John W. (John Woolf) Jordan.

Encyclopedia of Pennsylvania biography : illustrated (Volume 7) online

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the Pennsylvania Hospital," and also
"Surgery in Pennsylvania Hospital." He
was editor of the American edition of
Farquharson's "Therapeutics and Materia
Medica" and other publications, in which
connection he was but carrying out a
work of his early professional life, during
which period he was engaged in making
French and German translations and in
writing editorials for medical journals, at
the same time reporting medical meet-
ings and doing stenographic reporting.

Since severing his connection with the
Pennsylvania Hospital, Dr. Woodbury
has engaged in general practice in Phil-
adelphia, and served as medical examiner
for the Pacific Mutual Life Insurance
Company and other companies. In No-
vember, 1907, he was elected secretary to
the committee on lunacy of the State
Board of Public Charities, and still fills
that position, which involves special at-
tention to the care and treatment of the
insane, under treatment in public and



private institutions in Pennsylvania. The
profession honored him with election to
the secretaryship of the section on thera-
peutics of the Ninth International Med-
ical Congress held in Washington in
1S87. He was also made vice-president
of the American Medical Association at
the meeting held in Newport, Rhode
Island, and was president of the Amer-
ican Medical Editors' Association at its
New York meeting. He is identified with
many of the leading societies of the pro-
fession, belongs to the Philadelphia
Medical Club, is a fellow of the Philadel-
phia College of Physicians, and a member
of the County Medical Society, the State
Medical Society of Pennsylvania, the
American Medical Association and the
Philadelphia Psychiatric Society. He is
a member of the City Club. On Novem-
ber 25, 1902, he was made a Master
Mason in Mount Moriah Lodge, No. 155,
Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, of
which he is still a member.

On July 29, 1874, in Philadelphia, Dr.
Woodbury was married to Miss Louisi-
ana R. Brydges, the only daughter of
the late C. B. Brydges, a Louisiana
planter. They have three children :
Major Frank Thomas Woodbury, who is
a member of the medical corps of the
United States army ; Anne Clair ; and
Stephen Green, the latter living at home.
Dr. Woodbury is an Episcopalian in
religious faith, and is a communicant at
the Church of St. Luke and the Epiphany
of Philadelphia. In politics a Republican,
he is an advocate of protection for Amer-
ican labor, and the upbuilding of domestic

DISSTON, Samuel,


Without special advantages at the out-
set of his career, Samuel Disston rose to
prominence in the industrial world and


his abilities made him a member of the
famous firm of Henry Disston & Sons
Iron & Steel Works Company. His
success in that connection enabled him to
extend his effort into other fields where
important industrial interests were man-
aged. His life work was eminently suc-
cessful and he did much to shape the busi-
ness history of Philadelphia.

Mr. Disston was a native of Notting-
ham, England, born in 1839. His father,
William Disston, also of Nottingham,
came to the United States with his family
when his son Samuel was a small boy.
The latter acquired his education in the
city schools, but the necessity of provid-
ing for his own support prompted him to
start out in life when comparatively a
young lad. He sought and obtained the
situation of office boy with the Henry
Disston Company, and at the outset of
his career seemed fully cognizant of the
fact that industry, energy and integrity
are the salient features in the attainment
of advancement and success. Gradually
he worked his way upward, his identifi-
cation with that business covering a
period of fifty-eight years. Long before
the close of that period he was active in
administrative direction and executive
control of the business, and his judgment
and energies constituted important fac-
tors in the growing success of the con-

He also became a factor in other busi-
ness lines. He was secretary, general
manager and one of the directors of the
firm of Henry Disston & Sons, saw manu-
facturers ; secretary, general manager and
director of Henry Disston & Sons File
Company ; secretary, general manager
and director of the Henry Disston &
Sons Iron & Steel Works Company ; a
director of the Eighth National Bank ; a
director of the Northern Trust Company ;
and a member of the board of wardens for


the port of Philadelphia. The firm with
which Mr. Disston was so long connected
is one of the most important industrial
concerns of Philadelphia, and the Disston
saws and files constitute an important
element in the export trade of the coun-
try, while the sales in America are very

On April 29, 1874, Mr. Disston was
united in marriage to Miss Jennie Cherry,
of Philadelphia, a daughter of James
Cherry, an early resident of this city.
Seven children were born to Mr. and Mrs.
Disston, of whom four are yet living.

In the membership of the Presbyterian
church Mr. Disston was well known, and
he also held membership relations with
the Union League and the Country clubs.
Throughout his life he was a student of
men, of events and of literature. He thus
became an unusually well informed man.
His reading was particularly broad, and
he had in notable measure the power
of assimilating and making his own that
which he read. Life for him had a pur-
pose. He felt that each man had a work
and recognized his obligation to his fel-
lowmen. In every relation of life he
measured up to the highest standard and
was regarded by all who knew him as a
dependable man upon all occasions and
under all circumstances. The word
failure had no part in his vocabulary, not
so much because he wished the result but
because he felt that certain things were
to be done and he was the man upon
whom devolved the responsibility of their
accomplishment. Success always crowns
the efforts of such an individual and Mr.
Disston's record is no exception to the
rule. He has one son, S. Horace, who
is married and has two children.



The bar of Pittsburgh had its begin-
ning before the American Revolution, and,

distinguished from the earliest period of
its existence, has grown in lustre with
the passing years. In the front rank of
its leaders of the present day stands Jo-
seph Stadtfeld, who has been prominent
in legal circles for over thirty years.

Joseph Stadtfeld was born August 12,
1861, in New York City, New York, son
of the late Moritz and Sophia (Spier)
Stadtfeld. He received his education in
the schools of New York and Pittsburgh,
and was graduated from the Pittsburgh
Central High School with the class of
1878. Deciding upon a legal career, he
registered as a law student with Winfield
S. Purviance and Walter Lyon, July 10,
1880, and was admitted to the bar of
Allegheny county on September 18, 1886,
on motion of Thomas Herriott. Since
that time Mr. Stadtfeld has practiced un-
interruptedly in Pittsburgh, and has built
up a large clientele. In the presentation
of a case Mr. Stadtfeld's manner and
language — quiet, simple and forceful —
are singularly effective. He has a broad,
comprehensive grasp of all questions that
come before him, and is particularly fitted
for affairs requiring executive and ad-
ministrative ability. In politics Mr.
Stadtfeld is affiliated with the Republican
party, but has never held office. Of social
nature, he is a member of various social

Mr. Stadtfeld married, January 31,
1895, Miss Carrie, daughter of John F.
and Phoebe (Randolph) Edmundson, of
Pittsburgh, and they have had children :
Rodgers M., born 1896; Joseph, Jr., born
1898; and Harold, born 1902.

Joseph Stadtfeld's countenance and
bearing are an index to his character —
firm, dignified and keenly observant, but
at the same time indicative of the genial
nature and courteous disposition which
have drawn around him a host of stead-
fast friends.


^-'Q^-^^-<2y l ^^^^^


SMITH, Edgar Fahs,

Scientist, Professional Instructor.

Edgar Fahs Smith was born May 23,
1856, at York, Pennsylvania, a son of
Gibson Smith.

He prepared for college at the York
County Academy, where he subsequently
engaged in teaching, and in 1872 he be-
came a junior in Pennsylvania College
at Gettysburg, being there graduated
with the degree of Bachelor of Science in
1874. He went abroad for further study,
matriculating in the University of Goet-
tingen, in Germany, where he devoted
two years to the study of chemistry under
Woehler and Huebner, and of mineralogy
under von Waltershausen. He received
his doctor's degree from Goettingen in
1876, and at once returned to the United
States. In the fall of the same year he
was made assistant in analytical chem-
istry to Professor F. A. Genth, of the
Towne Scientific School of the Univer-
sity of Pennsylvania, which position he
held until 1881, when he was called to
Muhlenberg College at Allentown, Penn-
sylvania, as the Asa Packer Professor of
Chemistry. The position of Professor of
Chemistry in Wittenberg College,
Springfield, Ohio, was offered him in
1883, and, accepting the proffered position,
he was connected with that institution
until 1888, when he returned to the Uni-
versity of Pennsylvania, being appointed
to the chair of analytical chemistry
vacated by Dr. Genth. In 1892, upon
the resignation of Dr. S. P. Sadtler,
who was then Professor of Organic
and Industrial Chemistry at the uni-
versity, the department was reorgan-
ized with Dr. Smith at its head. He be-
came vice-provost of the university upon
the resignation of Dr. George S. Fuller-
ton in 1898, and in the following year
the University of Pennsylvania conferred

upon him the honorary degree of Doctor
of Science, while in 1906, at the two hun-
dredth anniversary of the birth of Ben-
jamin Franklin the honorary degree of
Doctor of Laws was conferred upon him.
During that year he received the same
degree from Pennsylvania College at
Gettysburg, and he also received the
honorary degree of Doctor of Laws from
the University of Wisconsin in 1904.
Since 1906 the following honorary de-
grees have been conferred upon Dr.
Smith : Doctor of Laws, Franklin and
Marshall College, 1910; Rutgers College,
191 1 ; University of Pittsburgh, 1912;
University of North Carolina, 1912;
Princeton University, 191 3; Brown Uni-
versity, 1914; Wittenberg College, 1914;
Doctor of Science, University of Dublin
(Ireland) 1912; Yale University, 1914;
Chem. D., University of Pittsburgh, 1915.
In 1914 he was awarded the Elliott Cres-
son Medal by the Franklin Institute in
recognition of his contributions to science
and education.

Dr. Smith continued to serve as vice-
provost until November, 1910, when he
was elected provost to succeed Dr.
Charles C. Harrison. His selection for
the office did not come as a surprise, for
it had been generally known for several
weeks that he was the choice of the
faculty, students and alumni of the uni-

One of the local papers said of him :
"Few men combine such varied activities
in their lives as does Dr. Smith. As an
investigator in the field of electro-chem-
istry he has few equals. He is always at
the service of the students, and there is
scarcely an evening in the year when he
is not addressing some organization or
other at the university." At the same
time Dr. Smith finds opportunity for co-
operation in many movements and meas-
ures which are directly beneficial to the



universit)^ to the individual and to the
community at large. In 1899 he was
elected a member of the National Acad-
emy of Sciences, and he is a member of
several foreign scientific societies ; of the
American Association for the Advance-
ment of Science, of which he was vice-
president in 1898; the Chemical Jury of
Av/ards at the Columbian Exposition in
1893 ; Adviser in Chemistry, Carnegie
Institute, 1902; the United States Assay
Commission in 1895 and again from 1901
until 1905. He is a member of the Amer-
ican Chemical Society and occupied the
office of president of the society in 1898.
He likewise holds membership with the
American Philosophical Society, of which
he was president for five years. He is a
member of the board of trustees of the
Carnegie Foundation for the Advance-
ment of Teaching, and is president of the
Wistar Institute.

The chemical department of the Uni-
^■ersity of Pennsylvania under the leader-
ship of Dr. Smith has become one of the
most prominent schools of chemistry in
the country, and its post-graduate depart-
ment has turned out scores of men, many
of whom are teaching chemistry in im-
portant institutions throughout the
United States. Dr. Smith is an enthusi-
astic and untiring teacher, and has con-
tinued to teach in connection with his
duties as provost. He lays special stress
upon character-making. His idea is first
to make the man and then the chemist.

As a scientist, Dr. Smith has made
lasting and important contributions "to
chemistry. He is best known for his
work in electro-chemistry. Indeed, he
may be called a pioneer in this field. His
first published article relative to the sub-
ject appeared in 1879, since which time
his contributions have been numerous
and far-reaching in effect. His "Electro
Analysis," which appeared in 1890, has

gone through five editions, and has been
translated into German, French and other
foreign languages. It is recognized
throughout the world as an authoritative
work in this branch of chemistry. He
has made notable researches upon molyb-
denum and tungsten, and has published
about two hundred papers embodying the
results of his investigations in electro-
chemistry, in organic and analytical
chemistry and the composition of miner-
als. He has translated a number of
standard German works on chemistry,
important among these being Richter's
"Inorganic Chemistry" and "Organic
Chemistry." He is the author of "Ele-
ments of Chemistry" (three editions),
"Elements of Electro-chemistry," "The-
ories of Chemistry," "Chemical Experi-
ments," and "Chemistry in America —
Chapters from the History of the Science
in the United States."

His "hobby" is said to be a love for old
things, particularly those old records re-
lating to the history of chemical science
and to the history of the University of
Pennsylvania. This is evident in his
latest book, "Chemistry in America,"
wherein a number of old prints, original
manuscript letters and rare copies of
early chemical addresses, are set forth,
thus preserving for the future historian
of the science of chemistry documents
and facts which are now to be obtained
only by patient study and research among
papers which are rapidly disappearing
with each succeeding year. He takes the
keenest interest in the history and tra-
ditions of the University of Pennsyl-
vania, and it is as a result of his delving
among old documents and manuscripts
that the university is indebted for many
a quaint story illustrating the traditions
of the university and the deeds of its
distinguished sons, from Colonial days
downward. His office is a veritable


curiosity shop of the university and
chemical lore, the walls, bookcases and
cabinets being filled with photographs,
autograph letters, essays, and books
dwelling upon the life and deeds of many
an ancient hero of the campus, or grave
and learned leader in chemical science.
He takes the utmost delight in this study.
It might be called his one and only recre-
ation, as he seldom takes a vacation and
spends most of his waking hours at the
university. A manuscript letter of An-
thony Wayne (student in the Old Acad-
emy) or a bit of Robert Hare's work
brings him as much joy as the success-
ful conclusion of a difficult piece of chem-
ical research.

Dr. Smith has ever manifested the
keenest interest in the students of the
university, whom he often designates as
"my boys." It is said that he has fre-
quently left his bed at midnight to get
some unfortunate youth out of trouble,
and many university boys have had their
lives straightened out, just when they
were on the point of going wrong, by the
aid of his fatherly and sympathetic
advice. No part of his work appeals more
strongly to him than his close relation-
ship with the student body.

VOORHEES, Theodore,

Iieading Railroad Manager.

At precisely eleven o'clock on March
13, 1916, every train of the Philadelphia
& Reading railroad came to a complete
stop, every trackwalker stood silent with
bared head, and for one minute that great
railroad system's operative and office
force rendered silent homage to the
memory of their fallen chief, Theodore
Voorhees. At that same moment, Rev.
David M. Steele, rector of the Church of
St. Luke and the Epiphany, bowed his
head in prayer at Colony House in Elkins
Park over the dead president, surrounded

by the leading railroad magnates of the
United States, and the most prominent
men of Philadelphia, standing shoulder
to shoulder with conductors, brakemen,
engineers, flagmen — a most democratic
gathering. Common grief over the death
of Mr. Voorhees created a bond of sym-
pathy among these men who represented
every class from the highest to the most
humble. Railroad presidents and other
high officials silently shook the hands of
messengers. It was the most cosmopoli-
tan service that has marked the funeral
of a prominent Philadelphian.

Outside of the Voorhees residence
there was another group of mourners.
They, too, represented every rank of soci-
ety, and stood with bowed heads during
the entire time the service was being
conducted. Since 1893 Mr. Voorhees had
been first vice-president of the Philadel-
phia & Reading Railway Company, suc-
ceeding to the presidency in 1914, and
was also president of a group of sub-
sidiary companies of the Reading. His
life from graduation as civil engineer in
1869 had been spent in railroad activities,
his career a series of advancements, each
step bringing him nearer that inner circle
which only few railroad men ever reach,
but which could not be denied him. He
was more than the railroad magnate, for,
intensely practical, he sought not the or-
namental duties of his offices, but was
thorough master of every detail of the
railroad business "from engine headlight
to the president's desk." As opportunity
offered in the various positions he held,
he centered his activity on reforms in
railroad operation and to him is credited
the installation of the "block signal" and
the introduction of the "normal danger"
automatic block signals. In executive
management he demonstrated the highest
qualities, while his private life was one
of exceptional worth, his contemporaries
and associates, holding him in the highest



esteem. His life of sixty-nine years had
been one of increasing activity, and until
his last illness he had been continually
"in the harness" and was looking for-
ward eagerly to a resumption of his
executive duties when his final summons

A glance over his ancestry reveals the
fact that in him coursed the blood of the
Van Voorhees family of Holland and the
Sinclairs of Scotland with collateral
streams from other nationalities. His
Voorhees ancestor was Steven Coerte
Van Voorhees, born in 1600 at Hees,
province of Dreuthe, Holland, who in
April, 1660, came to this country in the
ship "Bontekoe" (Spotted Cow), bring-
ing with him his wife and eight children,
leaving two daughters in Holland. He
bought lands in the Flatlands of Long
Island, New York, paying therefor three
thousand guilders, and also bought the
house and lot lying in the village of
"Amesfoort in Bergen" (Flatlands). His
son, Coerte Stevense Van Voorhees, was
one of the most prominent of the early
Dutch settlers at Flatlands, owning much
land and holding important public offices.
The name has gone through many curious
changes, but the "Van" has generally
been dropped, the prevailing spelling be-
ing Voorhees, although the Bergen
county. New Jersey, branch almost with-
out exception write it Voorhis.

Theodore Voorhees, of the eighth
American generation of his family, was
born in New York City, June 4, 1847, and
died at his home, "Colony House," Elkins
Park, near Philadelphia, late on Satur-
day night, March 11, 1916. His parents
were Benjamin Franklin Voorhees, a cot-
ton broker, and Margaret E. (Sinclair)
Voorhees. After adequate preparation in
city schools, Mr. Voorhees entered Co-
lumbia College in 1864, and after com-
pleting his sophomore year at that insti-
tution, he entered the Rensselaer Poly-

technic Institution, that famed technical
school located at Troy. Thence he was
graduated Civil Engineer, class of 1869,
and the same year witnessed his instal-
lation in his first position, that of assist-
ant engineer with the Delaware & Lack-
awanna railroad. He continued in the
engineering department of the Lacka-
wanna for nearly four years, then entered
the operating department as superintend-
ent of the Syracuse, Binghamton & New
York railroad, the northern branch of the
Lackawanna, beginning at a point on
Lake Ontario and connecting with the
main line at Binghamton.

In December, 1874, he entered a new
field of railroad work, the transportation
department, this time with the Delaware
& Hudson railroad, with headquarters at
Albany. In March, 1875, he returned to
the operating department, becoming su-
perintendent of the Saratoga & Lake
Champlain division of the Delaware &
Hudson, spending ten years in that posi-
tion. In 1885 he resigned to accept the
position of assistant general superintend-
ent of the New York Central & Hudson
River railroad, so continuing until March
I, 1890, when he was promoted general
superintendent of that system, holding
similar connection with the Rome,
Watertown & Ogdensburg railroad, con-
trolled by the New York Central. He
remained with the Central in the above
named capacity until February i, 1893,
when he resigned, having been elected
first vice-president of the Philadelphia &
Reading Railroad Company, succeeding
J. Rogers Maxwell. This brought him to
the executive department of the railroad
business, the only department with which
he had not previously been connected.
This was according to the old rule of
promotion in railroad service, and in that
school Mr. Voorhees won his spurs,
proved his mettle, and received each pro-
motion solely on his own merit and pre-



vious record. He continued as first vice-
president until the death of George P.
Baer, then on May 8, 1914, succeeded to
the presidency of the Reading and its
several subsidiary companies. He proved
as wise a chief executive as an assistant,
his thorough knowledge of every depart-
ment and every detail of those depart-
ments rendering him the ideal chief.

He had few outside business interests,
but served as a director of the Market
Street National Bank of Philadelphia ; was
vice-president of the American Railway
Association in 1904; was a trustee of his
alma mater, the Rensselaer Polytechnic
Institute ; and a member of the American
Society of Civil Engineers, taking an
active interest in the duties such con-
nection involved. He was a vestryman
of St. Luke's and the Epiphany Church,
and in politics was an Independent. His
college fraternity was Psi Upsilon. He
was eligible to and held membership in
the Holland and the St. Nicholas soci-
eties, his clubs were the Century of New
York, the Philadelphia, Racquet, Auto-
mobile and the Huntington Valley Coun-
try. But he was not a club man, his busi-
ness and his home being the great
features of his life interest. He built a
fine country residence at Elkins Park,
called "Colony House" from the fact that
his plans included the building of homes
for three of his married children on adja-
cent properties. At Colony House he
spent his hours "oflf duty," taking a deep
interest in the beautifying of house and
grounds. He was fond of Nature and her
works, and was quite an amateur ento-
mologist. His health was excellent until
a few months preceding his death, and all
the joys of life were his. Honors came
to him abundantly, he bore the regard
and esteem of the highest, and the respect
and good will of every man on the great

Online LibraryJohn W. (John Woolf) JordanEncyclopedia of Pennsylvania biography : illustrated (Volume 7) → online text (page 52 of 55)