Ellis Paxson Oberholtzer.

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

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Clements are a very old and distinguished family, the name figuring prominently
in connection with events of the Revolutionary war, while intermarriage has
connected the family with the Astors and Drexels.

After his school days were over John B. Newman became engaged in the
foreign trade and shipping business, in which he was active for several years.
He then retired from the conduct of interests of a public character to devote his
attention to the management of a large estate left him by his father, and he was
also associated with the Hon. William Henry Rawle as executor of the Bonaparte
estate, at Bordentown, New Jersey, where Joseph Bonaparte, a younger brother
of the great Napoleon, had lived for many years.

Mr. Newman was married in Philadelphia to Miss Anna Stewart, of this
city, who died in 1866, leaving a daughter, Anna. For his second wife he chose
Miss Elizabeth Cox, a daughter of George and Elizabeth (Stitt) Cox. Her
father was an Englishman who in young manhood crossed the Atlantic to Canada
but afterward went to Cincinnati, where he was for many years actively engaged
in the contracting and building business. Although born in Canada, it was in
America that Mrs. Newman spent her childhood and acquired her education.
By this marriage there was one daughter, Clara, who is now the wife of Frank
M. Etting, residing at No. 1817 Pine street.


Mr. Newman was a republican in his political views but not active as a party
worker. He was always very fond of horses and owned some splendid specimens
of the noble steed. He acted as a member of the board of directors of Old Point
Breeze Park for many years. He held membership and was a vestryman in Holy
Trinity church at Nineteenth and Walnut streets, where his burial services were
held. His death occurred February 13, 1889. His wealth brought with it many
responsibilities, all of which he capably met and in fact throughout his entire life
he discharged every obligation in a maimer that commanded for him the respect
and honor of old and young, rich and poor.


Henry Grier Bryant, scientist, explorer and the author of many valuable
treatises which are the result of wide scientific research and original investiga-
tion, was born in Allegheny, Pennsylvania, November 7, 1859. His father, Walter
Bryant, was a native of New Hampshire and of English ancestry. The Ameri-
can branch of the family was founded in New England early in the seventeenth
century and representatives of the name in later generations participated in the
Revolutionary war. Walter Bryant became one of the early merchants of Pitts-
burg, Pennsylvania, to which city he removed in 1829, there engaging in the
wholesale leather business. He was also associated with his brother-in-law,
Daniel Euwer, in lumber interests, owning large tracts of timber land in north-
western Pennsylvania, which they operated successfully. The mother of Henry
Grier Bryant bore the maiden name of Eleanor Adams Henderson and was of
Scotch-Irish lineage. She was born in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, and died in

Henry Grier Bryant was educated in private schools of Philadelphia, to
which city his father had removed in 1868, and at the Phillips Exeter Academy
of New Hampshire, where he continued his studies from 1876 until 1879. In
the fall of the latter year he matriculated in Princeton University and was grad-
uated A. B. in 1883, while in 1886 the Master of Arts degree was conferred upon
him. Following the completion of his classical course he spent a year in travel
abroad and in the fall of 1884 entered the law school of the University of Penn-
sylvania, from which he was graduated in 1886 with the LL. B. degree. For
some time thereafter he gave his attention to settling his father's estate and in
1889 became secretary of the Edison Electric Light Company. His knowledge
of law has mainly been used as an asset in the management of business affairs
and not as a source of revenue. He has spent much time in travel through the
west, his chief desire being to follow up lines of scientific research and explora-
tion. This led to his organization of an expedition to investigate the Grand
Falls of Labrador in 1891. This attracted widespread public attention at the
time and the results of the expedition were published in the Century Magazine.
His deep interest in exploration led him to join the Peary relief expedition of
1892, of which he was second in command, while in 1894 he was made com-
mander of the Peary auxiliary expedition, which brought home the Peary party


and which was the only successful expedition in the Arctic regions that year.
In 1897 Mr. Bryant organized and conducted an expedition to the Mount Saint
Elias region of Alaska and later made extensive travels into the Rocky moun-
tains of Canada. His explorations have won him many honors and his con-
tributions to geographical literature have been of wide interest. He is now
serving for the seventh term as president of the Geographical Society of Phila-
delphia and his work has received international recognition in his election to a
fellowship in the Royal Geographical Society. He has also been made honorary
corresponding member of several foreign geographical societies, including the
Geographical and Anthropological Society of Stockholm. He also received the
decoration of Officer of the Academy from the French government. He has
attended a number of international geographical congresses as a representative
of the Philadelphia Geographical Society. His contributions to the press, as
appearing in some of the leading periodicals of the country, have included Notes
on Early American Arctic Expeditions and articles descriptive of travels in
Java and French Indo-China. His name is associated with that of Admiral
G. W. Melville in an interesting experiment with drift casts to determine the
direction and speed of circumpolar currents. He spent the summer of 1909 on
the Labrador coast and visited the hospitals founded by Dr. Grenfell and the
Moravian missions.

Mr. Bryant attends the Presbyterian church, and while a republican in poli-
tics where national issues are involved, is strongly allied with the independent
movement in the consideration of municipal questions. While he is identified
with various organizations for scientific research, he is also a popular member
of various societies of a purely social character, belonging to the University,
Art, Racquet, Corinthian Yacht and Princeton Clubs. He is also a member of
the American Philosophical Society and has been the secretary of the American
Alpine Club since its organization. In the twentieth century, other things being
equal, the men of substance are the stronger forces in the progress of the
world. America is fully alive to the opportunity for scientific research and in-
vestigation and Henry Grier Bryant is prominent among those who have been
making history in that field.


Dr. Benjamin Buck Wilson is a native of Philadelphia and throughout an
extended career has been actively identified with its professional life. At the
age of eighty-two years he is still regarded as one of the most successful and
able general practitioners of the city. His advancement had its root not only
in wide scientific knowledge but also in that broad humanitarianism which sought
the welfare of his fellowmen because of deep human sympathy. His life work
constitutes an important chapter in the history of some of the leading hospitals
of the city and is perhaps most notable because of the fact that he was a pioneer
in the instruction of women in surgery, thus securing to the profession the




i,^i„ III, II [ 11^ r*-


labors of some of the most able and distinguished surgeons and gynecologists of
the country.

Dr. Wilson was born near Germantown, on the 22d of October, 1828, and is
descended from Quaker ancestry dating from a very early period in the coloniza-
tion of the new world. He traces his ancestry back to Stephen Wilson, in whose
home the Society of Friends held their religious meetings several years before
the arrival of William Penn in America. He is also a representative in the fifth
generation of the descendants of Thomas Canby, who in his youth left his native
place in Yorkshire, England, and in 1682 crossed the Atlantic. In the early
part of the eighteenth century he was a prominent member of the provincial
legislature and was otherwise connected with public affairs of moment. Samuel
Wilson, son of Stephen Wilson, married Rebecca Canby, and they became the
parents of thirteen children, all of whom married and became parents of fami-
lies noted for longevity.

Samuel R. Wilson, the father of Dr. Wilson, lived to the venerable age of
nearly ninety years, passing away in 1896. In early manhood he wedded Su-
sanna A. Robinson, a descendant of Benjamin Buck, who was also a represen-
tative of the Society of Friends and of English birth. He amassed a consider-
able fortune in the Island of Barbadoes through improvements in machinery for
crushing cane and making sugar. He came to Philadelphia for the purpose of
liberating his slaves, to each of whom he gave a substantial outfit, enabling them
to start in life for themselves.

At the usual age Dr. Wilson was sent to the local schools and afterward at-
tended the Germantown Academy prior to becoming a student in the Philadel-
phia Central high school, from which he was graduated the honor man of his
class in July, 1847. Three years later the school conferred upon him the Master
of Arts degree. He decided upon the profession of medicine as a life work and
to this end became a student in the University of Pennsylvania and also entered
the office of Dr. Thomas F. Betton, an eminent surgeon of that day. He re-
ceived his professional degree upon his graduation from the university in April,
1850, and at once located for practice in Philadelphia, winning almost immedi-
ate recognition as a learned and able physician and surgeon. From the begin-
ning his clientele steadily increased and had reached large and burdensome pro-
portions when the outbreak of the Civil war caused him to put aside all busi-
ness and personal considerations.

Hastening to take part in resisting the attempt of the south to overthrow the
Union in its preliminary attack upon Fort Sumter, he immediately organized a
military company in the village of Bustleton and was chosen its captain. Up to
this time he had had no military experience but he at once took up the study of
military tactics and drill and soon brought his command to a notable point of
efficiency and discipline. Soon, however, he resigned to accept a proffered com-
mission as surgeon of volunteers. He was on duty for a time in Washington
and in Virginia and was then ordered to New Orleans. He organized the Alex-
ander Hospital at Brashear City (now Morgan City). While in charge there
in 1863, the territory which the hospital occupied was retaken by the Confed-
erates and Dr. Wilson by his own efforts prevented the capture of over a thou-
sand sick and convalescent soldiers, together with an immense amount of gov-

Vol. IV^5


ernment stores and hospital property. He seized the roUing stock of the rail-
road and by running trains all night removed the inmates and the entire con-
tents of the hospital before the occupation of the enemy.

Dr. Wilson was then made a member of the field stafif of Major-General
Godfrey Weitzel as his medical director and was present at the surrender of
Port Hudson, which event completed the opening of the Mississippi river. Later
he narrowly escaped capture in the unfortunate expedition to Sabine Pass on
the Texas coast and, returning to New Orleans, was with the demonstration
into the Teche country. He was recalled from the Nineteenth Army Corps to
assume medical charge of the defenses of New Orleans, on the stafif of General
Joseph J. Reynolds, at a time when strenuous effort was being put forth to
prevent the entrance of yellow fever into the Crescent city. Although the role
that the mosquito plays in promoting the dissemination of this disease was not
then known, it was yet possible by careful and thorough sanitation and the isola-
tion of the sick in wholesome locations, to prevent its spread. Army regulations
and discipline offered excellent opportunities for thoroughness in this respect
and soldiers in large numbers were employed in making perfect the city's sani-
tary condition. The results were at once apparent. The city had never before
known summers so free from disease as during its military occupation of 1863
and 1864, and this notwithstanding the presence of large numbers of unac-
climated northern people, both in the army and as civilian temporary residents.
The lesson was well learned by the citizens of New Orleans. Never since that
time has the city been the victim of those terribly severe epidemics which pre-
viously had so frequently decimated its population and had made residence there
during the summer months an event to be dreaded and avoided. Dr. Wilson's
indefatigable labor and the depressing effect of the malarial climate undermined
his health and he returned home for a brief period of rest and recuperation.
Before his leave of absence had expired, however, he was again in active duty,
being placed in charge of the Stanton, one of the large hospitals in Washington,
which he conducted with signal success, as evidenced by the fact that it was
next to the last of the great general hospitals of the war to be closed. While
in charge of the Stanton, Secretary of War Stanton appointed Dr. Wilson a
member of the board to examine the veteran medical officers for commissions in
Hancock's Veteran First Corps. He was made president of the board upon the
retirement of Colonel Dougherty and on the organization of the corps became
its medical director. Here Dr. Wilson found his former preceptor in a subordi-
nate position as an acting assistant surgeon under contract in the wards of the
Lincoln Hospital. He immediately invited him to appear before the board, ar-
ranging that the presidents — Surgeon Dougherty — should alone conduct the en-
tire examination. As a result Dr. Betton promptly received from President Lin-
coln his commission as the ranking surgeon of the corps. When, in 1866, the
regimental flags of the Pennsylvania volunteers were returned to the custody of
the state. General Hancock requested Surgeon Wilson to serve again upon his
staff in the parade and ceremonies of the day, thus making tactful recognition
of their previous relations. Dr. Wilson was mustered out with the rank of
lieutenant colonel. The accuracy and system with which his accounts had been
kept were manifest in the fact that all were adjusted within two days.

IIISTURY Ui- i'lllLADELrillA 87

With the ending of the war Dr. Wilson resumed the private practice of his
profession in Philadelphia. He has always continued in general practice, al-
though he has done much notahle hospital work, serving for extended periods on
tile surgical statifs of the Howard Hospital, the Woman's Hospital and the Jew-
ish Hospital. From 1807 until 1883 he was professor of surgery in the Woman's
Medical College of Pennsylvania and surgeon to the Woman's Hospital. He
taught surgery to women when it was considered almost a crime to do so. Many
of the women who have gained distinction as surgeons and gynecologists and
whose work is an honor to the profession received their early training in his
classes at the Woman's College and at his clinics in the Woman's Hospital. He
was the first to perform an ovariotomy in the latter place. The operation was a
double one, presenting points of especial difficulty and risk, and the successful
result added much to the prestige of the then recently organized institution. He
acted as surgeon of the Howard Hospital for ten years and for more than forty
years has been surgeon on the staff of the Jewish Hospital, a position he still
retains. Loving his profession and entirely devoted to it, he still continues in
active work; of course in a considerable degree restricted in its scope. He is
much in request as a consultant and in out of town calls. Then, too, many who
had benefited by his service in earlier years turn naturally to him in sickness and
distress; and he finds much satisfaction in that, while abating physical ills, he
can often by a word or two relieve much mental anxiety.

Dr. Wilson is a companion of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of
the United States and a comrade of the Grand Army of the Republic. He is an
honorary member of the Association of Military Surgeons of the United States,
a member of the societies of the Army of the Potomac and of the Army of the
Gulf and many other medical and social organizations.

In 1851 Dr. Wilson was married to Mara Louisa Rebola, the eldest daughter
of L. Rebola, a prominent merchant and an ofificer of the Italian contingent of
Napoleon's army. Her mother was a member of the distinguished Francis
family of Boston and a double first cousin of Lydia Maria Child. The death of
Mrs. Wilson occurred in 1895. There were two sons and two daughters of the
marriage, but the younger son. Dr. Arthur M. Wilson, mentioned in this volume,
passed away in 1884, while the elder son, Samuel, also died in early manhood.


Percy A. Kley, an architect of Philadelphia, recognized throughout the coun-
try as one of the most successful and progressive of the builders of packing
houses and buildings of similar construction, was born in Chicago on the 5th of
May, 1869, and throughout his life has been imbued with the spirit of enterprise
that dominates the middle west. What he has to do he does quickly and effi-
ciently. When he sees a need he sets to work to meet it. In this he has developed
an initiative spirit that has made him a leader in that department of architectural
construction in which he has specialized.


While spending his youthful days in the home of his parents, John and Mar-
garet Kley, he attended the public schools of Chicago, passing through consecu-
tive grades until he left the high school in 1884. He was afterward a student in
the Chicago Manual Training School, graduating in the class of 1889 and made
his initial step in the business world in the employ of Weir & Craig of Chicago,
of which company his father was at that time president. The son was superin-
tendent of construction for this concern for a period of eight years, during which
time he had charge of the erection of the mechanical equipment in many of the
large packing houses in Sioux City, Iowa, St. Paul, Minneapolis, Omaha, Kan-
sas City, Denver and many other western towns. On the severance of his con-
nection with this company, he went to New York city, where for five years he
maintained an office as mechanical engineer and architect.

On the expiration of that period Mr. Kley came to Philadelphia and opened
an office at 1936 Sansom street, whence in August, 1906, he removed to 1535 Chest-
nut street. From the beginning of his identification with the public interests of
the city he has been very successful. He has gained fame throughout the United
States and is the only representative of packing house construction in the coun-
try devoting his entire time to that particular line of building. Among some of
the prominent plants which he has designed and constructed are the packing house
of Arbogast & Bastian, Allentown, Pennsylvania ; plant of John J. Felin & Com-
pany, Inc., of Philadelphia; the Seltzer Packing Company, Pottsville ; and the
Frederick City Abattoir Company, Frederick, Maryland; and numerous others.
He was the first architect to build a modern sanitary plant on the island of
Cuba, having built the Matadero de Luyano Company's plant which has proved
one of the biggest successes in Havana. He has given special study to the con-
struction of packing houses, viewing the question from every standpoint possible,
and that he has come to be an authority on this department of building was indi-
cated by the fact that he was called upon to address the American Meat Pack-
ers Association at their annual convention in 1909 at Chicago. On that occa-
sion he spoke upon Packing House Construction, emphasizing the need for bet-
ter buildings if improved sanitary condition would be secured and better equip-
ment for modern method were to be utilized and the cost of production reduced
to a minimum. He not only advised steel and concrete construction, but also
urged the necessity of many windows that light and air might be had in abundance
and also urged the adoption of scientific methods of ventilation and the applica-
tion of electricity for operating the machinery. He had investigated the question
of building packing houses not only from the standpoint of architect and builder
but also in relation to the needs of the packers that the work of the packing
houses should be facilitated without the needless expenditure of time, labor or
material. He is as familiar with the work done in packing houses as the owners
thereof, and, recognizing their needs, he set to work to meet these, discussing
the question in every possible phase and in clear, concise manner showing the pos-
sibility of a successful solution of many problems which have heretofore vexed
the packers. The president on this occasion tendered him in the name of the
convention "sincere thanks for the clear, lucid and comprehensive explanation
he has just given us on the packing house construction," adding: "we have just
listened to one of the finest papers that I have ever heard read."


Like the great majority of the successful young business men of the jirescnt
day, Mr. Kley does not give his attention to his business to tlie excUision of all
else, realizing the fact that other and outside interests serve to keep an even bal-
ance in one's mental and physical powers. He finds recreation in hunting and
fishing, delights in roller skating and baseball and was one of the organizers and
former president of the Allentown City Ba,seball League. He also enjoys box-
ing, motoring, boating and traveling and uses for pleasure and business a fine
automobile. In manner he is alert and ready for what the moment brings. He
does not hesitate to say what he does know, or to say that he does not know if
such is the case, and yet there are few questions propounded to him upon con-
struction matters for which he does not have a ready and correct answer.

Mr. Kley was married in Philadelphia to Miss Clara Palmer and they have
one son. Ransom. While he now has his office in Philadelphia, he has been
spoken of as P. A. Kley of all over the United States. One meeting him never
dreams of failure in connection with him but realizes that he is making rapid
strides toward the goal of success.


Dr. Lewis L. Walker, deceased, was a man of broad literary attainments as
well as of professional skill in the practice of medicine. Born in 1825, in Potts-
town, Pennsylvania, his life record covered the intervening years to the 19th of
January, 1894, when he passed away in Philadelphia. Through family ties he
was connected with Colonel James Burd, who held his commission under King
George III. James Burd married Sarah Shippen, a daughter of Edward Ship-
pen and a sister of Chief Justice Shippen. The latter's daughter was the wife
of Benedict Arnold and her social ostracism by the leading people of this coun-
try following her husband's treachery caused her departure to England, where
she spent her remaining days, although indisputable facts have long since estab-
lished her innocence in connection with the famous treason case.

Early determining upon the practice of medicine as his life work. Dr. Walker
was graduated from the Pennsylvania ]\Iedical College in 1847 and thereafter
entered the field of general practice, in which he continued with notable success
for eleven years. On the expiration of that period he was crippled in a run-
away accident and retired from active practice. Through reading and research,
however, he kept in close touch with the onward march of the profession and
with many lines of progressive thought. He was a frequent and valued con-
tributor to literary, medical and church publications and was a valued member
of the Athenjeum. His broad reading made him an interesting companion to

Online LibraryEllis Paxson OberholtzerPhiladelphia; a history of the city and its people, a record of 225 years (Volume 4) → online text (page 9 of 62)