John W. (John Woolf) Jordan.

Encyclopedia of Pennsylvania biography : illustrated (Volume 3) online

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vantage of the opportunity. On June 28,
1901, he organized the Continuous Glass



Press Company, which name was changed
July I, 1910, to the Pennsylvania Wire
Glass Company, with Mr. Cox as its presi-
dent, and the remarkable success that the
company has met with in the thirteen years
of its existence is due very largely to the
unremitting toil and sound business manage-
ment of Mr. Cox, and from the year 1901
the yearly output of wire glass was in-
creased from about a million feet to up-
wards of twenty million feet at the present
time (1914), a market having been found
for the product in nearly every part of the
civilized world. During this time business
was greatly stimulated by competition and
by improved methods of manufacture,
thereby turning out a better product than
had ever been made previously, and conse-
quently increasing the demand for the wire

It is interesting to know just how this
article first came to be made. The need of
some such material as wire glass had been
felt for some time, and it was the Penn-
sylvania Railroad Company that first sought
to solve the problem. They had experi-
enced serious difficulty in the falling and
breaking of their skylights. They sought
expert advice and the matter was submitted
finally to the well-known inventor, Frank
Shuman, of the Franklin Institute of Phila-
delphia, for solution, and he finally con-
ceived a method of manufacture of wire
glass in which the wire netting was im-
bedded in the center of the glass during the
process. "The Americana" says: "The first
attempts to introduce a metallic mesh into
the body of the glass were for the purpose
of increasing its strength and to prevent its
falling apart when broken. In this respect
the product has been thoroughly developed,
but in addition it has proved to be one of
the most remarkable fire retardants, and in
view of the exceptional hazard attaching to
window and skylight openings in all build-
ings its uses as a fire retardant is outranking
in importance as well as quantity its other
values. Wire glass will break, but it will not

scatter. It can be fractured, but it will retain
its place, and the perils incident to falling
glass and the ingress and egress of draft and
flame are avoided." When these qualities
were fully demonstrated the underwriters
made large allowances in structures where
wire glass was used, and the increasing de-
mand for this product has of late years been
something enormous. The entire plant of
the Pennsylvania Wire Glass Company is
at Dunbar, Pennsylvania. It was thought
best to concentrate at one point, so that all
the work could be under the supervision of
Mr. Cox, who divides his time between the
plant and the Philadelphia office.

Although his life has been crowded with
activity Mr. Cox has been pressed into
service in many other ways. In 1895 he
became treasurer to the Hygeia Ice and
Cold Storage Company of Philadelphia,
manufacturers of artificial ice; is a director
of the Aldine Trust Company; and has also
had official connection with several other
business enterprises, all of which have been
remarkably successful. At the university
Mr. Cox became a member of the Phi Kappa
Sigma fraternity and of the Philomathean
Society. He was one of the incorporators
of the University Club, and has been a
member of the Franklin Institute, Philadel-
phia, and Cape May Golf Club. He also
holds membership in the Merion Cricket,
Racquet, Philadelphia Gun, Philadelphia
and Atlantic City Country clubs, and the
State Club in Schuylkill. The latter organ-
ization is the oldest of its kind in the world,
having been instituted May i, 1732, and has
entertained at its board such noted person-
ages as General Washington and General
Lafayette. It is the most exclusive gentle-
man's club in Philadelphia.

Mr. Cox has very little time to devote to
club life, however, but he possesses those
qualities of mind and heart which have
made for him a host of loyal friends. An
instance of his popularity is in the fact that
on May 10, 1907, he was elected president
of his college class (class of '"]"], University




of Pennsylvania), and has held the office
ever since. Many other members of this
class have become famous, for instance,
the noted surgeon. Dr. Howard A. Kelly,
of Baltimore, and others high in business
and professional circles in Philadelphia.

Mr. Cox married. May 24, 1882, Hannah
Ashbridge, daughter of Richard Ashbridge.

MYERS, George H.,

Man of Affairs, Public Official.

The city of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania,
owes its importance in the commercial world
to the wise foresight, public spirit and extra-
ordinary business ability of a few men who
labored with untiring energy to establish
and place upon a sure foundation the indus-
tries and institutions that have made that
city famous. Among all those whose zeal
contributed to the upbuilding of Bethlehem
proper, none are more entitled to grateful
remembrance than George H. Myers, who
departed this life in the year 1912, after a
busy and useful life of unblemished integ-
rity extending over a period of many years.

George H. Myers was born on his father's
farm on Little Bermudian creek, Adams
county, Pennsylvania, August 26, 1843, "^'^^
in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, December 31,
1912. He was the son of Jacob A. Myers,
and a grandson of Henry Myers, of German
ancestry, and of a family prominent in
Adams county, born at New Chester, where
his seventy-seven years were spent, engaged
from youth in milling and farming opera-
tions. He came of a hardy, long-lived
family, one of his brothers living to be over
ninety years of age.

Jacob A. Myers was also born in New
Chester, Pennsylvania, and grew to man-
hood at the home farm, becoming a manu-
facturer and owner of the Good Intent
Woolen Mill. After his marriage he estab-
lished a homestead on Little Bermudian
creek, where he resided until 1855. In that
year he became associated in coal mining
operations with his brother-in-law, John B.
McCreary, and moved to Tremont, Schuyl-


kill county, Pennsylvania, and a year later
to Audenried, Carbon county, where he was
interested in the Honey Brook Mines and
a general store. These properties were
owned by the Honey Brook Coal Company,
of which he was a director, and largely con-
cerned until his death in September, 1865,
aged fifty-one years.

Jacob A. Myers married, January i, 1821,
Sarah Ann Deardoff, born at Deardoff's
Mill, near Petersburg, Adams county, Penn-
sylvania, who survived him, residing until
death with her son in Bethlehem. She was
a daughter of George Deardoff, the original
proprietor of the mill, and owner of a good
farm nearby. She was all her life a faith-
ful member of the Lutheran church, a faith-
ful wife and devout mother. Children:
Emily, married James Ellis, of Pottsville,
Pennsylvania ; George H., of whom fur-
ther; Nancy, married F. C. Mattes, whom
she survived, a resident of Bethlehem; L.
Richmond, a lawyer of Bethlehem ; Jacob
U., also of Bethlehem ; William B., a banker
of Bethlehem ; another child who died young.

George H. Myers spent the first twelve
years of his life on the home farm, attend-
ing local schools. He then spent a year at
Tremont, Pennsylvania, his parents moving
a year later to Audenried, Carbon county,
Pennsylvania. Here his long and success-
ful business life began, his first employ-
ment being as clerk in the Honey Brook
Coal Company's store, in the intervals
occurring in his school life. In i860, at the
age of seventeen years, he entered Dickinson
Seminary at Williamsport, Pennsylvania,
spending nearly four years at that institu-
tion, following this with a full commercial
course at Eastman's Business College,
Poughkeepsie, New York. He finished his
school life in the spring of 1865, then re-
turned to his home in Audenried, where he
became his father's valued assistant. In the
September following the latter died and the
son succeeded him as director of the Honey
Brook Coal Company, the Myers estate
holding a large interest in that company.



Although Httle more than of legal age
George H. Myers was chosen to administer
and manage the family estate, and soon be-
came interested in coal mines on his own
account, besides faithfully conserving the
interests of the estate he represented. He
continued a director of the Honey Brook
Coal Company until that corporation and its
holdings became the property of the Central
Railroad of New Jersey. The coal mines
in which he became interested were merged
in the firm of A. L. Mumper & Company
in 1868, Mr. Myers having active interest
in that company for ten years, when the
firm became Thomas John & Company, so
continuing until 1880, when upon the death
of Mr. John the firm was reorganized as
George H. Myers & Company. This com-
pany became an important factor in the
business world, operating largely in the
Lehigh, Schuylkill and Wyoming valleys of
Pennsylvania. After his marriage, in 1873,
Mr. Myers established his home in Bethle-
hem and from that time until his retirement,
several years prior to his death, was actively
concerned in the promotion of industries
and the improvement of that borough.

The firm of George H. Myers & Com-
pany retained their interest in the Honey
Brook Coal Colliery until May, 1892, but
Mr. Myers was largely concerned in many
other coal properties, holding the position
of treasurer of the Mid-Valley Coal Com-
pany, and was secretary and treasurer of
the Alden Coal Company; director of the
Silver Brook Coal Company; vice-president
of the Ponupo Mining and Transportation
Company of Cuba, West Indies ; secretary
and treasurer of the Pioneer Mining and
Manufacturing Company of Thomas, Ala-
bama ; also largely interested in the Allen-
town and Bethlehem Rapid Transit Com-
pany. These were but his chief business
interests ; he aided in the establishment of
many enterprises and did all in his power
to promote the public good. He was elected
a director of the First National Bank of
Bethlehem in January, 1874, and in 1880

was chosen president of this most important
institution. As president he was conserva-
tive and helpful, strictly safeguarding the
interests of his depositors, but giving sup-
port to all that tended to promote Bethle-
hem's prosperity. He continued at the head
of the First National from 1880 until his
retirement in 1896.

As a business man Mr. Myers had no
superiors for quick decision, farsightedness,
wise judgment and integrity. His name
was a synonym for uprightness, and to use
the vi'ords of his lifetime friend, General
Doster, his career was one of "unblemished
integrity." He was a warm friend of John
Fritz, and was perhaps closer to him than
any other man in Bethlehem in friendly
relationship. Having no "axes to grind"
these two men were drawn together as by
bands of steel, and remained the best of
comrades until death separated them.

Aside from the important part Mr. Myers
played in the great development of his
borough and section he was active in munici-
pal affairs for many years. In 1877 he was
elected a member of the borough council,
serving until 1880, when he was elected
chief burgess. He gave the borough a wise
business administration, and in his official
capacity displayed the same rigid princi-
ples of honor that characterized his private
life. He was fearless in the discharge of
his duty, and championed all measures that
tended to improve municipal conditions or
forward the cause of civic progress. He
did not crave political preferment, and only
the earnest solicitations of his near friends
drew him into the political arena. He was
prominent in the Masonic fraternity, hold-
ing all degrees in both the York and Scottish
rites up to and including the thirty-second
degree, Bloomsburg Consistory, Ancient
Accepted Scottish Rite. In the York Rite
he was connected with Bethlehem Lodge,
the Chapter, and Hugh De Payens Com-
mandery, Knights Templar. In political
faith he was a Democrat, later a Repub-
lican, and in religious belief a Lutheran, be-



longing to Grace Church, which he served
for many years as elder.

Mr. Myers married, in Bethlehem, in
1873, Caroline Weiss, born at Summit Hill,
Pennsylvania, daughter of Francis and Eliz-
abeth Weiss, her father a large coal operator
and business man. Children : Frank J.,
Lehigh University, class of 1898; Emily R.,
educated in Berlin, Germany, after finish-
ing a high school course in Bethlehem ; Kate
W. and Caroline W., graduates of Bethle-
hem, 1894, finishing in Berlin, Germany ;
Helen D. ; George H. ; Legh R. ; Edward L.
Mrs. Myers survives her husband and re-
sides in the beautiful homestead in Bethle-
hem, energetic and capable, of kindly heart
and charitable disposition.

This review of the life of one of Beth-
lehem's greatest benefactors necessarily
touches only the leading incidents of his
career. A volume would not suffice to
chronicle his many activities, record his
many deeds of charity, and the help ex-
tended to hundreds of men who prospered
through his timely aid, wise counsel and
never-failing friendship. As husband and
father he was loving and affectionate, his
home the dearest place on earth, and his
family the object of his deepest devotion.


Founder of 'Williamson Free School.

Isaiah V. Williamson, deceased, adorned
his long and eminently useful life with some
of the most notable benefactions known in
the history of the commonwealth. He was
born in Fallsington, Bucks county, Penn-
sylvania, February 3, 1803, son of Mahlon
and Charity (Vansant) Williamson, and
fifth in line of descent from Duncan Wil-
liamson, a Scotchman, who came to Penn-
sylvania about 1661, long before the coming
of William Penn. Isaiah V. Williamson
obtained a limited education in the public
schools, and at the early age of thirteen
years became a clerk in Harvey Gilling-
ham's store in Fallsington, and where he

continued until he was of legal age. Dur-
ing that period of his life he formed those
strict habits of economy as to personal ex-
penditure, and the careful investment and
reinvestment of his savings, which con-
tinued throughout his life. In 1825 he
opened a retail store in Philadelphia, in
Second street, near Pine street, but after a
few months formed a partnership with Wil-
liam Burton and moved the place of busi-
ness to Second street and Coombs' alley.
One year later the firm dissolved, Mr. Wil-
liamson purchasing the store of John S.
Newlin, at No. 9 North Second street. In
1834 he formed a partnership with H. Nel-
son Burroughs, his clerk, and which con-
tmued until 1837, when he retired from
active business as a merchant, but retained
an interest as special partner in the firm of
Williamson, Burroughs & Clark. There-
after he engaged in a variety of public
enterprises, investing his means wisely, and
at the age of seventy years was reputed to
be worth about $4,000,000. He was one of
the founders of the Thomas Iron Works,
also a director in the Pennsylvania Steel
Works and the Cambria Iron Company, as
well as having very large coal interests near
Girardville, Pennsylvania.

Mr. Williamson now yielded to the im-
pulse of his naturally kind and sympathetic
nature and began a system of wise, judicious
and liberal distribution of his fortune. He
gave in a broad catholic spirit both money
and property to hospitals, schools, homes
and similar charitable and educational insti-
tutions. He thus gave away in the years
from the age of seventy to eighty-six about
$5,000,000; yet so wisely had he admin-
istered his investments that he was richer
than when he began his benefactions. He left
at his death an estate valued at $10,000,000,
one-tenth of which he devised to charitable

A princijial object of his benevolence
was the institution which bears his name вАФ
the Williamson Free School of Mechanical
Trades. His purpose was to afford to poor



and deserving boys a good education, to
train them to habits of morahty, economy
and industry, and to teach them useful
trades. The school was founded December
I, 1888, but it was not until 1891 that all
was in readiness for the admibsion of pupils.
The school property comprises forty dif-
ferent buildings, located on two hundred
and thirty acres of land in the beautiful hill
section of Delaware county, near Media,
sixteen miles from Philadelphia, on the
Central division of the Philadelphia, Balti-
more and Washington railroad, and is also
reached by trolley from Philadelphia via
Media. To this praiseworthy institution
Mr. Williamson gave the princely sum of
$1,596,000, par value, having an appraised
value at the time of $2,119,250. In found-
ing this school Mr. Williamson profited by
the failure of other philanthropists to have
their wishes carried out, and provided for
an entire avoidance of hostile litigation by
perfecting the establishment of the institu-
tion within his own lifetime. The trustees
selected by himself in the foundation deed
selected the site, and but a few days before
his last illness the venerable benefactor
visited it, and in warm terms expressed not
only his satisfaction but his pleasure, with
reference to the matter, this approval being
the last business act of his life. He died
March 7, 1889, in his eighty-sixth year.

In his provisions for the government of
the school Mr. Williamson gave eloquent
affirmation of cardinal principles of prac-
tical benevolence. Himself a poor boy, and
the architect of his own fortune, he pro-
vided to smooth the way of lads of to-day
unfavored by fortune. Candidates must
pass scholastic, moral and physical examina-
tions ; other things being equal admission is
given in the following order: To those born
in Philadelphia ; to those born in Bucks
county ; to those born in Montgomery and
Delaware counties ; to those born elsewhere
in Pennsylvania ; to those born in New
Jersey. Only native-born Americans are
received, and none are admitted except such

as intend to follow for a livelihood the
trades taught them. If there were any
doubt as to the efficacy and practicality of
the Williamson Free School methods a visit
would dispel the illusion. To see the air of
interest, industry and activity that prevails;
the well disciplined and orderly groups of
boys eagerly absorbing information from
an expert mechanic or a professor would
assure the most skeptical that the William-
son School fills a place occupied by none
other. The most desirable result obtained
is not that the school sends forth mechanics
superior to those taught by the old methods
but that it is graduating young men who are
well equipped for their chosen callings ; that
tastes in literature and culture have been
developed that will not be content with
daily labor and mere drudgery but will
reach outward and upward for the better
things of life; and that its graduates are
men who in the coming days will make less
plain the line of demarcation between the
man of trade and the man of business or a
profession and will raise the one to the level
which it should occupy upon the same plane
as the other.

DERY, D. George,

Leading Silk Manufacturer.

A little more than a quarter of a century
ago Mr. Dery, a college graduate, and de-
veloped in the best weaving schools of the
Eastern World, began his business career in
the United States. He had acquired a
thorough knowledge of silk weaving and all
the attendant details of silk manufacture in
Europe, and with this as his chief capital at
the beginning he has risen to a height in the
silk manufacturing world that he then little
dreamed of. His career furnishes another
and one of the most striking illustrations of
the success that can be attained by a right-
minded, clean-living, ambitious young man,
with a definite view in life. Beginning as a
superintendent Mr. Dery in a few years be-
came a manufacturer, added mill after mill


in different localities, until to-day he is the
largest individual silk manufacturer in the
entire world. This result has not been
attained by any lucky turn of fortune's
wheel, but by a thorough knowledge of his
business, untiring energy and a sagacity
that has never led him astray in the choice
of a field of operations. With fifteen mills
in operation in Pennsylvania and Massachu-
setts his immense capacity for work can be
estimated in some degree, but not fully
understood until one realizes the responsi-
bility this imposes on one man, the directing
head of all. For this is not a corporation
business, as Mr. Dery not only owns but
directs the many silk mills that bear his

The demands of his business would seem
to be sufficient to fully occupy his every
moment, but so well has he systematized
his business and so well has he surrounded
himself with men of capacity that he has
had time to cultivate the finer side of his
nature and surround himself with the
choicest in art and literature. His library
of standard authors of the Old and New
World is one of the greatest pleasures of
his life, while his private art gallery is filled
with the best from the old and modern mas-
ters. His knowledge of books, art and
artists is profound, and his art collection the
finest in the Lehigh Valley, and is a source
of deep enjoyment to the owner.

D. George Dery was born in 1867. After
acquiring an education he began his life-
long connection with silk manufacture. He
gained a wide knowledge of all the details
connected therewith and before coming to
the United States was in charge of impor-
tant plants. In 1887 he came to the United
States, locating in the principal silk manu-
facturing city of this country, Paterson,
New Jersey. There he became superintend-
ent of one of the mills, continuing as such
for five years, and started in 1892 a silk
mill in Paterson. This mill he conducted
until 1898, when he moved his plant to Cata-

sauqua, Pennsylvania, making that place
his home and the base of his subsequent
operations. The original plant at Cata-
sauqua, which he built in 1897, was equipped
with all the latest type of silk weaving
machinery, was devoted to the manufacture
of broad and staple silks, its capacity was
doubled in 1899, ^"d fully occupied Mr.
Dery's energy until 1900, when he estab-
lished his second plant on a more extensive
scale, locating at East Alauch Chunk, Penn-
sylvania. His reputation was now estab-
lished in the silk trade as a manufacturer
and the demand for goods bearing his name
outran the supply. He met this demand by
the erection of a third plant in 1902, choos-
ing Allentown as a location. From that
time until the present expansion has been
constant, until he now has a chain of fifteen
silk mills, all in Pennsylvania except one in
Taunton, Massachusetts. Plis fourth plant
was located at Emaus, Pennsylvania, fol-
lowed by mills B and C at Allentown. He
next erected a mill at Taunton, Massachu-
setts, followed in rapid succession by mills
in Pennsylvania, at Kutztown, Northamp-
ton, Windgap, South Bethlehem, Scranton,
Olyphant, Forest City, Marietta, and mill B
at South Bethlehem. As an employer of
labor Mr. Dery is extremely practical, hold-
ing the view that on the prosperity of his
workers depends the success of the various
business ventures. To this end he con-
tributes by fair treatment and good wages,
the best mechanical equipment, and a due
regard for the welfare of all concerned.
Short time is unknown in his mills and full
wages are the rule even in times when busi-
ness conditions would justify closing down
or shortening hours. He is not an idealist,
but takes the broad sensible business man's
view that contented workmen are the best
workmen. To the wealth and prosperity
of the Lehigh Valley and other sections of
Pennsylvania his operations have materially
added, while the money distributed weekly
to his employees is enormous in its volume.



Mr. Dery maintains general offices in the
National Bank building, Allentown, and
New York offices at No. 383 Fourth avenue.

Cultured and refined in his tastes, social
and agreeable in his nature as he is, Mr.
Dery's greatest enjoyment and recreation is
in his books and study. Chemistry and
physics especially appeal to him and to these
he devotes much time and research. He is
broad-minded and generous, aiding in the

Online LibraryJohn W. (John Woolf) JordanEncyclopedia of Pennsylvania biography : illustrated (Volume 3) → online text (page 33 of 58)