Title: Co-founder of Mount Moriah Cemetery; attorney, publisher, politician
Birthdate: August 15, 1814
Death Date: February 24, 1879
Plot Location: Section 36, Lots 26 & 28
Each of the officials of Mount Moriah Cemetery Association (the organization that founded Mount Moriah and ran the cemetery until it closed) led noteworthy lives, and through their individual life stories the history of this hallowed ground is revealed. Follow the links provided to see how each life story connects with the others, and learn more about the unique place entrusted to their care.
The Wallaces were Philadelphia Quakers, so young Henry attended schools operated by the Society of Friends. The most notable aspect of his young adult life was that he was entirely self-taught in the field of law.
After his Quaker schooling was over, he worked at a drugstore on North Fifth Street owned by a Mr. Baker, who spent most of his daytime hours studying law at an attorney’s office. He left his books at the store, so Henry would read them when Mr. Baker wasn’t there. There were no instructors, lectures, or tests, just his own motivation to learn. He learned enough over the next two years to pass the bar exam when he was 21.
Henry took a detour in his career path and worked briefly as an engineer on the Beaver and Erie Canal in western Pennsylvania. But it wasn’t long until he put his learning to good use. He set up his law practice to literally “practice” representing clients. He rented an office where he was living in New Castle, Pennsylvania near the Ohio border. It turned out to provide good experience and also build his confidence. That lasted about a year before he realized business would be much better in the city, so he returned to Philadelphia in 1842.
Things were much better indeed, especially after he married Hetty Dungan Potts on August 13, 1842. In terms of social standing, she was quite a catch. She was a Daughter of the American Revolution because her grandfather, Jesse Dungan, was in the Fourth Associated Company of Northampton and Bucks County. Her father’s name being Potts, she is linked to John K. Potts (1710-1768), founder of iron mines and forges and the city of Pottstown, Pennsylvania. (His great-great grandson bore his name and was buried at Mount Moriah; his Notable life story can be found here.)
That same year Henry established the Pennsylvania Law Journal, the first law periodical started in the United States. Two years later he founded The Legal Intelligencer to report on court decisions and legal news. He continued to edit and publish both journals while also practicing law for the next five years.
The paper changed hands in 1852 when it was owned by Robert P. King, whose printing company, King & Baird, published it. Henry remained editor and after two years resumed ownership of it until his death. (It is still published today in Philadelphia, in print and online at law.com)
Meanwhile, the Wallaces had two boys and two girls, and the 1860 census shows they had the help of three domestic servants. He took an interest in local politics, as lawyers often do. The Whig Party seated him as a delegate to their conventions in the early 1850s. In 1860 he won the nomination to run for his district’s seat at the State Legislature but lost the election.
Lawyers were known to make a lot of money then, as now, and Henry found several places to put his. He was a founding investor in coal and oil companies, the Germantown Passenger Railway Co., and the Philadelphia & Montana Gold & Silver Mining Co. Because his publication reported on “Sheriff’s Sales” of repossessed land to be sold by court order, he took part in a lot of real estate speculation.
One sale came up in 1853 for 155 acres of land on the southwestern border of Philadelphia County. He and two partners bought it and formed the Mount Moriah Cemetery Association. One partner was William B. Johns who shortly sold back his interest. The other was George C. Connell, who was studying law in Henry’s office and was a real estate developer. (Follow George’s Notable life story here.)
Robert King was an investor and became the first president in 1854. The three of them also socialized together as members of the Masonic Order. (Robert was buried at Mount Moriah in 1868, and his own Notable life story can be found here.)
The incorporation was approved by the state legislature in early 1855, and additional land purchases followed. Henry remained busy with editing and publishing and practicing law while George won election to the state Senate in 1859, serving there until his death in 1871. Years later Henry looked into how things were being handled at the cemetery by George’s wife and son, Horatio Pennock Connell, and didn’t like what he learned.
He filed a lawsuit in December, 1877, stating that George told him the operation was never profitable and that’s why he saw nothing in return for his investment. Henry said he had since learned that George’s wife Elizabeth claimed to own it all, individually and as executrix of the estate of George Connell. Henry sued, claiming half the property was his, along with half the profits.
The suit was dropped when the parties agreed the land belonged to the Mount Moriah Cemetery Association and certain business procedures would be conducted more openly. Henry died a month later and was succeeded at his law practice by his oldest son, James Madison Power Wallace. He later served for several years on the cemetery’s Board of Incorporators until his death in 1907. Ownership of The Legal Intelligencer was passed to others.
Horatio only held the position of secretary to the board, and later treasurer, but he remained firmly in control of the cemetery. His Notable life story, and the rest of the cemetery’s story, can be found here.
Buried here with Henry and Hetty are their two sons, James and Henry Jr., with their wives and some of their children.
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