Biographical and genealogical history of Morris County, New Jersey
Out of the depths of his mature wisdom Carlyle wrote: " History is the essence of innumerable biographies." Farther than this, what propriety can there be in advancing reasons for the compilation of such a work as the one at hand? Morris county has sustained within its confines men who have been prominent in the history of the state and nation from the early colonial epoch. The annals teem with the records of strong and noble manhood, and, as Sumner has said, " The true grandeur of nations is in those qualities which constitute the true greatness of the individual." The final causes which shape the fortunes of individual men and the destinies of states are often the same. They are usually remote and obscure; their influence wholly unexpected until declared by results. When they inspire men to the exercise of courage, self-denial, enterprise, industry, and call into play the higher moral elements; lead men to risk all upon conviction, faith, — such causes lead to the planting of great states, great nations, great peoples. That nation is greatest which produces the greatest and most manly men, and the intrinsic safety depends not so much upon methods and measures as upon that true manhood from whose deep sources all that is precious and permanent in life must at last proceed. Such a result may not consciously be contemplated by the individuals instrumental in the production of a great nation. Pursuing each his personal good by exalted means, they work out this as a logical result. They have wrought on the lines of the greatest good.
Ceaselessly to and fro flies the deft shuttle which weaves the web of human destiny, and in the vast mosaic fabric enter the individuality, the effort, the accomplishment of each man, be his station that most lowly, or one of majesty, pomp and power. Within the textile folds may be traced the line of each individuality, be it the one that lends the beautiful sheen of honest worth and honest endeavor, or one that, dark and zigzag, finds its way through warp and woof, marring the composite beauty by its blackened threads, ever in evidence of the shadowed and unprolific life. Into the great aggregate each individuality is merged, and yet the essence of each is never lost, be the angle of its influence wide-spreading and grateful, or narrow and baneful. In his efforts he who essays biography finds much of profit and much of alluring fascination when he would follow out, in even a cursory way, the tracings of a life history, seeking to find "the keynote of each respective personality. These efforts and their resulting transmission can not fail of value in an objective way, for in each case may the lesson of life be conned, "line upon line; precept upon precept."
Whether the elements of success in life are innate attributes of the individual, or whether they are quickened by a process of circumstantial development, it is impossible to clearly determine. Yet the study of a successful life is none the less interesting and profitable by reason of the existence of this same uncertainty. So much in excess of those of successes are the records of failures or semi-failures that one is constrained to attempt an analysis in either case and to determine the method of causation in an approximate way. The march of improvement and progress is accelerated day by day, and each successive moment seems to demand of men a broader intelligence and a greater discernment than did the preceding. Successful men must be live men in this age, bristling with activity, and the lessons of biography may be far-reaching to an extent not superficially evident. A man's reputation is the property of the world. The laws of nature have forbidden isolation. Every human being either submits to the controlling influence of others, or, as a master, wields a power for good or evil on the masses of mankind. There can be no impropriety in justly scanning the acts of any man as they affect his public, social and business relations. If he be honest and successful in his chosen field of endeavor, investigation will brighten his fame and point the path along which others may follow with like success. Not alone are those worthy of biographic honors who have moved along the loftier planes of action, but to an equal extent are those deserving who are of the rank and file of the world's workers, for they are not less the conservators of public prosperity and material advancement.
Longfellow wrote, " We judge ourselves by what we feel capable of doing, while others judge us by what we have already done." If this golden sentence of the New England bard were uniformly applied, many a man who is now looking down with haughty stare upon the noble toilers on land and sea, sneering at the omission of the aspirate, the cut of his neighbor's coat or the humbleness of his dwelling, would be voluntarily doing penance in sackcloth and ashes, at the end of which he would handle a spade or, with pen in hand, burn the midnight oil in his study, in the endeavor to widen the bounds of liberty or to accelerate the material and spiritual progress of his race. The humble and lowly often stand representative of the truest nobility of character, the deepest patriotism and the most exalted purpose, and through all the gradations of life recognition should be had of the true values, and then should full appreciation he manifested.
In the Biographical and Genealogical History of Morris County the editorial staff, as well as the publishers, have fully realized the magnitude of the task set them. The work is purely biographical in its province, and in the collation of material for the same there has been a constant aim to use a wise discrimination in regard to the selection of subjects, and yet to exclude none worthy of representation within its pages. Those who have been prominent factors in the public, social and industrial make-up of the county in the past have been given due recognition as far as it has been possible to secure the requisite data. Names worthy of perpetuation here have in several instances been omitted, either on account of the apathetic interest of those concerned, or the inability to secure the information demanded. Yet, in both the contemporary narrative and the memoirs of those who have passed on to " that undiscovered country from whose bourne no traveler returns," it is believed that there has been such utilization of material as to more than fulfill all stipulations and promises made at the inception of the undertaking.
In the compilation recourse has been had to divers authorities, including various histories and historical collections, and implying an almost endless array of papers and documents, public, private, social and ecclesiastical. That so much matter could be gathered from so many original sources and then sifted and assimilated for the production of a single work without incurring a modicum of errors and inaccuracies, would be too much to expect of any corps of writers, no matter how able they might be as statisticians or skilled as compilers of such works. It is, nevertheless, believed that no inaccuracies of a serious nature can be found to impair the historical value of the volumes, and it is further believed that the results will supply the demand which called forth the efforts of the publishers and the editorial corps.
To other and specific histories has been left the task of touching the general! history of this county; for the function of this work is aside from this, and is definite in its scope, so that a recapitulation would be out of harmony with the compilation. However, the incidental references made to those who have been the important actors in the public and civic history of the county will serve to indicate the generic phases and will shadow forth much to those who can "read between the lines." In conclusion we can not do better than to quote another of Carlyle's terse aphorisms: "There is no heroic poem in the world but is at bottom a biography, the life of a man."
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JAMES AUGUSTUS WEBB.
The history of the United States is best told in the story of the lives of its individual citizens. The aggregate of such lives is the national life exemplified under free institutions. An individual is best studied in the environment of his residence, where the observations and opinions of neighbors receive and retain his conduct for good or evil as a sensitized plate does the image cast upon it. Judged by such a test, the life of the subject of this sketch is readily written, and worthy of permanent record and careful storing as an aggressive force for good, socially, morally and civilly.