Ralph Beaver Strassburger
1883 - 1959
A BRIEF BIOGRAPHY
Compiled by Ivo A. Strassburger, 2008 from the book
"The Strassburger Family and Allied Families of Pennsylvania"
Private Edition, 1922 and other sources.
RALPH BEAVER STRASSBURGER, publisher and newspaper owner, eldest son of Jacob Andrew Strassburger and his wife, Mary Jane Beaver, was born in Norristown, Pennsylvania, March 26, 1883, and although baptized September 9th of the same year by the Reverend Thomas R. Beeber, pastor of the church of his mother, the First Presbyterian Church of Norristown, he has followed the creed of his father, the old German Reformed faith. His father was a member of the Reformed Church of Schwenkville and his great-grandfather was for forty years a minister at Indian Creek, Tohickon, and other Reformed congregations in Montgomery and Bucks Counties.
............... He received his preliminary education in the public and private schools of Norristown, graduating from the High School in 1899. He then studied at Phillips Exeter Academy, Exeter, New Hampshire, for two years, during which time he secured high honors in athletics, and was selected as a member of the famous football team, in 1900, which defeated Andover 10-6. Every member of this Philips Exeter team subsequently became a member of a leading university team. In 1901, Mr. Strassburger was appointed to the United States Naval Academy by the Honorable I. P. Wanger, from his home district, now the Eighth Congressional District of Pennsylvania.
After two years at sea, he received promotion to the rank of Ensign. He next saw service on the U. S. Battleship Connecticut, under command of Admiral Robley D. Evans, and was attached to the Presidential yacht Mayflower of the United States Navy, in 1907, during the incumbency of the late Theodore Roosevelt.
Postcard of the USS Connecticut.
Strassburger also served on the fast scout cruiser Birmingham during
the conduct of the competitive engineering tests between the United
States Cruiser Salem and the U. S. S. Chester.
May 11, 1911, Mr. Strassburger was married by the Reverend H. Bertie
Roberts, at the Church of St. John the Divine, West Wickham, County
Kent, England, to May Bourne, daughter of Commodore Frederick G. Bourne
and his wife, Emma Sparks Keeler, of New York. Commodore Bourne was
born December 2O,1851, and died March 9,1919. He was President of
the Singer Manufacturing Company and resided on his beautiful estate
at Oakdale, Long Island.
.Always active and influential in Republican politics, Mr. Strassburger has been prominent as an ardent party supporter and follower of the regular Republican State organization. In 1914, he was a candidate for the United States House of Representatives in the Republican primaries, but was defeated by Honorable Henry W. Watson by a slight majority.
In 1914, immediately after the outbreak of the European War, he foresaw that the ultimate position that America would occupy would be either that she would be forced into the great conflict or else be compelled to take extreme protective measures. Being a strong believer that the best defensive method for America to assume would be the building up and the strengthening of the Navy rather than the forming of a large Army, he joined the Navy League. Shortly he was elected to the Board of Directors and became a member of the Executive Committee of that Board. The Navy League was more or less a social organization at the time of his entrance into it, but in a short space of time he collected a large amount of money from his friends in New York, and at a famous luncheon given at the down town club, $20,000 was subscribed for an educational campaign. This was really the starting of the Preparedness movement. At that time the Preparedness idea had not been much thought of, and none of the numerous societies which sprang up later, such as the National Security League and the American Defense Society, were even in existence and the fundamental work which was carried on was against the violent opposition of the Carnegie Peace Society, and it was necessary to literally force the news items into the papers throughout the country. The work which had been done by the Carnegie Peace Society had borne fruit and a popular song at that time was "I did not Raise My Boy to be a Soldier."
These efforts of Mr. Strassburger, who was much younger than his colleagues, were in opposition to the views of certain older members of the Board; but in the dispute which subsequently arose, Mr. Strassburger won out after a bitter contest. He was also instrumental in the suggesting and calling of a committee to formulate plans for the association of Reserve Officers of the Navy, which afterwards grew into the great organization which furnished the reserve officers during America's participation in the war. As early as February, 1917, at the time of the rupture of diplomatic relations between this country and Germany, he immediately offered his services to the Navy Department at Washington, and was assigned to the U. S. Naval Intelligence Division. He also saw service on the Overseas Transport Louisville, and later was assigned to special duty in connection with the Fourth Naval District. He received a letter of commendation from the Secretary of the Navy for his services during the war.
In December, 1919, again foreseeing the serious results which would ensue from American participation in the League of Nations, he entered actively into the discussion as to whether or not the United States should follow the Wilsonian policy and enter the League of Nations and ratify the Treaty of Versailles. He was a strong supporter of the Knox plan and that group of patriots who were characterized as "Irreconcilables" by the Wilsonian Democrats; was a large financial contributor to the first meetings which were held throughout the country against the League, and participated actively in the management of this campaign. An ardent supporter of Senator Knox, of Pennsylvania, Mr. Strassburger would have supported him for the Presidency; but upon Senator Knox's announcement that he would not be a candidate, he followed Knox's suggestion and took an active part in the management and underwrote the campaign of Senator Hiram W. Johnson, of California, in the fight on the League. The success of this campaign, because of the issue involved and the campaigning ability of Mr. Johnson himself, was remarkable. In contradiction to the methods in use by the Wood and Lowden forces its conduct was notably efficient and economical as shown by the fact that while the Wood forces were spending over $2,000,000 the Johnson campaign was managed for about $200,000. It was shown by the Senate Investigating Committee that Mr. Strassburger was the main contributor to the Johnson campaign and one of the most active in its management. In November, 1920, he accompanied Senator Medill McCormick, of Illinois, on a trip to Geneva, at which time they attended the first meeting of the League of Nations. Subsequently they visited Vienna, Budapest, Prague, Warsaw, Berlin, Rome, Brussels, Paris, and London, meeting on this trip practically every statesman of note and gaining much information as to the condition and ideals of these various nations. As a result they returned fully satisfied that the stand which they had taken regarding the League was the correct one.
Mr. Strassburger's estate, Normandy Farm, at Franklinville, Gwynedd Valley, Pennsylvania, is one of the most extensive in the state, comprising nearly one thousand acres, and over thirty houses and barns, one of the latter being five hundred feet in length. The farm is devoted chiefly to the raising of thoroughbreds and hunting horses. Among some of the horses are "Panacea" (Peter Pan-Mint Cake) from James R. Keene's stud in Kentucky; "Gingersnap Second," a granddaughter of "Meddler" and brought from the Haras de Fresnay, France, owned by Clarence H. Mac Kay ; and "Wolverton II," winner of the Radnor Hunt Cup, Rose Tree Hunt Cup, Fox Hall Cup, Monkton (Maryland), defeating thirty of the best point-to-point horses in America. ...............
Mr. Strassburger is the owner and publisher of the Norristown Herald, one of the oldest dailies in the State of Pennsylvania, having been founded in 1799. There have been but four or five owners of this paper during its 123 years of existence. It is one of the best known dailies in the country and is renowned for its conservative editorials and its support of the principles of the Republican Party.
He is a Councilor of the Colonial Society of Pennsylvania,
Mr. and Mrs. Strassburger have one child, a son, Johann Andreas Peter Strassburger, named for his great-great-great-great grandfather, Johann Andreas Strassburger, the pioneer ancestor who came to this country from Ober Ingelheim, Germany, in 1742.
JOHANN ANDREAS PETER STRASSBURGER, only child of Ralph Beaver and May Bourne Strassburger, was born January 3, 1916, and is therefore but six years of age as this book goes to press. He is a typical American boy, showing even thus early every indication that in time he will grow into a worthy representative of the long line of worthy ancestors, whose lives and deeds it has been the aim of this book to record and preserve. (se notes below)
ADDITIONS and ACTUALIZATION
ANCESTORS OF RALPH BEAVER STRASSBURGER
.......... Ralph Beaver Strassburger was born in Norristown, Pennsylvania, on March 26, 1883 and died in Paris, France on February 26, 1959. He was an American businessman, who was also a prominent Thoroughbred racehorse owner and breeder.
Educated at Phillips Exeter Academy in Exeter, New Hampshire, he graduated
from the United States Naval Academy in 1905 and served in the U.S.
Navy until 1909. He then went into business and in 1911 married May
Bourne, the daughter of Frederick Gilbert Bourne, president of the
Singer Sewing Machine Company. An unsuccessful candidate for the United
States House of Representatives in the elections of 1914, following
America's entry in World War I he rejoined the Navy and served as
a transport officer until being discharged in 1919.
.........Normandy Farm is well known to many by the massive barn and its three silos that peer over the red and white structure’s metallic roof. The white wall of stucco-covered stone, with its distinctive peaked gates, has surrounded the property for over 75 years, adding to the seclusion and mystique of this historic American landmark. Behind this wall lies something very impressive but rarely seen up close. We invite you to read about the history of the property, the barn, and its heritage as a landmark in American engineering and culture.
European Thoroughbred horse racing
............ To avoid seizure by the
Nazis during the German occupation of France during World War II,
all of the Strassburger horses raced under the name of a French friend,
Mme. de Bonard. Among the Strassburgers' major successes were victories
in both the French and British Classic Races as well as in the prestigious
Washington, D.C. International Stakes in the United States.
1920 - Republican National Convention, Chicago, R. B. Strassburger and A. P. Moore (right)
Chicago Daily News negatives collection,. Courtesy of the Chicago Historical Society.
.............. Ralph Beaver Strassburger enter in the newspaper business. He acquired the Norristown Herald in 1921 and the Norristown Times in 1922. In 1923, he consolidated the two papers and the “Times Herald” was born which still operates to this day.
"...The village of Norris was founded by Isaac Norris, a Quaker merchant and mayor of Philadelphia, and his family in 1704. More than a century later, on March 31, 1812, Norristown was officially incorporated as a Pennsylvania state borough, and it was the first borough to be incorporated in Montgomery County. Laid out along the banks of the Schuylkill River, both business and the community prospered. Over the years, the area has attracted business and visitors alike, including a visit in 1960 from John F. Kennedy. Norristown offers a delightful flashback to the fascinating history of this community through vintage photographs from area residents and organizations..."
"...Strassburger Prize Sirs: A jury composed of Professor Albert Einstein, Thomas Mann and Jakob Wassermann, representing the German branch of the Strassburger Foundation has awarded the annual prize of the Foundation for 1932 to Walther Reinhardt, German Consul in
.... Monday, Apr. 18, 1932
Seattle,Wash., for his book George Washington, published in Frankfurt am Rhein. The object of the Strassburger Foundation is to further good relations between the U. S. and several European countries.
.......It has branches in France, Germany, Austria and Hungary. Its French jury is composed of Andre Maurois, M. Francois-Poncet, French Ambassador to Berlin, and others. Annual prizes of $1,000 in these countries are awarded to authors and journalists who made the most meritorious contribution to the cause of friendship with the U. S. during the year. M. MACMILLAX General Secretary Strassburger Foundation New York City Founded by Ralph Beaver Strassburger, active publicist, socialite, sportsman and Republican of Norristown, Pa., Strassburger Awards have been given since 1929..."
photo to the right shows Warren Jones in New York watching
the signature of his client Ralph Beaver Strassburger,
being transmitted by wire from London. The photo is undated.
books and publications by
The Strassburger family and allied families of Pennsylvania:
Being the ancestry of Jacob Andrew Strassburger, esquire, of Montgomery
county, Pennsylvania, printed for private circulation, in 1922.
- Our judiciary: Montgomery County's judiciary.
- Pennsylvania German Pioneers. A Publication of the Original Lists of Arrivals in the Port of Philadelphia from 1727 to 1808. In Three Volumes: Edited By William John Hinke. Published: 1934
............ Of importance to historians and genealogists is Strassburger's book Pennsylvania German Pioneers: a publication of the original lists of arrival in the Port of Philadelphia from 1727 to 1808 published in 1934 in three volumes. This book is regarded as the "Bible" of all the historians of the American immigration and genealogy researchers.
............ Since its publication in 1934 almost two generations ago Strassburger and Hinke's Pennsylvania German Pioneers has been the cornerstone, virtually the bible, of all Pennsylvania German genealogical research. Its three volumes contain the verbatim passenger lists, including the original signatures, of virtually all of the 30,000 heads of German-speaking families who arrived in the port of Philadelphia during the fifty years prior to the American Revolution. The total of 65,000 passengers covered in these lists represent roughly two-thirds of all German-speaking immigrants who arrived in American during the almost one hundred years 1683-1775!
............"In completeness and accuracy these lists easily surpass all those that have gone before. In order to enable the genealogist to settle disputed spellings for himself, the entire second volume of the publication has been given over to the reproduction in facsimile of all available signatures. It is a model in method, in the accomplishment of its aim, in setting a standard for future works of this kind." - The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography (1935).
NOTES ABOUT JOHANN ANDREAS PETER STRASSBURGER:
Born on 3-JAN-1916 and died in ?? April 1993, the only son of Ralph B. Strassburger.
Below a transcript of part of a writing of Cristopher McDougall,
" Welcome to the Machine",
published on the site: http://www.citypaper.net/articles/121798/coverstory.shtml
" ...For decades, the 200-year-old Times-Herald was the pet possession of the wealthy Strassburger family. It was passed down through the generations to Johann Andreas Peter Strassburger, the clan's mildly eccentric recluse.
Though he shrank from people, Strassburger apparently liked the public well enough to maintain their hometown paper. Pay was good, benefits were generous—and when plant jobs disappeared over the years as Lee Tires moved south and nearby Alanwood Steel closed, the Times-Herald was there to capture Norristown's deterioration from bustling borough seat into crumbling town center supporting little more than a huge, baronial courthouse and suburbs such as Blue Bell.
Poverty, wealth; booming 'burbs and a struggling downtown; union pride, vanishing jobs—Norristown had all the classic strife of a great news town. The paper was no great prizewinner: a database upgrade by the Pennsylvania Newspaper Publishers' Association makes a complete record currently unavailable, but even former editor Terry Brady recalls few reporting awards; in the last four years, under JRC's tenure, it has won two second places for spot news and a sports column. But the Times-Herald of the Strassburger era was professionally written, well-informed and kept its teeth in local issues and events.
"It was a good, sociable read," says former ad salesman Mark Murphy. "People got their financial and international news from the Inquirer in the morning, and their hometown stuff from the Times-Herald at the end of the day." Adds Brady, "If there was a meeting anywhere in the county that night, you could be sure to read about it the next day."
that changed after Strassburger died a childless bachelor in April
1993. The paper was inherited by distant cousins who ordered it sold,
and the new owners were soon sending in the "stiff suits from
Trenton," as Fennell put it..."