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COLONEL JAMES BOYD. The bar of every county in Pennsylvania has its oldest member, the honor being handed down from one to another as each in turn departs from the scene of his earthly labors and triumphs. Colonel James Boyd enjoys special distinction in this respect. He is not only the nestor of the bar of Montgomery county but he is the oldest attorney in active practice at this time in the state of Pennsylvania.
James Boyd, grandfather of Colonel Boyd, was a native of County Tyrone, Ireland. Emigrating to this country, he settled at Connellsville, in the coke region of Pennsylvania.
Colonel Boyd is the son of Jeremiah and Elizabeth (Long) Boyd. He was born in the old homestead in Fayette county, Pennsylvania, March 29, 1821. He was educated in the common schools of that vicinity in his earlier boyhood days, and when he was eighteen years of age his father and the family removed to Germantown, in Philadelphia county, where the son completed his education at the old academy conducted by Professors Green, Smith and Collum. The family then removed to Norristown, where the question of a profession for the son arose, he being upon the threshold of manhood. It was the father's wish that his son should become a druggist, and, without consulting with him, the elder Boyd purchased a drugstore in Norristown at the corner of Main and Cherry streets then owned by Dr. Huddleson, an early practitioner of medicine who is long since deceased. The son entered the store and, after a trial of business for three months, came to the conclusion that he was not fitted by nature for that occupation, and so disposed of it to another person. He then went to his father, who was greatly displeased at the turn of affairs, and informed him that he had decided to go west. The mother of Colonel Boyd prevailed on him, however, to remain at home.
At that time debates in the public schoolhouses were very common, and young Boyd soon became talked about for the forcible, arguments which he advanced for the side which he happened to take, whatever might be the subject of dispute. Being six feet three inches in height and endowed with a clear voice and pleasing mode of address, he invariably commanded attention when he spoke. The father, hearing of the success of his son's efforts in this line, at once made the suggestion that he enter the legal profession through the usual course of preliminary study. The idea was acceptable to the young man and he acted upon it at once, entering the office of Daniel H. Mulvany, a Norristown lawyer of great learning and ability. In response to a request of the elder Boyd, Mr. Mulvany engaged in conversation with the son, the result of the conference being that Mr. Mulvany accepted him as a student, and he immediately started in to read law.
Mr. Boyd applied himself to his legal studies with his habitual earnestness and diligence and he soon mastered the intricacies of the law, being admitted to the bar August 16, 1842, by Judge Fox. He then opened an office for himself in the same building in which he is now located, and waited, as is the custom, for his first client.
Mr. Boyd made a success for himself in his profession from the start. Attorney Freedley, who soon gained a lucrative practice, was thought to have done exceedingly well by securing four hundred dollars in fees for his first year's work, but Mr. Boyd outstripped all his competitors by his perseverance and attention to business. His fees for the year in which he began practice, amounted in the aggregate to seven hundred and sixty dollars, a sum which has never before or since been equaled by a beginner in the course of his first year.
The successes of Attorney Boyd rapidly increased and he soon became known far and near as a prosperous and popular lawyer. His business grew rapidly and he was generally recognized as one of the most prominent members of the Montgomery bar, which then, as now, had a high reputation among the legal fraternity of the state.
In railway management Colonel Boyd has long held a very prominent place. 1845 he was appointed counsel in Montgomery county for the Philadelphia, Germantown & Norristown Railroad Company. In 1852 he received a similar appointment for the Philadelphia & Reading Railway Company, which he still holds, although Montgomery Evans is associated with him. He still travels frequently to Philadelphia where he is summoned to confer with the president and other officials of the Reading Railway Company, who have the greatest confidence in his judgment, which in matters of legal business, is unequaled. In 1884 he was elected president of the Perkiomen Railroad Company, a few years later of the Stony Creek Railroad Company, and a short time afterwards of the Philadelphia, Newtown & New York Railroad Company, all of which positions he still holds. He has been a director of the Montgomery National Bank of Norristown since its organization, and also counsel for the institution. He is a director of the Philadelphia & Reading Railway Company and also of the Plymouth Railroad Company. He was one of the organizers of the Norristown Insurance & Water Company and also of the Norristown Gas Company, and was for many years president of both, holding the office until recently.
Colonel Boyd has always been a careful investor. He holds stock in many of the prominent corporations of Philadelphia and is the owner of valuable property in Montgomery and other counties of the state, being generally regarded as one of the wealthiest men in Norristown.
In politics Colonel Boyd was a Whig during the existence of that party but later became a Democrat. He was elected burgess of Norristown many years ago. At that time there was no regular police force. After asking the town council to provide police protection and being refused, he appointed a policeman, and, later, an additional one, and, there being no public funds available from which to pay them, he met the expense from his own resources. It was quite common in those days for the youngest member of the bar to be elected burgess for one year, but at the end of Colonel Boyd's term, he had conducted the borough government so successfully that there was not the slightest difficulty in securing him a re-election, the rule being set aside for the time being.
In 1873 Colonel Boyd was elected a member of the constitutional convention of Pennsylvania on the Democratic ticket and became a prominent member of that body which framed the constitution under which the people of the state are now living. He was one of three members who refused to attach his signature to the instrument after it was drafted and accepted by a majority of the convention. There were some provisions in the document of which his conscience did not approve and he decided that he would not sign. It is characteristic of him that, having once made up his mind, he can not be swerved from his decision. Colonel Boyd's speeches at the time the constitution was discussed in the convention were considered models of good sense and elegant diction, and they added very much to his reputation as an orator. At this time an amusing episode occurred, being a mock trial of Colonel Boyd for the offense of impersonating a Methodist minister. During the existence of the constitutional
convention, E. C. Knight invited its members to be his guests at Cape May.
On the trip Colonel Boyd was introduced to a Methodist clergyman, and, being an inveterate joker, succeeded in making him believe that he belonged to the same profession, much to the amusement of the other members of the convention. Later the mock trial was arranged by ex-Governor Andrew G. Curtin, Colonel Boyd being arrested as the defendant in the case of the Commonwealth vs. James Boyd, on the charge of impersonating a minister. Men of note from all parts of the state being members of the convention, including many prominent lawyers, the trial proceeded in due form, the testimony being carefully recorded by a court reporter. The speeches of counsel on both sides caused much merriment, and some of the rulings were absurdly funny, Colonel Boyd adding much to the general amusement by his witty sallies. The trial was printed and the demand from the legal fraternity all over the country greatly exceeded the supply.
Colonel Boyd was and still is a strict disciplinarian, severely rebuking familiarities. He counted among his personal acquaintances, Lincoln, Grant, Sherman and many other notabilities of their time. Few men in Pennsylvania were better or more widely known than he during the more active years of his life. His after dinner speeches are renowned for their wit, and several bar dinners recently held in Philadelphia have been greatly enlivened by the scintillations of his dry humor.
As a lawyer Colonel Boyd owes much of his success to his keen wit and to superior management, especially in the handling of witnesses on cross-
examination, in which he is an adept, leading those of his opponent to contradict themselves in their statements and thus to ruin their case.
Colonel Boyd has long been president of the Montgomery County Bar Association. He has won the respect and esteem of all with whom he came in contact. He is exceedingly kind-hearted and genial. Many a young man in the legal profession has come to him for advice, and he has given them advice that has been of the greatest benefit to them in the trial of their cases. Struggling lawyers have been very much aided by his friendly suggestions.
Colonel Boyd often relates with much gusto the practical joke which he once played on Daniel Dougherty, the "silver-tongued orator" of Philadelphia, who was very popular with the ladies because, of his fine Shakespearean renderings and other accomplishments. He had at one time built up quite a practice in the courts of Montgomery county, and was very often in Norristown. At his parlor in the leading hotel, the old Montgomery House, now the Hotel Montgomery, he entertained delighted audiences in the evenings. When he had occasion to deliver a speech in behalf of a client in the courthouse, his admirers usually made it a point to be present. Colonel Boyd decided, when he had an opportunity, to head off the brilliant Philadelphia lawyer, whom no one else had ever been able to match, and the opportunity was not long in presenting itself. The two were pitted against each other and the followers of Dougherty had gathered in force to witness his triumphs through his brilliant oratory which was supposed to be irresistible when he addressed a jury. On this occasion, however, Colonel Boyd had the right to speak first, and he made the most of the privilege. He knew that Mr. Dougherty would be obliged to leave on the 5:30 train in the evening, and, launching into his address at 3 o'clock, he contrived to consume the time so that it was 5:20 o'clock when he concluded his speech, to the utter discomfiture of Mr. Dougherty and his friends. The great orator made no attempt to speak at all. Colonel Boyd has often been pitted against Wayne MacVeagh and other eminent lawyers, whose fame was world wide, and he proved himself equal to any of them in fertility of resources and skill in handling his case. Wayne MacVeagh said of Colonel Boyd on one occasion that he was the most forcible and convincing speaker he 'had ever heard; stern and unbending at times, but with a heart as mellow and kind as could he desired when occasion required it.
Colonel James Boyd married Sarah Jamison, who died in 1884. She was the daughter of the late Samuel Jamison, a prominent manufacturer of Norristown.
Their children were Howard (deceased), who married Miss Mary, daughter of William H. Slingluff, they having one child, James S. Boyd, Jr., a student at the University of Pennsylvania, where he takes much interest in athletics; and Wallace J., who served in the house of representatives, and is long deceased, leaving one child who died in infancy.
Colonel Boyd is widely known for his charity to the needy, his benevolence being unostentatious but none the less prompt and generous. He is universally esteemed by his fellow members of the bar and by all who know him. The dinner given to him by the members of the bar on the occasion of the sixtieth anniversary of his admission, was an event long to be remembered. Eminent associates in the legal profession vied with each other in paying deserved tribute to their guest and friend. Hon. Wayne MacVeagh left an important case in Washington to be present and add his word by way of testimony to the splendid qualities of the grand old man.
Mental power and self control are the qualities which have given to Colonel Boyd his preeminence in the profession in which his success has been so great. With a jury he has been almost irresistible, carrying its members with him by his mental force. Independent in his bearing, his humor and sarcasm are powerful weapons against his adversaries in legal contests. His invective, when he feels called upon to use it, is terrible. His varied and wide experience, his legal knowledge, and his attainments in his profession have long given him fame and reputation that have not been approached by any of his contemporaries in the practice of law. Had he cared for preferment of that kind he might have occupied a seat on the bench where his great learning and the force of his intellect would have made him a shining light in the judiciary of the state and country.
MONTGOMERY EVANS. THIS FAMILY OF EVANS, which (according to a genealogical chart compiled by I. I. H. Harris, of St. John's College, Cambridge, and now in the British Museum) is descended from Elystan Glodrydd through his second son Idnerth, was originally settled in Carmarthenshire.
JOHN EVANS, gentleman, a lineal descendant, having performed valuable military service during the reign of Queen Elizabeth, in aiding to suppress the Irish rebellion, obtained from the Crown a grant of land and emigrated from Carmarthenshire in Wales to Limerick, Ireland, where he was living in and before 1628. He married Ellen De Verdon and dying January 1, 1632, left issue two sons and three daughters.
GEORGE, the elder son, represented Limerick in parliament for many years and died in 1707 at a very advanced age, having
JOHN, the younger son, who was a colonel in the English army, married and had issue three sons, Simon, the oldest, buried at Fanningstown, County Limerick, Ireland; William; and John,. the youngest, buried at Ballygrenane in the same county.
WILLIAM, with his wife Ann came to America with the Welsh emigration that sailed in the year 1698, which Proud mentions in a foot note, vol. I, page 222, and Jenkins in his Historical Collections of Gwynedd speaks of as follows:
"The main company of emigrants sailed from Liverpool on the 18th of April, 1698. Their ship was the Robert and Elizabeth, its master Ralph Williams, its owner Robert Haydock of Liverpool. They touched at Dublin before proceeding and it was not until the 1st of May that they finally spread the ship's sails for the new world. Forty-five passengers died of dysentery. It was not until the 17th of July that they reached port in Philadelphia.
Having settled temporarily at Gwynedd in the then province of Pennsylvania while prospecting for land, he subsequently purchased two tracts, aggregating seven hundred acres, in Manatawny, afterwards Limerick township, and there settled permanently. Here William's death soon after occurred and his wife, surviving him but a few years, died in 1720. Her will recorded in Philadelphia. June 18th of that year, devises the estate to her five children, namely: William, Owen, George, Elizabeth and David.
OF THESE, OWEN, born in 1699, was for many years justice of the peace and at one time a member of the colonial assembly. He was also a member of the vestry of St. James' Protestant Episcopal church of Evansburg from 1738 until the time of his death. Bean, in his History of Montgomery County, page 917, says: "Owen Evans was an early settler. He was appointed a justice of the peace in 1732 and continued to hold that office until his death. He appears to have been a prominent man and died in 1754, aged fifty-five years.
On August 14, 1721, in Christ church, Philadelphia, he married Mary, the daughter of William and Mary Davis, and had by her eight children, one of whom.
DAVID, born January 22, 1730, inherited from his father the homestead and lived thereon until the time of his death, which occurred October 23, 1800. On October 27, 1762, in St. Michael's and Zion's church, Philadelphia, he married Anna, the great-granddaughter of John and Frances Brooke, and left issue: Sarah, who married James Garrett and moved to Maryland; Mary, who married Amos Evans of Limerick; Matthew and William, who died young, and
OWEN, born October 27, 1767, who on March 20, 1792, married Rachel, the great-great-granddaughter of John and Frances Brooke. The issue of this marriage was eight children, of whom the youngest was
THOMAS BROOKE, born in Limerick, April 21, 1809, who, after receiving the customary education that was then accorded to youth of his station in life, became a teacher. He subsequently learned the trade of tanning and afterwards established himself in the tanning business. Mr. Evans was prominent in local affairs, was a justice of the peace from 1841 to 1861 and clerk of the county commissioners and for the board of poor directors for many years. He was active and influential in the community until his death, which occurred December 13, 1863. On November 9, 1834, he married Mary Ann, the daughter of Daniel and Mary (Kendall) Schwenk, and there were born unto them eight children, of whom the eldest, Robert Brooke, was for many years a justice of the peace in Limerick; Benjamin F. Montgomery 1st, and Zella died young; Mary Elizabeth married to B. Frank Saylor and residing in St. Louis; Charlotte, deceased; Emma, married to Garrett E. Brownback, of Linfield, and Montgomery, 2d, the subject of this sketch.
MONTGOMERY EVANS, 20, one of the leading attorneys of the Norristown bar, was born in Limerick, November 18, 1853. He was educated in the public schools of his native township and in select schools in Phoenixville, Spring City and Norristown, was graduated from Lafayette College in 1875, as valedictorian of his class, and was a member of the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity and of the Phi Beta Kappa society. For two years he was principal of the public schools of Montrose in Susquehanna county. He afterwards studied law with the late Benjamin E. Chain and on November 30, 1878, was admitted to the bar.
For a number of years Mr. Evans was a partner of Louis M. Childs, the firm being Childs & Evans. Subsequently this partnership was dissolved and he associated himself with Messrs. Holland and Dettra, which firm under the style of Evans, Holland & Detra, is recognized as among the leading attorneys of the state.
Mr. Evans is president of the Norristown Trust Company, of the Norristown Insurance & Water Company, and of the Bridgeport Water Company, and with Colonel James Boyd is counsel in this county for the Reading Railroad Company. Since 1885 he has been treasurer of the Law Library. He is a director of the Norristown Gas Company, the Gas Company of Montgomery county, Norristown Steam Heat Company and Western North Carolina Land Company; also secretary and treasurer of the last-named corporation.
His career of more than a quarter of a century has been marked by continued advancement: as a lawyer he stands high. To natural ability are added the results of careful study and observation, and fidelity to his clients' interests, coupled with sound judgment and conservative advice has gained him that confidence which has classed him among the trustworthy and reliable attorneys in this state.
(Picture of Nicholas H. Larzelere)
NICHOLAS H. LARZELERE. The revocation of the famous Edict of Nantes, signed by Henry IV, in 1598, which gave religious freedom to all parties, was an act which lost to France many of her best and most desirable citizens, a large number of families finally finding refuge in America. Among those who fled from the persecutions following the ill-advised action of Louis XIV, were Nicholas and John Larzelere, who settled on Long Island. Nicholas removed ultimately to Staten Island, where he married and reared a family which consisted of two sons, Nicholas and John, and two daughters. Of the sons, Nicholas, in 1741, removed with his family to Bucks county, Pennsylvania, and settled in Lower Makefield township. He died at the age of eighty-four, having reared a family of eight children, and was buried in the Episcopal graveyard at Bristol.
The eldest son of the first settler in Bucks county of the name, also Nicholas (great-great-grandfather), was born on Staten Island in 1734. He married Hannah Britton, of Bristol township, and removed into Bensalem township, where he became possessed of a large estate, rearing a family of ten children. He was a soldier in the Revolutionary war, and died at the age of eighty-four years.
Benjamin Larzelere (great-grandfather), eldest son of Nicholas, last-
mentioned, married Sarah Brown, of Bristol township, the couple having eight children, and he dying at eighty-four years of age on the farm which he purchased in that township, and on which the present borough of Bristol is partly located.
Nicholas Larzelere (grandfather), eldest son of Benjamin, located in Abington township, Montgomery county, in 1825. He married Esther Berrell, daughter of Colonel Jeremiah Berrell, and reared a family of twelve children. He died at sixty-seven years of age, in 1858, and was buried in the Presbyterian graveyard at Abington, one of the most ancient burial places in that vicinity.
Benjamin Larzelere (father) was born in 1826 and is still living. He married Mary Maxwell, eldest daughter of Henry and Ann (Buskirk) Maxwell, of Moreland township. Mrs. Maxwell was the daughter of Jacob Buskirk, originally from Holland, who married Elizabeth Lawrence, eldest daughter of Jonathan Lawrence. Jonathan Lawrence was the eldest son of John and Mars' (Townley) Lawrence, who came from England to Massachusetts in 1713. Mary Lawrence was a daughter of Charles Townley of Lancashire, England, the genealogy of whose family has been traced in England to the reign of Henry VIII.
Nicholas Henry Larzelere was born in Warminster township, Bucks county, Pennsylvania. He was reared on his father's farm in Warrington township, to which the family had removed, and was educated in the common schools of the neighborhood, attending them in winter, as is the usual custom in rural districts, and assisting with the duties of farm life during the greater part of every year. Having decided to take a college course, he entered the Doylestown English and Classical Seminary at the age of eighteen years, teaching part of the time. He entered the freshman class of Lafayette College at Easton in September, 1871, graduating from that institution in 1875. In his junior year he won first honors in an oratorical contest between Franklin and Washington Halls. In his senior year he had the honor of representing Lafayette College in the intercollegiate oratorical contest, which took place in the academy of music, New York city, January 13, 1875. The institutions represented were Amherst, Princeton, Williams, Cornell, New York, Columbia and Lafayette colleges.
In September, 1875, Mr. Larzelere entered the office of Hon. George Ross, a leading lawyer of Doylestown, reading law under his direction for one year.
At the end of that time he entered the office of Hon. B. Markley Boyer, afterwards president judge of the courts of Montgomery county. At the end of two years of diligent study, Mr. Larzelere was admitted to the bar of Montgomery county, September 28, 1877. Mr. Larzelere married, September 21, 1880, Miss Ida Frances, second daughter of Dr. John W. and Hannah Loch, of Norristown. They have two sons, John Loch and Charles Townley Larzelere, who are students at Princeton University. In religious faith Mr. and Mrs. Larzelere are both Presbyterians. On his father's side Mr. Larzelere's ancestors adhered to the Presbyterian faith, while on his mother's side they were mostly members of the Society of Friends or Quakers.
In the practice of his profession Mr. Larzelere soon attained a commanding position among his associates at the bar. He took the lead from the beginning and has well maintained it to the present time, his industry, devotion to the interests of his clients, and his fertility of resources overcoming every obstacle that appeared in the course of his career. He has been counsel, on one side or the other, of the majority of the important cases that have arisen in the Norristown courts in the more than a quarter of a century that has intervened since his admission. He was a recognized leader from the beginning of his career, and he has won some notably splendid triumphs before juries and elsewhere, the force of his reasoning powers enabling him to present his case in the strongest possible light to the court or the jury as the case might be. Among the more notable of the cases in which he distinguished himself, from time to time, are the following:
Bradfield et al. vs. Insurance Company; Commonwealth vs. Gaffey, indicted for manslaughter at the hospital for the insane. The matter of freeing the DeKalb street bridge at Norristown, one of the most stubborn legal contests ever waged in the county; Rudolph vs. Pennsylvania Railroad Company, in which as in the DeKalb street bridge case, the damage verdict considerably exceeded a hundred thousand dollars, and many other cases involving damages on account of railway construction, in all of which he acquitted himself with the highest credit, and won the highest encomiums for his ability and success in presenting his case to the best possible advantage. Success is the best test of a lawyer's ability, and, judged by this, Mr. Larzelere is entitled to the highest consideration as a master in the legal profession.
In politics Mr. Larzelere was originally a Democrat, according to the traditions of his family, but he was never a strong or unreasonable partisan. When the Democratic party, in the nomination of William J. Bryan for the presidency, in 1896, and the endorsement of the fallacy of silver coinage at the ratio of 16 to 1, abandoned the principles of sound finance, Mr. Larzelere publicly announced that he could no longer support that organization and, with voice and vote, supported McKinley and Hobart, the Republican nominees for the offices of president and vice president. His vote and his influence have ever since been cast on the side of sound money, and safe methods in connection with the administration of national affairs. He is a stanch Republican and a member of the Union League. When Judge Swartz was a candidate in 1904 for judge of the Pennsylvania supreme court, Mr. Larzelere presented his name at the Republican county convention in a speech that will long be remembered for its earnestness and eloquence, by all who heard it.
In everything that relates to progress and improvement in the borough of Norristown, his home during all his adult life, Mr. Larzelere has been actively interested, always casting the weight of his influence on the side of advancement. He has been for a number of years prominently identified with the street railway system, which has assisted so much in the development of the best interests of the county seat. He has been president of the Schuylkill Valley Traction Company during its entire existence, and still occupies a prominent position in connection with the management of the company's line and the operation of its various branches, which are being extended in many directions so as to become an important link in the chain of communication between different sections of the county and state.
In this work of development and growth of the popular means of transportation, Mr. Larzelere has assisted very materially, his efforts being constantly directed towards the improvement of the service so that the public convenience may be promoted to the fullest possible extent. He is also solicitor for the Pennsylvania Railroad Company in Montgomery county, for the Philadelphia Rapid Transit Company, the Lehigh Valley Traction Company, the Bell Telephone Company, the Western Union Telegraph Company and many other great corporations which have business interests in his district. All these are added to a large and exacting practice, which has grown, year by year, to large proportions. The law firm which was for many years Larzelere & Gibson, Mr. Larzelere's partner being Muscoe M. Gibson, son of Rev. Isaac Gibson, has within a few years been enlarged further by the addition of Gilbert R. Fox, also of Norristown, the firm name being Larzelere, Gibson & Fox, in which working shape it is prepared to take up any and all legal business that is presented, and carry it to a successful issue. Mr. Larzelere, notwithstanding the fact that he is a very busy man in his profession, is not unmindful of other business interests and opportunities, and is in the directorates of several railway, manufacturing and fiscal corporations. Mr. Larzelere and his family reside in one of the handsomest and most complete homes in Norristown at DeKalb and Basin streets, with extensive grounds laid out elegantly, forming a fine setting for his residence in the finest part of Norristown. He has found time among his other occupations to devote a good deal of attention to literature, and art and has collected one of the best private libraries in the state, as well as a collection of oil paintings representative of the highest excellence and merit among modern artists.
JACOB V. GOTWALTS, a prominent lawyer, and ex-District Attorney of Montgomery count, was born in Lower Providence township, Montgomery county, Pennsylvania, May 13, 1840. He is the son of Jacob and Esther (Vandershice) Gotwalts, both natives of Pennsylvania. They had four children, Jacob V. being the only one now living.
Jacob Gotwalts (father) was a farmer in Lower Providence township, where he Owned two farms. His wife was Esther (Vanderslice), daughter of Anthony Vanderslice. He and his wife were Mennonites in religious faith. He died in 1851, aged fifty years. His wife survived him until 1900, when she died at the age of eighty-seven years. He was a Whig in politics.
Adam Gotwalts (grandfather) was also a farmer who lived and died in Montgomery county. The family originally came from Germany, but the first ancestor in this country settled in Montgomery county in the latter part of the seventeenth century. Anthony Vanderslice (maternal grandfather) was a native of Pennsylvania. He was a farmer, and was also interested in canal boating. He died at an advanced age, leaving several sons and daughters.
Jacob V. Gotwalts lived on his father's farm until he was ten years of age, when he entered Freehand Seminary, now Ursinus College. In 1856 he became a student at Dickinson College, at Carlisle, Pennsylvania and graduated in 1860. He was principal of the Cape May High School, New Jersey, for four years, and a member of the faculty of Treemount Seminary for more than a year before he commenced the study of law in the office of Hon. George N. Corson, of Norristown. He was admitted to the bar in August, 1867, and immediately began the practice of law. He continued in Norristown until 1894, when he removed to Pottstown, being a member of the firm of Gotwalts & Saylor.
On December 3. 1873, Mr. Gotwalts married Miss Henrietta Royer, daughter of ex-Senator Lewis Rorer and Isabella (Treon) Royer. Mrs. Gotwalts belongs to the Reformed church.
Mr. Gotwalts was district attorney of Montgomery county from 1876 to 1879. He was a school director and a member of town council while he lived in Norristown. He does a general law practice, but makes a specialty of criminal law, in which he has been very successful.
He is attorney for a number of corporations. He is a Democrat in politics and was a delegate to the National Democratic Convention in 1876, at St. Louis, when Hon. Samuel J. Tilden was nominated for President, and also a delegate at the recent convention held at the same place when A. B. Parker was nominated. He has been a Mason for more than forty years, and belongs to Phoenix Lodge, No 75, Free and Accepted Masons, also to the Elks, and the Knights of Friendship.
Mr. Gotwalts is genial in disposition, and has made many strong friendships. He has been a prominent figure at Democratic county conventions for many years, and has frequently responded to calls for speechmaking during different campaigns in behalf of his party. He is a fluent speaker, his manner being logical and convincing, and his eloquence being frequently interspersed with sallies of humor that enable him to please and captivate his audience.
HORACE MILTON EBERT, secretary of the March-Brownback Stove Company, of Pottstown, was born in Cressona, Schuylkill county, Pennsylvania, January 9, 1866. He is the son of Joseph R. and Margaret (Wurts) Ebert.
Joseph R. Ebert (father) was born in Montgomery county. In young manhood he was a carpenter, and afterwards became an agent for the Philadelphia & Reading Railway Company; He was station agent at various places. Joseph R. Ebert made his home in Norristown for many years, and about 1894 removed to Pottstown, where he died in 1897, aged fifty-eight years. His wife died in 1900, aged sixty-two years. In politics he was a Republican. The family were members of the Lutheran denomination. Margaret Wurts Ebert was also born in Montgomery county. Mr. and Mrs. Ebert had four children:
Walter Winfield, died in infancy; Ida May, died unmarried at the age of thirty-eight; Horace M.; Ella Blanche, a music teacher.
William Ebert (grandfather) was born in Pennsylvania, and was of German descent. He was a cabinet-maker and later a miller, being the owner of a mill at Mingo, below Royersford. He lived most of his life in Montgomery county and died at the age of seventy years. He and his wife had four sons and three daughters. George Wurts (maternal grandfather) was also born in Pennsylvania, and was of German descent. He was a farmer in Schuylkill county. He was twice married and had seven children. George Wurts died at an advanced age.
Horace M. Ebert removed to Norristown with his parents when he was seven years of age, and lived in that borough for many years. He completed the public school course in that borough graduating from the Norristown high school in the class of 1881. After receiving his diploma he took a clerical position with the Philadelphia & Reading Railway Company, and later was employed for a time in the Pencoyd Iron Works, one of the most extensive establishments of the kind in America. In the year 1892 Mr. Ebert went to Pottstown, where he has held ever since the position of secretary of the March-Brownback Stove Company, one of the most successful corporations engaged in above manufacturing in Pennsylvania, employing one hundred and fifty persons or more in its various departments. Mr. Ebert belongs to the Elks and the Foresters of America. He served in the Spanish-American war, raising a company in Pottstown and neighboring townships. He was its first lieutenant, and he served with it throughout the Porto Rican campaign.
Mr. Ebert has always taken an active interest in politics, national, state and local, being strongly attached to the principles and policy of the Republican party. His name has frequently been mentioned in connection with public positions, and at the Republican County Convention of 1902 he was nominated by acclamation for the position of assemblyman on the party ticket, along with Messrs. Rex, Weida, Ambler and Landis. Mr. Ebert as well as his colleagues on the assembly ticket took an active part in the canvass, which was one of the most earnest ever made in Montgomery county. They were triumphantly elected in November of that year, Mr. Ebert's popularity, wherever he is known, being attested by his large vote in Pottstown, Norristown, and elsewhere in the county.
At Harrisburg Mr. Ebert was one of the most useful, industrious and influential members of the House of Representatives. He served on the committees as follows: To Compare Bills, Corporations, Manufacture, and Federal Relations, and took a large share in the work of the session.
DR. DAVID DORRINGTON RICHARDSON, third son of Major George Park and Sarah Ann Richardson, and grandson of George Richardson, of Richmond, Virginia, is a native of that city, born May 11, 1837.
Dr. Richardson's preparatory education was obtained at Transylvania University, at Lexington, Kentucky, from the medical department of which he graduated with the degree of M. D., at the termination of his third course of lectures, in February 1858. He removed to Philadelphia the following spring and organized a school for preparation for the degree of Doctor of Medicine and for the medical staff of the army and navy. This enterprise proved very successful.
Dr. Richardson served three years, from 1858 to 1861, as intern at the Howard and Philadelphia Hospitals, being appointed in the latter year resident physician at the Northern Dispensary, Philadelphia, the institution being under his entire charge. He held this position until December, 1866, when he was appointed superintendent and physician in chief of the Philadelphia Hospital, Department for the Insane.
In 1871 he graduated with the degree of M. D. from the University of Pennsylvania. In 1879 he was appointed superintendent of the State Hospital for the Insane, at Warren, Pennsylvania, organizing that institution and placing it on a good working basis, and remaining in charge as superintendent until July, 1881, when he was unanimously recalled to the Philadelphia Hospital, of whose Department for the Insane he had previously had charge, performing the duties in a highly successful and satisfactory manner. He retired from this position in 1886 to engage in private practice.
Dr. Richardson was not to remain thus, however, for any great length of time. His ability as a superintendent of institutions for the insane had now received very general recognition, and in 1889 he was elected the first superintendent of the Delaware State Hospital for the Insane, at Farnhurst, which position he held until October 1, 1893, when he resigned to take charge of the male department of the State Hospital for the Insane, Southeastern District of Pennsylvania, Norristown, in which he has been equally successful, keeping the institution up to the high standard which it had attained under his predecessor, Dr. Robert H. Chase, and making many improvements in the care and treatment of the unfortunates in his charge. Dr. Richardson is a model resident physician, giving personal supervision to every detail of the work of the institution of which he has charge. His many years of successful experience in the management of the insane, has made him an adept in that field of labor which he has chosen for his life-work.
Dr. Richardson's interest in anatomy made him a frequent visitor to the dissecting room, and in 1858 he was appointed demonstrator in the Philadelphia School of Anatomy, of which the late Dr. D. Hayes Agnew was the principal. He continued in that position for a period of eight years. In 1886 he was appointed assistant demonstrator of anatomy in the University of Pennsylvania, Department of Medicine, continuing in that position until 1890.
In 1861 Dr. Richardson published the "Chemical Remembrancer." In 1876 he prepared for publication "The Old and New Notation of Chemistry Reconciled." In n88 he revised for publication his clinical lectures on insanity, delivered from time to time in the Department for the Insane of the Philadelphia Hospital.
Dr. Richardson is a member of the American Medical Association, of the American Medico-Psychological Association, the Philadelphia County Medical Society and the Philadelphia
Dr. Richardson married, in 1860, Margaret Spear Hancker, of a Pennsylvania family.
The Norristown Hospital for the Insane, with which Dr. Richardson has been identified for so long a time, may be properly noticed in this connection.
Its grounds comprise nearly six hundred acres of fertile land finely situated on the banks of Stony creek, just before that stream enters the borough of Norristown. The site commands a very extensive view of the surrounding country, and the institution and its grounds make a highly picturesque scene. It was erected by a commission appointed by Governor John Frederic Hartranft in 1876, one year having been consumed in the selection of a site, and another in the adoption of a suitable plan of hospital buildings. Its construction required nearly two years, the buildings as they then were (many additions and improvements having since been erected), being completed in February. 1880. The plan of the institution is unique, the segregate or detached system being adopted for the different wards. The plan of treatment is rational throughout and entirely opposed to the old theory that the victims of insanity are possessed of an evil spirit. There is an absence of restraint except in the violent ward; patients are kept employed as much as possible; there is a thorough night service, as well as the strictest scrutiny by day; each case is scientifically investigated and treated, as much as may be; and every employee is expected to realize the responsibility resting upon him as a part of a system for improving the condition of the patients in the hospital.
Of late years the institution has been very much overcrowded, its total population, including attendants and other employees, being about twenty-five hundred, the patients being nearly equally divided between the sexes.
EARL A. JENKINS, recorder of deeds of Montgomery county, to which office he was elected November 4, 1902, was born at Colmar, November 21, 1850. He is a son of Milton and Sarah (Ellis) Jenkins, both living at Colmar. Milton Jenkins was reared on a farm, attending at intervals the public schools of the vicinity, and spending two years, 1868-9, at Freeland Seminary, Collegeville, now Ursinus College. On leaving that institution he learned the trade of butchering with James W. Buzby, near Spring House,
in Gwynedd township. Later he engaged in that business at Colmar and has followed it successfully ever since.
Earl A. Jenkins has been an earnest, active and influential member of the Republican party, ever since reaching manhood. In township, county and state politics he has always taken a deep interest, doing his utmost to secure the success of the principles and candidates of his party, and working very effectively to that end. He has served occasionally in township offices, and his worth is very generally known to party leaders and its membership throughout the county, of which he has been a life-long citizen. When his name was mentioned for the nomination for recorder on the party ticket in the summer of 1902, other aspirants, recognizing his strength, gradually withdrew until he was left without a rival before the party convention, in September of that year. He was therefore nominated by acclamation. Mr. Jenkins entered into the canvass with his usual energy. His efforts contributed much to party success at the polls, and he was elected in November, with the rest of the Republican ticket, by a large majority. He entered upon the duties of his position early in January 1903, and has performed them very acceptably throughout, giving close attention to business, and being affable and courteous to all with whom he comes in contact. The growth of the county has made his department one of the most important of the court house offices, and it requires a person of good business ability to perform the duties acceptably.
In 1874 Mr. Jenkins married Elizabeth Clark, daughter of James (deceased) and Mary (McCormick) Clark, both of whom were natives of Scotland, where Mr. Jenkins' wife was born, May 21, 1848, the family coming to this country about 1855 or 1856, and locating near Cohmar. They have four children: Ethel I., Royden C., M. Russell and Earl Wayne.
Mr. Jenkins is a direct descendant of Jenkin Jenkins, who came from Wales and settled in Hatfield township in 1729. His eldest son, John Jenkins, was the progenitor of all the family who now bear his name. He bought land in Gwynedd adjoining Lansdale, in 1746, and died in 1803 or 1804.
His son John, born in 1742, died in 1805. He was an officer in the Revolutionary army. He married Elizabeth Lukens, widow of Abraham, and had six children: Owen, Sarah, Jesse, John, Edward and Elizabeth.
John Jenkins (grandfather) married Ann Todd, and lived to a very advanced age, dying at North Wales, at the home of his son-in-law, Abel Lukens, October 5, 1880, in his ninety-seventh year. He had seven children:
Naomi married Abel Lukens
Charles Todd married Sarah Lukens
Jane married Samuel Rhoads
Ann T. married Jacob B. Rhoads
Silas T. married Eliza Morgan
John S. married Eliza Stoner
Milton married Sarah Ellis
(For further particulars of the Jenkins family, see the biographical sketch of J. P. Hale Jenkins, of Norristown, a cousin of the recorder of deeds, Earl A. Jenkins, of Colmar, which will be found elsewhere in this work.)
Milton Jenkins (father) was born March 9, 1825. He married, December 26, 1849, Sarah Ellis, born December 6, 1826. Sarah (Ellis) Jenkins is the daughter of Jonathan and Elizabeth (Jones) Ellis, who were married October 16, 1818. Jonathan was born in December 1790, and died November 26, 1871. His wife was born April 10, 1797, and died August 18, 1875. Jonathan's father was William Ellis, a well-known citizen of the county, who died at the age of seventy-eight years. His mother, Sarah (Barnes) Ellis, died at the age of eighty years. Elizabeth (Jones) Ellis was the daughter of John and Esther (Conard) Jones.
Milton and Sarah Jenkins have had seven children, as follows: Earl A., born in 1850, married, November 18, 1874 Elizabeth Clark, who was born May 21, 1849. Mr. and Mrs. Earl A. Jenkins have four children: Ethel Iona, born October 30, 1875; Royden C., born September 3, 1877, and married May 3, 1899, to Clara Keighly, the couple having three children, Elizabeth, Sarah and Iona; Milton Russell, born December 19, 1885; Earl Wayne, born August 24, 1888.
Ida, second child of Milton and Sarah Jenkins, born September 24, 1852, died October 8, 1854.
Horace M., born December 28, 1853, married December 28, 1880, Mary Clark, who was born January 29, 1859. Mr. and Mrs. Horace M. Jenkins have had five children, as follows:
Roscoe C., born November 25, 1881, and died January 9, 1889
Laura Z., born November 4, 1883
Clark, born April 12, 1886
Donald, born October 31, 1889
May, born February 13, 1892.
Elma, born February 29, 1856, married, April 29, 1885, George E. Brecht. Mr. and Mrs. George E. Brecht have three children as follows:
Ralph Anson, born July 13, 1886
John Ernest, born February 1, 1889
Sarah Elizabeth, born September 25, 1892.
Anson B. Jenkins, born November 2, 1857, is unmarried.
Elizabeth Jenkins, born January 19, 1860, married November 25, 1885, Gilbert M. Clark, who was born May 31, 1860, and died May 2, 1899.
Mr. and Mrs. Clark have one child, a daughter, Cara, born May 6, 1894.
U. S. Grant Jenkins, born January 3, 1863, married, November 15, 1893, Cara Scholl. They have the following children: Milton Carl, born August 22, 1894; Hazel, born June 3, 1898; and Everett, born June 19, 1899.
Mrs. Earl A. Jenkins was born in Scotland.
Her father, James Clark, was born June 16, 1812, died May 26, 1898. He married, January 27, 1843, Mary McCormick, born September 13, 1821.
James Clark's parents were Quintin and Jane (Blame) Clark. Mary Clark's parents were Robert and Mary (McClelan) McCormick.
(Picture of F. G. Hobson)
FREELAND G. HOBSON, lawyer, banker, and one of the most prominent men of affairs of Montgomery county, is of excellent lineage. On the paternal side he traces his ancestry to the families of Bringhurst, Turner, Lewis, Shaw, Morris, Jenkins, Wainhouse, Hawkes, Prache, Sellers, Johns, Hughes, Currier and Gibbons, and on the maternal side to the families of Vandershice, Gotwals, Hunsicker and Pennypacker. He is a descendant of Francis Hobson, who came from England in 1712, accompanied by his wife Martha Wainhouse, and settled in New Garden township, Chester county, Pennsylvania. They were members of the Society of Friends, as were most of the settlers in those parts of the province.
On February 5, 1712, they presented their letters from Friends at LaGrange, near Charlemont, Ireland, to the Newark Monthly Meeting. Francis Hobson, the first of the family name in America, was a weaver, but became a farmer, buying two hundred acres in New Garden township in 1713.
Francis, son of the immigrant, Francis Hobson, was born September 12, 1720, married Mary Shaw in 1744, and in 1748 removed to Limerick township, Montgomery county, where he bought, near Royersford, a farm of two hundred acres, which is still known as the Hobson farm. One of his sons, Moses Hobson, in 1791, bought the Limerick farm, upon which he resided during the remainder of his life. He was a justice of the peace and a surveyor. Many of the old surveys in that part of the county were made by him, and his field notes, and legal papers executed by him as a justice of the peace shows his penmanship to have been very fine. He died intestate in 1825, when the Limerick farm came into the possession of a brother, John.
John Hobson, born June 10, 1772, married Penelope Turner, and reared four children upon the ancestral farm. Moses, who became the successor of his namesake uncle as surveyor and justice; Mary; Charlotte, who became the wife of Homer Kimberly, of Batavia, New York; and Francis.
Francis, youngest child of John and Penelope (Turner) Hobson, was born October 10, 1803. He inherited the homestead farm, and lived there many years, subsequently removing to Reading, where he died, August 24, 1874. Notwithstanding he was far beyond the military service age, when he was sixty years old he served with the emergency force, called out in 1863 to repel the invasion of the state by the Rebel army under General Lee. He married, January 11, 1829, Matilda, daughter of William and Mary (Morris) Bringhurst. Two children were born of this marriage, Frank M. and Sarah H.
(1) William Bringhurst was a descendant of Dr. Thomas Bringhurst, a noted physician and surgeon of London, England, who married Elizabeth Hughes, August 27, 1647. Their son John, born November 1, 1665, was a printer in London, and, for advocating the freedom of the press, he was, on September 20, 1684, fined the sum of one pound and stood for two hours in the pillory. He married Rosina Prache, daughter of the Rev. Hillarius Prache, a Lutheran clergyman. After the death of Mr. Prache, his widow, Barbara, came to America, where she was subsequently joined by her daughter, Rosina, who was afterwards the widow of John Bringhurst, and who brought her son, George Bringhurst. The last named, born May 15, 1697, married September 1, 1723, Anna, daughter of John and Sarah (Sellers) Ashmead. Their son William married Mary Morris, June 4, 1769, and they were the parents of six children, of whom the eldest was Israel, who was born February 28, 1770, and died in February, 1807. Israel married, September 27, 1792, Mary Lewis, a daughter of Isaac and Sarah (Jenkins) Lewis. She was a descendant of Jenkin Jenkins, who was born in Wales in 1659, came to America and settled in Gwynedd in 1729. Isaac Lewis was a son of Enos, who was a son of Lewis, who in 1704 married Grace Johns, at Gwynedd Meeting. Sarah Jenkins was a daughter of John and Sarah (Hawksworth) Jenkins, and her mother was a daughter of Peter Hawksworth, who died in 1769, and who was buried at St. Thomas. Israel and Mary (Lewis) Bringhurst were the parents of seven children, among whom was Wright A. Bringhurst, who was a member of the state legislature and a noted humanitarian, who, at his death, bequeathed a large sum for the support of the poor in Norristown, Pottstown and Upper Providence. He died in 1876.
W. Super, D. D., (deceased), was during his life president of Ursinus College. His widow is still living, and resides in Collegeville, Montgomery county.
Frank M. Hobson, only son of Francis and Matilda (Bringhurst) Hobson, was born January 22, 1830, and was educated at Washington Hall, Collegiate Institute, Trappe. When eighteen years old he removed from the homestead to Trappe, where he taught school and engaged in farming.
In 1856 he became identified with a mercantile business in Collegeville, which he continued until 1880, when he relinquished it to enjoy comparative ease. His life has been one of great activity and usefulness. He was a practical surveyor and a conveyancer and general business manager, and acted in many fiduciary capacities, settling numerous extensive estates, among them that of his uncle, Wright A. Bringhurst, who left a large sum of money for the support of the poor of Norristown, Pottstown and Upper Providence township, and he was a trustee of the Bringhurst fund from its founding until 1900, when he resigned. Mr. Hobson, also continually occupied with the duties of important positions, was at various times postmaster, auditor or school director. He was also treasurer of the Building & Loan Association of Collegeville; president and director of the Perkiomen & Reading Turnpike Company; a director of the First National Bank of Norristown, and of the Iron Bank of Phoenixville for nearly twenty years; and for many years the secretary and treasurer of Ursinus College.
Mr. Hobson was married, October 8, 1856, to Miss Lizzie Gotwals, a daughter of Jacob and Esther (Vanderslice) Gotwals, and a sister of Jacob V. Gotwals, a leading lawyer of Pottstown. Of this marriage two children were born:
Freeland G. and Mary Matilda. The latter became the wife of the Rev. O. P. Smith, D. D., who was for fifteen years pastor of the old historic Trappe Lutheran church, and is now pastor of the Lutheran church of the Transfiguration of Pottstown.
Lizzie Gotwals was descended from a number of lines prominent in Montgomery county. She was a descendant of Reynier VanDerSluys (Vanderslice). She came to Philadelphia from Friesiand, Holland, and settled in Germantown prior to 1739. The son of Reynier VanDerSluys was Anthony, who married Martha Pennepacker, a daughter of Hendrick Pennepacker, a man of great influence in the early colony, who was born in 1674 at Flombon, married in 1699 to Eva Umstead and died 1754. Governor Pennypacker of Pennsylvania is descended from this same ancestor, and has published an interesting book concerning his life and times. Through Eva Umstead, this line runs into the large Umstead families.
John Vanderslice, a son of Anthony, married Elizabeth Custer. Their son was named Anthony, who married Sarah Hunsicker, a daughter of Bishop Heinrich Hunsicker of the Mennonite church. Heinrich Hunsicker was the son of Valentine Hunsicker, born in 1700, and died in 1771, who married Elizabeth Kolb, born in 1716, who was the daughter of Jacob Kolb, born in 1685, and of Sarah VanSintern, who was the daughter of Isaac VanSintern, born in 1660, who was married in Amsterdam to Neeltjee Classen, and who came to America in 1687 with his four daughters.
The daughter of Anthony and Sarah (Hunsicker) Vanderslice was Esther, who was born December 5, 1810, and died September 3, 1898. She married Jacob Gotwals, and they became the parents of Lizzie Gotwals (Hobson), mother of the subject of this sketch. The mother of Jacob Gotwals was Elizabeth Funk, who was the daughter of Christian Funk and Barbara Cassel, who were married in 1757. Christian Funk was a Mennonite bishop, living in Franconia township. In 1776 at a township meeting he opposed Pennsylvania throwing off allegiance to the king, but after the establishment of independence, while the Mennonites still refused allegiance, Christian Funk advised his brethren to pay their taxes to congress, for which offense he was in 1778 suspended from his church. Afterwards he published a pamphlet, having very wide circulation, entitled A Mirror for All Mankind. Christian Funk was the son of Heinrich Funk and Anna Moyer. Barbara Cassel was a daughter of Yellis Cassel, who came to America on the ship Friendship, October 16, 1727, and settled in Skippack township. He was a Mennonite preacher at Skippack for many years.
Freeland G. Hobson, eldest child and only son of Frank M. and Lizzie (Gotwals) Hobson, was born October 13, 1857, in Collegeville, Montgomery county, Pennsylvania.
He began his education in the public schools of Upper Providence, and completed a full course at Ursinus College, graduating in 1876. He entered the office of his uncle, Jacob V. Gotwals, then District Attorney, as a student at law, and was admitted to the bar October 1, 1880. He opened an office in Norristown, and soon acquired a lucrative practice. One of his cases was a veritable causa celebre, and excited great and general interest. Antonio Frederico, in 1890, killed a fellow Italian at Conshohocken. He fled but was captured at San Francisco and brought to trial under an indictment for murder. Mr. Hobson defended him in a trial lasting for a week, which resulted in acquittal, and Mr. Hobson received many congratulations for the ability he had displayed in his defense, which was founded upon the theory that there was an inter lack of motive in the shooting, and that the killing was accidental.
Mr. Hobson is actively interested in numerous financial and commercial companies which engage much of his attention. In September, 1888, with others, he organized the Norristown Trust Company, of which he was made secretary, treasurer and trust officer, positions which he has held to the present time. This corporation, of which he has been the executive head from its founding, has rapidly grown in public favor, and is now the largest and most flourishing financial institution in the county, with assets under its control of over four million dollars. His popularity amongst his fellow bankers is best attested by his recent unanimous election as president of Group 2, Pennsylvania Bankers' Association, comprising the banks and trust companies of Bucks, Montgomery, Chester, Delaware, Berks and Schuylkill counties. He is a director of the United Telephone Company, with lines extending all over eastern Pennsylvania; is a director of the Montgomery County Gas Company, a corporation furnishing gas to Norristown; a director of the Rambo & Regar Company, one of the most successful hosiery manufacturing corporations in the Schuylkill valley; president of the Perfect Light Company of Pennsylvania, and interested in the same; and treasurer of the Iberia Lumber Company, a very successful Montgomery county corporation, operating in the state of Louisiana; secretary of Riverside Cemetery Company, as well as of the Montgomery Cemetery Company; treasurer of Hamilton Apartment Company; and director in numerous other corporations.
Mr. Hobson is a member of Trinity Reformed church of Collegeville, in which he has been an eider for ten years. Active in church work, he has been a delegate to the classes, synods, and general synod of the Reformed church in the United States, and in all of these bodies he has taken a very active part and on several occasions he has argued important appeals before them. At the general synod in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1902, he was elected vice president of the body and presided at many of the sessions, an honor never before conferred upon a layman, and his prompt dispatch of business gained him very general commendation. He has also served as secretary and treasurer of the Montgomery county Sunday-school Association and as president of the Schuylkill Valley Union of Christian Endeavor, and he has appeared upon the programs at two International Christian Endeavor conventions, one at Cleveland, Ohio, in 1894, and at Boston, Massachusetts, in 1895.
Mr. Hobson has ever been deeply interested in education. For six years he served most usefully and acceptably as president and director in the Collegeville school board. His principal effort, however, has been to advance the interests of Ursinus College, from the days of his leaving it as a graduate in 1876, and since then he has ever lived under its shadow. For many years he served as secretary and treasurer of the Alumni Association, and when ten years ago that body was invited to elect directors from its own numbers, he was the first alumnus so chosen and in 1903 he was elected for the third five-year term. When his father resigned the two-fold position of secretary and treasurer, in 1900.
Mr. Hobson was elected treasurer, a position which he yet occupies. He is a member of the executive committee and chairman of the finance committee, and he is in constant request for addresses before the students on anniversary and various other occasions. Mr. Hobson is otherwise industrious in the field of literature. He is the founder and editor of Montgomery County Law Reporter a weekly legal periodical now in its twentieth volume, which reports all the decisions of the Montgomery county courts. He is author of the History of Providence Township and a contributor to Bean's History of Montgomery County, writing much of the township work. In 1884, when the centennial of Montgomery county was celebrated, he acted as chairman of the executive committee of the Montgomery County Historical Society, of which he is a charter and a valuable member, and it was in no small degree owing to his energy that the event proved so decided a success. He was also editor-in- chief of a beautiful and well written commemorative volume.
An ardent American, Mr. Hobson is a prominent leader in the Patriotic Order of the Sons of America, holding membership with Camp No. 267, at Ironbridge. In August, 1893, he was elected state president at the state convention held in Chester. At the conclusion of his term of office, at Erie, Pennsylvania, he was made the recipient of a handsome cane fashioned from a piece of the hull of the old flagship "Lawrence" the presentation being made by Hon. John F. Dowling, mayor of Erie.
Mr. Hobson is also a prominent member of the Valley Forge Memorial Association, and since 1886 he has been the treasurer and chairman of its executive committee. He is a Republican in politics, an earnest supporter of the principles of his party, but he has never sought political preferment. He was one of the three organizers of the Riverside Cemetery Company, a beautiful lawn cemetery, and has been secretary of the corporation from its founding.
Mr. Hobson married, September 15, 1880, Miss Ella M. Hendricks, daughter of the Rev. Joseph H. Hendricks, D. D., and Kate Hendricks. Three children have been born of this union: Frank H., a graduate of Ursinus College,
class of 1903, and at present pursuing his law studies in the University of Pennsylvania; Anna M., a sophomore at Ursinus College; and Catherine, who is attending Ursinus Academy. During the summer of 1903 Mr. Hobson, with his wife and three children, made an extended voyage abroad, visiting the principal cities of Great Britain and the continent.
(Picture of R. F. Hoffecker)
REUBEN F. HOFFECKER was born in North Coventry township, Chester county, Pennsylvania, near Pottstown, on October 20, 1833. His earlier education was acquired in the common schools of his native township. Afterwards he attended Oakdale Seminary at Pughtown, Chester county, and also Washington Hall Collegiate Institute at Trappe, Montgomery county. His career as a teacher was begun in the very house which he had attended as a child near his home in Chester county, on December 5, 1851, when he was just past eighteen years of age. He continued to teach in his native county until 1861 when he came into Montgomery county and took charge of the public school at Port Kennedy, where he remained until 1864. In this year he was elected to the principalship of the Conshohocken schools, and it was at about this time that the picture was taken from which the accompanying engraving was made. He was then in robust health, strong, energetic and a tireless worker. His work in Conshohocken was interesting to him and enlisted his most energetic. efforts. Many of his pupils of those days became honorable men and women, achieving distinction in the skilled and learned professions.
He continued as principal at Conshohocken until May, 1878, when he was elected superintendent of the schools of Montgomery county by a vote of 177 to 18. This office he held continuously until overtaken by death on December 18, 1903, being re-elected the eighth time. He was in the middle of his ninth term, and in the midst of an earnest effort to get township high schools in many more districts, when, after an illness of but nine days, he passed quietly to rest. With an unabated vigor, an unflagging determination, and a spirit that acknowledged no defeat, he strove to promote school interests during all the twenty-six years of his superintendency.
The best estimate of his life and labors is probably that of Superintendent Charles A. Wagner, of Cheltenham township, who for a number of years was closely and intimately associated with Superintendent Hoffecker in the administration of the school interests of the county. Writing for the public prints Superintendent Charles A. Wagner, of Cheltenham, said: "For nearly twenty-six years Rueben F. Hoffecker discharged the duties of the office of county superintendent of schools of Montgomery county. He spared himself no time, avoided no exposure, shunned no labor in the performance of his official duties. He was always prompt and punctual. He kept every engagement. He was fearlessly honest and always tried to be fair and just. Many school improvements had at first only his force and influence to push them on. Longer terms, better salaries, graded courses, graduation of pupils, school libraries, free textbooks and supplies, -these and other advances are universal at his death, though not one was in existence at the commencement of his service. Others helped to accomplish these results, but through wise and inspiring leadership he blazed and led the way.
"He was a clear and logical thinker and a very forceful speaker. He was not eloquent. He had rather a convincing and convicting earnestness. His standard of scholarship for teachers and pupils aimed at absolute accuracy. A wrong date was an irritation to him, and he seldom allowed inaccuracies to pass uncorrected.
"Reuben F. Hoffecker led an immeasurably useful life. Many men and women are today what they would not have been had not his life touched theirs. Many of the younger school men in the county today who are doing notably successful work have caught his earnestness, his dauntlessness, and, led by his example, are showing a like indefatigable energy. Thus the good that this man has done is living after him. The world is better because he lived."
In politics Mr. Hoffecker was a Democrat, but not a strong partisan. He was married August 28, 1879, to Miss Lemontine L. Stewart, daughter of Enoch H. and Lydia E. Stewart. Miss Stewart was born April 10, 1836, in Norriton township, and had been a teacher in the public schools of the county for nearly twenty-seven years. Immediately after marriage they settled down to plain, simple and unostentatious home life in Norristown.
Reuben Hoffecker was the oldest child of George and Rachel (Smale) Hoffecker, who were married October 28, 1832, by Rev. John C. Guldin. They had five children, Reuben F., who died December 18, 1903; John S., now a farmer in Chester county; Mary A., who died December 9, 1877; Annie E., of Norristown; and Cyrus H., of Chester county. George Hoffecker was a blacksmith in his younger days and later a farmer in Chester county. He died September 20, 1877, in his seventy-third year. His wife died July 5, 1879, in her sixty-eighth year. She was a member of the Lutheran church. He was a member of the Reformed church. He was a Democrat in politics. He held several official local positions, but was not an office-seeker. Reuben Hoffecker's grandfather, Philip Hoffecker, was a native and citizen of Chester county. He was a soldier in the war of 1812. He was married to Elizabeth Hoffecker. They had eight children: John, born August 1, 1803; George (Reuben's father), born March 4, 1805; Maria, January 20, 1807; Magdalena, January 28, 1809; Elizabeth, August 30, 1811; Joshua, August 30, 1813; Philip, February 4, 1816; and Susanna, February 1, 1820, who (died in infancy. Reuben Hoffecker's paternal great-grandfather, Philip Hoffecker, was born in Germany. He came to America when about eighteen years of age in Captain Francis Stanfield's ship Sarah that sailed from Rotterdam, September 20, 1764. He settled in Coventry township, Chester county, Pennsylvania. On April 19, 1774, he married Elizabeth Benner, daughter of Henry Benner, a farmer in Chester county. They had nine children- John born February 10, 1775; Philip, January 10, 1777; Henry, September 8, 1779; Mary and Elizabeth (twins), April 23, 1782; Jacob, June 6, 1785; Barbara, May 4, 1788; Mary, February 5, 1791; and Susanna, March 16, 1794. Philip's marriage has already been mentioned.
Henry located in East Nantmeal township, Chester county, and has left a large number of descendants. Elizabeth married Mr. Miller, who died soon after marriage, and then she married John Mauger. She left children by both marriages. Jacob settled in Luzerne county and died leaving one son and three daughters. The son died leaving no children and the name in that family became extinct. Barbara married Daniel Beary. They had three daughters, Elizabeth, Anna and Maria. Mary died unmarried. Susanna married John Benner and they had one son and six daughters.
Reuben Hoffeckers maternal grandfather, John Smale, was a native of Berks county, Pennsylvania. He started life as a stonemason. Later he turned his attention to farming in Chester county opposite Pottstown, where he owned one of the finest farms in that section. He married Mary Yocum. They had two sons, George and Jonas, and one daughter, Rachel, who became the wife of George Hoffecker.
Mrs. Hoffecker's father, Enoch H. Stewart, was born in Doylestown, April 30, 1800. His father, Charles Stewart, died February 7, 1804. His widowed mother with her children removed to Montgomery Square, Montgomery county. Mr. Stewart was taught a trade but, disliking it, studied for a teacher. He began teaching in Lehigh county in 1827. About 1830 he came to Montgomery county and taught in the schoolhouse near the Old Swedes church in Upper Merion. He afterwards taught in the townships of Plymouth, Norriton, Gwynedd, Montgomery, Upper Dublin, and the borough of Norristown. He closed his labors as a teacher in June 1869, after having taught about forty years. Mr. Stewart was married in October 1831, to Lydia E., widow of Lemuel Stebbins, to whom she had been married December 2, 1819. Her maiden name was Lydia E. Speakman. Mr. Stebbins died in April 1824, and left two children, Matilda, born February 8, 1822, and Lemuel, born January 28, 1824. Lemuel died unmarried. Matilda married John Donat of Jarrettown. Montgomery county, in October, 1850, and they had six children; Bertha, who married George Evans, of Norristown; Charles, Winfield, Harry, Alonza and Alva. Mr. Donat died March 10, 1888, and his wife died October 1893. Winfield, Harry and Alonza survived their parents.
Enoch H. Stewart and wife had two daughters, Martha, born July 17, 1832, and Lemontine, whose birth and marriage have been already mentioned. Martha was also a teacher. She died September 6, 1856. Mr. Stewart died June 8, T876. His wife died June 3, 1892, aged nearly ninety-three years.
Mrs. Hoffecker's grandfather, Charles Stewart, vas a native of Pennsylvania, but of Scotch-Irish descent. The Stewarts were among the earliest settlers of Bucks county. Charles Stewart's second wife was Martha Poland, daughter of George and Elizabeth Poland. They had five children, Elizabeth, born November, 17, 1789; Deborah, born May 8, 1792; Charles, February 8, 1795; Joseph, June 17, 1797; and Enoch H., April 30, 1800. Elizabeth married Charles Green, of Quakertown; Deborah died unmarried. The only male descendant of this branch of the Stewarts is Crary G. Stewart, son of Charles Stewart.
Mrs. Hoffecker's paternal great-grandfather, George Poland (Boland), was married to Elizabeth Evans, of Gwynedd, a Quakeress of Welsh descent. They had three daughters, Elizabeth; Martha, born January 6, 1763, and Tacy. George Poland was noted for his sterling integrity. He owned a farm near Montgomery Square (known for the last century as the Selsor farm), and when he became involved in debt and the law allowed him to pay in Continental money, which he could have done, he refused to do so, choosing to suffer loss rather than have his creditors lose. As he left no male descendants the name of Poland became extinct in Montgomery county when his widow died in 1817.
Mrs. Hoffecker's maternal grandfather, Thomas Speakman, was a native and citizen of Chester county, a descendant of an old English Quaker family He married Lydia Evans, oldest daughter of Elisha and Sarah Neide Evans. She died August 23, 1799, and left an infant daughter, Lydia E. Speakman, who at twelve years of age was brought to Bridgeport, Pennsylvania, to reside with her grandfather, Elisha Evans.
Mrs. Hoffecker's maternal great-grandfather, Elisha Evans, a Quaker in religion, was a man of more than ordinary enterprise and forethought. He was the owner of a large tract of land which now covers the chief part of the present borough of Bridgeport. He was married four times. He had children by his first wife, Sarah Neide, and also by his second wife, Rebecca Jolly, but not any by Sarah Hays or Bathsheba Cottel. He died in 1830. He was survived by his widow Bathsheba Evans and also by twelve of his children- John, William, Mrs. Elizabeth Patton, Sarah Evans, Mrs. Amelia Worthington, Jolly, Mrs. Catharine Elliott, Charles, Mrs. Sophia Levering, Cadwallader, George, and Jared Evans.