John W. (John Woolf) Jordan.

Encyclopedia of Pennsylvania biography : illustrated (Volume 3) online

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stinct, threw himself into the task of laying
the foundation for a daily newspaper of
larger scope and influence. To this great
work he gave the best years of his life, the
best intelligence of his mind, and the best
idealism of his nature. And yet in the
midst of such engrossing effort he found
time to contribute a remarkable share in the
general uplift work of the community.

Dr. Johnson married, at Oshkosh, Wis-
consin, on June 25, 1885, Georgia Post,
daughter of Joseph H. and Harriet (Green)
Post, of Knoxville. Tennessee, and they
had: Mrs. Ruth (Johnson) Morgan, Fred-
erick Green (Cornell University, 1913),
and Margaret. At the first and only re-
union of the class of 1883 of the Univer-
sity of Pennsylvania Medical School, Dr.
Johnson prepared the class history, which
was afterward published in pamphlet form.
Each year he furnished to the Luzerne
County Medical Society the vital statistics
of Wilkes-Barre. He wrote for the Wy-
oming Historical and Geological Society
]iapers on : The Pioneer Physicians of Wy-
oming Valley, 1775-1825; Pioneer Women
of Wyoming Valley ; Count Zinzendorf and
the Moravian Movement in Wyoming Val-
ley ; Biography of Rev. Jacob Johnson ;
Memoir of Mrs. Ruth Tripp Ross; Pro-
posed Exodus of Wyoming Settlers in
1783; Wallingford (Connecticut) John-
sons; The Johnson Family, etc., etc., sev-
eral of which have become permanent pub-
lished records of the society. He also
through a period of years compiled the Wy-
oming Historical Record in fourteen vol-
umes, a work rich in local history.

The foregoing, and other associations
with general enterprises outside his routine,
reveal a man of large public impulse, and
one whose high intelligence and capacity in
achievement made him for years a promi-
nent and a controlling personality. He served
on the committee appointed by the State
Board of Public Charities to inspect the
public institutions of Luzerne county. He
was one of the prison commissioners of the
county; life member, and for a long time
treasurer, of the Historical Society, and at
the time of his death historiographer there-
of. He outlined in an exhaustive paper
read before the Luzerne County Medical
Society, the projected enterprise of the free
sanitarium for tuberculosis at White Haven,
and his paper was used before the Pennsyl-
vania Legislature when the question of the
initial State appropriation was debated. Dr.
Johnson was treasurer of the Wyoming
Commemorative Association, and always an
active worker ; member of the Moravian
Historical Society; Minesink Valley Histor-
ical Society : Pennsylvania Society Sons of
the Revolution ; New England Society ;
Pennsylvania Society ; Westmoreland, Coun-
try, Franklin, Automobile and Camera clubs ;
American Medical Association ; State and
County Medical societies ; Society for Pre-
vention of Tuberculosis ; Wilkes-Barre
Chamber of Commerce; State and National
Editorial associations ; Pennsylvania For-
estry Association ; Civil Service Reform
Association ; Young Men's Christian Asso-
ciation (and director) ; Masonic Order, in-
cluding Royal Arch Masons, Knights
Templar and Nobles of the Mystic Shrine ;
St. Stephen's Episcopal Church (and vestry-
man), etc.

So vast a field of usefulness connotes a
man whose largest impulses were industry
and altruism — the former a natural trait
and continually manifested, and the latter
largely unfolded through a heart of deep
sympathies and through the practical work-
ing out of his religious convictions. In an
age when the relationship of men and reli-



gion is like to be somewhat perfunctory,
Dr. Johnson's religious zeal was manifested
with an ever increasing consistency. Beau-
tiful impulses working from within, were
shown in his undertaking a heavy burden of
duty, and yet he was a man upon whom
these burdens sat lightly. For duty became
to him not negation but affirmation, not a
shunned and dreaded call but a keen delight.
Immediately after the organization of the
Wilkes-Barre Young Men's Christian Asso-
ciation he became an active worker. With
one other he initiated and brought to suc-
cess the boys' department, which has since
grown to a separate plant and organization
allied with the older branch. He assisted
in the formation of suburban Young Men's
Christian Associations. His work as Young
Men's Christian Association director was
for many years a vital influence. His
church affiliation bears the same stamp of
sincerity and constant usefulness. He was
baptized at nineteen, and a few days there-
after was confirmed by the Right Reverend
Bishop of Central Pennsylvania, Alonzo
D'W Howe, D. D. His church activity was
unbroken through forty years, until his
death. A short service as vestryman in St.
Stephen's was interrupted by his medical
study in Philadelphia. He was in later years
reelected, and served continuously for ten
years before his death. He was one of the
pioneer workers in Calvary Chapel, a mis-
sion of St. Stephen's, was for many years
superintendent of its Sunday school, and he
lived to see a commodious church, parish
house and rectory become the property of
the congregation.

Religion meant to him a vital daily force
in life's experiences. It meant generosity,
sympathy, helpfulness, charity in gifts and
in judgments. It meant a high-minded am-
bition in the newspaper career. He of all
men was the last to recognize in himself
any merit. His faithfulness to church and
to his public and domestic relations was
both natural and inevitable. His spirit was
clothed in humilitv. In business connected

with "The Record" newspaper he was a
master of detail. He was perhaps the best
all-round chronicler of events the city of
Wilkes-Barre has ever had. He was a para-
gon of correct statement and generous
marshaling of fact. And beyond this, he
preserved in himself and cultivated and en-
couraged in others the duty of presenting
news correctly, thoroughly and without
offense to the better taste of the community.
He wrought so well that the tradition of his
personal work and example is still a potent
force. When his paper persuaded, modi-
fied, or moulded public opinion it did so
with the trend always toward the honorable,
the moral and the right. Naturally, under
such a regime as this. "The Record" became
a potent force, and its influence extended
beyond the immediate locality. During his
active work its circulation was increased
five-fold. And it is safe to say that in this
achievement his was the most considerable

In fine, it may be said that the talents en-
trusted to his keeping were manifolded. He
was the faithful steward. He left an im-
press on the community. His name is
gratefully remembered, and his influence
will remain long after the name is merged
with the other notable personal forces of
the past.

ALLISON, Henry 'Willard,

Financier, FuMic Official.

The subject of this sketch, born July 8,
1846, died October 12, 1913, was the son of
James Willetts Allison and Mary McClel-
land Boal ; grandson of Isaac Allison and
Margaret Millard ; and great-grandson of
James Allison and Margaret Willetts, all of
whom were Pennsylvanians by birth, and
passed many years if not their entire lives
as residents of the State. His earlier an-
cestors were among the Scotch-Irish Pres-
byterians who came to this country early in
the eighteenth century, settling for the
greater part in York, Chester and North-



ampton counties. They were men of strong
religious convictions, energetic disposition
and sterling character, and his life record
showed that he had inherited to a marked
degree the qualities of the race.

His parents — James W. Allison, born in
Mauch Chunk, in 1806, and Mary M. Boal,
born in Muncie, in 1812, crossed the Alle-
ghanies into Ohio in 1836, settling in Law-
rence county, where his father engaged in
the mercantile business, and later in the de-
velopment of the coal and iron industries
of that locality. As years passed, these in-
terests carried him into Kentucky, where,
at Catlettsburg, at the mouth of the Big
Sandy river, the son was born in 1846.
Two years later, the financial panic of 1848,
which shook the commercial world to its
centre, and brought disaster to thousands
of the most enterprising men of the country,
found the father with more interest than
he could protect at once, and brought crash-
ing about his ears the promising but incom-
plete business edifice reared through years
of effort.

Undismayed he returned to Ohio and set
about building anew, to meet similar dis-
aster in the succeeding panic of 1857. And,
as misfortunes rarely come singly, an attack
of inflammatory rheumatism, indiiced by
overwork and exposure, rendered him a
helpless and temporarily almost hopeless in-
valid. Pathetically and tragically enough,
the condition of affairs brought to the mind
of the ten year old boy the responsibility
devolving upon him as the eldest son of the
poverty stricken family. Without a word
of his intention he went to a druggist whom
he knew and asked for work — he was big
enough to sweep out the store and run er-
rands and must earn some money. And he
could learn to put up prescriptions. Prob-
ably struck with the boy's earnestness and
enterprise rather than the value of his serv-
ice, the good man at once made an offer
which was readily accepted, and the child
took up the burden of work and responsi-
bility which was to be laid down only with

his life. From this time the boy no longer
thought and spoke and acted as a child, but
as a man. His daily life lay between the
school house and the drug store where his
eager mind searched into the mysteries sur-
rounding him, and he experimented in vari-
ous directions until after some month's
work he was taken home, his face and head
swathed in bandages, having "blown him-
self up," with a mixture which proved to
be a dangerous explosive. The prohibition
following this disaster he insisted to the day
of his death, was all that prevented his being
recognized as the discoverer of nitro-gly-
cerin in this country.

Until sixteen years of age he attended the
public schools, alwa3's looking for and
always finding work in some capacity dur-
ing the summer vacation, and in some cases
through the year outside of school hours. A
boy in years he became familiar with the
mining and marketing of bituminous coal
and the manufacture of wrought and cast
iron in every shape among the coal mines,
blast furnaces, rolling and nail mills, found-
ries, and machine shops of Lawrence county,
Ohio, where his parents then resided.

At sixteen he left school for business life
and thereafter his education was what be
could glean through the school of ex-
perience and his love of reading. Thence-
forward he was under no necessity of look-
ing or asking for employment. His repu-
tation for industry, honesty, integrity and
ability, was already so well known among
business men that he found himself at
liberty to simply accept or decline among
the numerous applications for his services.
Naturally gifted with a high order of in-
telligence, of good figure, handsome of fea-
ture and of polished manners he was as
popular socially as in a business way and
a welcome guest at the best homes of any
locality where he was known. At sixteen
years of age he entered the employ of the
iron firm of Sinton & Means, of Southern
Ohio, and two years later of the Norton
Iron Works, of Ashland, Kentucky. In



1868 he accepted a position with Pardee
Brothers & Co., of Hazleton and Latimer,
Pennsylvania, where for the next seven
years he made close and careful study of the
anthracite interests which he mastered in
every detail. In 1875 he was transferred
to the AUentown Rolling Mills of which he
became secretary, treasurer and general
manager, retaining his position until his

Perhaps the two ruling principles of Mr.
Allison's life were conscientiousness and
thoroughness. Had he been as scrupulous
of his own interests as he was of those of
his employers he should and probably would
have died a rich man. But his unswerving
loyalty to those who trusted him and his
devotion to duty amounted to self abnega-
tion, and he frequently stood in his own
light and the way of his own welfare.

Such a man is sure to die respected. He
is not apt to die rich, and Mr. Allison was
no exception to the rule. What he did, he
did with all his might, and did not rest until
he knew to the bottom and in every detail,
whatever he came in contact with.

A western iron master who entertained
him on a visit to the Pacific Coast told the
writer that he had learned more about iron
in one evening from his guest than in twenty
years of actual experience in its manu-
facture and sale. As an authority on iron
and steel, and bituminous and anthracite
coals he was probably without a superior in
the country.

In 1879 Mr. Allison was married to Miss
Clara Unger, of AUentown, who survives
him, with three daughters — Mary, Jean and
Marjorie, a daughter and an only son dying
in infancy.

While Mr. Allison was never an active
politician, his affiliations were with the
Republican party, with which he always
voted, so that when in 1888 he accepted
the nomination of mayor of a city re-
garded as a Democratic stronghold, the
situation was regarded by many of his
friends in the light of a practical joke. He

was elected, and in 1893 re-elected, giving
to AUentown two terms of office that will
long be remembered by the people of that
city as the "most precise, progressive and
businesslike" that the city has ever known.
He accepted the call simply as a call of duty
and carried into the administration of the
office the same conscientious methods of
rigid honesty, integrity, impartiality, unself-
ishness and business ability that he gave to
his private aft'airs. In or out of office his
broad minded, generous and always capable
public spirit was recognized and his time
and abilities were sought and freely and
cheerfully rendered in many directions. He
was a powerful factor in the organization
of the Young Mens' Temperance Society
and of the Livingston Club of which he
was the first president. He served also for
years as president of the City Board of
Trade, as director of the Rapid Transit
Railway, of the Lehigh County Agricultural
Society, and as director of the Second
National Bank, the Fairview Cemetery-
Association, the AUentown Hospital, and
St. Luke's Hospital, Bethlehem. Through
the services of his father as an officer of the
Union army, during four years of the Civil
War, he was an honored member of the
Pennsylvania Commandery of the Loyal
Legion and of the Sons of Veterans, and
was also a member of Barger Lodge, F. and
A. M. ; Allen Chapter, R. A. M.; Allen
Commandery, Knights Templar, and the
Knights of the Golden Eagle. In his ap-
preciation of the dignity of the highest man-
hood, his hatred of all that is mean, sordid
and vulgar, his fine scorn of that disposition
that would "crack the pregnant hinges of
the knee, that thrift may follow fawning"
he was a born aristocrat. In his love for
his fellow man, his easy accessibility at all
times to high and low alike, his ever readi-
ness to aid the "under dog in the fight" and
to lend a helping hand to the unfortunate,
he was the ideal Democrat and man of the
people. Caring little for the pleasures and
vanities of the world and nothing for the



dissipations of "higii society," and loving
tlie quiet of his own fireside, the company
of his family, his books and chosen friends
above all else, no night was too dark or
cold or stormy to draw him from these at
the cry of distress. A lover of nature in
all her moods — of mountain and forest and
river, of fine horses and cattle, of the trout
in the streams and wild animals of the forest
and plain, he was never happier than when
he could, for brief intervals of a busy life,
throw off the cares and responsibilities of
his work among the whiz and clamor of
flying wheels and roaring machinery and
"flee as a bird to the mountain" and be
a boy again. And when at last came to him
the summons which, sooner or later, comes
alike to rich and poor, the proud and the
humble, high and low, he met it frankly
and fearlessly as he had met every other
change in his life, fully realizing that for
him this was only a change and in no wise
a conclusion. Half whimsically he depre-
cated his increasing weakness and difficulty
of breathing, with no word of complaint
or despondency, and from his dying bed,
but a few days before the end, came to the
writer a humorous message of his surrender
to the tyranny of nurse and doctor who had
put a ban on his determined efforts to help
himself and "fight it out."

So, bravely living, he bravely died, leaving
behind him the highest form of wealth that
man can boast — a stainless life, a business
career without a blemish, and the love, re-
spect and veneration of all who knew him.

Financier, Manufacturer, Model Citizen.

Albin Garrett, man of large affairs, and
a splendid type of citizenship, one who held
to the loftiest ideals in public as well as in
personal life, had for ancestors those who
were among the earliest settlers of Pennsyl-
vania, and were among the pioneers of a
new civilization.

In 1764, William Garrett emigrated from

Harby, Leicestershire, England, and settled
in Darby, Pennsylvania, bringing with him
his wife and seven children. He became
identified with the Monthly Meeting of
Friends in Philadelphia, presenting a letter
from the Meeting at Harby, England, and
he was warmly welcomed by those to whom
he came thus accredited. He was already
a landowner in Pennsylvania, for before
leaving England he and Samuel Levis had
jointly purchased 1,000 acres of land, as
attested by deeds of lease and release of
date August 9-10, 1684. This land was
located in Willistown township, and before
his death was divided, 556 acres being as-
sessed to himself. It is worthy of note that
a portion of this original tract was in the
ownership of Albin Garrett at the time of
his death.

From the time William Garrett settled in
Pennsylvania, members of the family have
been known as active, enterprising, law-
abiding citizens. Some served the State as
legislators, and in minor offices, and all took
a lively interest in the general welfare.
They were soon so widely scattered, that
their blood flows in countless families of
other names as well as their own.

Of this relationship and so descended,
was Robert Garrett, who married, Novem-
ber 18, 1812, Albina, daughter of Jesse and
Rachel Hoopes, and to them was born a son,
Albin Garrett, the father of Albin Garrett,
the subject of this narrative. His birth oc-
curred April 22, 1844. at the Willistown
homestead, on Ridley creek, near the power
house of the Philadelphia & West Chester
railway, the land having been derived from
the Garrett farm, upon which was located
"the Indian orchard" which had been occu-
pied by the Okehocking tribe, and who had
been removed westward under the direction
of \Villiam Penn. In and about this his-
toric spot, surrounded by wooded hills en-
circling the stream which moved the mills
of his father and grandfather, Albin Gar-
rett passed his youth, in industrious pur-
suits, youthful sports, and with ambitious



aspirations. His wish was for a liberal edu-
cation, and he became a student at the West-
town School and Haverford College, from
both of which he graduated — from the lat-
ter at the age of twenty years. His college
contemporaries spoke of him as a grave
and rather reserved youth, intent upon his
studies, full and accurate in his recitations;
with powers of generalization, analysis and
logical acumen that made him of mark as a

His first three years after leaving college
were given to clerical work, in which he
laid the foundations for his subsequent
active and useful career. In 1867, in con-
junction with Hon. Wayne MacVeagh and
others, he formed the banking house of
Kirk, ]\Iac\'eagh & Co. This property was
subsequently sold to the Brandywine Bank,
and after various transmutations now ex-
ists in the present Farmers and Mechanics
Trust Company of West Chester. After
leaving the bank, Mr. Garrett was for some
years engaged in mercantile business in
Philadelphia and New York. During a por-
tion of this time he resided at Englewood
Cliflf, on the Palisades of the Hudson ; here
his life was idyllic, and in after years he
took delight in recalling its memories. Here
he met a number of prominent New York-
ers, who were not long in recognizing and
appreciating his sterling worth. It was while
he was thus pleasantly situated, that a num-
ber of gentlemen, none of them known to Mr.
Garrett, organized the India Refining Com-
pany and proffered the presidency to him,
and he agreed upon acceptance, on condi-
tion that the plant should be removed from
Chicago to Philadelphia. So great was
their confidence in Mr. Garrett and so de-
sirable were his services esteemed, that they
gave their consent, the removal was made,
and the business was established at McKean
and Swanson .streets. To Mr. Garrett was
given entire charge, and he gave to it his
undivided attention, occupying the position
of pre-^ident until his death. To use the

words of a friend who was his biographer :
"At the time he assumed control of the
company, he had the esteem of the board
of directors ; at the time he died, he had
won their love — nor theirs, alone, but that
of the company's humblest employee, who
believed that the president of the India Re-
fining Company was his friend, and he was
right. Mr. Garrett was always willing to
listen to complaints ; always ready to
remedy abuses, if any existed; in short, was
anxious to assist his employees in any way
compatible with the duties of his office."

The India Refining Company was a pio- I
neer in the manufacture of edible vegetable
butters from cocoanuts and similar fruits.
Through Mr. Garrett's able management
and far-sighted business policy, the com-
pany came to be the largest of its class in
America, if not in the world. Its products
are not only used throughout the United
States and Canada, but are exported in
large quantities to probably every market
open to American commerce.

Aside from his large business obligations, J
Mr. Garrett gave active and intelligent at- j
tention to public aft'airs, and entirely with-
out self-seeking, for he was absolutely with-
out political aspirations. As a rule, he was
a firm believer in Republican principles and
policies, but when these were not adhered
to, he acted independently, and for many
}ears was known as an Independent Repub-
lican. In 1905, when the domination of
bosses in State and county was so notorious
that it was characterized by Elihu Root as
" a corrupt and criminal combination mas-
querading as Republicans," he revolted, and
consented to act as committeeman for the
Republican party from his township of
Thornbury. There was then a question as
to the right of using the name "Republican,"
because of certain irregularities, and this he
determined to sift to tlie bottom. When
the county convention assembled in West
Chester, in the fall of nx>5. he was made
temporary chairman and then permanent



cliaiiuian, in which capacity, with the aid of
otliers, he instituted proceedings which were
finally carried to the Supreme Court. The
decision in that body was adverse, where-
upon Mr. Garrett and his colleagues formed
"tiie Lincoln Party." I'oUowing the con-
vention, a meeting was held in West Ches-
ter, to endorse the course taken by Mr. Gar-
rett and his colleagues, where approving
si^eeches were made by Charles Emory
Smith, editor of the "Philadelphia Press";
Mr. Henry C. Niles, of York, Pennsylvania,
and Hon. Wayne AlacVcagh. A pungent
address was also delivered by Mr. Garrett.
In closing he said: "It is fitting, eminently
fitting, that on this fiftieth anniversary day
of the Republican party in this State, that
we celebrate the emancipation of the 'White'
Republicans of Chester County." His bit-
ing irony and bitter arraignment of political
bosses was enthusiastically applauded, and
from that time until his death, he was the
leader of the reform movement in Chester
county, and it was largely through his un-

Online LibraryJohn W. (John Woolf) JordanEncyclopedia of Pennsylvania biography : illustrated (Volume 3) → online text (page 3 of 58)