Saturday, August 15, 2009

Enoch Lewis's Tale of Intrigue

Enoch Lewis and his family moved to 3405 Powelton Ave. about 1885. He was a major figure in the Pennsylvania Railroad rising to the position of head purchasing agent. His children intermarried with other Powelton families and lived on Powelton Ave. and on 34th St. for many years.

Early in his career, he was involved with a secret plan to get President-elect Lincoln to Washington without risking a possible assassination attempt in Baltimore. Its best told in his own words:

"Philadelphia, Penn., November 7th, 1867.
"Allan Pinkerton, Esq., Chicago, 111.
"Dear Sir: ... [O]n the 21st of Feb., 1861, I was in Philadelphia in the way of business as General Superintendent of the Pennsylvania Railroad, to arrange for the movement of Mr. Lincoln, then
President-elect of the United States, by special train from Philadelphia to Harrisburg, on the 226. inst. ; it being understood that he was to proceed on the 23d from Harrisburg, by the Northern Central Railroad to Baltimore and thence to Washington.... [I was informed] that in consequence of the apprehended danger of the assassination of Mr. Lincoln whilst passing through Baltimore, it was desired to change his route to the capitol, and to bring him back privately from Harrisburg to Philadelphia... and to take him by the regular night train from Philadelphia to Washington, through Baltimore.... I accompanied Mr. Lincoln in the special train from Philadelphia to Harrisburg; arrangements were quietly made for a special train, ostensibly to take Division Superintendent and myself back to the city.... Early in the evening Mr. Franciscus brought Mr. Lincoln... We started, and without interruption reached Philadelphia in time for the night train to Washington. The only persons on the train which was run from Harrisburg to Philadelphia, on the evening of the 22d, besides the engineer and fireman, were Messrs. Lincoln and Ward H. Lamon, G. C. Franciscus, Division Superintendent; John Pitcairn, Jr., in charge of telegraph instrument; T. E. Garrett. General Baggage Agent, and myself. When the train reached West Philadelphia you met us at the platform and escorted Messrs Lincoln and Lamon to a carriage into which I saw you three get, and drive rapidly away in the direction of the Baltimore Depot.
"Respectfully, ENOCH LEWIS,
Formerly Gen. Supt. Penn. R. R."

For the full story see the full report by Alan Pinkerton.

Filling in what went before

I haven't added to the blog in almost 2 weeks -- not a good thing to do with a new blog.

I've been busy working on a related project: the Powelton History Interactive Map. With the help of Keith Roeckle, I've been putting up tons of census and biographical information on Powelton residents -- mostly those living here between 1860 and 1930. By clicking on houses shown on the map, you can pull up whatever information I have gleamed from census data and the web. The link is: http://poweltonvillage.org/interactivemap/ . It is still quite incomplete, but has information for about 200 addresses.

This past week I have worked hard on the 200 block of 34th St. (between Race St. and Powelton Ave.). The east side of this block was largely demolished in the 1970s. It is now the site of two of Drexel's dormitories: Kelly hall and the brand new Millennium Hall. Take a look - it includes photos (courtesy of the Drexel Archives) of some of the lost buildings. The west side of the block was the home of many interesting Powelton characters and is now largely filled with small fraternity houses. A good place to start the tour is the Riebenack mansion, now Drexel's Ross Commons.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Powelton and the Pennsy

Powelton was the home for many employees of the Pennsylvania Railroad - both the top bosses and the general employees. In 1880, railroads employed about 6,000 workers in Philadelphia. About 100 lived in Powelton – about 10% of Powelton's male labor force. Although the 1880 census didn’t ask the name of employer, about a third in Powelton identified the Pennsy. The list includes a wide range of occupations including brakemen, conductors, dispatchers, and firemen. Several of the top officers were:
Charles Edmund Pugh who was the Second Vice President in charge of the Operating Department. He oversaw the handling of the over 3 million passengers who came to the 1876 Centennial Exhibition through the 32nd St. Station. He lived at 38th & Baring (1860), 3716 Baring (1870), and 3501 Baring (1880).
George W. I. Ball was Chief Conveyancer in charge of all real estate transactions and V.P. for Real Estate. He lived at 3410 Powelton (1890 and 1900).
Enoch Lewis, the head Purchasing Agent from 1866-1893, moved to 3405 Powelton about 1886 where he lived until his death in 1902.
William H Brown was chief engineer. His greatest accomplishment was the building of the Broad Street Station. He lived at 3601 Baring (1880) and 3510 Baring (1890 and 1900).
Patricius McManus- built the track system for the Centennial Exposition and the system of tracks leading into the Broad Street Station. He lived at 3512 Baring.
Powelton was particularly well situated for railroad employees because of its varied housing stock and its proximity to the train stations at 30th St., 32nd St., and the end of 35th St.