Sunday, July 6, 2014

Anson Green Phelps & The Phelps Dodge Dynasty

From the Archives For my Phelps Group Connection to join Phelps Genealogy in America Ad 1887 Guide to the Phelps Dodge Co
Phelps Dodge Co A History of Phelps Dodge, 1834-1950
Junior engineer to president, director of Phelps Dodge, 1937 to 1983 oral history transcript 1996 19th-Century Origins
In 1834 founder Anson Phelps, a New York entrepreneur thoroughly experienced in the import-export trade and well-connected in his targeted British market, formed Phelps, Dodge & Co. Along with his junior partners, sons-in-law William Dodge and Daniel James, Phelps supplied his English customers with cotton, replacing it on the homeward journey with tin, tin plate, iron, and copper, for sale to government, trade, and individual consumers in the United States. Before long, Phelps started a manufacturing company in Connecticut called the Ansonia Brass and Battery Company, and in 1845 he helped organize the Ansonia Manufacturing Company, which produced kettles, lamps, rivets, buttons, and other metal items. Phelps steered his fledgling empire grimly through a seven-year panic that began during 1837. His reward came during the following 14 year s of national prosperity, when large numbers of his products went west with new settlers, accompanied travelers on the rapidly expanding railroads, and provided a modicum of comfort for miners at the recentl y discovered Sierra Nevada gold deposits in California. Even broader markets came from such inventions as the McCormick reaper and the electric telegraph, whose need for cable wire would swell Phelps Dodge c offers well into the next century. By 1849 the company was capitalized at almost $1 million, and its profits were almost 30 percent. Phelps's death in 1853 gave his son and each of his two sons-in-law a 25 percent interest in the business, with 15 percent going to a younger son-in-law. This second partnership was scarcely five years old when Anson Phelps, Jr., died. On January 1, 1859, the partnership was revised again, to increase the firm's capitalization to $1.5 mill ion and to give William Dodge and Daniel James each a 28 percent share. With reorganization complete, the company turned its attention to developing industries such as mining. An interest in timber had begun in the mid-1830s, when Phelps, Dodge accepted timber-lands in Pennsylvania in lieu of payment for a debt. Later it built the world's largest lumber mill there, establishing a timber agency in Baltimore, Maryland, to send its products to domestic and foreign customers. Despite these diversification, the principal interests of the company were still mercantile. However, through the advice of James Douglas , a mining engineer and chemical geologist, Phelps, Dodge was persuaded to take a large block of stock in the Morenci copper mine in what was then the Arizona Territory. Morenci was owned by the Detroit Copper Company, which exchanged the stock for a $30,000 loan. Douglas was also enthusiastic about prospects for another claim called Atlanta, situated in Arizona's Bisbee district, about 200 miles southwest of Morenci. In 1881 the company bought the Atlanta claim for $40,000. Two years later Phelps, Dodge had a chance to purchase the adjoining Copper Queen mine, which was then producing about 300 tons of ore monthly. The partnership decided to buy Copper Queen when Douglas hit th e main Atlanta lode in 1884, at almost the same time that a Copper Queen tunnel penetrated the lode from a different spot. Arizona mining operations at the time stuck strictly to the "rule of the apex," according to which a claim owner could follow a vein of ore onto another claim, if the deposit had come closest to the surface on his land. Th is had occurred with Copper Queen, and Phelps, Dodge, rather than ris k losing this strike to the Copper Queen owners, purchased the Copper Queen mine, merging it with the Atlanta claim. In August 1885 Phelps, Dodge & Co. decided to streamline its operations by incorporating the subsidiary Copper Queen Consolidated Mining Company in New York, with James Douglas as president. Cautiously, Douglas made no major acquisitions for ten years. Then, he bought the Moctezuma Copper Company in Sonora, Mexico, from the Guggenheim family. Two years later he purchased the Detroit Copper Company.
James S Douglas Mine Tales (1867–1949) Antique Ansonia Clocks was the first company owned by Anson Green Phelps

Rev Anson Green Phelps Dodge JR B: June 30, 1860 N Y City, NY D: 1898 St. Simon's Island, Georgia Father: Anson Green Phelps Dodge SR (1834-c. 1899) Mother: Rebecca Wainwright Grew (1836-1925) Married: (1) Ellen Ada Phelps Dodge Eloped June 5, 1880, London, England Married: (2) Anna Deborah Gould (1856-1927) 1890 St. Simon's Island, Georgia. Children: by Ellen Ada Phelps Dodge: none by Anna Deborah Gould: Anson Green Phelps Dodge, 3rd (1891-1894)

Ellen was the daughter of Rev. D. Stewart Dodge, of New York State, a Presbyterian clergyman, and his wife Rachael. Ellen married her cousin, Rev. Anson Green Phelps Dodge, and although she died in India fifteen years before he did, she is buried with him on St. Simons Island. Find A Grave Born: Feb. 28, 1862 New York, USA Death: Nov. 29, 1883 Allahabad, India An excerpt from the long obituary of her husband, which appeared in the ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, August 28, 1898, on page 4: "When his first wife died in India, Mr. Dodge had her body embalmed by one of the most noted embalmers in that country. It was inclosed in a metallic coffin and then placed in an ebony casket. This was carried across two continents to its last resting place on St. Simons. At Frederica the memorial church stands, one of the most expensive of the smaller churches in this section. On the wall to the right of the altar this inscription is engraved on a marble tablet:
To the glory of God and in loving memory of Ellen Ada Phelps Dodge, beloved wife of Rev. A. G. P. Dodge, Jr. Born February 28th, 1862; died November 29, 1883, at Allahabad, India. To her under God is due the rebuilding and endowing of this church. May she rest in peace."
Rev. Dodge wrote directions that his former wife's remains were to be taken from their ebony casket and placed in a pine coffin like his own, and the two were then to be placed side by side in the burying grounds at Frederica. Their grave was dug "under the shadow of Wesley Oak, where John Wesley first expounded Methodism in this country..."
Anna was the daughter of Horace B. Gould and Deborah Abbott, both of Glynn Co., Georgia. She married Rev. Anson Greene Phelps Dodge, Jr. as his second wife.Birth: Dec., 1856 Glynn County Georgia, USA Death:  Mar. 18, 1927 Saint Simons Island Glynn County Georgia, USA

See The Phelps Papers: The papers consist of diaries kept by Anson Greene Phelps, philanthropist, officer in several voluntary associations, manufacturer, and founder of Ansonia, Connecticut. The diaries cover the years 1806-1807 and 1816-1853 and primarily contain thoughts on religious subjects.

Anson Green Phelps I (1781-1853) Father Thomas Phelps (1741 - 1789) Mother Dorothy Lamb Woodbridge Phelps (1745 - 1792) Of an old Connecticut family. Orphaned at age ten, Anson Green Phelps I (1781-1853) was apprenticed to a saddle maker and later set himself up in business in Hartford as a merchant. He traded saddles against cotton from Charleston SC which in turn he sold in New York and bought there the dry goods he marketed in his store. After the war of 1812, Anson Phelps moved to New York, where he associated himself to fellow Connecticut trader Elisha Peck, to form Phelps & Peck. The firm prospered and became New York's largest metal importer, with Phelps selling the metals in New York and buying cotton in the South which he exported to England. Peck handled the English end of the business in Liverpool. After the collapse of their new six story store at Cliff Street, the partnership was dissolved and Phelps took two of his sons-in-laws as partners to for Phelps, Dodge & Co in New York and Phelps, James & Co in Liverpool. Starting in 1834, Anson Greene Phelps involved himself in the brass industry which emerged in the Naugatuck valley in Connecticut. By the time of his death, some twenty years later, Phelps was one of the main factors in the copper and brass business, at the same time as Phelps Dodge & Co was the dominant metal importer. Ansonia, the industrial township he founded, stands as a monument to Phelps' enterprising spirit. Like other merchant capitalists, Anson Phelps had many other interests, including railroads, notably the New York & Erie, and banking. He owned a controlling interest in the Bank of Dover New Jersey, which was managed by his friend Thomas B. Segur. When he died in 1853, he left an estate exceeding $2 million, of which half was real estate in New York City and Ansonia. From his marriage to Olivia Eggleston, he had six daughters and one son Anson Phelps jr., who married but had no children. Three of his sons-in-law (William Earl Dodge, Daniel James and James Stokes) joined Phelps Dodge & Co and fathered one of New York's most renowned merchant dynasty.
The family to which Mr. Dodge belonged is descended from William Dodge, son of John Dodge of Somersetshire, England, who was one of the settlers of Charlestown, Mass., in 1629. A branch of this family settled in Connecticut about the time of the Revolution from which came David Low Dodge, grandfather of Wm. E. Dodge, jr., who married Sarah, daughter of the Rev. Aaron Cleveland, grandfather of ex-President Cleveland R Dodge's mother was Melissa Phelps, daughter of Anson Green Phelps, founder of the firm of Phelps, Dodge & Co., and Oliver Egleston, daughter of Elihu and Elizabeth (Olcott) Egleston. She was descended from George Phelps who came over in the Mary and John and first settled in Dorchester, and numbered among her ancestors, Governors Dudley, Haynes and Wyllys.
Read Letter 1839 Melissa Phelps Dodge 

Mr. William Earle Dodge received his education in New York City and followed the path his father trod before him both in business and ublic life. In 1864 he became a partner in the firm of Phelps, Dodge & Co., an finally senior member of the firm. His connection with this house, however, constituted only one of the various interests of his business life. The town of Ansonia, Conn., had been named after his grandfather, Anson G. Phelps, and its industries were fostered by the two families united in the Phelps-Dodge marriage. He became president of the Ansouia Clock Company, and a director in the Ansonia Brass Company. He was also a director in many railway and mining comanies, a trustee of the New York Life Insurance Com any, and the Atlantic utual Insurance Company, and was vice-president o the New York Chamber of Commerce at the time of his death.
Yet varied as were his business interests these constituted only a fraction of the many interests with which Mr. Dodge identified himself. He was one of the most patriotic, public spirited and philanthropic citizens of New York, and perhaps the most active of them all in things which concerned its best welfare.
While still a young man he began to take a deep interest in all matters affecting the public welfare and he gave his hearty support to almost every reform or public work of importance. During the civil war he was active in many ways; was one of the founders of the Union League Club, and a projector of the Sanitar Fair; served in the Allotment and Sanitary Commissions, and was one of the commissioners of the State of New York to supervise the condition of its troops in the field. His commission was one of the first signed b President Lincoln, and at the conclusion of his service he received a vote 0 thanks from the Legislature of the State for his efficiency. "At the time of the draft riots in New York City, he was the man who found the ammunition which the militia used to tell the mob. The city was in a turmoil, and the militia was under arms in t e armories, but not a cartridge could be found for the soldiers. The State and federal authorities were appealed to without success, and the city was looking forward to another night of terror, when it occurred to Mr. Dodge to go to the navy yard and secure ammunition from the commandant there. The commandant was willing to give the cartridges, but could furnish no men to take them to the armories, as he was having trouble defending the yard. At last Mr. Dodge got a truck, loaded the ammunition on it, and himself drove it through the,streets to one of the armories. The militia was armed and the city was quieted."—N. 1’. Tribune.
Mr. Dodge was much interested in various public institutions and societies founded to promote the knowledge of science and art among the people. He was vice-president, trustee and chairman of the Executive Committee of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and was very active in its behalf; was also vice president and trustee of the American Museum of Natural History, and a trustee of the New York Botanical Garden; was a trustee of the Carnegie Institution, and a member of the New York Academy of Science, the Linnehan Society of New York, the American Geographical Society, the American Historical Association,and of the New York Historical Society . But he specially interested himself in the welfare of the young men 0 New York Cit , devoting himself to the work of the Young Men's Christian Association, with which he was connected from the be inning of its prosperity, serving it for many years as president of its Board 0 Trustees. It was largely through his activity that its first building in Twenty-third Street was erected, and he lived to carry through the project of a new building for the Association now almost completed. He was also president of The Evangelical Alliance, and of the National Temperance Society; was vice-president of the American Sunday School Union, and chairman of the National Arbitration Committee. He contributed liberally of his means as well as his services to the institutions and objects with which he was identified, and it was often said no good cause ever appealed to his generosity in vain. He presented to the garrison at Governor's Island a fine Young Men's Christian Association building, which was opened in July, 1900. He led a fund to endow Union Theoloical Seminary as well as gave valuable moral support to that institution. e founded a lectureship on " The Duties of Christian Citizenship" at Yale; gave largely to the Woman's Hospital, and as chairman of the Abram S. Hewitt Memorial Fund collected over two hundred thousand dollars, to which amount he was one of the largest contributors. His last beneficence was the gift to Columbia University, in 1902, of Earl Hall, as the club center of the university.
William E. Dodge married Sarah Tappan Hoadley, daughter of the late David Hoadley, president of the Panama Railroad, who survives him. He leaves also one son, Cleveland Hoadley Dodge, member of the firm of Phelps, Dodge & Co., and three daughters; Grace Hoadley Dodge, who has distinguished herself by her charitable work, especially amon working girls, and was the first woman to be appointed a member of the New York Board of Education; Mrs. William C. Osborn of New York, and May M. Dodge of London, England.

Anson Phelps Stokes (detail of a painting by Cecilia Beaux, Metropolitan Museum) Helen Louisa Phelps and Anson Phelps Stokes at the time of their engagement

Clockwise from center: Helen Phelps Stokes, J. Graham, Isaac Newton, Helen O., Sarah M., 1872. Stokes Records, vol I, after p. 182 
Dodge Burial: Bronx Bronx County New York, USA
Plot: Ravine, section 33, catacomb 2 Woodlawn Cemetery

Golden Wedding; Dodge Wednesday, June 26, 1878 Springfield Republican MA 

Phelps Dodge Mercantile Co. Dawson, NM


  1. Ansonia CT was named after him and he is from the George Phelps Line I believe.

  2. Hello-My gr gr grandfather and his brothers were the agents for Phelps Dodge timber in Pennsylvania. They opened the office in Baltimore and ran all the shipping of timber out of PA. The office was on Fleet and Exeter - right near the wharfs. I do believe they are the folks who were in debt to the company and so, went to work for Anson Phelps and William Earl Dodge. Anson and his family are mentioned in a letter to one of the brothers (from my gr gr grandfather) as they had vacationed with the Anson Phelps family in their home in CT I think...I also have several quite long letters from William Earl Dodge to one of the brothers while he was in Buenos Aires in 1839 working at opening trade of timber from Phelps Dodge. Thanks so much for posting all the photographs and giving us more insight into the people and places of the family and company. Certainly gave me more "sight". -- Cynthia Dickinson