John W. (John Woolf) Jordan.

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grief for the absence from among us, of our
friend and co-worker, John Peck Balderston, and
be it Resolved, That we humbly bow to the decree
of our Lord, who at this time sees fit to deprive
us of a friend. And be it further resolved, That
this preamble and resolutions be spread upon the
minutes, and that a copy of the same be sent, as
a token of respect, to the widow of our deceased

GREGG, Gen. David McMurtry,

Distinguished Soldier, Fablic 0£Scial.

With a glorious record of duty well per-
forined, General Gregg, one of Pennsyl-
vania's most distinguished citizens and one
of the two yet living division commanders
of Union forces who fought at Gettysburg,
is serenely passing the evening of life.
Long past man's scriptural allotment of
years, three-score and ten, he is yet well
preserved, and performs the duties of his
office, president of the board of directors of
the Charles Evans Cemetery Company, of
Reading, Pennsylvania. Much has been
written of General Gregg, particularly of
his share in the victory at Gettysburg, where
as commander of a division of cavalry he
fought off Stuart and his cavalry, prevent-
ing them from rendering Lee the assistance
as planned and expected. He enjoys the
distinction of being the only surviving
Union general of that great battle, and is
the last of its cavalry commanders. As he
served the nation, so he served his State in
high official position, and to his home city
of Reading he has given years of useful
service. He is there held in highest venera-
tion and esteem.

General Gregg descends from distin-
guished ancestors, both paternal and ma-



ternal, tracing to Captain David Gregg, of
Cromwell's army, and later one of the de-
fenders of Londonderry, Ireland, during the
great siege, finally meeting his death in a
conflict between Orangemen and Catholics.
He was born in Ayrshire, Scotland, about
1630. His son John was killed in the same
conflict as his father, and later two of his
sons, David and Andrew, with their sister
Rachel, came to America, settling in New
Hampshire in 1726. Andrew became dis-
satisfied with that location, moving to New
Castle, Delaware, and later to Chestnut
Level, Lancaster county, Pennsylvania. In
1748 he purchased land near Carlisle, Penn-
sylvania, where he died in 1789, leaving
issue by two marriages.

Andrew Gregg, son of David Gregg by
his second wife, was a man of education
and prominence. He served with the Penn-
sylvania militia during the Revolution ; was
Congressman, 1791-1807; United States
Senator, 1807-13; Secretary of State of
Pennsylvania, 1820, appointed by Governor
Hiester; and candidate for Governor of
Pennsylvania on the Federal ticket. He
married Martha, daughter of General James
Potter, who bore him many children ; one
of their daughters, Jean, married Roland
Curtin, and became the mother of Andrew
G. Curtin, Pennsylvania's great War Gov-
ernor. Another child was Matthew Dun-
can Gregg, of whom further.

Matthew Duncan Gregg was born April
5, 1804, in Penns Valley, Center county,
Pennsylvania, died July 25, 1845, and is
buried with his brother, James P. Gregg, in
a churchyard between Leesburg and Point
of Rocks, Virginia. He was a lawyer, ad-
mitted to the Huntingdon county bar in
1825, practicing until 1838, when he re-
moved to Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, and en-
gaged in iron manufacturing. In 1845, with
his brother, James P., and brother-in-law,
David Mitchell, he purchased the Potomac
Furnace, in Loudoun county, Virginia, and
died shortly afterward. He married Ellen
McMurtrie, daughter of David (2), son of

David (i) McMurtrie, born at Ayr, Scot-
land, 1709, died 1782, in Bedford, now
Huntingdon county, Pennsylvania. David
(2) McMurtrie was born in Philadelphia,
was a merchant, and in 1802 was a member
of the General Assembly of Pennsylvania.
He married Martha Elliott, a daughter of
Benjamin, and granddaughter of Robert
Elliott, of Lancaster, now Cumberland-
county, Pennsylvania. His son Benjamin
was a member of the convention that met
in Carpenter's Hall, Philadelphia, July 15,
1776, to frame the first constitution for the
commonwealth of Pennsylvania ; was sheriff
of Bedford county, 1784-85; first sheriff of
Huntingdon county ; delegate to the State
Convention that ratified the Federal consti-
tution ; member of the Supreme Executive
Council of Pennsylvania, and held several
county offices in Huntingdon county, in-
cluding that of associate judge. Fie mar-
ried Mary Carpenter, granddaughter of
Heinrich Zimmerman, born in Switzerland,
in 1675. Matthew Duncan and Ellen (Mc-
Murtrie) Gregg were the parents of nine
children. General David M. Gregg being
the third in order of birth.

Another line of ancestry from which
General Gregg derives Revolutionary and
Colonial forbears is through Martha Pot-
ter, his grandmother. She was a grand-
daughter of John Potter, who emigrated
from county Tyrone, Ireland, in 1741, set-
tling first in New Castle, Delaware, later
coming to Pennsylvania. He was the first
sheriff of Cumberland county, and a cap-
tain in Lieutenant-Colonel Armstrong's ex-
pedition against Kittanning, in 1756. His
son, James Potter, was born in county
Tyrone, Ireland, in 1729, and came to this
country with his parents in 1741. On Feb-
ruary 17, 1756, he was commissioned ensign
in his father's company, accompanying
Colonel Armstrong's expedition to Kittan-
ning, was wounded, and on February 17,
1759, was commissioned captain command-
ing three companies on the northern
frontier. In 1768 he moved to Sunbury,



Pennsylvania, and when the fighting at Lex-
ington, Concord and Bunker Hill kindled
the fires of liberty all over the colonies, he
volunteered his services. He was elected
colonel of the Upper Battalion, January 24,
1776, and in July of that year was a mem-
ber of the first constitutional convention.
He was in command of a battalion of
Northumberland county militia at the bat-
tle of Trenton and at Princeton, and on
April 5, 1777, was appointed third brigadier-
general of the Pennsylvania militia. He
commanded a brigade at Brandywine and
Germantown, and served on the outpost at
Valley Forge. He was a member of the
council from Snyder county in 1780, and on
November 14, 1781, was elected to the office
of vice-president of Pennsylvania; elected
major-general in 1782, and in 1784 was
chosen a member of the board of censors.
General James Potter married (first) Eliz-
abeth Cathcart, (second) Mrs. Mary Cham-
bers, daughter of James and Mary
(Stewart) Patterson. Martha (Potter)
Gregg was one of the three daughters of
General Potter by his second wife. From
the intermarriage of Scotch, Irish and Swiss
blood came General David McMurtrie
Gregg, of Reading. In tracing his lineage
one ceases to wonder that West Point was
his goal in youth. Plis heritage was war-
like, and his public usefulness was but fol-
lowing in the footsteps of his distinguished

General Gregg was born in Huntingdon,
Pennsylvania, April 10, 1833, son of Mat-
thew Duncan and Ellen (McMurtrie)
Gregg. His early life was spent in Belle-
fonte, Harrisburg and Hollidaysburg, Penn-
sylvania, the family moving to Loudoun
county, Virginia, in April, 1845, but return-
ing the following July without the father,
he having died during the short interval.
The mother died at Bedford, Pennsylvania,
in 1847, David McMurtrie then becoming a
member of the family of David McMurtrie,
his uncle. He attended the excellent John
A. Hall school for two years, then entered

Milnwood Academy, in Huntingdon county,
later joining his brother Andrew at Lewis-
burg University. While a student at the
latter institution he received an appointment
to a cadetship at the United States Mili-
tary Academy at West Point, passed the
required mental and physical examination,
and was admitted July i, 1855. Four years
later he was graduated eighth in a class of
thirty- four, including the later prominent
Union generals of the Army of the Po-
tomac, Averill, Webb, Ruggles, Comstock;
also Nichols, the latter a general in the Con-
federate army.

Cadet Gregg was made a second lieuten-
ant of dragoons, July i, 1855, and thereon
donned the army blue, which he did not lay
aside until ten years later. He served in
garrison at Jefi'erson Barracks, 1855-56, re-
ceiving his commission as second lieutenant
of First Dragoons, September 4, 1855. In
1856 he was assigned to frontier duty in the
West and on the Pacific coast, stationed
first at Port Union, New Mexico, marching
from that point to California the same year ;
was at Fort Tejon, Colorado, 1856-57 ; Fort
Vancouver, Washington, 1857-58; Fort
Walla Walla, Washington, in 1858. In the
latter year he took part in the Spokane ex-
pedition, was in the desperate fight with the
Indians at To-holsnimme, Washington, May
17, and at Four Lakes, Washington, Sep-
tember I, and a skirmish on Spokane river,
September 8. He was on frontier duty at
Fort Walla Walla in 1859, ^t Fort Dallas,
Oregon, 1859-60, scouting against the Snake
Indians, and engaged in a warm skirmish
with them near Harney Lake, Oregon, on
May 24. The winter of 1860-61 was spent
on duty at Warm Spring Reservation.

The outbreak of the Civil War then re-
called him east, and the next four years
were spent in almost daily grapple with
foes bent upon destroying the Union. He
was commissioned first lieutenant of the
First Dragoons, March 21, 1861, and cap-
tain of the Sixth Cavalry Regiment, May
14, 1861. During the first months of the


war he was on duty about Washington, D.
C, and for the remainder of the war was
in active service with the Army of the Po-
tomac, save when absent on sick leave, Oc-
tober 12, 1861, to January 24, 1862. He
was commissioned colonel of the Eighth
Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteer Cavalry,
January 24, 1862, and as such was engaged
during the Peninsular Campaign at Seven
Pines and Fair Oaks, May 31 and June i,
1862; skirmishes at New Kent Court
House, Savage Station, Bottoms Bridge and
White Oak Swamp, in June, 1862; battle of
Glen Dale, June 30; Malvern Hill, July i,
and covering every movement from Harri-
son's Landing to Yorktown, in August,
1862. He was in the Maryland campaign
of the Army of the Potomac, September to
November, 1862, and on the march to Fal-
mouth had several sharp skirmishes with
the enemy during October and November.
He was commissioned brigadier-general of
United States Volunteers, November 29,

1862. From December, 1862, until June,

1863, he commanded a division of cavalry,
being engaged April 4, 1863, at Rappahan-
nock Bridge, and in Stoneman's raid toward
Richmond, April 13 to May 2. When Lee
started northward to invade Pennsylvania,
General Gregg, still in command of a divi-
sion of cavalry, was actively engaged from
June 9 until the pursuit of Lee's retreating
troops was abandoned in the latter part of
July, 1863. On this campaign General
Gregg fought at Brandy Station, June 9 ; at
Aldie, June 17; at Middleburg, June 19;
Upperville, June 21 ; Gettysburg, July i, 2
and 3; Shepherdstown, July 16, continuing
the pursuit to Warrenton, Virginia. This
but faintly outlines his services in the cam-
paign. He harrassed and blocked Stuart's
cavalry upon which Lee relied, and kept him
so busy that Stuart has been severely criti-
cized for his failure to get to Lee's support.
But, on the other hand, his defenders say
his supposed disobedience of orders was
caused by the constant fighting he was com-
pelled to do for ten days to save his own

command. Had Stuart with his dash and
daring been able to have thrown one of his
daring charges into the balance when most
needed, Gettysburg would have been a still
harder battle for the Union army to win.
Therefore to General Gregg and his divi-
sion is additional honor and glory due for
the service there rendered.

After Gettysburg, the Army of the Po-
tomac was engaged in the Central Virginia
campaign, General Gregg fighting at Rapi-
dan Junction, September 14; Beverly Ford,
October 12; Auburn, October 14; New
Hope Church, November 27, 1863. From
March 26 to April 6, 1864, he was in com-
mand of the Cavalry Corps of the Army of
the Potomac, and engaged in the Richmond
campaign from April 6 to February 3,
1865, in command of the Second Cavalry
Division of that army. He fought his
troops at Todd's Tavern, May 5-7 ; Ground
Squirrel Church, May 1 1 ; Meadow Bridge,
May 12; Haw's Shop, May 28; Gaines
House, June 2 ; Trevilian Station, June 1 1 ;
St. Mary's Church, June 24; Warwick
Swamp, July 12 ; Darbytown, July 28; Lee's
Mills, July 30, 1864. Many of these fights
were skirmishes, but Haw's Shop and Tre-
vilian Station were hard fought battles. On
August I, 1864, he was brevetted major-
general United States Volunteers "for
highly meritorious and distinguished serv-
ice throughout the campaign, particularly in
the reconnaisance on the Charles river
road." He was placed in command of the
cavalry of the Army of the Potomac; was
in action at Deep Bottom skirmishes, Au-
gust 17; battle of Ream's Station, August
23-25 ; combat at Peeble's Farm, Septem-
ber 29-30 ; Vaughn Road, October i ; battle
of Boydton Plank Road, October 27, and
the skirmish at Bellefield, December 9, 1864,
which terminated his active work in the
field. He resigned from the service, Febru-
ary 3, 1865.

General Gregg's two brothers, Henry H.
and Thomas I., both served in the Union
army three years, the former as captain in





the 125th Regiment Pennsylvania Vokin-
teer Infantry, and major of the 13th Regi-
ment Pennsylvania Volunteer Cavalry ; the
latter as lieutenant in the 6th Regiment
Pennsylvania Volunteer Cavalry, and as
aide on the staff of his brother, General
Gregg. In February, 1874, President Grant
appointed General Gregg United States
Consul at Prague, Bohemia, which position
he resigned the following August and re-
turned to Reading, which has since been his
home. In 1891 he was the nominee of the
Republican party for auditor-general, was
elected, and served in that office three years,
leaving a record of splendidly efficient

General Gregg is president of the board
of directors of the Charles Evans Ceme-
tery Company, of Reading, and a member
of the board of trustees of the State Lunatic
Asylum at Harrisburg. He holds the
friendship and regard of his brethren in
arms as priceless, and from 1886 until 1904
was commander of the Pennsylvania Com-
mandery of the Military Order of the Loyal
Legion, a society composed only of officers
of the Union army, 1861-65, and their lineal
successors. In 1904 he was elected com-
mander-in-chief of the order, a very high
honor. Pennsylvania Military College con-
ferred upon him the honorary degree of
LL. D., an honor appreciated, but a title he
does not use.

General Gregg married, October 6, 1862,
Ellen F. Sheaff, a great-granddaughter of
Governor Joseph Hiester. He has two sons,
George Sheaff and David McMurtrie.

This review of the life of General Gregg
necessarily omits many interesting events
of his life, but enough is shown to justify
the encomiums one hears on every side. He
has fully paid the debt he owed the govern-
ment for his West Point education, by ten
years of devoted military service on the
frontier, and on the great battlefields of the
Civil War, and when the historian of the
future writes the real history of Gettysburg,
the work of the cavalry division commanded

by General Gregg will be proven to have
been heavy contributors to the Federal suc-

Modest and unassuming, no word of his
ever indicates that he accomplished aught
but his duty, and perhaps among all the sur-
vivors of the Civil War is there none who
claims less merit for himself. He is Read-
ing's "Grand Old Man," and secure in the
love and affection of his townspeople he
passes a serene life, and reviews in his
thoughts the stirring scenes through which
he passed and the many great men he has
known in civil and military life, with a satis-
faction that outweighs all earthly honors.

RODGERS, William Berlean,

Prominent Business Man.

The sand industry has been part of Pitts-
burgh as far back as the oldest inhabitant
can remember, and it is one which has in-
deed grown mightily. This is shown by
the immense progress in the means of trans-
portation. Nowadays, giant scoops lift
three yards of sand at one time out of a
barge and drop it in repositories on shore,
beneath which stand wagons or cars ready
to be loaded and deliver the cargo. Sand
is entering into commercial use more than
ever before, and the necessity everywhere
felt for products into which sand enters has
caused the demand to assume proportions
of constantly increasing magnitude. The
men who most completely have met this de-
mand and have thus been conspicuous in
bringing about a high state of development
of the sand industry are William Berlean
Rodgers and his sons. The subject of this
sketch is president of the famous Rodgers
Sand Company, and is officially connected
with a number of the leading financial insti-
tutions of the Iron City.

William Berlean Rodgers was born Feb-
ruary 27, 185 1, at Franklin. Pennsylvania,
and is a son of Joseph and Charlotte (Craw-
ford) Rodgers. In the fall of 1850 his
parents left Cooperstown, Venango county,



Pennsylvania, in a flatboat, seeking a home
in the west, and having no particular desti-
nation in view except the idealistic home
that might be found and procured within
the means of a young married couple start-
ing in life. The boat became frozen in at
Franklin, Pennsylvania, where French
creek empties into the Allegheny river, and
his father, a blacksmith by trade, secured
employment, and the family remained here
several months, and it was at this place
that William B. Rodgers was born, while
the boat was lying in the lock. Later on
they drifted down the river until they came
to Clarington, Monroe county, Ohio, this
being the county in which his mother was
born, and she, having become tired of their
boat life, seriously objected to going any
further, so a landing was made, and it was
in this town that William B. Rodgers' father
spent the remainder of his life. Since his
death, in 1885, his wife has resided in Pitts-
burgh, and is now nearing her eighty-seventh

William B. Rodgers received a common
school education, and at an early age began
life on the river in the humble capacity of
cabin boy. His was, however, a nature in
which enterprise was inherent, and it was
not long before he ceased to be a river hand,
having served successively as engineer, pilot
and captain, and while filling the last named
position he became so well known that his
title has always clung to him, and he is gen-
erally known to this day as "Captain"

He then associated himself with the coal
business, and as a coal operator he was
preeminently successful. His success was
such that in 1881 he felt justified in build-
ing boats for himself, and accordingly con-
structed and owned the "Tide," "Time,"
"Little Bill," "Cyclone," "Iron Age," "Iron-
sides," "Tilly," "Governor Francis T.
Nichols" and "Troubadour." In 1899 his
extensive coal interests were merged in the
Monongahela River Consolidated Coal and
Coke Company. During this portion of his

career Captain Rodgers proved himself to
be a man of strong will, inflexible purpose
and sound judgment, who is recognized the
world over as the truest type of Pitts-

His enterprise next took the form of
associating himself with the sand industry,
and in doing this he achieved signal triumph.
In 1900 the Rodgers Sand Company was
organized with Captain Rodgers as presi-
dent and his two eldest sons leading in the
management, the other boys employed in
the production, sales and deliveries. This
company is the largest concern of its kind
in Greater Pittsburgh, carrying on a very
extensive general business as dealers and
shippers of all kinds of sand and gravel for
contractors, builders and others, and deals
largely in builders' supplies ; also doing ex-
tensive dredging, employing many men,
teams, boats and machinery, and introducing
on a large scale modern and systematic
methods in the handling of sand and gravel.
In addition to its steamers and dredges the
company owns landings, floats and yards for
the proper handling of material. The
steamers and dredges are the "Margaret,"
"Charlotte," "Rebecca," "Harriet," "Alice,"
"Flora," "Twilight," "John Mackey" and
"Bettie." As head of this immense concern
Captain Rodgers has given abundant proof
that he possesses the power of handling
large bodies of men and of coordinating
their energies with skill and efficiency. In
doing so he wins, by his strict justice and
unvarying kindliness, their loyal devotion to
his interests, and this has been no incon-
siderable factor in his phenomenal success.

A man of action rather than words Cap-
tain Rodgers demonstrates his public spirit
by actual achievements that advance the
prosperity and wealth of the community
and by his acceptance of trusts which bear
testimony to the confidence reposed in him.
In addition to the presidency and director-
ship of the Rodgers Sand Company he holds
the same offices in the Allegheny Trust
Company, having been one of its organizers



and its first president, to which position he-
was recently reelected for the fourteenth
time. He is also a director in the Bellevue
Realty Savings and Trust Company, which
he helped to organize, and was a director in
the Mechanics' National Bank, having been
connected with the last named institution
for many years. He is president of the
Coal Exchange, and now holds the position
of chairman of the rivers and harbors com-
mittee of the Chamber of Commerce, in
which he is a director and has always been
a moving spirit. He is also a member of
Harbor No. 25, Masters and Pilots. Cap-
tain RoJgers helped organize the National
Rivers and Harbors Congress of the United
States and is one of its directors. He also
helped organize the Ohio Valley Improve-
ment Association and is a director in same.
His energies have been largely directed in
these lines for the past forty years. To
whatever he undertakes he gives his whole
soul, allowing none of the many interests
intrusted to his care to suffer for want of
close and able attention and industry.

As a citizen with exalted ideas of good
government and civic virtue Captain
Rodgers stands in the front rank. In poli-
tics he is a Democrat and is actively asso-
ciated with the affairs of the organization.
Ever ready to respond to any deserving
call made upon him the full number of his
benefactions will, in all probability, never
be known to the world, for his charity is
of the kind that shuns publicity. For nine
years he served as member of the Bellevue
Borough Council and was president several
terms, the only office he could ever be per-
suaded to accept. He belongs to the Engi-
neers' Society, the Duquesne Club and the
Pittsburgh Athletic Association.

Of broad and liberal views, sterling in-
tegrity and large nature Captain Rodgers
is a conspicuous representative of a class of
citizens which is doing much to advance the
real interests of Pittsburgh. One of his
salient characteristics is the ability to recog-
nize opportunity and take advantage of it,

and to this is to be traced no small measure
of the success which has uniformly attended
all his enterprises. Of pleasing address and
genial disposition he wins friends easily and
holds them long. His countenance and bear-
ing are eminently characteristic. He looks
what he is — a true and kindly gentleman
and a courageous man.

Captain Rodgers married, January 7,
1873, Alice Ophelia, daughter of John W.
and Sarah M. Jackson, and they have had
seven children: Herman; Norwood, de-
ceased; Isla, wife of Dr. John B. Donald-
son, of Bellevue, Pennsylvania; Alice
Ophelia, wife of Herbert Hamilton; Wil-
liam Berlean Jr. ; Philander Knox ; lienry
Clay Frick Rodgers. Mrs. Rodgers is one
of those rare women who combine with
perfect womanliness and domesticity an un-
erring judgment, traits of the greatest value
to her husband, to whom she is not only a
charming companion but' a trusted con-
fidente. Captain Rodgers is essentially a
home-lover, loving no place so well as his
own fireside, where he delights to gather his

Online LibraryJohn W. (John Woolf) JordanEncyclopedia of Pennsylvania biography : illustrated (Volume 3) → online text (page 31 of 58)