Sunday, April 19, 2015

WOODIN | 14. Physical Legacies (Updated Sept. 15, 2015)

The Stuart Tank. The Berwick Historical Society is raising
money to bring one back to Berwick.
Will Woodin and his close relatives left behind many significant physical legacies - in Berwick, in East Hampton, and New York City.

ACF Berwick's Stuart tanks in World War II were used throughout the world. The American Locomotive (ALCo) division produced the Sherman M4.

ACF Jobs in Berwick

Woodin's staying behind in Berwick in 1899 meant a lot for keeping ACF jobs in Berwick.

For example, one of the other companies rolled up into ACF in 1899 had a facility at St. Charles, Mo., that capable of producing tanks in World War II. Berwick's becoming the largest producer of armor plate in the nation, accounting for 10 percent of all armor plate made for the military, surely had something to do with the prominence within ACF of the extended Woodin family, including the Dickermans, Eatons and Crispins.

At the end of the 19th Century, the Berwick plant employed about 1,500 people. At the height of  its operations in World War II, the plant's employment jumped to 9,135 workers.

Not only did ACF employ more than 4,000 workers living in Berwick itself, it pulled in workers from 177 towns and villages in the regions - plus 665 workers from Bloomsburg; 536 from Nescopeck; 399 from Shickshinny; 181 from Mifflinville; 172 from Hazleton; 162 from Wapwallopen; 152 from Mocanaqua and 131 from Wilkes-Barre... and so on.

Battling Hitler - the Stuart and Sherman Tanks

ACF Berwick ended up producing one in every eight armored vehicles made in the USA, and every armored vehicle made in the USA utilized at least some ACF Berwick armored plate.

The tank was first used late in World War I and became a major battlefield weapon in World War II. In 1914 an idea emerged  of a vehicle that could go across difficult territory and break through enemy lines. It appealed to British navy minister Winston Churchill, who called the idea a “land boat” and began developing a prototype. Production workers were told the vehicles would be used to carry water on the battlefield, so they were labeled a “tank”.The first tank ever was produced in 1915 and was called "Little Willie". It weighed 14 tons and traveled at only two miles per hour.

A second prototype, known as “Big Willie,” was produced as the Mark I and on September 15, 1916 it was used at the First Battle of the Somme near Courcelette, France. Results were mixed as the first tanks were hot, hard to maneuver and noisy, but within two years the Mark IV had overcome many of the early problems and at the Battle of Cambrai 400 Mark IV tanks captured 8,000 enemy troops and 100 guns.

Tanks rapidly became an important military weapon. During World War II, they played a prominent role across numerous battlefields. More recently, tanks have been essential for desert combat during the conflicts in the Persian Gulf.

The Berwick plant in World War II produced the Stuart tank. It was allegedly named by the British after the Confederate General Jeb Stuart, to balance the naming of an earlier tank after the Yankee Sherman, but a Scotsman may have been evolved as it evokes Scotland's royal dynasty. It came in three editions - M2, M3 and M5 (to avoid confusion with the Sherman M4) - and had several distinctive features:
  • The Stuart was the first U.S. tank designed to operate independently, with a top speed of 35 mph. Previously, tanks were designed to support infantry troops, and had a maximum speed of 10 mph. The German Panzer [Panther] III and IV tanks had a top speed of 26 mph.
  • The M2A4 was the first U.S. tank built on an assembly line and the Berwick plant was the only one in the USA with its own ballistics testing range. It was also the first tank included in the Lend-Lease program.
  • The Stuart tank was used by all of the Allied armies in all the major war theaters - Europe, North Africa, Asia and Pacific Ocean (including Alaska and Antarctica).
From 1940 through April 17, 1944, ACF produced 15,225 Stuart Light Tanks for the U.S. Army, the Marines, and the lend-Lease program for the Allies.  Of these, 1,496 tanks were produced in St. Charles, Mo. and all the rest were produced in Berwick. The model numbers and quantities produced (all in Berwick except where indicated) were:

1940-41: 365 M2A4 tanks
1941-43: 4,526 M3 tanks in Berwick, 1,285 in St. Charles
1942-43: 4,410 M3A1 tanks in Berwick, 211 in St. Charles
1942-43: 3,427 M3A3 tanks
1943-44: 1,000 M5A1 tanks

Field Marshal Montgomery praised the tank in its use in North Africa against the German Army under Rommel. The Stuart was noted for its great reliability - essential in the desert. The weaknesses of the Stuart were its limited range, its small gun (half the diameter of the 75 mm. guns on the Sherman M4 and Panzer III and IV) and the limited protection of its armor plate. It was most useful as a reconnaissance vehicle and as troop support. It was weakest in tank-to-tank confrontations with larger-gunned and better-protected tanks.

Brigadier G. M. Ross at the British Army Staff in Detroit wrote to ACF Berwick with praise from military staff in Burma for the durability of the Stuart tanks:
[T]he first tank to cross the Irrawaddy west of Mandalay was "The Curse of Scotland", a gallant old Stuart, ...the only one belonging to the 7th Armored Brigade, which got back across the Chindwin during the retreat from Burma in 1942. ... It is now the CO's Command Tank and has participated in the advance from Imphal. ... Recent advances have enabled us to regain a number of [Stuart] M3A1s ... lost during the retreat. These tanks have been in Japanese hands for more than 2.5 years and exposed to three monsoons and two winter periods. ... [A]lthough there was a certain amount of rust and peeling of paint, there were no signs of exceptional deterioration.
American Locomotive Company

American Locomotive Company was rolled up in the same way as ACF, two years after ACF. It was added to the Dow Jones Industrial Average in 1916. For the next 12 years, two companies - both headed in turn by Will Woodin and his cousin William Dickerman - constituted 10 percent of the 20 companies included in the DJIA.

Woodin was Chairman of American Locomotive until he became Secretary of the Treasury. The position was vacant for seven years. Dickerman served as President of ALCo from 1929 to 1940, and then took over the Chairman position. As of 1940 ALCo was the second-largest producer of locomotives and had 40 percent of the market. During World War II ALCo produced the Sherman M4 tank.

ALCo was good at what it did - producing steam locomotives. A history of the company suggests that by sticking to its knitting it failed to take advantage of the opportunities presented by diesel locomotives. But meanwhile it had a long and successful run.

Berwick: The Heights, Other Housing

Nan Woodin died in 1941 and the Heights was auctioned off in 1941 and 1942. It never did serve as a family compound for Clement Woodin, because the grandchildren moved away and then their son did as well. It is now owned by Fred Berlin.

Woodin's Children and Grandchildren

Anne, Libby and Mary Woodin. Their last names became
Harvey, Rowe and Miner. Mary was the eldest, Libby the
youngest child. Photo courtesy of Charlie Miner.
The many stories of the Woodin children and grandchildren are too long to fit into this chapter. It is told in Appendix B.

Briefly, Will and Nan Woodin had four children. One grandchild from each of the four lines of his descendants is still living.

Mary, the eldest child, married Charlie Miner Sr. and lived in New York City, East Hampton and Vero Beach, Fla. Their surviving child is, Charlie Miner Jr., who attended Princeton until the war broke out, trained to be a pilot, and flew a bomber plane over Germany.

The second child, Anne, married a Dr. Harvey and had a daughter Anne who married someone named Gerli. Anne Gerli was a well-known skating also still living.

The third child, William H. ("Willy") Woodin II was an inventor. He married twice. He moved to Arizona because of his health. He had a son Bill Woodin, who remained in Arizona and headed up a museum of desert animals. W. H. Woodin III is still living. He had four sons and brought them all up to be self-sufficient. The youngest son, Hugh Woodin, is at Harvard with a joint appointment to the Mathematics and Philosophy Departments.

The fourth and youngest child, Libby Woodin, married William Wallace ("Wally") Rowe. They met at the Devon Yacht Club. They had two sons - Bill Rowe and Woody Rowe. Bill died recently. Woody Rowe is a student of Buddhism and other philosophies and has written many books of poems. One of his sons is Tom Rowe; the other is a Buddhist priest with the Buddhist name Jampal.

Berwick: The Woodin Mausoleum

Mausoleum of the Woodin Family and
the Crispin Obelisk, Pine Grove Ceme-
tery, Berwick, Pa. Photo by JT Marlin.
In the peaceful Pine Grove Cemetery in Berwick, the Woodin family mausoleum stands out as the grandest of the three mausoleums.

The original Μαυσωλείο της
 Αλικαρνασσού - Mausoleum
of Halicarnassus, c. 350 BCE.

Erected by Clemuel (Clement) Ricketts Woodin (1844-1931), father of Will Woodin, it filled up rapidly in a single decade: Will Woodin's father died in 1931 and his mother in 1933. Will died in 1934 and his wife Nan died seven years later, in 1941. Their names fill four of the eight named burial places in the mausoleum.

Angel of the Lord with Crown and Fronds
 - Woodin Mausoleum. Photo by JT Marlin. 
A mausoleum is named after Mausolos, ruler of Caria and satrap (governor) of the Persian empire in 377-353 BCE. The widow of Mausolos built a tomb that was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. It was located in Halicarnassus - now Bodrum, Turkey -  on the Aegean Sea, but the Crusaders deemed the tomb to be worship of false gods and so, regrettably, destroyed it.

The Woodin mausoleum has an interesting stained glass window in the rear. The angel is coming with palm leaves in her left hand and a crown in her right. This seems to be inspired, or at least "informed", by "Angel Holding Palm and Crown", by Frenchman Jean Honoré Fragonard (1732-1806), whose work is displayed at the Met and Frick in New York. The Fragonard etching is in turn said to be inspired by Italian Annibale Carracci (1560–1609).

The golden crown offered by the angel is shaped a lot like the State Diadem of George IV (regnat 1820-1830) worn by Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth and before them by Queen Victoria.
Queen Elizabeth wears the State
Diadem of George IV.

The point of the art seems to be a three-fold message:
  1. The angel, a symbol of the resurrection tells us that death will reunite us.
  2. Palm fronds, like laurels, symbolize victory over death.
  3. The golden crown is the eternal reward of those who live righteously.
Jackson Crispin Mausoleum. The
Crispins ran the General Store.

It's worth mentioning two mausoleums built after the Woodin mausoleum and presumably influenced by it.

The Jackson Crispin mausoleum is dedicated to a Jackson related to a Crispin, the family that ran the Jackson & Woodin General Store. A Crispin married a Jackson. When Col. Clarence Jackson died in 1880,  his two daughters moved to New York City and the family would have died out except for the marriage to a Crispin. The Crispins continue to live in Berwick and are significant employers in the manufacture of valves for municipal water treatment and water supply infrastructure.
Frederick Eaton was an executive
of ACF in New York in 1899-1916.

The Frederick H. Eaton mausoleum honors the man who became President of ACF and left Berwick for New York City until he died unexpectedly in 1916.

Woodin Cornerstones

Will Woodin's father and grandfather were Free Masons. There are no signs that Will followed suit, but he was at least a "free mason" when as Treasury Secretary he showed up to lay cornerstones of new Federal buildings, at no charge to the locality. Two people have kindly sent me photos of cornerstones laid by Will Woodin when he was Secretary of the Treasury.
Bingham Canyon - cornerstone of new post office building, 1933.
Photo courtesy of MaryAnn B. Naugle.

1.  Bingham Canyon, Utah. The first is in Bingham Canyon, the site of a copper mine maybe still owned by Kennecott Copper in one of the mountains near Salt Lake City, Utah.

The town post office opened in 1870, operating out of a store. In 1907, the first freestanding post office was built and was replaced by a new one in 1933, when public works were the height of fashion. Woodin was conveniently at hand to help with the building's foundation.
Philadelphia Federal building. Will Woodin's great-
granddaughter Charmaine Caldwell (R) and her
granddaughter Kayla. Courtesy of Charmaine Caldwell.

2. Philadelphia, Pa. A cornerstone was laid about the same time at the new office building in Philadelphia. The building was designed by Ritter and Shay.

The inscription in the photo gives full credit to James A. Wetmore and Ritter & Shay for design of the building.

The woman with the yellow jacket who kindly sent me the photo is Charmaine Miner Caldwell, Will Woodin's great-granddaughter,  with her granddaughter Kayla.

The Berwick Estate and Other Property 

When Will Woodin died in 1934, his possessions all went to his wife, with the exception of a fixed amount to each child in addition to settlements previously made for each of them.

After Nan died in 1941, in accordance with her will, James M. Wade of Chase National Bank and Union Co., N.Y., disposed of her assets for the benefit of trusts for the Woodins' children and grandchildren. Wade is identified as a "leading authority on coins". The auctioning of assets was conducted in accordance and in the presence of attorneys for the executor, Hardy, Stancliffe & Hardy.

At least six major auctions over multiple dates going into 1942 were held after Nan Woodin's death, netting probably in excess of $250,000. The homestead in Berwick was sold off.

New York City and East Hampton Properties

The apartment in New York City and the properties in East Hampton were sold off. The East Hampton properties, which after assembly stretched from Lily Pond Lane to the ocean, were subsequently redivided again into three or four units.

Woodin's cousin William C. Dickerman turned out to be loyal to East Hampton until his death. In 1939 he left money to a trust to beautify the Cedar Lawn Cemetery, with the East Hampton Library as a contingent beneficiary should the Cemetery run out of beautification projects. In 1998, the Library questioned how the Cemetery was spending Dickerman's money and the Cemetery settled the case against them with a $100,000 donation to the Library capital campaign to help build the Children's Library. The late Tom Twomey, the Library's Chairman, negotiated the settlement.

Coin Collection

Woodin's collection of pattern coins was world-famous in part because he wrote a book based on it in 1913, a book that a neophyte numismatist is said to have committed to memory. Woodin was a careful collector of coins and would look at his collection every day after dinner, according to his granddaughter Suzanne Phipps Hyatt.

According to the daily newspaper in Bloomsburg, Pa., on February 28, 1942, the auction of this collection was held in New York City in 1941 and netted $127,000. Will Woodin had previously conducted an auction of his coins in 1911, but subsequent to that he rebuilt his collection, which  appears to have been kept intact until the death of his wife Nan in 1941.

Two grandchildren of Will Woodin have mentioned to me that after the death of Will Woodin that the valuation of the estate was less than they expected, and that the executor gave Nan Woodin a very large gift after her husband's death. The gift could have been simply the kindness of the executor and his friendship with both Will and Nan Woodin. But the question arises amidst the disappointment of Will Woodin's heirs: "Could this expensive gift have been conscience money for removal of some items from the estate?"

If this were the case, it does not necessarily mean greed or unlawful behavior by the executor. For example, certain items might have been removed by the executor after Will Woodin's death for good reason. Could the executor have discovered items in the collection that should not have been there, either through Woodin's oversight or his postponement of return of something he should not have kept? Was the executor, perhaps under specific instructions from a dying Will Woodin, have been instructed privately to save the upright Annie Jessup Woodin and her children from the distress of having to deal with issues that would follow from hot items being in the collection after Nan's death?  The removal of some coins, if it happened, might have occurred in 1934. If this is all complete speculation, it has an extensive history. For the puzzle that it addresses, see David Tripp, Illegal Tender (Free Press, Simon & Schuster, 2004), p. 155-157 or Alison Frankel, Double Eagle (W.W. Norton, 2006), pp. 291-292.

If there is any truth to a story attributed to Stephen Nagy in Frankel's book (p. 291) - told by someone whose credibility was preemptively challenged in Tripp's book (p. 156) - FDR is said (source to follow) to have brought home souvenirs that by today's standards and law he should not have brought home. Could Will Woodin (or anyone else in the inner circle) have been overtaken by the Queen Mary Syndrome?


To come

Rare Books and Other Property

1. Rare Books etc. Auction by Parke-Bernet, December 2, 3, 4, 1941. New York City. Parke-Bernet Galleries. Identified in WorldCat (available in print and e-book editions), covering three sets of auction dates.

2. Rare Books etc. Auction by Parke-Bernet Galleries, January 6, 7, 8, 1942. New York City.  Parke-Bernet Galleries. Identified in WorldCat item (available in print and e-book editions)

3. Rare Books etc. Auction , February 27-28, 1942. New York City. Parke-Bernet Galleries. Identified in WorldCat (available in print and e-book editions).

4. Real Estate and Other Items, February 26-27, 1942.  Berwick, Pa.  The auction was conducted by Thomas B. Davis & Son of Reading, in the presence of the executor and the executor's attorneys. The house, called "The Heights", consisted of two mansions and three cottages on 185 acres and was sold to S. E. Fenstermacher of Berwick for $10,000. The farm was sold for $5,000 and three lots for $200. The real estate transactions were handled by Charles E. Hoover of Shamokin. The story is in the Bloomsburg, Pa. daily paper of February 28, 1942.

5. Other Items Auction, March 20-21, 1942. New York City. The auctions were conducted by Parke-Bernet Galleries. Identified in WorldCat.

The Nanin

The Woodin family legend is that the Nanin was donated by Will Woodin's widow Nan to the British for $1, was brought to Dunkirk to rescue British troops, and was sunk by a U-Boat in the English Channel. There is a notation on the back of a photo to this effect, but it says the boat was used in the assault on Normandy.

I could find no evidence for the story. I hoped to believe it was true. As Jules Feiffer reported at Robert Crichton's memorial service, Crichton used to say: "Never investigate an interesting fact."

However glamorous the tale, there are problems of timing and the inconvenient fact that the yacht was located after the war in the American Hemisphere.

There is a record that the Nanin was purchased, probably in 1942, by the U.S. Coast Guard. It was refitted to carry many more people than in its racing days. The boat's registry reports that it was decommissioned after the war, in 1946 and was sold in 1964 for scrap.

Nanin (nee Speejacks in 1915) in Trinidad after World War II. This was
once Will Woodin's boat, after long use by the Coast Guard, which took
the Nanin for its use during the war. Photo by Morris Nicholson, in Dey.
But that is not the end of the story. The Nanin turns up in a book by Harvard-educated Richard Dey, Adventures in the Trade Winds about chartering yachts in the West Indies in the second half of the 20th Century.

The Nanin is identified in the second chapter of the book as having been purchased by a Mr. Woodin "from New York". Dey's book says correctly that the 1940 edition of Lloyd's Register has the yacht listed with Annie Jessup Woodin as the owner. She died the following year, which is when the boat probably went to the Coast Guard. Dey's book confirms that the yacht was then utilized by the Coast Guard, but says the boat was "taken" for coastal patrol purposes, not donated, suggesting that there was some compensation for its taking. Vincent Astor's 264-foot yacht Nourmahal, for example, was commandeered by the Coast Guard in return for compensation of $300,000 (equivalent to $5 million in 2013).

The yacht ended up (the Nanin name still on the stern) in Trinidad as a tugboat after the war - its snazzy bronze propellers gone and its motors replaced by noisy war-vintage GM engines (see Dey, p. 26), and the staff increased to eight to handle the heavy anchor. There is a photo of the postwar Nanin in the book. It looks like a beached whale - or, to change the metaphor, a one-time racehorse that was now yoked to a milk truck. Sic transit gloria mundi.


American Locomotive: Albert Churella, From Steam to Diesel (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1998), 62-63.

Cornerstones: Photo of Bingham Canyon cornerstone was taken by MaryAnn B. Naugle, a member of the Board of the Berwick Historical Society, who gave it to me on April 18 when I was visiting Berwick, with permission to use it. Photo of Philadelphia cornerstone courtesy Charmaine Caldwell.

Coin Collection:  David Tripp, Illegal Tender (Free Press, Simon & Schuster, 2004), 155-157 or Alison Frankel, Double Eagle (W.W. Norton, 2006), 291-292.

Auctions: Several news stories 1941-42.

The Nanin: Lloyd's Register - thanks to Amund ("The Swede") of North Bay Radiator in Southampton for allowing me to consult his large collection of Lloyd's Register annuals. The story of the end of the Nanin is from Richard Dey, Adventures in the Trade Wind. Interviews with descendants of Will Woodin. Photograph of the Nanin in its heyday by Morris Rosenfeld provided to the author by Suzanne Phipps Hyatt.

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