The History of New York State
Biographies, Part 4

Editor, Dr. James Sullivan

Online Edition by Holice, Deb & Pam

 

JOHN ENGLIS

It can be stated without fear of contradiction that the name of Englis is the most prominent family name in the history of shipbuilding and navigation in the Empire State; but its prominence is not confined to this State, for one could not write the history of navigation in New England waters or on the Great Lakes, or even of the coastwise and river traffic in far-off China without mentioning the name of Englis. Four consecutive generations of this family indirect descent have engaged in building steamships in New York; but, as will appear, the coming of the steel hull finally led the family to abandon the business. In the meantime, however, they had become interested in the operation of steamship lines, a most natural evolution; and today, John Englis, 3d, who is fourth in direct descent from the founder of the business, is president of the Catskill Evening Line, as well as John Englis & Sons. The history of these four generations is filled with drama and romance--enough to fill a most interesting volume. It is the story of carrying on from generation to generation traditions of untiring industry, of never-ceasing vigilance to keep abreast of, aye, a little in advance of, the times, of never-failing integrity and dependability, of sound business ability, of sterling citizenship. No other concern is in shipbuilding business in this State (and we wonder if in any other State) has made such a record over so long a period of years.

The Englis family is of Scotch origin, having been established in this country since 1795 by the great-great grandfather of John Englis, 3d. On November 25, 1808, was born in Brooklyn, John Englis, son of the immigrant ancestor just referred to. The building of steamships was then in its infancy. Robert Fulton had made his historic demonstration on the Hudson only a year before John Englis was born. Enthusiasm for the new mode of navigation filled the air; and what would be more natural then that his canny Scottish family should envision the great future before the young industry and see it in a career for this son? After receiving such education as the public schools of his day afforded the lad wanted to learn a trade--the best artisans and craftsmen--so quite naturally he turned to the one offering the greatest promise. He became apprenticed to Smith and Dimond, who operated a shipyard in Brooklyn. With the thoroughness characteristic to his race he mastered the details of his trade and he had not been long "out of his time," before another firm, Bishop and Dimondson, made him foreman in their shipyard. All this time he had ambition to get a foothold for himself, and saved every cent that he could to that end. In 1837 he had an opportunity to take a contract to build two steamers for the northern trade--the "Milwaukee" and "Red Jacket." These were constructed on the shore of Lake Erie, at buffalo, and were among the first steam vessels used on the Great Lakes. The fame of the "Red Jacket" became world-wide and thus he had already established a reputation. Having completed his contracts he returned to New York City and established a small shipyard of his won at the foot of East Tenth Street. Orders came to him almost faster than he could execute them. He quickly outgrew his quarters and added land until his yards covered area of 140,000 square feet. To conserve space and for ease of reference a chronological table of the ships built at the Englis yard down to a recent date will appear elsewhere in this sketch. About this time he was given contracts to build ships for the China trade. One of them, the "Suwo Nada," made the distance from Shanghai to Hongkong (one thousand miles) in fifty-six hours. During the Civil War he filled many contracts for the Government. The first gun boat delivered to the Federal Navy was the "Unadilla," completed within a period of forty-eight days in 1861. In the greatest triumph of its kind and marked a new era in marine construction and river navigation. This steamer was for Hudson river traffic. As a result of his enterprise and ability he accumulated a large fortune for those days, and with wisdom invested it in something he knew about--navigation enterprises. He never forgot his own efforts top rise and treated his men with such consideration as to win their loyalty and esteem. He lent his aid to every movement that aimed to advance the condition of the workers. He was a member of the General Society of Mechanics and Tradesmen.

In February, 1832, he married Mary A. Quackenbush, daughter of Abram Quackenbush of New York, a member of a Colonial Dutch family. John Englis died in Brooklyn, October 25, 1888.

Their only son, John Englis, Jr., was born February 17, 1833. He was rather a frail lad and it was thought best for him to engage in an outdoor pursuit; so he did not go to college, but, having completed the public school course, he went to work in his father's shipyard at the age of seventeen. He was only nineteen when he was sent to Whitehall to construct the first steamer to sail Lake Champlain--the "Canada." The next year he was sent to Buffalo, where he constructed the "Western World's Plymouth Rock." In 1854, at the age of twenty-one, his father made him a partner in the business and adopted the name of John Englis and Son. As will appear from the list of ships built, the business continued to prosper and at an accelerated pace, having now two enterprising men to push it. This growth made it necessary to enlarge their facilities, so the yards were removed to Greenpoint, Brooklyn, in 1872. John Englis, Jr., retired from the firm, of which his two sons were at that time members, in 1892, and thereafter confined his attention to the operation of the steamship lines in which he had large investments. He was also identified officially with other organizations. For years he was vice-president and general manager of the Maine Steamship Company, which operated a famous line of steamers between New York and Portland. He was also vice-president of the Portland Steamship Company which operated a line between Boston and Portland. He was vice-president of the New Jersey Steamboat ("People's Line") Company, running between New York and Albany. He was vice-president and managing director of the Brooklyn Ferry Company of New York, which operated ferries between the foot of thirty-fourth Street, Manhattan, and Greenpoint Avenue, Brooklyn. For many years he was a director of the Eleventh Ward Bank, of New York City; a director of the Brooklyn Heights Railroad Company, the Norwalk Steamboat Company operating a line to Norwalk, Connecticut; and of the Eighth and Ninth Avenue Railroad Company. What memories of the transportation systems of an early day are awakened merely by the mention of these directorships! But his interest were not confined to business organizations. He took a keen interest in all civic affairs, and in a most unobtrusive way he dispensed whole-hearted charity. He was a trustee of the Homeopathic Hospital in Brooklyn, and, like his father, a member of the Society of mechanics and Tradesmen. He was also a member of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

In 1854 John Englis, Jr., married Jeanette A. Carrick, daughter of John Carrick, one of the oldest shipbuilders on Lake Erie, and a representative of an old family. Two sons and four daughters were the fruit of this union.

One of these sons, Charles Mortimer Englis, the father of John Englis (3) was born at Ravenswood, Long Islane City, December 14, 1857. He graduated from Mount Washington Institute, New York City, in 1873, and entered New York University as a member of the class of 1877. At the end of the freshman year, however, he became impatient to be associated with his father in business. In 1874, and then only seventeen years of age, he went to work in the shipyard and made himself master of one department of the business after another in rapid succession. In 1882 he was made a member of the firm, which, at that time also included his grandfather as well as his father, and the firm name was changed to John Englis and Sons. The death of John Englis, Sr., in 1887, and the retirement of John English, jr., five years later, left Charles Mortimer Englis in sole command of the business, which he continued, however, under the old firm name, which had come to stand for so much. After he became a member of the firm in 1882, they constructed the following vessels: the "C. H. Northam," "City of Columbia," "Tremont," and "Adirondack." The last-named was built in 1896 with all her fittings complete, including outfit. But Mr. Englis decided that from that time on he would confine his attention to the superstructure, or joiner work, plumbing, etc. Among the steamers, he finished after that date were a number of floating palaces for the Hudson River service, including the "C. W. Morse," "Hendrick Hudson," "Trojan," "Rensselaer," and "Clermont." The "Princeton," built a little later, was the largest steamer built for Hudson River traffic up to that time.

Like his father, Mr. Englis found time to be actively interested in other enterprises and organizations than those coming under his direct personal management. He was president of the Wallabout Bank of Brooklyn and of the Citizens' Steamboat Company of Troy; also of the Brooklyn and Queen's County Suburban Railroad Company of Brooklyn. He was a director of the New Jersey ("People's Line") Steamboat Company; the Maine Steamship Company; Portland Steamship Company; New York and Norwalk Steamboat Company; Union Ferry Company and Brooklyn and New York Ferry Company.

Mr. Englis was a member of the Seventh Regiment, New York National Guard for twelve yeas. His memberships included the Chamber of Commerce, New York Society of Mechanics and Tradesmen, St. Nicholas society of Brooklyn. He was trustee of the Homeopathic Hospital of Brooklyn. His clubs were the Metropolitan , Union League and the Down Town Association of New York City; the Hamilton, Oxford, Crescent and riding and Driving clubs of Brooklyn, the Troy Club of Troy, the Century Club of Ogdensburg, the New York Yacht Club of Alexandria Bay. He served at one time as president of the Oak Island Fishing and Gunning Club of the St. Lawrence River, and also served as commodore of the Chippewa Bay Yacht Club.

In 1895, Charles Mortimer Englis married Maude Louise Pratt, daughter of Horace Pratt, who at the time of his death was president of the Minneapolis Mills. The Pratts were among the oldest of American families. Mr. Englis died January 15, 1926.

Following is the list of steamers built by the English family, beginning with the first one constructed by the founder of the business.

Page 26

John Englis, president of the Catskill Evening Lines, was born in Brooklyn, May 2, 1896, son of Charles M. and Maude Louise (Pratt) Englis. Educated in the grammar and high schools of his native city, his preparation for college was made at the Pomfret School in Connecticut and he matriculated in Yale University. His studies were interrupted, however, by the World War. Mr. Englis enlisted in the Untied States Navy, in May, 1917, and was sent to the training school at Newport, Rhode Island. From there he was sent with the Atlantic fleet and was stationed on the United States S. S. "Minnesota." He was discharged from active service in December, 1918, but was continued on the reserve list until 1921. He entered the service as chief quartermaster and held the rank of lieutenant when he was discharged. In September, 1918, his ship was blown up, but they were able to get into Philadelphia.

Immediately after the War the famous old Englis shipyard was sold, and Mr. Englis became associated with his father in the management of the Catskill Evening Lines. Upon the death of the elder Englis, the son succeeded him as president of the company. He is also the president of the Montauk and new London Steamboat Company, and president of C. M. Englis, Incorporated; a director of John Englis and Sons; director of the Canal and River Transportation Company.

Yachting is Mr. Englis' chief outdoor recreation, and he is a member of the New York Yacht Club; the Thousand Island Yacht Club; the Montauk Yacht Club; the Port Washington Yacht Club and the Chippewa Yacht Club. He owns both sailing and motor yachts and takes part in regattas and races. He was made a member of Delta kappa Epsilon at Yale and the Wolf's Head Society. He rowed on the freshmen crew and was a member of the Varsity crew when he left to enter the War. Mr. Englis is also a member of the Merchants' Association, the Traffic Club, and the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers.

LEE EUGENE BRADLEY

From the minor position of messenger and errand boy, Lee Eugene Bradley has risen to the post of cashier and executive officer of the Johnstown Bank, of Johnstown. The rise from the humble post he first assumed to that of his present prominent position in Johnstown's financial circles represents fifteen yeas of patient, faithful work, added to native ability and persistent effort.

Mr. Bradley was born in Johnstown, February 4, 1890, the con of Guy F. and Ida E. (Staring) Bradley. Following his early education in the public schools of Johnstown, Mr. Bradley attended the high school for two years, after which he worked for J. P. O'Neil & Son for three yeas as bookkeeper, when he took a post as messenger and errand boy in the bank. From that time he rose steadily until he attained his present office.

During the World War Mr. Bradley was very active in behalf of the Liberty Loan, and he also worked hard in the Red Cross drives. He is a member of St. Patrick Lodge, Free and Accepted Masons; of Johnstown Chapter, No. 78, Royal Arch Masons; of Johnstown Council, No. 72, Royal and Selected Masters; and of Holy Cross Commandery, No. 51, Knight Templar. Mr. Bradley is also a member of Lodge No. 218, Independent Order of Odd Fellows, of Johnstown. His religious affiliations are with the Baptist Church.

On August 16, 1911, Mr. Bradley was married, at Johnstown, to Golda Mae Soule, daughter of Fred H. and Mary E. (Bunn) Soule. Mr. and Mrs. Bradley are the parents of one child, a daughter, Helen Margaret, born September 8, 1914.

WILLIAM GRAHAM JOHNSTON

Despite a physical handicap which caused him much pain and inconvenience the greater part of his life, the wheel of fortune of the late William G. Johnston turned favorably for him as he ended a romantic boat-and-wagon journey in the feverish days of the gold rush to California in 1849; and thereafter he rose to great heights as an industrial captain and financial and civic leader of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Possessing remarkable powers as an organizer and a business acumen of a superior order, he was instrumental in developing among other concerns, a number of important public utilities, as a telegraph company and a sleeping-car company, which since have been absorbed into great corporations having a country-wide scope. Of those companies and many others as well, inclusive of the first steel foundry concern in America, which he helped established, he was the president and moving spirit. In very truth, it may be said he was a self-made man, an outstanding genius for leadership in business and community advance.

The family of Johnston of this connection has long been distinguished in American life. William Graham, was a surgeon in the Revolutionary War and died in the service, April 4, 1777. John Johnston, grandfather, was the fourth postmaster of Pittsburgh. S. R. Johnston, father of William Graham, was the senior member of the firm of Johnston & Stockton, an old publishing house of high standing in Pittsburgh, and was the proprietor of the "Pittsburgh Gazette" in 1818-1822.

William Graham Johnston was born in Pittsburgh, August 22, 1828. For a time he attended private schools in his native city. In 1827 he was compelled to leave school because of an injury received in a fall while playing in the snow. He suffered much from incompetent doctors, who would lance the wound and leave him, often in a worse state than before. Being made of the material of which heroes are said to be, he finally dispensed with the services of quacks and registered physicians, and would treat his wounded hip himself. The injury finally healed, but for the rest of his days a severe lameness in that region would give him trouble from time to time.

He completed much that had been lacking in his education, through means of employment in a bookstore, which he entered in 1845, filling the position of clerk. Later he became an employee of J. Schoonmaker with the idea of learning the druggist trade. After a fortnight in that connection, he returned to the bookstore, where he first started his business career.

Then came a turn in his affairs which swung the pendulum in the direction of fortune and prominence. In January and February of 1849, he and a group of young men bent on a similar quest spent much of their time in preparation for an overland journey to California, mecca of the hectic gold rush of that year. He and his party bought two wagons, in which they loaded supplies of provision, bedding and firearms. On Friday,. March 2, they and their outfit set sail on the Ohio River in the steamship "Shenandoah," arriving at St. Louis, Missouri, March 10. Their journey downstream was uneventful save for an insignificant fire on the boat. They left St. Louis, March 11, for Independence, Missouri, arriving at the latter port March 17. By the middle of June their trek saw them in Utah, and on Sunday, the 24th of that month, they were in Salt Lake City, then the home of the apostle of Mormons, Brigham Young, and they attended service in the Mormon church. On June 29, 1848, they arrived at Sacramento, California, being the first overland party to reach the Sacramento River. They had traveled prairie-schooner style two thousand and seventy-one miles from Independence, Missouri, and had encountered numerous and various adventures. Mr. Johnston incorporated the details of the remarkable journey in pleasing and fascinating style in a book for private distribution.

After spending several years in the Sunset State, Mr. Johnston returned East in 1857 and established in Pittsburgh the large stationery house of William G. Johnston & Company. His endowment of business sagacity and gift for organization soon exhibited itself, and he began to accumulate considerable valuable Pittsburgh real estate. Business men and investors rallied to his leadership. He was instrumental in the organization of the great Pittsburgh Exposition, and assisted in the founding of the Citizens' insurance Company, the Duquesne National Bank and the Pittsburgh Steel Casting Company. This last-named concern was the owner of the first steel foundry to be erected in America. All those corporations prospered under his administration as president. The same was true of the Harmsworth Steel Company, the Atlantic and Pacific Telegraph Company, and the Mercantile Telegraph Company (both of which were taken over by the Western Union Telegraph Company), and the Woodruff Sleeping Car Company (which was merged into the Pullman Company), all of which he served as president.

The only public office of an elective nature that Mr. Johnston accepted was membership in the Twentieth Ward School Board, of Pittsburgh. He was always keenly interested in the promotion of education. In 1877, when the railroad riots occurred in Pittsburgh, he rendered a splendid service as chairman of the Committee on Public Safety. From his student years at Western College and Bellevernon Academy, he brought a culture and literary ability which found expression through a prolific pen and facile phrase. He contributed many articles to the contemporary press, and brought out under his own name two volumes, "Life and Reminiscences" and "Experiences of a Forty-niner," which were distributed among his friends. They were received with marked approval and were declared to merit the praise due their brilliant author. To the "Watertown (New York) Times" he contributed a series of articles dealing with his experiences in the California gold-rush days. He was greatly interested in practical religion, a member of the East Liberty Presbyterian Church, of Pittsburgh, and had served as superintendent of its Sunday School. He was a trustee of the Pennsylvania College for Women, and his name was connected as an official or general contributor to many charitable institutions. He had traveled extensively, having visited every State in the Union and most of the countries of the world.

William Graham Johnston married (first), in 1853, Sarah Stewart, daughter of Matthew Stewart, an early settler of Pittsburgh. They were the parents of six children: 1. Mrs. Harry P. Pears. 2. Mrs. Robert W. Patterson. 3. Mrs. H. C. Beville, of California. 4. Paul Johnston of Rochester. 5. Stewart Johnston, president of the Pittsburgh Steel Foundry Company. 6. Sarah, unmarried, died some years since. The mother of this family died while on tour abroad in 1889. Mr. Johnston married (second), in 1894, Charlotte W. Winslow, of Watertown, who died a few years after her marriage. Mr. Johnston married (third), in 1899 Julia G. Ely, daughter of William Adriel and Julia (Guernsey) Ely, descendants of the family of that name out of Plymouth, England.

FRED GRISWOLD KENNEDY

In the civic activities of Gloversville, Fred Griswold Kennedy is one of this community's most prominent citizens, conducting the superior, modern and progressive undertaking business which bears his name. Mr. Kennedy is one of the best-known funeral directors in this community, and is held in the highest esteem and respect by everyone who recognizes and appreciates his sincere care and consideration for the people whom he serves, while in the furtherance of progress and aiding the general well being of the city, he has always done more than his share without the slightest hesitation. Mr. Kennedy came to Gloversville in 1912, and engaged in his present service, and from the first his reputation for detailed perfection and excellence in every matter has steadily grown, so that he is now one of the leaders of his profession.

Mr. Kennedy was born in Italy, Yates County, December 16, 1884, son of Francis Mailtland and Lillian (Griswold) Kennedy. Francis Mailtland Kennedy was prominent among the agriculturists of Yates County, and was also one of the most successful business men of that vicinity.

Fred Griswold Kennedy was educated in the public schools of Canandaigua, and after spending three years in the high school there, decided to take up the profession of undertaking. He accordingly entered the Buffalo School of embalming and after completing his course of study at that institution, became associated with his brother, who had already been established in business in Canandaigua. Mr. Kennedy holds a certificate from the State of New York and one from the Regents' Board of Examiners for proficiency in his work. On November 15, 1912, he came to Gloversville and opened a funeral home, which by careful application has become one of the latest and most approved type, fitting it with the most modern and efficient equipment of the most stately design and superior quality, where he was continued ever since to serve this entire vicinity, and at the present time, due to the demands for his attention, he employs three assistants who capably follow out his well-established and individual customs under his personal supervision. To local municipal affairs, Mr. Kennedy devotes much of his interest, being a supporter of the political principal of the Republican party, although he has never south public office. Hi fraternal affiliations are with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, and the Knights of Pythias. In the social organizations of the city, he is popularly identified with the Eccentric Club. His religious adherence is given to the Freemont Methodist Church. During the World War, Mr. Kennedy truly exemplified the title of patriotic citizen by his zealous efforts in behalf of every cause, particularly in the Liberty Loan and Red Cross drives, which by his influence and material support he aided in going over the top.

Fred Griswold Kennedy married, June 19, 1906, at Haverstraw, Jessie Black, daughter of Milton and Sadie (Francais) Black, her father being a native of Canandaigua and an engineer for the historic Northern Central Railroad, branch of the Pennsylvania Railroad. To this union has been born on son: Lawrence, born March 27, 1907.

 

The History of New York State, Lewis Historical Publishing Company, Inc., 1927

This book is owned by Pam Rietsch and is a part of the Mardos Memorial Library

Transcribed by Holice B. Young

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