profession with due credit to its inventor; if it
proved to be a patentable device he either bought the patent outright or manu-
factured the article on royalty. Always it was made the best that time, skill and
money could manufacture. This policy was a powerful stimulus to the inven-
tive faculty among dentists; was at the bottom of the tremendous advances in
the material progress of the dental profession. A child of that profession, he
paid his obligation to it by putting into the hands of its devotees the means for
better service to suflrering humanity. His life-work was a mighty uplift to prac-
tical dentistry, and as such a potent factor in its scientific development.

Dr. White was a public-spirited man, though in no sense a politician. He
was actually the first subscriber to the first loan called for by the government
for the prosecution of the Civil war. A man of wide activities, he was a mem-
ber of the Fairmount Park Art Association, the Franklin Institute, American
Association for the Advancement of Science, United States Board of Trades
and many other scientific and business associations. A large-hearted philanthro-
pist, he gave freely to every benevolence; no worthy cause appealed to him in
vain. A generous employer, he was quick to show his appreciation of faith-
fulness and efficiency. His life was an example of probity, of manly endeavor
and high achievement, of earnest helpfulness to his kind.



JAMES WHITE, M. D., D. D. S., A. M.

James William White, the lifelong associate of his elder brother Samuel
in the business founded by the latter, and his successor as its active head, was
the youngest child of William R. and Maty (Stockton) White. He was born
at Hulmeville, Pennsylvania, September 29, 1826, but passed the most of his
boyhood in Burlington, New Jersey, whither his mother removed after the
death of her husband when James was little more than an infant. At the age of
fourteen he entered the establishment of his uncle, Samuel W. Stockton, to
"learn the art and mystery of the manufacture of incorruptible (porcelain)
teeth."

When his brother Samuel began business for himself in 1844, James joined
him, becoming for a time, with the proprietor, the entire working force of the
establishment. The business connection thus formed continued with the ex-
ception of one or two short intervals until broken by the death of the elder
brother. Together they shared the trials incident to the early struggle for a
foothold and the triumphs which came as the sure reward to the lofty ideals
upon which the business was founded, and to the steadfast maintenance of which
it owed its success. The story of its growth to world-wide importance is told in



HISTORY OF PHILADELPHIA 585

the sketch of its founder inimeiliately preceding. For many years Dr. James
White had special charge of the manufacturing operations and the literary
work of the house. It was his rare literary insight, his keen judgment, and his
editorial skill which made the Dental Cosmos the leading dental maga-
zine of the world and raised it to a position that led to its editorship being char-
acterized as the "proudest position, the highest honor which dentistry has to
offer any man." Just as the house in its general policy stimulated the inven-
tive powers of dentists, so by similar wise encouragement the magazine aroused
their literary faculty, and thus its pages became the record of the progress of
the profession.

He was also the author of several volumes of deep practical interest and
standard value to dentists, each of which enjoyed a wide circulation : "Dental
Materia Medica," "Taking Impressions of the Mouth," and "The Mouth and
the Teeth." He also wrote the exhaustive presentation of "Diseases of the First
Dentition" for the "American System of Dentistry," and a little pamphlet for
disseminating correct information as to the care of the teeth among the people,
of which about a million copies were sold.

After the death of Dr. Samuel White at the close of 1879 the business was
conducted for about a year and a half by the trustees of his estate, of whom
Dr. James White was one. In 1881 the business was organized as a joint stock
company, with a paid-in capital of one million dollars, under the name, The
S. S. White Dental Manufacturing Company. Dr. White's recognized execu-
tive and administrative ability and his intimate knowledge of the business made
him, logically, the active head of the company, and he was accordingly elected
its president, a position to which he was annually reelected until his death. At
the formation of the company, the plant of Johnston Brothers at Prince Bay,
Staten Island, New York, was absorbed, considerably increasing the manufac-
turing capacity of the house and enabling it to turn out from its own factories
certain products previously made for it by contract.

Under Dr. White's vigorous administration the company went on from one
success to another. One of the most notable of these was the bringing out of
the perfected machine-made bur for excavating dentin, after twelve years of
study and experiment, costing a large sum but marking an epoch in practical
dentistry. Maintaining strictly the foundation principle of the house, — -"to
make the best goods and sell them at a not unreasonable profit," — its output
grew constantly, necessitating the providing of still greater manufacturing
facilities. The headquarters at Chestnut and Twelfth streets, which when
built was supposed to be large enough to meet any future need of the expan-
sion of the business, became crowded, and relief was found by purchasing a
large manufacturing building in Frankford, to which was transferred the pro-
duction of steel goods and many other articles. The factories on Staten Island
were greatly enlarged and an additional branch house was established in Atlanta,
Georgia, for the distribution of the products of the house in the south.

Dr. White also found time to engage in other movements. Before and
during the Civil War he managed the People's Literary Institute for seven
years, working energetically in the maintenance of free speech against bitter
opposition, including at one time vigorous proceedings by the mayor of the



586 HISTORY OF PHILADELPHIA

city. He was identified with the Freedman's Aid Society, an active worker in
the Sanitary Fair, a member of the Seybert commission to investigate the
phenomena of spirituaHsm, one of the organizers and president of the Maternity
Hospital from its foundation in 1872 to his death.

When the present city charter (Bullitt bill) went into operation in 1887
he was appointed without solicitation on his part the first president of the Board
of Charities and Correction. It was a position of honor and hard work without
pay, in which he served with conspicuous fidelity for two years, when he was
removed for refusing to acquiesce in a violation of the civil service laws of the
city, for the maintenance of which he had been appointed.

Dr. White was also a member of the well known firm of manufacturing
chemists, Hance Brothers & White. He was a graduate in medicine of the
University of Pennsylvania. Although he never followed medicine as a voca-
tion he practiced somewhat extensively among relatives and friends, as well as
among the poor, and was frequently called in consultation by eminent practi-
tioners who recognized his exceptional ability as a physician. He received the
honorary degree of D. D. S., from the Pennsylvania College of Dental Sur-
gery, and that of A. M., from St. Lawrence University, of Canton, New York.

Dr. White died suddenly, May 27, 1891, from heart failure, closing an ac-
tive business career of forty-seven years. A rarely gifted man, he gave much
to the world of which he was a part, as evidenced by the recital of his many
activities. Under his guiding hand the relations between the house and the
practical advancement of dentistry became even closer than before. His posi-
tion was unique; head of the leading house in the manufacture of dentists' sup-
plies and at the same time editor of the foremost periodical exponent of dental
science. A man of less poise would have failed to sustain the dual relation
with honor. But Dr. White's rare discrimination enabled him to keep the
pages of the Dental Cosmos absolutely free from the taint of commercialism, to
make them the repository of the scientific thought of the profession, an uplift
to its higher aspirations. On the other hand, he maintained the traditional
standing of the house in the development and production of improved devices
for the real betterment of practical dental art.

Personally, he was one of the kindliest of men ; his life was a benefaction
to those within the sphere of its helpfulness. An energetic, methodical, force-
ful man, of high endeavor and large achievement, his fine, strong personality
made him an example worthy to be followed in very many directions.



WILLIAM H. GILBERT.

William H. Gilbert, the present president of The S. S. White Dental Manu-
facturing Company, was born in Philadelphia, June 30, 1847, the youngest son
of David and Mary C. Gilbert. He attended the public schools until in 1862
he entered the employ of Dr. Samuel S. White. After a few months' service
in the tooth factory of his employer, he went with his father in his machine-
shop, where he continued about a year. His next position was with Little &



HISTORY OF PHILADELPHIA 587

Adamson, who were engaged in the wholesale dress goods business, remaining
with them until July 7, 1864, when he enlisted in the One Hundred and Ninety-
second Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry. In November, his term of enlistment
having expired, he was honorably discharged and mustered out. He then se-
cured a position with French, Richards iS; Company, wholesale druggists, leav-
ing their employ in the early part of the April following and within a week af-
terward, April 9, 1865, again entering the employ of Dr. S. S. White. After
two years spent in the factory, he was transferred to the salesrooms, where he
worked up through the various grades till he became stock clerk and buyer for
the house, which responsible position he was holding at the time of Dr. White's
death in 1879.

After the formation of The S. S. White Dental Manufacturing Company,
the necessity became apparent for the consolidation of the various manufactur-
ing plants under one executive head. Mr. Gilbert was given the newly created
post of general superintendent of manufactures and branch houses. Applying
himself with characteristic energy and thoroughness to the task before him, he
quickly justified his appointment. He began at once a detail study of the nu-
merous products of the house, taking them up in the order of their importance.
He was and is a believer in doing one thing at a time to the end that it shall
be done well. Following out the various steps in the manufacturing operations
involved he was enabled to introduce improvements, to provide checks and tests
at different stages of the work. Wherever it was applicable he installed the
improved systems and had the operatives taught to work under them. The ag-
gregate results of his efTorts in this direction were large economies in the costs
of manufacturing and the assurance of the high quality of the finished product
which had always been the aim of the house.

Upon the death of Dr. James W. White, president of the company, Mr.
Gilbert was called to higher authority and larger powers, through his election
as the general manager of the company in June, 1891. He continued the task



Online LibraryEllis Paxson OberholtzerPhiladelphia; a history of the city and its people, a record of 225 years (Volume 4) → online text (page 57 of 62)