John W. (John Woolf) Jordan.

Encyclopedia of Pennsylvania biography : illustrated (Volume 7) online

. (page 45 of 55)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

acteristic of her early life. John May
Keim and Harriet de Benneville married
in 1821, residing in Reading, Pennsyl-
vania, where their son, George de Benne-
ville Keim, was born, January 18, 1831. The
family was one of high consideration and
social influence, the Keims dating from
William Penn and possessing large tracts
of land that later became within the
corporate limits of Reading. They were
also commercially prominent in that city,
while the prestige of the Pluguenot fam-



ily, de Benneville, added to their social

The youth of George de Benneville
Keim was spent in acquiring a sound
education, after which he entered busi-
ness life. He remained in Reading until
about 1861, then moved his residence and
business to Philadelphia. He gradually
built up a very large business which
eventually expanded until there were few
if any cities in the United States in which
the firm of George de Benneville Keim &
Company was not known to the trade.
This growth in importance continued
until the house attained the proud dis-
tinction of being at the head of the car-
riage hardware business in the United
States. As the business grew, the foun-
der kept close watch over the young men
in his employ, and, when there was need
for another in the firm, one of these
capable energetic young men was ad-
mitted to a partnership. In the course of
time he had not only a very large busi-
ness, but a thoroughly organized force of
men to handle it. The reputation he had
won in the trade for integrity and fair
dealing could then be safely confided to
the young men whom he had taught the
same stable business principles, and about
the year 1880 he began to relinquish the
heavier burdens of management to his
younger partners. He was then about
fifty years of age, had been continuously
in business from youth, and felt he was
entitled to enjoy the competence he had
so fairly earned.

In 1882 Mr. Keim was elected sheriff
of Philadelphia county, and in 1883 he
first assumed the duties of the sheriff's
ofifice. The jurisdiction of the office em-
braces Philadelphia city and county, then
containing a population in excess of one
million, and the greatest manufacturing
centre in the United States. These facts
render the office of sheriff one of great

and unusual importance, but Sheriff
Keim measured up to the fullest expecta-
tions of even his most enthusiastic ad-
mirers. He won the respect of all who
had business with the sheriff's office, and
was one of the most popular men who
ever held that office in Philadelphia, poli-
tical friends and foes all uniting to do
him honor. Plad not the constitution of
Philadelphia forbade a sheriff succeeding
himself, he could have been reelected
without opposition, so completely had his
frank, genial nature and admirable busi-
ness administration won the people.

Mr. Keim maintained a handsome city
residence at No. 1122 Spruce street. He
had been sent abroad as United States
Commissioner to the World's Fair held
in Vienna, and after the close of the ex-
position he spent a year in European
travel. During this period he purchased
numerous works of art, including valu-
able paintings and statues by the masters.
These he brought to the Spruce street
home as the nucleus of a collection which
in time became one of the finest of pri-
vate art galleries in the city.

Mr. Keim's summer residence was a
beautiful estate at Edgewater Park, New
Jersey, bordering on the Delaware river,
where he kept for his private enjoyment
a handsome steam yacht. He also owned
a farm and shooting box in Maryland.
While there on a shooting trip in 1893 he
caught a severe cold which developed .
into pneumonia, and after a short illness |
he died, on March 10, 1893.

Thus passed the life of a man whose j
name shines with lustre, even amid the '
great professional men of his family, and
there have been many Keims whose 1
achievements have been most worthy.
But, in the Philadelphia business world,]
no man stood higher in ability or accom-
plishment, no man was held in higher]
esteem, nor had Philadelphia ever a more I


Snqilh/CsmphBll Frt

yOko. ^:^^L^ ^/^^-^^^ - i^


faithful, devoted official. He was the
soul of honor and probity, his private life
pure, his aims lofty, and in all things he
was manly and selfrespecting. He bore
an honored name, and left it to his son
unsullied by unworthy deeds.

Mr. Keim was twice married, his first
wife being Sarah Childs ; and on January
30, 1883, he married Elizabeth Archer
Thomas, daughter of Joseph Tuley Thom-
as and Belinda Jane Mitchell.

KEIM, George de Benneville (4),

Man of Affairs, Financier.

Perhaps "there is nothing in a name,"
but it will be difficult to convince George
de Benneville Keim (4) that he has not
drawn an inspiration from the fact that
behind him there have been generations
of ancestors who handed down to him an
untarnished name, and from that fact he
has felt a responsibility devolving on him
to worthily bear it. Although a young
man, he has already attained honorable
position in the city where family tra-
ditions are strong, and exceptional as
have been the lives of his sires, none
more creditably passed their first thirty
years. He is proud of the traditions of
his race, proud that he bears a name so
honored in Philadelphia's history, and
those who know him best are strongest
in their faith that in his keeping there
will be no lowering of the standards set
by the de Bennevilles and Keims of the

Years ago a Philadelphia merchant
called at the Pierce Business College and
stated that he had a good position for a
young man of ability, provided he was
morally upright and free from the usual
habits of young men. The manager con-
fessed he could not fill the order, but
said, "A young man will graduate this
year whom I can recommend as being all
which you desire." "Send him to me as


soon as he graduates," said the merchant,
and added, after being told his name,
"Never mind any other recommendation;
I knew his father, and George de Benne-
ville Keim's son must be all right." With
such an endorsement the young man en-
tered business life, and is already a potent
force in Philadelphia's financial world.

George de Benneville Keim, son of
George de Benneville and Elizabeth
Archer (Thomas) Keim (see preceding
narrative), was born at 1122 Spruce
street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Octo-
ber 27, 1884, and at the age of eight years
was deprived of a father's care. After
completing courses of classical study, on
September i, 1902, he entered the Pierce
Business College, Philadelphia, whence
he was graduated February 26, 1904. He
at once entered the employ of E. K. Janu-
ary & Son, leather merchants, where he
quickly demonstrated his quality and ad-
\anced to a position of trust. He spent
four years with his first employer, who
regarded him so highly that in the fourth
year he called him into the office and said,
"George, you have advanced just as far
with me as it is possible to go. I am
going to pay you three months' salary
and want you to at once begin looking
for a position which has a greater future
for you." Taking his friend's advice, Mr.
Keim left the store and began his search
for the right business opening. He had
always been impressed with the banking
business, and within a week obtained a
position with the banking house of
Chandler Brothers & Company, situated
at that time at Third and Walnut streets,
one of Philadelphia's stable financial in-
stitutions. From that time forward his
rise has been continuous, his present
rating been unusually high for a young
man to attain in solid conservative Phil-
adelphia banking circles. On January i,
1914, he was elected vice-president of
Chandler & Company, Inc., bankers; is



a director of the Quaker City National
Bank, the United Fireman's Insurance
Company, the Pennsylvania Lighting
Company, the Independent Fire Insur-
ance Security Company, the Flexitallic
Casket Company, the St. Lawrence Se-
curities Company, and of Chandler Wil-
bor & Company, Inc., of Boston, Massa-
chusetts. He is highly regarded by his
business associates, and has fairly won
the position he holds as a safe, sound,
clear-headed, resourceful man of affairs.

Mr. Keim is a member of the Society
of the Cincinnati, Sons of the Revolution,
Society of Colonial Wars, the Colonial
Society, Society of the War of 1812, Ba-
ronial Order of Runnymede, Huguenot
Society of America, Welcome Society,
Transatlantic Society, Historical Society
of Pennsylvania, German-American So-
ciety, and the Historical Society of Bur-
lington County, New Jersey. His clubs
are the Union League, Racquet and Phil-
adelphia Country, all of Philadelphia ; the
Recess and National Arts, of New York
City; the Maryland, of Baltimore, Mary-
land; the Detroit Athletic, of Detroit,
Michigan ; Pendennis, of Louisville, Ken-
tucky ; Westmoreland, of Richmond,
Virginia ; and the Metropolitan, of Wash-
ington, District of Columbia. In the
year 191 1 Mr. Keim left home for a trip
around the world.


Zianryer, Philanthropist.

Oliver Sterling Richardson, of the old
firm of Cassidy & Richardson, has been
for many years numbered among the best
known representatives of the Pittsburgh
bar. During the long period of his pro-
fessional career the various leading in-
terests of his native city have received
from Mr. Richardson active and influ-
ential encouragement and support.

James Richardson, grandfather of
Oliver Sterling Richardson, was a native
of Ireland, and a representative of a
family which can be traced from one of
the retainers of William the Conqueror.
Wiry and well-knit frames have always
been a characteristic of the men of this
race. In 1832 James Richardson emi-
grated to the United States, and became
a farmer in the Pittsburgh district. He
served as justice of the peace, and was
one of the prominent men of his time and
neighborhood. The name of his wife,
whom he married in Ireland, was Mar-
garet, and they were the parents of four
sons, the eldest of whom was John, men-
tioned below. Another was James F.
Richardson, who held the office of register
of wills of Allegheny county.

(II) John, son of James and Margaret
Richardson, was born in 1827, in County
Down, Ireland, and was about five years
old when brought by his parents to the
LTnited States. He received his educa-
tion in Pittsburgh and passed his entire
after-life in that city. For many years
he was engaged in the dry goods business
under the firm name of D. Gregg & Com-
pany, but retired in the seventies, then
becoming connected with the manufac-
ture of fire-brick. With this line of in-
dustry he was associated to the close of
his life, and during that time had a large
trade with the many manufacturing com-
panies of Pittsburgh who needed his
product. Mr. Richardson was a Repub-
lican, and served as councilman of Se-
wickley. He was a member of the United
Presbyterian church, in which for forty
years he held the office of elder. He mar-
ried Mary, born in Steubenville, Ohio,
daughter of Hugh Sterling, a merchant
of that town, and a member of one of its
old families. Mr. and Mrs. Richardson
were the' parents of the following chil-
dren : Oliver Sterling, mentioned below ;


^'o/h)t cia^ic/iayifclAori



Harry M., connected with the A. M.
Byers Company, Pittsburgh, died in Au-
gust, 1912; Frank E., president of the
Pittsburgh Forge and Iron Company ;
and Charles, also connected with the
Pittsburgh Forge and Iron Company.
John Richardson died in Pittsburgh, Feb-
ruary 6, 1912, leaving a most honorable
record, and his widow passed away on
October 12, 1914. Like her husband,
Mrs. Richardson was a member of the
United Presbyterian church, and took an
active part in its benevolences.

(Ill) Oliver Sterling, son of John and
Mary (Sterling) Richardson, was born
March 24, 1855, in Allegheny City, now
North Side, Pittsburgh, and received his
preparatory education in the public
schools of his native place. Subse-
quently he entered the Western Univer-
sity of Pennsylvania, now the University
of Pittsburgh, and in 1872 graduated with
the degree of Bachelor of Arts. For two
years thereafter he was engaged in busi-
ness, but at the end of that time took up
the study of law under the preceptorship
of C. W. Robb and S. A. McClung, and in
1879, on motion of the latter, was ad-
mitted to the. bar of Allegheny county.
At the outset of his practice, Mr. Rich-
ardson formed a partnership with the
late Edward T. Cassidy, under the firm
name of Cassidy & Richardson. In 1901
the connection was dissolved by the death
of Mr. Cassidy, and since that time Mr.
Richardson has practiced alone, using the
old firm name. His work is in the field
of general civil practice and includes all
courts. His standing, both with the
members of the profession and the gen-
eral public, is deservedly high, and he
ranks among the prominent attorneys of
his native city.

While taking no specially active part in
politics, Mr. Richardson is a steadfast
advocate of Republican principles, and

has served as burgess of Sewickley, the
suburb where he resides. He is a direc-
tor of the Sewickley National Bank, and
in former years held directorships in vari-
ous concerns. His clubs are the Du-
quesne and Allegheny Country. Taking
an active interest in philanthropic work,
he serves as vice-president of the Hos-
pital Cot Club of Sewickley Valley. He
is an adherent of the United Presbyterian

In the leisure intervals of his busy life,
Mr. Richardson has sought rest and re-
cuperation in travel, visiting the greater
part of the United States and most of the
countries of Europe, and extending his
wanderings to Alaska, Mexico and Yuca-
tan. Some of his impressions of travel
he has recorded in a number of very in-
teresting articles which have appeared
from time to time in various periodicals.
He is a man of dignified appearance and
courteous manners, firm and inflexible
whenever a principle is involved — the
typical lawyer and gentleman.

Mr. Richardson has been true to his
profession and his city. As a member of
the bar he has helped to uphold its stand-
ards and its dignity, and as a Pitts-
burgher by birth and life-long residence
he has loyally labored for the strengthen-
ing and advancement of the best and
most vital interests of the metropolis of

GROVE, Henry S.,

Head of Great Shipbuilding Industry.

From the age of seventeen years, Henry
S. Grove, now executive head of the
greatest of shipbuilding plants on the Dela-
ware, the William Cramp and Sons Ship
and Engine Building Company, has been
actively engaged in mercantile and manu-
facturing life. After four years initial ex-
perience with his honored father as a



manufacturer of linseed oil and foreign
shipping merchant, he became a member
of the firm, succeeding at his father's
death to the sole ownership. From that
time forward he has been one of the busi-
ness men of the United States who have
won honorable title as "Captains of In-
dustry," not through manipulation of cor-
porations to their detriment, but as an
upbuilding and constructive captain in
whose wake prosperity has followed. The
crowning act of his career has been the
rehabilitation of "Cramps" by moderniz-
ing the ship yard, the principal factor in
the company's business, and placing it in
a position stronger than ever in its his-
tory, glorious as was its past. The truest
estimate of Mr. Grove's executive ability
can be gained from his remarkable suc-
cess at "Cramps," as shipbuilding is an
extremely difficult field, even under the
most favorable conditions. He assumed
control, saddled with an enormous debt,
the confidence of investors largely lost,
and the prestige of the great plant sadly
impaired. But in ten years, against al-
most insuperable odds, he placed it in its
present strong position, an achievement
in which he may take just pride. "Cramps"
is peculiarly a Philadelphia enterprise, but
in a sense the whole nation feels an in-
terest and a pride in its greatness, for per-
haps one-half of the vessels constituting
the American navy first glided from the
ways to their first dip in their native
element from Cramps' ship yards on the
Delaware in Philadelphija. He comes
from a family of strong, upright, honor-
able business men, and it is his pride that
none of the Grove name, even during the
panics of the nineteenth century, allowed
an obligation to go unpaid.

Henry S. Grove is a son of Conrad S.
Grove, whose father entered mercantile
business in 1790, and among other in-
terests had linseed oil mills on Perki-

omen and Cobb creeks. Conrad S. Grove
continued the manufacture of linseed oil,
and in addition engaged in the East India
trade. It was to that business that Henry
S. Grove was introduced at the age of
seventeen years.

Henry S. Grove, son of Conrad S. and
Clara (Styer) Grove, was born in Phila-
delphia, September 4, 1848. He completed
his studies at the age of seventeen, and
at once engaged in his father's business.
At the age of twenty-one he was ad-
mitted a partner, an association that con-
tinued until the death of Conrad S. Grove,
when the son succeeded to the sole own-
ership and management. Soon after be-
coming sole head he found that his busi-
ness was being seriously interfered with
by the competition of western linseed oil
makers, who from the location of their
mills near the flax raisers of the west
were severely injuring the eastern mills.
In 1875 there were seventeen mills manu-
facturing linseed oil in the Eastern States,
in 1885 there were but four, one of these
the Grove mill at Philadelphia, being one
of the most important. Mr. Grove saw
but one way to save his business from
extermination, and he began his work of
defence by forming an alliance with seven
other manufacturers, all located in the
west. Out of this combination of interest
grew the Linseed Oil Trust, the second
so-called "Trust" to be formed in thi
United States. Mr. Grove was electe(
president of the resulting corporation in
1887, the combination expanding from the
original eight mills until it included thirty-
four mills in the district, all, with th«
exception of the Grove mill in Philadel-
phia, located in the territory bounded by
Sioux City, Iowa; Kansas City, Missouri:
Minneapolis, Minnesota; and Piqua,
Ohio. This placed control so overwhelm-
ingly in western hands that in 1888 Mr,
Grove, after finding the differences be-



tween himself and the other officials could
not be adjusted, resigned his office of
president and withdrew.

He was practically out of business for
a year, then reentered the western field
in connection with the Colorado Coal and
Iron Company. He had friends with
large interests in that company, and it
was at their solicitation that he consented
to represent them in an investigation of
the various coal mines, iron furnaces, rail
mills, merchant bar mills, town sites,
water works and coke ovens, owned by
the company. The company was an im-
portant one, being the means employed
by the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad
Company to develop the commercial in-
terests of Colorado. Mr. Grove himself
became financially interested in the com-
pany, was elected its president, and suc-
cessfully managed its affairs until the
summer of 1892, when the company sold
out to the Colorado Fuel Company.

After the sale was consummated, Mr.
Grove returned to Philadelphia, soon
afterwards sailing for Europe, where he
spent several months in much needed rest
from business cares. On his return to
the United States he was engaged by the
creditors of the Washington Mills Com-
pany of Gloucester, New Jersey, to take
charge of their interests and represent
them in the management. Here Mr.
Grove again demonstrated his quality as
a constructive captain of industry, and
the restoration of the fortunes of the
company was accomplished. A new
cotton yarn mill was erected on the prop-
erty and incorporated as the Argo Mills
Company, of which company Mr. Grove
was elected president.

In 1903 the William Cramp & Sons
Ship and Engine Building Company of
Philadelphia, which at one time employed
between eight thousand and nine thou-
sand men, became financially involved,
having a floating debt of four and one

quarter millions. This plant, which had
built so many of the United States war
vessels and great vessels employed in the
arts of peace, could not be allowed to
perish, and public-spirited financiers of
New York and Philadelphia came to the
rescue, and the great plant founded in
1830 was enabled to continue its useful-
ness to the country and to the world.
This was done by the formation of a
syndicate which raised money to pay off
the floating debt by the issuance of
twenty-year serial notes. A reorganiza-
tion was effected, Henry S. Grove being
elected a director of the company, the
other members of the board all being
strangers to him. But shortly afterward,
on October i, 1903, he was elected presi-
dent of the company, a position he yet
fills. With the assumption of the presi-
dency, Mr. Grove began the great work
of restoring the plant to its previous popu-
larity and usefulness. He developed a
profitable line of hydraulic engine build-
ing, creating practically a new industry
at the plant, which has been developed
until "Cramps" leads the whole country
in hydraulic work. The Kensington Ship-
yard and Brass Foundry business was de-
veloped, and in 1910 the Federal Steel
Company, a steel casting plant at Ches-
ter, Pennsylvania, with a capacity of
seven hundred and fifty tons of steel
castings monthly, was purchased. But
the great factor in the company's busi-
ness had ever been the ship yard, and this
Mr. Grove thoroughly modernized and
brought to a height of greatest efficiency.
The glory of the plant has been fully
restored, and has for a long time
been operated at its full capacity. The
financial equilibrium has been completely
restored and suitable returns made to in-
vestors in the company's securities.

Soon after becoming president, the
Sultan of Turkey, Abdul Hamed, con-
ferred upon Mr. Grove the Order of the

PA— Vol VII— 21



Medjidia, for services rendered in build-
ing the Turkish cruiser "Medjidia.' A
year later, in 1905, Mr. Grove spent several
months in Russia, negotiating for the
building and sale of several war vessels.
He was successful, but financial difficul-
ties arose, causing the Russian Govern-
ment to postpone. He also visited Great
Britain and other countries in connection
with foreign shipbuilding contracts, and
became widely known in maritime coun-
tries as a builder of ships. But "Cramps"
largest customers are in the United
States, and a constant procession of ships
have passed from their yard down the
Delaware, flying the American flag. That
so high a degree of success has been re-
stored to the plant, and for the great
advance made in the past thirteen years,
greatest credit is due the untiring, en-
ergetic, capable, chief executive, Henry
S. Grove, who has faced severe odds, but
with splendid courage has won a great

Mr. Grove has assumed other impor-
tant executive responsibilities, and in all
has proven the same wise capable head.
Until 1907 he was vice-president of the
Continental Cotton Oil Company, and is
the present executive head of the William
H. Cramp and Sons Ship and Engine
Building Company, the Argo Mills Com-
pany, the American Laurenti Company,
the I. P. Morris Company Iron Works,
and is a director of the Kensington Ship-
yard Company.

While he had wide business experience
prior to his election to the presidency of
"Cramps," and had won the high reputa-
tion which caused him to be chosen to
lead the work of rehabilitation, Mr. Grove
was entirely without knowledge of ship
or engine building. But, as he announced
on taking charge, "concentration and
economy of eflfort" has been the guiding
principle of his policy, and that policy is
the one adopted in the management of

the varied companies of which he is presi-
dent. He is intensely practical, thor-
oughly in earnest, and "does with his
might whatsoever his hands find to do."