CAMDEN, NEW JERSEY
The Life And Times of Warren Webster
Warren Webster Jr.
The building has been boarded up and empty for decades, the company long gone, and a brand name that was once a standard in its line is now all but forgotten. In its day, Warren Webster & Company provided heating systems for plants, factories, and large buildings all over the country. Warren Webster & Co. developed systems and control that made it possible to provide continuous, comfortable, and economical steam heat to large buildings. To wit, if you are in a building built in the first part of the 20th Century, there is a strong probability that there are or were Warren Webster components inside.
Warren Webster founded his business in Philadelphia in 1888. He brought his firm to Camden five years later. A large factory was built at Point and Pearl Streets. After World War I a larger plant was built at 17th & Federal Street in East Camden when it was determined that the original plant lay in the path of the soon to be constructed Delaware River Bridge.
Warren Webster passed away in December of 1938, during the 50th year of his firm's existence. His son, Warren Webster Jr. then headed the company. Sadly, grandson Warren Webster III, a graduate of West Point, was killed in action while serving in Korea in February of 1953. The company was still open in Camden as late as 1959, but by 1970 Warren Webster & Company was no longer listed in the Camden County telephone directory.
Warren Webster Jr. wrote this biography of his father, of which a limited edition was published, in 1942.
THE LIFE AND TIMES
WARREN WEBSTER, JR.
In some parts of this book, fictitious names are used. These names were selected at random and any similarity to the names of persons living or dead is purely coincidental.
In some parts of this book, fictitious names are used. These names were selected at random and any similarity to the names of persons living or dead is purely coincidental.
"An institution is the lengthened shadow of one man"—never were these oft-quoted words of Emerson more truly applicable than to my father. His character and personality are interwoven in every policy and method of Warren Webster and Company.
Beginning his career when the use of steam was practically restricted to motive-power, Warren Webster saw its growth as the great building-heating medium, its adoption as an integral factor of processing in countless fields of manufacture, and, finally, its being wedded to electricity in unbelievable refinements of control and application.
Through all this period he played an important and pioneering part and in his later days could contemplate the installation of 10,000 Webster Feedwater Heaters and nearly 75,000 Webster Systems of Steam Heating in many of the world's finest buildings, and the use of Webster products as standard equipment wherever steam apparatus is used.
His goals were never the establishment of some chemical reaction or the invention of some particular mechanism, but rather a ceaseless day-by-day struggle toward improvement and better application, to master new problems and supply new needs, technical and economical, being created by rapid advances in every field of manufacturing and industry.
The incidents of each interesting hour were stored in his memory. He took pleasure in recounting experiences and there was nothing I liked better than listening to him. His reminiscences had the vividness of pictures thrown on a screen. One could tell by the intensity of his eyes, by the inflections of his voice, by the casual mention of some minute detail, that his imagination had bridged the years and he was actually re-living the incident. His stories were lean and to the point. They seldom contained any preachment or explanation, yet when he recounted some decision or action one instinctively realized the clear thinking and fair principle behind it.
I feel that anyone who reads these pages cannot fail to grasp my father's ideals and objectives. For this reason, the anecdotes are told in his own words, just as he related them, for like most men of action he disliked writing, especially of himself.
No co-operation, service or courtesy shown Warren Webster was ever forgotten by him. If any of my father's old comrades fail to find here any mention of incidents shared together, the fault is mine and I realize the reminiscences presented in this book hardly skim the surface of his experiences. In extenuation, however, let me explain this book is not intended to be an exact chronological biography, nor is it a history of the development of Warren Webster & Company. I can only hope that its perusal will give the reader a true picture of the character and personality of Warren Webster; of his courtesy, kindness, unfailing humor, simplicity and fairness, of his keen judgment and vision, of the fibre and iron in the man, and of the principles which entered into the structure of the institution he founded.
Warren Webster had a tremendous capacity for work—for getting things done. He was quick to recognize talent and ability in others and never hesitated to acknowledge it. He surrounded himself with assistants whose competence and loyalty he knew and trusted. His mind had the rare quality of quickly orienting itself to the problems he placed before it and of concentrating on them, no matter how much effort was involved, until the solution was found. This is evidenced not only by his mechanical developments but also by his almost inspirational steering of the finances of Warren Webster & Company through many critical periods and his handling of his "side interests"—whether it happened to be the affairs of a shipping line or the rehabilitation of Florida orange groves and hotels. Any one field of his labors might well be deemed a busy life's work, yet he never considered himself overburdened or even taxed to capacity and he always seemed to have ample time for everything. Warren Webster's life was one of service and in contemplating its many phases well may we say with Bacon "inventors and authors of new arts, endowments and commodities towards man's life were ever consecrated among the gods themselves."
Since a man's life is so definitely a part of the times in which he lives, I have devoted several chapters in this book to presenting a background of contemporary events. The historical information gives some idea of the problems that my father faced and how he played a leading role in one of the greatest periods of scientific and mechanical development in the experience of man.
WARREN WEBSTER, JR.
UNDER LOWERING CLOUDS
IT IS a generally accepted theory that protracted epochs of great mental strain and emotion, such as occasioned by war or pestilence, exert a definite influence on the characters of children born during the period.
My father was a striking contradiction of this theory. He was quite the reverse of bitter, sectionistic or militaristic. Yet his was an exceptionally fitting test-case, for he was born on June 25, 1863, in Philadelphia, in the then charming old residential section of Tioga at that time almost rural in its setting.
Those were the darkest days in the city's history since Howe's occupation had banished Washington and his army to the bleak heights of Valley Forge more than three-quarters of a century before. For Pennsylvania, from which had come the long-barreled "Kentucky" rifle of pioneer song and story, was true to .its traditions as a fighting State. To the Civil War Pennsylvania sent 366,000 men—one of every eight inhabitants.
Hardly had the cannonading at Fort Sumter died away and President Lincoln issued his first call than there began a crosstraffic— Pennsylvania volunteers going South and a steady stream of wounded pouring North. In 1863, the third year of the war, the score heavily favored the Confederacy. When in the early summer Lee reached the Shenandoah Valley, consternation spread through the Middle States and the impending cloud hung heavy over Philadelphia. Stores and shops closed their doors. Crowds packed Chestnut and Market Streets, congregating before the newspaper offices. There were tales and rumors of dark deeds by the enemy's guerrillas—such as the Lawrence, Kansas, massacre by Quantrelle and his band.
President Lincoln called for 100,000 additional volunteers— 50,000 to be supplied by Pennsylvania. Governor Curtin demanded more volunteers to defend the State. Philadelphia Councils appropriated $500,000 for home defenses. Such citizens as were exempt from active military service were ordered to form a corps for the protection of the town.
My grandfather, Jones Webster, was an advertising man, and for fifty years conducted an office (probably one of the very first in that line of business) at 30 North Fifth Street. He was in close touch with the newspapers and therefore heard every rumor as it reached the city, so that his household must have been exceptionally well informed.
My father was just six days old when on the night of July 1st word reached Philadelphia that the state had been invaded and that a terrific battle was in progress near the Southwestern border. During the 2nd and 3rd the wildest rumors were in circulation; some claimed the Confederates were advancing, others that they had been all but annihilated. On the 5th, Meade's dispatches brought definite announcement of the great victory of Gettysburg over the Army of Virginia, commanded by Lee in person.
Among the endless tales of the battle was one recounting how on the first day General G. K. Warren, observing that by some oversight two strategic points, Round Top and Little Round Top, had been left unoccupied, had called up the Fifth Corps and seized both places, that their possession had proved a vital factor and might well have been responsible for the victory.
General Warren was my grandfather's particular war hero— and when my father was christened he was named "Warren" in his honor.
News of the Union victory at Vicksburg on the 4th was now Confirmed. For the moment the threat of invasion was lifted, but not the horrors of war. General Hancock, with a shattered leg, and five hundred other wounded arrived on the 5th, followed by four thousand more on the 12th, as well as three thousand Confederates, who were conveyed to Fort Delaware. Long lists of dead and missing brought grief to innumerable homes.
Then came the "draft" because the volunteer system could no longer raise troops fast enough. Three hundred thousand men were needed. There was considerable grumbling among the citizens, but nothing approaching the anti-draft riots of New York, where for days the city was in the hands of the mob. Another half-year, and there came a call for two hundred thousand more men. In these two drafts, alone, Philadelphia supplied thirteen thousand men. In the last draft of three hundred thousand men, in December, 1864, Philadelphia's quota was eleven thousand five hundred.
After the second battle of Bull Run, seventeen hundred wounded arrived in Philadelphia, and at least five thousand more after Grant's battles in Virginia. The hospitals could no longer accommodate the wounded and various buildings were pressed into service. Nor were there sufficient trained nurses, but Sisters of Charity under the famous Sister Gonzaga came to the aid of the city. In 1864, also, was held the great Sanitary Fair in Logan Square. This Fair, attended by President Lincoln himself, raised more than $1,000,000 for purchasing hospital supplies for wounded soldiers of Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey.
The days passed—Chickamauga, Chattanooga, the Second Battle of the Wilderness, Spottsylvania, New Market, Cold Harbor, Nashville, all swelled the mounting lists of Pennsylvania's dead and wounded. On April 9,1865, came news of Lee's surrender. It was time. The country breathed with relief, but there was little frolicking or mirth—there were too many vacant chairs around the family tables.
Six days of quiet, then on April 15th there flashed over the wires the news that President Lincoln had been shot, followed on the 16th by the announcement of his death. There was some confusion at first, as the telegraph was still in an imperfect state, for Edison, then a lad of sixteen, was working "night wires" in the Middle-West and even then developing his inventions which were to revolutionize telegraphy. But as the news became confirmed beyond the possibility of doubt, the country was stunned as no victory or defeat in five bloody years had had power to stun it. After Appomattox, Grant had said "Let us have peace," and had told the Confederates to "keep their horses for the plowing." But there was no peace in the South and little plowing. A maniac's hand had removed the preserver of the Union, the defender of Liberty, the true friend of the South. It had let loose a passion of hatred and all the woes of the Reconstruction Period, in which it is said more lives were lost than at Gettysburg, Chancellorsville and Antietam.
CHILDHOOD AT WOODBURY, N. J
MY GRANDMOTHER'S maiden name was Sarah Holmes Thorn. She was a farmer's daughter and both she and my grandfather were born in New Jersey. They had six children— Elwood S., A. Spencer, Laura, Warren (my father), Theodore L., and Hannah L. In 1869, when my father was six years old, the family moved across the Delaware to Woodbury, N. J. There they lived for about seven years, my father attending the public schools.
Of his childhood at Woodbury my father had many tales to recount, but the one I like best was about his earning his first money. It illustrates in a practical way the old saying that "the boy is father to the man."
"I earned my first money," he would say, "when I was ten or eleven years old. I had a mighty hard time doing it, too, but it was really my own fault. One day I heard a farmer-friend tell my father that he had a batch of sweet-potato vines which he wanted to plant right away, but that owing to the labor-shortage he could get no help. I asked if it were work that I could do and the farmer said it was. Accordingly, I went with him to his farm to spend the night and the next morning we went out to plant the vines. Not having much idea of the working conditions, I had worn a pair of new shoes, which I prized a good deal. I soon found that the sand and mud were playing havoc with my shoes. I accordingly took them off, placed them carefully under a bush and started working in my bare feet.
"Pretty soon the sun began to warm the sand and, as the day wore on, it became so hot that I couldn't stand in one spot for more than a few seconds. So, there was I—moving around to keep my feet from blistering and determined to plant those vines without damaging my new shoes in doing so. I had a deuce of a time, but I stuck it out—and got 50c, my first money, for the job.
"Soon after that I did a day's work for another farmer, Mr. Soley, for 35c, and he paid me off with a 25c and 10c note."
My father kept these notes and later gave them to my mother and they have become something of a family heirloom.
It was in 1875 and Warren Webster was still living at Woodbury when he encountered his famous "bootblack story" which was to be associated with him all his life much as "Casey at the Bat" became identified with DeWoIfe Hopper. And it came about in this way. His brother Elwood returned from New York with a most unusual business-card. On this card a New York bootblack painted such a glowing picture of the pleasures and advantages of having one's shoes shined, that his business had grown by leaps and bounds until he was then operating chairs for twenty-four persons. My father memorized the advertisement and returned the card to his brother. The only time he ever wrote down its contents was the copy he gave me, but in the years since 1875 he quoted its contents hundreds of times—at meetings, in conversations and, regularly, at the request of the employees, at every Christmas entertainment at the Webster factory. I learned it by heart, myself, when a youngster-—just from hearing my father repeat it. Concerning this story, my father said:
"I have had a lot of fun with the bootblack story. I gave it one night at a meeting at which Senator Simmons, of Buffalo, was present. Senator Simmons wanted me to write it down for him. I told him to get a stenographer so I could dictate to her—as I couldn't stop and lose the thought. He never did get the written story."
At another time, at an advertising assembly in Atlantic City, they called on Warren Webster, and he said:
"I don't know of any particular thing that helps business so much as being able to advertise in such a way that people know exactly what they are going to get. Make clear the advantages of what you are going to sell. There was a bootblack in New York who made a fortune because he knew how to advertise his business. Here is what his business-card said: 'Pedal teguments artistically illuminated and lubricated for the infinitesimal remuneration of five cents per operation. Antiquated teguments, pedal or super-pedal, executed judiciously for nominal compensation. Of the innumerable foretastes of heaven enjoyed by every patron, I would simply state that from the eventuation of the operation even to its ultimate successful completion, the patient reclines upon cushions which a sybarite might envy, in a superlatively luxurious attitude, inhaling the life-giving ozone for which my studio is far renowned and gazing enraptured upon the kaleidoscopic landscape which lies beneath. Irrefutable evidence of the veracity of the foregoing statements will be promptly proven by applying to Professor Bismarck, 143 Boreal Building, New York City. Shine, 5c.' "
This is the first time this story has been given in print since 1875.
MODERN America—mechanical America as we know it, with machinery and devices to facilitate practically every action in life, is a matter of evolution. Generally founded on theories, discoveries and inventions of earlier date, the advances in all fields began to show definite form and practicability between the years 1860 and 1876. These advances were not confined to America, but were general all over the world. In fact, there is something very suggestive of telepathy in the number of men, widely separated and entirely out of communication, who worked at the same things at one time.
In the United States the West flamed with conflict between the ever-spreading white settlers and the Indians. There was little law but the six-guns in the towns and the worst and sometimes the best elements of the disbanded Union and Confederate forces, unable to endure the monotonies of normal life after five years of demoralizing war, found there an outlet for their energies. It was the day of Jesse James, John Anderson, the Dalton Boys and other "bad men"—of Buffalo Bill, Texas Jack and the frontier heroes. The South emerged painfully and often bloodily from the Reconstruction. The troubles of paper money, of the great "Black Friday" of '69, of constant political brawls and scandals, terminating in the impeachment of President Johnson, kept the East in turmoil. In Cuba, at our very doors, a bitter insurrection raged year after year. In Europe, Bismarck embarked on his wars against Austria and Denmark, and finally in a titanic struggle with France, established the German Empire.
Throughout Southern and Southeastern Europe insurrection followed insurrection. Conflicts in various parts of the British Empire added to the confusion. Considering the existing wars, political changes, financial depressions, etc., the immense and far-reaching accomplishments of this decade and a half are truly amazing.
In 1863, Edison, still a boy, had made several important improvements in telegraph instruments. In 1864, even while the fields of Virginia ran crimson with blood, the open-hearth process of steel was developed. In the next ten years, steel production doubled itself seven times. Andrew Carnegie built his first steel mill in Pittsburgh in 1876. In 1865, the year of the Appomattox surrender and the assassination of Lincoln, the first short stretch of pipe line was laid in the Allegheny River Valley. By 1875 more than eight million barrels of oil was pouring through this and other pipe lines. In 1869, the first chilled steel plow was invented —and many farmers refused to use it, claiming it "poisoned" the ground. Between 1854 and 1866, Cyrus Field, after heartbreaking failures and disappointments, laid the Atlantic Cable. In 1867, the United States purchased Alaska from Russia for $7,200,000. Secretary of State William H. Seward, who conducted the negotiations, was roundly denounced by the New York Evening Post. James Gordon Bennett, famous editor of the New York Herald, ridiculed the purchase, calling it the beginning of a scheme for the annexation of Canada. The general attitude of the press was one of disapproval. But—from 1880 to 1935, Alaska yielded $400,000,000 in gold!
On May 10, 1869, the laat spike was driven in the last rail completing the Pacific Railroad—and the continent was spanned.
New York and San Francisco became days instead of months apart. Johns Hopkins University was founded in 1876. In 1844, Dr. Horace Wells, dentist, Hartford, Conn., had teeth painlessly extracted while under an anesthetic. Local anesthetics, ether and chloroform came into general use. Bell, Gray, Edison and half-a-dozen others were laboring at the telephone and Brush and his rivals were working on electric lights.
All this development work, naturally, sought a world audience. Philadelphia, which had printed the first daily newspaper in America, published the first magazine, established the first circulating library, founded the first corporate bank and the first medical college, built the first American warships, unfurled the first American flag, been the home of the first National Congress and the first Supreme Court of the United States—Philadelphia now afforded that world audience in the first international exposition held in the country, the Centennial, from May 10th to November 10th, 1876.
There have been wonderful fairs since the Centennial—Chicago, Buffalo, St. Louis, Chicago, Philadelphia (the Sesqui-Centennial), San Francisco, New York, offering far greater and more highly perfected wonders, but no Fair or similar event has had so profound an influence on the nation as did the Centennial.
For the exhibits were new and the minds of those who examined them were fresh, impressionable and not surfeited with mechanical miracles. It was still a world empty of bicycles, automobiles, electric trolley-cars, airplanes, phonographs, radios, telephones.
One took a train, horse-car, bus, carriage—or walked. From start to finish, the Centennial was not only a success but an event. As a foretaste of what was to come, the Franklin Institute gave a brilliant exhibition of mechanical arts in the Fall of 1874. On New Year's Day the Centennial Year was ushered in with a great celebration at Independence Hall, during which Mayor Stokley raised the old colonial flag.
The Federal Government refused financial aid to the Centennial, but made a loan of $1,500,000—every cent of which was repaid. Scores of buildings had been erected by various industries, states and countries, on a scale never before attempted for a Fair. Prominent among them were the Main Building; Machinery Hall, 1402 x 360 feet, cost $792,000; Memorial Hall, 365 x 210 feet, cost $1,500,000; Agricultural Hall, 826 x 540 feet, cost $1,600,000; Horticultural Hall, 383 x 193 feet, cost $251,937. Horticultural and Memorial Halls are still in use. Many of the statues and memorials erected still stand—notably the Catholic Temperance Fountain and the Civil War Monument.
There were 1200 exhibitors and 30,000 exhibits at the Fair. Prior to the opening, exhibits had arrived at the rate of seventy carloads a day. An early arrival was "Stonewall Jackson," a 4500-pound bull from Missouri. From Cadiz, Spain, came 87 cases of exhibits and a full cargo arrived from Sweden. In Egyptian Hall over 6,000 catalogued articles were on display. In addition to other displays, British exhibits that arrived on the S. S. Pennsgrove were estimated to be worth 1,500,000—and claimed to be the richest cargo ever received in America from England. There was erected temporarily on the grounds the Statue of Liberty, by Bartholdi, 152 feet high, gift of the French people to the United States. It was afterwards permanently erected in New York harbor where it stands "enlightening the world." A model of Paris attracted wide attention. Also a gigantic Krupp gun in Machinery Hall, which, by some chance, pointed directly at the French section. It was noted also that the eyes of Commodore Barry, on the Temperance Fountain, were fixed on the immense Union Jack on the British Government Building.
Among the millions visiting the Centennial were the Emperor and Empress of Brazil and a host of European royalty and notables. The Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company of Boston chartered a steamer to convey them to the Fair. On July 24th the Cincinnati Light Guards, thirty in number, reached the Fair and encamped on the grounds, having marched eight hundred miles.
Richard Wagner composed a grand march for the Centennial, his fee being $5,000.00 gold. One of the "instruments" was a park of artillery. In Machinery Hall, a chime of thirteen bells, representing the original States, was rung at sunrise, noon and sunset every day. A remarkable fireworks display featured Fourth of July at the Fair, in conjunction with a brilliant military pageant.
The Centennial was officially opened by President Grant when, at noon, on Wednesday, May 10, 1876, he started the great Corliss engine in Machinery Hall. Of all the thousands of exhibits, not even excluding Brush's electric arc lights, this immense engine seemed most to fascinate the crowds and, indeed, to symbolize the Centennial. It furnished power for eighteen acres of machinery and was described as "almost noiseless." It was 39 feet in height, and weighed 1,792,000 pounds. It drove eight miles of shafting. The flywheel was 30 feet in diameter. It developed 1500 h.p. and could be forced up to 2500 h.p. It had two walking-beams, weighing 22 tons each, two 40-inch cylinders and a 10-foot stroke. The crankshaft was 19 inches in diameter and 12 feet long; connecting rods were 24 feet long; piston rods, 6¼ inches in diameter. The platform was 55 feet in diameter, of polished plates, on a brick foundation. The inventor, patentee and builder was George H. Corliss, Providence, R. I.
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Warren Webster was just thirteen years old at the time of the Centennial. Early one morning he and a chum, with all their savings in their pockets, set out for the Fair. They went by train to Camden, crossed the Delaware on the ferry and took a horse-car for the Grounds. Knowing his burning curiosity about everything, it may safely be assumed that very little of the Fair escaped him. A detail he mentioned in after years was having his shoes shined by a new electrical shoe-shining machine, automatically operated by inserting a nickel in the slot. He observed so much and absorbed so much that it took many days to assimilate it. The impression produced was both deep and lasting.
In after years he never referred to the Centennial without adding: "That was a wonderful exposition!" Warren Webster probably gazed long and wonderingly at the Corliss engine in Machinery Building, as did so many thousands of others—and at the immense boilers which gave it power. Little did he think that within a few short years steam heating throughout the world would bear the name of "Webster."
* * *
In the year 1876, while the crowds sauntered through the Centennial Grounds and trains and steamships daily brought fresh quotas of visitors from all over the world, many memorable events were transpiring elsewhere.
On March 17th, the Black Hills gold rush began, re-enacting the days of '49. This precipitated the great Indian uprising. On June 25th, General Custer attacked an Indian village of 2000 lodges on the Little Big Horn. He was met by a large force of Sioux under Chiefs Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse, and he and his entire command of three hundred and five officers and men were killed to the last man.
On Friday and Saturday, August llth and 12th, the Madeleine, of the New York Yacht Club, defeated the Countess of Dufferin to retain the Queen's (America) Cup. Governor Rutherford B. Hayes, of Ohio, and William A. Wheeler, running on the Republican ticket, were elected President and Vice-President, respectively, but their election was not confirmed by the "Electoral Commission" until March, 1877.
BACK IN PHILADELPHIA—GROWING UP
IN THE latter part of 1876, the Webster family moved back to Philadelphia, occupying a home at 1709 Columbia Avenue. During the next few years Warren Webster attended the George G. Meade Grammar School, at 18th and Oxford Streets, and Central High School, at Broad and Green Streets.
"When I was about sixteen years old," related my father, "I carried baskets in the market at 20th and Oxford Streets, and averaged $2 an afternoon. I also shoveled snow off pavements. I didn't think anything of it. To me it was merely being able to get hold of some money—and I was willing to work for it. I made money while others were playing because I liked to do it—and that was how that was managed. Once I worked for a week for David W. Garrigues, painting chairs, for which I received $4—$3 of which I turned over to my mother.
"In the summer of 1878, another boy and I agreed to distribute one thousand folding fans in the Girard Market Place for a fee of 50 cents each. On one side of the fan was a Japanese picture; on the other side was the following advertisement: 'Dr. VanDyke's Sulphur Soap—Extracts the Effete Eliminations of the Body and Re-establishes Health-giving and Revitalizing Organisms.' The day the fans were to be given away was very warm. After giving away about fifty fans, I decided I could sell them. I put a price of 5c each on the remainder and sold them all. When we went back to the man who had hired us, I told him we had sold the fans and he need not pay us anything. He was satisfied, but rather surprised that there was such a demand for the fans.
"Around that time," continued my father, "I worked for six weeks for a Philadelphia dentist at ^5.00 a week. I made gas, polished artificial teeth and adjusted the vulcanizer, according to instructions the dentist gave me. It was interesting work—and I liked it."
When Warren Webster was seventeen, in 1880, after his graduation from Central High School, Philadelphia, he received an appointment as a cadet at the U. S. Naval Academy. With twenty-five other cadets from various states he went to Annapolis to take the entrance examination. On the first day of the examinations, he was disqualified on account of poor eyesight. He couldn't distinguish colors sufficiently well to pass.
"For the moment," said he, "I was very much discouraged and didn't know what to do. However, as I had paid my board in advance and couldn't get it back, I decided to stay and look around. I walked down to the dock and saw a sailboat tied up there and the idea of hiring it occurred to me. A colored man who was aboard the boat told me where the owner was. Accordingly I went to the owner and spoke to him about hiring the boat provided I could handle it. He said: 'Well, how do I know that you can handle it?' I said, 'You don't know—I don't know myself. But I'm used to sailing and I would like to try it.'
"I got the colored man to go with me to handle the halyards. I said to the owner: 'I will sail across the bay or far enough to see how she handles.' He let me try it, and when I came back I rounded up right at the dock. 'You're all right, boy,' he said, 'you can hire the yacht if you want her.'
"I made arrangements to hire the sailboat and then, as it was nearly noon, I went up to the boarding-house where the boys were all at lunch. I took my place and told them that I had been disqualified on account of poor eyesight but that I hoped they would all be successful. I then told them that I had hired the yacht and offered to take them sailing that afternoon for 50c each. Twenty or twenty-two went with me that afternoon—and the same number the next day. At the end of the week, after paying the sailboat owner and the colored man, I had a net profit of about $50.
"My brother, Elwood, had lent me $25 to pay my expenses to Annapolis. When I got home I pulled out my wallet and said 'Here is the $25 expense-money you lent me—thanks.' He was surprised to see the wad of notes I took out of my wallet, and said: 'I didn't expect anything back—but where did you get all that money?' I told him about taking the boys sailing. He thought that was a clever idea for a fellow as young as I was.
I told him I believed I could handle a similar cruise on Delaware Bay and that I had more nerve now than on the first venture.
"I got in touch with Captain Peter Crozier, who owned a single-masted sloop, berthed at the Poplar Street Wharf, and arranged to hire it from him for ten days for $15.00. My brother was favorably impressed with the idea and wrote an advertisement for me to run in the Public Ledger. It was worded:
'Independent Yacht Club will make a 10 day cruise down the Delaware. Price, $15. Limited capacity—10. No liquor. References required.'
"I received forty-three replies, and from these applicants picked ten. I was captain, and I hired a cook. All the work was done by the boys in the party. We systematized the work, keeping the decks clean, setting the sails and raising the anchor; we also organized regular watches. Nobody was paid except the cook, who received $8.00.
"The trip worked out beautifully. We cruised down the Delaware to Maurice River and back, fishing and enjoying the beach facilities en route. I believe I made about $85.00 clear.
"That same summer of 1880," Warren Webster continued, "five other boys and I bought an old sloop for $60.00—and started on another cruise down the Delaware. One of the boys began to drink. We let him drink all he wanted and then took him off the sloop to a hotel at Bombay Hook, arranging with the proprietor to keep him overnight and send him back to Philadelphia next morning. We then set sail across the Bay for Sea Breeze.
"When we were about one-third of a mile from Cohansey Light, a squall came up and the rowboat that was being towed behind the sloop filled with water and had to be cut loose. Then the topinlift broke, causing the boom to drop overboard and the sloop to fill with water. As we were carrying about a ton of stone ballast, the sloop soon sank.
"Fortunately, we were seen by the lighthouse-keeper at Cohansey Light and he turned on the light early to guide us in the approaching darkness as we swam through the heavy seas towards shore. Four of us finally reached the marshes where it was shallow enough to stand, but the other boy had to be pulled in and revived. But we still had to reach Cohansey Light, which necessitated our swimming Cohansey Creek and struggling a considerable distance with the water up to our armpits over a bottom so soft that our feet sank deep with each step. It was pitch dark. When at last we got to Cohansey Light, a white-haired old lady welcomed us with hot food, dry clothes and tubs in which to wash both ourselves and our clothing; later she gave us a room with two great beds.
"The next day was fair and clear. The problem now was how to get home? Fortunately, a Captain Schenckle, a retired meat merchant, stopped by to ask for information regarding the sloop he had seen in trouble the night before. When he found that we boys were the crew and that we were, by good luck, safe and sound, he offered to take us back to Philadelphia in his yacht. As a result of this strenuous adventure I lost fifteen pounds."
Captain Schenckle took a great liking to Warren Webster and soon after the Cohansey Light affair invited him to go on a yachting trip down Delaware Bay, promising to instruct him in the finer points of sailing and navigation. Here is the story of the trip as Warren Webster related it:
"The first night we anchored at low tide at the mouth of Murder Kill Creek. When the tide rose five or six feet, the cable was too short and the anchor did not hold, so we were driven out to the ocean. Asleep in the cabin we knew nothing of this until I was awakened by thumps on the deck. Looking out the port, I found the wind had driven us right alongside a barkentine, the crew of which was throwing lumps of coal on our deck to awaken us. I shook the Captain by the leg and awoke him. He went out on deck and began to laugh, saying: 'Well, you just didn't put enough cable out last night so we were blown out here in the ocean.' We sailed in and anchored in Murder Kill Creek.
"The next day we were cruising about two miles off shore, when Captain Schenckle, wearing heavy boots, went out on the end of the boom to reef the sail. In some way, he slipped and fell into the water. Tying the sheet-rope under my arms so that it couldn't slip, I jumped into the water and swam out to the Captain. The rope was slack, but when it became taut we were able to haul ourselves back to the yacht. The Captain's heavy boots made it difficult for him to reach the deck, so I made a rope cradle for him to step in and then it was easy. Strange to say, until this trip Captain Schenckle had always gone out alone and this was his first accident. This happened in 1880 when I was seventeen years old."
"At that time," continued Warren Webster, "I attended a Sunday-school Class in Philadelphia, taught by the late Mr. John Wanamaker. In his talk to the boys, Mr. Wanamaker said: 'You are just starting out in life. You may be looking for easy roads to travel, but you won't find them. You have to work hard to accomplish anything worthwhile. You will encounter troubles, but don't become discouraged. Trouble is like a snowball. When a snowball starts at the top of a hill, it rolls and gathers more snow. But when the snowball of trouble gets down to the bottom of the hill, don't be found under it—be found on top.'
"One day, forty-five years later, I was with Mr. Wanamaker at Pass-a-Grille, Florida. It was just at sunset. Mr. Wanamaker stood watching the sun in silence as it seemed to dip into the Gulf of Mexico. When at last every ray had disappeared, he turned to me and said: 'The sunset is always sacred to me. I make it a rule never to be disturbed by anybody or anything while the sun is setting.'
"I then told Mr. Wanamaker how impressed I had been with his snowball story in the Philadelphia Sunday-school years before.
'It is a beautiful story, Mr. Wanamaker,' I said, 'I have always kept it in mind and passed it along to others.' 'That was a great many years ago,' said Mr. Wanamaker. 'It does me a lot of good to hear you say that. I am glad to know that you thought that advice worth following.' ".
HE GOES TO WORK
ON APRIL 23, 1881, two months before his eighteenth birthday, Warren Webster graduated from Union Business College, now Pierce's Business College, in Philadelphia. His first thought was to get a job. He had always dreamed of the time when he would be in business for himself, but he realized that he must first have some practical business experience and accumulate some capital. Said he:
"N. G. Taylor & Co., 303 Branch Street, Philadelphia, had advertised for a boy. They requested that all applications be made in writing, but I plucked up courage and made my application in person. When Mr. Taylor, a partner in the business, started to look for my letter, I said: 'Mr. Taylor, you won't find any letter there from me. I didn't write one. I am a graduate of Union Business College and I am looking for an opportunity. I have push, pluck and perseverance. I will work a month for nothing if you will give me a chance. I want to learn.' You can have the job,' Mr. Taylor replied, 'but I can't have boys working around here for nothing.'
"I received $4 a week, the regular starting wage. My first duty was copying letters. Those were the days of the wet-clothbook-and-letter-press. The method required having the cloth at a certain dampness in order to obtain a good copy. As I had no experience, I got the cloth too wet and spoiled a few letters. The boy who had been doing this work previously saw this and said, 'Mr. Taylor won't stand for anybody spoiling letters. If I were you I would tear up the letters and forget them.' I said, 'That isn't my idea of doing it.'
"I took the three spoiled letters and went into Mr. Taylor's office. 'Mr. Taylor,' I said, 'I have ruined three letters because I didn't know just how to work that job. If you will let the other boy stay down tonight and show me how to do it, I promise you there will be no more spoiled letters.' That night the other boy stayed and gave me a lesson on how to copy letters, and I paid him half-a-dollar for the trouble."
Soon Warren Webster wanted more work to do. He was made assistant to the man who ran the Sheet Iron Department. He worked hard and soon was transferred to the Babbitt Metals Department.
Here he had to weigh the mixtures. He memorized the day-to-day stock sheet in the Sheet Metal Department and knew exactly how much of each material was on hand at any given time. When he went on vacation, Mr. Taylor realized how much he had come to depend on the boy. So Warren Webster was given charge of the Department, with a fifty percent raise in salary—to $6.00 a week.
"Soon after that," said my father, "I got another raise—this time to $12.00 a week, or just double my salary. It came about in this way: Many of Taylor & Co.'s shipments came from Wales. Up until this time Mr. Taylor had always accepted the vouchers that came with each shipment without checking them. I soon found by weighing them that the sheets were lighter than marked. That was how the economy was effected. It made a difference of about $1500 on one shipment from Wales—and I got my raise.
"My next job," he continued, "was as a salesman for the American Oxide Bronze Company, Philadelphia. They had a secret process for .manufacturing bronze castings. My salary was $15.00 a week plus 5% commission on sales. I managed to sell more than they were producing, but they could have produced more, for they had four crucibles and only worked two. They were so well satisfied with my work that they gave me some stock in the Company. Later I sold the stock for $500.00.
"I was then twenty-one," said Warren Webster, "and was determined to go into a business where I could be completely on my own. I had saved $1000.00 between 1881 and 1884, while working for N. G. Taylor & Co. and the American Oxide Bronze Company. I intended to invest $500.00 and hold $500.00 in reserve.
"I went to see a business acquaintance, Mr. Ott (of George F. Ott & Company) to inquire about a location for a casting shop. He sent me to a Mr. Kohler at his hardware store on Second Street in Philadelphia. Mr. Kohler had a stable back of his store which I rented for $10.00 a month. I now had a business of my own. To help me I hired Benjamin Sinkerson and his young son, both of whom I had known at the American Oxide Bronze Company.
"One day Mr. Kohler, my landlord, made a suggestion. 'I think you ought to reclaim tinfoil,' he said, 'you can collect it from the stores and melt it down to get the tin out of it.'
"This sounded like a fine idea, so I hired two wagons to collect the tinfoil and set the Sinkersons to work melting it down. In a few hours tinfoil began to accumulate. Soon we had such quantities there was no room to work. If we had kept at it very long, we would have blocked traffic on Second Street. After two or three days I abandoned the tinfoil idea and got down to the business of castings."
There was a directness about Warren Webster's business methods that seemed to impress everyone in his favor. Going to Lippincott, the soda fountain manufacturers, he asked for and received a sample of their most difficult casting and permission to show what he could do with it. When he delivered the casting, it was pronounced as good as anything they had had—and thereafter he received a number of orders from this Company.
Said he: "I also made centrifugal hydro-extractor brass rings and the H. P. Uhlinger Co., now Schaum & Uhlinger, gave me a splendid contract. The rings were satisfactory and I had the molder and his boys make them whenever they were slack in the Department. They could mold up one of these rings in a half-day then I would put it in stock and the Uhlinger Company would send for it later. They took all I ever made.
"After a little more than a year in business," said Warren Webster, "I found I had made $673.00, after clearing expenses. This was for the period between June 23, 1884, and November 14, 1885. I was in my twenty-third year.
"About that time I increased my force. I hired a castings man, and a very fine tin-plate worker named Herman Bull, a German.
"Herman Bull thought we should make ventilators. He had an idea for a ventilator and I had him make one. I told him I thought it could be patented, but he wouldn't spend any money on it, so I did. But a patent was refused. We had a smooth flange about it—and there was nothing new to be patented. However, as we had already built a good many, I conceived the idea that if I made them with a corrugated ring, I would go beyond the diameter of the pipe, bring the arc in and over, and the corrugations would be strengthening to that particular plain ring. With this improvement I obtained a patent. That was the start of the Star Ventilator.
"I adopted a big red star as the trademark. I always thought it was, pictorially, a good thing, because once you see a star on a ventilator you won't forget it. My competitor at the time was the Globe Ventilator. Its trademark was smaller and it was hard to see.
"After a time, I was compelled to give up the shop behind Kohler's Hardware Store. The place was too small to do ventilator work and conduct the brass business. So we moved to 12 Fetter's Lane, between Second and Third Streets, above Market, where we occupied the third floor. This place met our needs for a time, but the opportunity presenting itself, we again moved to very much more convenient quarters at 491 North Third Street.
There we continued to manufacture Star Ventilators and brass castings until I went into the heating business."
THE YEARS 1876 TO 1888
THE year 1888 is the key-year in Warren Webster's business career. His handling of his affairs in that year—at the age of twenty-five, establishes beyond question the quality of his foresight and judgment. To really appreciate this, one must go back to 1888 and realize the conditions and facts on which this foresight and judgment had to be based. To do this it is necessary to subtract from our modern world every suggestion of skyscrapers, automobiles, gasoline-motors, airplanes, motion pictures, radios! As a further help, this chapter is devoted to a cross-section listing of the world news, showing some of the things people were thinking, doing and planning in 1888 and the preceding twelve years.
After the Centennial in 1876, the advance of the New Age notably quickened in tempo. It advanced on well defined fronts— meat, wheat, coal, steam, transportation, steel and iron, oil. Each was interdependent on the others—steam on coal, transportation on steam, coal on transportation, steel and iron on coal and transportation; meat, wheat—and the concentration of foodstuffs that came to be known as the "packing industry," on coal and transportation.
Soon steam added two branches as mighty as the main stem—electric power and steam heating. For economic reasons, certain districts became the centers of various developments: the packing and food business centered in Chicago, spreading later to Kansas City, Omaha, Indianapolis, Minneapolis and Milwaukee; coal in Pennsylvania and West Virginia; steel and iron around Pittsburgh; oil in Pennsylvania; steam—wherever transportation, power, electricity and heating were required.
To the factories, attracted by urban life, nocked a goodly proportion of the farm population; ships unloaded millions of immigrants yearly from every land to supply man-power. Villages became towns, towns became cities, cities vast metropolitan areas, until shortage of space at the industrial centers begat large buildings and skyscrapers, which in turn created a demand for better heating systems.
These movements were well started by 1888, but they were not yet clearly defined. The America of 1888 was decidedly different from the America of 1876, but it still bore little resemblance to the America of today. The change was just begun. Yet so much had happened since 1876!
In 1876, Bell had exhibited his telephone. Thomas A. Edison and Elisha Gray were both working on a device of this nature. Bell beat Gray in obtaining a patent by a matter of hours and Edison had already filed a caveat. However, it was not until Edison added the transmitter that the instrument became practical.
Behind the telephone were researches dating back to 1837 by Berliner, Blake, Hughes, Dolbear, Page, Borseui and Reis. And, in 1876, following close on the heels of the telephone, Edison dazzled the world with the phonograph.
Early in 1876, it was announced that work on a tunnel between Dover, England, and Calais, France, would be started immediately.
In 1650 Von Guericke built a motor for generating electricity. In 1700, Hawksbee produced light with the same machine. Von Kliest invented the Leyden Jar about 1745 and Franklin experimented with it. Davy discovered the arc light in 1809-1810, and Faraday discovered the principle of the magneto in 1831. In 1841, DeMolyns made the first decisive steps toward the discovery of the incandescent light. Stan and King substituted carbon filaments for platinum in 1845. The experiments of Farmer, Watson and Swan contributed to the work. Brush exhibited his arc lights at the Centennial, and lighted a public square in Cleveland, and Madison and Union Squares, New York. This long pursuit of electric light was brought to a glorious conclusion on October 21, 1879, when Edison presented the world with the first perfected, practical incandescent electric lamp. The first business house lighted was in New York, the first newspaper—the New York Herald; the first theater—in Boston; the first city—New York; the first church—in London; the first exposition—Paris, in 1878.
The original Brooklyn Bridge was opened by President Arthur, on May 24, 1883, and took its place as the latest wonder of the world.
On May 23, 1885, Edison filed patent claims for wireless telegraphy. This was actually operated between moving trains and stations on the Lehigh Valley Railroad in 1886.
Which brings us to the year 1888, in which all the following events occurred:
During this time, the peace of Europe trembled in the balance. Leslie's Illustrated Weekly of February 18, 1888, had this to say: "Nothing is settled but the certainty of a tremendous convulsion that may come tomorrow, or next week, or in six months, but that cannot be averted by anything less than the direct interposition of the Almighty." (Yet this "Convulsion" did not come for twenty-six years—1914.)
On February 6th to 11th, the Walking Match in Madison Square Garden was won by James Albert. Distance covered, 490 miles.
There were 377 fires in New York City alone during January.
In St. Paul, Minn., 475 saloons out of 780 closed by the High License Law.
Texas had a treasury surplus of $1,725,000 and the press was urging the governor to call a special session of the legislature to reduce taxes.
A syndicate of New York, Toledo, Chicago, and Detroit capitalists, representing $25,000,000, organized to build a pipe-line from northwestern Ohio oil fields to Toledo, and to erect refineries, so as to compete with the Standard Oil Company.
Preparations were being hurried by United States manufacturers to participate in the Paris Exposition of 1889. England virtually boycotted the Exposition on the grounds that she did not care to participate in an Exposition celebrating the one hundredth anniversary of the fall of the Bastile.
Washington: Speaker Carlisle ordered all Stock Exchange "tickers" removed from the Capitol.
The Boston Bureau of Health announced an increase in the average length of human life throughout the world.
"Jumbo" Magnet, most powerful in world, was constructed at Willett's Point. Long Island Sound, New York, by Major W. R. King, U. S. Engineers. Pull at center was said to be in excess of five tons.
Washington: The House Committee on Territories decided to formulate an omnibus Enabling Act for the admission as States of the four Territories—Dakota, Montana, Washington and New Mexico.
Chicago: A large steel company decided to substitute crude petroleum for coal as a fuel for four large boilers. They also planned to test the use of oil for the heating of ingots and blooms.
A letter written by General Grant in 1880 was published showing he declined the American Presidency of the Panama Canal Company because he believed the subscribers would lose all their investments.
Washington, March, 1888: A convention of women discussed "Women's Work"—among the delegates were Clara Barton, Mrs. Howe and Miss Edna D. Cheney.
St. Paul, Minn.—A plan was being discussed in the Northwest to build a railroad to Pekin, China, and Irkutsk, Asiatic Russia, from St. Paul via Bismarck, N. D., British Columbia and Alaska, crossing Bering Strait (only twenty-six miles wide) on interisland bridge.
Washington: Eight bills for the erection of public buildings in various cities, and appropriating $1,262,000 therefore, passed the House in one day. Twenty-two other bills were reported, proposing to appropriate $2,745,000 more. (America was building!)
Oswego County, N. Y.—Legislature confirms election of Miss Ida L. Griffin as School Commissioner of Oswego County and passed special law that sex should be no bar to office.
Spain: The Spanish Senate approved a bill establishing trial by jury.
Cornell University, Ithaca, N. Y.—The enrollment of 83 students in electrical engineering was considered an "indication of the rapid growth of the interest in application of electricity to engineering problems."
Washington: A bill was introduced in the House proposing to amnesty all offenses committed against the internal revenue laws by moonshiners, illicit distillers, etc., down to February 22nd, 1888. Strangely enough the bill came from a South Carolina representative.
Washington: The United States Senate passed a bill to incorporate the Maritime Canal Company of Nicaragua, with a capital of $100,000,000 for the construction, equipment, management and operation of a ship canal from the Atlantic to the Pacific, either entirely through Nicaragua, or partly through Costa Rica.
Augusta, Me.—John M. Chase, after five years of experimenting, claimed to have invented a practical aerial warship which he was demonstrating to a naval committee at Washington. The ship was propelled by wings and driven by a coal or oil-fired engine.
Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania inaugurated Veterinary School as department of the University.
March 11th-13th: Blizzard swept through the East and other parts of the country, turning even New York City into an Arctic world, without communication, and, in many places, without food, fuel or shelter. Many lives were lost. (This was the Great Blizzard of 1888, the yardstick of all other recorded blizzards.)
Washington: President Cleveland signed Chinese Bill prohibiting Chinese immigration for twenty years.
Washington, May 22nd: Convention of Lawyers formed National Bar Association.
New York: Monsieur Joseph Dugnoi, one-time gastronomical director of the Cafe Bignon, Paris, and Emperor William I's palace at Berlin, Germany, became "Cook" to Mr. W. K. Vanderbilt, at S10,000 a year, contract to run five years.
Minneapolis: Architect L. S. Buffington obtained a large number of patents, both in this country and Europe, on an invention which he claimed would revolutionize the building world. By it, buildings can be constructed of any desired height, starting from a foundation like the base of a bridge pier. A Minneapolis syndicate of capitalists proposed to erect a building 80 x 80 x 300 feet, or 28 stories high.
Kansas: Farmers, stock-raisers and feeders started a movement to inaugurate the Farmers' Trust for Northwestern States and Tributaries of Mississippi Valley, to control shipments and regulate supply and prices of the products of the soil.
A new instrument called the "Autographometer" was invented. It was claimed that it could be carried in any light vehicle and would automatically indicate the difference of level of all places over which it had passed.
Wireless telephonic communication, it was announced, could be carried on between ships by means of sound-producing and receiving apparatus attached to the hull of each ship below the water-line.
Pyrodene was another invention of the year. It was claimed to make wood, textile fabrics, paper and other inflammable material fireproof.
London: The Automatic Alarm Thermometer was invented, which rings a bell when temperature falls below (or goes above) the point at which it has been set.
Professor Elisha Gray, considered by some persons as the real inventor of the telephone, announced two new inventions. The first was the Talentograph by means of which letters and pictures could be transmitted from one person to another to a distance of 500 miles. The transmitting and receiving instruments, it was explained, were both equipped with electrically motivated pencils. Manipulation of the transmitting pencil of one instrument caused the receiving pencil of the other instrument to be similarly operated. The second invention was an automatic switchboard for telephone exchanges by means of which the operator of the exchange could put himself in connection with any other telephone.
Philadelphia: Cruiser Yorktown was launched at Cramp's Shipyard for the "new American Navy."
Baltimore: Five patents were issued to Elias P. Ries for electric heating apparatus, two of them for heating railway cars.
Pretoria, Transvaal Republic, South Africa: Paul Kruger elected President of the Republic.
Rio de Janeiro, May 14, 1888: Brazilian parliament abolished slavery.
New York: The Electric Club demonstrated "new" uses of electricity: the electric light-cluster; setting type by dictation from phonograph; electric combination-lock safe; a storage battery; cooking by electricity; shining shoes electrically; electrically-operated piano.
Washington: The bill to establish a Department of Agriculture, with a Weather Bureau, was passed by the House of Representatives but was expected to be defeated in the Senate. Leslie's Illustrated Weekly, of June 9,1888, said: "Such a machine could do nothing for farming, nothing for labor, nothing for commerce or any material interest, and would be merely a needless expense."
Washington: A careful Treasury estimate placed government revenues for the year (1888) at $380,000,000; expenditures, $313,400,000; excess receipts, $66,600,000;
A syndicate of American capitalists employed engineers to explore thoroughly the provinces of Athabasca, Alberta and British Columbia and then take a look at Alaska, all with the purpose of ascertaining the feasibility of building a railway from some point on the Northern Pacific in Dakota to Fort Wrangel, Alaska.
Cincinnati: The Centennial Exposition of the Ohio Valley was held from July 4th to October 27th. The electrical display was the principal feature. In the twelve years since the Philadelphia Centennial of 1876, it was explained, the electric light had come into general use and the telephone had become so useful "it could not be dispensed with."
Paraldehyde, a new sleep-producer, was declared to be "quicker than chloral, as safe as the bromides, and not injurious except when used to excess."
Colonel William F. Cody (Buffalo Bill) proposed to conduct a party of British noblemen, together with several distinguished Americans, on a pleasure-excursion across the plains. The party to start from Colonel Cody's ranch, go through Nebraska, New Mexico and Arizona, and come out through Lower California.
Edison in this year brought out his "perfected" phonograph.
In 1888 the United States already had about one-half the railway mileage of the world.
Electric welding was introduced.
Mr. John Wanamaker, of Philadelphia, was the first United States citizen to have $1,000,000 insurance on his life. The next largest policyholder was Mr. John B. Stetson, hat manufacturer of the same city, who had $750,000.
Artificial silk was discovered and declared to be "practically equal to natural silk."
Portable electric lights, with storage batteries to be hung on one's coat, were used for reading in railway cars.
California: Population—1,500,000—twice that of 1880.
General Philip H. Sheridan, Civil War hero, died at Nonquitt, Mass.
Gettysburg, Pa., August 8th: The bronze statue, by Gerhardt, of General G. K. Warren, in whose honor Warren Webster was named, was unveiled with military exercises. It appropriately stands on Little Round Top, the hill which proved the key-point of the Union lines and which Warren's military genius prompted him to seize and save in the nick of time.
August 21: Great storm swept the Chesapeake. Spectacle of waterspout seen by hundreds.
Paris: Railway through Bulgaria established direct communication between Paris and Constantinople. Time, approximately three-and-one-half days.
One million persons were reported to be studying Volapuk— the "universal" language.
The Government of the Hawaiian Islands was reported to be insolvent and bankruptcy to be imminent.
Tomsk, Siberia, August 3, 1888—The magnificent new Imperial University was opened.
Republican candidates General Benjamin Harrison, for president, and Levi P. Morton, for vice-president, were elected defeating President Cleveland and Alien S. Thurman, the Democratic candidates for president and vice-president, respectively.
Belva Lockwood was nominated for president by the Equal Rights Group. She had previously opposed Blaine and Cleveland in 1884, receiving the electoral votes of Indiana and Oregon, totaling sixteen. She was the second woman candidate for the presidency of the United States, the first being Miss Victoria Woodhull, who ran in 1872.
A freight train of eighteen cars with dry goods to equip a wholesale store at Tacoma, Washington Territory, left Jersey City over the Erie Railroad on December 7th. The train was the largest to start a run of 2500 miles in the history of railway service. It was estimated that it would reach its destination about Christmas Day.
Washington: Postmaster General's report showed that by comparison of cheapness of postage, gross revenues and expenditures, number of post-offices, extent of mail routes, mileage of mail service and volume of mail matter carried, the Postal System of the United States was the leading one of the world.
Paris: New Pasteur Institute Building was dedicated. Cost, $500,000. Among the subscribers were the Czar, the Sultan, the Emperor of Brazil. This was the twentieth laboratory—seven in Russia, five in Italy, one each in Rumania, Austria, Brazil, Cuba and the Argentine. Two more were nearing completion—one in Chicago and one in Malta.
Paris, December 17th: Bankruptcy of Panama Canal Company announced, with a loss to the subscribers of $250,000,000 in cash.
In the United States there were 5,351 individual plants and central electric light stations, producing every night 192,500 arc and 1,925,000 incandescent lights. These were employed as the motive-power of dynamos, steam engines aggregating 459,495 h.p.
There were in operation thirty-four electric railroads, comprising 138 miles of single track. The number of persons employed in making electric motors was placed at 1,500. There were eight publications devoted exclusively to electricity and its dependent industries in the United States.
The Labor Commission estimated that in 1887 there were 853 strikes, involving 1,862 establishments, as against 1,411 strikes, involving 1,881 establishments in 1886.
Washington, October 31st: Lord Sackville-West, British Ambassador, dismissed by President Cleveland for unwarranted interference in American politics on the eve of an election.
Kentucky: Bloody clashes take place between gangs of "White Caps," who took upon themselves the forcible regulation of business, and the mountaineers whom they sought to regulate.
In December the Maryland Police Steamer Governor MacLane had a desperate fight with Chesapeake oyster-pirates. The Governor MacLane rammed and scuttled two pirate schooners after sweeping their decks with grape and cannister, took another schooner as a prize to port, captured the entire crews of the vessels and drove four others ashore. The number of pirates killed is not listed.
Mannheim, Germany: What is described as a "novel carriagemotor" has just been produced by Benz & Company. The motive power is a small engine located under the body of the carriage, driven by gas generated from benzine. The driver sits in front and guides the carriage by a steering-wheel and at the same time regulates the speed of the engine. For a journey of one hour, one liter (about a quart) of benzine is required.
Philadelphia: Warren Webster entered the heating industry and founded Warren Webster & Company.
WARREN WEBSTER ENTERS THE HEATING INDUSTRY
In THAT busy, pushing, turbulent year of 1888, Warren Webster was doing well with his profitable ventilator and brass casting business, but on every hand new enterprises were on the way and he, like all his world, was on the lookout for Opportunity. And Opportunity did come—in the guise of a man whom we shall designate as Mr. Smith to avoid hurting anyone's feelings.
One busy day in May, this man walked into the shop, laid a sheaf of patent papers on Warren Webster's desk, and offered to sell him a half-interest in a new type of feedwater heater.
In 1888, electric lights and gas lights were in fairly general use in the business centers, hotels, etc., of large cities. While their great illuminating power was undeniable, yet for close work and reading most persons preferred a good oil-lamp to the yellowish electric gleam or the nickering gaslight. The telephone had won its place, but it was subject to squeaks and buzzes and was by no means the clear instrument of today. Steam, too, was in use as a heating medium, but its use was confined to the factories, shops, hotels and larger buildings. A steam-heated room was either too hot or quickly became uncomfortably cold when the steam was shut off. Frequently the steam became "trapped" in the pipes and pounded unpleasantly; when the pipes were hot there was usually an unpleasant, steamy odor. Steam was not employed in heating homes, not even large mansions. Many of the swankiest office buildings depended on large open fire-places for heat.
These conditions might well have obscured the outlook, but Warren Webster with his clear vision knew intuitively that he stood on the threshold of something big. Just how big, of course, he could not have realized, for no one could have told on that day in 1888 that within a few years the population of a good-sized town would be housed in one building, standing in the space of two or three city lots, towering up and up into the sky, tier after tier, and that due largely to his work and developments, people would enjoy June weather in that building the year 'round—from the cellar even to the uppermost floor.
After careful consideration, Warren Webster bought a half interest in two Smith Patents—later a full interest was acquired, and started in the Steam Heating Industry.
Although he continued the manufacture of Star Ventilators and brass castings, Warren Webster was thinking more and more in terms of Feedwater Heaters. He soon discovered that Mr. Smith's idea was by no means complete and needed development before it could be marketed. It was only after a great deal of experimental work that he built his first feedwater heater which he called the "Webster Exhaust Steam and Fuel Economizer"— and later the "Webster Vacuum Feedwater Heater and Purifier."
It may be described, briefly, as a tank or container made of wrought or cast iron in which the exhaust or waste steam from engines, pumps and other motive units was brought into intimate contact with fresh water suitable for boiler feed purposes. A very important feature was inducing a flow of exhaust steam from a branch of the main exhaust pipe into a chamber sealed from the atmosphere by means of the vacuum of condensation created when the hot exhaust steam was condensed in mixing with the colder body of water within the chamber. The water could be heated to 210° F. and purified.
Said Warren Webster: "Smith had nothing but a. simple patent —that of 1877. It conveyed an idea/but it was not a practical commercial idea until someone made improvements to it. He claimed that it was a complete feedwater heater, but it was not.
There were other feedwater heaters on the market at the time, but the Webster Feedwater Heater was so superior in efficiency that it paid to substitute it for the old types. It could be sold on the economy basis both to new plants and existing plants.
As to this, Warren Webster said: "My feedwater heaters were all put in on trial. Nobody was obligated to keep a heater if he didn't like it after sixty days. They could send them right back to the factory. But I never had one sent back that I can recall— not one. All the customers kept them and paid for them.
"The first feedwater heater was installed in a paper house in Philadelphia, on Branch Street. It exploded, blew out the side of the building and burnt my arm, but I found out what the trouble was and overcame it in the next one I made.
"Next I placed one in the Esterbrook Pen factory in Camden. They were forcing the boiler and getting water at 110° F. I installed my feedwater heater on trial as usual. If it proved satisfactory, they were to pay for it. If not, it could be disconnected. The place could be run either way—with mine, or the old one. After the Webster Feedwater Heater had been in operation a very short time, the saving was so great that Mr. Wood, the manager, was delighted and wanted to pay for it before thirty days were up."
As soon as he developed the Smith Patent, he began to apply it to steam heating. The heating engineering necessary for the application of Feedwater Heaters led to the development of the Vacuum System of Steam Heating, a principle pioneered by Warren Webster and now universally recognized. This principle served as the basis for the development of the whole group of Webster Systems of Steam Heating. Said my father:
"Everything was going well and I had installed forty Vacuum Steam Heating Systems when we ran into a suit for infringement of the Williames Patent. My lawyer, Mr. Moyer, now discovered that Smith had sold his patent rights to other persons before he came to me; likewise, the opposing counsel found that the records at Washington showed that the patent belonged to other people. To make matters worse, in defending the suit I had already signed a bill of complaint claiming I owned the patent, which (however innocently it had been done on my part) practically amounted to perjury before the law. When this was shown at Washington, I was given thirty days to acquire the patent or stand prosecution. The only way I could see of raising the money to buy the patent rights within thirty days was by selling my patent and business on the Star Ventilator which I owned free and clear. Merchant & Co., now Merchant & Evans, made the Globe Ventilator. The Star was of equal size, but would do more work, and when selling in competition, I could always go in and demonstrate this and get the order. Merchant & Co. became interested in the Star because I was interfering with their business, so they took the agency and found it to be a good thing. I went direct to Mr. Merchant, and said: 'Here is the position I am in—I need $6,000.' Their Mr. Cohen, with whom I dealt, used his influence with Mr. Merchant, and I sold them the patent, trade-mark and stock of the Star Ventilator for $6,000.
"I used $4500 of this to acquire the rights of the Smith Patent. I had the names and addresses of the people who owned these rights—rights which Smith had first sold to them and then resold to me, and I had to go and buy the rights of each of them. I met one of these persons on Chestnut Street, in Philadelphia, and he told me he knew beforehand that I was going to buy his rights because Smith said to him one day that I would have to acquire all rights within a short time. Smith asked what this man wanted for his rights and was told '$1000.' Then he said: 'Ask $1500-- he will pay it.' I did pay it—I paid each of them the same price.
"We put up a long and expensive fight against Williames, but he won the suit. We found that the Smith Patent didn't cover the application of the vacuum system. It was suggestive of it, but it did not cover it.
"Williames had been Smith's agent at one time. He saw the weakness of the patent. The Williames Patent (U. S. Patent No. 256,089, dated April 4, 1882) covered every feature that could make the Smith Patent practical. The Williames Patent was a remarkable patent in its class, because it was a true basic patent upon a new method of steam heating. It was so broad in its scope that it did not cover apparatus. It was infringed by the attachment of any kind of vacuum pump or any other means for creating and maintaining in the return line of a heating system a pressure lower than that of the atmosphere.
"Just before his suit against me, Williames had won a decree in New York State against the Ingersoll Rock Drill Company. He was in position to sue me on every Vacuum Steam Heating System we had installed.
"I saw my entire business about to be swept away. It was the biggest problem that had ever come up in my experience. Then I made up my mind what to do.
"Williames was the Chief Engineer of the old Philadelphia Inquirer Building. I went to him and said: 'You are an engineer, Mr. Williames, and you understand that I have a profitable business in feedwater heaters. I could give away vacuum systems if I had your improvements to sell in conjunction with my feedwater heaters.'
"I had to go to see him twenty-three times before he agreed to sell me his patent. You may rest assured I ascertained everything was in 'accordance with Hoyle' this time.
"With the acquiring of the Williames Patent began in earnest the promotion of the Webster Vacuum System of Steam Heating and also Webster Feedwater Heaters and the steady development of Warren Webster & Company."
During the last fifty-one years, more than three hundred patents have been employed in the development of the Webster business—some by original inventions of Warren Webster himself, some by various members of the Organization and the engineering staff, some by purchase, while rights under other patents were acquired by license.
Guiding his Company through this labyrinth of pitfalls and misadventures called for the utmost wisdom, farsighted vision and courage on the part of Warren Webster. This is the more remarkable because he started in business for himself when only twenty-five years old, with a business rather than a technical education and practically no text books or precedents to guide him. He was pioneering a new and highly technical industry.
He had at great effort acquired patent rights and built a business only to find the patent worthless and himself in danger of Government prosecution because of having innocently signed a false bill of complaint. He had been forced to sacrifice a profitable part of his business to obtain funds. He had lost an expensive suit for infringement. Yet, out of it all he emerged with his business on a sound basis and in full control of the necessary patent rights for its development. Above all he attained every objective fairly and without any of the legal chicanery which anyone who reads Miss Tarbell's "History of the Standard Oil Company" knows was only too typical of the period.
During the long weeks that Warren Webster had been engaged in patent litigation and, later, in the purchase of the Williames Patent, he had been forced to somewhat neglect his feedwater heater business. Now that he was master of the situation, he turned all his energies to the manufacture of feedwater heaters, under the new name of the Webster Vacuum Exhaust Steam Economizer, and to the promotion of the Webster Vacuum System of Steam Heating. There was literally no end to his workingday.
Said my father: "The feedwater heater business started in 1888. It was a profitable business until 1925-1926. After that it dwindled and we sold them only occasionally to the few industries that generated their own power. The vacuum system started a little later. It was not a profitable business for a long time. We developed both businesses side by side. In time people would pay for our experience and apparatus rather than try to do it themselves without measurements or patents. They wanted our advice on how to do it. The Feedwater Heater sold almost entirely to industry.
The Vacuum Heating System started as an industrial proposition for factories, principally for heating. The development of the size of residential units brought the vacuum system into the apartment house, hotel and office building field. Many difficult problems of an engineering nature were encountered. In many cases, this resulted in the invention and manufacture of new "gadgets" which were applied by our engineers thereafter when similar problems were encountered in other buildings. This was the start of the Webster Specialty part of the business.
"In the beginning," father said, "I had to make the sale, direct manufacturing operations and supervise installations. Selling the equipment was the smallest part of the job. I realized that anything like rapid expansion was impossible under these conditions and that I must build up a strong field organization of competent and experienced engineers.
"On the road, I carried my samples, photographs and blueprints in a sack slung over my shoulder. After some time I used a satchel, and later, a hand traveling-case.
"The first man I got was Tom Geoghegan. He was a good practical plumber and, at that time, chief engineer of the Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, Industrial Reformatory. I met him when I went up there to estimate on a Webster Vacuum Exhaust Steam Economizer for that institution. He supervised the installation.
He understood so quickly everything I told him and was so practical and thorough, especially in pipe-work, that I was impressed with him and engaged him to work for us. After I had taken him around and explained the different types of installations, he was fine. He was the first man to whom I could entrust installation work and so increase the feedwater heater business. He was one of the most valuable employees I ever had.
"The next man I hired was Candlass—he came from Cincinnati. He, too, was very fine. After that I chose more men, one at a time, very carefully. I brought them to the factory and held little meetings and showed them how to overcome difficulties which might arise. If any trouble occurred anywhere, all the other fellows were told about it and especially what corrections were made. In the course of a year or so I had a staff of about ten well-trained and competent engineers.
"At this time, I became aware that a certain big Philadelphia concern was infringing my patents. We entered suit and twelve years later got a decision against them and collected royalties on every installation they had made all over the country.
"We continued to gradually widen our scope. Our first district representative was one W. D. Pickels, in Chicago. In 1889, Darling Brothers, Ltd., of Montreal, were named Canadian representatives— our first agents outside the United States."
Darling Brothers, Ltd., have continued to manufacture and sell Webster Steam Heating Systems up to the present day and in all these years the most pleasant and cordial business relationship has existed.
"When I got married in 1891," said my father, "the business was expanding quite rapidly. I was anxious to do some building —a factory that would take care of our growth for some years, and a home according to some plans which we liked. However, I felt that my finances would not permit me to do this for some time.
"Just then a man, whom I will call Mr. Thomas for the sake of the story, came to me with a very tempting offer. He had two sons. The younger was supposed to be in business with his father, who was a banker. When the old gentleman saw that the Feedwater Heater line was proving successful, he offered me $30,000 for a one-third interest for his younger son.
"At that particular time his offer looked very big to me. But I knew his son. He was all right in his own sphere, but he wouldn't fit in our Company. He was a swell dresser— dudish. A 'ten-to-three' man—dictated a few letters and thought he had done a day's work. I thought it over and said: 'Mr. Thomas you are a rich man. Your son is the son of a rich man and he wouldn't fit in our business at all. I don't want anybody who isn't a worker. Sometime I may have to give up ownership, but right now I see nothing to prevent me from going right along and expanding. Even if you made it more I would still have to decline your offer.'
He said: 'You speak to me very plainly about my son.' I said: 'I know I do. But that is how I feel and I might as well speak plainly. He and I wouldn't go together at all."
" 'Mr. Webster,' he said to me, 'it isn't so much the money with me as it is to get my son fixed with somebody who will help him make something of himself.'
"As a matter of fact, in 1893 I obtained the capital I needed in a way I wanted it. The value of the Webster Vacuum Exhaust Steam Economizer and the Webster vacuum principle had been recognized in Europe, and Eugene Maulier, of Antwerp, Belgium, offered to buy all of the European patent rights. I accepted the offer. I then built the house we had planned at Merchantville, N. J. At the same time I acquired the site at Point & Elm Streets, Camden, N. J., and built my first factory. The property was built for cash and never had a mortgage on it. It was completed and occupied in 1895 when I was thirty-two years old."
Factory in 1895
The front of the factory was on Elm Street
THE "GAY 90's"
Looking backward over the trail of American life, one decade stands out in fascinating glitter and has very appropriately been labeled the "Gay 90's." It seems that all the ugliness, scandals and sufferings of these years have been forgotten and only the joys and laughter survive. This glare and fanfare enveloped all classes of society and all phases of life, perhaps the inevitable conditions of a time when quickly won fortunes and rapidly increasing populations cried for amusement and new sensations.
The perfection of electric lighting and introduction of electric lighted signs created what George M. Cohan later dubbed the "Great White Way" in New York City and a thousand lesser "White Ways" throughout the country. Thoroughfares were dotted with a new type of amusement-place, in which long lines of electrically-motivated stereopticons, forerunner of the motion picture, were operated by a penny in the slot. Views of every kind could be seen, from a simulation of the ballet, alleged pictures of the beaches of Deauville, the latest Southern lynching and the famous prize-fights of the day. For years one of the greatest attractions was supposed views of the Johnstown, Pennsylvania, flood of May 31, 1889, in which more than 8,000 lives were lost.
Facing the picture-machines were similar long rows of phonographs, furnished with rubber ear-tubes, with which one listened to the latest music-hall "hits" at a penny a tune. Punch-testers, strength-testers, trick mirrors, electric vibrators added to the glamour; nor must we forget the fortune-telling tents, the pingpong photographic booths, the Japanese stalls where prizes were given for ringing the canes or rolling a certain number of balls into impossible holes, and last, but by no means least, the music stalls in the rear where popular music and songs were "plugged" and sold.
Public amusement "parks" of various types now blossomed in all their glory, whether in woodland playgrounds, as in Fairmount Park, Philadelphia, or in treeless seashore places, such as famous Coney Island, New York. In these parks, in addition to enlarged and glorified rows and groups of machines, as described above, were dance-halls, scenic-rails, skating-rinks, slides, carrousels, lakes, ornamental fountains, theaters and restaurants of all prices, quality and kinds.
In those days trolley-cars were looked on as a luxury—though they were mostly of the "dinky" type which have long since disappeared. Folks (believe it or not) chartered them by the hour, afternoon or day, just to take their groups for a ride.
To the parks on these trolley-cars went millions nightly; others went by train, bicycle or carriage. For this was the dawning of the Age of Speed.
As a fitting introduction of this speed motif, the famous Miss Nellie Ely, sponsored and publicized by the New York World, traveled around the world between November 14, 1889, and January 27, 1890—exactly 72 days 6 hours and 10 minutes, outspeeding Jules Verne's imagination by a week. When the Goliath of the prize-ring, John L. Sullivan, fell beneath the flying fists of a San Francisco bank-clerk, the reign of Speed was everywhere conceded.
No picture of life in this decade can omit the tremendous influence of the bicycle craze, which was at its height from 1890 to 1900. It might be truly said that the whole population was awheel. Anyone who was old enough or young enough to ride a bicycle did so. No store, from the country grocery to the city department store, was complete without its bicycle rack, where customers' "bikes" could be checked, chained or just left on faith.
As the decade advanced, the sight of power-propelled vehicles became less and less rare. As yet, however, these were mostly electric storage-battery driven broughams, a few "steamers" and now and again a very expensive American or foreign gasoline car.
Quite frequently one came upon a crowd blocking the sidewalk to peer into the mysterious mechanisms of one of these new monstrosities which had broken down or stopped for some reason and was being none too expertly revived.
Today, it is hard to realize that in the "90's"—with bicycles, horse-drawn vehicles, trolley-cars and a few motor-driven contraptions moving at less than fifteen miles per hour—traffic accidents and fatalities were already a problem.
The "90's" wrote brilliant pages in all fields of American theatricals.
Across the stages, in the luster of newly devised electric lighting effects, moved a galaxy of never-to-be-forgotten stars. From Tony Pastor's music-hall came Lillian Russell, Weber and Fields, and a host of other unforgettables—to mingle with others such as Fay Templeton and Pete Daly. Nat Goodwin, Francis Wilson, DeWoIfe Hopper—were in the forefront of comedy. In the "heavier" fields, Sir Henry Irving, Helena Modjeska, Olga Nethersole, Julia Marlowe, Maude Adams, Viola Alien, Richard Mansfield, Mrs. Fiske, David Warfield, John Drew, Maurice Barrymore, Mrs. Patrick Campbell, Lily Langtry the English Socialite, Joseph Jefferson, Denman Thompson and others of the same caliber were featured in the playbills. The "divine" Sarah Bernhardt, and her rival Eleonora Duse, the great Cocquelin— appeared "on tour." Melba graced the operatic stage on a visit to the United States; Wagnerian opera was at its height; Gilbert & Sullivan operettas were yearly treats. Dillingham, Sam and Lee Shubert, Charles and Daniel Frohman, David Belasco were the leading dramatic producers. Certain theaters became famous nationally and inseparably connected with the various cities. For instance: Weber & Fields, in New York, and Keith's Bijou and "DuMont's" (properly the Eleventh Street Opera House) in Philadelphia.
Among the living authors—some coming into favor, some fading, some at their zenith, were Mark Twain, George Meredith, Robert Louis Stevenson, Rudyard Kipling, Conan Doyle, Marie Corelli, Hall Caine, H. Rider Haggard, Bret Harte, Sir Gilbert Parker, Jerome K. Jerome, W. W. Jacobs, Dr. Weir Mitchell, Booth Tarkington. The works of Dickens, George Eliot, Thackeray, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Mrs. Henry Wood, Charlotte Bronte, were among the best sellers. Favorite poets were Longfellow, Keats, Shelley, Byron, Owen Meredith, Joachim Miller—Tennyson was at the height of his popularity.
The "90's" were definitely within the "Victorian era." Realities were rigidly excluded from English literature on both sides of the Atlantic. In these fields one turned to translations of Balzac, Eugene Sue, DeMaupassant, the Dumas—father and son, Zola, Goethe and Schiller.
In newspaperdom, Joseph Pulitzer, though blind, directed the policies of the New York World; James Gordon Bennett, the younger, ruled the New York Herald, and George W. Childs ran the Philadelphia Public Ledger until his death in 1894; William Randolph Hearst built up his newspaper empire.
In the foregoing brief allusions to theatrical personages, authors, poets, literary works and the press, no effort at anything like completeness has been made. They are simply intended to convey (if possible) the flavor of the period, its trends and tastes.
The political, financial and commercial developments of the "90's" were of the utmost importance. The "silver question" became the major one in national politics after William Jennings Bryan's (then congressman from Nebraska) speeches of March 16, 1892, and August 16, 1893. The latter speech was entirely devoted to opposition to the repeal of the silver purchase clause of the Sherman Act, and advocated unlimited coinage of silver and a silver-and-gold standard on a ratio of sixteen ounces of silver to one of gold.
In 1890, Congress, controlled by the Republican Party, passed the McKinley Bill, by which Government revenues were reduced by $60,000,000 annually, mostly through repeal of sugar duties. At the same time expenditures were increased by liberal pension legislation, and the Government's purchase of silver bullion almost doubled by provision of the New Sherman Silver Purchase Act of 1890.
When Grover Cleveland was re-elected president in 1892, he fell heir to the necessity of repealing silver legislation. In 1893, when the gold reserve that had been created for the redemption of fiat money and legal tender Civil War notes fell below $100,000,000, the President called an extra session of Congress to repeal the silver law. The Democrats in the House were now more pro-silver than the Republicans, so that the Repeal was passed only by the help of Republican votes. The deficit in the Treasury made it necessary to issue bonds to the amount of $162,000,000. This resulted in the panic of 1893-1894, attended by the usual bank failures, unemployment and reduced wages. Beginning with the Pullman strike in Chicago, strikes spread to the West Coast, with violence and bloodshed. When Governor Altgeld, of Illinois, failed to restore order, President Cleveland instructed the military to clear the way for trains carrying the mails. The rioters around Chicago were dispersed in a day and the strike ended within a week.
In 1895-1896 arose the British Guiana-Venezuela boundary line dispute, which gave occasion for considerable war-talk but was finally arbitrated.
During his second administration, President Cleveland added 44,004 places in the Civil Service to the classified list—more than doubling it. He retired with the highest respect of both friends and opponents, which he enjoyed in increasing measure until his death at Princeton, N. J., June 24, 1908.
In 1896 William McKinley was nominated for the presidency by the Republicans on a gold-standard platform. William Jennings Bryan was nominated by the Democrats on a "free silver" platform, on the day following the delivery of his famous "cross of gold" speech. After a vigorous campaign on both sides, McKinley was elected, partly due to the defection of the "gold Democrats" from their party.
Immediately after his nomination in 1897, McKinley called a special session of Congress to revise the tariff and revenue systems, and the Dingley Tariff Bill was passed and approved on July 24th.
The affairs of Cuba now came to the fore. For many years, especially during the "Ten Years War" of 1868-1878, sympathy for the Cubans had existed in the United States and throughout the West Indies; scores of American and other volunteers had fought for the revolutionists and many filibustering expeditions had been launched from various points. The revolution of 1895 brought all this feeling to the surface and the harsh methods of the Spanish authorities speedily heightened it. A large part of the press, especially the Hearst newspapers, howled for war.
In October, 1897, the Spanish Premier Sagasta announced a policy of autonomy, which was proclaimed in Cuba in December. The war clouds might have blown away, but in February, 1898, the United States battleship Maine was blown up in Havana harbor with great loss of life, by whom it has never been ascertained.
On April 20th, the United States demanded the withdrawal of Spanish troops from Cuba—and war followed.
Notwithstanding a gallant attempt by Lieutenant Hobson to "bottle" the Spanish fleet in the harbor of Santiago, Cuba, by sinking the collier Merrimac in the channel, the fleet, under Cervera, put to sea on July 3rd, but was either sunk or driven ashore by the American fleet, which was overwhelmingly superior in every way. Santiago was then invested by land forces and surrendered July 15th.
Theodore Roosevelt, who had been Secretary of the Navy, resigned that post at the beginning of the war and recruited a regiment of "Rough Riders," made up of Western cowboys and society polo-players and sportsmen. This regiment distinguished itself at the Battle of San Juan Hill and Roosevelt became one of the country's most colorful heroes.
In the meantime, on the other side of the world, Admiral (then Commodore) George Dewey, on instructions from the Government, sailed from Hong Kong with the United States Asiatic Fleet and on May 1st engaged and destroyed the greatly inferior Spanish fleet in Manila Bay, without the loss of a single man; the fleet then aided in the capture of Manila.
By the Treaty of Paris, signed December 10, 1898, Spain "relinquished" Cuba to the United States "in trust" for the inhabitants, and ceded Guam, Porto Rico and the Philippines outright, the United States paying Spain $20,000,000 and agreeing to "satisfy" the claims of the people of the ceded territory against the Spanish government.
As the United States had acquired part of the Samoan Islands in 1899 and annexed the Hawaiian Islands, July 7, 1898, the policies of President Cleveland toward the island being discarded by President McKinley, the United States entered the role of a colonial empire.''
On February 4, 1899, fighting broke out between the United States forces and the Filipinos, led by Emilio Aguinaldo, and lasted up to and considerably after the capture of Aguinaldo on March 23, 1901.
From October 11, 1899, to May 31, 1902, took place a thrilling struggle between the British on one side and the Transvaal and Orange Free State Republics on the other. The war was brilliantly conducted by the Boers, but in the end unlimited resources of men, material and money carried the day and the two republics were absorbed in the British Empire. In this war, as in most quarrels, there were two sides to the story, but the sympathies of the United States—and, indeed, of practically the whole non-British world was decidedly on the side of the losers in their valorous fight.
And so the "Gay 90's" went out in a blaze of militarism and imperialism. It was a bizarre age. An age when immense and newly-created industries strove for monopoly by every means.
It was the age of silver and gold bath-tubs. "Diamond Jim" Brady walked Broadway bedecked with $100,000 worth of diamonds— he had a complete different set for each day of the week, and at the same time earned millions of dollars in commission on sales of railroad supplies; at night, he supped on six or eight chickens, topped off with two or three pounds of the finest candies.
Oscar of the Waldorf, writing of this period, describes dinners of thirty-four courses. Naive vulgarity reached a magnificent peak, perhaps, when glamorous Lillian Russell pedaled through Central Park with Jim Brady on a golden bicycle studded with diamonds and other precious stones, or the pair rode down Fifth Avenue in his golden (but very inefficient) automobile.
WORK AND GROWTH
For Warren Webster and his Organization, the "Gay 90's" were years of hard work and growth. Said my father: "I did most of the selling out in the field from 1888 to 1912 or 1914. And how I loved it! I used to take all the problems and trouble which arose and work them out and I got a lot of pleasure and satisfaction from it, because it was the practical results which counted."
It was during these years of traveling, investigating, selling, manufacturing and installing that he had some of his most interesting experiences.
"One of the early installations," said he, "was at the Pencoyd Iron Works, where I put in two feedwater heaters. On the first I had to take the steam one hundred feet in an 8-inch pipe—one hundred feet from a 2000-horsepower machine in that small pipe. I knew that I could bring it through by vacuum line attachment. On the second line I put a vacuum attachment and brought it right over. The safety valve on the boiler blew off and all were delighted. And," he added with a smile, "so was I.
"Another early installation was that at the Phoenixville Iron Co., at Phoenixville, Pa. We put a machine in there and it burst— blew the side of the building out. The thin part of the metal was on that side. If it had blown out the other side it would surely have injured me.
"On investigation I found the trouble was due to their use of an old back-pressure valve, which I hadn't furnished. This valve was supposed to be working all right, but it stuck and this caused an accumulation of pressure within the heater which it couldn't carry.
"I put on a relief valve and that improved it. I then put on a vacuum-breaker on the other side. Previously when there was too much of a pull, the water-pump couldn't take the water. The vacuum had to be broken. That was a wonderful installation!
"Sometimes the going was rather tough. Take the installation at the Morris & Cass Paper Co., Tyrone, Pa., for instance. The equipment was due to go into operation at midnight one Sunday. It was bitterly cold and snowing hard and the roof of the building in which the machine was to be installed was not completed. Tom Geoghegan and I worked until two in the morning before we were satisfied the installation was all right. We were both numb from the cold. I had actually to be assisted to the hotel. But that was the kind of service we gave and it resulted in satisfied customers and more business.
"It was around that time," continued Warren Webster, "that we received complaints from the Youngstown Iron & Steel Co., of Youngstown, Ohio, regarding a Webster Feedwater Heater which had recently been furnished them. Tom Geoghegan went out to investigate the matter, but he had barely time to reach Youngstown before I received the following telegram from him:
'Manager of Mill wild. Will not allow me to investigate. Has ordered heater removed. Sorry I can do nothing with him. Can you come out?'
"I wired 'Yes, am coming out by next available train.' When I arrived at the mill office, the manager greeted me with a good deal of profanity, ending—'So you are the boy who invented this thing, are you? It is the worst contraption that ever came into this place.'
"I said, 'I will tell you one thing. Now, you have condemned it, I am going to stay right here until that machine does the work it is intended to do.'
"He interrupted me with: 'You are going to stay here, you say? I said, 'Yes, if you will permit me, I will make that machine work.'
"Then he asked: 'How do you know what is wrong with it?'
I replied, 'I don't, but I will find out. I have never yet failed to overcome every difficulty that got in the way of that machine.'
"He said: 'You don't think much of yourself, do you?' 'I have confidence in the machine,' I replied, 'All I ask is two days' time and I will show you what it can do.' He said, 'By God, boy, I'll see that you have the time you ask.'
"With that Geoghegan and I went out into the plant. There were three engines, running intermittently, connected to the feedwater heater. The only thing to do was to bring the three pipes together into one reservoir sufficiently large to take the exhaust of the three engines combined, and when there was insufficient steam to supply all, to have a check-valve stop the air coming in from the top.
"It took us about a week to do this, but I stayed there until it was done and accepted. And would you believe it? The same man who gave me such a bad reception drove me in his own carriage over to another mill and boomed me so highly that they gave me an order before I left the premises. He and I were quite friendly after that. I realized he was man enough to admit when he was mistaken.
"Not long after this, we had trouble with another steel and iron mill at Cleveland. We had installed a 3000-horsepower machine at this mill, with a $500 forfeiture if it didn't prove satisfactory. They claimed it wasn't working satisfactorily and ordered it taken out. In accordance with my fixed policy, I went out to investigate the cause of the trouble.
"I said: 'I'm out here to make that machine work, and it will work before I'm through.
"The manager, who was more courteous than my Youngstown friend, said: 'I don't know what you can do, young man, but you seem to have a lot of nerve.'
"I said: 'I know what I am doing. I'm the daddy of that machine, and if I can't fix it, you will get your check for $500. I'm the boss and I can promise this.'
" 'Well,' he said, 'you go ahead. What do you want to do?'
"I said: 'I want the privilege of having you or your engineer take me out to the installation and answer the questions I ask regarding conditions. I will be here all day until I locate the difficulty.'
"Tom Geoghegan was with me on this job also. We looked over the data pertaining to the engines and we found the connections were such that we couldn't put water in the heater because it would throw back-pressure on the engine. The machine got 'air-bound' and the first day we couldn't get any results at all. However, walking around the plant next day, I found they had a condensing engine about 125 feet from our machine. The condensing engine carried 22 to 24 inches of vacuum on the vacuum side of the condenser. I got them to allow me to run a s^-inch pipe from the condenser (as a vacuum line attachment) to the heater above the water-line, to get the air that was liberated from the water out of the machine so that more steam could come in. I put that in, and it worked beautifully.
"This was the first Vacuum Line Attachment to Webster Feedwater Heaters—and I patented it.
"In 1893," said Warren Webster, "shortly before we occupied the new factory in Camden, we placed a Webster Feedwater Heater on exhibition at the Columbia World Exposition at Chicago. A number of competitors also exhibited their equipment. Ours was a 3000-horsepower machine and the largest one there. It was installed and supervised in its operation by a Webster representative and it made the best record. It was displayed in operation—not heating, but just handling the feedwater for the boilers. It produced 210° F. as an average with full steam. This was about 1000-horsepower above its rated capacity.
"The Kansas Electric Light Company wanted to buy it on the spot, but I told them we couldn't deliver it until the Fair was over. If they wanted it then, they could have it. They bought it on those terms.
"The machine won the award of merit which now hangs on the wall at our plant."
One very pronounced facet of my father's character was his appreciation of worth. A man need not be an artist, an author, a composer, a doctor or a lawyer to excite his admiration. He saw the art in craftsmanship no matter how simple or every-day that craft might be. He appraised character by honesty, industry and loyalty—could always be won by loyalty. Between him and many of the employees of his younger days existed a really beautiful and personal friendship.
Elsewhere I have quoted his opinion of Tom Geoghegan and of Candlass. Then there was Tom Weir, a fighting Celt, George Johnson, long foreman of the Wrought Iron Department, and many others. Last, but by no means least, was Ed Stein. Talking of Stein, my father said:
"Ed Stein was a Russian Jew, one of the most loyal men I have ever had. None was more loyal than he.
"The way he happened to come to us, was this: He used to go around, with a box on his back, doing jobs of replacing broken glass windows. One especially severe winter's day I looked out of the window of our office and saw him standing on the sidewalk with the snow falling on him. He had been walking about trying to get an odd job or two and he looked cold and discouraged.
"I opened the door and told him to come in out of the snow and get warm. He came in and looked around at the shop and after a little while said: 'I'd just love to get a job where I could go in every day and do a day's work—and have a home nearby and go to that home instead of walking all over the country.'
Then he added: 'This is the first kindness anyone has shown me, so I want to fix up some of your glass.'
"I said, 'Why we haven't done anything—just invited you in. We do that to anybody.'
"Looking over to where some machines were being finished, he said: 'I'd like to have a chance to finish one of those. That rough casting work—I'd like to show you how I can smooth it down, if you will let me?'
"I said, 'You shall have the chance—and you will start tomorrow morning.'
"I tried him out the next day and he did it beautifully, much better than our regular man. His faith did not permit him to work on Saturdays, but he worked on Sundays and acted as watchman, too. He worked for us for twenty years—until his death. I thought a lot of him.'
"I was in Pittsburgh," said Warren Webster, "at our district office, and the manager had just received an inquiry for a Feedwater Heater from a glass plant located in West Virginia. I said to our Pittsburgh manager, 'I've never been down through that country. I would like to look it over, so I will answer this inquiry. If I make the sale, you will get your full commission.'
"I went down to a little 'one-horse' town. There was no hotel, so I stopped at one of the boarding-houses. I got down there about ten in the morning and went right over to the prospect's plant.
"I was met by a Santa Claus-like old fellow with a long white beard. When I showed him the inquiry we had received, he turned me over to his mechanical engineer, a young fellow just graduated.
"I said to the engineer, 'I would like to inspect the plant before I can specify definitely the size machine you need here.'
Then later, after we had walked around the plant, I told him: 'You need a machine of such-and-such a size. It will cost you $1200 delivered here, subject to sixty days' trial. If for any reason you don't wish to accept it at the end of that time, you have the privilege of shipping it back with no charge to yourself.'
"He said, 'Why, I could make a machine that would do just as good work for half that price—not more than $600.'
"I said, 'Well, now, that is remarkable. I've been the daddy of this machine for a great many years and have put machines in the biggest plants in the United States. If you can do what you say, you are too valuable to remain down in this country. I could use you in our business. Have you ever made any machines of this sort?'
"He replied, 'No, but I have all the theory. There (pointing to the wall) is my diploma.'
"I said, 'I don't think your boss appreciates you as much as he should and I am going over there and tell him what a smart young fellow he has—I'm going to tell him what you said to me.'
"He replied, 'Well, it won't do you any good—he'll only refer you back to me.' 'All right,' I said, 'if he does, I'll be back!'
"So I went over to the old gentleman's office and he asked:
'Well, how did you make out over there with Charlie?'
"I repeated what had passed between the engineer and myself, and added: 'Now, my proposition to you is this: I will furnish you a machine. It will cost you $1200. If you can produce any machine inside of sixty days that can be put alongside of this machine, both connected on the main exhaust pipe, that will show equal results to mine, then you can ship mine back and I will forfeit $500. I'm the daddy of that machine and all the features are patented. You can't duplicate that machine. You may duplicate the results but not the specific construction without infringing the patents.'
"He said, 'I get your point. Now, I notice you have named the Wheeling Steel Works, which is the nearest plant to this, as reference.'
"I replied that was so and that I would be glad to have him call them on the 'phone. This he did, and they gave him an excellent report on our machines. Then he rang for the engineer.
"He asked him: 'Charlie, did you tell Mr. Webster you could build a machine for $600 that would do just as good work as the one he is offering us at $1200? Have you ever built any?'
"The engineer said, 'No, but I have the theory.'
"I said, 'You know this machine is patented in all details. If you duplicated it you would infringe the patents.'
"Then the old gentleman broke in: 'Look here, Charlie, you have got enough problems here without adding experiments. Give Mr. Webster our order for the machine and ask him to have it here as soon as he can.'
"I dictated rny proposition on the terms I had previously mentioned and got the old gentleman's signature. The machine was installed and duly paid for—and we never had any trouble whatever."
« » »
While its population hovered far below the hundred thousand mark, the name of "Camden, New Jersey," was carried into homes in every quarter of the world on the labels of two widely varying products—Campbells Soups and the Victor Talking Machine— later known as the Victrola.
With the founding and development of the Victor Talking Machine Company, Warren Webster was closely acquainted, as a friend of the founders and one of the first Victor stockholders.
Said my father: "The beginning of the Victor Talking Machine was shortly after we moved to Camden. Johnson was a machinist and had a little shop down the street from our factory. The first time I met him was on an extremely cold day. He came to the factory with his overcoat-collar turned up and a little box about the size of my hand in his pocket. 'There is music in that,' he said, 'stop down at my place and I will put it on and show you how it plays.'
"We did a little work for him on a special machine which we had. Later I went down to his shop for a demonstration. I got to know Johnson, Haddon and Middleton and the rest of the old Victor men quite well. The machine was very meritorious and it came along fast. When Caruso made records for it all the great artists fell over themselves to sing and play for it, so that it literally carried the world by storm. I bought some of the stock and was chairman at some of the early Victor Company meetings. Of course, things are changed over there now—the old fellows have all passed out of the picture.
"Speaking of Victor shares reminds me of a very amusing experience. One day I met F. G. Middleton, Secretary of the Victor Company, and he said to me, 'Do you want to buy some more stock?' and I said to him, 'Yes, I would like to have some, but I don't want to pay too much for it.'
"He said, 'There is a man up in Reading who has some and wants to sell.' I asked, 'How much does he want?' He replied, 'I don't know, but I believe it can be bought reasonably.'
'Well,' I said, 'if you've a little time, take a run up to Reading with me and let us see what we can do.'
"Accordingly, we went to Reading and called on our man, who kept a clothing store. He said: 'I need some capital to expand my business and I am willing to sell my stock, but I want par for it.'
"Middleton said to him, 'Why, you got two shares for nothing for every share of preferred you bought at par. Why not be satisfied with half-par? Mr. Webster will buy at half-par.'
"No, he wouldn't. We went at it hammer-and-tongs. There was nothing I liked better than a good bout of bartering when I had time—but in the end I had to give up. I couldn't get him down a dollar and I couldn't get away from him. I bought his stock—and paid par.
"Middleton and I had a good laugh at our own expense, but in the end I had the better of it. My man must have been sorry he sold that stock. I kept it for years and it was a very profitable investment.
"By 1895, my Organization had reached a degree of efficiency which made it unnecessary for me to supervise every detail and I could save my energies for more general promotion of the business.
"About this time I had the Company incorporated under the laws of the State of New Jersey, with my brothers A. Spencer and Theodore L. as joint incorporators.
"Soon after this I became a member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and the American Society of Heating and Ventilating Engineers.
"In missionary work, I generally made it a point to first call on the owner of an industrial plant and ask permission to investigate his heating needs, after which I was generally introduced to the chief engineer.
"I described myself as an 'Exhaust Steam Specialist.' This did not arouse any antagonism on the part of the prospect's engineers, and, in fact, generally won their co-operation. But effective as I proved this description to be, I never encountered a single competitor who used the title 'Exhaust Steam Specialist.'
"In 1894," said Warren Webster, "we installed a heating system in the Lowenberg Building, Norfolk, Va. They claimed it was unsatisfactory, but I afterwards found out that no exhaust steam was made available for its operation as had been contemplated in the original plans.
"One day I was in my office, at Camden, when D. Lowenberg, the owner of the building, was shown in.
" 'I have come,' he said in slow, measured tones, 'to have the pleasure of telling you, face-to-face, just what I think of your equipment. It won't work, it never has worked, and I have had it disconnected.'
"I could see he was very angry and that any attempt at explanation would do no good, so I said:
" 'I'm very sorry to hear you express that opinion, Mr. Lowenberg.'
How much has it cost you to remove our apparatus and make new connections?'
"He said: 'The added expense amounts to $269.00.'
"I called the bookkeeper and instructed him to make out a check for the amount. When it was ready, I placed the check before Mr. Lowenberg and said:
" 'This is the way we do business. I want you to be satisfied and feel that you have been treated fairly. We placed our equipment in your building on trial and you have found it unsatisfactory. I am positive the reason it does not work lies in some condition of which I am not aware, but I am not going to argue about that. I do not want it to cost you one penny. Now, this is settled, I want you to be my guest for lunch and afterwards I will take you to the station.'
"When he left us in the afternoon he was in a far different frame of mind as regards Warren Webster & Company than when he arrived.
"It so happened that a few weeks afterward we wanted the opportunity of figuring on a heating system for the Monticello Hotel in Norfolk. Our representative was told to see Mr. Lowenberg. He gave the salesman a very nice reception and recommended Webster equipment for the hotel. Later he was directly instrumental in our receiving orders for five other buildings, including the Jefferson Hotel in Richmond, Va.
"Once," said Warren Webster, "I was the most popular man in Cleveland, Ohio—that is, for a couple of days. It was really too funny.
"I got in town late at night and went straight to my hotel and to bed. Next morning, before I was up, four or five people had called to see me. The names on their cards told me nothing; they were absolute strangers. I was puzzled.
"After I had dressed and breakfasted, I found one fellow still waiting for me. He forthwith offered to show me Cleveland. I told him I had already seen most of Cleveland, that it was a very beautiful and interesting city, but I had certain business to transact.
"He replied that was what he understood, all the same he had something new in machinery to show me which I ought to see.
I said, 'All right, providing it does not take too long.'
"So we started out. The tour included several machinery display rooms. When we finally came back, he asked: 'Now, Mr. Webster, may I ask if you have made up your mind as to any of the machinery you want?'
"I said: 'I'm always interested in looking at new machinery, but I'm not in the market for anything particular at this time.'
"He seemed a little surprised at this, and so was I when he smiled indulgently and said, 'I half expected you would say that.'
"By this time we had been joined by my other morning callers who had returned. One invited me to lunch; another to dinner and the theater—and so on. I just couldn't get rid of them. I never was so showered with invitations and attentions in my life.
"I couldn't make head-nor-tail of it until at last I managed to call on one of the people I had come to see and he showed me a clipping from a local paper stating I was coming to Cleveland to make large purchases of machinery for a plant I was building in New Jersey.
"I found out who was behind the joke—a man named Adams, who was agent for the Porcupine Boiler. He told them: 'Look out for Webster. He is a modest fellow and will say he isn't buying anything, but all the same he is going to place a sheaf of big orders.'
"Adams put those fellows on to me. He was a great joker—the son of a minister, too!"
THE "TURN OF THE CENTURY"
At Midnight on the last day of the 19th Century, pistols barked, fire-crackers exploded, horns tooted, factory whistles shrieked and bells chimed solemnly—just as on other New Year Eves. But—though unrealized at the moment, this was no mere marking of the end of one man-fixed division of time and greeting a new. It was the passing into a literally New Age, where life would be rapidly surrounded by conditions so different as to be far beyond the imagination of any of those noisy, celebrating millions.
* * *
In the Fall of 1900, William McKinley was re-elected President, and Theodore Roosevelt, Vice-President, defeating William Jennings Bryan, Democrat, running on an anti-imperialistic platform. Both President and Vice-president were intensely popular.
In the Summer of 1901, after a tour of the Pacific Coast and a stop at his home-town of Canton, Ohio, the President visited the Buffalo Pan-American Exposition, and there, on September 6th, at a great reception held in his honor, he was shot and fatally wounded by Leon Czolgosz. He died on the 14th. Theodore Roosevelt was immediately sworn in as President to serve the unexpired term.
Warren Webster was then only thirty-seven years of age, yet three times within his lifetime had the flags hung at half mast for a murdered President. For Lincoln in 1865, for Garfield in 1881 and for McKinley in 1901. A super-man and two excellent men, the choice of a majority of the nation, struck down at the height of their usefulness by the hands of semi-lunatics!
Theodore Roosevelt at once gave evidence that his administration would be marked by reform and reorganization, achieved by vigorous direct action. His motto was "Speak softly but carry a big stick."
Many of the vast, newly developed industries, such as the railroads, steel and oil, had acquired great power by methods which were often far from scrupulous. The struggle for legislation curbing these "trusts" and crooked politicians, termed by him "malefactors of great wealth," continued throughout his administration.
One of his first acts was to send the American fleet on a successful cruise around the world, a project which had been condemned as impractical by naval experts both in the United States and Europe.
In 1900, during the Boxer Rebellion in China, American forces participated in the relief of the foreign legations at Peking. Later the American Government returned to China more than one-half the indemnity, and has ever since held the Chinese respect and confidence.
Mr. Roosevelt's next and most far-reaching achievement was the recognition of the Republic of Panama in its secession from Colombia and acquiring rights for the United States to build and control the Canal in perpetuity. The treaty was ratified on February 23, 1904, and excavation was begun in 1907.
In the elections of 1904, Mr. Roosevelt was opposed by Judge Alton B. Parker, running on the Democratic ticket, but the President won easily, with an electoral college plurality of 196.
In 1904-1905 was waged the Russo-Japanese War. Peace negotiations were initiated largely through Mr. Roosevelt's efforts and the war was concluded by a treaty signed at Portsmouth, N. H.
In 1907 occurred a severe panic, disrupting what seemed to be very favorable business conditions. It is generally attributed to the efforts of F. Augustus Heinze and Charles W. Morse to combine banks, copper and other interests, as well as to the collapse of the Knickerbocker Trust Company. Public confidence in big business, however, had been previously undermined by the insurance scandals. The depression lasted more than a year, but normalcy was restored by the efforts of the Morgan and other great financial houses.
Due to the reaction to panic conditions, Mr. Roosevelt announced he would not be a candidate in 1908. He threw all his influence in favor of his then close friend and Secretary of War, William Howard Taft. Mr. Taft—opposed by William Jennings Bryan, who had been again nominated by the Democrats—was elected. Mr. Roosevelt then departed on an extended trip to Africa as a "hunter-naturalist," during which he hunted and traveled over a large part of the Dark Continent and was received with royal honors in Europe.
* * *
Practically all of the present vast variety of mechanical apparatus is due to the development of three highly condensed and comparatively light-in-weight sources of power—the electric motor, the storage battery and the gasoline engine.
The electric motor is dependent on current generated by separate mechanism operated by separate power, the storage battery depends on separate electric current for re-charging, but the gasoline engine needs only fuel, lubricating oil and water (in most cases) for cooling.
All internal combustion engines—gas, oil or gasoline, are developments of the Otto (de Rochas) engine of 1876, and behind that was a research of a hundred and more years by various engineers. For some time before the "turn of the century" the internal combustion engine had made available to engineering such apparatus as hoists, pneumatic tools, and the like, which apparatus made easier canal building, tunneling and other construction work.
The gasoline motor was the instigator of the automobile. As far back as 1769, Cugnot had built and driven a steam-powered carriage in France. In Philadelphia, in 1804, Oliver Evans built his "Orukter Amphibilos," a 30-foot scow-like contraption, with both wheels and paddles, and driven by a steam engine. He drove this device up Market Street for a mile-and-a-half and out into the Schuylkill. He then transferred the driving belts to the paddles and sailed down the Schuylkill and up the Delaware to Bristol, against the current, a distance of sixteen miles. Various other steam-driven vehicles are known to have been operated, notably a steam-driven passenger coach between Cheltenham and Gloucester, in England.
Gottlieb Daimler invented the internal-combustion motor, using "petroleum spirit." He applied it to boats on the Seine, during the Exposition of 1887, and also to bicycles. In the same year, Levassor, of Panhard & Levassor, obtained the French rights from Daimler, designed a transmission system (substantially the same as used today) and built the first practical automobile.
In the United States, Haynes, Pullman, Duryea, Winton, Ford and several others took up the development of automobiles. In 1893, Henry Ford had his first car on the street, and the cars of other American builders appeared about the same time. In 1899 Ford built his second car. After this he produced two racers— both with 80-horsepower 4-cylinder motors, the "Arrow" and the "999." Barney Oldfield, driving the "999" swept the field at Grosse Point racetrack, near Detroit, in October, 1901. Later, on the same track, he drove the "Arrow" against Alexander Winton's "Bullet."
In 1894, the Petit Journal sponsored a trial run between Paris and Rouen. In 1895 a race was staged between Paris and Bordeaux and return, 744 miles. The average speed of the winner was 15 miles per hour. From 1900 there were annual races for the Gordon Bennett Cup, which became a classic. There were also many city-to-city races, such as Paris to Madrid.
This period saw the development of the Stanley and White "Steamers" as well as many foreign steam cars. For a time the "steamer" was considered more reliable than the gasoline car and it appeared that development efforts might be directed particularly in that direction, but for one reason or another, the gasoline motor was finally favored.
In 1901, the United States Census stated that the Automobile Industry was too indefinite to give any value to statistics of capital invested, machinery and labor employed. But the automobile had arrived as a world-factor. How rapidly it was adapted to the American way of life is graphically shown by the following figures:
In France, in 1889, there were produced or in use, 1,438 pleasure cars and 234 industrial cars. Figures are not available for either Great Britain or Germany.
In the same year 600 cars of all kinds were produced in the United States.
In 1909, there were produced and in use in France 26,000 pleasure cars and 20,000 industrial cars; 183,773 motor vehicles of all kinds were registered in Great Britain; 41,941 motor vehicles of all kinds were in use in Germany; in the United States in that year, 114,891 motor vehicles were produced.
The story of the automobile in America in the intervening years is shown by the following figures:
On January 1, 1939, of the 43,810,946 motor vehicles in the whole world, 29,852,910 were registered in the United States.
The consumption of gasoline in the United States for the year, was 20,766,513,000 gallons. The total road and street mileage of the United States is estimated at 3,068,921 miles, of which about 90% is hard-surfaced.
While the automobile has been constantly improved in every respect, the building of roads has contributed vitally to its development. Even the best present-day cars would be in the shop most of the time had they to negotiate the old-time roads at anything like present speeds.
The whole effect has been to change the living-habits and opportunities of at least 90% of the population. The facilities of a city are now available to all living within a radius of fifty miles or more. Folks who used to shop from a mail order catalog now buy in the neighboring town the identical goods being displayed in New York. Educational institutions are no longer planned to meet the needs of a single neighborhood but of an entire district.
On the other hand, products can now be transported to markets in a few hours instead of days. These changes have all been brought about since the "turn of the century," quickening in tempo in almost exact ratio to the building of roads and development of automobiles— whether in the form of pleasure cars, buses or trucks.
* * *
Contemporaneous with the automobile came the motion picture to assume a key position in the mosaic of twentieth century life. As early as 1824, Peter Mark Roget investigated the laws of vision with reference to moving objects, recording his conclusions in a paper. Michael Faraday continued Roget's investigations.
Then Dr. Plateau, of Ghent, and Dr. Von Stampfer, of Vienna, produced what was probably the first moving picture machine.
They mounted hand-drawn pictures, in sequence, on the rim of a disc. These were observed through corresponding slits on a parallel disc revolving on the same axis. In 1863, Baron Franz Von Uchatius, an Austrian, combined the disc with a magic lantern and projected the pictures on a screen.
In 1860, Coleman Sellers, of Philadelphia, applied photography to moving picture effects. He photographed poses of motion and presented the results on the blades of a paddle-wheel device. He patented the machine as the "Kinematoscope," February, 1861.
On April 25, 1864, Louis Arthur Ducos de Hauron, of France, filed a patent application which was in effect an almost complete anticipation of the motion picture. It never got beyond the paper stage.
Henry Renno Heyl, of Philadelphia, on February 5, 1870, projected photographic pictures made on the Sellers principle, using small glass plates. He called the machine the "Phasmatrope."
In 1872, Leiand Stanford—railroad magnate of California, became interested in investigating the gaits of a horse. He engaged Eadweard Muybridge to make photographs of the motion of a horse. Muybridge's first efforts failed and he was compelled to discontinue his experiments on account of a domestic tragedy.
Stanford turned the commission over to John D. Isaacs. By using a battery of cameras, with shutters controlled electrically, Isaacs successfully made the first photographs of objects in rapid motion.
On August 24, 1891, Thomas A. Edison filed patent claims for a moving-picture machine. It was not, however, until he obtained samples of the first nitro-cellulose film from the Eastman Kodak Company that he was able to perfect the "Kinetoscope," patent on which was granted August 31, 1897. James J. Corbett, then heavyweight champion of the world, was the first boxer to pose for the "movies" in Edison's "Black Maria" booth at Menlo Park, N. J., sometime in 1893. The machine was first presented commercially in New York, April 14, 1894. Hundreds were sold throughout the world, showing portions of prize-fights, dances and vaudeville skits. These views showed only about 15 seconds of action.
The quest now centered on projectors. In 1875, Louis and Auguste Lumiere, of Lyons, brought out the "Cinematographe."
In 1895, Thomas Armat and C. Francis Jenkins brought out what was practically the modern projector.
The motion picture development was now disrupted by a series of litigations for patent rights and priorities, which lasted for ten years. Nevertheless, it progressed.
March 17, 1897, Enoch J. Rector successfully photographed the Corbett-
In 1903, Edwin S. Porter, of the Edison Studios, New York City, produced "The Great Train Robbery" about 800 feet in length. This was the first "story picture" produced in America.
In November, 1905, Harry Davis, real estate operator, opened a theater with "The Great Train Robbery," as the attraction and charging a five-cent admission. A wave of five-cent theaters swept the country. Came more "story pictures," which became longer and more detailed, until they assumed the form of picture pantomimes, explained by captions.
David Wark Griffith, a stage-actor, entered the services of the American Biograph Company as a scenario writer and proved a genius in story-telling for the screen and in taking advantage of close-ups, fadeouts, double exposures and other effects made possible by the camera.
Not only stories but travelogues, industrial pictures and news began to make their appearance on the screen. The makeshift halls and basements in which the "movies" were first shown began to give way to theaters especially planned for motion picture displays—and admissions were increased. By 1912, when Adolph Zukor, in partnership with Edwin S. Porter, Daniel Frohman and others, imported "Queen Elizabeth," played by the immortal Sarah Bernhardt and produced by Louis Mercanton, of Paris, and George Klein imported "Quo Vadis" from Italy, the "movies" had become the "photo-play" and taken its place among the arts.
* * *
In the year 1900, in the hospitals of Cuba, yellow fever was taking a toll of American lives unapproached by that of Spanish bullets during the war. In that year, as for many years, Dr. Carlos Finlay, of Havana, kept shouting: "Yellow fever is caused by a mosquito!"
And so to Quemados, Cuba, came the Yellow Fever Commission— Dr. (Major) Walter Reed and his assistants, Drs. Jesse Lazear, James Carroll and Aristides Agramonte, a Cuban. They decided to heed Dr. Finlay's cry and center investigation on the mosquito.
Drs. Carroll and Lazear, William Dean and seven anonymous heroes were the first to volunteer and submit to be bitten by fever-blood-fed mosquitoes. Carroll almost died. Dr. Lazear submitted to being bitten on September 13th—and died, miserably and gloriously, on September 25th.
Reed then sought and obtained permission to call for more volunteers to act as human "guinea pigs." There was to be a gratuity of from $200 to $300 for the volunteers. Private Kissinger, of Ohio, and John J. Moran, civilian clerk, were the first volunteers, stipulating to their everlasting credit that they did so solely "in the interest of Science and for Humanity" and were not to be paid. They were followed by four "Spanish immigrants"—names unknown. None died.
In the final "proving" of the experiment, Dr. Cooke and two soldiers—Levi E. Folk and Warren Gladsden Jemegan, allowed themselves to be confined for twenty days and nights in a horrible "experimental shack," lying on cots, bedding and pillows (even wearing clothes) covered with the indescribable filth of men who had died of yellow fever. Mosquitoes were rigidly excluded. The discomfort must have been terrible. But none of the men contracted yellow fever.
Then the conditions were reversed. An absolutely clean and sterilized "shack"—but with fever-contaminated mosquitoes. John J. Moran went into this shack for eighteen days and developed yellow fever. In another division of the shack, with only a fine screen between, two other volunteers lived throughout the entire period. They never had a trace of yellow fever.
The matter was proved. The mosquito was convicted. And to Cuba came William Crawford Gorgas (he who later cleaned up the Canal Zone) and went into action against the Stegomyia mosquito—a hunt which was taken up in every fever land until yellow fever has practically disappeared.
And the rewards? The widows of Reed, Carroll and Lazear were voted the princely pension of $1500 a year. Kissinger of Ohio was induced to accept $115 and a gold watch. He fell into poor health and his wife supported him by taking in washing.
The others received a maximum of $300.
In 1896, Guglieimo Marconi, of Italy, went to England, and on June 2nd of that year was granted the first patent ever issued for wireless telegraphy based on the use of electric waves—which was in turn the practical application of the discoveries of Hertz, Lodge, Right and a host of other investigators and experimenters in that field.
After establishing the practicability of wireless over short distances, Marconi, on December 12, 1901, transmitted and received messages between Cornwall and Newfoundland. Wireless then quickly demonstrated its utility on ships, providing a means for vessels to keep in touch with shore and other ships and summon aid in case of disaster. Its first military use was by the British in the Boer War.
Marconi encountered the inevitable counter-claims to prior invention, involving him in much litigation. His claims, however, were clinched by the support of Thomas A. Edison. This was the more convincing for, as we have already mentioned, Edison himself devised a system of telegraphy without wires and filed patent claims on May 23, 1885. Furthermore, the system was in actual operation between trains and stations of the Lehigh Valley Railroad in 1886, being known as the "Grasshopper Telegraph."
The use of wireless spread. About ten years later, through the inventions of Dr. Lee DeForest, of Chicago, and others, it developed into wireless telephony, or as it is generally known, the radio. Today, by means of radio, it is possible to speak, sing and play to the whole world. In its wide ramifications as disseminator of information and amusement, the radio has now become as much a part of civilized life as the kitchen stove.
* * *
In 1895, Dr. Wilhelm Konrad Roentgen discovered the "Roentgen Rays," or as it is generally known, the "X-Rays," which since the "turn of the century" has played so important a part in medical and dental surgery and scientific research generally.
From this has been developed the whole medical science of radiotherapy and roentgenology through which marvelous results have been already achieved and far more are predicted.
* * *
From the 15th of October, 1783, when Pilatre de Rosier made an ascent in a fire-balloon, built after the ideas of the Montgolfier brothers, man had been fascinated by the idea of flying. Not content with his partial success in gas-filled balloons, attention was turned to the heavier-than-air machine, more nearly approximating the birds.
In the latter part of the nineteenth century, Professor Langley had built a model machine embodying all the necessary elements for flight—except a gasoline engine.
On December 17, 1903, for the first time in recorded history, a heavier-than-air machine, carrying a man, arose by its own power from the dunes of Kitty Hawk, N. C., and flew—with and against the wind, in definite control. It was operated by Wilbur Wright, of Dayton, Ohio, and invented by himself and his brother Orville.
This event, destined to revolutionize transportation and military tactics and to play the deciding role in the fate of nations, was "covered" by a single obscure newspaper,* in one clear story, perhaps the greatest scoop of all time, to which nothing has been added through the years.
The development of the airplane was rapid: On October 5, 1905, the Wright machine, with one of the brothers, flew twenty-four miles near Dayton. On September 21, 1908, Wilbur Wright won the Michelin Prize in France, covering a distance of fifty-six miles. In December of the same year Wright flew seventy-seven miles at LeMans.
On July 25, 1909, Louis Bleriot flew the English Channel. And in 1938—thirty-five years after the immortal exploit at Kitty Hawk, at the "turn of the century," Howard Hughes completed a flight around the world in—3 days-19 hours-8 minutes-10 seconds!
* * *
In the historic West Indian island of Martinique, on May 8, 1902, occurred one of the most frightful catastrophes of all time. An eruption of the volcano of Mont Pele poured lava, smoke and gases over the town. The destruction was complete and more than 40,000 persons—the entire population, perished in the inferno. Only one vessel succeeded in escaping from the harbor— the Roddam.
Early in the morning of April 18, 1906, repeated earthquake shocks reduced one-sixth of the great city of San Francisco to crumbled heaps and five days of fire consumed almost everything burnable in the debris to ashes. The devastation included the largest hotels, banks, office buildings and churches and the famous "Nob Hill" where were the mansions of the mining, lumber and railroad "kings." The loss was placed at $200,000,000. The loss of lives was conservatively estimated as far in excess of 1,000.
On January 14, 1907, a prolonged earthquake, followed by fire, destroyed almost every building in the city and outlying districts of Kingston, Jamaica. More than 1,000 persons lost their lives in the disaster and the monetary loss was so great it was termed complete.
* * *
On April 6, 1909, the dreams of generations of daring adventurers was at last realized by Commander Robert E. Peary, as after years of striving and enduring, he stood at the top of the world, accompanied by his gallant negro servant and a few Eskimos. He returned to civilization to find his claims disputed by Dr. F. A. Cook, another American, who claimed to have reached the Pole on April 21, 1908. Cook was honored by Denmark and several European countries and received a triumph in the United States. However, the findings of the University of Copenhagen declared that his observations furnished no proof on which to base claims of discovery. Peary's claims have never been disputed.
Captain Roald Amundsen discovered the South Pole on December 14, 1911. Scott, Wilson, Bowers, Captain Oates and Petty Officer Evans also reached the South Pole on January 18, 1912.
They were bitterly disappointed on finding Amundsen's tent— and realized that they had been forestalled. They all perished on the return journey. Their bodies were found in a hut by Dr. Alkinson, November 12, 1912.
The Twentieth Century was on its way!
* Norfolk Virginian-Pilot, December 18, 1903.
THE KANE* AFFAIR
* Fictitious names used in this chapter tor obvious reasons.
Early in the 1900's I made arrangements with the New Bedford Engineering Company* to represent us," said Warren Webster. This concern was owned by Thomas B. Kane,* of Boston, and a man named White. White ran the New Bedford Engineering Company and Kane was manager of the Mooretown Company.
"There was an acquaintance of theirs by the name of Richards, who conceived the idea that they could handle the air independently from the water of condensation and who had taken out some patents covering this. They called this the "Air Pipe Vacuum System." Richards got the patents in his own name and assigned them to Kane.
"After Kane had these patents, he and a man named Linke, the Treasurer of the Company, came down to see me at Camden, and Kane said: 'We have these patents and we have founded a company up in Boston—a $300,000 stock company. We want to take you in.'
"I replied, 'That sounds attractive. Tell me your proposition.'
"He said: 'We will give you $60,000 worth of common stock.'
" 'Is that so?' I replied. 'Well, what else?'
" 'We want you to assign the Williames Patent to us—to our Company.'
" 'Ah,' I said, 'that's a different thing!'
"Linke now said in a high-tone way: 'Mr. Webster, I think you had better accept that.'
"I said: 'Mr. Linke, it really is immaterial to me what you think. I have a business here which I have built from the ground up, and I am going to decide which propositions I will consider.'
"Kane got very angry, and blurted out: 'Well, I will tell you this. If you don't accept what we offer we will close up your Midland office inside of six months.'
"I asked: 'Selling the Air Pipe Vacuum System?'
"He replied, 'Yes, in competition.'
"I said, 'Let me tell you something, Mr. Kane. You can't drive me into doing anything. I will accept your challenge that you will close up our Midland office within six months if I don't accept your proposition. We don't have to go any further in the matter. I refuse your offer. Go ahead and close the Midland office as you threaten, if you can. I will, of course, have to do business on any basis you wish.'
"He said, 'You'll find I can do it.'
"I replied, 'I'm sorry to leave it this way, but I couldn't think of accepting your proposition.'
"Now here is what he did: He went to Midland and established the Midland Kane Steam System Company, taking in certain territories in the West. Then he issued stock and had it distributed to various contractors in Midland in the name of their employees—not in their own names. Naturally, the contractors were boosting the Kane System with the architects.
"At that time Mr. J. H. Davis, a practical steamfitter and an excellent man, was our manager in Midland. He came to see me aboard my yacht at Atlantic City and told me what Kane had done. He had the names of everybody to whom Kane had given stock. I returned with him to Midland.
"There were three jobs up for bids and the Kane System had been specified on all three. We went to the architects and solicited the privilege of bidding on complete installations. We found we couldn't bid without bonds. I arranged for the bonds, and going to the architects on the three jobs told them what we were prepared to do.
"We took all those three orders away from the Kane System and sublet the work to contractors. They were hopping mad when we undertook to put those installations in complete.
"Finally, the opposing crowd sent a Mr. Tompkins (a man I had known for years) to see me. He said: 'We are going to have a meeting and you will have to come to it.'
" 'I am at the Auditorium Annex,' I replied. 'There is nothing I wish to see you about, but if you wish to see me, I will be glad to have you come over. Anyway, what is the nature of this business about which you wish to see me?'
"He said: 'We want to see you, because we understand you have taken the three contracts.'
"I said: 'That's right—we have them.'
" 'Do you know,' he asked, 'that you are violating the Master Steamfitters' Code by taking orders direct?'
"I said: 'That sounds serious. I wonder if your Company did anything not quite correct? Has Mr. Jones (giving a name from the list we had) received the Kane System Company's stock yet? Has it been delivered?'
"He replied: 'I'm in no position to discuss that at all!'
"I said: 'You are only one of six big fitters in Midland, I won't talk to six men at six different times. If you want to talk to me, bring all six over and I will talk to them.'
"A little later, he and four others came over to the hotel. I just sat back and said, 'Gentlemen, go ahead. What do you want to see me about?'
"They replied that we had taken the contracts for the three buildings direct, had violated the Master Steamfitters' Code and they were going to have us blacklisted.
" 'Well,' I said, 'that does sound serious—but we have taken the contracts and we are going to execute them. However, there are two sides to every story. If you are going to discriminate in favor of the Kane System and have the architects boycott us, I will place the matter before the executive committee any time you wish.'
"So one of the contractors went to New York with me and we put the matter up to the executive committee of the Master Steamfitters. They replied to the contractors: 'The trouble you are having with the Webster Company is entirely local and we will take no action whatever. We refer it back to your territorial guidance. You can do what you please out there, but we will not blacklist them. We are doing satisfactory business with them.'
"They had to go back and never got any satisfaction. That was a wonderful fight. Davis deserved a lot of credit. He made the balls and I threw them."
AFFAIRS IN LONDON
In 1903," recounted my father, "Warren Webster & Company made a deal with the Atmospheric Heating Company, of London, England. We licensed them under our patents. They could sell as they wanted and we guaranteed the validity of the patents. The Atmospheric Heating Company agreed to pay a flat sum per foot for each installation for the use of the patent rights.
"Two English lawyers met us in New York. We thought it would take two or three days, but we were eleven days finishing the business.
"Soon after this the Atmospheric Heating Company filed suit against two competitors for infringement of the Webster patents. As yet they had made no payment on license fees, but they nevertheless asked that we bear the cost of the lawsuit.
"When I was married in 1891, I told those present that I intended one way or another to go to Europe when I was forty—or in 1903. This trouble coming up, I made up my mind to go over and settle things personally. So I cabled the Atmospheric Heating Company: 'Will be over to meet your board and adjust matters.'
On the trip I was accompanied by my brother Theodore.
"At my first meeting with the directors of the Atmospheric Heating Company, I asked: 'Gentlemen, have any of you talked with the two men whom you are suing?' They said, 'No, we have not. No one has been authorized to do so.'
"I said, 'Does anyone object to my seeing them?'
"They said, 'How?' I replied, 'They are in London, aren't they? They have a telephone? I think I will be able to see them personally.'
"So I went to see them. Over there you've got to go 'according to Hoyle.' You need an introduction. Nevertheless, I went straight to the first fellow and told him I represented the American interests.
"He received me pleasantly and said he didn't want to be connected with a lawsuit—that it would hurt his business. I said:
'How much has it cost you to date for your patent, experiments, and so forth? $200?' He replied, 'It has cost me $500 at least.'
" 'Well,' I said, 'if you will assign your patent to the Atmospheric Heating Company, I will pay you $500 for it, providing you take the $500 and buy stock in the Atmospheric Company. Moreover, I will see that you are placed on the board of directors.'
"He said, 'I will let you know tomorrow.'
"The next day he accepted. I then went to see the other man. He was an engineer fop the government—a pompous kind of fellow, with three or four draftsmen working for him.
" 'In the first place,' said he, 'this is most unusual for you to come to see me and I must think it over.'
"I said, 'All right, take your time. I am perfectly open in every transaction I go in. I have been told you are one of the best engineers in London and I want to see you interested in the Atmospheric Heating Company.'
"He said, 'But these people are suing me!'
"I said: 'You want to get rid of the suit. You have got these patents and they won't recognize them. They say you infringe their patents. You have spent money—I suppose eight hundred or a thousand dollars?'
" 'I have spent $2500' he interrupted.
"I said, 'Very well, I will pay you $2500 if you will assign your patents to the Atmospheric Heating Company and invest the $2500 in stocks of the Company, and I will also place you on the board of directors, as I have the right to name two of the members. This is to my interests, also, as it will end the litigation, the expenses of which I am paying.'
"After thinking it over for a day, he accepted the proposition. Then I made my report to the board. In a short time this engineer was instrumental in obtaining several large government jobs.
"However, I went to the board and said:
" 'Under the present agreement you are paying us on every job whether you make any profit or not. I would like our remuneration to be based on your profits. If you will release us from the obligation of guaranteeing the validity of the patents and give us $10,000 worth of stock, we will cancel the license fee.'
"My offer was immediately accepted—and thereafter things ran very smoothly and satisfactorily to all concerned.
"My lawyer in England was G. Croydon Marks. He had taken out all Edison's European patents and was very highly recommended to me. I found him a fine gentleman, far better even than he had been described.
"At the time I employed him, I said: 'Mr. Marks, I don't know how they do things over here, but I understand it is very expensive. Now, I like to know what I am doing. If I can't pay for anything, I leave it alone. If you will handle the legal side of our business in all its phases essential to establishing and carrying on the Corporation, we will pay you five per cent on everything we sell. We will work on a thirty days' cancellation basis. If you are called on for more work than you think fair, give us thirty days' notice and you can stop; if we think your services are not worth what we are paying you, we will give you thirty days' notice and stop.'
"Well, that contract lasted for thirty-three years. It was only cancelled in 1937 when he succeeded to the peerage and was no longer in position to take foreign business. He is Lord Marks now— a member of the House of Lords. We used to meet quite often. He had an American office and we would always call on each other when he was in this country.
"He and his wife had no children of their own, but he was intensely interested in Y.M.C.A. work and in orphan asylums. On one occasion I telephoned him at his hotel, suggesting some plan for the evening, and he said: 'I can't do it. You see, I have to write to each of my boys tonight—they expect it.'
" 'Why, how many have you,' I inquired.
"He replied, 'One hundred and ten—they are my life, worth more to me than any other interest.' "
* * *
My father's trip to Europe in 1903 was primarily a business trip. After things were fixed up in London, my father and his brother, Theodore, went up to Edinburgh and stopped at the North British Hotel.
"I happened," father said, "to know that the Atmospheric Heating Company, of London, had installed a Webster Heating System in this hotel, so I was surprised to find the dining-room so cold that some foreign-looking guests had on their overcoats— and we could have followed their example with great comfort.
"When we had finished eating, I went over to the desk-clerk and expressed a desire to inspect the heating-plant, if there was no objection. When he found out we were tourists, he said it would be perfectly all right.
"So we went down and talked to the chief engineer. I didn't mention that my name was Webster or that I had anything to do with the heating system. I told him we had just had breakfast in the dining-room and that it was cold up there—the radiators were cold. I asked, 'How do you heat the building?'
"He said, 'With steam—when we heat it. I could put steam up there, but I must have an order from the office.'
" 'Well,' I said, 'the guests were cold.'
"He asked, 'They were foreigners, weren't they?'
"I answered, 'They were Japanese, I think. They had their overcoats on. Don't you think you ought to put some steam in those radiators so people will be comfortable.'
" 'There's something wrong with foreigners,' he answered. 'They want it so hot we can't stand it.'
"I asked if any test of the system had ever been made. He said yes, through the contractors, and it had operated successfully, but there was no occasion to use steam when it wasn't necessary.
"We stayed two days and the temperature was never above 60° F. That's normal for them. Of late they have heated the tourist places and the big hotels, but the houses and even the smaller hotels are heated by individual fires in the rooms.
"After leaving Edinburgh we went through other parts of Scotland, then we toured Ireland and France. It was all mighty interesting, but soon we had to hurry home.
"While we were on the ship I received a wire that Mrs. Webster had presented me with a baby boy—Warren, Jr. After that the boat didn't go nearly fast enough to suit me—I just couldn't wait to see our boy!"
ADOPTION OF "SYLPHON" BELLOWS
I will go five hundred miles to investigate anything said to be equal or better than ours," my father once told me.
"So one day when I was in Chicago," he continued, "Charlie Foster, of the American Radiator Company, told me that The Fulton Company, of Knoxville, Tenn., had a thermostatic element that would beat ours in efficiency. I went to Knoxville that very night.
"Next day, after looking the Fulton product over, I signed a contract for bellows for traps and valves, guaranteeing to buy a specified minimum of the devices a year. The Fulton Company had a fine product and the Webster Organization had the engineering knowledge to make applications successful, plus an established market and steady sales. The Fulton Company's "Sylphon" Bellows has been an integral part of Webster thermostatic traps ever since.
"In 1917, when the Fulton people had some financial trouble, I went down to Knoxville prepared to assist them. After a little negotiation, Mr. W. M. Fulton and I were able to buy a controlling interest in the Fulton Company from the bankers who were running it. After that I served as Vice-President and Director on the Board of the Fulton Company. The business relationship continued very pleasantly right up to the time when the concern was sold to the Reynolds Metal Company."
"The first sale of Syiphon Traps I remember very clearly," Warren Webster said. "This marked the transition from the carbon post type of trap to the thermostatic traps which are the basis of our business at the present time.
"We had a contract with a company which for the purpose of the story I shall designate as the Nation's Gas Company. The equipment was half-installed when along came a competitive concern and said they could effect a saving of at least $4,000 a year in fuel over the Webster equipment. Accordingly the Nation's Gas Company offered to pay us the balance of our contract to release them from going any further.
"So I went out there and saw the consulting engineer—and found out, by the way, that he was indirectly connected with a competitor. Moreover, he didn't know his business, so I went to the vice-president.
"He said: 'There are five engineers connected with us. All have approved this change. The architect will also give his sanction provided you are paid for the balance of your apparatus, which we will do.'
"To this I replied: To start with, the building is not completed. It would have to be completed and tests made to get the efficiency of the boiler, steam generation—then the condensation would have to be weighed. That would be a lot of trouble. Now, if there is any plant in the United States in which they have shown an economy over Webster, we could take that plant and make comparisons without any trouble; if we were behind, we would know why.'
"He said, 'Well, these people will give us a bond.'
"I replied, 'They can't do it, because once our apparatus was out they couldn't make any comparison. The bond would be no good. The bond is only for the purpose of giving the privilege of a lawsuit. Now, we will deposit $10,000 in cash with you. We will invest it in 5% Nation's Gas Company Bonds and you can keep them for five years, then if we have failed to produce the results we have talked about, you keep the bonds. You won't have to fight for them. We will give you the money and you give us a receipt.
"I then suggested, 'Have your engineers meet me at two o'clock today and give me the chance of cross-examining them.' This he did.
"Knowing he was the deciding factor, I opened the meeting by asking the principal engineer: 'How do you expect to find out what the economy is or what the efficiency will be in generating steam with this other equipment? You are recommending what you have never done anywhere. Is there a plant nearby where you have already effected the economies you claim?'
"He said, 'No. But I know.'
" 'You may have a theory but no practical results to back it,'
I replied. 'Now, here is a device which you recommend to go in against that device. One weighs less than the other. The diaphragm of this isn't as large as the diaphragm of that. Do you know how much movement there is from hot to cold in this and how much from hot to cold in that?'
"He replied, 'I don't have to know that.'
"I said: 'Yes, you certainly have to know that. I know it and I will put it down.' I wrote on a card—1/25 of an inch movement from hot to cold for the one device, and, on the other side of the card, 1/10 of an inch movement for the other device. I gave the card to the vice-president, and said:
" 'There are the results. Now, let your engineer tell you what is on that card—if he knows it. If he hasn't tested it, he can't know it, for this is the result of experiments in our laboratory at Camden.'
"He couldn't answer, so he dodged the question by growling: 'I didn't come here to be cross-examined by any boy from Camden.'
" 'You must answer this question,' I insisted. 'This company is very fair to us, but you recommend that our apparatus be taken out of here and replaced by another. You must give your reasons.'
He could not answer.
"On the previous day I had told the Vice-President I would have the money wired to me by eleven o'clock, so I now informed him I had received it and turned it over to him in due form— and saved the job. Shortly after they returned the bonds, saying they did not want to hold them for five years.
"That was the first sale of 'Sylphon' Traps!"
* * *
"John A. Serrell," related Warren Webster, "was our New York agent for more than thirty years—until he retired and went to California around 1932. He handled a lot of business for us, but in the beginning things happened in a very queer way. At first Mr. Serrell did not like the Vacuum System—he preferred another system. He was almost forced by his partner into handling the Vacuum System.
"When the Trinity Building was being planned, Mr. Serrell looked over the plans and said: 'This won't work at all—this layout won't work.'
"I replied, 'That's your opinion. I am willing to personally guarantee it.'
"We installed the system and it worked beautifully.
"After this we sold $2500 worth of equipment to the big Colgate works. Serrell's partner did not like the idea of passing up such commissions and he persuaded Serrell to take the Agency.
"In the end things worked out very well."
* * *
"One time, when Mr. W. Morgan was manager of our Philadelphia office, he sent a letter to all plants equipped with Webster apparatus in the Philadelphia district," my father said.
"This letter asked whether the plants were getting the expected results and offered to inspect and correct anything that wasn't working satisfactorily.
"Soon a reply came back from the chief engineer of the DuPont Building, at Wilmington, saying: 'We received your letter, but you need not come to see us. We are disgusted with your system of steam heating.'
"Mr. Morgan brought the letter over to me in Camden. He was very worried. I said: 'Mr. Morgan, you are taking this thing too seriously. It's four years since the installation was made and at that time it was working perfectly. Something has happened. I have never met this man, but I would like to know what he means by writing us such a letter as that.'
"I called the engineer on the 'phone and told him, 'I have the letter you wrote to Mr. Morgan, our Philadelphia manager, and I will be down by the next train to find out why this letter was written.'
"He said, 'Who are you, anyway?' I replied, 'I'm the president of the Company.' 'Well,' said he, 'if you come down, I won't see you.'
"I said: 'That's pretty strong. However, I'm coming down on the next train and I'm going to see you and have a talk. If there is anything wrong with the system, I will correct it.'
"I went down and the girl at the desk took my card in to the engineer and then came back and said he wouldn't see me. I said:
'He is in the other room, isn't he? He can't go out any other way, can he? Tell him I'm going to sit here until he comes out."
"She went in and told him and he came out. I thought the only thing to do was to laugh. He turned red in the face and growled, 'I told you I wouldn't see you.'
"I said, 'Give me half-a-chance and we will be friends before we part. Something needs adjustment here and I want to find out what is wrong.'
"He said, 'What do you want to do about it?'
"I replied, 'I want to see your chief engineer, if you have one, and have him take me down so I can make an inspection.'
" 'No, sir,' he said, 'you don't make any inspection without me.'
" 'Fine,' I said, 'you take me down.'
"I found that in four years they had substituted every kind of trap for our devices. About one hundred and fifty of ours were piled in a box. I said:
" 'I see what is the matter. These traps should be put back and made to operate without any back-pressure on the engine with full circulation. That can be done.'
"He replied, 'That's what you say, but we are not doing it!'
"I said: 'It won't cost you a cent. I will have our man down here and have everything adjusted all right. Ordinarily we charge for this, but I'm not going to charge you, for I know what you told me over the 'phone. I can correct the trouble if you will allow me to do it.'
" 'Well,' said he, 'go ahead if you think you can do it.'
"I had one of our best men go down to Wilmington for eleven days and fix the whole installation up with the old Webster devices which they thought were no good. I went down again when everything was completed and the engineer was well satisfied.
"After a while, he said: 'You have got things working so nicely now, I see we should have consulted you before and given you a chance to fix it. However, we have got the building next door and that will have to be heated. Both are owned by DuPont.
"We got the order for the next door building. The installation proved perfectly satisfactory.
"Some time after this, the matter came up of heating the Equitable Building in New York. There were two competitors for the job. I went over to New York and saw Mr. Coleman DuPont personally.
"Mr. DuPont showed me the plans and we discussed the heating installation. He told me that he would be guided in his decision by an engineer in Wilmington in whom he had complete confidence.
"I was in Florida when we received the contract. The matter had been referred to the engineer in Wilmington with whom I had worked. I'm sure that making good on the DuPont Building in Wilmington got us the order for the Equitable Building in New York.
"While chatting with me, Mr. DuPont remarked: 'I've never been to Florida. I don't see how you can do it.' I replied, 'You are too busy or maybe you don't really want to go.' He said, 'You are right when you say I'm too busy to go. Every time I go from here to Wilmington, I go in the afternoon. I sleep going down. At home I always keep a pad and pencil on a table, with an electric light, by my bedside and if I get a good idea I put it down right away.'
"It was a pleasure to meet and do business with Coleman DuPont."
* * *
Every once in a while, as though to work off some of the boundless energy with which he was endowed, Warren Webster would take a hand in some enterprise outside the heating business.
The following anecdote tells of such an adventure. It also demonstrates the iron in the man and that anyone trying to impose on him was due for a surprise.
Said he: "Some architects in a large city owned the Unity Concrete Steel Frame Company, but they could not develop the business because if they specified Unity Steel Frames they were open to the charge of specifying their own product. So they offered me the business—patents, everything, for what seemed a reasonable amount. They said:
" 'Here is the organization—a manager and fifteen employees. Take it over and you will be well repaid.'
"I bought it—and right away we began to have trouble, as they claimed the concrete sample house was not included in the sale. I let this go, but as soon as I went into the office, the manager, whom I shall call Sharp, came in and said, 'Mr. Webster, we have built this business up and we want our salaries doubled.'
"I said, 'Well, I haven't been in possession thirty days and you make this demand. It is an awful jump. We bought this Company on the supposition that you were loyal. However, if you are in earnest, give us thirty days' notice.'
"He replied, 'I don't know if we will—I'll let you know tomorrow.'
" 'Well,' said I, 'I thank you very much for that.'
"I went out and saw the people who sold me the business and told them what had occurred. 'Well,' they said, 'we know you are a business man and can handle these fellows—we never could.'
I replied, 'You only told me of the pros of this business but you said nothing of the cons.' They said, 'Well, there is nothing we can do.'
"Next morning my brother Theodore and I went over to the office and asked Sharp if he was serious about what he had demanded, and he replied that he most certainly was.'
" 'Well,' I said, 'go right along for thirty days. Let us have thirty days before considering the raise. At that time I will let you know what we will do.'
"I went back to the architects and asked who was the best man they knew who could take the management of the business and liquidate it.
"They told me of a man in New York, whom I shall call Trumbull. I 'phoned him and then went to see him. I said, 'Mr. Trumbull we don't want to take any more contracts. The object is to liquidate the business we have got. Can you supervise that?'
"He said, 'Oh, yes, if that's all you want—supervision.'
"I told him about Sharp demanding double wages and he said:
'Mr. Webster, at the end of thirty days I will tell you exactly how we can complete the contracts without Sharp.'
"At the end of thirty days, Trumbull came to the office and I called in Sharp. Sharp expected me to say, 'Yes, we'll double everybody's salary.' Instead, I said: 'Mr, Sharp, this is Mr. Trumbull. I am placing him in charge of everything here. The thirty days are up and we cannot accede to your demand in regard to salaries. Now, Mr. Trumbull, you are in charge here. We will pay off up to tonight and if you wish to employ any of the men out there, it's up to you.'
"Trumbull went outside and said to the men: 'If you wish to stay, I will see that you get the same wages you have been receiving as long as the work lasts. Mr. Sharp, as far as you are concerned, you are through tonight—I don't want you.'
"Mr. Trumbull was a good man in all respects. We completed our contracts and wound up the business."
* * *
"One of our earliest European installations," said Warren Webster, "was at the big Government Hospital at Odessa, Russia.
It was installed under the supervision of an American engineer whom we had in Europe at the time instructing our agents in installation work on Webster Steam Heating Systems.
"Another notable sale of Webster equipment was for the Kilgarde Gold Mines in Australia.
"Members of the James Simpson Company, of London, met representatives of the Australian Government at Sydney and took them on a tour of inspection of the various pumping stations in the United States, England and Germany. When they came to Philadelphia, I drove the party out to see the big pumping station in Fairmount Park. Then they visited other stations in the South and went to Europe.
"When I next saw Percy Simpson, the senior member of the firm, he told me that they had been awarded a four-million dollar contract for eighteen pumping stations, twenty miles apart, to take water up to the Kilgarde Gold Mines, a distance of three hundred and sixty miles. The installation was also to allow for tappings for use of the population along the route.
"He placed an order with us for eighteen 2000-horsepower Webster Vacuum Feedwater Heaters. These were eventually installed by the Simpson Company, one in each of the eighteen power plants they built for the Australian Government. Our reports showed that they all operated successfully.
"This was the biggest order we ever got at one time anywhere— and the equipment was selected after world-wide investigation."
FROM TAFT TO HARDING
WILLIAM HOWARD TAFT was one of the ablest men ever to occupy the presidency, but he was no politician. His administration was marked from first to last by a series of controversies. The first of these arose when he supported his Secretary of the Interior, Richard A. Ballinger, against the attacks of Chief Forester Gifford A. Pinchot.
Theodore Roosevelt on his return from his African-European tour was quickly won over by Mr. Taft's enemies. After several bitter speeches on both sides, Mr. Roosevelt openly came out as a candidate for the Republican nomination in opposition to Taft in the convention of 1912.
When Taft was re-nominated, Roosevelt "bolted" and set up the "Bull-Moose" or Progressive Party, by which he was nominated for president and Governor Hiram W. Johnson, of California, for vice-president.
This splitting of the Republican Party insured the election of the Democratic candidates, Governor Woodrow Wilson of New Jersey and Governor T. R. Marshall of Indiana for president and vice-president, respectively. Election results: Wilson, 435 electoral votes: Roosevelt 88: Taft 8.
And here are a few of the interesting happenings during 1912-1913:
January 20, 1911—Andrew Carnegie gave $10,000,000 to Carnegie Institute, Washington, D. C.
January 21, 1911—Reciprocity Treaty signed between United States and Canada.
January 30, 1911—Eruption of Taal Volcano, Philippine Islands, results in loss of 1,300 lives.
February 6,1911—Nearly one-half of Constantinople destroyed by fire.
March 7, 1911—Michelin Prize of $20,000 won by Renaux in Paris to Puy-de-Dome flight, 210 miles: time, 5 hours.
March 7, 1911—United States orders 20,000 troops to Mexican border to protect American lives and property.
April 14-15, 1912—The White Star Liner Titanic, newest and largest floating palace, on its maiden voyage to America struck an iceberg off Cape Race and sank in a few hours, with the loss of 1,503 lives. Included in this list were scores of American notables, men and women, from the foremost ranks of social and professional life.
May 15, 1911—Supreme Court upholds the dissolution of Standard Oil Company.
May 26, 1911—Vedrines flies from Paris to Madrid. Time, 12 hours 18 minutes.
May 28, 1911—Supreme Court decrees dissolution of Tobacco Trust.
July 1, 1911—Gordon Bennett Cup for aerial speed won by C. T. Weymann, representing the United States.
September 5-6, 1911—T. W. Burgess, of England, swam English Channel.
October 5, 1911—Tripoli was occupied by Italians.
February 14, 1912—Arizona was admitted to Statehood.
August 24, 1912—Panama Canal Bill was signed by President Taft allowing United States coastal vessels to use canal free.
On October 17-18, 1912, was begun the First Balkan War, between Bulgaria, Serbia, Montenegro and Greece on one side and Turkey on the other. The allies speedily wrested practically all of European Turkey from the Ottoman Empire and peace was signed at London, May 30, 1913.
The victorious allies now fell to quarreling, and on June 30th, without declaring war, Bulgaria attacked Serbia, Montenegro and Greece. Almost at the outset these attacks were repulsed and the Greeks, Serbians and Montenegrins launched a successful counter-offensive. Rumania, hitherto neutral, now declared war on Bulgaria and marched against Sofia. The Turks re-occupied Adrianople. Bulgaria then sued for peace, which was signed at Bucharest,. August 10, 1913.
* * *
Woodrow Wilson took office in March, 1913. While actually elected by a minority, he had a majority both in the House and Senate. He immediately plunged into social legislation and reforms. Said he: "We need no revolution, we need no excited change; we need only a new point of view and a new method and spirit of counsel." Nevertheless, his efforts were always opposed by the conservatives.
Wilson had inherited trouble with Mexico from the Taft administration. In that country revolution followed revolution and chaotic conditions prevailed. After the slaying of Madero and Suarez, he refused to recognize Huerta.
After numerous "incidents" and insults to the American flag, the United States seized Vera Cruz April 21, 1913. In July, Huerta fled the country.
In the following year, a raid into the United States by Pancho Villa, Mexican bandit, caused the President to order 100,000 men to the border, and a punitive expedition was sent into Mexico to capture Villa. The expedition was commanded by General John J. Pershing—a name which first "broke into the news" at this time but is destined to live forever in American history.
On August 15, 1914, another great dream became a reality— the Panama Canal was opened to commerce. No longer was it necessary to "weather the Horn" to reach the West Coast of the Americas. No longer was it necessary for a United States warship to steam 14,000 miles to come from the Pacific to the Atlantic Coast, or vice versa.
But even as the Canal became an actuality, the news of it, of the Mexican troubles and other matters were dwarfed by the happenings in Europe.
On June 28, 1914, came word of an occurrence which was to set in motion a train of events which would cost millions of lives and countless treasure, and create and obliterate empires.
At Sarajevo, in the lately-annexed province of Bosnia, Gavrio Princip, a Bosnian-Serb student, shot and killed Archduke Francis Ferdinand, heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary, and his morganatic wife, the Duchess of Hohenberg.
On July 23rd, Austria presented an impossible ultimatum to Serbia—and Serbia called on Russia for aid. Russia mobilized.
August 1st, Germany declared war on Russia. France mobilized.
Russians invaded East Prussia and Germans invaded Russian Poland. Italy declared for neutrality. Turco-German treaty signed and Turkey mobilized.
August 3rd, Belgium refused passage to German troops. Germany declared war on France.
August 4th, Great Britain declared war on Germany.
August 5th, Austria declared war on Russia.
Declarations of war followed each other quickly as the smaller countries took sides. About a year later, Italy joined the Franco-British alliance.
The catastrophe dreaded for forty years had come to pass.
Europe was at war—and not only in Europe, but in Asia, in Africa and on the seven seas thousands of men were being hacked, blown to pieces and drowned daily.
At first, Mr. Wilson was for rigid neutrality—"even in thought," as he pedantically expressed it, and his sentiments were largely shared by the country at large, although German sympathizers were far from few. Confronted with German ruthlessness, sentiment began to change. Then on May 7, 1915, the Cunard liner Lusitania was torpedoed without warning off the south coast of Ireland, with the loss of 1,198 lives, 115 of whom were Americans.
On May 10th, Mr. Wilson made his famous "too proud to fight" speech at Philadelphia. Instantly he received three hundred telegrams and countless letters of indignation and protest against his "cowardice."
Nevertheless, in the elections of 1916, running on a pacifist platform with the slogan "he kept us out of war," Mr. Wilson defeated the Republican candidate, Charles Evans Hughes, by a small margin. But, as the months passed, the German "unrestricted submarine warfare" and the participation by German diplomatic agents in bombings and sabotage created incident after incident which could no longer be ignored. On April 2, 1917, Mr. Wilson asked for a declaration of war against Germany.
The resolution was passed by the Senate on the 4th and by the House on the 6th. The draft included all men between 18 and 45—and 11,000,000 registered. On November 11, 1918, the date of the armistice, there were in France 2,071,463 American troops, including 82,000 officers. At the same time there were encamped and training in the United States 1,634,499 men, including 104,155 officers, or a total under arms, exclusive of the naval forces, of 3,700,000.
Actual contact with the enemy was first established by American troops on November 3, 1917, between Arracourt and Parroy.
On May 28, 1918, Cantigny was captured by Americans, and they again distinguished themselves at the capture of Belleau Woods, June 11, 1918. A small force was also sent at this time to the Italian front. On September 11th, an American army, operating alone for the first time, began attacking the Saint Mihiel salient, finally breaking the front, driving out the Germans and capturing 443 guns and 16,000 prisoners. From September 26th to November llth, they participated continuously in the Meuse-Argonne drive, which at last cut the German communications and forced the request for an armistice.
The American losses were as follows: Killed in action, 35,556; died of wounds, 20,799; died of disease, 24,786; wounded, 179,625; missing, 1,160; prisoners, 2,163; total, 264,089.
Mr. Wilson now joined in the Peace Conference at Paris, where for a time he was unquestionably the most popular and most powerful man in the world. Not only did he participate in writing the Treaty, but he was the force behind the formulating of a plan for a world confederation of states—the League of Nations. He also signed a treaty of alliance between England, France and the United States, pledging the United States to join in a war occasioned by the invasion of France by Germany. On June 28, 1919, President Wilson and his four commissioners, on behalf of the United States, signed the Treaty of Versailles, including the covenant of the League of Nations.
Mr. Wilson returned to the United States to face a hostile Congress and Foreign Relations Committee. A general repudiation of his work at Paris seemed inevitable. The President set out on a tour to lay the matter before the country, but the terrific mental strain and exertion which he had undergone brought on a stroke of paralysis and he had to be brought back to Washington.
Following the restoration of peace, a strange disregard for unity, patriotism and idealism seemed to take possession of the country. Industrialists and labor locked horns savagely. The specter of a "Red" Revolution presented itself. There were at least two million workmen on strike, with bloody clashes everywhere.
The explosion of a giant bomb in front of the office building of Morgan & Company, killing thirty and injuring hundreds threw the country into an uproar.
Attorney-General Palmer encouraged action against the "red" element and thousands of "reds" and alleged "reds" were rounded up in raids.
An additional disturbing factor was the white-hooded and gowned order of hoodlums calling themselves the Km Klux Klan, in imitation of the secret Southern society of post-Civil War Days. The avowed purpose of this Order was the persecution of Jews, Catholics and negroes. Innumerable outrages, such as the burning of churches, whipping and tarring of innocent persons and lynching of negroes were perpetrated either by the Order or in its name, accompanied by the fantastic burning of crosses. This movement and its sponsors faded by 1927.
In the 1920 elections the Republicans were returned to power. Senator Warren G. Harding, of Ohio, was elected president, and Governor Calvin Coolidge, of Massachusetts, vice-president. The defeated Democratic candidates were Governor James M. Cox, of Ohio, for president, and Franklin D. Roosevelt, of New York, for vice-president. For the first time the results of an election were broadcast over the radio by station KDKA, Westinghouse Station.
Mr. Wilson's last official act was to accompany President Harding to the Capitol. He then lived in retirement until his death on February 3, 1924. His place in the history of the United States and of the world is not yet fixed; in the light of subsequent events it may very well be that of a man who lived before his time and endeavored to hasten conditions which his fellow men were not ready to appreciate.
The rapid development of all branches of aeronautics during this period and its adoption as a new factor in modern warfare is clearly shown by this partial record:
September 22, 1914—British airmen raided Dusseldorf.
December 25, 1915—German dirigibles bombed Yarmouth.
June 15, 1915—Allied planes bombed Karlsruhe; German Zeppelins raided Northeast England.
January 29, 1916—German Zeppelins raided Paris and killed or wounded 50 persons.
January 21, 1916—Zeppelins bombed England killing 70 persons.
March 20, 1916—Squadron of 65 allied planes bombarded Zeebrugge.
May 17, 1916—Victor Louvet, Italian, set altitude record of 20,500 feet.
September 23, 1916—Twelve Zeppelins bombed London, killing 30 persons and wounding 115.
June 13, 1917—Daylight air-raid on London. Killed, 162; 432 wounded.
August 26, 1917—Captain Laureati flew from Turin to Naples and back, 960 miles, non-stop. A world's record.
September 3, 1917—Air-raid on Chatham area; 132 killed; 96 wounded.
January 2, 1919—New altitude record of 30,500 feet, set by Captain A. Lang and Lieutenant Blowes, England.
April 19, 1919—First non-stop flight between Chicago and New York, by Captain E. F. White.
April 26, 1919—United States Naval seaplane remained in air for 20 hours at 60 miles per hour, breaking all records for endurance flights.
May 27, 1919—United States Naval seaplane NC-4 flew to Lisbon from Newfoundland, stopping at Azores. First Atlantic crossing by air.
June 7, 1919—Casale, French aviator, set new altitude record— 33,100 feet.
June 14-15, 1919—Daily Mail Prize of $50,000 won by Alcock and Brown, for first non-stop flight across Atlantic—Newfoundland to Clifeden, Ireland. Time, 16 hours, 12 minutes. This was eight years before Lindbergh's flight.
July 6, 1919—British dirigible, R-34, flew from New York to Norfolk, England, in 75 hours.
August 25, 1919 — London-Paris passenger air-service inaugurated.
September 18, 1919—New altitude record of 34,610 feet, set by Roland Rohlfs, near New York.
December 2, 1919—Mail plane set speed record of 138 miles per hour flying from Washington to New York.
December 10, 1919—The brothers Ross and Keith Smith, British officers, flew from England to Australia in 28 days, winning Australian Government Prize of $50,000.
* * *
June 2, 1915—The Ford Motor Company increased its capital stock from $2,000,000 to $100,000,000.
October 23, 1915—25,000 women paraded in New York for Women Suffrage.
October 8, 1916—German U-boat sank nine ships in vicinity of Rhode Island.
November 7, 1917—Lenin seized power in Russia.
July 16, 1918—Czar and Imperial Family murdered by revolutionists at Ekaterinburg.
February 3, 1919—League of Nations Commission held first meeting at Paris—President Wilson presiding.
March 20, 1919—Wireless Telephone (Radio) connection established between Ireland and Canada.
July 4, 1919—Jack Dempsey defeated Jesse Willard for world's heavyweight championship, at Toledo, Ohio.
In 1920— Nine out of every ten automobiles were "open." Self-starters were rare; "Annette Kellerman" bathing suits—two-piece, with stockings, were the "advanced" style; "Bobbed" hair was generally regarded as the symbol of a suffragette or a "radical."
January 16, 1920—National Prohibition went into effect, a social experiment destined to profoundly influence every phase of our national life. The importance and duration of that influence can only be conjectured at this time.
August 18, 1920—The Women Suffrage Amendment was ratified.
FIRST NATIONAL CONVENTION
In 1911," said Warren Webster, "our Company held its first national convention. For this event I engaged quarters at the Bellevue-Stratford Hotel, Philadelphia. Pretty nearly everyone connected with the Company attended and we had a great time.
"There were a great many questions which we wished to discuss and settle and we spent three busy days doing it. Here are some of the questions we discussed according to a memorandum which I made at the time:
The overcoming of noise in heating systems.
Advantages of heating with steam at pressures higher than one-pound.
Advantages or disadvantages of operating at less than atmospheric pressure on supply.
Relative cost of heating with outside temperature at zero and 50 degrees.
Live steam vs. exhaust steam heating.
When is back-pressure no disadvantage?
The function and action of pressure-reducing valves.
"Among the speakers and discussion leaders were E. K. Lanning, W. G. Snow, J. A. Serrell, J. L. Fitts, W. W. Morgan, W. H. Chenoweth, Jr., W. G. R. Braemer, W. F. Bilyeu and M. P. Miller."
"It was a very enjoyable time—a great many years ago, but it all comes back clearly.
"Another memorable convention was the one we held in Atlantic City in 1921. To many of our inland representatives, the seashore was quite a novelty and they enjoyed it immensely.
"On that occasion the force gave me a Hamilton watch which I prize highly. Nothing in the world gives me more satisfaction than the friendship which has existed between my employees and myself."
* * *
"There is a Webster Heating System in the Imperial Barracks at Tokyo," said Warren Webster, "that is, I believe there is—I cannot be sure, because the matter was handled in a very unusual manner.
"In 1917, Professor Mano, of Tokyo University, came to this country to purchase heating equipment for the Imperial Barracks. I explained to the professor when he inquired about our equipment that we could furnish him with apparatus and engineering instructions, but that we had no patents for Japan.
" 'Well,' he said, 'I would like to have the Webster System of Steam Heating in the Barracks. Just quote me as though you were making a price for similar equipment in the United States. That is all I require. I will have it installed in accordance with the instructions you furnish me, as it is against the rules for any foreign workman to enter the Imperial Barracks.'
"I found Professor Mano to be a very highly educated gentleman, with a wonderful amount of engineering knowledge and thoroughly reliable as far as I could see. Working along the lines he suggested, we made him a proposition for an installation to meet plans which he had with him—and we were awarded the order. He went around with me and inspected installations we had made. I suppose he made the installation and it was satisfactory,— anyway, that was the last we ever heard of it.
"He suggested that Takata & Company could best represent us in Japan, if they cared to. We negotiated with them and they took the agency and installed about eleven plants in Japan— then they made the equipment themselves. After that we only received a few orders for repair parts such as it would not pay them to make. They are great imitators—the Japanese! We have no agency in Japan now."
In his history of air-conditioning, Mr. Willis Carrier recognizes Warren Webster & Company as one of the first manufacturers of air-washers and air-conditioning equipment. Here is the story, as my father told it:
"About 1907, a man whom I will call Robinson came to me and claimed he could make air-conditioning apparatus. I said, 'All right, we will set up a special department and see what you can do.'
"This branch of the business grew too much for one man and we added three other men to the department. One day, after we had made about ninety installations, Mr. Carrier and Mr. Lyie, officers of the Carrier Air Conditioning Corporation, came to see me and told me in a very pleasant sort of way that they did not know whether I was aware of it or not, but the apparatus we were installing infringed their patents.
" 'Well,' I said, 'I'm very much surprised to hear you say that, but if you are right, I know nothing about it.'
"I called in Mr. Robinson, the head of the department, and said, 'Mr. Robinson, here are Mr. Carrier and Mr. Lyie—I believe you know both gentlemen. Well, they tell me that the apparatus we have been installing infringes some of their patents. What do you know about it?'
" 'I don't consider their patents any good,' he replied.
" 'What,' I exclaimed, 'you know you are infringing patents and you are appointing yourself the judge as to whether or not they are valid? I certainly am sorry to hear that, Mr. Robinson. That's all I want to know.'
"Turning to Mr. Carrier and Mr. Lyie, I said: 'If it is agreeable to you, gentlemen, I would like to make a deal with you to take over this entire department—contracts, stocks, employees, everything. You give us a release for what we have done and we will recognize your patents.'
"We had a considerable number of undelivered orders at the time and were doing a profitable business in the department, but we had gone beyond our own boundaries into the neighbors' field.
"The Carrier Corporation accepted my offer and bought everything. We settled the thing very nicely and satisfactorily to all concerned and it relieved us of a very dangerous situation. They were very fine gentlemen and it was always a pleasure to do business with them."
* * *
In 1913, when the Atlantic City Steamship Line liquidated, my father bought at auction the S.S. Atlantic City—a passenger ship. For two seasons he had the ship running regularly between New York and Atlantic City.
"The trip took about eight hours," my father said. "We had a crew of nineteen. Our maximum capacity was 400 passengers and 600 tons of freight. The boat was equipped with a 30-ton refrigerator, and we could bring produce from New York to Atlantic City at the cost of expressage and in much better condition.
"The railroad saw they were losing expressage and that probably more persons would get into the business one way or the other and they would lose more, so they leased the New York dock for three years—and then I found I couldn't get another that was convenient.
"I felt I was in a strange game and needed some capable advice. So I went to a broker and asked him who was the best steamship man in New York. He said at once, 'Charlie Diamond—but I don't think you can get much out of him, unless he takes a liking to you.' I said, 'Give me his address and I will try to see him.'
"When I called at Diamond's office, there were several people waiting to see him, so I asked the girl to take in my card on which I had penciled this message: 'You have a lot of knowledge that I haven't got. You can help me a lot if you desire to do so. I am very anxious to meet you. Won't you give me five minutes?'
"When he got that card, he came right out—a short, stout fellow, with his coat torn on the side and a duster over it. He said, 'Where is this man Webster?' I said, 'I'm Webster.' Then he said, 'Come right in with me.'
"When we went into his office, I said: 'You're a very unusual man—the best steamship man in New York, I understand. That's why I've come here to get some advice. I own the Atlantic City Steamship Line—and it's giving me trouble. I'm in the heating business. I just got mixed up in this and I want to get out. Will you advise me?'
"He sat back, and said, 'Well, in the first place, what is your rating—capacity?'
"I said, 'Four hundred passengers and six hundred tons of freight.'
" 'How many in the crew?'
"I replied, 'Nineteen.'
" 'Have you ever run it full,' he queried.
" 'Week-ends,' I replied. 'We fill up on week-ends, but the middle of the week is thin.'
"He asked, 'You run a tide-schedule there?' I replied that we did.
" 'I'll tell you,' he said. 'You need two ships to do that. You need to make a trip every day—and you want to build up the trade so you will carry near-capacity every trip. If you can't or don't want to get another ship, sell the one you have. If you decide to sell, have her conditioned as a freighter. There is more money in a freighter than a passenger ship.'
"So I had the boat fixed up as a freighter by the Pusey & Jones Co. and sold her to the B. & O. Railroad.
"So I came out ahead of the game—but I didn't want any more of it. I have always been grateful to Charlie Diamond for his advice in the matter."
* * *
"About 1912," said Warren Webster, "there were five of us down in Florida. One of these men owed me money on a personal loan, and one day he came to me and said: 'Webster, I would like to pay you the money I owe you, but I can't do it. However, I will give you a two-thirds interest I have in an orange grove of 1,800 bearing trees if you will cancel the debt.'
"I agreed to this, then went to see the man who owned the one-third interest. He told me to do whatever I liked as to the management of the grove and gave me a memorandum to that effect. So then I went out to look over the plantation. I found there a man and his wife, a donkey, a cart and some chickens.
The man had been receiving $50 a month and had the use of ten acres for growing vegetables. I said to him:
" 'I've bought a two-thirds interest in this orange grove and I'll be out later to talk things over.'
"After this I went to the foreman of the best orange-grove in the vicinity and had him come and look over the grove and advise me as to how to run it. I had his instructions typewritten with a couple of carbon copies. One copy I gave to my attorney and instructed him to go out every little while and see that orders were being carried out. Then I went over to the grove and found the man and his wife sitting there.
" 'Now,' said I, 'I'm ready to talk to you.' They listened, and I went on: 'I'm managing owner of this property. You will continue to receive all you are now getting and, in addition, 5% of everything we get out of the grove. That is, if you carry out the instructions I have written here.' Then I handed him the sheet of instructions, and concluded, 'My attorney will be over from time to time to see how you are getting along.'
"I'll never forget the look on his wife's face as she said to him:
'John, from now on you work!'
"Well, he did work, and at the end of the season we got $3000 worth of fruit off the grove, which was $1200 more than it had ever produced before.
"A little later I sold the property. My partner got his money and I recovered mine.
"I also had quite an experience in Florida real estate matters," continued Warren Webster. "Take for instance the case of the Flori-de-Leon, an 80-apartment house.
"It was built in boom times at highest prices—a promotion scheme. It had never been completed. One of the women who had invested money in the apartment asked .me to do what I could to straighten things out.
"I managed to have the building completed satisfactorily, but I found that it was built on property leased at a high rental for 99 years. This necessitated charging more for the apartments than anyone would pay.
"The lease was held by a certain woman. I went to see her lawyer and offered to buy the lease outright for cash. He ridiculed the idea and actually turned his back on me. I said:
" 'Look here—I'm just telling you what I am willing to do now. My offer is only good until nine o'clock tomorrow morning.
I can afford to let my investment go and forget it, but I am trying to salvage these ladies' investments and pay your client a fair price.'
"The next morning, after consulting his client, he accepted.
Freed of this yearly payment, the indebtedness was refinanced and the rentals lowered within reach. Under the competent management of a Mrs. Jones the place has been a going and popular apartment house ever since."
Father resigned: in 1937 as president of the apartment house company and received a beautiful letter of appreciation. This matter extended all through the Florida real estate crash and the national depression.
"Then there was the Equitable Building in St. Petersburg," my father said. "It is an office building—a beautiful place, as fine as anything we have up here. The rentals had to be low to meet competition and the building didn't pay. When the other bondholders were afraid to do anything, I stepped in and took over the management.
"We went to the bondholders and had them agree to take common stock for their bonds, so that the building would have to make payments only in the event it made money. It took us eight months to get them to agree.
"We filled the offices at the lower rentals and ever since the building has been paying small but regular dividends.
"Later, I was also instrumental in saving the Don Cezar Hotel for Mr. Rowe, and putting it on a going basis. Then there was the Pastoral Casino and Hotel which has not been so satisfactory to me.
"All these financing matters required a great deal of time and work, but it was very interesting and I was satisfied to do it. I have always liked to make friends."
KALEIDOSCOPE OF TWENTY YEARS
In the year 1920 the world "turned another corner." The events, "movements" and problems—mechanical, economical, political, spiritual, ethical and intellectual, which have crowded each other on and off the American scene have been too many, too rapid, too far-reaching, too intensely controversial to be analyzed in this record. Furthermore, each event as it occurred has been enveloped in such pitiless publicity from radio, newsreel, newspaper and magazine that the briefest of references suffices to bring back surrounding particulars in all their vividness.
So you will remember:
How business began to brighten as Harding and Coolidge took office, as the specter of a Red Revolution vanished and the Klu Klux Klan faded.
The signing of the Limitation of Armaments Agreement.
The sudden death of President Harding on his Western tour.
How Calvin Coolidge was sworn in as President by his father, in the early dawn, by the light of an old-fashioned kerosene lamp in the "parlor" of an old Vermont farmhouse with only two witnesses.
The short depression, followed by the firm rise of business prosperity, which lasted for seven years.
The Hall-Mills murder case, revived four years later and still an unsolved mystery.
The exploits of the great "Man-o-War" and how they revived interest in horse-racing.
How drinking and the obtaining of liquor suddenly became a fad and a "sporting quest" to make Prohibition unenforceable.
The spread of the speak-easy, secret stills, etc., and the rise of boot-leggers, rum-runners and organized gangs, typified by Al Capone and his mobsters.
The Harding Administration's scandals. The rascality in the Alien Property Custodian's office. The Teapot Dome oil scandal.
The "revolt of youth." The challenging and repudiation of everything existing before 1918—theology, religion, education, literature, ethics, dress.
The problems of sex, love and marriage seemed the only mysteries clamoring for exploration, and Freud, Huxley, Mencken and the rest were the only teachers worthy of attention. And a book or play to be popular must have a sex motif, this trend, perhaps, reaching the ultimate in Eugene O'NeiI's "Strange Interlude."
The first Atlantic City Beauty Pageant and how it changed (and reduced) bathing costumes.
When rouge, lipstick and a cigarette became part of the feminine ensemble.
The Florida land boom—when everybody wanted to get rich overnight, buying, selling and reselling strips of Florida sand and suddenly found themselves with worthless property or shares in half-begun projects.
Mah Jong—and cross-word puzzles.
The long drawn out battle between Al Smith and William Gibbs McAdoo in the Democratic Convention of 1924. The nomination of Davis. The easy victory of Coolidge at the polls.
The Kellogg-Briand Treaty—hailed with such gladness.
The fruitless attempts to save Floyd Collins trapped in Sandy Cave, Kentucky.
The "Fundamentalist" and "Modernist" controversy. The trial of John Thomas Scopes, at Dayton, Tenn. Clarence Darrow for the "Modernists" and William Jennings Bryan (who died a week later of his exertions) for the "Fundamentalists."
The passing of Rudolph Valentine—and the crowds which stretched for eleven blocks at his funeral.
"Red" Grange and his feats on the football field.
Aimee Semple McPherson's disappearance from a California bathing beach—and the many columns of front page news she has furnished.
The first Dempsey-Tunney fight in the rain at Philadelphia, with receipts at nearly S2,000,000.
The second Tunney-Dempsey fight at Chicago and the "long count"—receipts at $2,600,000, an all-time high.
The "epidemic" of pole-sitting all over the country.
Rescue of the crew of the Antinoe by Captain Fried of the President Roosevelt.
The Sacco-Vanzetti case and their execution seven years after the alleged crime.
The Snyder-Gray murder case.
Lindbergh's flight to Paris.
The beginning of the "Great Bull Market."
The new Model "A" Ford.
The first "talkies" began to be advertised—Al Jolson in the "Jazz Singer."
Father Coughlin went on the radio.
The Hoover-Smith presidential fight.
Nearly everybody "played" the "market"—mostly "on margin" to the tune of 300,000,000 shares of stock, and brokers' loans rose to billions of dollars.
The stock market crash. The terror and paralysis of business reaching out all over the land.
The "Depression"! Hysterical crowds in front of closed banks.
Long queues in front of soup-kitchens. Apple-sellers—four to the block. Three million unemployed on the streets—their number growing, growing, until it reached twelve millions.
Amos 'n Andy became a nightly "tickler."
The kidnaping of the Lindbergh baby.
Bobby Jones and his golf conquests.
The yearly international battle for the Davis Cup.
Knute Rockne's death—and the "vacant place" it made in football.
Franklin D. Roosevelt went to the White House.
The "Bank Holiday" . . . Scrip.
"Happy Days Are Here Again" put the country-wide sentiment into song.
Beer came back—minus the quality.
Relief was provided for the unemployed, and other social legislation.
N.R.A.—and ceaseless bickerings.
The Chicago World's Fair.
Disappointment as business fell off.
Great dust storms in the West and Southwest reached the point of a major national disaster.
Unemployment became a permanent and paramount problem.
The Townsend Old Age Pension Plan.
The Dionne Quintuplets.
Huey Long and his "Share the Wealth" and "Every Man a King."
The "revolt of youth" movement faded, as Freud and Watson failed to furnish solutions for pressing problems.
Will Rogers and Wiley Post crashed fatally.
Roosevelt defeated Landon in the greatest political "landslide" in history.
The strangely misleading poll of the Literary Digest.
The great 44-day strike, involving 44,000 workers directly and 110,000 indirectly, closing 60 factories in 14 states.
Philip Musica's unbelievable career—his suicide and the scandal involving a great drug house.
"Swing" music, Benny Goodman and the rest.
The disastrous hurricane which swept New England in the Fall of 1938, leaving hundreds of dead and injured and destroying millions of dollars' worth of property.
The Czechoslovak crisis and the Munich "surrender."
The one-round defeat of Schmeling by Joe Louis at the Yankee Stadium.
Orson Welles' broadcast of the "War of the Worlds" which threw millions into a stark panic.
In this "news reel of high spots," no effort has been made to record the innumerable scientific and mechanical advances of the period; the steady improvement in automobiles; the perfection of radio—with television in the offing; the development of the airplane for peace and war. Nor have we traced the magnificent advances in medicine, the creation of many remarkable books and plays with America and American life as the theme and the splendid influence of the radio in raising the musical education and appreciation of the nation to a high plane.
This brings us to the close of 1938, which ended dismally. Since then events beyond our control have forced old problems into the background and thrown new ones in our hands.
Today, as I write in 1942, the world is once again at war. What adventures lie before us or what will be the ultimate readjustment of the world on a peace basis, time alone will show.
THANKS TO OUR PILOT
From 1919 to 1930, the tat-tat of pneumatic riveters resounded from Coast to Coast and border to border as tens of thousands of buildings rose all over the land.
In New York, that city of skyscrapers, there was added to the Woolworth Tower (767' 6") and the Metropolitan Tower (657'), the New York Life Insurance Company Tower (619' 3"), the Manhattan Tower (927' %"), the Chrysler Tower (1046' 11/2") and, finally, the tallest building on earth—the Empire State Building, (1244' ll1/^'). This last building, erected on the site of the old Waldorf-Astoria, was contracted for on September 20, 1929, and delivered to the owners on May 1, 1931, the cost being nearly $53,000,000.
The craze for high buildings was nationwide, and in most cities, as for example in Philadelphia, the skyline was entirely changed by new buildings towering into the air.
Warren Webster & Company enjoyed the greatest volume of business in its history and for a time was compelled to concentrate on supplying the needs of new buildings. But even at the peak of the boom, with rush orders pouring in, Warren Webster foresaw that this condition could not be permanent, that the period of lavish spending must come to an end. So the Organization was set to work developing a steam heating system that could be offered when economy again became the paramount objective.
This new system was perfected by the end of 1928 and became known as the Webster Moderator System of Steam Heating. Such were the economies of the new system that it was possible to go into the majority of buildings and effect a saving of 25% or more in heating costs.
Thus it was, thanks to Warren Webster's foresight, when the new building market vanished in 1930, there was no thought of closing down or of radically reducing the Organization. A policy was ready to be put into operation—it was to "go after modernization."
And under this plan thousands of buildings were surveyed in 1931-1932-1933 by Webster engineers, many contracts closed—and the business never stopped right through the depression.
At that time, too, our capacity was fully developed. It will be remembered that the business under the name of Warren Webster & Company was founded in June, 1888, at 491 North Third Street, Philadelphia. The first factory was built at Point and Elm Streets, Camden, N. J., in 1895. Considerable additions were made to this factory in 1903 and again in 1918-1919. In 1923, since the factory was in the direct path of the Delaware River Bridge, it was sold and razed, and the Company moved to the present factory on Federal Street between 16th and 17th Streets, on January 2, 1924. The plant was again enlarged in 1927.
In no year since its incorporation has the Company failed to pay a dividend. No outside capital has ever been employed and all development and expansion have been financed solely from the profits of the business.
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Warren Webster's entire life was a wise balance of work and play, blended with those joys and sorrows which inevitably come to an affectionate and unselfish heart. His private life was as clean, kindly and lovable as his business life was straightforward and honorable.
He was always natural, cool and self-possessed, no matter the situation. He liked good food, the theater, social gatherings, and was never happier than within the inner circle of his family, relatives and close friends. He was not outwardly sentimental, but there was a world of deep, old-fashioned sentiment in his make-up. To the end of his days he retained that freshness of mind, humor and happiness observable only in natures too big to pretend sophistication and who have preserved their interest in the all-important little things of life.
My father was extremely fond of his parents. His father had reached the age of eighty-one at the time of his death in 1912. His mother was ninety years of age when she died in 1922. Thus they had the mutual happiness of being together for many years. His oldest brother, Elwood S., for whom he had a special affection, died in 1891.
When Warren Webster & Company was incorporated in 1895, his two other brothers, A. Spencer and Theodore L., were joint incorporators, Warren being president and general manager. Theodore L. was killed in a railroad accident in New Jersey in 1908, and A. Spencer withdrew from the business in 1923.
In 1910, E. Kessler Webster, son of Elwood S., came with the Company. After a period of apprenticeship he took Theodore's place as secretary and later was made assistant general manager, I became connected with the Company in 1924.
My father was married on July 2, 1891. My mother's maiden name was Frances Marguerite Siegrist. They had three children— Marguerite, Pauline and myself.
My father took his bride to a home he had just purchased at 121 North Centre Street, Merchantville, N. J. After nearly two years, they moved to a house which they had built at 41 West Walnut Avenue, Merchantville, giving 121 North Centre Street to A. Spencer Webster on his marriage. We lived at the Walnut Avenue house until 1912, when my father bought the old Curtis home at 626 Cooper St., Camden. For many years my parents spent most of their winters in Florida, and in 1925, they took up their permanent residence at Pass-a-Grille, Florida.
They also had a property on Barnegat Bay where the family spent many happy days. My father liked this place very much, and in speaking of it would say: "It was a real Swiss cottage. It was brought to this country from Switzerland and set up at the Centennial. A certain rich bachelor wanted to live in seclusion and bought a farm of 600 acres on Barnegat Bay, about four miles from Tom's River across from Island Heights. He bought the cottage at the Centennial and had it taken apart and set up again on the farm. About 1906 I bought the cottage from him, along with about 22 acres of the land. I have a private bathing beach there."
My father's hobbies were sailing, fishing and travel—and so much the better if the traveling were over water. From early childhood his love of boats and all things maritime was manifest. Some of his boyhood sailing adventures were told in early chapters.
Later he owned the 60-foot schooner-yacht Ibis, and was a member of the Island Heights, N. J., Yacht Club, the St. Petersburg, Fla., Yacht Club and Vice-Commodore of the Philadelphia Yacht Club. He was also a member of the Manufacturers' and Penn Athletic Clubs, of Philadelphia, and for years served as a trustee of Cooper Hospital, Camden.
Said my father: "I had always looked forward to the time when I could take the family abroad. So, in 1924, Mrs. Webster and I, with our daughter Pauline and our son Warren, started on a European trip. We sailed from New York on the Majestic on June 28th and arrived in Cherbourg on July 4th, and we returned to New York on September 5th—just a little more than two and a half months. We had studied the guide books and planned the trip so carefully, that everything went smoothly. We journeyed through France, Italy, Switzerland, Belgium, Holland and England— and we had a glorious time. I kept a memo of our trip and the places we visited and gave a copy to each of my 'business family' on my return.
"The next year we were off to California, the National Parks and the Grand Canyon.
"In 1926, Mrs. Webster and I, with my daughter Pauline, and my grand-daughter Pauline Lucas, went on a trip to Alaska and the Canadian Rockies.
"In 1927, the same party of four sailed on a North Cape Cruise. There were 400 passengers and 450 employees on the ship.
"We first went to Iceland, stopping at Reykjavik, the capital. We expected to see ice—feet thick, but there was no ice, not in July.
"The Gulf Stream comes around the island or they would have a terrible time with the cold.
"From Iceland we went to Hammerfest, Norway, the most Northern city in the world. From Hammerfest we steamed 1000 miles down the West Coast of Norway. We sighted two white whales—the only ones we saw on the voyage.
"We visited Stockholm, Oslo and Copenhagen. I was greatly impressed with Copenhagen. They have the cleanest parks I ever saw. The whole population, from ages two to a hundred, seems to use bicycles—men, women, boys and girls. And everything is wonderfully organized. There were one hundred and four taxicabs at the Pier, all numbered. Each passenger was assigned a certain number—ours was No. 4.
"In 1928, Mrs. Webster and I made a trip to Canada, visiting Quebec.
"They were great holidays and I am truly thankful that we took the time to take the trips."
HIS GREAT HOUR
The year 1938 was the fiftieth in the history of Warren Webster & Company and as the summer approached the Organization began laying plans to celebrate the Golden Jubilee and do honor to the Founder. In June all the representatives from district offices who could possibly do so assembled at the factory and several days were spent in the usual sales conferences and discussions.
On the evening of June 23rd, the Organization tendered Warren Webster a testimonial dinner at the Walt Whitman Hotel. It was an exceptionally happy and impressive affair and one that will never be forgotten by most of us.
Across the back of the hall, against a background of palms and shrubbery and a banner bearing the legend "1888—WEBSTER—1938," was a long table at which were seated Warren Webster and his principal aides. Mayor George G. Brunner, of Camden, who made the address of the evening, was the only one present not directly connected with the Company.
The hall was filled with smaller tables at which were gathered more than three hundred members of the Webster Business Family. The centerpiece of each table was a card bearing in large figures two dates "1896—1938," "1900—1938," and so on, indicative of the length of time the occupants of that table had served the Company.
What satisfaction must have been Warren Webster's as he looked down on this happy throng gathered to do him honor!
As the glittering motors glided past the windows and an airplane hummed overhead, what memories must have crowded through his mind—he who had seen the world literally made before his eyes!
Quickly—too quickly, the hour passed.
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Warren Webster & Company Employees - June 24th 1938
Click on Image for Enlarged Views of Picture and Index
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A few days later Warren Webster left with Mrs. Webster, his daughter, Pauline, my wife and me for a trip to Czechoslovakia.
About six weeks were spent at Piestany where Mother benefited greatly by taking "the cure" at the "Spa." Before leaving for home on the Europa early in September, we visited several cities that both Father and Mother had always wished to see, traveling by auto. Budapest, Vienna, Nuremberg—all proved exceptionally interesting to all.
There is a legend that Peter the Great left a "secret will" which always guides the foreign policy of Russia, regardless of the internal changes in forms of government.
Warren Webster left no written directions for the conduct of the business, but the principles and policies on which it was founded and developed are so well defined, so interwoven in its warp and woof, they are more evident than any written word.
Years before his passing he picked and arranged his Organization as he would have it. Then little by little, for longer and longer periods, he turned over the wheel, so that when his hand was finally withdrawn the change was hardly perceptible.
Today, as I write in 1942, the Company is enlisted for the duration of the war producing Ordnance for the United States Army. All of our facilities not required for Ordnance production are being used to keep steam heating available wherever it will help the war effort.
The skills developed under my father's direction are serving America in this time of national peril. Through our united efforts, the cause of righteousness shall triumph.
In conclusion I am going to paraphrase a beautiful thought of the late Heywood Broun, written on the death of his first wife:
For so many years we had the guidance and support of Warren Webster as he looked over our shoulders, that now, as we work, we feel he still looks over our shoulders.
For much of the historical statistics here quoted I gratefully acknowledge my indebtedness to:
"Only Yesterday," by Frederick Lewis Alien
"Then Came Ford," by Charles Merz
"America Goes to Press," by Laurence Greene
Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper—1863-1900
—Warren Webster, Jr.
WARREN WEBSTER JR.
Photograph Published in the Camden Courier-Post
January 6, 1942
Warren Webster Jr. took the reins as president of Warren Webster & Co. after his father's passing. The company played an active role in armaments production during and after World War II.
Camden Courier-Post - February 1, 1938
WEBSTER ELECTED EXECUTIVE HEAD OF CAMDEN BOY SCOUTS
30 Men Get Certificates as Leaders and Five Troops Receive Star Awards
TROPHY FOR VETERAN
Warren Webster, Jr., was elected president of the executive board of Camden County Council, Boy Scouts of America, at its annual dinner meeting last night. He succeeds J. William Markeim. The meeting was in the junior ballroom of the Hotel Walt Whitman, with 150 members attending.
Others elected were A. W. Stedman, honorary president; Joshua C. Haines, honorary commissioner; Dr. E. W. Roberts, first vice president; Albert M. Bean, second vice president; Walter G. Garlan, third vice president; Elmer J. Williams, treasurer; Col. G. Barrett Glover, commissioner; S. Lewis Davis, Cub commissioner'; Webster and Davis, National Council representatives; Stedman, trustee for one year, Webster, trustee for two years and Lorenzo J. List, trustee for three years.
All were named by a nominating committee of which William J. Strandwitz was chairman. Bean was chairman of the meeting and List was toastmaster at the dinner which preceded it.
As chairman of the training committee, Bean presented certificates to 30 men who had completed courses in Scout leadership.
Commissioner Davis presented awards to the following "star" troops: 65, of Haddonfield; 117, Runnemede; 112, West Collingswood; 105, Collingswood, and 82, Westmont.
The Council awarded to Edward W. Tomkins a bronze statuette of a Boy Scout as a trophy in recognition of 25 years service as a Scouter.
Tomkins, who began his career as a Scouter in 1913, has been successively assistant scoutmaster of Troop 2, scoutmaster of Troop 3, scout master of Troop 21, assistant camp director of county Scout camps, field executive of Camden city, merit badge councilor and examiner and has held numerous other positions organizing and furthering the Boy Scout movement.
The principal speaker was E. Urner Goodman, national director of program, whose subject was "Building a Stronger Generation," the theme of the anniversary week of the Boy Scouts to be celebrated February 6 to 13.
There was an invocation by Rev. Albert F. Banse, pastor of the Francis Childs M. E. Church, West Collingswood, and a program of vocal selections by Mrs. L. J. List, soloist, and the Franklin Quartet.
FIRST LIEUTENANT WARREN WEBSTER III was born in Camden NJ on December 1, 1927.
Warren Webster III was a 1950 graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point. First Lieutenant Webster was a member of the 17th Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division. He was killed in action while fighting the enemy in North Korea on February 21, 1953. For his leadership and valor, First Lieutenant Webster was awarded the Silver Star, the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart.
Warren Webster and Company
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