Ellis Paxson Oberholtzer.

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

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Pennsylvania. He studied theology at Allegheny, Pennsylvania, and in the The-
ological Seminary of the Reformed Presbyterian church at Philadelphia, later
receiving the honorary degree of D. D. from the Richmond and Cedarville Col-
leges of Ohio. For nine years he was pastor at Cincinnati and for thirty-four
years past has served in a similar capacity at Philadelphia. He holds a professor-
ship in the Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary and was for a number
of years editor of the Reformed Presbyterian Advocate, being one of the leaders
in this denomination in the United States. The mother of our subject, who was
Mattie McFee before her marriage, is a daughter of John McFee, a well known
carpet manufacturer of Philadelphia. She was educated at Terre Haute College,
Indiana, and has from her girlhood taken a great interest in musical afifairs. She
is a member of the Matinee Musical Club of Philadelphia and other musical organ-
izations. Two sons were born to Rev. Dr. and Mrs. Boice ; J. Morton and Wilson
Scott. Wilson Scott Boice received his preparatory education in the Phillips Exe-
ter Academy of Massachusetts and later became a student of Williams College of
Massachusetts, from which he received the degrees of A. B. and A. M. A portion
of his time is occupied as instructor in Latin in the Southern high school of Phil-
adelphia. He is a member of the Masonic order and of the Sigma Phi fraternity.
J. Morton Boice entered the Central high" school of Philadelphia with the class
of 1895 and completed his preparatory school training at Rugby Academy. He
matriculated at the University of Pennsylvania, graduating with the degree of
A. B. in 1899. He studied in the University of Berhn, Germany, from 1900 to 1901
and at the Academie de Paris in 1902, being granted a certificate from the latter
institution in 1902. He received his degree of M. D. from the Medico-Chirurgical
College of Philadelphia in 1904 and during the same year he was resident physi-
cian at Frankford Hospital of Philadelphia and from 1905 to 1907 possessed
advantages of interneship at St. Joseph's Hospital, also being physician to the
■medical dispensary of the latter from 1907 to 1909. He served as assistant to
Dr. D. Braden Kyle and Dr. H. M. Christian from 1907 to 1909 and as laboratory
assistant to Dr. Edward C. Kirk from 1907 to 1908, thus gaining a large practical
knowledge which has been of special benefit in his practice At the present time
he is gynecologist to the out-patient department of St. Joseph's Hospital and lec-
turer in chemistry to the Training School of the same. He is greatly interested
in medical organizations and is a member of the Medical Club of Philadelphia,
the Philadelphia County Medical Society, the Pennsylvania State Medical Society
and the American Medical Association and is also a fellow of the College of
Physicians of Philadelphia.

An active and efficient worker along all lines for medical improvement, he is
a contributor to medical publications and a constant and indefatigable student of
subjects pertaining to his profession. He takes a special interest in photography

Vol. IV— 28


as applied in a scientific way to assist in determinng the progress of disease and
along this line he has been very successful. Politically he gives his support to
the republican party. In religious belief he adheres to the faith represented by
his honored father and is a member of the First Reformed Presbyterian church.
Socially he is connected with the Philadelphia Cricket Club and the Racquet Club
of Philadelphia. His home is at No. 4020 Spruce street and his office at No.
2035 Chestnut street. Although engaged in practice only a few years, he is well
established and is recognized by his brother practitioners and by many others who
have been attracted by his estimable qualities as one of the coming physicians of
the city.


Judge Robert T. Conrad, numbered with those men who have left their
impress upon the history of Philadelphia, served as the city's chief executive,
occupied the bench of the court of quarter sessions and gained distinction as
a practitioner before the bar, while his fame as a playwright extended through-
out the country. He was born in Philadelphia in 1810 and died June 27, 1858.
His father, John Conrad, was a pioneer publisher of this city, a member of the"
firm of Michael Conrad & Son. In 1805 he married Elizabeth Kittera, a daugh-
ter of John Wilkes Kittera, who was born in 1753 and died in 1801. Her father
was a soldier of the Revolutionary war, an eminent lawyer of Philadelphia, and
a member of the United States congress from 1791 until 1801. He also served
as United States district attorney for Pennsylvania under President John
Adams. The Kittera family is of Irish origin, the first American representa-
tives of the name coming from Ulster county, Ireland, in 1720 and settling in
Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The wife of John Wilkes Kittera was considered one
of the most beautiful women of her time. La Fayette was a warm personal
friend of this family and on his second visit to America, in 1824, his first call
after his public reception, was on his "old friend, Mrs. Kittera."

After completing his early education, Robert T. Conrad studied law with his
uncle, Thomas Kittera, a lawyer of distinguished ability and high reputation,
and was admitted to the bar at the age of twenty-one years, but instead of enter-
ing upon active practice, turned his attention to editorial work in connection
with the Daily Commercial Intelligencer, which he later merged into the Phila-
delphia Gazette. He was also associate editor of the North American, but ill
health caused him to withdraw from the field of journalism and he turned again
to the law in 1835. At all times an influential factor in the public life of the
city, he was appointed recorder of the court and was at that time the youngest
man who had ever reached a judicial position in Pennsylvania. After serving
for two weeks in that position he was called to the bench of the court of crim-
inal sessions. On the abolishment of that court he was appointed judge of the
court of general sessions and as lawyer and jurist displayed ability equal to that
which he had manifested in the field of journalism. He later again became an
active factor in the literary world as editor of Graham's Magazine, at that time


the leading periodical of the coiintiy, its contrihutors being American writers of
high repute. He joined the men of letters as a dramatic author, his first pub-
lished play being Conradin. Later he wrote Aylmcre, the Bondsman of Kent,
a successful American drama, which was purchased and produced by Edwin
Forrest, one of the most eminent tragedians ever seen upon the American stage
Mr. Conrad also wrote a third tragedy. The Heretic. As an author his fame
spread throughout the entire country, and he was equally well known in Phila-
delphia and among the members of the legal profession in the east as a brilliant
and successful lawyer and judge.

He gave substantial proof of his loyalty and progressive citizenship in his
service as chief executive. In 1854 the old city of Philadelphia extended its
borders to take in outlying districts and Judge Conrad was made the candidate
of the whig party for mayor against Richard \'aux, the democratic candidate.
About this time a new secret party called the know-nothings came into exist-
ence and they, too, supported Judge Conrad in the campaign so that he was
elected the first mayor of consolidated Philadelphia in 1854 by a majority of
eighty-five hundred. His administration was characterized by many substantial
reforms and improvements. He favored the enforcement of law regarding Sun-
day labor and trafific and the sale of intoxicants. He took great interest in
everything pertaining to the welfare of the city, enlarged the police and fire
departments and introduced many features essential to good government in a
city of growing commercial and industrial importance. His administration was
characterized by a progressive spirit up to this time largely unknown among
Philadelphia's chief executives. In former years mayors were chosen from the
city council and the honor was so little desired in colonial days that many of
those elected preferred to pay a fine rather than accept the office. History re-
cords that in 1747 Alderman Taylor was fined thirty pounds for refusing to
serve, after which Joseph Turner was elected and when he, too, refused to ac-
cept the office a fine of thirty pounds was imposed upon him. After that a
salary of one hundred pounds was voted to be paid the mayor. The efiforts of
Judge Conrad on the whole were of a most beneficial character and the city's
progress in many lines was materially advanced. In 1856 he was elected judge
of the court of quarter sessions and his record on the bench was in harmony
with his record as a man and citizen, characterized by the faithful performance
of every duty and a masterly settlement of every question presented for solu-
tion. It was in the year following his election to the quarter sessions bench
that he published Alymere and the Bondsman of Kent. He was also the author
of a number of devotional poems which were published by his friend, George H.
Baker, in 1862. His writings were not always of a poetical or dramatical form,
for in 1839 he published an article entitled. The Vindication of the South.

On the 17th of September, 1831, Judge Conrad was married to Miss Ara-
bella Stillwell Griffin, a daughter of Captain Moses Griffin, U. S. N., and a
granddaughter of Captain and Sarah (Stillwell) Griffin. The grandfather was
born in 1745 and died in 1802 and was also a member of the United States
Navy. He was imprisoned during the Revolutionary war on the British prison
ship Jersey. His wife went to the camp of Washington, who gave her in charge
of an English officer to exchange for her husband. Through a most dangerous


country she made her way in safety to New York and finally persuaded Sir
Henry Clinton to make the exchange.

Such in brief is the history of Judge Conrad. At this point it would be
almost tautological to enter into any series of statements as showing him to be
a man of broad intelligence and genuine public spirit, for this has been shadowed
forth between the lines of this review. His activities indeed touched various
interests and phases of life and such was the breadth of his wisdom, the hon-
esty of his motives and the effectiveness of his public work that association with
him meant expansion and elevation.


In making a selection of men the sketches of whose lives will constitute the
biographical portion of this work, the author has used great care to select none
but such men as have in some measure left "Footprints on the sands of time"
or who have by their lives and labors aided materially in making Philadelphia
the great center of commerce, learning and culture that she is ; men whose works
and deeds in matters of public interest shall live in the memory long after they
themselves have been gathered to their fathers. Of this class was William W.
Harding, journalist and manufacturer, who was born in Philadelphia, Novem-
ber I, 1830, and was a representative of the family long prominently connected
with the publishing business. '

His father, Jesper Harding, opened an establishment for a book and job
printing business in Philadelphia in 1829, and in 1830 began the publication of
the Pennsylvania Inquirer. This proving a successful undertaking, he further
branched in business in 1835, when he began manufacturing printing paper, being
induced to take up this business on account of the high price then demanded for
paper. He erected a mill on Second street, stocked it with the latest improved
machinery and subsequently removed his printing plant to that building. Owing
to modern presses rags were often converted into newspapers in his establish-
ment in the space of six hours. In 1840, in order to obtain greater water power
he erected a factory at Trenton, where he continued in the manufacture of
paper until 1869, when he retired. He was also known as the publisher of
Harding's Bibles.

William White Harding was named in honor of Bishop William White, an
intimate friend of his father, was educated in the Northwest grammar school
of Philadelphia and at an early age entered the employ of George S. Appleton,
book publisher at Seventh and Chestnut streets, serving as clerk in that estab-
lishment. After years of careful training there he became associated in busi-
ness with his father in the fall of 1849, under the firm style of Jesper Harding
& Son, which partnership continued until his father's retirement in 1859, when
William W. Harding became sole proprietor. He threw the entire weight of
his energies into the improvement of the Inquirer, increasing the size of the
paper from two to four pages, abolished the system of credit subscriptions and
introduced the first stereotyping in Philadelphia, together with the most modern


processes of the clay. Tlie results of his efforts were at once seen in an in-
creased patronage and not only was improvement shown in the mechanical work
of the paper but also in the editorials and news items. No efifort nor expense
were spared to bring the paper up to the highest standard of journalism and on
the 2d of April, i860, its size was increased to eight pages and the name changed
to the I'hiladelphia Inquirer, making this the first successful quarto newspaper
published in this city. Through the energetic management of Mr. Harding a
large circulation was acquired and in its methods of news gathering the paper
took a leadership that became the standard of service for other journals. Dur-
ing the war no expense was spared in securing news from the armies and the
seat of government. Immense sums were paid out for special correspondents
and the Inquirer became the most popular paper not only in Philadelphia but
throughout the Union troops. For a time it was necessary to use the presses
of its contemporaries to supply the demand. The paper warmly supported the
administration and the government frequently evidenced its appreciation by
ordering a special edition for free distribution. Hon. Edwin M. Stanton, sec-
retary of war, wrote Mr. Harding on the 14th of January, 1868, as follows:
"Please accept my thanks for your friendly telegram just received. I appre-
ciate your kindness highly. From no one have I received in my official labors
more disinterested and highly prized support than from yourself. Its remem-
brance will be cherished with pleasure. Wishing you every success in life, I
am and ever shall be, truly yours, Edwin M. Stanton."

With the development of the Inquirer and the upbuilding of the business
required in its publication, Mr. Harding also extended his efforts to other fields.
In 1864 he established a paper mill at Manayunk, and afterward added the
manufacture of wood paper, securing the rights from its inventor. He was
prominently identified with the first attempts to make paper out of wood and
was deeply interested in the development of that work. In fact he gave a great
deal of his time and money to assist in the perfection of inventions of various
kinds and especially those tending in any way to develop the newspaper in-
dustry. He also continued extensively the publication and sale of Harding's
Bibles, which he constantly improved, and added to his plant equipment for the
manufacture of photograph albums, producing some of the finest ever placed
upon the market. About 1870 he established a store on Dock street near Third
for the sale of Bibles and albums, and in 1872 removed his retail establishment
to Ninth and Chestnut streets. Thus in the field of merchandising and manu-
facturing he built up for himself a most creditable reputation, nor did this cover
the scope of his business activities. He was one of the first to agitate the sub-
ject of city passenger railways and was a prominent leader in the movement
which secured the establishment of the first street railway lines. He became
identified with several of the leading street railway systems and reaped rich re-
wards from his initiative efforts and well directed business interests in that
field. During the period of the Civil war he was closely associated with Jay
Cooke, who was perhaps the most prominent financier of that day. His industry
and energy, his courage and fidelity to principle were illustrated later in his
career, and brief and imperfect as this sketch necessarily is, it falls far short
of justice to him if it fails to excite regret that there are not more citizens like


unto him in virtues and ability, and gratitude that there are some as worthy of
honor and of imitation.

Mr. Harding made the study of chemistry a recreation and became the pos-
sessor of expert knowledge in that scientific field. He also possessed consid-
erable inventive genius and patented several useful devices from which he re-
ceived a considerable revenue. Of attractive personal appearance, he was a
man of medium height, simple in his habits and unostentatious in his manner.
He never touched tobacco nor liquor and the excellent preservation of his health
for many years was due to his rigid observance of nature's laws. His only in-
temperance, perhaps, came in his work, to which he devoted from twelve to
fifteen hours per day. He found keen joy not only in success but in the actual
doing of any duties which came to him with the development and enlargement
of his business interests, and his record is a splendid illustration of what may
be accomplished when one has the determination to make the dream of youth
a reality of manhood.

The death of Mr. Harding occurred May i6, 1889. A review of his life
brings to light many points. A man without pretense, thoroughly genuine, free
from the importance felt by lesser minds, absorbed in his work, he was bent on
doing the best he could for every one. He possessed that mysterious and mag-
netic charm which, intangible as the spirit of life itself, yet manifests itself with
dynamic force in all human relations to differentiate its possessor from the


William Henry Brooks is vice president of the William F. Murphy Sons
Company, blank book makers, printers and manufacturing stationers of Phila-
delphia, and such is his recognized ability and resourcefulness in business cir-
cles that his cooperation has been sought along many other lines and he now has
voice in the conduct of various important corporate interests, all of which have
directly benefited by the stimulus of his cooperation and his sound judgment,
which recognizes possibilities in the world of trade and adopts practical meth-
ods to the attainment of success.

Mr. Brooks was born in that part of Philadelphia which was formerly Tioga,
on the 18th of November, 1866. His parents, William and Emily Josephine
(Murphy) Brooks, are both now deceased. His paternal ancestry was of Eng-
lish origin but of long residence in America, one member of the family, John
Head, having come from County Suffolk, England, in the early part of the eigh-
teenth century. John Head II wedded Marj- Hudson, whose daughter Eliza-
beth married first John Scattergood and second Samuel Baker and her daughter,
Elizabeth Baker became the wife of John Brooks, who was the grandfather of
William Henry Brooks. To their marriage were born twelve children, of whom
William Brooks was the youngest. He wedded Emily Josephine Murphy, a
daughter of William Frazer Murphy, who in 1820 founded the present firm of
William F. Murphy Sons Company. William F. Murphy was a son of Will-


iam Murphy, whose father, John Murphy, a Protestant, and a native of Ireland,
eanie to America as a non-commissioned officer of the British army in 1761.
He afterward served with tiie Continental army in the Revolutionary war, thus
aiding in the cause of independence. He married a Mrs. Cooke, nee Shemeall,
who belonged to a Dutch Lutheran family that was driven from Holland by
religious persecution. Their son, William Murphy, was born, lived and died in
New York city, while his son, William F. Murphy, came to Philadelphia shortly
before 1820.

William Henry Brooks, left an orphan at the age of fifteen years, thereafter
made his home with hi.s uncle, Francis W. Murphy. He was educated in the
public schools, in the Friends Central school and in Swarthmore College, which
he attended from 1881 until 1885. He was very active in athletics during his
college days and has for many years been a member of the Swarthmore Club,
formed of alumna of that college. In October, 1885, he entered business life
in connection with William F. Murphy Sons Company, his uncle, Francis W.
Murphy, being then the only member of the family actively connected with the
business. Upon its incorporation in 1891 Mr. Brooks was chosen secretary and
in 1894 was elected to the office of vice president, since which time the active
management of the business has devolved largely upon him. It has continued
to prosper and grow under his direction, being today the leading printing, bind-
ing, stationery and blank book house in the city. Mr. Brooks has constantly
studied to expand the trade along substantial lines, to fully meet the demands
of the public and to so conduct his interests that substantial prosperity, which
is the merited reward of labor, shall result. A man of resourceful business
ability, he has come into active connection with many other important concerns.
He is also a director of the United Security Life Insurance and Trust Company
and of the Wayne Title and Trust Company. He is likewise on the executive
committee of the Board of Trade and is vice president of the International
Stationery Company of New York city. He is also president of the Philadelphia
Stationers Association and has been a director of the National Association of
Stationers and Manufacturers.

Aside from his connection with business affairs and trade societies he has
other important membership relations, being a life member of the Fairmount
Park Art Association and vice president of the Union League. He has been
a very active member of the Union League for many years, serving as one of
its directors for four years and two years ago was elected a vice president. He
was one of the organizers of St. David's Golf Club and for five years was its
treasurer. He belongs to the Merion Cricket Club, the Down Town Club, and
is an honorary associate member of the Veteran Corps. In politics he is a re-
publican where national issues are involved but casts an independent local bal-
lot and his efforts have always tended toward reform. He belongs to the Rad-
nor Presbyterian church of Wayne, Pennsylvania, and is vice president of its
board of trustees.

On the i8th of October, 1894, in Philadelphia, Mr. Brooks was married to
Miss Elizabeth Dornan, a daughter of Robert Dornan, carpet manufacturer
and prominent citizen of Philadelphia, whose wife, Sarah J. Stinson, was the
daughter of Thomas Stinson, also a carpet manufacturer. Three children have


been born unto Mr. and Mrs. Brooks, Robert ifornan, William Henry and
Theodore Frazer, aged respectively fifteen, twelve and seven years. They re-
side at Crossways, St. David's, Delaware county, Pennsylvania, where Mr.
Brooks has lived since 1886, erecting his residence — a fine country home — in

In disposition he is genial and social, pleasant and courteous to all. He is
a most popular club man and has hosts of friends among business associates
as well. He does not devote the greater part of his leisure time to club life,
however, preferring above all things the associations of home and family. In
business the duty nearest his hand has always claimed his attention and by its
faithful performance he has found himself ready to meet a succeeding demand
upon his time, ability and energy. The years chronicle his success which has
come, however, as the logical sequence of wise use of time, talent and


Among Philadelphia's native sons who have risen to prominence in connec-
tion with the management and expansion of important business enterprises is
George Harrison Frazier, who in banking circles has won for himself a most
enviable position, instituting methods that have raised the standard of service

Online LibraryEllis Paxson OberholtzerPhiladelphia; a history of the city and its people, a record of 225 years (Volume 4) → online text (page 59 of 62)