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Notable Alumni

ACHESON, Edward Goodrich, born on March 9, 1856 in Washington, Pennsylvania. Edward attended the Bellefonte Academy for three years, 1870, 1871 & 1872.  The economic depression of the 1870's brought his formal education to an abrupt end when he was only sixteen years of age with Bellefonte Academy being is complete formal education. Young Acheson then went to work as a time-keeper at Monticello Furnace, a blast furnace, where he developed his first invention, a drilling machine for coal mining. At the ripe age of seventeen, Edward G. Acheson was granted his first patent.

Edward G. Acheson devoted all of his spare time to studying and experimenting in chemistry and electricity. His research would bring about the development of a small dynamo in 1879. Acheson would later learn the dynamo was nearly identical to one developed by Werner von Siemens, whose work was unknown to Acheson at the time. Acheson became so captivated with electrical work that he left his well-paying job as a tank gauger, and in September 1880, accepted work in Thomas A. Edison's Menlo Park laboratory for only one-third of what he had formerly been paid. Acheson was hired as a draftsman, but Edison soon put him to work on a graphite filament for the incandescent lamp.

During the years 1881 - 1883, E. G. Acheson worked as an assistant engineer for the Edison enterprises in Europe. In that capacity, he supervised the construction of the first electric light systems for Paris, Milan, Antwerp, Amsterdam, and Brussels. After the completion of this work, Acheson returned to the United States to work as the superintendent of the Consolidated Lamp Company, of Brooklyn during 1884 and 1885.
In 1885, Edward Acheson invented an anti-induction telephone wire, the patents for which he subsequently sold to George Westinghouse. Using the funds which he received for the patents, he resumed the electro-chemical experiments which he had pursued earlier in his life.

In March, 1891, Acheson created an abrasive second only to the diamond in hardness. He named this chemical compound, which was silicide of carbon, "carborundum." The thermo-chemical process involved in making carborundum was patented on February 28, 1893.

In September of 1891, Edward G. Acheson organized The Carborundum Company, and built a small plant in Monongahela City, Pennsylvania. By 1895, the demand for carborundum was great enough to warrant the construction of a much larger plant in Niagara Falls. This new plant would house what was for a time the largest electrical furnace in the world.

In 1908 the American Academy of Arts and Sciences awarded Dr. Acheson the Count Rumford Medal for his applications of heat in the electric furnace for industrial purposes. He was awarded the John Scott Medal by the Franklin Institute in 1894 for the invention of carborundum, and in 1901 for the invention of artificial graphite. Dr. Acheson also received the Grand Prix at the Exposition Universelle Internationale, Paris in 1900, the Gold Medal at Pan-American Exposition of 1901 for artificial graphite, and the Grand Prize at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in 1904 for carborundum and artificial graphite. The honorary degree of Doctor of Science was awarded to Edward Acheson by the University of Pittsburgh in February, 1909.

In 1926, the United States Patent Office selected silicon carbide (carborundum) as one of the seventeen inventions most responsible for our industrial age. Without silicon carbide, the manufacture of precision-ground, interchangeable metal parts, essential to economical, large-scale mass production, would have been virtually impossible.
Edward Goodrich Acheson died on July 6, 1931.

BEAVER, Gilbert, a leader in national Y.M.C.A. activities

BEAVER, Hugh McAllister, second son of Pennsylvania Governor, James Beaver.  Although he lived a short life, Hugh was active in the activities of the Y.M.C.A.

BOWER, John J., Esq., also a graduate of Franklin and Marshall College, Mayor of Bellefonte.

BRACHBILL, W. R., one of the first graduates of the Bellefonte Academy under the principalship of Rev. J. R. Hughes, furniture dealer in Bellefonte.

BURNSIDE, James, graduated from Bellefonte Academy in 1824, and from Dickinson College highest honors in 1828. 

In October, 1844, be was elected member of the Assembly, and re-elected in 1845. While in this position he gave proof of great ability.  His speech, Feb. 3, 1846, upon an amendment which he proposed to the State Constitution in favor of biennial sessions of the Legislature was a particularly able effort.

He was married June 2, 1848, to Rachel, daughter of Hon. Simon Cameron.

When the Twenty-fifth Judicial District was formed, Governor Bigler commissioned him its first judge, April 20, 1853, and in October he was elected without opposition to the same position.

CURTIN, Andrew, Governor of Pennsylvania, January 15, 1861 to January 15, 1867.  Republican.  The great "Civil War Governor." Lifetime resident of Bellefonte.  Member, Bellefonte Borough School Board and Centre County Bar.  Secretary of the Commonwealth, 1855-58.  U. S. Minister to Russia, 1869-72; served in the U. S. House of Representatives as a Democrat from 1881 to 1887.

CURTIN, Austin

CURTIN, Roland I.,
graduated from the Bellefonte Academy in 1892 and received the appointment of a cadet at the U. S. Naval Academy at Annapolis. He graduated with honors and the rank of an Ensign in 1896 and was assigned to the cruiser Brooklyn and went with that ship to the Queen's jubilee at London. At the breaking out of the Spanish - American war Ensign Curtin was assigned to the Wasp, a gunboat, and won considerable notoriety by demanding the surrender of Paunce, Porto Rico, by telephone which was complied with and everything arranged over the wires without a gun being fired.

In 1906 while serving on the torpedo boat Lawrence there was an explosion in the magazine in which several men were killed and a number of stokers badly wounded. The engine room caught fire and Ensign Curtin again distinguished himself by carrying eight or ten injured men from the room to the deck. For this act of heroism he received the thanks and commendation of the Navy Department. He was ordnance officer on the Alabama when that battleship formed part of the fleet that made the trip around the world. After visiting most of the foreign parts scheduled on the trip the battleship Arkansas was ordered home a few weeks in advance of he fleet and Curtin was transferred to it as ordnance officer. In 1909 he was assigned to the Minnesota and took part in the Hudson - Foote celebration at New York city. Shortly thereafter he was relieved of sea duty and ordered to Annapolis where he was put in charge of ordnance and gunnery at the Naval Academy, a position he occupied three years. A little over a year ago he was assigned to the cruiser Pittsburgh, lying off San Francisco the same having been ordered south on account of the trouble in Mexico. He was later ordered to Annapolis where he was assigned the work of revising a book on "firing", and also to write a new book on the same subject.

DALE, Judge Arthur C.

DORWORTH, Charles E., attended Bellefonte Academy during the late 1890s.  He began his newspaper career with the Philadelphia Inquirer covering the campaign for Pennsylvania Governor of Daniel Hastings of Bellefonte.  Mr. Dorworth then joined the staff of the Philadelphia Press. Even later he went with the Pittsburgh Times.  While with the "Pittsburgh Times", he served as political editor until 1909. He then resigned and moved to Bellefonte. He purchased the Bellefonte Republican and served as its editor until 1930, at which time this publication was dissolved.

In 1921, Governor William C. Sproul appointed Charles a member of the Pennsylvania Water Supply Commission, and he was subsequently chosen Chairman of that body.

In 1927, Governor John S. Fisher appointed Mr. Dorworth to his cabinet in the capacity of Secretary of Forests and Waters, in which position he served throughout Governor Fisher's four-year term. Other honors included the following appointments: appointment to the State Executive Board; Chairman of the State Water and Power Resources Board; Chairman of the State Geographic Board; Chairman of the State Forest Commission; and a member of the State Sanitary Water Board.

FAIRLAMB, Dr. George Ashbridge, graduated from Bellefonte Academy about 1840.  George was also a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania in 1848.  He then returned to Bellefonte and practiced with Dr. James Dobbins until the Civil War.  At the outbreak of the Civil War, George raised company H, 148th Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteers.  He suffered several wounds during the war and was captured by the confederates, he was held for over six months at the infamous Libby Prison.  After the end of the war, George was appointed examining physician at the Lazaretto Quarantine Station near Philadelphia.  He then returned to Bellefonte and his practice, retiring after a short time and died in 1908.

FLEMING, Judge M. Ward

FREE, Dr. Edward, for many years Editor in Chief of the Scientific American.  Latter head of the Franklin Institute lecture bureau, Philadelphia, PA

FURST, Austin Owen, born in Bellefonte, attended Bellefonte Academy and graduated from Gillman School in Baltimore. He received a B.A. degree from Princeton University and an L.L.B. degree from Dickinson School of Law, Carlisle, Pa. He served in the Army Air Corps during World War II and attained the rank of major.  He returned to Bellefonte in 1945 and became the third generation of his family to practice law there. He retired from the practice of law in 1993.

He was a member of the Centre County, Pennsylvania and American Bar associations and was on the Board of Governors of the Pennsylvania Bar Association from 1973-1975. He was president of the Centre County Bar Association and on the Board of Directors of Keystone Legal Services

FURST, James C, Judge

FURST, W. S., Esq., 1886, prominent lawyer of Philadelphia

GARBRICK, Prof. Clarence A., in 1903 Clarence became professor of mathematics and German in the Eastern Academy on north Broad St., Philadelphia,  eventually was known as a leading educator in the Philadelphia public schools.

GEPHART, J. Wesley, was the first student prepared for college by Rev. James P. Hughes after taking charge of the Bellefonte Academy.  He graduated from Princeton College with honors in 1874. 

Wesley was the law partner of former Pennsylvania Governor James Beaver.  He was president of Bellefonte Furnace and a major stockholder in the Nittany Furnace.  It was through his energy that the Central Railroad of Pennsylvania was pushed to completion and he became the General Superintendent.

GLENN, Reuben Meek, After graduating from the Bellefonte Academy, Reuben managed the College hardware store.

He then went to Bradford and started work as an oil driller.  He had been there only a short time when the oil boom broke at Tulsa, Oklahoma, and in company with a number of other men from Bradford went to the new Eldorado and got on the ground when there was great demand for his services, with the result that he became quite successful.

When oil was discovered in Texas he transferred his operations to that State.  In 1926 oil was discovered at Borger, Texas, near the Mexican boarder.  Mr. Glenn went there to continue his drilling operations in what was proving one of the biggest oil fields in the country.

Reuben died in 1927

GREEN, F. Potts, attended Bellefonte Academy in the mid 1840s, under Prof. Philips.  At the age of 13 he enrolled in Lewisburg University (now Bucknell University).  He did not graduate, but instead studied pharmacy at the drug store of Dr. Thornson at Lewisburg in 1853.  In the fall of that year he returned to Bellefonte, working in the drug store of Rev. George Miles.  He purchased the store a few years later and for over 50 years, he was one of the leading pharmacists in Bellefonte.

GREGG, Andrew,

GRAY, John Purdue, a 1842 graduate of Bellefonte Academy, John entered Dickinson College. While at the College he was a member of the Union Philosophical Society. Upon graduation with the Class of 1846 he studied medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and by 1848 had earned his M.D. After serving his residency at Philadelphia's Blockley Hospital, in 1850 Gray took the position of assistant superintendent at the Utica State Lunatic Asylum in New York State and in 1853 became acting superintendent. After serving as head of the new Michigan state asylum at Kalamazoo for a short time, he returned to Utica as the permanent director of the institution in 1854 at the age of twenty-nine and remained in that post until his death. In a matter of years he built a reputation for innovation and reform, introducing systematic recording of case notes and postmortem examinations as a routine. Gray began to deviate from the notion that mental illness was a result of moral and physical weakness, and instead tended towards an explanation which stressed the effects of inheritance and environment. At Utica fresh air and exercise replaced restraint and forced feeding. He also became an avid promoter of the extension of mental health treatment to the poor, although in 1858 he took over the private treatment of the millionaire reformer and abolitionist Garrit Smith, who had suffered a nervous breakdown after being falsely implicated in preparations for John Brown's raid on Harper's Ferry. By the time of the Civil War, Gray was one of the best known psychiatrists in the country, as well as editor of the American Journal of Insanity and a government advisor to President Lincoln. Along with his continued work at Utica, he was appointed professor of psychological medicine and jurisprudence at Bellevue Medical College in 1874, and at Albany Medical College two years later.

Disliked by some for his autocratic use of his powerful connections, Gray was a well known and highly successful expert witness in trials concerning insanity. In 1865 he had examined one of the men implicated in Lincoln's assassination. Weighing 300 pounds, he possessed a commanding physical presence on the stand; his expertise added to his overall stature. Gray's most notable court appearance was as a witness for the prosecution at the trial of Charles Guiteau for the murder of President James Garfield, in which the accused entered one of the first ever innocent "by reason of insanity" pleas in United States legal history. Such was Gray's reputation that both sides agreed to abide by his judgment after examination as to whether or not Guiteau was fit for trial. During the trial, from November 1881 to March 1882, Gray steadfastly argued that Guiteau was sane at the time of the assassination. He backed his assertion with clear testimony bolstered with an impressive array of notes taken in interviews with the accused. Few ever believed that Guiteau would escape conviction, and ironically his post mortem examination showed that indeed he was suffering from a form of syphilis of the brain.

Ironically, John Gray was shot and wounded in the face by one of his own patients, Henry Remshaw, on March 16, 1882 soon after the close of the trial. He spent an extended period of convalescence away from New York but never completely recovered; he died on November 29, 1886, soon after resuming his work at the asylum.


HACKETT, Judge Ray,

HALL, H. G., former member of the PA Legislature

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Latest Update
20 November 2004

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