Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Hamilton Tennis Club

There have always been Poweltonians ready to organize a club or organization and the Powelton Tot Lot is not the first time Poweltonians have found a way to make use of a vacant property. The following appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer on May 16, 1915. It was part of a column entitled “Tennis Tangoing” written by “Billy Chalkline.”

"The Hamilton Tennis Club has its two courts at… [3608-3612 Spring Garden St., now the site of the El-Rae Apartments] in first-class condition and Horace G. Hill, Jr. [3419 Hamilton St.], the president, plans to arrange a number of interclub matches. This West Philadelphia organization claims a membership of only twenty members, but what it lacks in numbers it makes up for in enthusiasm.

“The courts have been in use for five years and are conveniently located, so that the businessman who are members may reach home in good time, slip into tennis togs and get in two or three good sets before dinner. Earlier in the day the court is used by the Junior Tennis Club members, who pay Junior dues. Among the Juniors who play practically every afternoon in the week are Horace Kirk [3206 Hamilton St.], Richard S. Zinn [3325 Spring Garden St.], Frank Trimble [407 N. 32nd St.], Howard Leathem [3513 Haverford Ave.], Max Riebenack [227 N. 34th St.], Ray Barton [3623 Hamilton St.], and Henry Rife [3604 Hamilton St.].

“Among the Senior club players are Joseph Bennett, Jack Rich [412 N. 32nd St.], Horace Hill, [J.] Bennett Hill [409 N. 36th St.] and Charles Harlan [3411 Spring Garden]. This year some of the women in the neighborhood took a fancy to lawn tennis and a Ladies’ Auxiliary was organized. The women have the use of the courts in the mornings and they make good use of them. In various sections of the city similar clubs have been formed and many vacant lots have been fitted up and used for tennis purposes."

(Note: Horace Kirk, who was a Junior member, stayed close to home.  In 1942, he was living a block away from the site of the old courts at 3723 Spring Garden St.)

Of Church and Family

The growth of Powelton after 1860 was reflected in the growth of its churches. The two most prominent reminders of that are the Metropolitan Baptist church, which was originally the Northminster Presbyterian Church, and St. Andrew and Monica’s Protestant Episcopal Church. Both churches were originally small congregations serving the population of Mantua. Powelton families played central roles in the growth of both after 1860. The long-term association of the Andrews family with Northminster Presbyterian is a part of that story.
Northminster Presbyterian Church c1900
Northminster Presbyterian began about 1837 as a small “Sabbath-school” that met at a house near 33rd and Spring Garden Sts. In 1846, it moved to a new, small church at 3500 Spring Garden which is still in use as a church today. It was organized under the name The First Presbyterian Church of Mantua. With the growth of Powelton, the church purchased the lot at 3500 Baring St. and in 1875 they moved into the substantial building we see today. With the declining importance of Mantua, the church was renamed Northminster Presbyterian. (More information about its history is available from the Interactive Map for 3500 Baring St.)

Undoubtedly there were many families in Mantua and Powelton that played important roles in the growth of Northminster Presbyterian. However, one family in particular seems to have been at the center of the church’s growth after 1860. The Alexander Andrews family was one of the first to move into the heart of Powelton. One daughter married the pastor who oversaw the building of the new church and the other daughter married a future treasurer and elder of the church.
Alexander Andrews (1812-1887)

Alexander J. Andrews was born in 1812 in Upper Oxford, Chester Co., Pa. In 1838, he married Amelia D. Van Amringe of Philadelphia. Her father was born in the Netherlands and her mother was born in England. Both parents died before her 10th birthday. Alexander worked as an engraver in Philadelphia and as a machinist and machine manufacturer in Providence, R.I. and Philadelphia. In 1851, his business failed wiping out his resources. In 1856, he turned to the grain business at 31st and Market Sts. and from then on, he was quite successful.
Amelia Van Amringe Andrews (1810-1873)
In 1859, the family acquired the land at 3507 Baring St. through a trust administered for Amelia by Henry S. Cochran. (This was not the Henry Cochran who later built a house down the block at 3511 Baring St.) In the 1860 census, Amelia claimed $8,000 in real estate and $1,000 in personal property. Alexander didn’t list any assets. When they moved to the north side of Baring St., the south side of the block and most of the neighboring blocks were probably still wooded lots.
In 1866, their daughter, Louisa (age 19), married Rev. Henry Augustus Smith, D.D., Pastor of the First Mantua Presbyterian Church (also called the New School Presbyterian Church) at 35th & Spring Garden. In 1870, he oversaw the purchase of the lot at 3500 Baring St. across the street from the Andrews home. The new church, now named Northminster Presbyterian, was opened there in 1875. Henry and Louisa lived at 3413 Hamilton St. with their son and two daughters. Louisa died in the late 1870s and in 1880, Henry and the three children (ages 11, 8, and 4) were living at 3705 Hamilton St. He resigned his pastorate at the Northminster Church in 1882 claiming ill health. He died the next year at age 50.

The Andrews’ second child, Frederick, was born in 1851. He entered the University of Pennsylvania in 1867, but left after his freshman year. In 1869, his father built a new warehouse and grain elevator at the southwest corner of 30th and Market St. He made Fred a partner and renamed the business Alexander J. Andrews & Son. Fred married Mary Schoonmaker, the daughter of a prominent Civil War hero and business man from Pittsburg. They moved to Haverford. In 1900, they were living Plainfield, N.J. where he was in the produce exchange business.

Amelia Andrews died in 1873 at age 63. In 1882, Frederick and Euretta sold 3507 Baring St. which they had inherited from their mother. Alexander was apparently retired and living with either Fred in Haverford or Euretta on 35th St. Alexander Andrews died in 1887.
Euretta Andrews Alexander (1853-1823)

The year following her mother’s death, their second daughter, Euretta (age 20), married Edward P. Alexander. He had been living with his brothers, Charles and Henry, at 3626 Baring St. They ran Alexander Brothers Leather Belting Co. In 1873, Edward had purchased the back of the church’s lot from the Northminster Church of which he was a prominent member. Edward and Euretta built a house there (306 N. 35th St.), renovated it several times, and lived there until 1922. Euretta died the next year at age 70.
Edward P. Alexander (1844-1927)

Edward and Euretta Alexander were active members of Northampton Presbyterian. In 1873, a list of churches contributing to temperance meetings lists Edward as treasurer of Northampton. In 1891, he was elected one of the three church elders and in 1897, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported that a candidate for the position of pastor was entertained at the Alexander’s home. (The candidate was apparently unsuccessful.) Edward and Euretta had four children: two boys and two girls. Both sons went into the family business.

One son, Julian, married a local girl, Virginia Hill, at Northminster Presbyterian in 1914. Virginia grew up at 3416 Baring St. and her father, Horace G. Hill, grew up at 3405 Hamilton St. Her grandfather, Horace Hill was an accountant and served as auditor for several Presbyterian churches in Philadelphia. Horace G. Hill was a physician at Jefferson hospital and chief medical director of Fidelity Mutual Life Insurance. He died in 1901 at age 42 from “la grippe.” At the time of the marriage, Virginia’s mother was living at 409 N. 36th St.

After Julian and Virginia were married, they moved into their new home at 3417 Race St. They had two daughters, Juliana and Louisa, who were the great-granddaughters of Poweltonians Alexander and Amelia Andrews and Horace and Mary Hill. Virginia was still living at 3417 Race St. in 1950.

Northminster Presbyterian moved to Drexel Hill in 1956, taking the church’s cherished bells from the tower. In 1975, they merged with St. Paul’s United Church of Christ to form the Collenbrook United Church. The church at 3500 Baring was sold to Metropolitan Baptist church in 1956.

Erratum: Julian and Virginia Alexander had a son and a daughter, Julian and Louisa.  (10/2/2012)

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Death of Lammot du Pont

       In 1881, Lammot du Pont moved his family from the du Pont family residence, Nemours, on the Brandywine to 3500 Powelton Ave. in Powelton. The move brought him to within commuting distance of a company he had founded on the New Jersey side of the Delaware for the manufacture of nitro-glycerine. On Saturday, February 29, 1884, du Pont was working at his office when an employee burst in to tell him they were having trouble cooling a vat being used in the production of nitro-glycerine. Mr. du Pont and a visiting colleague ran over to the manufacturing building. As they arrived, the vat exploded killing them and four others. The blast was heard as far away as Chester and South Broad St. Du Pont was one of the wealthiest men in the country with an estimated wealth at the time of his death of at least $30 million.
       As was the custom, du Pont was buried from his home. The Philadelphia Inquirer described the funeral as follows:
       "The remains of the late Lammot Dupont… were laid to rest at three o'clock yesterday… in the private burial ground of the Dupont family on the banks of the Brandywine, below Wilmington. The body was laid in a black cloth casket, with plain silver mountings. The casket was placed in a cedar coffin, and, after brief services…, the remains were removed from Mr. DuPont's late residence, on Powelton avenue, to the Broad street station, where they were put on the 11:50 train for Wilmington. A special car was attached to the rear of the train for the accommodation of about fifty male friends and relatives of the immediate family, most of whom were prominent business and professional men….
       "On the arrival… the casket was removed to a hearse at the station, and those present were provided with carriages, of which there were about thirty, including a number of private equipages. There were no flowers, in accordance with the wishes of the family, and all ostentation was carefully avoided. The funeral cortege started shortly after the arrival of the train, going directly to the place of burial on the Dupont estate....
       "The spot when the burial took place is a beautiful one. It is situated on a high slope overlooking the Brandywine and the country for miles around. In the distance can be seen the church spires and the house tops of Wilmington and the broad, winding stream of the Delaware.... The ceremonies were brief and the mourners immediately returned to Wilmington, taking the four o'clock train for Philadelphia.""

       The family apparently remained in Powelton for a number of years. Mary du Pont was still listed at 3500 Powelton in the 1891 city directory. They sold the property in 1892.

       Note: The Hagley Museum ( has several pictures of the house and the du Pont family when they lived in Powelton. For links and more information, visit the Powelton Interactive Map for 3500 Powelton Ave.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Born in "Hindustan"

       In 1870, Martha White Fullerton (age 44) lived at 3307 Hamilton St. with her mother, Nancy (82) and her six children: Anna (16), Dora (15), Mary (14), Emma (12), George (10), and Edward (6). The census listed the children’s birthplace as “Hindustan.”

       Martha White came from a family of Presbyterian ministers. She taught for a while at the Young Ladies’ Seminary in Norristown before marrying Robert Fullerton, also a Presbyterian minister. In 1852, they moved with their infant son, Robert, to India where they were missionaries in Fatehgarh near Agra. Robert died a year later.
The Front Gate of the Fort at Agra, India

       The family’s story was told by John S. Harris. “During the Indian mutiny in 1857, Mr. and Mrs. Fullerton were shut up for several months in the English fort at Agra, the three older children having been sent to a place of safety in the mountains.” Emma was born in the fort during the siege. “Agra held out successfully against the mutineers, but all the missionaries in Fatehgarh were killed. After the mutiny, Mr. Fullerton spent many months gathering together the scattered native Christians and reorganizing the mission at Fatehgarh…. His health failed from the hardships of this life… and he was preparing to return to America when he died, October 4, 1865.” Mary returned to the States and moved to Philadelphia to be near her sister, Ann Eliza Moore, whose husband was head of the Female Seminary near Pottstown. Martha purchased 3307 Hamilton in 1866 and owned it until 1883. She died in 1895 at the age of 69.

Anna Fullerton, circa 1899
(Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania
Photograph Collection, Photo ID p0210.)

       Anna Martha Fullerton graduated from Girls’ High and worked as a teacher while attending Women’s Medical School. She graduated as an M.D. and became a professor of medicine. She was in charge of Women’s Hospital from 1886-1896. After a few years in private practice she returned to India in 1899. She was on the faculty at the Medical School for Women in Ludhiana and had charge of the hospital. In 1902, she joined her sister Mary in Fatehgarh and was involved in medical work at the mission where their parents had worked. She wrote two books for nurses.

        Dora married Leonard Waldo who was in charge of the railroad time service at the astronomical observatory at Cambridge, Massachusetts. Mary returned to India as a missionary and taught in the school for the children of missionaries at Woodstock, in the Himalaya Mountains. She returned to America on furlough in 1887 and remained to care for her mother. She then returned to mission work in India.

       Emma studied art at the Philadelphia School of Design and taught for a while at the Philadelphia Academy of Fine Arts. She died at the early age of 27.
George S. Fullerton, 1879
(University of Pennsylvania Archives)

       George Stuart Fullerton was only 6 years old when his father died. He was old enough to be scared, but too young to understand the whirlwind that surrounded them in India. He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, studied at Princeton Theological Seminary and earned a degree in divinity from Yale. He returned to the Philosophy Department at Penn where he became head of the department, dean of the college, and vice-provost. He married in 1884 Rebekah Daingerfield, but she died very young in 1891. In 1897, he married Julia Winslow. In 1904, he moved to Columbia University. In 1925, the Atlanta Constitution reported that “The gradual decay of one of the most brilliant minds among eastern college faculties was halted Monday when Professor George Stuart Fullerton committed suicide here at his home.” He was 65.

       In a remembrance, a professor at Penn and former student of George Fullerton, E. A. Singer, Jr., gives a sharp impression of his old teacher and fellow philosopher: “Cool analytic thinking, too conscientious with the thinker's conscience to shun the dangerous or avoid the dry, how should this not spoil the day for minds still warm and unformed, not yet thoughtful, of a courage untried? Such thinking might have taken the light out of our sky: if it did not, if on the contrary it so sunned things as to make its hour an hour to be waited for, must not Fullerton have owned some teacher's secret any teacher would sell his soul to share?” He describes Fullerton as a preacher who sought practical proofs for the existence of God.

      Edward also graduated from Penn and earned an M.A. and a Bachelors in Divinity at Princeton. He also earned a Ph.D. from Yale and a D.D. at Lafayette. He became the pastor at the First Presbyterian Church in Wilkes-Barre, Pa.

       The Fullerton children’s roots were in Hindustan, but their home in America was Philadelphia and Powelton.

(An version of this appeared in the Powelton Post,  Nov. 2008.  For more information, see the Powelton Village Interactive Map for 3307 Hamilton St.)