Harold E. Pickersgill.

A biographical album of prominent Pennsylvanians (Volume 3) online

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ing, to accept the Superintendency of the Delaware and Atlantic Telegraph and
Telephone Company. When Mr. Zeublin resigned as superintendent of the
Sixth District of the Western Union Company to take charge of the Baltimore
and Ohio Telegraph System, Mr. Gill was appointed as his successor, retaining
the general superintendence of the Delaware and Atlantic Telegraph and Tele-
phone Company. The district under his charge includes the territory between
the Potomac River and Jersey City, N. J., and extends to Altoona, Pa. Large
interests of the company are under his care, and he has the supervision of the
work of the Western Union in the cities of Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia,
Harrisburg, and intermediate points embraced in the territory named.

Mr. Gill is a Republican, but the only political or public offices he has held are
membership in the Board of Public Education, -to which he was appointed from
the Thirty-second School Section by the Board of Judges in 1888, and the posi-
tion of Commissioner from the State of Pennsylvania to the Paris Exposition of
1889. Besides his connection with the corporations before mentioned, he is a
director in a large number of local telegraph and telephone companies in many
of the outlying towns and cities of his district.

He is a gentleman of quiet activity, with a mind of somewhat marked judicial
strength and tenacity of purpose. His judgment is good, his industry constant
and his character unexceptionable. He has acquired by private study and read-
ing a considerable knowledge of common law, and is generally so well posted,
efficient and judicious, that he is thoroughly competent to meet the multifarious
questions that constantly come before him in the performance of his official

Mr. Gill was married on December 8, 1870, to Miss Lizzie H. Slater. They
have five children. C. R. D.

Wi llio G. Hale,


Philadelphia architecture was for many years so frequently a subject of ridi-
cule that the term became a synonym for monotony and want of beauty ;
but since the Centennial there has been a marked improvement in the style of
the buildings that have been erected. Girard College, the U. S. Mint and
Custom House, the Commercial Exchange and a few other structures were the
only ones in the city which could lay claim to any distinctive architectural
merits prior to the change that came over the city in that respect about the time
of the beginning of the third century of its existence.

Among the architects of Philadelphia who have done much to effect the
notable improvement referred to is Willis G. Hale, whose examples of work
have made a most favorable impression, and are creditable alike to his creative
power and to the good taste and enterprise of the capitalists who adopted his
designs. He was born at Seneca Falls, in the State of New York, and is
descended from old Puritan stock on his father's side, while his mother's ances-
tors, the Gaylords, came from Normandy in France, some of them settling in the
Wyoming Valley, in this State, where they were massacred by the Indians, their
names appearing on the monument erected to commemorate that tragic event.
His grandfather, Francis Hale, fought on the side of the patriots during the war
of independence, after the close of which he settled at Otisco, south of Syracuse,
and the old homestead is still in possession of the family. He married Olive
Harrison in 1783, and seven children were born to the union — Eben, James,
Charles H., Pliny, Seneca, Nancy and Charlotte. Pliny Hale was a soldier in
the war of 181 2, and Seneca, at the age of seventy-five, raised a company of
soldiers and led them in the war of the rebellion. Charles H. Hale, the father
of Willis G., was a man of great force of character. He was a strict Presbyterian,
and one of the pillars of that religious denomination. He married Susan E.
Gaylord, of Hartford, Conn., and died at Syracuse, N. Y., December, 1885,
after having retired from mercantile life. His oldest son, Francis E. Hale, enlisted
as a private, in 1861, in the celebrated Loomis Battery at Coldwater, Mich., was
promoted to the rank of captain, and at the age of twenty-one was brevetted
colonel, and served on the staff of General Loomis until the close of the war.

Willis G. Hale was brought up very strictly, his austere father firmly believing
in the precept that to spare the rod would spoil the child. His preliminary
education was obtained at the academy at Seneca Falls, Cayuga Lake Academy
at Aurora, and at the Auburn High School, where he finished his schooling.
While still a pupil he ran away to join the army, but was too young to be
enrolled, and was compelled to forego his patriotic resolve. After quitting
school he was given the choice of a three years' course at Ann Arbor University
to study engineering, or an opportunity to study architecture. His tastes inclining
more to the latter profession he decided to adopt it, and began study in Buffalo,
going later to Rochester, and finally to Philadelphia, where he entered the office
of Samuel Sloan, and later had Mr. John McArthur as his preceptor. In 1873



he established himself in business at Wilkes Barre, Pa. ; but the troubles in the
coal regions caused such a depression in all kinds of business that he returned,
on November 2, 1876, to Philadelphia, where he opened an office and met with
almost immediate success. One of the first examples of his work to attract
attention was the Record building on Chestnut street above Ninth, adjoining the
post-office, erected for Mr. William M. Singerly. This was followed by the Inde-
pendence National Bank, on Chestnut street below Fifth ; while among his more
recent works are the Keystone National Bank at Chestnut and Juniper streets ;
the large storehouses, 816 to 826 Market street, belonging to William Weight-
man, and occupied by Young, Smyth, Field & Co. and Wood, Brown & Co. ; the
elegant private residences of Messrs. P. A. B. Widener, George W. Elkins, Jr.,
and George D. Widener on the west side of Broad street above Girard avenue ;
the three massive buildings erected for William M. Singerly on the site of the
old Masonic Temple on Chestnut street above Seventh, two of which are now
owned and occupied respectively by the Union Trust Company and the Chestnut
Street National Bank ; the residence of Mr. James Richmond, north-east corner
of Fortieth and Walnut streets ; the rows of houses for Mr. Weightman at
Thirty-ninth and Walnut streets ; and the handsome and attractive new quarters
of the Schuylkill Navy Athletic Club on Arch street below Seventeenth.

All work from his office is designed entirely by Mr. Hale. It shows a versa-
tility of talent that is notable, as instanced in the florid style of the Independence
Bank, the severe simplicity of the Record Building, the picturesque details of the
Keystone Bank, and the grandeur of the Union Trust and its adjoining structures.
Mr. Hale is an Associate of the American Institute of Architects, and is also a
member of its Philadelphia Chapter. He is a member of the Philadelphia Art
Club, the Utopian Club, the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, the Penn Club,
the National Free Art League, the Iona Boat Club, the Masonic fraternity, and
is a life-member of the Athletic Club of the Schuylkill Navy and the Fairmount
Park Art Association. He is also well known in musical circles, and was for
several years a member of the " Vocal Union " as first tenor. He devotes much
time to music, and has a fine collection -of stringed instruments and a valuable
musical and architectural library. He has been solo tenor in several of the most
prominent Episcopal Churches of Philadelphia.

Mr. Hale was married in the city of Baltimore, Md., June 23, 1876, to Augusta
M. Cannon, daughter of the late John Bouchel Cannon, for many years a promi-
nent merchant of that city. The ancestors of Mr. Cannon were natives of Lor-
raine, France, and resided for many generations near the town of Mirecourt,
holding prominent positions in the government of the province prior to its
union with France. The branch of the family from which Mrs. Hale is descended
were Huguenots, who left their native country upon the revocation of the Edict
of Nantes, going first to Holland, and finally emigrating to America, landing in
New York about 16S0. On her mother's side Mrs. Hale is descended from the
Mitchells, English Cavaliers, who came to this country during the Protectorate
of Cromwell, about 1650, and settled in Maryland. Mr. and Mrs. Hale have one
child living, a daughter, Augusta Cannon Hale. G. S. D.

Lewis H. Redner.


It is with people as with pictures. We frequently come across a picture on
the walls of one of our galleries from which it is impossible to stand far
enough off to get the full value of the perspective. So it is with men and women
living and working about us. We hear of this or that deed that they have done ;
some wrong they have striven to set right ; some question they have helped to
decide for the good of society ; or some great business transaction that will indi-
rectly benefit the city or the State. These fragments of theii doings come to
us ; but they are too near to us in time for us to get a large grasp of all that
their life means to them and to the world around them. This is always the dis-
advantage of contemporaneous biography, and it seems but just to say here that
those who know Lewis H. Redner feel that large as is the amount of work that
lies behind him, the possibilities of the future are equally great. He is still an
active and untiring worker in his especial line of business, while, to the charities
in which he is engaged, he brings unfailing energy and all the enthusiasm of an
ardent and hopeful temperament.

By birth and education Lewis H. Redner is a Philadelphian. His father,
Lewis Redner, was born in Trenton, New Jersey, but moved to Philadelphia
early in life. His grandfather, Nicholas Redner, was a citizen of Trenton, New
Jersey, while his paternal grandmother was Sarah Price, of Virginia, who is
described as a woman of great mental strength and force of character. What-
ever other traits Mr. Redner may have inherited from this Virginia grand-
mother, it is probable that to her he is largely indebted for his genial warmth of
manner and vivacity of .expression, characteristics that belong more to the
Southern than to the Northern States.

Lewis H. Redner was born December 14, 1831, and at the age of twelve
entered the Philadelphia High School. At sixteen he commenced his business
career by going into the office of Andrew D. Cash, prominent as a conveyancer
and real-estate broker. In this office a large amount of important business was
yearly transacted. It was an admirable school for a young man and he
proved so apt a pupil that at twenty-one Mr. Cash took him into partnership.

This partnership lasted for thirteen years, and during this period Mr. Red-
ner took an active part in settling the interests of a number of large landed
estates, as those of the Camacs, Dickinsons, Logans, and others. Endowed
with business capacities of a superior order, and with the valuable experience
gained in this office, it is not strange that, when the partnership between Mr.
Cash and Mr. Redner was dissolved, and the latter went into business for him-
self, he should have taken his place as one of the leading real-estate brokers of

Forsorne years Mr. Redner's business operations have covered such an extended



field and were often of so intricate a nature, that they would have engaged the
powers of most men to the exclusion of all else; yet he has always had abundant
time and strength for a large amount of Christian philanthropic work, which he
is pleased to call his recreation. Possessing a fine physique and great powers of
endurance, forming his judgment quickly and deciding promptly, even in matters
of great importance, he is able to accomplish much in a short space of time,
working while he works with a will, and when business hours are over throwing
aside business cares to enter into some other pursuit. We are inclined to think
that much of Mr. Redner's ability to execute a vast amount of work, in his office
and out of it, is due to this power of concentration which he possesses, and to the
not less valuable faculty of putting business aside when the office door is closed.

Music has always been one of Mr. Redner's recreations, and, although a self-
taught musician, he is a thorough one, understanding the science of music and
the art of composition. He has composed and published a number of Christmas
and Easter carols, a popular one being " O Little Town of Bethlehem," the words
of which were written by Rev. Phillips Brooks, D. D., while in charge of the
Church of the Holy Trinity. To this church, to St. Andrew's, and later to the
Memorial Chapel of the Holy Trinity, Mr. Redner has at different times lent his
services as organist ; while his readiness and skill in vocal music have made that
gift a valuable help to him in Sunday-school and hospital work.

Had Mr. Redner chosen to enter the political field he would undoubtedly have
met with success from his promptness in action, his readiness of speech, warmth
of manner, and a certain power that he possesses of carrying people with him in
anything that he undertakes. He has, however, taken no active part even in
local politics. A Republican in principle, he has always been in sympathy with
reform movements, and adheres to the belief that the most responsible men
should be elected to office irrespective of party affiliations. Although this fact is
to be regretted, as it always is to be regretted, when good men fail to bring their
influence to bear upon important political questions, he felt himself called upon
to labor in another field of usefulness, and has given all the time that could be
spared from his business to works of Christian philanthropy.

Mr. Redner early identified himself with the Protestant Episcopal Church, having
been confirmed at St. Paul's Church at the age of sixteen. Although loyally
devoted to the interests of this, his mother church, he is in cordial sympathy with
the work of all Christian Churches, and in his lay ministrations, at hospitals and
elsewhere, is attentively listened to by men and women of different denomina-
tions, and by Roman Catholics as well as Protestants.

In church and Sunday-school work Mr. Redner has taken a leading part.
For several years he was superintendent of St. Andrew's Sunday-school, while he
was at the same time organist of the church, and was a valued teacher at Holy
Trinity while organist of that church. He was one of the organizers of the
Church of the Holy Apostles, and has served there as Rector's Warden for
eighteen years. When the Memorial Chapel in the parish of the Holy Trinity



was projected he threw his enthusiasm and energy into the new enterprise, where
he carried out a theory that he has always held in common with Bishop Stevens
and other thoughtful churchmen, which is, that the strength of a church rests
with the children who are growing up in it, and that a vigorous Sunday-school
will build up a living and working church. Hence, the Sunday-school of the
Memorial Chapel, which Mr. Redner started with fifty children, increased in the
course of twenty years, under his superintendence, to a membership of over 1,000.

During the late civil war Mr. Redner, with a number of ladies and gentlemen,
organized the Soldiers' Reading Room on Twentieth street above Chestnut.
When its usefulness ended with the war, and it was formally incorporated as a
Home for Soldiers' Orphans, under the title of " The Lincoln Institution," he was
an active spirit in obtaining money for the purchase of the large building on
Eleventh street below Spruce, which is now used as a school for Indian children.
As one of the appointed speakers of the Sunday services at Girard College he
is always acceptable, doing his part of the important work of instructing
the boys of the college on religious subjects, which duty devolves upon devout
laymen, as no clergymen are permitted within its gates.

Mr. Redner was several years ago one of the Vice-Presidents of the Young
Men's Christian Association, and still retains a deep interest in the organization
as a member of the Advisory Board of the Association. He was one of
the organizers of the Church Home for Children at Angora station over thirty
years ago, and has been Secretary of the Board of Council of the Home during
all that period. He is also a Director of the Sheltering Arms ; a Trustee and
member of the Sunday Breakfast Association ; a delegate to the Convention of
the Episcopal Church ; and one of the Trustees of the Diocese of Pennsylvania,
elected by the Convention. He is a member of the Advisory Board of the Epis-
copal Hospital Mission appointed by the Bishop, and for a whole year conducted
public service in the new mission building of the hospital until a proper minister
could be obtained. At times he has served in the vestries of numerous feeble
and struggling parishes, and is now a member of the vestry of the Church of the
Holy Trinity, and also of the Church of the Holy Apostles. Thus, although
rendering efficient service in the established lines of church and philanthropic
work, those who know Mr. Redner best realize that the field of labor for which
he is peculiarly fitted by his broad humanity and gift of sympathy is outside of
these lines — among the poor and afflicted, and especially among those who
shrink from the ministrations of a clergyman. He has recently been made
President of the Midnight Mission of Philadelphia, into whose noble work of
raising the fallen and establishing them in some useful position in life he has
entered with zeal and enthusiasm. His experiences during the Moody and
Sankey revival in Philadelphia would form an interesting volume in them-
selves. He was not only in full accord with the work of these evangelists
but organized and conducted evening and midnight services among the
employes of the Philadelphia Gas Works, where these hard-working men often


took their hour of leisure to listen to what Mr. Redner had to say to them.
What he said was always expressed in so kind and friendly a manner that more
than one remained after the service to talk to him, and confide their troubles to
him as to a brother.

In the University Hospital, where Mr. Redner has held Sunday afternoon ser-
vices for several years, he has brought hope and comfort to many sorrowful
hearts. His cheerful face and pleasant voice seem to bring sunshine into the
wards, and many of the patients look forward eagerly to his coming with the
return of Sunday. Not only by the service of prayer and song and exhortation
does he interest them, but by approaching them individually and talking to them
as to brothers — sons of one Father — and thus by his warm and affectionate
interest in each one, leading him up to believe in "God's possible by His world's
loving ■."

About three years ago a young man in the last stages of consumption en-
tered the hospital. An orphaned son of a soldier, neglected by friends and
dependent upon charity, he was dispirited and indifferent about the future,
fearing that the dissecting table, and not the grave, would receive his emaci-
ated body. Into this young man's life Mr. Redner brought a new light. With
his magnetic powers, with the promise that he would see that Christian burial
was vouchsafed the poor boy, he at once became his spiritual guide. After
several weeks of faithful service, on asking the invalid whether he would like to
see a clergyman, he replied : " No, you meet all my wants. You have made the
way of salvation so clear to me that I cannot help understanding and embracing
it." Mr. Redner kept vigil during the last night on earth of the invalid, and
after his death followed his remains to a suburban cemetery.

Another incident, known to the writer, also illustrates this phase of Mr.
Redner's work. Not long since a man in deep poverty and distress called to see
him. On asking the man how he knew his name and how he came to him, the
man replied by asking him if he remembered a conversation with a sick man, at
the Philadelphia Hospital, one evening during the previous summer. Mr. Redner
recalled the circumstance, and the man added : " I was in the next bed to that
man. I received comfort on hearing your words, and I tried to remember your
name because I thought, if you were so good to him, you might be good
to me some day."

These incidents show into what a network of interests those are drawn who
are enlisted in works of this character.

Although engaged in so much active work, Mr. Redner finds time to enter
into the pleasures of social life, and his is a welcome presence in many circles.

A. H. W.

Thomas P. i wibill,

THOMAS p. twibill.

In a " City of Homes " like Philadelphia, it is an important matter to the great
majority of the inhabitants to know that they have clear titles to the prop-
erties they own, and therefore it is that conveyancing occupies so important a
position among the professions, and that those engaged in it, who have estab-
lished a reputation for carefulness and reliability, rapidly acquire prominence in
the community. - One of the most successful members of this profession in
Philadelphia is Thomas P. Twibill, who was born in that city April 27, 1858.
His father, George A. Twibill, is one of the leading and most philanthropic
residents of the city, where his extensive shipping interests and large real-estate
holdings have made his name well known in the community for many years past.

Thomas P. Twibill, who is one of the leading conveyancers and real-estate
operators in Philadelphia, received his early education in the public schools and
then at La Salle College in his native city. At the age of seventeen he entered
the large furniture house of Swan, Clark & Co., where he spent over a year in
the capacity of a general accountant. After leaving the employ of this firm he
took charge of large real-estate interests throughout the city, and by his close
attention to the same acquired a measure of success in that business and laid the
foundation of a knowledge which has been of great value to him since in his
profession. Finding that his business of real-estate and conveyancing would be
greatly facilitated by a thorough knowledge of the law, he entered as a student
in the Law Department of the University of Pennsylvania, from which institution
he was graduated in i88i,and_on October 15 th of that year was admitted to the bar.

Mr. Twibill devoted his attention, however, almost exclusively to the convey-
ancing business and real-estate matters. His first large venture in this line was
the purchase of the old Merchants' Hotel on Fourth street above Market, at one
time one of the most popular and best patronized hotels in the city, and noted
as the head-quarters of James Buchanan whenever that statesman visited the city
prior to his election to the Presidency of the United States, and later as the
residence of Hon. Samuel J. Randall. After altering this vast building of some
three hundred rooms into apartments for offices and manufacturing purposes, he
disposed of it to a syndicate and it has been used ever since as a business building.

He then purchased the tract of land formerly occupied by Barnum's circus, on
South Broad street, extending along that thoroughfare from Dickinson to Morris
and from Broad to Seventeenth streets. This valuable tract was purchased
from the estate of John J. Ridgway, deceased, late of Europe, who was one
of Philadelphia's most honored citizens during his lifetime. He cut it up
into some five hundred building lots, ran streets through the property with
all the necessary municipal improvements, and what had been for years an
unimproved, unproductive open tract, blocking the way to the city's progress in
24 (369)


that direction, was changed to an improved district, yielding to the city's treasury
a large sum in taxes on an assessment of over one million dollars and marking
the way for further improvements in that direction.

The acquisition and disposition of this large tract took over two years to
accomplish, and at the time the undertaking was considered to be the largest
transaction of retailing real-estate in one operation that had then taken place in
Philadelphia. At the end of the time mentioned not one lot remained unsold in

Online LibraryHarold E. PickersgillA biographical album of prominent Pennsylvanians (Volume 3) → online text (page 39 of 41)