Sunday, January 11, 2009

A Biographical Sketch of Jeremiah Fruin

This biographical sketch of Jeremiah Fruin, of the Empire Club, appears in Encyclopedia of the history of St. Louis:

Fruin, Jeremiah, who has constructed a large share of the public works of St. Louis, and who has been, literally as well as in its broadest significance, one of the builders of the city, was born in the picturesque Glen of Aherlow, County Tipperary, Ireland in the year 1831. His parents were John and Catharine (Baker) Fruin, who came to the United States when the son was two years of age, and settled in the city of Brooklyn, New York. His father was a graduate of Maynooth College, an intelligent and successful man of affairs, who was actively engaged for many years in the construction of public works in Brooklyn and elsewhere as a contractor. He died in Brooklyn in 1861, and both he and his wife, who died some six years later, are buried in Holy Cross cemetery of that city. Jeremiah Fruin was educated in the public schools of Brooklyn, and when he was sixteen years old became associated with his father in business. He remained in Brooklyn until 1860, and as a young man was an active spirit, identified with many organizations around which cluster historic associations of more than ordinary interest. Among these was the famous "Water Witch Hose Company, No. 8," which, in the old days of the volunteer fire department, was the pride of Brooklyn. He was captain also of Company E of the Seventy-second Regiment of National Guards, of Brooklyn, and belonged to the old-time "Charter Oaks Base Ball Club," of that city. His interest in base ball was not left behind when he came West and in later years, when he was actively engaged in business for himself, he was captain of the old "Empire Ball Club," of St. Louis. Leaving Brooklyn in 1860, he first went to New Orleans, but remained there only a short time, and then came to St. Louis. This was on the eve of the War of 1861-5, and he did not become regularly engaged in business for himself until after the war closed. During the war he was connected with the Quartermaster's Department of the Union Army, and most of the time was stationed in St. Louis. When this connection ended he became engaged in the construction of sewers and grading of streets under contract with the city of St. Louis, and for thirty years he has been largely engaged in work of this character, and of a kindred nature. A large part of the contract work in connection with the building of the great system of street railways, which now traverse the city in every direction, has been done under his supervision, and, from time to time, he has furnished to the laboring classes of the city a vast amount of employment. In 1872 he formed a partnership with W.H. Swift, under which he engaged extensively in contracting, and in 1885 was organized the Fruin-Bambrick Construction Company, a corporation with W.H. Swift, president; J. Fruin, vice-president, and P. Bambrick, secretary; which, in addition to operating stone quarries in St. Louis, has engaged largely in the construction of railroads and other public works. The operations of the Fruin-Bambrick Construction company have extended from the Indian territory to the Atlantic Coast, and in 1897 it had contracts for building a large masonry dam at Holyoke, Massachusetts, and laying several asphaltum street pavements in the cities of New York and Brooklyn. It has engaged also in the construction of city water works in some of the larger and many of the smaller cities of the country, and the enterprise is one which has made Mr. Fruin and his associates widely known throughout the country. As a citizen of St. Louis Mr. Fruin has always taken an active interest in public affairs, and during the years of 1895 and 1896 he served as one of the police commissioners of the city. In politics he has been identified with the Democratic party, contributing to its success, and wielding an important influence in the party councils. He is a member of the Masonic order and a Knight Templar, and a member also of the Royal Arcanum. In 1856 he was married to Miss Catharine Carroll, of Brooklyn, New York, and has two children, a son and a daughter.

1 comment:

kcape@cfl.rr.com said...

Jeremiah Fruin is a ancestor of mine, he was an older cousin of my paternal grandmother, Mary Josephine (Fruin)O'Keefe. Thanks for article...I'm sending it to my dad.

Kathleen E. O'Keefe Cape