City Bosses in the United States: A Study of Twenty Municipal Bosses

By Harold B. Zink | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER X
"JUDGE" ISRAEL W. DURHAM

Israel W. Durham, generally known as "Judge" or "Iz," was born October 4, 1856, in the Seventh Ward of Philadelphia.1 He came from a fairly large family of slight means, but his brothers and sisters without even ordinary advantages achieved beyond the average in later life. Thomas F. Durham, his father, who seems to have come to Philadelphia from Ireland, was apparently a native of England, while his mother, whose given name was Jane E., had belonged to the Norris family before marriage. Thomas F. Durham carried on a modest flour business as a means of livelihood and died in 1908 at the age of eighty-five years.2

Owing to poverty and perhaps to the thrifty soul of his father Mr. Durham's school career did not extend beyond the grammar grades of the Philadelphia public schools. Then he took a place as apprentice at brick-making. Having learned something about making bricks, he formed a partnership to trade in old barrels. In 1879 he obtained street-cleaning contracts with Thomas Parker and then having acquired an interest in a flour house devoted much of his time for many years to that business. He seems to have attracted a goodly amount of trade, for from such a modest beginning there developed the flour firm of Durham and Company which came to be well known in Philadelphia.3

____________________
1
For this date see Smull Legislative Hand Book and Manual of the State of Pennsylvania, 1900 ( Harrisburg, 1900), p. 121. The Philadelphia Public Ledger, June 29, 1909, p. 1, and the Philadelphia Inquirer, June 29, 1909, p. 2, favor October 24, 1856.
2
Information about the Durham family has been received from Professor J. T. Salter, formerly of the University of Pennsylvania, and from the Philadelphia Bureau of Municipal Research.
3
For additional information on these years in Mr. Durham's life, see Proceedings of the Senate of Pennsylvania in Commemoration of Honorable Israel W. Durham, Late a Senator from the Second District ( Harrisburg, 1911), p. 11.

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