Notable Phelps Family Members
John Jay Phelps, Publisher, Judge, Merchant, and Entrepreneur
Hon. John Jay Phelps 1, b Simsbury, Ct., 25 Oct 1810, m. Rachel Badgley Phinney, 29 Jan., 1835, at Dundaff, Penn. She was daughter of Col. G. Phinney, and was b. 12 Dec. 1812, d. New York City.
|Judge John Jay Phelps|
Mr. Phelps left his father's house at the age of 13 years. He owned and edited (before his majority) in partnership with George D. Prentice, (afterward of the Louisville Courier), the New England Weekly Review, published at Hartford. In 1827 he began the manufacture of glass in Dundaff, Penn., and became acquainted with the coal fields of the Lackawanna Valley, in which he was afterwards so closely and profitably connected.
Later he became connected with his cousin, Amos R. Eno, as large wholesale merchants in New York City, under the firm name of Eno & Phelps, which firm was continued for ten years, when they dissolved. He continued in the mercantile business, and operated largely in real estate, with great boldness and success.
Before he was 40 years old he had built a splendid block on the site of old Grace Church, and another on the site of the Park Theatre. All these operations were entered into by his old partner, Mr. Eno, who finished by building the Fifth Avenue Hotel. As a director of the Erie railroad he received the thanks of the city council by a joint resolution of both branches, and was for a long time prominently identified with the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western R. R. Co. He was president, resigning in 1853, but remaining in the board till 1863.
He was one of the first to use freestone in the architecture of New York City. He was long connected with the direction of the Mercantile, Second National and City Banks, the Camden & Amboy R. R. Co., the Manhattan Gas Light Co., and Bleecker Street Savings Institute, also with many other public and private trusts, which show the high esteem in which he was held by his fellow citizens, while his will contained bequests to many educational and charitable institutions. He died in New York City, 12 May, 1869, and was buried in Simsbury, Connecticut.
1 Excerpted from The Phelps Family of America and Their English Ancestors, (Save $201 by ordering through us.) Two volumes. By Judge Oliver Seymour Phelps and Andrew T. Servin. (Eagle Publishing Company of Pittsfield, Mass., 1899), Vol. 1. p 608.