Wendel Bollman (1814-1884)

Harpers-Ferry-Bollman-Bridge

General James C. Clarke named one of his sons “Wendell Bollman Clarke”.  Since I could find no family correlation to the name I began to research the name in hopes of finding a connection.  James C. Clarke was one of the most notable railway men in the nation.  James C. Clarke had an illustrious railroad career rising to the ranks of President of the Illinois Central Railroad and Mobile and Ohio Roads. His other accomplishments are too vast to list can can also be viewed on my blog. So the first logical place to begin searching for Wendel Bollman  was in railroad history.  My hunch proved correct.

I was delighted to find so much documentation on him.  Here is what I found out about Wendell Clarke’s  name sake.  The original Wendel Bollman (1814-1884) was born January 21, 1814 in Baltimore, MD.  Wendel’s father died when he was 11 years. It is ironic that both Wendel and James lost their fathers at an early age andWest Virginia B. & O. Bridge forced to find work to support themselves and their families. Both would find themselves working for the B & O Railroad. Wendel was only 14 years of age when he started working as a carpenter laying wooden railroad tracks. Wendel worked various positions rising eventually to Master of the Road – he was a self-taught builder and engineer. Bridge at Savage MillThe first Bollman Truss was built in the 1850′s over the Little Patuxent in  Savage, Maryland. It was the first bridge built entirely of iron in America. The nearby elementary school “Bollman Bridge Elementary” was named for him.  Bollman rebuilt the Harper’s Ferry Bridge in West Virginia in 1851.  This would become one of his most famous bridges and rebuilt many time using his system throughout the civil war due to enemy fire. Unfortunately the bridge was washed away in a flood in the 1930′s.

In 1852 Bollman was awarded a patent for his iron suspension truss design called the Bollman Truss.” He transformed bridge building from an art to a science. Bollman is  heralded as the first successful iron bridge builder in America.

Circa 1855 Wendel Bollman left the B & O Railroad and together with James Clarke and J. H. Tegmeyer would form the W. Bollman Company in Baltimore, MD located in Canton on Clinton Street & Second Avenue. The company was one of the first to design, fabricate and erect bridges. Baltimore County Circuit Court records (Libor GHC 25 Folio 55) reveals that J.H. Tegmeyer on August 30, 1859 leased the Canton Company of Baltimore with a 99 year lease renewable forever for manufacturing iron bridges or similar manufactured items for at least two years. It is a natural assumption that this is where they opened their business.  The company faced trouble and ceased to exist circa 1862. On January 8, 1863 Tegmeyer and Clarke executed a deed (Libor GES 216 Libor 539) agreeing to sell the factory to Bollman.  Baltimore was  facing trouble with wartime conditions in the city which contributed the company’s demise.

Advertisment 1857

Advertisement

Circa 1865 Bollman would form a new company  – Patapsco Bridge and Iron Works.  The advertisment below touted the fact that they where the only establishment in Baltimore to manufacture its own bridges.   In addition to building bridges Bollman is also credited as being one of the architects for City Hall in Baltimore.   In 1873 he supplied the iron castings for the splendid dome on City Hall. he worked at the company until his death in 1884 at which time the company was dissolved.

Wendell Bollman Clarke  born September 27, 1859 in Baltimore, MD. He was affectionately called Wennie.  An 1886  Frederick newspaper article stated “Wendell has a rather delicate constitution”.  The article further states, “He is a good, faithful business man and a general favorite especially with children.  He mends their toys, teaches them to ride the bicycle, and entertains them with his inexhaustible fund of stories.  Almost every evening he can be seen on the seated on the front steps of his father’s handsome residence with a crown of youngsters around him.  There is not a child among them that does not love him to distraction.  Such a son is always the joy of the household”.

Wendell Bollman Clarke died on March 21, 1920 and is buried with his family at Mt. Olivet Cemetery in Frederick, MD.

Resources:

"Gen. Clarke and His Boys." The News [Frederick, MD.] 10 July 1886: 4. Newspaperarchive. Web. 16
     Sept. 2009. <http://newspaperarchive.com>.
Smith, William Prescott. The Book of the Great Railway Celebrations of 1857, Embracing a Full 
     Account of the Opening of the Ohio & Mississippi, And the Marietta & Cincinnati Railroads, And 
     the Northenwestern Virginia Branch of Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. New York, New York: Appleton
& Co., 1858. N. pag. Google. Web. 16 Sept. 2009. <http://books.google.com/
books?id=KsdHAAAAIAAJ&pg=PA120&dq=William+Prescott+Scott+-+the+book+of+the+great+railway#v=onepage&q=
     &f=false>.
Howard, George Washington. The monumental city, its past history and present resources. 1-2 vols.
     N.p.: J.D. Ehlers & Co., 1873. N. pag. Google. Web. 16 Sept. 2009. <http://books.google.com/
     books?id=k9ERAAAAYAAJ&printsec=frontcover&dq=Howard,+George+Washington+(1873),+%22The+Monumental+City
,+Its+Past+History+and+Present+Resources&source=gbs_book_other_versions_r&cad=9#v=onepage&q=&f=false>
Griggs, Frank, Jr. "A self-Taught Engineer." Structuremag. NCSEA, Feb. 2006. Web. 16 Sept. 2009.
     http://www.structuremag.org/Archives/2006-2/D-GA-Bollman-Feb-06.pdf.
Wikipedia contributors. "Wendel Bollman." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. N.p., 11 Aug. 2009. Web.
16 Sept. 2009. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wendel_Bollman>.

Photo's from Library of Congress Website - Historic Engineering  Record, Library of Congress Compiled after 1968 [online image] http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/hhh.wv0291
Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, Bollman Bridge, Spanning Potomac River at Harpers Ferry, Harpers Ferry, Jefferson County, WV

General James C. Clarke

Clarke Monument at Mt. Olivet

James C. Clarke was a distinguished man and Frederick, Maryland resident. He was one of the most notable railroad men in History.  He was brought into the world by Dr. Gustavus Warfield on March 3, 1824 in Unity, Montgomery County, MD.  Son of Elizabeth (Betsy) Simpson and William Clarke. The Simpsons’ originally came from the South England and his father from Newtownards, County Down, Ireland.  Betsy and William were entered into the estate of matrimony by the Reverend Doctor Jennings on May 4, 1823. William was employed by the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad when it was extending its line into Frederick County.

Betsy Simpson Clarke was very spoiled and high spirited.  They were aristocratic,descending from Worthington’s and Ridgely’s, and quite wealthy owning many slaves.  Mr. William Clarke was very amiable and endeavored to please her but she would frequently fly into a rage and seeking revenge would set free some of the slaves.  Finally Mr. William Clarke would leave her and the family never to return.

Betsy in time became poor and at 12 years of age James C. Clarke stopped his schooling at Point of Rocks, MD to seek employment. He called on the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal but was refused work due to his young age.  James pressed on telling them he had a mother to support.  They admired his courage and started him as a water boy.  By age 16 he was a  mule driver of a canal boat and held the position for four years eventually rising to the owner of a boat, which was sunk in a collision.

In 1844,  when he was 20 years of age, he applied for a job on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad and was accepted.  His hard work and industrious application soon brought their reward.  For 10 years he labored for the B & O starting in the machine and repair shops advancing to a locomotive fireman and next an engineer.  He was an ambitious young man on the move.  He soon mastered the conductors job, station agent and then  train master. During his term of service he ran the old engine “Arabian.”

December 21, 1852 he married Susan Schaffer (1832-1892), daughter of Peter Schaffer and Elizabeth Brunner.  The Brunner family it should be noted was one of the first families of Frederick. Her great-grandfather, Jacob Bruner, founded a tract of land called “Shiverstadt” now known as Schifferstadt and the home still remains to this day. James and Susan had 5 children.

General James C. ClarkeIn 1854 James C. Clarke was made superintendent of the Central Ohio Railroad where he was when the famous Col. John H. Drone, master of transportation on the B & O ,was selected as General Superintendent of the Illinois Central Railroad.  The only man that he asked to bring with him for the job was James C. Clarke.  James was appointed Assistant Superintendent under Col. Drone.

Col. Drone died in an accident at Hyde Park in 1856 and James Clarke succeeded him as General Superintendent.  While in charge he had the task of safely transporting President Abraham Lincoln from Harrisburg, PA to Washington, DC. A few years before Abraham Lincoln had been an attorney for the Illinois Central Railway.

The Clarke family was eager to return to Maryland to engage in farming, milling and merchandising in Frederick County, MD.  He was regularly visited by Federal and Confederate Armies. He once owned the farm that was owned by Governor Frank Thomas.

From 1862-1870 he took charge of the Ashland Iron works in Baltimore County, Maryland at a large salary in the manufacturing of iron.  His success was unparalleled, he soon became an owner of interest in this establishment.

In 1866 after three years residency in Baltimore County, J.C. Clarke was elected to the Maryland House of Delegates.  In 1867 he was elected to the State Senate in Annapolis where he served for two terms at that point he was offered the presidency of the Western Railroad for a handsome salary, but turned it down for his first love the canal.

in 1870 Governor Bowie met with the Board of Public Works in Annapolis and nominated J. C. Clarke as President of the C & O Canal at $10,000.00 dollars per annum.  The highest salary ever paid.

In 1872 General Clarke was made President and General Manager of the Erie Railroad where he remained until 1874.  He was then made an offer to be the General Superintendent of the Illinois Central Railroad, rising to President of the railroad in 1883.  During his 4 year presidency the railroad shared in the general prosperity incidental to the western boom in immigration.Frederick, Md. City Hall

In 1888 Clarke went with the Mobile and Ohio Railroad for a year and a half as its V.P. and General Manager.  He salvaged a flailing railroad and was able to put back the road on a paying basis and when he retired in 1898 left the railroad in a most prosperous condition. Clarke is described as a rough and ready railroader, tall and strong with a can-do attitude. He was a master story teller was loved by all.

James C. Clarke passed away December 9, 1902 of Bright’s Disease.   He is honored in death by a family monument in Mt. Olivet Cemetery.  Buried beside him are his wife, children and family friend Caroline V. Haller.

Clarke Place, a charming street in Frederick County, Maryland was named for James C. Clarke. The beautiful fountain in front of the old court house (now City Hall) was donated to the City of Frederick in 1862 by the General.  General Clarke had a love affair with the city for which he and his family had resided and he always remained a benefactor.

Clarke Monument at Mt. Olivet

Photograph of City Hall & Clarke Monument Courtesy of Bob Carney, all rights reserved.