Historic, but not famous

Henry Chadwick, sportswriter, historian

Henry Chadwick (1824 – April 20, 1908) was a sportswriter, baseball statistician and historian, often called the “Father of Baseball” for his early reporting on and contributions to the development of the game. He edited the first baseball guide that was sold to the public.

He was born in England and moved to Brooklyn with his family at the age of 12. He began to write music and to teach piano and guitar, somewhat against the education he received in commerce and finance. As an adult he played cricket and rounders for amusement and began writing about the games for local newspapers.  He came across organized baseball in 1856 as a cricket reporter for The New York Times; watching a match between New York’s Eagles and Gothams. By the next year, he devoted his writing to baseball coverage for the New York Clipper and Sunday Mercury newspapers.

Chadwick helped establish the keeping of statistics and promoted individual players. He was on the rules committee and influenced the early development and coverage of the game. His devotion to and promotion of the game led him to be referred to as the “father of baseball.” In his 1861 Beadle guide, he listed totals of games played, outs, runs, home runs, and strikeouts for hitters on prominent clubs, the first database of its kind. In 1868 he wrote the first book on baseball, The Game of Baseball.

Chadwick continued editing the Spalding Base Ball Guides and producing a column for the Brooklyn Daily Eagle and The New York Times. He was struck by a car in 1908, bedridden for weeks, but made it to the opening game of the season at the Polo Grounds and Washington Park in Brooklyn. He caught a cold which worsened his condition. A fall while moving furniture that year brought him to his end.

He was posthumously inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. He is buried in Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn.

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Historic, but not famous

Hippolyte Havel, writer, anarchist

Hippolyte Havel (1871–1950) was a anarchist from Czechoslovakia. He was friends with Emma Goldman. He lived in Greenwich Village, which he declared to be “a spiritual zone of mind”. When young, he had been imprisoned by the Austria-Hungary government for his anarchistic activities and declared insane. He was imprisoned, eventually moved from the insane asylum to a regular prison and escaped to England. Ms. Goldman brought him to NYC.

Mr. Havel was married to the anarchist Polly Holliday, who with him ran a restaurant on Washington Square in Greenwich Village frequented by radicals and artists. He worked there as a waiter, often calling customers “bourgeois pigs”. His rants attracted many people to the restaurant.

When not at the restaurant, he wrote a biography of Emma Goldman and an introductory essay to her collected Anarchism and Other Essays. He was also friends with Eugene O’Neill, who based the character Hugo Kalmar of The Iceman Cometh on him.

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Historic, but not famous

Isaac Newton Phelps Stokes, architect, writer
I.N. Phelps Stokes standing behind his wife Edith née Minturn, (painting by John Singer Sargent, 1897). Painting was given as a wedding present.

Isaac Newton Phelps Stokes (1867 – 1944) was an architect and pioneer in social housing who co-authored the 1901 New York tenement house law. His most important contribution to NYC may have been his  The Iconography of Manhattan Island, a six volume compilation he worked on for over 20 years and published between 1915 and 1928. It became one of the most important research resources about the early development of the city.

He was educated at St. Paul’s School, Concord, and Berkeley School in New York City before graduating from Harvard in 1891. He later took post graduate courses at Columbia University and then in Italy and at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris. Upon returning to the United States, design several charitable building projects including: the Tuskegee tenement building in New York (1901); St. Paul’s Chapel at Columbia University (1907); Berea College Chapel (1906); Woodbridge Hall at Yale (1901); two tenements called the Dudley complex at 339-349 East 32nd Street, New York (1910); an outdoor pulpit for St. John the Divine Cathedral (1916) and memorial gates at both Harvard and Yale universities among many others.

While compiling the work The Iconography of Manhattan Island, Stokes had become an obsessive collector and spent large sums with dealers in America and Europe. He bequeathed the prints from his collection to the New York Public Library as well as selling others when eventually in need of funds.

The Iconography of Manhattan Island Vol. 1 (1915)
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Wilhelm Christian Weitling, writer, tailor, inventor

Wilhelm Christian Weitling (1808 – 1871) was a tailor, inventor, and radical political activist. He immigrated from Germany and invented attachments for commercial sewing machines like devices for double-stitching and the button holes. Prior to his inventions, these had been done by hand and kept many families afloat with piece work by the women and children of poor areas in NYC.

Weitling was raised in dire poverty, while his mother made a meager living as a maid and cook. His father, who never married his mother, was killed in war before Wilhelm turned 5.  His education was limited to elementary school and any reading did on his own at the local library. He still learned not only German, but French and eventually English and some Italian.  He apprenticed with a tailor at an early age and was a skilled journeyman tailor by age 18.

He moved to Paris where he became politically active, an agitator and writer, he was published and translated in many languages. His work was mostly Marxist or Communist in tone and intent. He spent time in prison and after his release traveled many places including New York City. By 1850, he had made NYC his home and started publishing a monthly journal which grew to 4000 subscribers.

His attention turned to invention in his later years. He received nine patents for improvements to sewing machines, among which were double stitch, button hole and embroidery attachments. He received a patent for a dress-trimming crimper which he had worked on for 17 years, and on his death left several unfinished machines.

He died in NYC, leaving behind a wife and 6 children.

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