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Tllnivereit? of Toronto
flfcrs. TlWallace IResbttt
from tbc law library
honourable lUallace Ittesbttt, 1R.C,
treasurer of tbe Xaw Society
of tipper Canaoa
THE NIAGARA FALLS MEMORIAL COMMISSION,,
IN SUCCESSION TO THE WILLIAM B. RANKINE
Together with Biographical Sketches of Judge Augustus Porter,
General Peter B. Porter, Judge Samuel DeVeaux,
William B. Rankine, Hon. Arthur Schoellkopf,
Jacob F. Schoellkopf, Hon. Peter A.
Porter, Hon. Thomas V. Welch, j|
Hon. W. Caryl Ely, and
Col. Charles B. Gaskill. =
Distinguished Citizens of Niagara Falls, the Memory of Whose
Outstanding Accomplishments is Being Perpetuated by
Monuments Erected in Front of the City Hall.
BY EDWARD T. WILLIAMS
Secretary of the Niagara Falls Memorial Commission,
in succession to the William B. Rankine Memorial Commission.
Two facts stand out prominently in the lives and affairs
of men, as respects their fellow men. One is that it seems to
be necessary for a considerable period of years to elapse
before their characters and works are fully appreciated, and
the other is that it is usually many years after their death before
their neighbors and friends pay appropriate tribute to their
To a considerable extent this is true in the cases of the
men whose memories are now being honored by the people of
Niagara Falls and the State of New York by the erection of
monuments bearing their names, in front of the Niagara Falls,
New York, city hall. §e
Upon these monuments are to be placed the names of W
10 men who, during a period of 122 years have resided in
Niagara Falls and brought distinction to themselves, their city,
their State and, in several instances, their country.
In three instances these men lived and wrought in Niagara
Falls before the present generation came upon the scene. Judge
Augustus Porter was the first and, in fact, he was the great
grandfather and the great great grandfather of representatives
of his family who are now leading factors in this community.
He located here in 1805. Another instance was his brother,
General Peter B. Porter, who, although closely associated with
him from the first, resided at Black Rock, Buffalo, for many
years and did not locate in Niagara Falls until he built the
mansion on Falls street, later called the Prospect Park House,
in 1840, he dying in 1844. The third was Judge Samuel
DeVeaux, our first merchant and the founder of DeVeaux
| College. H
Seven other men, making a total of 1 0, which the Nia-
gara Falls Memorial Commission in Succession to The William
B. Rankine Memorial Commission, created in 1924, has
decided to especially honor, have lived here within the mem-
ory of all residents of Niagara Falls in the past 30 years,
except Jacob F. Schoellkopf, who resided in Buffalo, but had
great interests here since 1877 and died in 1899, less than
30 years ago. The remaining six men were William B. Ran-
kine, Hon. Arthur Schoellkopf, Hon. Peter A. Porter, Hon.
Thomas V. Welch, Hon. W. Caryl Ely and Colonel Charles
| B. Gaskill. 1
THE NIAGARA FALLS MEMORIAL COMMISSION,
IN SUCCESSION TO
THE WILLIAM B. RANKINE MEMORIAL COMMISSION.
Inception and Official Record of the Work of the Body of
Men who Raised the Money and Brought About the
Erection of Three Monuments to Commemorate
the Accomplishments of Distinguished
Niagara Falls Citizens.
The suggestion which resulted in the creation of this
commission was contained in the following letter written by
Hon. Frank A. Dudley to Mayor William Laughlin:
October 25, 1924.
Honorable William Laughlin,
Mayor, City of Niagara Falls,
Niagara Falls, N. Y.
My dear Mayor Laughlin:
Gratitude is one of those rare qualities in human char-
acter, which however well merited, seems slow of assertion,
and I feel that those of us in Niagara Falls, whether we are new
comers or have grown up with the city, and are enjoying the
benefits resulting from our great power development, should
take time to show a proper evidence of our appreciation of the
efforts of those who contributed most to making Niagara
Falls the Power City of the World.
I am referring particularly to William B. Rankine, through
whose ability and untiring energy the first great electrical power
development was made possible. Associated with Mr. Ran-
kine in this great undertaking and who gave largely of their
lives in planning and co-operating in making our power devel-
opment were: Colonel Charles B. Gaskill, Honorable Thomas
V. Welch and Honorable W. Caryl Ely.
There are others who were important factors in the
development, particularly Alexander J. Porter and the mem-
bers of his distinguished family.
Following the great development of the Niagara Falls
Power Company, the Hydraulic Power & Manufacturing
Company proceeded in its great work of power development
under the guiding hand of the Honorable Arthur Schoellkopf
and his capable engineer, Wallace C. Johnson.
No fitting recognition has ever been given by the city
of Niagara Falls or the citizens of Niagara Falls to those gen-
tlemen who have finished their life work and have left to us
the enjoyment of the fruits of their labors.
It, therefore, seems to me that while we are erecting a
new city building, in the space not occupied by the building,
that we should erect a suitable monument to the memory of
those who have contributed so largely to our scientific, trans-
portation and commercial progress, and I respectfully suggest
that you appoint a committee of representative citizens of
Niagara Falls, with power, and with the consent of the city
authorities, to prepare suitable plans for the erection of a
monument which will perpetuate the memories of those to
whom we must all feel indebted in some measure for the
present greatness of our community.
I am satisfied that any expense involved in such under-
taking will be readily and cheerfully met by the citizens of
I think that in the appointment of such a committee it
would be quite in keeping if you would act as chairman.
With kindest personal regards, I am,
Very truly yours,
FRANK A. DUDLEY.
Mayor Laughlin presented this communication to the city
council at its meeting on October 27, 1924, which body re-
ferred it to the committee of the whole, and a week later
authorized the Mayor to appoint such a committee as was sug-
gested by Mr. Dudley, and upon November 5 he did appoint
the following committee:
Alexander J. Porter, Hon. Frank A. Dudley, Alanson C.
Deuel and Edward T. Williams, with Mayor Laughlin a mem-
| ber ex-orHcio. §§
The committee had an informal meeting in the Mayor's
office on Friday, November 9, 1924, but owing to the absence
of Hon. Frank A. Dudley, one of its members, no business
| was done.
The committee met again at the Niagara Club at 12:30
o'clock on November 17, 1924, as the guests of Mr. Dudley
The gentlemen named were formally designated as the
Memorial Commission and organization was perfected as fol-
Chairman and treasurer, Mayor William Laughlin; secre-
tary, City Treasurer Edward T. Williams.
Finance committee, Alexander J. Porter and Frank A.
Committee on design for the Rankine memorial, Frank
A. Dudley, Alexander J. Porter and Alanson C. Deuel.
Committee on design for other memorials, Mayor William
Laughlin and Edward T. Williams.
The Niagara Falls Trust Company was designated as the
depository of funds of the commission.
On October 2 7, 1924, following the publication of the
letter from Mr. Dudley to Mayor Laughlin suggesting the ap-
pointment of the memorial commission the Niagara Falls
Gazette printed an editorial headed: "Honor their memories,"
reflecting the opinion of people generally upon the subject,
which is herewith subjoined:
"With the city hall about completed and the work of grad-
ing the ground surrounding it under way, it has been sug-
gested by a prominent citizen, the Hon. Frank A. Dudley,
that we, as a community, perpetuate the memory of several
of the city's greatest benefactors by erecting on these grounds
some suitable memorial calling attention to the character of
their achievements and their great importance to the com-
"The names of the illustrious departed to whom Mr.
Dudley referred were William B. Rankine, Charles B. Gaskill,
Thomas V. Welch and W. Caryl Ely, four men whose names
are indissolubly linked with the progress and development of
this region. Niagara's greatness to-day lies less in her natural
scenic splendor, wonderful as it is, than it does in her marvelous
hydro-electric development in which these men, above men-
tioned, were the early and faithful pioneers. To this dis-
tinguished quartet might also be added the name of Arthur
"Rankine, Gaskill, Ely and Welch were men of great
vision and sublime faith. They struggled against great odds
and almost insuperable obstacles in the promotion of that
first conception of Niagara power. Only men of such indomit-
able will and stamina could have succeeded. The story of
their efforts, their temporary failures, their perseverance and
their final triumphs is the real romance of Niagara. The on-
ward march of science has made their early dreams seem puny
indeed in comparison with what has since been achieved in
the great development here, but to them, nevertheless, goes
all the honor for having blazed the trail and shown the way.
"There are thousands of people in Niagara Falls to-day
who appreciate the work of these men and correctly appraise
them as benefactors of the community. But it will not be
many years before a new generation entirely will command the
destinies of the city and the importance of these early efforts
will be minimized by the lapse of time. Therefore, now is the
time to see that their memories are perpetuated that posterity
may know and understand the full significance of their services
to the community.
"What form such a memorial should take should be given
careful thought. Bronze tablets are well enough, but they
lack the impressiveness of marble shafts and heroic monuments
that symbolize deeds and achievements.
"The Gazette is much impressed with the suggestion.
Nothing has been done to indicate the debt that Niagara Falls
owes to William B. Rankine and to the others who labored
with him. Our memory as a city seems altogether too short.
Why would it not be a gracious thing for our Mayor to respond
to this suggestion and name a commission to work out the
details of a proper recognition of these benefactors?
"Perhaps a fund might be subscribed for the purpose.
Mr. Dudley is ready to head such a list with a liberal sum. Or
perhaps the city itself might see its way clear to pay this hom-
age to illustrous citizens. The idea surely is worthy of
At the organization meeting of the commission Secretary
Williams was authorized to prepare and have printed a pros-
pectus regarding William B. Rankine and the plans of the
commission for honoring him and other deceased distinguished
citizens having to do with the marvelous upbuilding of the city
of Niagara Falls. Also he was authorized to and did prepare
a special letter, to be signed by all the members of the com-
mission, copies of which were mailed to over 250 prominent
business men and other men of affairs in New York, Buffalo,
and Toronto, as well as some in this city, all of whom were
directly or indirectly associated with Mr. Rankine in his big
business affairs or socially during his lifetime. Later more
than 1 000 letters were mailed to citizens of all classes in
Niagara Falls and vicinity inviting them to participate in the
memorial movement by voluntary subscriptions to the fund.
The result of the first appeal was that some of the wealth-
iest and most prominent men in the State, in Canada and in
the whole country, in fact, sent substantial subscriptions. The
total amount estimated to be necessary to carry the plans into
effect was $25,000.
iM[M:M;iii;u: :: i: ;i : .!i' m : ir ;: ;- m.m ;!.;;■ ^ ; ■; ! i ■■ m ■: i ; ;i:..:: ,■ :i ! ,i ; .: i: .; : .;: ;,: i!:::;-;m ii'Mi :i: m .: ! .i ,' :: .;: :: .i' ,i:i; n . ; ' ; i:i nmi !i I n 1 1 n j7
Of course, several meetings of the commission were held
and much work was done until the pledging of the fund was
completed, although the subscriptions came in liberally and
with reasonable promptness.
Under date of June 26, 1925, the commission presented
an interim report to the city council, which after dealing with
its inception and the preliminary steps taken and the work
done, summarized the plans and the situation as follows:
"(1) That the plan and program as indicated in Mr.
Dudley's letter providing for a memorial to William B. Ran-
kine, the leading spirit in the development of the Niagara
Falls Power Company, the great electrical development of
Niagara Falls, be established.
"(2) That a similar memorial be established in memory
of Honorable Arthur Schoellkopf, and his family, the leading
spirit in the great hydraulic and electrical development for-
merly carried on under the name of the Niagara Falls Hydrau-
lic Power & Manufacturing Company.
"(3) That an additional memorial be established in
memory of the founders of Niagara Falls and those who
through recognized deeds of accomplishment have contributed
to the material civic and cultural greatness of Niagara Falls.
"(4) That these monuments be erected on the plot of
ground now occupied by the new municipal building and be in
harmony with the architectural beauty thereof.
"(5) Your committee has consulted prominent sculptors
and recommends that these monuments be similar in size and
form, and consist of granite shafts on a granite base, monument
number one ( 1 ) to be surmounted by the bronze bust of Wil-
liam B. Rankine, with a bronze tablet descriptive of the great
electrical power development of Niagara Falls; that monument
number two (2) be surmounted by the bronze bust of Arthur
Schoellkopf, with a suitable description of the great hydraulic
and electrical power development accomplished through Mr.
Schoellkopf and his company; that monument number three
(3) be surmounted by a bronze figure, following the concep-
tion of Mr. J. W. Fraser, sculptor — this monument to bear the
names of the founders of Niagara Falls and those who by acts
of accomplishment have contributed to the welfare and great-
ness of our city.
"(6) That the total expense of these monuments, accord-
ing to estimates, will not exceed the sum of twenty-five
"(7) That the recognition by the living of those who
have accomplished worthy deeds for the benefit of mankind
is an incentive to greater accomplishments by present and
future generations, and it seems to your committee that the
^ • . : : ■ ! M . i ■ ! ■ : : ! ' : : ; ^ . ; ' ■ ; . i : : ■ : : ' ! ' ! ; ' ' i 1 1 : ■ 1 1 : : 1 1 ; . ' I i : i I ! ' ! I i i I ! : : ! ! ' i : ; : i : ^ ! : . ■ , : : ; i i i . ■ ! . . I : i : i i : I ! : ! ; : i I ; ; I , , ■ 1 1 ; 1 1 ! [ 1 1 II M ; ' , ! I f ' _^
city of Niagara Falls and its citizens and those residing outside
who have benefited through the great hydraulic and electrical
power development at Niagara Falls, will be willing, unitedly,
to recognize in a fitting manner the accomplishments of those
who have contributed so much towards our present prosperity
"(8) That voluntary subscriptions aggregating in excess
of seven thousand dollars ($7,000.00) in carrying out the
undertakings of your committee have already been received,
and with co-operation the complete amount of subscriptions
should be available in the near future.
"That this interim report is presented so that the city
council and the citizens of Niagara Falls and others interested
may be advised of the progress made by your committee.
Niagara Falls Memorial Commission, in succession to
The William B. Rankine Memorial Commission.
William Laughlin, Mayor.
Alexander J. Porter.
Alanson C. Deuel.
Edward T. Williams.
Frank A. Dudley."
On August 24, 1925, the contract for the designing and
erecting of the monuments was awarded by the Niagara Falls
Memorial Commission, in succession to The William B. Ran-
kine Memorial Commission, to J. W. Fraser of New York City,
recognized as one of the leading sculptors in the world. The
contract provides for the erection of a center shaft of granite,
surmounted by a bronze figure depicting an idealized concep-
tion of power development and with tablets on the center of
the shaft bearing the names of men who have been outstanding
in this city's history for the enduring works they have achieved
here of great benefit to Niagara Falls. The contract further
provides for this shaft to be flanked on either side by a granite
shaft, one of the latter to be surmounted by a bronze bust
of William Birch Rankine, deceased, known as the "Father of
Niagara Power," and the other shaft to be surmounted by a
bronze bust of Arthur Schoellkopf, deceased, former president
of the Hydraulic Power Company, who was one of the fore-
most figures in the building up of the great power development
Upon the day of the signing of the contract for the monu-
ments the commission announced that the subscriptions had
It was about this time, August, 1925, when it was appar-
ent that the memorial project would succeed, that the Niagara
Falls Gazette, under the heading: "Their Works Live After
Them," published the following commendatory editorial:
"With the necessary funds virtually in hand, the memorial
project being furthered by the Niagara Falls Memorial Com-
mission, in succession to The William B. Rankine Memorial
Commission to perpetuate the memory and deeds of several
of the city's most prominent industrial pioneers, is assured of
successi. The commission is to be commended upon its
decision to carry the plans through upon a thoroughly adequate
scale. The three memorial shafts and busts to be erected are
to be of the finest material and workmanship, something of
which the city will be proud and which will be no disparage-
ment to the records of those whose works the commission
seeks to memoralize.
"This is the first time in the city's history that any con-
certed effort has been made to pay lasting tribute to the mem-
ory of illustrious citizens who have passed on. The idea is a
good one and should be continued. Monuments of this char-
acter not only do homage to deserving citizens but they tend
to create in the minds of the living an ambition to emulate
their deeds and prove worthy of the gratitude of posterity.
"The monuments to be erected on the city hall grounds
are in recognition of the services and achievements of those
men in the field of hydro and electric power development.
They were pioneers in the work and their triumphs have built
a city and guaranteed its future. Perhaps there are others
whose memories should be honored for their efforts in other
"Now that the idea has taken hold the citizens, as a
whole, may be expected to carry it on so that the worthy efforts
of true benefactors may not be unrequited."
The contract for the monuments as awarded to Mr.
Fraser was $22,500.
The commission announced in due time that the sub-
scriptions for the monuments would close September 1, 1925,
and thereafter Mr. Fraser proceeded with his work in fash-
ioning the monuments.
On November 19, 1925, Mr. Fraser came to Niagara
Falls with a preliminary sketch of three pieces which were
to compose the memorial group. From his first sketch the
artist shaped three miniature models at his New York studio.
Photographs of these were enlarged to the proposed actual
size and the enlargements mounted on wood. The pho-
tographs were then placed in position before the main entrance
to the city hall, to crystallize Mr. Fraser's ideas of what
changes were necessary to make the statues harmonize per-
fectly with the lines of the building, and to enable him to
mould the finished products exactly to scale. The members
of the commission inspected them with Mr. Fraser. After
his observations here, the artist stated that the bronze portrait
busts mounted on the granite shafts would have to be con-
siderably over life size. He also said that the most appro-
priate granite would be a dark reddish brown, with a warmth
of color that will strike a pleasing note with the bronze
mountings and harmonize with the gray of the building itself.
The most artistic grouping, according to Mr. Fraser, was
to place the large central motif depicting the invention of
the primitive water wheel directly in front of the main steps
of the building, with the bronze busts of William B. Rankine
and Arthur Schoellkopf, also mounted on their granite shafts
on either side of the main entrance.
J. W. Fraser, who made these monuments, is the designer
of some of the most famous monuments in the United States.
It was he that shaped the Alexander Hamilton Memorial now
mounted in front of the U. S. Treasury building, which was
unveiled by President Harding with elaborate ceremonies.
Other examples of his art are the statues of Thomas Jefferson
in Jefferson City, Mo., and of Bishop Potter in St. John the
Divines Church, New York City. Mr. Fraser's statue, "The
End of the Trail," showing an Indian and pony in which their
exhaustion is startling with life-like reality, was awarded the
gold medal at the World's Fair in San Francisco in 1915. It
was he who designed the Buffalo nickel, among other coins.
He also designed the memorial monument of John Ericsson,
inventor of the screw propeller and the famous "Monitor,"
which was unveiled in 1926 near the Lincoln memorial in the
Mall, Washington, D. C.
Mr. Fraser is president of the National Sculptor Society,
and for the last six years has been sculptor member of the
National Commission on Fine Arts. His opinion, then, bears
weight of authority when he pronounced the city hall building
here one of the most beautiful buildings of its type in the
1 United States.
Following Mr. Fraser's visit here at the time mentioned
above, the commission met and formally adopted, under its
rule of unanimous secret voting, the names that are to go on
the bronze tablets, in addition to William B. Rankine, Arthur
Schoellkopf and Jacob F. Schoellkopf, which are to go on
their respective monuments, as follows: Judge Augustus
Porter, Gen. Peter B. Porter, Judge Samuel DeVeaux, Hon.
Thomas V. Welch, Col. Charles B. Gaskill and Hon. W. Caryl
Ely. After the death of Hon. Peter A. Porter the following
month, the commission formally designated his name as one
to go on the bronze tablet. Subsequently, with the approval
of Paul A. Schoellkopf, president of the Niagara Falls Power
Company, the commission decided to place upon the monu-
ment to Arthur Schoellkopf the names of Wallace C. Johnson
and John L. Harper, who, during their life time were engi-
neers of the Hydraulic Power Company and given great credit
for superior engineering skill and accomplishment.
At one of the meetings of the commission, the following
resolution relating to the manner of selecting names to go on
the tablets was adopted:
"Resolved: — That in respect to the selection of persons
whose names shall be engraved on the memorial tablets
erected by the Niagara Falls Memorial Commission in suc-
cession to The William B. Rankine Memorial Commission, all
such selections shall be made in executive session, the pro-
ceedings in relation to which shall be secret.
"That the purposes of the commission are to per-
petuate the deeds and accomplishments of those residents of
Niagara Falls who have died and who have, by their accom-
plishments, life work, character and self-sacrifice contributed
in a substantial way to the material, moral or spiritual welfare
of the city of Niagara Falls and its inhabitants.
"That to entitle the name of such a person to be engraved
upon such monument, such name must be nominated by a
member of the commission, must be seconded by another
member of the commission and must receive the unanimous
vote of all the members of the commission.
"That the method of voting shall be secret, but in such
manner as shall be determined upon by a majority of the
members of the commission. Any person nominated, failing
to receive the unanimous vote of the commission, shall not
again be nominated for a period of five years thereafter."
JUDGE AUGUSTUS PORTER
We will look ahead a few years for a perspective before
we begin this sketch chronologically. Judge Augustus Porter
was virtually the first white settler of what is now the city
of Niagara Falls, called Manchester up to 1 840. He was a
pathfinder and pioneer in the promotion of the development
of the power of the Niagara river and in those things which
have made this city great. He was an engineer, a lawyer
and a business man, as well as a statesman. He built the
first mills to use Niagara power. He promoted the then great
project of the construction of the hydraulic canal. He, as a
civil engineer, surveyed some of the roads through the wilder-
ness that lead to the present city. He was a pioneer of great
lakes transportation. In official life he was the first county
judge of Niagara county as it was first erected, and including
Erie county, in 1808. He was the first postmaster of what
later became the village of Niagara Falls. With his brother,
Gen. Peter B. Porter, his name is writ large in the public and
business affairs of Western New York, and beyond.
The genealogy of the Porter family traces back to sterling
English origin, and representatives of the name settled in
New England in the early colonial era of our national history.
Judge Augustus Porter was born at Salisbury, Conn., in Jan-
uary, 1 769, and the family home was established at Canan-
daigua, N. Y., in the year 1 800. Judge Porter first came to
Niagara county in 1 795, and incidentally he learned of the
now historic ridge leading from the Niagara river, at Lewis-
ton, eastward to Rochester, the Indians having given him the
information, which led him to exploit the tracing of a road
along the ridge, in 1 789. After visiting the Niagara Falls
district in 1 795, he returned to his home, but in the following
year came again to Western New York, as head of a party of
surveyors commissioned to lay out townships in this sparsely
settled part of the state. He was a skilled surveyor and did
a large amount of important surveying work in the early
period of the history of Western New York.
The first wife of Judge Porter bore the maiden name of
Lavina Steele, the one son, Augustus, born of this union,
dying in infancy. After the death of his first wife, he
wedded Jane Howell, and they became the parents of three
sons and two daughters: Albert H., Peter B., Jr., Augustus
S., Lavina and Jane S.
Concerning Judge Porter's activities and services to the
community, the following statement was made in a news-
paper, in recent years:
"When Augustus Porter located in Niagara Falls, then
called Manchester, the place was nearly a wilderness, there
being only a few decayed log cabins and a dilapidated bar-
racks at Fort Schlosser. Judge Porter encouraged others to
locate here and assist in building up the community in a
business way. After the destruction of his first house, he
erected the substantial building which is still standing and
still occupied by members of the Porter family. For more
than a century this house has been a center of gracious hos-
pitality, and under its friendly roof many prominent men and
women, from all over the nation, as well as many from
foreign lands, have been entertained."
In May of 1 789, Augustus Porter set out from Schenec-
tady as one of a party of surveyors from western Massachu-
setts and Connecticut to locate some lands which had been
bought by a group of neighbors, of which his father was one.
Similar programs, varied only in methods of travel,
occupied several succeeding years. One of these journeys
was made in winter on foot. On his second trip West he
overtook young James Wadsworth stranded on Wood Creek
on his way to settle on lands in Genesee and therewith began
a friendship lasting through life.
In 1 794 he participated in the last council with the
Indians of the Iroquois Confederacy, which meeting is still
commemorated by a stone and tablet in Canandaigua. It
was then that he first met Andrew Ellicott, who was United
States Surveyor General, and by whom he was engaged as
[ an assistant in running the line from Pennsylvania to Lake
Ontario. Subsequently he made the acquaintance of Oliver
Phelps and was selected by him for important surveys on the
lands west of Seneca Lake and this, in turn, led to engage-
ments by Robert Morris on extensive surveys on his large
holdings leading, again, to like work on the lands of the
Holland Purchase. During these times, too, he made pur-
chase himself, including the buying of an interest in a tract of
20,000 acres where now is located the city of Rochester and,
in 1 795, purchased a tract six miles northeast of Avon and
one-half mile west of Honeoye Falls.
In 1 795 he was joined by a younger brother, Peter B.
Porter, who then settled in Canandaigua as a lawyer and
began a career of national brilliancy and of the closest of
associations with that of his older brother. In this year, too,
Augustus Porter arrived in Niagara Falls in company with a
party of surveyors and assistants to explore and lay out
townships in the Western Reserve. From Chippawa Creek
he took passage, in company with his friend, Judah Colt,
for Presque Isle (now Erie) on a British vessel, for still the
British were holding Oswego, Niagara, Detroit and Mackinac.
At Buffalo the only then residents were: Johnson, a British
Indian interpreter; Winnie, an Indian trader, and two other
families. In all the Western Reserve not a family resided.
In 1 796 he was employed by the Connecticut Land
Company as chief surveyor, with a corps of 50 assistants, to
make a traverse of the southern shore of Lake Erie. This
tract was estimated to contain more than 3,500,000 acres.
He laid out the city of Cleveland, which he named after
General Moses Cleaveland, who was the Connecticut Land
Company's managing agent.
In 1 797 there was built at the mouth of Genesee river
the first vessel of U. S. registry on the Great Lakes. This
was the schooner Jemima by Eli Granger and in which
Augustus Porter was a part owner. In the succeeding year
this vessel became the property of Augustus Porter and his
brother, Peter B. They afterwards owned a fleet of vessels.
In 1 802 he obtained the contract for carrying the mails from
Utica to Fort Niagara and, during the same year, was elected
to the New York Legislature in place of his brother, Peter B.,
who had withdrawn in his favor. In 1 803 Judge Porter
and his associates leased from the State the Portage Road
and that year he built the first saw mill on the river shore.
In 1807 the firm of Porter, Barton & Co. was formed to do
a general forwarding business from Oswego, via the Portage,
to Mackinaw, Chicago and Fort Wayne. In 1 808 he built
the original of the present Porter residence on Buffalo ave-
nue, which was burned by the British during the War of
1812, and the present house was built in 1818. In 1826
he, with his son, A. H. Porter, built a paper mill at Bath,
now Green Island. In 1816 Judge Porter and Gen. Porter
acquired Goat Island from the State and it remained the
property of the Porter family until 1 885 when the State took
it as a part of the Niagara Reservation.
Judge Porter died in 1849, aged four score years.
MAJOR GENERAL PETER BUELL PORTER
Major General Peter Buell Porter was the only man
who ever resided in Niagara Falls who was a member of the
cabinet of a President of the United States, and General
Porter was also a national character in military affairs, as
well as in public life in general, and as a lawyer and busi-
ness man he bulked large far beyond the confines of the
Niagara Frontier. He and his brother, Judge Augustus
Porter, were the first and principal factors in the settlement
and development of the Niagara Frontier during the first half
of the 1 9th century.
Shortly before his death in December, 1925, Hon.
Peter A;. Porter, his grandson, wrote the following brief
sketch of General Porter which was found among his papers
after his death:
"A Representative from New York.
"Born in Salisbury, Conn., August 4, 1773; was grad-
uated from Yale College in 1791; was admitted to the bar
and began practice in Canandaigua, N. Y. ; in 1793 held
various local offices; Member of New York Assembly in
1802; moved to Black Rock, Buffalo, N. Y., in 1809; elected
as a Democrat to the Eleventh and Twelfth Congresses,
March 4, 1809, to March 3, 1913; declined re-nomination
to the Thirtieth Congress in order to serve with his con-
stituents in the War of 1812. He was a close personal
friend of Henry Clay who appointed him chairman of the
House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Relations,
and as such General Porter reported the resolution for the
Declaration of the War of 1812. Served in the War of
1812 as Major General of New York Volunteers, 1812 to
1815; was offered the command of the United States
Northern Army for 1815, but the Treaty of Ghent put an
end to hostilities. Next to Clay, he was the most prominent
of the "War Hawks" leading the supporters of that war in
the North, as Grundy led them in the South (the gentlemen
from Genesee and Tennessee, as John Randolph used to
refer to them).
"In 1810 he was named as one of the committee in
New York State to decide as to an inland canal from the
Hudson to Lake Erie, as against the earlier plan of a Federal
ship canal around the Falls of Niagara, of which General
Porter had been an earnest advocate. His appointment on
that committee was opposed on the ground that being one of
the lessees of the Niagara Portage, he would naturally be
strongly opposed to any inland canal, which would destroy
that portage business. In spite of that opposition, he was
named on that committee, and, satisfied that an inland canal
would be for the ultimate best interests of the State, he
voted in favor of it, regardless of the fact that his firm's por-
tage business would be killed by the shorter route.
"General Porter was presented with a gold medal under
a joint resolution of Congress, of date November 4, 1814,
for gallantry in the conflicts of Chippawa, Niagara, Lundy's
Lane and Fort Erie in Upper Canada, and a gold-handled
sword by the State of New York, for the same services. He
was re-elected to the Fourteenth Congress, and served from
March 4, 1815, to January 23, 1816, resigning in order to
accept appointment as the United States Commissioner under
the Treaty of Ghent to locate our northern border. He was
Secretary of State of New York in 1815.
"He was appointed by President John Quincy Adams
as Secretary of War, serving from June 21, 1828, to March
"In 1830, or thereabouts, he was again elected to the
New York Assembly for the purpose of adjusting difficulties
that had arisen between the Holland Land Company and
"In 1 836 he removed to Niagara Falls, and died there
on March 20, 1844."
Within the limits of this space it is not possible to
relate all of the incidents of much interest in the busy life
of General Porter whose activities were national in character
and importance. With his associates he initiated and carried
on the early commerce of the Niagara Frontier and of Lake
Erie, at least. He held other public positions besides those
mentioned by his grandson above, including that of county
clerk of Ontario county. He travelled through the State
and helped Governor DeWitt Clinton, its father, select the
route for the Erie canal. In 1 8 1 4 he was made a brigadier
general of volunteers by Governor Daniel D. Tompkins of
New York, and was brevetted a major general after the
battle of Lundy's Lane which was fought July 25, 1814. In
1815, President James Madison appointed him a major
general in the United States army.
Beginning in 1816, together with his brother, Judge
Augustus Porter, he owned Goat Island and much of the
land immediately adjoining the rapids and falls of the Niag-
ara river, which territory is now included in the city of
Niagara Falls, and was purchased when the State of New
York established the Niagara Reservation in 1 885. They
also owned land near the Niagara river in the Black Rock
section of Buffalo at the American end of the international
bridge. Fort Porter at that point, which was recently
removed to make way for the entrance to the new Buffalo-
Fort Erie bridge, was named after General Porter.
Late in life, General Porter married Mrs. Letitia Gray-
son, daughter of former Attorney-General Breckenridge of
Kentucky. She died at Black Rock in 1831, aged 41 years.
They had one son, Peter A. Porter, who became distin-
guished, being the commander of the Eighth New York
Heavy Artillery which went from this section to the Civil
War, and Colonel Porter was killed at the battle of Cold
Harbor June 3, 1 864. General and Mrs. Porter also had
one daughter, Elizabeth Porter.
As before stated, General Porter was a member of the
International Boundary Commission which in 1819 estab-
lished the present boundary between the United States and
Canada, which, at this point, is located 200 feet out from
Goat Island which the Porter Brothers and their descendants
owned from 1816 to 1885.
JUDGE SAMUEL DEVEAUX
Judge Samuel DeVeaux had no descendants and it
seems that he belongs to the very remote past, as few now
living have any recollection of him whatever. And yet Judge
DeVeaux was a very large factor during the first half of the
1 9th century in Niagara Falls and along the Niagara Frontier.
He established and endowed an important educational insti-
tution here and left it as an enduring monument to his mem-
ory. He is credited with being the first merchant in Niagara
Falls, and a very successful one, building up what in those
days was a very considerable fortune which he put to the very
creditable use noted above.
Samuel DeVeaux's ancestry and his own life were
decidedly romantic. The roots of that ancestry were in the
soil of the old world several centuries back. Not much
appears to have been written about himself and his contem-
poraries within the lifetime of this generation or the one next
preceding it. He was gathered to his fathers in 1852, 75
years before this sketch was written.
He was called "Judge" DeVeaux, and the basis for that
title is the rather fragmentary statement that "in 1823 he
was appointed a justice at Niagara Falls, which position he
held for several years," but by whom appointed is not stated.
This is more than a century ago and only eight years after
the close of the war of 1812. There is also a tradition that
Judge DeVeaux was a Justice of Sessions, or "Side Judge,"
for Niagara county. Some 40 years ago and many years
previous to that, it was the practice to elect two "side judges"
in Niagara county to sit with the County Judge in the trial of
In a work entitled "Genealogy of the DeVeaux family,
introducing the numerous forms of spelling the name by vari-
ous branches and generations in the past eleven hundred
years," by Thos. F. Devoe, member of the New York His-
torical Society, etc., etc., published in 1 885, now the property
of DeVeaux School, which Rev. Dr. William S. Barrows, the
Headmaster, has placed at the disposal of the writer, some
apparently well authenticated facts are gleaned about Judge
DeVeaux. That this genealogy stretches backward over a
period of 1 1 centuries confirms the statement at the beginning
of this sketch. From it we learn that during more than a thou-
sand years there were many distinguished members of the
According to Rev. Dr. Gregory, Judge DeVeaux was
born "in the city of New York, the 1 2th of May, 1 789, where
he spent his childhood and youth up to the age of 1 4 years,
when he left the city, and in 1893," he entered the land office
of Gorham & Phelps at Canandaigua, and there probably
pursued the study of law. In 1807 he was appointed com-
missary at Fort Niagara. In 1813, during an armistice in the
war then raging, he was married to Maria Woodruff, a Can-
adian lady, and went to LeRoy, where he remained two
years. His wife dying in 1815, he returned to Youngstown,
and two years later, in 1817, he was united in marriage to
Mrs. Sarah McColloch, sister to his former wife, and came to
reside in Niagara Falls, where he successfully engaged in
His store is understood to have been located on Main
street, near Falls street, and a part of his residence is still
standing, at the corner of Main and Niagara streets, many
years ago also the residence of Francis R. Delano, the banker.
It is recorded in another historical work that in 1819 Judge
DeVeaux was appointed a school commissioner here. His
church record is that "he was confirmed in the covenant of
his baptism, together with his wife, in Trinity Church, New
York City, by Bishop Hobart, in the year 1 829. He was the
first churchman in Niagara Falls. The first Sunday school
was organized by him. He was the founder and the first
warden of the parish of St. Peter's Church in that village.''
Aside from being a justice, Samuel DeVeaux s connec-
tion with public affairs consisted in being elected a Member
of Assembly from Niagara county, which office he held in
Judge DeVeaux's investments in real estate, especially
at Niagara Falls, became very valuable, and, with his exten-
sive business here, made him a wealthy man. The DeVeaux
genealogical work quotes the press, name of newspaper not
mentioned, as announcing on August 4, 1852, that:
"Judge DeVeaux, of Niagara^ county, and the richest
man in that section, died at the Falls of cholera morbus yes-
terday. He was 63 years old."
Then further from the genealogy:
"According to the provisions of his will, he bequeathed
for the erection of a large college edifice personal property to
the amount of $154,432 and real estate valued at $36,213,
besides 330 acres of inalienable land. The building was
erected in 1855-6. It is built of stone, has two stories and
an attic above the ground, story, and a front of 1 00 feet
with a depth of 54 feet. The members of the school are
supplied by the institution with food, clothing and books.
The president of the college must always be a clergyman of
the Protestant Episcopal Church, and the institute itself under
the control of the Diocese of Western New York. Members
of the school are appointed by the board of trustees, the
children of parents belonging to the Protestant Episcopal
Church having the preference. When once received, the
children are under the sole charge of the trustees until they
= attain their majority.
"The building was finished and formally opened for the
reception of pupils on the 20th of May, 1 857, under the name
of 'DeVeaux College.' Bishop deLancey in an address said:
'The founder of this institution is the late Samuel DeVeaux,
who, having acquired great wealth in mercantile business at
Niagara Falls, has erected a lasting monument of Christian
"Having no children, by his will he directs his executors
to pay the widow, Charlotte, of his nephew, William DeVeaux,
the sum of 500 dollars. To his niece, Susan D. Flagg, of
New Orleans, the sum of 500 dollars for 20 years. To his
niece, Maria D. C. Haynes, 1 shares of Niagara Falls Inter-
national Bridge; also a lot of land in the town of Niagara of
40 feet front by 1 00 feet deep. And to his nephew, Samuel
D. Williams, a lot of land in the town of Niagara; the wife
and children not to be disturbed in the occupation of the
premises, and to pay the said Williams 1 000 dollars."
Fie also directed the school or college building to be
built on lots 33 and 34 of the "Mile Reserve" in the town,
with the farm and domain, also the Mount Eagle property.
Then he added: "It is my desire that the sum of 25 cents
shall be continued to be collected from all persons who first
visit the whirlpool grounds for amusement or curiosity, and
that the same be used for the benefit of said institution."
Besides the very substantial legacy which Judge DeVeaux
left to the cause of education, he also contributed to the litera-
ture of this famous region, particularly his "Falls of Niagara
or Tourists' Guide to the Wonders of Nature, including notices
of the Whirlpool, Islands, Etc., and a complete guide thro the
Canadas, embellished with engravings," published in 1839.
WILLIAM BIRCH RANKINE
With the chartering by the New York Legislature of "The
Niagara River Hydraulic Tunnel, Power and Sewer Company
of Niagara Falls, New York," the predecessor of the Niagara
Falls Power Company, proprietor now of the world s greatest
hydro-electric power plant, and the presentation of the plan
of Thomas Fvershed, engineer, eminent in the State because
of his genius and high class, there appeared upon the horizon
the man whose name will be forever attached to the "Power
City of the World," William Birch Rankine, pioneer of hydro-
electric power development, the use of electric as distinguished
from hydraulic power.
Mr. Rankine went to Francis Lynde Stetson, the great
corporation lawyer; J. Pierpont Morgan, premier of bankers,
and other leading financiers in New York and secured the
capital to build the plant of the Niagara Falls Power Com-
The ordinary details of the extraordinary life of Mr.
Rankine have been many times told, and when he died at
only 47 years of age many of the leading newspapers and
technical periodicals of the State and country did the telling,
and paid tributes to his splendid character and exceptional
William Birch Rankine was born in Owego, Tioga
county, N. Y., January 4, 1858. His early education was
received at the Canandaigua Academy and later at Hobart
and Union Colleges, graduating from Union in the class of
1877, with the degree of A. B., and later receiving the degree
of A. M. from both colleges. His father, Rev. James Ran-
kine, D. D., LL.D., of Geneva, N. Y., was prominent during
hif( life, in educational work, having been a professor at
Trinity College, a trustee of Union and Hobart Colleges,
president of Hobart College, and the rector of the deLancey
Divinity School, of Geneva, N. Y.
Admitted to the bar in 1 880, William B. Rankine was
engaged in the general practice of the law of New York City
until 1 890, since when he devoted his time particularly to
the development of Niagara power and other interests on the
Niagara frontier. In 1 899 he changed his residence to the
city of Niagara Falls.
The story of the great work that Mr. Rankine did in
interesting New York capitalists in the project to harness
Niagara's power, and other interests on the Niagara Frontier,
and the magnificent results that have followed is thoroughly
known to the people of the Niagara Frontier particularly, of
the State in general and of the United States.
After it had been determined to undertake the power
project, the Cataract Construction Company was organized
to do the work for the Niagara Falls Power Company and
Mr. Rankine was secretary of that. After the construction
work was done, he was secretary of the power company, later
being promoted to be third vice-president and still later to be
second vice-president and treasurer. He was resident man-
ager up to the time of his death.
Besides his connection with the Niagara Falls Power
Company Mr. Rankine was an officer of many other corpora-
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tions, some of them closely allied, and some not. He was
second vice-president and treasurer of the Niagara Junction
Railway Company; vice-president of the Canadian Niagara
Power Company; vice-president of the Francis Hook & Eye &
Fastener Company of Niagara Falls; secretary and treasurer
of the Cataract Power and Conduit Company of Buffalo;
director and chairman of the executive committee of the
Natural Food Company of Niagara Falls, now called the
Shredded Wheat Company; director of the Tonawanda
Power Company, and of Suburban Power Company; secre-
tary of the Tesla Company; a director of the Bell Telephone
Company of Buffalo; a director of the Ramapo Iron Works,
Niagara Tachometer and Instrument Company, and Niagara
Research Laboratories, and a trustee of the Equitable Trust
Company of New York. Mr. Rankine was a trustee of
DeVeaux College and a life trustee of Union College; a mem-
ber of Buffalo Club of Buffalo, and of the University,
Lawyers' and Delta Phi Clubs of New York City; of the
Bar Association of the City of New York, and of the New
York State Bar Association.
The deceased had also been connected with other
important organizations. He was vice-president of the Niag-
ara Falls & Suspension Bridge Railway Company, and after
the company's lines were absorbed by the International Rail-
way Company, he was an officer of that until the re-organiza-
tion in the spring of 1905. He was also president of the
Niagara Falls Waterworks Company until the system was
sold to the Western New York Water Company.
Mr. Rankine was married on February 23, 1905, to
Miss Annette Kittridge Norton, daughter of Mrs. E. K. Nor-
ton, and his death was peculiarly sad, coming only a few
months afterwards. The wedding occurred at St. Peter's
Church of which he was a member of the vestry, and the
funeral was held there less than eight months afterward.
In St. Peter's Church, where he was married and from
whence his funeral was held, Mrs. Annette Rankine, his
widow, placed a bronze tablet, which was unveiled on Palm
Sunday, March 20, 1921, inscribed as follows:
Erected in loving memory of
William Birch Rankine
January 4, 1858 — September 30, 1905.
Chancellor of this Diocese.
Warden of this parish.
Whose vision, energy and lifelong
devotion contributed manifestly to
the development of Niagara's power
for the benefit of mankind.
With these few words much is told.
Rev. John Brewster Hubbs, D. D., a classmate of Mr.
Rankine at Union College, was selected by the family to
conduct the ceremony, and in his sermon at the unveiling,
he said, in part: "Service is the royal road to the joy of
life. It is the duty and the joy of every man to examine
his talents, to find out what gifts the Lord has endowed
him with, and then to use those gifts for the service of man
in the name of the Lord. The man who uses those gifts
for his own good alone, or the man who does not use his
gifts at all has missed the greatest joy of life. But the
man who increases his talents in the service of others has
found the secret of happiness, which lies not in wealth,
power or position, but in service.''
Probably one of the most apt tributes to William B.
Rankine, written during his lifetime, was from the pen of the
celebrated electrical savant, Nickola Tesla, who wrote on
the margin of his portrait: "This to my friend, W. B.
Rankine, who thinks while others sleep, and works while
others think and does while others try, who is in many
enterprises and, in many hearts, as a mark of my sincere
devotion." Signed October 29, 1902.
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HONORABLE ARTHUR SCHOELLKOPF
Honorable Arthur Schoellkopf, in memory of whom
one of the monuments in front of the city hall was erected by
the Niagara Falls Memorial Commission, in succession to The
William B. Rankine Memorial Commission, is the only one of
ten men whose character and accomplishments are being
especially honored, who served as Mayor of the city of Niag-
ara Falls, although Honorable Peter A. Porter and Colonel
Charles B. Gaskill served as president of the village of Niagara
Falls. Like them, Mr. Schoellkopf did not seek public office,
but he was called upon to serve and was elected Mayor with
practical unanimity, carrying every election district in the city
that was then of opposite political faith to himself.
Arthur Schoellkopf, third son of Jacob Frederick and
Christiana T. (Duerr) Schoellkopf, was born in Buffalo, N. Y.,
June 13, 1856. He studied in private schools in that city,
was for four years an academician at Kirchheim, Wurtemberg,
Germany, his father's birthplace, and returned, in 1 869 to Buf-
falo, where he completed his literary education at St. Joseph's
College, and took a course in Bryant & Stratton's Business
College. He began business in the North Buffalo and Frontier
Mills, then operated by Thornton & Chester, and later by
Schoellkopf & Matthews, remaining four years. In 1877 he
became part owner of the Schoellkopf & Matthews Mill at
Niagara Falls, and subsequently he became president of the
Niagara Falls Milling Company, operating the Central and
Schoellkopf & Matthews Mills, with a combined output of
4000 barrels daily. In 1878, in association with his father,
he organized the Niagara Falls Hydraulic Power & Manu-
facturing Company to develop the hydraulic canal purchased
by his father, and to furnish power for other mills, the father
being prezident, and the son secretary, treasurer and general
A notable instance of the public spirit of Arthur Schoell-
kopf was shown in his building, equipping and personally
managing for seven years the first street railway, known as
the Niagara Falls & Suspension Bridge Street Railway, now
an auxiliary of the great International Railway system. This
was completed July 4, 1 883, and he continued as manager
until 1 890, when he disposed of his entire interest. With
his father he founded the Brush Electric Light Company,
which is now the Niagara Electric Service Corporation, and
he was also connected with many extensive industries as
well as others having important financial connections. He
founded the Power City Bank in Niagara Falls, which began
business in June, 1893, and was president for 1 7 years, and
a director of the Bank of Niagara, and president of the Cliff
Paper Company. Later he was president and treasurer of
the International Hotel, president of the Gluck Realty Com-
pany, which built the Gluck Block on the site of the burned
Spencer House, president of the International Theater Com-
pany and trustee of the Niagara County Savings Bank.
In the spring of 1 896 as the Republican candidate, Mr.
Schoellkopf was elected Mayor of the city for a one year term,
which was then in practice, his majority being 450, large for
that period. His administration was marked by enterprise,
ability and integrity. He had served as a village commis-
sioner and as commissioner of public works in the city. He
was offered and declined renomination as Mayor.
Mr. Schoellkopf was a member of the Niagara Falls
Chamber of Commerce, the Niagara Club, the Civic Club,
and the Ellicott Club of Buffalo. He was a Knight Templar
Mason ,a Noble of the Mystic Shrine, and a member of the
Order of Elks, a past exalted ruler of Lodge No. 346. He
was a member and trustee of the First Presbyterian Church of
Niagara Falls and trustee of Niagara Falls Memorial Hospital.
He married October 1 3, 1 890, Jessie, daughter of Alva
Gluck, pioneer hotel keeper of Niagara Falls, and they had
two children, Paul Arthur, now president of the consolidated
Niagara Falls Power Company, and Beatrice Schoellkopf
Penn of Reidsville, North Carolina.
Arthur Schoellkopf died suddenly at Miami, Florida,
February 3, 1 9 1 3, at the untimely age of 56 years. Although
he had been indisposed for several months, it was not until
the day before his death that his condition became serious.
Mr. Schoellkopf left Niagara Falls with members of his fam-
ily December 1, 1912. His remains arrived in Niagara Falls
on February 6, 1913, and the funeral was held at the First
Presbyterian Church on the afternoon of that day. All city
offices were closed during the services. Mayor Laughlin,
members of the Common Council, Board of Public Works
and city officials generally attended the funeral. Trie several
industries in which Mr. Schoellkopf was interested closed all
day, and nearly every employee was present at the funeral.
At the time of his death, Mr. Schoellkopf was, through
his varied business activities, the foremost citizen of the com-
munity. But his activities extended beyond his office. He
was a man of warm sympathies, quick to respond to the calls
of charity. He loved the city he called his home, and was
always ready to assist its advancement. He is justly credited
with a great part in the splendid industrial development of
Niagara Falls. Loyalty to his home city was one of the funda-
mental qualities of Arthur Schoellkopf. He was a strong
champion of every constructive policy that promised increased
betterment for Niagara Falls, and was never too busy to find
time from the pursuit of his private affairs to assist in civic
enterprises for progress and prosperity. It was Arthur
Schoellkopf who made real the way that was blazed by his
father, Jacob F. Schoellkopf, in the hydro-electric power
development. During the thirty odd years that he directed
the affairs of the Hydraulic Company he developed the power
canal from a mill race to a mighty stream which gives impulse
to countless electric engines. It was a man's work he did,
and he did it well.
But finally it is the man and his works of heart, not the
man and his works of mind and hand; it is the man as he went
among his fellows. Arthur Schoellkopf was a gentleman,
affable, kind, charitable. He was a man of fine impulses,
impulses to which he gave expression in word and act. So he
had many friends. So his passing was sincerely mourned.
In memory of Arthur Schoellkopf and in carrying out his
expressed wishes to create something for the citizens of Niag-
ara Falls, whom he loved, for their future welfare and enjoy-
ment, his widow and two children shortly after his death laid
the foundation for the future park system of Niagara Falls
by a gift to the city of two completed parks, which parks upon
acceptance by the city were named Schoellkopf Park and
JACOB FREDERICK SCHOELLKOPF
The pioneer of the modern hydraulic power development
at Niagara Falls was Jacob Frederick Schoellkopf. He
became such when he purchased the hydraulic canal in 1377
and continued to be the leader of this great enterprise and its
numerous auxiliaries until his death in 1 899, with his son,
Arthur, as his chief assistant and successor. Mr. Schoellkopf
always lived in Buffalo while having great interests in Niagara
Falls, but was here frequently, and had larger interest here for
years than any other man.
The Schoellkopfs of Erie and Niagara counties spring
from a hardy, ambitious ancestor, who not only achieved suc-
cess for himself, but transmitted to his posterity qualities that
have kept them in the front rank of industrial progress and
development. Jacob F. Schoellkopf was the head of the line;
he was succeeded in the great Niagara Falls enterprise by his
son, Arthur Schoellkopf, and he, in turn, has been succeeded
by his son, Paul A. Schoellkopf, as the head of the infinitely
greater enterprise, the Niagara Falls Power Company, a com-
bination of the hydraulic and the hydro-electric companies,
which now, in turn, have been consolidated into the great
$200,000,000 Buffalo, Niagara and Eastern Power Company.
As directors of this gigantic, worlds greatest hydro-electric
power development enterprises there are now seven Schoell-
kopfs, either sons or grandsons of Jacob F. Schoellkopf.
Jacob F. Schoellkopf, son of Gottlieb Schoellkopf, was
born in Kirchheim, Unter Teck, a small town in the kingdom
of Wurtemberg, November 15, 1819, died in Buffalo, New
York, September 1 5, 1 899. Like Judge Augustus Porter,
the original power development pioneer of Niagara Falls,
he lived four score years. He was educated in the town
schools, and at the age of 1 4 years began learning the trade
of tanner with his father, a large leather manufacturer, who
learned the same trade with his father. After completing
his five years of apprenticeship he became clerk in a mercan-
tile house at Strassberg, remaining two years. In 1841, real-
izing that as a younger son he could not inherit, he determined
to try his fortune in the land across the seas, from which such
glowing reports came from those of his acquaintances who
had made the venture. In December, 1841, he landed in
New York City, aged 22 years, totally unacquainted with the
English language. He worked in New York City for two
years, was for a time in the West and, in 1 844, with a capital
of $800.00, loaned him by his father, located in Buffalo. He
began his business career there in a small leather store which
he established in Mohawk street. In the same year (1844)
he purchased a small tannery at Whites Corners (Ham-
burg), Erie county, arranging payments to cover a period of
six years. In 1 846 he started a tannery in Buffalo for the
tanning of sheep skins. In 1 848 he built a tannery in Mil-
waukee, Wisconsin, in association with another, the firm name
being G. Pfister & Co. In 1850 he became interested in a
Chicago firm, C. T. Gray & Company, operating a tannery
there, continuing in the latter firm until 1856. He did not
long retain these western interests; after seeing them placed
on solid) business footings, he disposed of them profitably
and sought new outlets for his rapidly increasing capital. In
1853-54 he established tanneries at Fort Wayne, Indiana, and
North Evans, New York, operating the latter with unusual
success for 20 years. In 185 7 he made his first large invest-
ment outside the tanning business. He erected the North
Buffalo Flouring Mills, which proved so profitable that he con-
tinued his investments in that line, ultimately becoming one
of the largest operators of flouring mills in the Empire State.
He bought the Frontier Mills of Buffalo, in 1870, and later
erected extensive mills in Niagara Falls. He retained his
vast milling and tanning interests until his death, some being
held in his own name, others as senior of the milling firm of
Schoellkopf & Matthews. In 1877 he purchased the hydrau-
lic canal at Niagara Falls, and in the development of that plan
for utilizing the power of the Niagara river has forever con-
nected his name with the city of Niagara Falls, and with
one of the greatest of modern enterprises. The canal was
later conveyed to a corporation known as The Niagara Falls
Hydraulic Power & Manufacturing Company. This name was
afterwards shortened to The Hydraulic Power Company, and
during the great world war the company was consolidated
with the Niagara Falls Power Company, under the latter name,
but with the Schoellkopf interests predominating, an enter-
prise involving some $62,000,000. Mr. Schoellkopf was
president of the original company at the time of his death.
Large factories were established along its banks by the owners,
and arrangements entered into by many other companies
who built, and took their power from the canal. The impetus
given to Niagara Falls by this cheap power has resulted in con-
tinuous growth and prosperity.
Having safely established his own enterprise and fortune,
Mr. Schoellkopf became interested in corporate and financial
activities. He was vice-president of the Buffalo & Philadel-
phia Railroad prior to its sale to the Western New York
& Pennsylvania Company; was vice-president of the Third
National Bank of Buffalo; the Merchants' and German Banks,
also the Bank of Niagara and the Power City Bank of Niagara
Falls. He was president of the Citizens' Gas Company of
Buffalo, and a trustee of the Buffalo General Hospital until
his death. He was intensely public-spirited and placed at the
disposal of the city and its institutions his best talents, as well
as a great amount of his time and means. His nature was
generous, his charities being many and widely distributed.
The church ever had in him a warm friend and a most liberal
contributor. His life was a truly remarkable one. He had a
capacity for great undertakings, nothing daunted him and he
will ever be held as one of the great men of the period, and
this, too, without the glamour of a military or a public official
life. He was great in the best sense, great in the arts of
peace, a builder, not a destroyer.
Mr. Schoellkopf married, in 1 848, Christiana T. Duerr,
born in Germany, coming to the United States in 1842. She
survived her husband four years, dying October 13, 1903.
She was a worthy companion and contributed her share to her
husband's success. Their children were: Henry, Louis,
Arthur, Jacob, Frederick, Alfred, C. P. Hugo and Helena.
In accordance with a communication sent to the Board
of Public Works on September 18, 1906, and the recommen-
dation of a committee appointed to have charge of the matter,
the bridge last built over the hydraulic canal at Third street
was named the Schoellkopf Bridge and at a public ceremonial
on December 9, 1908, during the administration of Mayor
Anthony C. Douglass, the Schoellkopf Memorial Tablets on
that bridge were duly unveiled in honor of Jacob F. Schoell-
The resolution passed by the Board of Public Works
authorizing this action read as follows:
"Resolved, That in grateful memory of Jacob F. Schoell-
kopf, whose foresight and courage laid the foundation of the
power development at Niagara Falls, the bridge over the
hydraulic canal at Third street be named 'The Schoellkopf
Bridge,' and that we hereby authorize the placing of tablets on
said bridge, giving its name and stating that it was so named
in pursuance of this resolution.''
HONORABLE PETER A. PORTER
There are two lines of Porters who are descendants of
the pioneer settlers of Niagara Falls, Judge Augustus Porter
and General Peter B. Porter, the former of whom located in
Niagara Falls a century and a quarter ago. These two
brothers were the progenitors of many distinguished men.
Hon. Peter A. Porter was the third in Gen. Porter's line.
Both he and his grandfather sat in the House of Representa-
tives of the United States and Gen. Porter was nationally
distinguished both as a statesman and a soldier. Hon. Peter
A. Porter also won distinction in various ways, particularly
as an historian of the Niagara Frontier, leaving to posterity a
rich legacy of historic lore, not only covering the period in
which the Porter family bulked large in all activities in
Western New York, but also dating back to the Red Mans
time, the age of exploration and the beginning of the White
Man's occupancy of this highly favored region.
Mr. Porter was born in the old Gen. Porter mansion
on Falls street in Niagara Falls, October 10, 1853, the son
of Colonel and Mrs. Peter A. Porter. He was educated in
St. Pauls School at Concord, N. H., and Yale College, from
which he was graduated in 1874. He was married in 1877
to Miss Alice Adelle Taylor of Niagara Falls. They had
three sons, Peter A. Porter, Jr., C. Breckenridge Porter and
Preston B. Porter.
Mr. Porter's father, Col. Peter A. Porter, was a distin-
guished man in various walks of life before he raised a regi-
ment of Western New York men, the Eighth New York
Heavy Artillery, and led it to the front in the Civil War.
He was killed at the battle of Cold Harbor, June 3, 1 864.
As a boy a dozen years old, the son was at the front with his
father and was known as the "Little Colonel.'' For more
than 50 years after the Civil War the survivors of Col. Por-
ter's regiment met in annual reunion and Hon. Peter A.
Porter was always the guest of honor and chief speaker.
Mr. Porter was engaged in various business enterprises
during his long life in Niagara Falls. The Porter family
owned Goat Island and much of the mainland adjoining the
river from 1816 to 1885 and when the New York State
Reservation at Niagara was established in the latter year much
of the property taken was purchased of the Porters. Peter A.
Porter owned the Niagara Falls Gazette from 1880 to 1895
and converted it into a daily newspaper in 1893. He built
the Arcade Building on Falls street in which the Gazette and
the United States post office were housed for many years. He
owned the famous old hostelry, the Cataract House, for many
years. He was president of the Cataract Bank for some time.
Mr. Porter was loath to seek public office, but always
took an active interest in public affairs, serving in many ways
most efficiently in public movements. Before the organiza-
tion of the city he was president of the village of Niagara
Falls and was a member of the Exempt Firemen's Association
at the time of his death. When the matter of the more
extensive power development came along, he took an active
interest in it and was a director of the predecessor of the
Niagara Falls Power Company, called The Niagara River
Tunnel Sewer and Water Supply Company. About this time
he was elected as Member of Assembly from the second dis-
trict of Niagara county and had the distinction of introducing
and pushing through the Legislature the charter of the Niagara
Falls Power Company. Mr. Porter served two terms in the
Legislature, another position, by the way, that various other
members of the two branches of the Porter family had held
When the movement was inaugurated to erect the city of
Niagara Falls, composed of the village by that name, the
village of Suspension Bridge and a portion of the rural part
of the town of Niagara, Mr. Porter was a member of the
committee that framed the city charter.
A high light in the public career of Mr. Porter was his
election as a Representative in Congress from the old 34th
Congressional district which was composed of the counties
of Niagara, Orleans, Genesee, Livingston and Wyoming. He
was nominated on an independent Republican ticket and by
the Democratic party. He succeeded James W. Wadsworth
of Geneseo, who had held the position for 20 years. Two
years before Mr. Wadsworth had been chosen by 1 3,000
majority. Mr. Porter was elected by 5,900 majority after
the most remarkable campaign in the history of the district.
His campaign emblem was "The Good Old Cow," emblematic
of the Beef Trust and oleomargarine, that were issues at that
time. His home city he carried by 1 1 42 majority, at that
time the largest on record. In Niagara county his majority
was 3683, the largest ever given for any man for any office,
then. He carried four of the five counties in the district and
cut Mr. Wadsworth' s usual majority in his home county of
Livingston in half. Mr. Porter was not a candidate for
re-electior^ and following his retirement after his two-year
term lived in North Tonawanda and Buffalo.
Mr. Porter was the founder, the president for many
years and honorary president for life of the Niagara Frontier
Historical Society and many of the large collections of relics
were contributed by him. He also took very active interest
in the Niagara County Pioneer Association, was its president
for three terms, the chief speaker and guest of honor at
several of its large annual picnics and did as much for it as
any other man.
Mr. Porter was the author and publisher of many book-
lets. His Niagara guide book is the best one ever published.
He has also published booklets on Old Fort Niagara, Goat
Island, the block houses on Portage Road, and many others,
besides numerous comprehensive illustrated articles in Buffalo
Sunday newspapers upon Niagara Frontier history.
Up the river the great plant of the original Niagara Falls
Power Company is located upon the 1 00-acre farm which
the company purchased of Peter A. Porter. In turn the com-
pany located upon these lands the great plant of the Inter-
national Paper Company, originally the Niagara Falls Paper
Company, built by the Soo Paper Company. Then there
is Porter Park, before that called by the less euphonious name
of "Ten Rod Strip." Farther up the river is the old stone
chimney in which Mr. Porter took such pride and interest.
It was attached to the old barracks which the French built
for Fort Little Niagara, and was attached to the mess house
which the English built in connection with Fort Schlosser.
The chimney was reserved by Mr. Porter when he sold these
lands to the Niagara Falls Power Company, and it has since
been moved near the plant of the Carborundum Company
and a tablet placed upon it by the Niagara Frontier Historical
Society, which Mr. Porter founded. It is the oldest bit of
perfect masonry on the Niagara Frontier, if not all Western
New York, except the old castle at Fort Niagara. It was at
the head of Portage Road over which passed the early com-
merce of the Niagara Frontier. |
Dying suddenly just before Christmas, 1925, at his home
in recent years in Buffalo, his death was a great shock to a
wide circle of friends here and elsewhere, and thousands of
people felt the sense of personal loss. His remains lie in
the Porter plot with his ancestors in Oakwood cemetery.
COLONEL CHARLES B. GASKILL
Col. Charles B. Gaskill was one of the notable men of
Niagara Falls and Niagara county. His sphere of influence,
however, was far wider, connecting him with activities and
enterprises of nation-wide importance. Whether considered
as a military leader, or as a far-seeing, able business man
and executive, few men of his time brought more distinction
to his native state, or have greater claim to have his memory
Charles B. Gaskill was born in the town of Wilson, Niag-
ara county, N. Y., November 28, 1841. Pioneer surround-
ings in his boyhood, gave him more meager educational
opportunities than were offered in older settled communities,
and this fact made more remarkable his first business enter-
prise, the issuance of a newspaper, the Niagara City Herald,
first published by Nathan HackstafF in the village called by
that name, previously Bellevue, and later Suspension Bridge.
Colonel Gaskill's life was so long identified with military
matters, that to get the true measure of his character, one
must go back in national history over 65 years. At the out-
break of the Civil War he volunteered as a private in the
44th New York Infantry, and, although but a stripling of 20
years, his military qualifications secured early recognition and
in December, 1861, he received a commission as second lieu-
tenant, and subsequently as first lieutenant in the same regi-
ment. In the battle of Gaines' Mills, on June 22, 1862, the
young officer was seriously wounded, and was captured by the
enemy a day or two later at Savage Station, Va., a month
elapsing before he was exchanged, his wound in the meantime
receiving but meager attention. After exchange he was sen
to a hospital in Baltimore, but months elapsed before he
could re-enter the service. On March 2 7, 1863, he became
a captain in the 78th United States Colored Infantry, after-
wards becoming lieutenant colonel and colonel of the same
regiment, seeing active service throughout the rest of the war.
He was honorably mustered out of the service on December
31, 1865. He had been brevetted major for meritorious
conduct at the battle of Gaines' Mills, and was brevetted
lieutenant colonel for meritorious conduct at the battle of
In the interval of peace that followed, Colonel Gaskill
embarked in large business enterprises, but when his country
once more needed him, in the Spanish-American trouble, he
eagerly responded and served under Gen. Nelson A. Miles,
in the Porto Rican campaign, when the expedition captured
the island. He was appointed captain of the Port of Ponce
and had charge of harbor transportation, lighthouses and
After the close of the Civil War, Colonel Gaskill mar-
ried and settled on a plantation in Mississippi, but in 1 866
he re-entered the army, becoming a commandant at Jackson
Barracks, New Orleans, and also commandant at Fort Mason,
in North Carolina. He acted as assistant adjutant general
of the district of North Carolina under the reconstruction acts,
Gen. Miles being the commandant of the district.
Additional military distinction attaches to the memory
of Colonel Gaskill because of his deep interest in State mili-
tary affairs. In 1 885 he organized the 42d Separate Com-
pany of the National Guard of the State of New York, in
Niagara Falls, becoming its first captain, and this organiza-
tion through his inspiring and efficient management, became
the crack separate company of thof State body. In 1870
Colonel Gaskill resigned from the U. S. array service and
shortly afterward returned to Niagara county, settling his
family at Niagara Falls, and was enthusiastic over contem-
plated enterprises. In 1861 the hydraulic canal had been
completed, but the Civil War prevented any use of it for
manufacturing purposes, and it was Colonel Gaskill who built
the first flour mill in 1875 that utilized the water of the canal,
this mill being the foundation for what was for many years
the Cataract City Milling Company, which was recently pur-
chased by the Niagara Falls Power Company and discontinued
in order to use the water power to a better advantage. From
that time he participated very actively in the commercial devel-
opment of Niagara Falls. Colonel Gaskill built a pulp mill
on the hydraulic canal, that was subsequently consolidated
with the Pettebone Paper Company, and, like the Cataract
Milling Company, was only recently purchased by the Niagara
Falls Power Company and discontinued so as to make better
use of the water power that it took. He was one of the
first to recognize the merit in the Thomas Evershed plan for
harnessing the Falls, and he was one of the leading spirits in
the group of progressive men who organized the Niagara
Falls Power Company. Of this company he became the first
president, and it was to a considerable extentj due to his
indefatigable efforts in the face of great discouragements that
financial aid was obtained that made possible this great enter-
prise, and he continued with the company until William B.
Rankine had taken the lead and the success of the under-
taking was assured.
Among other enterprises of great importance to Niagara
Falls was the establishment of modern systems of transpor-
tation. He was foremost among business men who took over
the old horse car line, in the villages of Niagara Falls and
Suspension Bridge, and converted it into a safe, modern, elec-
tric railroad. For several years he served as president of
the Niagara Falls and Suspension Bridge Railway Company.
Late in the 80s Colonel Gaskill accepted the presidency
of the village of Niagara Falls, although in his busy life of
constructive work, politics as a leading issue, had never greatly
appealed to him. He was intensely interested, however, in
the welfare of his community, and his administration of the
presidential office was marked by firm enforcement of law
and order. Later, some years afterward when cityhood had
been established, he served several years on the Board of
Education, and to his initial efforts the school teachers of the
city are indebted for the pension system.
After his return from the Civil War, Colone? Gaskill
was united in marriage to Helen I. Sherwood of Niagara Falls,
who passed away in 1903. They had three daughters,
namely: Cora M., who is the wife of Morris Cohn, one of
the leading attorneys of Niagara county; Flora B., who is the
wife of George F. Nye, a prominent business man of the city,
and Miss Alice B.
HONORABLE THOMAS VINCENT WELCH
The special and unique distinction of Honorable Thomas
Vincen* Welch is that he was the leader of the inspiring
movement which culminated in the acquisition of the lands
adjoining the Falls of Niagara by the State of New York, and
in making the contemplation of this greatest natural spectacle
on the globe free to all mankind forever, and also that Mr.
Welch's refined and sensitive nature, which blended so per-
fectly with the beautiful and sublime, had full play in the dis-
charge of his duties as Superintendent of the New York State
Reservation at Niagara from the day of its opening until his
untimely death, a period of more than 1 8 years. Mr. Welch
also had more than the usual part in various other activities
that have made Niagara Falls a great and prosperous city, but
his name will be forever linked with that project of national
and international appeal that brought about the preservation
of the Creator's most marvelous work. Once reserved for all
time for the free use of the people, Mr. Welch proceeded to
restore the vicinity of the great cataracts to a state of nature,
and to erect such structures as were required for practical use,
like bridges and buildings, that would be in harmony with their
surroundings. Illustrations of what is meant are the rustic
bridges over the raceway beside the rapids, the Three Sister
Island bridges and the Goat Island bridges, the latter the
fourth that has been erected.
All great movements affecting the public require years
of agitation and education before consummation. So it was
with the Free Niagara project. Again, all great movements
require a leader. Scan the pages of American history and
you will invariably see that in connection with each the names
of some one individual stands out above all others, although
many people may do valuable work in co-operation. So it
was with the Free Niagara project. Inseparably connected
with the State Reservation at Niagara is the name of the late
Honorable Thomas V. Welch. Not only did Mr. Welch lead
the movement extending over a period of several years, that
finally resulted in success, but as Superintendent he did the
Honorable Thomas V. Welch was an especially gifted
public speaker. Early in life and until his death he was in
great demand as a speaker at political gatherings and at
many kinds of public functions. He had a most pleasing
and impressive personality. He was literary in his tastes,
wrote much good poetry, had a sense of humor that was
delicious and altogether had few equals and no superiors in
this section upon the public platform.
The story of the: life of Honorable Thomas Vincent
Welch, aside from the great and major activities that have
been referred to at some length here, is that Mr. Welch was a
self-made and self-educated man in every sense of the word.
Born October 1, 1850, in Onondaga county, N. Y., he worked
himself up to an unique place in the Hall of Fame in the
Empire State of New York. He was a son of Thomas and
Honora (Holland) Welch. In 185 7 his parents moved to
Niagara Falls, where his father died in 1877. There were
six children, Thomas V., Edward and John, and Honora, Ellen
and Ann, all deceased except Ellen.
Mr. Welch was educated in the public schools of Niag-
ara Falls, and at an early age he entered the employ of the
New York Central Railroad Company as timekeeper in the
shops in the village of Niagara Falls. In 1873 he was pro-
moted to be freight agent of the Central here, which position
he occupied for three years, leaving it at the expiration of
that time to engage in the mercantile business. For many
years afterwards, although also connected with public affairs,
he conducted a dry goods store on Falls street with Michael
Ryan and with James E. Rock, under the firm name of Welch
& Ryan and Welch & Rock- His particular fitness for the
discharge of public duties was manifested at the very begin-
ning of his public career. In 1873-4 he was clerk of the
village of Niagara Falls, and in 1 875-6 he was a village trustee.
In 1876, 1877 and in 1878 he was elected Supervisor of the
town of Niagara and in the latter year he was chosen as chair-
man of the Board of Supervisors of the county of Niagara.
Retiring as Supervisor, he was soon called again into public
life by being nominated by the Democratic party and elected
Member of Assembly from the second Assembly district of
Niagara county, which district is and always has been normally
Republican in political complexion, and he was re-elected in
1883 and 1884. He was a member of the committee on
ways and means in the Legislature and a leader in that body.
It was during the memorable presidential campaign of 1 884
that Mr. Welch acquired a wide reputation as a talented and
convincing speaker. His speeches in behalf of the election of
Grover Cleveland to the presidency made him an outstanding
figure and following the election of President Cleveland, Mr.
Welch was regarded as the most likely appointee for U. S.
Collector of Customs at the then Port of Suspension Bridge,
for many years the most powerful and most remunerative pub-
lic position in this part of the country. President Cleveland
came into office in 1 885, and this was just at the peak of the
"Free Niagara" movement. The unanimous choice of Mr.
Welch to be Superintendent, by the Niagara Reservation Com-
mission, was the cause of his devoting the remainder of his
years to that surpassingly great project.
On April 16, 1872, the New York Legislature incor-
porated the Soldiers' Monument Society of Niagara Falls.
Its purpose was to honor the brave deeds of Niagara county
soldiers on the battlefields. Mr. Welch was named as one of
the commissioners to carry out the purpose of the act and
delivered an address at the dedication of the monument on
August 22, 1976.
Mr. Welch played a most important part in the incor-
poration of the city of Niagara Falls. He was a member of
the charter committee, and, with Hon. W. Caryl Ely, was in
Albany when Governor Roswell P. Flower signed the Niag-
ara Falls city charter bill, March 1 7, 1892, in fact Governor
Flower was ready to sign the bill the day before, but Mr.
Welch requested him to hold off until St. Patrick's Day. He
procured the pen with which the governor signed the bill
and it is now in possession of the writer.
Elsewhere in this book it is shown that Mr. Welch had
a leading part in the organization of the Niagara Falls Power
Mr. Welch was the first president of the Memorial Hos-
pital Association and active in its affairs for many years.
He was a member of a great many civic societies and organ-
izations, many of which he helped to organize. He was
prominently identified with a number of organizations of
St. Mary's Church, a trustee of Niagara University and had
been president of the Catholic Total Abstinence Society. He
was vice-president of the Niagara Frontier Historical Society
at the time of his death, was also a member of the Niagara
Frontier Land Marks Association, and had served two terms
as president of the Civic Club, as president of the Niagara
County Pioneer Association, of the Shakespeare Club, and
was an honorary member of the Niagara County Farmers
Club, before which he frequently spoke.
Mr. Welch was married at Belfast, Allegany county,
N. Y., October 21, 1902, and died from an attack of typhoid
fever, just one year later, October 20, 1903.
HONORABLE WILLIAM CARYL ELY
Honorable William Caryl Ely was not a native of Niagara
county, but for more than 35 years his name was prominently
connected with large activities along the Niagara Frontier,
some of which are of interest far beyond the confines of this
section or even New York State. His name is being placed
upon one of the memorial monuments in Niagara Falls
because, among other things, he was a pioneer in electric street
railroad construction and development. In various respects
Mr. Ely was a national character, and his activities have even
been international at times.
Of absorbing and more than local interest is also Mr
Elys genealogy, for he traces his ancestry back to the May-
flower, which brought the Pilgrim Fathers to our shores in
1820. One of the outstanding features in the career of Wil-
liam Caryl Ely, is that he was one of the founders of the
Niagara Falls Power Company, which is now conducting at
Niagara Falls the greatest hydro-electric power development
in the world, and that he organized and became the head of
one of the largest electric railroad systems in the country,
which is operated by the Niagara power furnished by the
company that he helped to found.
William Caryl Ely was born at Middlefield, Otsego
County, N. Y., February 25, 1858. He was of German,
Dutch, English and French Huguenot ancestry and of New
England stock, tracing back to Colonist Edward Fuller, of the
Mayflower, and is a lineal descendant on his mothers side of
John and Priscilla (Mullins) Alden, through their daughter
Betty. Many of his forebears were soldiers in the colonial
struggles and the Revolutionary War, and among these
veterans who were pioneers in the wilderness that afterwards
became Otsego county, N. Y., were his great grandfathers,
Lieut. Benjamin Gilbert, Silas Crippen and Isaac Caryl, the
great great grandfather, Jonathan Caryl, serving in the Revo-
lutionary War from Vermont. The log cabin built by Silas
Crippen after blazing his way through the wilderness, still
stands in the town of Worcester, Otsego county. Mr. Elys
paternal grandparents were Leonard and Mary (Crippen)
Mr. Ely was educated in the common schools of the
towns of Middlefield and Worcester, in his native county, at
the Cooperstown Union School, Girard Academy at Girard,
Erie county, Pa., Delaware Literary Institute, at Franklin,
Delaware county, N. Y., with private tutors and at Cornell
University, class of 1878, leaving college in his junior year.
While in the university he enjoyed two years of instruction in
military tactics under West Point officers. Mr. Ely prepared
for the bar with John B. Holmes, of East Worcester, N. Y.,
was admitted in 1 882 and entered into practice in his home
town. In 1 885 he removed to Niagara Falls, where he prac-
ticed law continually until 1 899, and for five years was the
attorney of the village of Niagara Falls. After becoming a
resident of Niagara Falls, he was a director of the Cataract
Bank; one of the founders and the first attorney of the Niagara
County Savings Bank of Niagara Falls; a director of the Manu-
facturers' and Traders' Bank, and a trustee of the Fidelity
Trust Company of Buffalo, for several years.
In 1887 Mr. Ely became professionally associated with
Frank A. Dudley under the firm name of Ely & Dudley which,
in 1893, with the admission of Morris Cohn, Jr., became the
law firm of Ely, Dudley & Cohn. This firm was dissolved
in 1 899 when Mr. Ely became president of the International
Railway Company and retired from active practice.
Mr. Ely was born and reared in a political atmosphere
as his fathers and mother's families were both prominent in
local politics from the organization of the county, and were
all of the Democratic faith. In 1 880 and 1 881 Mr. Ely served
as clerk of the board of supervisors of Otsego county; in 1 882
and 1 883 he was supervisor of the town of Worcester, and
in 1883, 1884 and 1885 served in the State Legislature from
the first Assembly district of Otsego county. In 1885 he was
nominated for Speaker of the Assembly which nomination
automatically makes the nominee the leader of his party ioi
that session, when, as in this case, it was the minority party.
After coming to Niagara Falls, except the village attorneyship
above mentioned, Mr. Ely did not hold public office, although,
in 1 89 1 , he was honored with the Democratic nomination for
Justice of the Supreme Court in the Eighth Judicial district,
but the normal Republican majority was too large to over-
come. For several years he served as Democratic State com-
mitteeman from this district and as such was elected treasurer
of that body, a position he resigned in 1 896. At several
times Mr. Ely was prominently mentioned for the Democratic
nomination for Governor of New York and at the Democratic
State convention at Rochester in 1910, was actually tendered
and urged to accept the nomination but felt obliged to decline
for business reasons.
At a meeting in the office of Supt. Thomas V. Welch of
the Niagara State Reservation on Bath Island in January,
1 886, the project that became the Niagara Falls Power Com-
pany was born, those present being Mr. Ely, Mr. Welch,
Col. Gaskill, Henry S. Ware and Myron H. Kinsley. Under
and upon the advice of Mr. Ely it was determined to seek a
legislative charter, and to him was intrusted its preparation
and the guidance of the necessary legislation into final enact-
ment. Mr. Ely became a trustee and incorporator of the
company, and devoted a great amount of time to the enterprise
during the next six years.
Mr. Ely now became in rapid succession counsel and
attorney for most of the large concerns in Niagara Falls. In
1887 he handled the incorporation and financing of Carter
and Company, Limited, from which has grown the American
Salesbook Company, Limited, and soon after the manufac-
turing company, out of which has come Wm. A. Rogers,
Limited, of both of which companies Mr. Ely was a director
for about 30 years. He conceived the plan and built the
Buffalo & Niagara Falls Electric Railroad and became the
president of the company. All of the electric railroad lines
on the Niagara Frontier, on both sides of the river, except the
Niagara Gorge Railroad, were merged into the International
Railway Company in 1 899 and Mr. Ely became president of
that. He and his associates sold their interests in 1905 and
Mr. Ely immediately became interested in electric railway and
public utility enterprises in the Ohio valley between Pittsburg
and Wheeling, and built between Beaver, Pa., and Steuben-
ville, Ohio, one of the finest electric railways in the country,
and was president of The Ohio Valley Finance Company, the
holding company. He was president of the American Electric
Railway Association in 1903-4-5-6. He also was prominently
identified with many other corporate and other enterprises.
Mr. Ely was married February 1 3, 1 884, at Cobleskill,
Schoharie county, N. Y., to Grace Keller, daughter of Rev.
Llenry and Josephine (Courter) Keller. The Courter family
was one of the most prominent in the social and business life
of Schoharie county from its earliest days. Mr. and Mrs. Ely
had one daughter, Marion Caryl, who became the wife of
Elbridge Gerry Spaulding of Buffalo.
Mr. Ely was a communicant of the Episcopal Church, a
member of Niagara Frontier Lodge, No. 1 32, F. & A. M.,
of patriotic orge 'zations and various clubs in Niagara Falls,
Buffalo and N York. He died suddenly in New York in
1922 and his remains are interred in Buffalo.
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