century association biographical archive

Earliest Members of the Century Association

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James W. Ellsworth

Coal Mine Owner/Collector

Centurion, 1894–1925

Full Name James William Ellsworth

Born 13 October 1849 in Hudson, Ohio

Died 2 June 1925 in Florence, Italy

Buried Markillie Cemetery, Hudson, Ohio

Proposed by Thomas B. Clarke and Horace W. Robbins

Elected 6 October 1894 at age forty-four

Archivist’s Note: Father of Lincoln Ellsworth

Proposer of:

Century Memorial

In a different field from that which Stoeckel cultivated, James William Ellsworth presented a very similar picture of what the well-to-do American can contribute, through the wise use of his private fortune, to the progress of his country in culture and intelligence. During the whole of a busy industrial career, Ellsworth at no moment failed to have in his hands the guiding responsibility to some public enterprise wholly apart from his private interests. In its earliest days he was an active promoter of the park and boulevard system of Chicago; he was organizer and financial supporter of the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893; he always led the movement for better schools and model towns. He personally defrayed the cost of Amundsen’s aerial flight from Norway to the Arctic in 1925; on which occasion his son [Lincoln Ellsworth], also a fellow-Centurion, piloted one of the planes.

Nor was Ellsworth only a utilitarian reformer. As a bibliophile his collection of books and manuscripts, including a Gutenberg Bible of 1455, was one of this country’s rare collections. He had gathered probably the largest collection of Inness landscapes in any private gallery. His Chinese porcelains, Oriental rugs, and ancient Greek statuettes and tapestries, and his remarkable collection of clocks, marked the scope of his artistic taste, which its most appropriate expression in his purchase and restoration, twenty years ago, of the famous Villa Palmieri at Florence, where he lived for part of the year in all his later life.

Alexander Dana Noyes
1926 Century Association Yearbook