J. Seymour (Josiah Seymour) Currey.

Chicago: its history and its builders, a century of marvelous growth (Volume v.5) online

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A contemporary biographer has written that "an estimate of Mr. Rittenhouse's
life and accomplishments and of his character may be summed up in a few words.
He is possessed of an analytical and studious mind and is conservative in his atti-
tude toward anything tending to a deviation from accepted customs, though pro-
gressive, and almost an enthusiast when he has arrived at a decision after a thor-
ough investigation of the subject in hand, such as he invariably makes. If ap-
parently retired and reserved in his manner, it is because of a commendable modesty
which restrains him from making himself conspicuous. He is most considerate of
the welfare and comfort of those who are about him; is courteous and generous in
his treatment of his employes in all his enterprises; and enjoys their esteem to an
unusual degree. His habits are simple almost to austerity, though not because of
any overweening desire to save in expense but rather from a disposition to conserve
his health. His charitable instincts are largely developed and every act of his
life, whether in a business or social relation, is prompted and controlled by the
principle laid down in the Golden Rule."


A bank messenger at the age of eighteen years, within the comparatively brief
period of twelve years John Vaughan Clarke worked his way upward from that
position to the head of the Hibernian Banking Association and controlled its inter-
ests and activities thenceforward to the time of his death. He was born in Chi-
cago, October 15, 1862, a son of John Vaughan and Elizabeth (Bertrand) Clarke.
The father was the founder of the Merchants Association in 1867, which became
the Hibernian Banking Association in 1869.

John Vaughan Clarke, Jr., was the eldest son in a family of six children, of
whom Louis B. and Henry B. are both vice presidents of the Hibernian Bank.

John V. Clarke pursued his education in the public schools, in St. Ignatius Col-
lege and in Barnes' Academy. Throughout his entire life he was connected with
financial interests, entering the Hibernian Bank in 1880. He was promoted step
by step as he proved his capability to handle the increasing arduous duties of each
advanced position. At different times he served as clerk, teller and assistant cash-


ier, and upon the death of his father in 1892 succeeded to the presidency of the
bank which he successfully piloted through the hard panic of 1893, since which
time the business of the bank under his guidance has greatly increased. He was
a director of the Clearing House Association for many years and was its president
for one term. His capable management and enterprise constituted a strong force
in the upbuilding and success of the Hibernian Banking Association.

Mr. Clarke was a trustee of the Henrotin Hospital and few works done in the
name of charity or religion sought his aid in vain. He was long an active repre-
sentative of the Roman Catholic church of Chicago, serving on many committees
and aiding in a large number of its allied enterprises. He was also prominent in
club and social circles, holding membership in the Union League, Chicago Athletic,
Mid-Day, Exmoor Country, the Edgewater Country, the Saddle and Cycle, and
the Sanganois Clubs. He enjoyed golf and shooting and when leisure permitted
indulged his taste for those sports.

Mr. Clarke was married in Columbus, Ohio, to Miss Bertha English, of that
city, who survives him, the death of Mr. Clarke occurring May 31, 1911, after a
two weeks' illness. Mrs. Clarke resides at No. 1441 North State street and is
widely known in this city, having gained an extensive circle of friends and ac-
quaintances. In every relation of life Mr. Clarke was true to high ideals and hon-
orable traits, and gradually worked his way upward by reason of those qualities
and his natural business ability until he occupied a prominent position financially
and also held a high place in the confidence and good-will of his fellow townsmen.


Lewis Lamed Coburn was Chicago's pioneer patent lawyer and as a representa-
tive of the department of his profession in which he specialized he won national
reputation, his ability placing him in the foremost ranks of the patent lawyers of the
country. He was, moreover, a man of many personal excellencies whose ability,
talents and culture made him the embodiment of the highest meaning of the term
gentleman. His advancement came through the gradual unfolding of his powers as
the result of the utilization of opportunities that were not common to him alone
but might have been improved by any other member of the legal profession. It
was his keen discernment into possibilities, coupled with the strong intellectuality
with which nature endowed him that gave him the distinguished position which he
so long occupied. It is imperative, therefore, that the record of his life find a place
on the pages of this volume because of the important position which he occupied
in Chicago.

He was a representative of an old New England family. His paternal grand-
parents removed from Massachusetts to Washington county, Vermont, at an early
period in the settlement of the latter district. His father, Lamed Coburn, the
owner of one of the largest estates in central Vermont, was a man of great activity
and prominence whose sterling traits of character won him high esteem. At dif-
ferent times he filled local offices of honor and trust and on several occasions was
chosen to represent his district in the state legislature, leaving the impress of his



individuality for good upon the laws of the state. He married Lovisa Allen, a mem-
ber of one of the early families of East Montpelier, Vermont, and it was in that town
that Lewis L. Coburn was born November 2, 1834, the youngest in a family of
five children.

Although his father was in affluent circumstances, actual training in farm
work constituted a part of the preparation which Lewis L. Coburn received for life's
practical duties. His intellectual powers were stimulated by instruction in the
public schools, which he attended in the winter months to the age of fifteen years,
when he was sent to the Morrisville Academy, while later he studied in the academy
at Northfield and also at Barre, Vermont, devoting the spring and fall terms to
study, while the winter seasons were spent in teaching school and the summer
months were given to the work of the farm. In the schoolroom he proved an ex-
cellent disciplinarian as well as instructor and was engaged to teach the largest
schools and those most difficult to manage in his part of the state. When his prep-
aratory course was completed at Barre, in the summer of 1855, he entered upon
collegiate work in the University of Vermont and after the regular four years' course
was graduated with mathematical honors and the degree of Bachelor of Arts. His
college studies were pursued with the idea of one day entering the legal profession,
for he had already determined in his own mind what his life work was to be and
in his vacation periods he further prepared for law practice as a student in the
office of Roberts & Chittenden, well known attorneys of Burlington, Vermont.
Following his graduation from the university he spent a short time in reading law
with the Hon. T. P. Redfield of Montpelier, after which he matriculated in the
Harvard Law School at Cambridge, Massachusetts, and was graduated in 1861.

Having passed the required examinations, Mr. Coburn was admitted to prac-
tice in all the courts of Massachusetts, but the opportunities of the growing west
attracted him and in February, 1861, he established his home in Chicago, his re-
markable prescience enabling him to recognize something that the future held in
store for the city by the lake. His choice of a special field of law practice was
made in recognition of the fact that he noticed that in other and older cities several
lawyers had won distinction and success by concentrating their attention upon
patent law and Mr. Coburn decided upon the same branch of practice, becoming
the pioneer in the field of patent law in Chicago. It has been said that necessity
is the mother of invention, which finds proof in the fact that when so many men
were called from the field of business to take their place as military defenders of
their country, inventions multiplied as machinery was installed to do the work
formerly performed by hand. Inventions were numerous and the result often com-
plicated, requiring the services of those well versed in the laws relating to patents.
Mr. Coburn's practice grew rapidly and in proportionate importance. In Novem-
ber, 1861, he was joined by William E. Marrs of the Vermont bar, an old college
friend and classmate, who died a few years later. The business of the firm grew
rapidly and extended to the United States courts in nearly all the western states.
He was thus enjoying an extensive and gratifying practice when in the summer of
1862 he returned to his old home for a visit to his parents. A brigade of nine
months' men was being then enlisted in Vermont and a company that was forming
in East Montpelier and adjoining towns, where Mr. Coburn was well known,
unanimously elected him to its captaincy. He felt that his duty to his country was


paramount even to the demands of his large and growing practice and leaving his
partner to manage the affairs of the firm, he marched to the front as captain of
Company C, Thirteenth Regiment of Vermont Volunteers, and was in the battle
line at Gettysburg, in General Stannard's brigade, and led his company in a gal-
lant charge that resulted in the recapture of batteries formerly taken by the rebels.
He was the first to reach two of the cannon and among others who surrendered to
him personally was Major Moore of a Florida regiment and a captain and lieu-
tenant of a Mississippi regiment, whose swords and pistols he was permitted to

Following the expiration of his term Captain Coburn immediately resumed
the practice of his profession in Chicago and an immense amount of patent law
business devolved upon him alone, following the death of his law partner, Mr.
Marrs, in 1868. In 1875 he admitted the Hon. John M. Thatcher, also an old
classmate, to a partnership, the latter resigning his position as United States com-
missioner of patents at Washington to become associated with Mr. Coburn. This
partnership existed for twenty years and later the firm of Coburn & McRoberts was
formed. The Chicago Legal News, in writing of Mr. Coburn at the time of his
death, said: "Having at the first chosen the practice of patent law, he early gained
national distinction in his profession. He possessed extraordinary aptitude of mind
and training for this branch of jurisprudence, not least among which were his
quickness of comprehension of the legal problems of invention and his instant
mastery of any mechanism that was presented to him. This form of national, as
also of international, law for the protection of patented inventions had for Mr.
Coburn the greatest fascination. He felt profoundly the importance of it as relat-
ing to the growing necessities of our modern civilization. His profession made him
the constant champion of the rights of inventors. Although the financial rewards
of his profession were ample, it was the larger significance of it which most of all
ennobled for him its practice. His valuable, masterful and lifelong services to the
development of industrial interests can not be overestimated."

Among the important cases with which he was connected as a specialist in the
field of patent law were the Irwin tubular lantern patent suits, the barbed wire
litigation and the beef canning suits, together with many others which attracted
almost equally wide attention. The practice of his firm was one of the largest and
most lucrative in the west.

We again quote from the Chicago Legal News, which said: "But if the patent
law was Mr. Coburn's lifelong profession, he naturally came to have another highly
important avocation that of a scientific farmer. In the southern part of Minnesota,
by sagacious and timely investments, he acquired large land holdings, at the
present time almost wholly under cultivation and, as might be expected, this cultiva-
tion has been conducted on the most enlightened and up-to-date agricultural prin-
ciples. With something of the genius for invention caught from the nature of his
legal profession, he was quick and eager to note the possible improvements in the
modern modes of farming. Only this last summer, though suffering from ill health,
he attended to the installation of a new automobile plow ; a plow which turns seven
furrows at once as it sweeps across some half-mile long field. In Mr. Coburn's
view of our present day problems, the 'country problem' was no less important and
urgent than that of the city. He had very clear and positive convictions as to


the responsibilities of our universities and colleges and other schools for the constant
improvement of American country life. Somehow, he insisted, the drift from the
farms to the cities should be arrested."

On the 23d of June, 1880, occurred the marriage of Mr. Coburn and Miss Annie
S. Swan, the wedding ceremony being performed by the Rev. Robert Collger at
the home of Mrs. Shaler, the grandmother of the bride, in Brooklyn, New York.
Mr. Coburn always delighted in the companionship of his friends, who were many,
gathering about him a cultured and select circle who found enjoyment, as he did,
in art, music, opera and the discussion of the vital questions of the times. He was
deeply interested in all public affairs and in consideration thereof delved far be-
low the surface. The welfare and growth of Chicago were always questions that
lay close to his heart. He had remarkable faith in the future of the city even in
its darkest hours, and because of this he made extensive investments in real estate
which repaid him bountifully in his later years. He was closely identified with
many political and financial interests of Chicago. When the finances of the city
were at a low ebb he inaugurated the movement which led to a change in the
south town and city governments and presided at the first public meeting. He was
also a leader in many benevolent and charitable projects and to his efforts a num-
ber of such institutions owe their existence. He was among the founders of the
Christian Union, now the Chicago Athenaeum, and was also among the organizers
of the Vermont Association of the State of Illinois. In 1909 the University of
Vermont conferred upon him the LL. D. degree, when with seven other members
of the class of 1859 he celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of their graduation.

He was the first president of the Union League Club, in which connection it
was written: "Characteristic of Mr. Coburn's broad minded and sagacious way
of looking at the conditions of modern life, was the fact that he was not only
the first president of the Union League Club of this city but one of its prime orig-
inators who took the initiative in its organization. Other men might sometime
have thought of the founding of such a club, distinctly different from any then
existent here, with the larger civic and philanthropic as well as social possibilities
involved in its uses making it to be a kind of potential civic university. But it
was Mr. Coburn with a few other like-minded sagacious and well known citizens of
Chicago who. just at the right time, caught the idea and put it into a great fact or
rather a very great and enduring factor. At its last annual meeting the Union
League Club added to its list of honorary members two names, those of William
H. Taft and Lewis L. Coburn."

Mr. Coburn likewise belonged to the Calumet, Union and Onwentsia Clubs,
was a charter member of the Chicago Historical Society, a governing member of
the Art Institute of Chicago, a member of the Chicago Bar and Patent Law Asso-
ciations, the Military Order of the Loyal Legion and U. S. Grant Post, No. 28,
G. A. R. High political honors would have been conferred upon him had he de-
sired to seek fame and advancement in that connection. He was proposed as a
candidate for the state senate and almost -unanimously indorsed by the press of
Chicago and by his many friends as a candidate for the United States congress to
represent the first district of Illinois, but the demands of his profession led him to
decline all such honors. The death of Mr. Coburn occurred October 23. 1910, and
the funeral services were conducted by Dr. F. W. Gunsaulus. Endowed by nature


with keen mentality, he so directed his efforts and his energies that his talents were
wisely used not only for the benefit of himself but for mankind as well. He never
allowed personal interest to constitute the bounds of his horizon but reached out
for the larger, uplifting things of life and made of possibilities a certainty and of
hopes a reality.


Arthur Farrar was born December 3, 1837, and died November 2, 1893, yet
within this comparatively brief space of time his life wrought for good along many
lines. Between his record and the highest ideals there was no discordant element.
There was in him no feeling of superiority; it was just that he chose because of
the innate refinement and honor of his nature those things which are worth while
and did to the best of his ability at all times the duty that lay nearest at hand.
This ability increased in its exercise and each year showed him better qualified
for larger responsibilities, which were accordingly given him. He belonged to that
large quota of progressive and capable citizens that New England furnished to
Chicago. He was born in Worcester, Massachusetts, December 3, 1837, a son of
Abel F. and Emeline (Rice) Farrar. Ancestral history brings him into close con-
nection with the New England Puritans, who laid the foundations of our Ameri-
can institutions and gave new impulse to knowledge and freedom throughout the
nations, and to a period more remote he also traced his lineage. William the Con-
queror in the fourteenth year of his reign chose a Farrar to be commissioner to
attend to the resurvey of England, and one of the name was a martyr to the mis-
directed religious enthusiasm of Queen Mary. A branch of the family is found in
Virginia, where representatives of the name were prominent in shaping the
formative policy of that state. Another branch of the family was established in
Massachusetts and a third in New Hampshire, and with the history of Hingham,
Ipswich, Lynn, Concord and Temple the name is closely and honorably interwoven.
From such an ancestry Arthur Farrar descended and wisely and well did he use
the talents which such a lineage bequeathed to him.

He was but two years old when his parents removed with their family from
Worcester to Boston, where he was educated and obtained his early business ex-
perience. Later the family home was established at Rindge, New Hampshire, where
his father and mother spent their remaining days. At the age of twenty years
Arthur Farrar sought the opportunities of the growing middle west and in St.
Louis, Missouri, entered the employ of a Mr. Clagstone, who was agent in that
city for a Boston rubber company a line of business in which the young man
had previously had some experience in the east. After brief residence in St.
Louis he removed to Cincinnati, Ohio, where he entered the employ of Grover &
Baker in the sale of sewing machines. Energetic and ambitious, he rapidly ac-
quainted himself with the business in every phase and his capable efforts soon
gained recognition, for he was selected by his employers for the position of general
agent, at St. Louis, Missouri, in which responsible place he soon demonstrated
his ability and before long had become known as one of the ablest men in his



line in the country. From St. Louis he came to Chicago as general agent in this
city for the Wheeler & Wilson Sewing Machine Company, one of the most im-
portant positions in this field of business in the entire country, carrying with it a
decided advancement. For a number of years Mr. Farrar continued in that ca-
pacity, having at different times various partners in the business and winning
therein a substantial measure of success. At length he retired from that field,
after which he devoted much of his time to dealing in real estate, in which he pros-

On the 12th of August, 1862, in Cincinnati, Mr. Farrar was married to Miss
Fannie E. Cook, who was born at West Townshend, Vermont, August 2, 1841, a
daughter of Thomas and Eliza (Phelps) Cook, whose sister, Fanny Phelps, was
the first wife of Alphonso Taft, the father of William Howard Taft, president of
the United States. Mr. and Mrs. Farrar became the parents of two daughters:
Fannie E., who is living with her mother; and Emeline Phelps, the wife of Wil-
liam S. Wescott. The only child of this marriage, Fannie Farrar Wescott, died
in infancy. Since April, 1868, the family home has been at what is now 1624
Washington boulevard, where Mrs. Farrar resides with her two daughters. There
Mr. Farrar passed away on the 2d of November, 1893. Ten days later, at a
meeting of the trustees of the Union Park Congregational Society, the following
minute was unanimously adopted:

He was for many years a member of the Union Park Congregational Society.

He also served for many years most faithfully and intelligently as one of its
board of trustees.

As a counselor he was invaluable to the society. In times when the most sanguine
despaired of the ability of the society to retain the home it had made, he never
gave way to the doubts he must have felt.

Hoping, and inspiring hope, he worked with other brave souls to accomplish
the seemingly impossible task of paying an overwhelming debt, and preserving
for usefulness in the community the organization and good name of the Union
Park Congregational Church and Society. In doing this, he not only counseled
wisely, but gave liberally and willingly for the -purpose.

He gave also valuable time and served cheerfully until the day of his death
the interests of the church. He was a loving husband and father, devoted to his
home and finding there such attractions that he had little desire to seek elsewhere
for social pleasures. Yet he was an excellent neighbor and a faithful friend and
valued highly the respect and esteem of others.

He was a good citizen, concerned in the welfare of the community and anxious
for the good of the state and nation.

He was a great-hearted, generous Christian gentleman, whose life has been an
inspiration for good in the community and whom we shall miss in all of the affairs
of this society.

The trustees of the Union Park Congregational Society adopt this minute, as
expressing in some small degree their respect for their absent brother, and direct
that it be spread upon the records of the society and a copy sent to his family.

Fitting tribute was paid to his memory by his pastor, Dr. Noble, who in the
funeral services said: "To begin with, Mr. Farrar had mental capabilities of a
high order. His mind was of the inquisitive type. He was constantly on the


search for knowledge. New ideas were welcomed by him with a generous hos-
pitality. Whatever had promise in it of adding to his stock of information in-
terested him. He had a large share of inventive genius. Had he devoted his
energies to work in the sphere of inventions he would have made discoveries, no
doubt, of great value to the mechanical and industrial world. He never wearied
of magnifying the wonderful contrivances of nature; and his belief was that we
have hardly begun yet to uncover 'the laws and secrets of this great world about
us which may be turned to human account. He loved books. He loved not only
to gather books in his library where he could comfort his eyes by looking on them,
but he loved to sit down in the family circle and read them and then discuss their
merits and the merits of what they contained. Books of science, history, art, travel
and poetry all interested him. Especially was he stirred, as might be gathered
from what has already been said, by publications and articles which had to do
with late inventions and the structure of new machinery. But literature as liter-
ature was a delight to him. The writings of Shakespeare and Lowell and Whittier

Online LibraryJ. Seymour (Josiah Seymour) CurreyChicago: its history and its builders, a century of marvelous growth (Volume v.5) → online text (page 45 of 74)