John W. (John Woolf) Jordan.

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Darlington Memorial Library

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Digitized by the Internet Archive

in 2009 with funding from

University of Pittsburgh Library System

Encyclopedia of Pennsylvania




Librarian Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia; Author of "Colonial Families

of Philadelphia;" "Revolutionary History of Bethlehem,"

and various other works.






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Inventor, Man of Large Affairs.

Ralph Baggaley, of Pittsburgh, inven-
tor and man of afifairs, during a long and
Active life, needed no introduction in the
United States or in Europe. He was of
ancient lineage, honorable in the Old
World and the New.

The Baggaley family is of French
origin, but migrated to England and set-
tled in the county of Chester. Later,
three branches settled in Derbyshire, on
the edge of the Duke of Devonshire's
famous estate, "Chatsworth Park," in a
little village called Calver. Descendants
of the family still reside there. The names
Ralph and William have been in continu-
ous use for six hundred and fifty years.

The earliest known public record relates
to the purchase of the family estate and
manor of Lostok Gralam, county of Ches-
ter, Stephen de Trafiford and Isabel his
wife conveying the property to William
de Baggelegh, senior; this was in 1321.
Isabel, heiress of William de Baggelegh,
married Sir Thomas Danyers, and he was
seized of Lostok at his death in 1354. His
heir was an only daughter.

The record given below is taken in
substance from a family prayer-book now
in possession of the family of Ralph
Baggaley, of Pittsburgh :

Ralph Baggaley was born October 5,
1782, and was of Greathucklow. He mar-
ried, October 25, 1809, at Bakewell, Ann
Froggatt, born April 22, 1791, a descend-
ant of Thomas Froggatt, of Calver, Der-
byshire, and about 1819 or 1820 emi-
grated to the United States, settling in
Pennsylvania. His death occurred Au-
gust 24, 1820.

William, son of Ralph and Ann (Frog-
gatt) Baggaley, was born June 19, 181 1,
and became one of the leading merchants
of Pittsburgh. He married Elizabeth,
daughter of William Blair, a business
man of that city, and their children were :
William, died in childhood; Theodore;
Elizabeth, married John Stillwell Clarke,
of New York ; and Ralph, mentioned be-
low. Theodore Baggaley served in the
Civil War with the rank of captain, and
while leading a charge at the battle of
Malvern Hill, or White Oak Swamp, was
severely wounded; he died in 1875. The
fortune of Mr. Bagaley (who spelled the
name thus), a fabulous one for those
times, was wrecked during the Civil War,
and his death occurred on August 4, 1877,
in Pittsburgh, while the world-famous
riots were at their height.

Ralph Baggaley, son of William and
Elizabeth (Blair) Bagaley, was born De-
cember 26, 1846, and attended the Sewick-
ley Academy of the Rev. Joseph S. Tra-
velli, and Kenwood Academy, New
Brighton. Soon after the outbreak of the
Civil War, with three schoolmates, he
enlisted and started for West Virginia,
but Mr. Bagaley obtained their discharge
and sent Ralph to a private school in
Dresden, Germany, where he remained
more than three years. The loss of his
father's fortunes caused him to return
home, and in the terrible times immedi-
ately following the war he entered the
employ of Bollman & Company, serving
at first without compensation in order to
become familiar with business methods.

A youth of this caliber was sure to suc-
ceed. Within a short time, the firm hav-
ing become bankrupt, Mr. Baggaley
formed a new organization under the



name of Baggaley, Young & Company,
and continued the foundry and machine
business. The enterprise was success-
ful from the outset, and still continues
under the name of the Seaman-Sleeth

In 1868 Mr. Baggaley formed a friend-
ship with George Westinghouse, St., with
whom he was associated in bringing Mr.
Westinghouse's invention before the pub-
lic. Patents were then applied for and a
company with a nominal capital stock of
$500,000 was formed, Mr. Westinghouse
receiving $200,000 and Mr. Baggaley
$100,000. Throughout the long and try-
ing period of waiting and endeavor, Mr.
Baggaley was the mainstay and right
hand of the struggling inventor. Mr.
Westinghouse spent twelve years in fruit-
less efforts to introduce the invention in
England and France, and it seemed that
the cause was lost, but Mr. Baggaley,
dropping his work in Pittsburgh, went to
London and remained there thirty-three
days. In sixty days thereafter the foreign
company, which had previously been
formed, was making money.

In course of time the Brake Company's
business became so large that it had to
be moved, and the Westinghouse Ma-
chine Company was organized. In three
years and eight months the concern had
sunk its entire capital stock, and $80,000
in addition. At this time Mr. Baggaley
was about to sail for Europe with his
family, to remain three years, owing to
ill health. The Pittsburgh banks that
held Machine Company notes notified Mr.
Westinghouse that the company must be
liquidated and pay its debts. He replied
that this would also stop the Brake Com-
pany, the Signal Company and the Elec-
tric Company, and asked if there were
any terms on which the Company would
be permitted to continue business. The
banks replied that if Ralph Baggaley
were given entire charge of the business

it might continue, and they would carry
it. This was done, and the same banks
furnished $25,000 more money for new

The next problem which engaged Mr.
Baggaley's attention was of singular in-
terest. Havemeyer, president of the
Sugar Trust, had notified Glaus Spreckels
that he must relinquish his immense
sugar interests on the Pacific coast and
in Hawaii, as the Sugar Trust proposed
owning it all. Captain Watson, Mr.
Spreckels' general manager, said that an
engine of unusually high speed would
enable them to compete with Haver-
meyer, and Mr. Baggaley gave him the
opportunity of putting his idea to the test.
Everything worked beautifully, Mr.
Spreckels built a new refinery in Phila-
delphia, and at the end of two years of
furious competition doubled its capacity.
It was with the deepest gratitude that he
and Captain Watson acknowledged their
great indebtedness to Mr. Baggaley.

One of Mr. Baggaley's partners, Robert
Pitcairn, with a number of his friends,
had organized the Consolidated Gas Com-
pany, and owing to an incompetent book-
keeper they became involved in difficul-
ties. Mr. Pitcairn told Mr. Baggaley that
he was ruined, and that he (Mr. Bagga-
ley) was the only man in the world who
could save him and all his friends from
complete overthrow. Mr. Baggaley
agreed to work every night on the prob-
lem after his own day's work was done.
He did so and the firm was saved.

About 1875 Mr. Baggaley purchased
the "Evening Telegraph." It was losing
money and had no press-dispatch serv-
ice. At this time Jay Gould owned the
Atlantic & Pacific Telegraph Company,
which had no press association, but was
nevertheless competing with the West-
ern Union Telegraph Company and had
a very large income from the Western
Associated Press and the New York As-



sociated Press. Mr. Baggaley went to
New York and called a meeting of free-
lance newspapers from all parts of the
country, by telegraph, after conferring
with the officials of the Atlantic & Pacific
Telegraph Company. The result was a
new press association whose afternoon
service, at least, was far fuller and better
than that of its competitors. The "Tele-
graph" was owned and operated for seven
years as a free-lance in politics and
everything else. The paper was the first
in Pittsburgh, and, indeed, in the west,
to make a great feature of a financial de-
partment. Mr. Baggaley was a director
in twenty-six corporations of all kinds,
and financial news was available that
others could not get.

In the interest of his paper, Mr. Bagga-
ley devised a novel advertising scheme
consisting of powerful electrical appara-
tus. It was submitted to Professor S. F.
Langley, then in charge of the Western
Observatory, who approved it, but in
view of the great expense which it would
involve, more than $50,000, it was de-
cided that better results could be ob-
tained by spending this amount in im-
proved news service.

During the riots of 1877, Mr. Baggaley
witnessed from the top of a freight car
the fight with the Philadelphia regiment
at Twenty-eighth street. He at once
drove to his publishing house and wrote
a three-column description of the event
for his evening edition. This was the
only account by an eye-witness that was
published, and it was at once telegraphed
as a press dispatch to every member of
the Atlantic & Pacific Telegraph Com-
pany Association, and was also tele-
graphed as a "special" to every important
paper in this country and in Europe. And
the "Evening Telegraph" was given
credit for the news.

About the time of the riots, a thrilling
mystery case existed at Binghamton,

New York. Colonel Dwight, a promi-
nent citizen who had recently insured his
life for a large sum, died under suspicious
circumstances. Timothy Brosnan,a noted
detective and an old friend of Mr. Bagga-
ley, was employed to ferret out the facts
and furnished a complete solution of the
mystery. A detailed account was pub-
lished in the "Evening Telegraph," and
the editor of the New York "Herald"
authorized his local agent to ofifer "the
man that wrote that article" five thou-
sand dollars to join the "Herald" staff.
He then wrote that he could not under-
stand how a "country editor" (as he
called him) could get such a "beat" on
every big daily paper in the world.

The "Telegraph" took a fearless stand
for right during the riots, as always, and
the publishing house was set on fire three
times, but owing to the fact that men
were constantly on guard the loss was
trifling. Later the residence of Mr. Bag-
galey was also partially burned. At this
time the building of the "Dispatch" was
totally destroyed by fire, and no one was
equipped to furnish aid but its evening
rival, the "Telegraph." Mr. Baggaley
generously came to the rescue, and when
asked, "What will your charge be?" re-
plied, "Eugene (O'Neil) may make out
the bill himself after his publishing house
has been rebuilt." The "Dispatch" ap-
peared as usual next morning, and the
two papers lived together in harmony for
several months.

The Pennsylvania Railroad Company's
loss from the riots in Allegheny county
exceeded five and one-half millions, and
the company wished the county to issue
$2,500,000 in bonds to help it rebuild. A
great public meeting was held, and Mr.
Baggaley's speech in favor of the com-
pany was enthusiastically applauded, and
resolutions endorsing the bond issue were
adopted in a whirlwind of assent. This
action not only helped the Pennsylvania



Railroad Company, but also saved Alle-
gheny county expensive litigation in
which it w^ould have been compelled to
pay double the amount asked for.

About this time the "Evening Chron-
icle," which was controlled by Joseph G.
Siebenick, was consolidated with the
"Evening Telegraph." The relationship
was always pleasant and the property be-
came a staple twelve per cent, invest-
ment. The controlling interest was sold
at a good price to Dr. C. G. Hussey, and
later the paper was sold to the Oliver

About 1870, in association with Henry
W. Oliver and other prominent citizens,
Mr. Baggaley organized the Duquesne
Club. It is still in a prosperous condi-
tion and is the largest club in Pittsburgh.

It was Mr. Baggaley who foresaw the
end of the Pittsburgh cotton business,
and after the Civil War sold his stock in
the Eagle and Banner Cotton Mills. His
discernment was abundantly justified.
Mills sprang up in the south, and the
cotton business of Pittsburgh died and is
still dead.

The Baggaley family attended Sn An-
drew's Protestant Episcopal Church, and
a new edifice had recently been erected,
but the Rev. William Preston, who was
the pastor and a truly good man, was old
and feeble, and the building was much
larger than the dwindling congregation
needed. It was decided that young men
be put into ofifice, and Mr. Baggaley and
a number of others were elected. An elo-
quent young preacher, Dr. Swope, was
employed to assist Dr. Preston, and Mr.
Baggaley was placed in charge of the
music In accordance with his opinion
that a church service should be made
attractive, he engaged a fine quartette
and an organist of superior ability. This
was the first great quartette choir in
Pittsburgh, and one of the first in the
United States. Its effect was almost

magical. The morning service was so
well attended that pews were placed in
every available space, and still there was
sometimes not room enough. Other
churches soon followed this example.

As the owner of a tract of pine land in
Clarion county, Mr. Baggaley organized
the Arthurs Coal and Lumber Company,
and built saw-mills and fifty-eight miles
of railroad. The latter is now a part of
the Bp.ltimore & Ohio main line to Buf-
falo. Mr. Baggaley also purchased some
two thousand acres of hemlock and hard-
wood timber land in Cameron and Elk

In 1876 Mr. Baggaley visited the Cen-
tennial Exposition in Philadelphia and
there saw Professor Bell's speaking tele-
phone. In the competition between Edi-
son and Bell, some young bankers of
Pittsburgh made a contract with the Bell
interests for their agency in five counties
near that city. The results were dis-
astrous, and Mr. Baggaley was forced to
take charge in order to save his friends.
He spent seven weeks in New York and
Boston in negotiations with the officials
of the Western Union Telegraph Com-
pany (then controlled by William H.
Vanderbilt), the Gold and Stock Tele-
graph Company, the American Bell Tele-
phone Company and the Central District
and Printing Telegraph Company. At
the same time five experts were employed
to harmonize the dififerences between the
Edison and Bell interests. The fight was
very bitter, but an agreement was finally
reached. Mr. Baggaley charged nothing
for his services, but the syndicate pre-
sented his wife with twenty thousand

In the litigation between Jay Gould and
the American Bell Company, Mr. Bagga-
ley was called to the United States Court
as an expert witness. After he had spent
two days on the stand, the lawyers in-
sisted that he should negotiate a settle-



ment of the suit out of court, claiming
that he was the one man equipped to do
this great work. The result of Mr. Bag-
galey's mediation was the settlement of
thirty years of litigation by the payment
of $3,300,000, or less than one-third of the
amount claimed and sued for. In recog-
nition of his services the Bell Telephone
people furnished him with free telephone
service for thirty years.

Mr. Baggaley took an active part in
the organization and building of the Pitts-
burgh & Lake Erie railroad, persevering
in the face of much discouragement from
railroad officials, but, as so often before,
the event justified him. In the historic
contest in regard to the building of the
South Pennsylvania railroad, Mr. Bagga-
ley played an important and honorable
part, but it is needless to give the details
of an episode which now forms one of the
most thrilling chapters in the railroad
annals of the United States.

Almost from the time he commenced
business in 1867, Mr. Baggaley suffered
from inflammatory rheumatism, two of
the attacks almost costing him his life.
About 1888 he suffered greatly from his
malady and also from overwork. He was
a director in four banks and in twenty-
four other corporations, and was under
obligation to attend over two thousand
meetings annually in addition to his regu-
lar employment. Realizing that this was
a strain which no one, even in health,
could endure and live, Mr. Baggaley re-
signed in one day from eighteen corpora-
tions, and thereafter steadily reduced his
business engagements.

At one time, while quite ill, he under-
took for a year, and from motives of
friendship, a task which would have ap-
palled many men in the full enjoyment of
health. The United States Glass Com-
pany, or, as it was called, the "Glass
Trust," had been forced to suspend oper-
ations through the arbitrary exactions of

the Flint Glass Workers' Union. This
union controlled seven thousand votes in
Allegheny county, had $72,000 in its
treasury, and could point to a record
which chronicled no defeat. Friends of
Mr. Baggaley had their principal re-
sources invested in the company, and it
was at their entreaty that he undertook
the work of extricating them. His wis-
dom, energy and inflexible determination
resulted in a victory for the company. In
eighteen months seven factories were in
successful operation, and the company
commenced making money for the first
time in its history. Mr. Baggaley, who
had accomplished this great task at the
risk of his life, not only from disease but
also from the machinations of the union,
resigned, and was ill in bed for more than
seven months thereafter.

By the time Mr. Baggaley had recov-
ered his health sufficiently to chafe under
prolonged idleness, the great trusts were
in process of formation and the question
arose : What business can one engage in
that can succeed? Mr. Baggaley and
William Hainsworth together invented
and patented a splendid wheel and a roll-
ing machine in which the tread and flange
were rolled. One hundred and twenty
perfect wheels were made at the first at-
tempt and outlasted five-fold the best
wheels that had ever before been tested
on the Pennsylvania Railroad. Yet the
whole scheme failed by reason of the
selfishness and short-sightedness of cer-
tain men who were unable to see that
"honesty is the best policy."

In 1900 Mr. Baggaley purchased the
entire Gold Hill Mountain, sixteen hun-
dred acres, with immense water-power,
and patented it all. Investigation proved
it to be a vast field for improvement and
invention, and Mr. Baggaley entered it
with enthusiasm and knowledge. Over
one hundred United States patents were
obtained on inventions in this line of im-


provement, and the officials of the patent
office said that the regular printed issue
of copies of these patents for sale had
been five times as many as that of any
other American inventor.

From this time forth Mr. Baggaley's
attention was for many years chiefly oc-
cupied with mining interests, and v/ith
his inventions in connection with them.
One of the details in the complete copper
process which has attracted universal at-
tention and has now been adopted all
over the world is the development and
successful use of the basic-lined con-
verter and the dissolving of silicious min-
eral-bearing ores in it in lieu of destroy-
, ing the silicious lining of the old-fash-
ioned converter. This invention alone
has reduced the cost uf making copper
about three cents per pound, yet Mr.
Baggaley's theories on this were contro-
verted by every metallurgist and by all
the text-books in the world. After he
had used this process for eight and a half
months and had made hundreds of thou-
sands of dollars' worth of copper by it
the experts could no longer dispute his
claims and they then adopted the process.
It has now superseded all other processes.
In association with a number of others,
Mr. Baggaley organized the Pittsburgh
and Montana Copper Company, and, not
long after, Franklin Farrell, controller of
the American Brass Company in New
England, insisted that Mr. Baggaley
should become his partner and take over
the management of his two hundred and
sixty-seven acres at Butte. Mr. Bagga-
ley refused, stating that he was then de-
veloping sixteen hundred acres at Gold
Hill, Washington, but after much nego-
tiation Mr. Farrell bought the Gold Hill
property at its cost of $258,000, in part
payment for his Butte property, and Mr.
Baggaley became manager at Butte,
agreeing to turn over his inventions to
the company (with certain reservations)

so long as he remained in charge. He
was ofifered a salary of $25,000, which
was refused because he considered the
scheme "a family afifair."

Mr. Baggaley remained in Butte three
years and a half, developing with wisdom
and foresight the possibilities of the prop-
erty, which only failed through the weak-
ness of its financial management, but is
to-day a rich and prosperous mine, with
its debts paid, the control having been
purchased by the East Butte Company.
Mr. Baggaley proved that there was pay
ore in the flats of Butte.

Dr. Edward Weston has truthfully
said : "There are three stages to an in-
vention. In the first, competitors say,
'It's theoretically impossible.' In the
next, 'It can't be done, mechanically.' In
the third, 'We did it ourselves three years
ago'." This has been Mr. Baggaley's ex-
perience to the letter with the experts in
the copper business. But his inventions
are now in universal use all over the

After leaving Butte and severing all
connection with the company, Mr. Bag-
galey developed a number of important
and valuable inventions. It may well be
supposed that a man whose time for
nearly half a century was so intensely
and continuously occupied as was Mr.
Baggaley's, would be able to give little
attention to anything outside the sphere
of his regular work, but the mechanical
genius and fine administrative abilities
of this leading citizen of Pittsburgh was
always combined with breadth of view
and liberality of sentiment, making the
range of his interests exceptionally ex-
tensive. He affiliated with Franklin
Lodge, No. 221, Free and Accepted Ma-
sons, and Duquesne Chapter, and was a
life member of the Art Society of Pitts-
burgh, the American Association for the
Advancement of Science, the National
Geographic Society, the American Soci-




ety of Mechanical Engineers, the Amer-
ican Institute of Mining Engineers and
the Strollers' Club of New York. He
also belonged to the Duquesne Club
which as stated above, he was instru-
mental in founding.

To attempt a detailed description of
the personal appearance of Mr. Baggaley,
a man of international reputation, would
be almost absurd, especially as it can be
summed up in a single sentence — he
looked the man he was.

Mr. Baggaley married (first) in 1875,
Mary, daughter of Robert and Harriet
(Alden) Arthurs, and their children
were : Robert Alden, deceased ; Mary,
wife of D. King Irwin ; Elizabeth, wife
of A. Rook Carroll ; Annabel Whitney,
wife of Walter R. Hine ; and William
Blair. Mr. Baggaley married (second)
June II, 1896, Effie, daughter of George
M. and Euphemia (King) Irwin, becom-
ing by this union the father of two chil-
dren : Euphemia, born in 1897; and
Ralph, Jr., born in 1900.

It is interesting to note that the two
names of Ralph and William still exist
in the family after more than six hun-
dred and fifty years of continuous use.

Some narratives leave nothing to be
said. Additional words would serve but
to blur and weaken their clarity and
strength. So it is with the story of the
career of Ralph Baggaley. His record,
which was its own eulogy, closed with
his death, September 23, 1915.

Mr. Baggaley's father dropped one "g"
from the spelling of his name when a
young man commencing business, and
about 1893 ^^'■- Baggaley restored the "g"
to its original place in the family name.

BLAIR, John Chalmers,

Enterprising Citizen, Philanthropist.

A monument in the beautiful cemetery
at Huntingdon. Pennsylvania, bears these
words :

"A Life of Deeds — Not Years."
Beside this monument rests all that was mortal

of a man whose nobility of character was

only excelled by his kindness of heart.
A man in whom was combined breadth of vision,

far sightedness and executive ability of the

highest order.

The originator of an industry, unique
ir conception and execution, and which;

Online LibraryJohn W. (John Woolf) JordanEncyclopedia of Pennsylvania biography (Volume v.6) → online text (page 1 of 59)