Elmer Lawrence Corthell

Corthell Genealogy of Hingham to South Abington, Massachusetts

HON. WILLIAM P. CORTHELL, deceased, of South Abington (now Whitman), came of a family that has given strong men to the nation – men of character and intelligence, men who have aided in the advancement of civilization and science, and have left the world better for their having lived.

Of the first generation of the Corthell family in America there are records somewhat contradictory. In a Bible printed in London, England, in 1743 (now owned by Robert Corthell, of South Weymouth), and brought to this country by Robert Corthell (born 1720) in his youth, is the following record: Robert Corthell and Deborah Tower were married Oct. 15, 1708, and lived together twenty-eight years, four months, twenty days. Robert died March 4, 1736-37, in the forty-ninth year of his age. His children were:

  1. Mary Corthell, born Nov 13, 1709
  2. Deborah Corthell, Aug. 23, 1711
  3. John Corthell, March 24, 1713
  4. Daniel Corthell, July 27, 1715
  5. Abigail Corthell, Sept. 21, 1717
  6. Robert Corthell, May 21, 1720
  7. Hannah Corthell, Feb. 28, 1724

Robert, son of Robert and Deborah, was brought to this country from Scotland when a lad.

Hobart’s “History of Abington” (1864) says that Robert Corthell, of Hingham, was stolen when a small boy, on his way to school, and brought about 1740 to Hingham, where he died at a good old age, leaving three sons, the youngest of whom, Sherebiah, married Lydia Whiton, of Hingham, and lived there for a time, then at Halifax, and finally removed to South Abington. This record is probably tradition.

As there is a record of the marriage of Robert Corthell in Hingham in 1708, this article will be based on that, taking church records and vital statistics as more authentic than those written from tradition or hearsay a half century later. The generations are given somewhat in detail, and in chronological order.

Robert Corthell appears at Hingham, Mass., at the commencement of the eighteenth century. Nothing earlier of him seems to be known. He married Oct. 13, 1708, Deborah, daughter of Benjamin and Deborah Tower, his wife being born in Hingham in February, 1685. Robert Corthell died March 5, 1737-38, aged fifty-two years. To him and his wife Deborah were born children as follows:

  1. Mary Corthell, born Nov. 13, 1709
  2. Deborah Corthell, Aug. 24, 1711
  3. John Corthell, March 24, 1713
  4. Daniel Corthell, July 27, 1715
  5. Abigail Corthell, Sept. 21, 1717
  6. Robert Corthell, May 21, 1720
  7. Hannah Corthell, Feb. 28, 1724

Robert Corthell (2), son of Robert, born May 21, 1720, married Sept. 18, 1740. in Hingham, Mass., Mary, born April 10, 1708, in Hingham, daughter of Benjamin and Leah (Whiton) Farrow. Their children were:

  1. Deborah Corthell, born May 3, 1741, in Hingham, who married July 28, 1793, John Child
  2. Levi Corthell, born June 20, 1742, at Scituate, who married Oct. 12, 1769, Deborah Curtis, and later removed to Maine
  3. Robert Corthell, born June 1, 1756, in Hingham
  4. Sherebiah Corthell, born April 24, 1760, in Hingham
  5. Pelatiah Corthell
  6. Leah Corthell
  7. Esther Corthell

Sherebiah Corthell, son of Robert (2), born April 24, 1760, in Hingham, probably removed from Hingham about 1790. He married Oct. 3, 1784, Lydia Whiton daughter of Abraham and Mary (Ripley) Whiton. She was born Oct. 8, 1758, in Hingham. Their children of Hingham birth were:

  1. John Corthell, born Oct. 16, 1785, died Oct. 4, 1853
  2. Hosea Corthell, born Dec. 3, 1786, died Oct. 23, 1861
  3. Polly Corthell, born Jan. 5, 1788, died June 10, 1823
  4. Lydia Corthell, born July 9, 1790, died Oct. 18, 1825

Their later children were:

  1. Hannah Corthell, born May 3, 1792, died July 14, 1796
  2. Sherebiah Corthell, born June 29, 1796, died May 22, 1799
  3. Merrill Corthell, born Sept. 9, 1796, died April 20, 1879, married Lot Whitmarsh, and had children
    1. Mary Corthell
    2. Thomas Corthell, who had four children
      1. Clarence Corthell
      2. Wallace Corthell
      3. Frank Corthell
      4. Emma Corthell
    3. James Corthell, who had two children
      1. lmogene Corthell
      2. one that died very young
    4. Lot Corthell
    5. Lydia Corthell, who married Oliver Pratt and had children
      1. Abby F. Pratt, wife of Edward Porter and mother of one child
      2. Rosa L. Pratt, wife of Harris Gilman and mother of three children
    6. William Corthell
  4. Sherebiah Corthell (2), born Oct. 20, 1802, died Aug. 7, 1886, leaving four sons,
    1. Daniel Merritt Corthell, married Amelia Keith and had four children
      1. Frederick H. Corthell
      2. William M. Corthell
      3. Clarence E. Corthell
      4. Albert E. Corthell, the two last named deceased
    2. Gilbert W. Corthell, had four children
      1. Warren Corthell, deceased
      2. Edwin Corthell
      3. Minot Corthell, deceased
      4. a daughter that died very young
    3. James Hosea Corthell, has three children
      1. Arthur Bateman Corthell
      2. Audra Mehitable Corthell, wife of J. H. Young and mother of two children
      3. Lester Irving Corthell, also married
    4. Samuel Nelson Corthell, who has had four children
      1. Grace H. Corthell, deceased
      2. Mabel Corthell
      3. Robert Corthell
      4. Mattie Corthell

Arthur Bateman Corthell, son of James Hosea, is a successful civil engineer, engaged mostly upon railroads and bridges. He was employed in the construction of the Terminal in Providence, R. I., the South Terminal in Boston, Mass., and. the Grand Central Terminal, New York. He has now accepted the position of chief engineer of the Boston & Maine Railway Company, and is also consulting engineer for the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railway Company. He is married and has four children.

John Corthell, son of Sherebiah, born Oct. 16, 1785, died Oct. 4, 1853. He married in 1811 Joah Philips. Their children were:

  1. Mary Ripley Corthell, born 1812, died 1814
  2. John, Corthell born 1814, died 1884-85, the father of six children
    1. Josephine Corthell
    2. Washington Corthell
    3. Walter Corthell
    4. Mary Frances Corthell
    5. Nettie Corthell
    6. William Corthell
  3. Mary Ripley Corthell, born 1816, died 1847, the mother of two sons
    1. Andrew H.
    2. Joseph H., both deceased
  4. Joanna Corthell, born 1818, died 1853, leaving three children
    1. John Q.
    2. Isaac N.
    3. Joanna
  5. Warren Corthell, born 1822, died 1847
  6. Martha Snow Corthell was born 1825
  7. Lucy Ann Corthell, born 1828, died 1882, the mother of six children
    1. Emma
    2. Anna
    3. Addie
    4. Etta
    5. Ella
    6. George
  8. Augustus Corthell, born 1831, died 1880, left two children
    1. Flora A. Corthell (now deceased)
    2. Warren Corthell who has four children
      1. Robert Corthell
      2. William Corthell
      3. Ruth Corthell
      4. Marguerite Corthell

Hosea Corthell, son of Sherebiah, was born in Hingham Dec. 3, 1786, and died Oct. 23, 1861. After learning the carpenter’s trade in Abington he went to Boston, where he resided until his decease. There he was employed for a time as a ship carpenter, then as foreman for a prominent house builder. After this he was in company with Daniel Davis, and the firm had many important contracts, some at a great distance from the city. Mr. Corthell made a number of improvements in derricks and cranes, and erected many of them for railroads, vessels, etc. He was a man of high-toned morals, of strict integrity, and was faithful to all his contracts, even to his own loss, winning the confidence of all who did business with him. Hosea Corthell was twice married. His first wife, Susannah Pierce, of New Hampshire, bore him three children:

  1. Nathaniel Corthell, who was lost at sea in 1828
  2. William Perry Corthell, born Oct. 29, 1814, who died May 2, 1890
  3. James Lawrence Corthell, twin to William P., who died in January, 1896

Mr. Corthell married (second) Mary S. Leitner, born in London, England, who died Aug. 11, 1882. To this union were born:

  1. John L. Corthell, born June 19, 1825, died Nov. 16, 1831
  2. Lucy M. S. L. Corthell, born March 28, 1827, married Luther Ham, had a son Fred L. (who died Aug. 1, 1892), and died Nov. 22, 1903
  3. Mary E. A. Corthell, born March 22, 1829, married George Tenney, of Boston, and had three daughters, all now deceased
  4. Eliza A. J. Corthell, born March 5, 1831, died Dec. 2, 1884
  5. John L. Corthell(2), born Nov. 11, 1833 (died 1909 or 1910), married Mary Jacobus, of Chicago, and had children
    1. Grace Corthell (married E. Hoadley, and has six children)
    2. Elmer Corthell (now deceased, who married and had one daughter)
  6. Elmer L. Corthell, born July 30, 1837, died Nov. 16, 1908
  7. George O. Corthell, born July 20, 1839, married Olive F. Dearborn, and had a son,
    1. George Harrison Corthell, who married Annie Carney and has three children
      1. Olive H. Corthell
      2. Helen G. Corthell
      3. Dearborn Corthell

William P. Corthell, son of Hosea, was born in Boston Oct. 29, 1814. At the age of eight he went to Waltham, and worked on a farm until about twenty years of age. A year or two later he went to South Abington, now Whitman, where he lived until his death, on May 2, 1890. In this town he worked for several years at shoemaking, a few years at manufacturing, then filling up many years with business and offices of many kinds, for which he fitted himself by much study out of working hours. From 1850 to 1857 lie served as selectman in Abington. He was twice elected as representative to the Massachusetts Legislature; for thirty-seven years was a trustee of the Abington Savings Bank, and was one of the founders and a lifelong director of the Abington Mutual Fire Insurance Company. In 1853 Mr. Corthell was chosen special county commissioner, and in 1865 was elected county commissioner, an office he held with honor for fifteen years. When South Abington was set off from Abington Mr. Corthell was elected selectman, assessor, and overseer of the poor, and held these offices for ten years. For thirty years he was very busy as a surveyor and conveyancer. He was constantly sought for legal advice, though not trained as a lawyer, and often prevented serious trouble by his wise and kindly counsel. Probably no other man for miles around was appointed administrator of so many estates as Mr. Corthell, and no one was ever a cent poorer for having property in his charge. One who served with him for many years said of him:

“Mr. Corthell was a man who always wanted to know of a certainty whether he was right or not, and after assuring himself that his policy was the one would adhere to it. It was this trait that made it pleasant to serve with him, and I have seldom dealt with fairer or squarer men than William P. Corthell.”

In 1845 Mr. Corthell united with the Congregational Church, which he served long and faithfully in different capacities. Loyal to trusts of every nature, and always generous and ready for every good work, his life, both public and private, was worthy of emulation.

In 1842 Mr. Corthell married Mehitable W. Nash, and left, besides the widow, who survived him three years, one daughter, Clara.

James Lawrence Corthell, son of Hosea and twin brother of William P., was born Oct. 29, 1814, in Boston. He went to South Abington in early life and there resided until his death, in January, 1896. He was prized in whatever office he held in town or church. In the Baptist Church of South Abington (now Whitman) he served twenty-five years as clerk, and twenty-four years as deacon. His faithfulness, courage, and cheerful spirit made him highly esteemed in every relation of life. He married Mary Gurney, of South Abington, and left four children

  1. Elmer Lawrence Corthell
  2. Wendell Gurney Corthell has long resided in Quincy. He has served three times on the school committee, and has been identified with the late growth of his city in various ways. Tie retired from active business about twenty years ago and has since spent several years in travel in this and other countries. He married Elizabeth F. Crane, of Boston, and resides in Wollaston, Mass.
  3. James Roland Corthell married Annie Maria Ramsdell, of South Abington. He lives in Roadville, Mass., where ho is highly esteemed and honored as one who has worked steadily and efficiently for the upbuilding of the Readville district of Hyde Park, seeing it grow from a small settlement to an enterprising community. Hyde Park has also been the gainer by the earnest efforts of Mr. Corthell. He has held many positions of trust and honor. He has one daughter
    1. Grace Corthell
  4. Hattie Anna Corthell married Dr. Walter A. Phipps, of Hopkinton.
Elmer Lawrence Corthell
Elmer Lawrence Corthell

Elmer Lawrence Corthell, Dr. Sc., son of James Lawrence, was born in South Abington (now Whitman), in 1840. His education was obtained in Phillips Exeter Academy and Brown University. The indomitable spirit that has characterized his life and work was shown in his boyhood. A difference of opinion with his maternal grandfather, a wealthy manufacturer, on a theological point caused the old gentleman to withdraw his promise of a college education. The boy, under his father, had already learned to peg shoes. When given his grandsire’s decision he went straight to his father, saying, “I want to borrow fifteen dollars, and I want a kit of shoemaker’s tools.” To his mother he next went, and from her he borrowed two flatirons. This was his equipment to enter Phillips Academy. Once there he posted over the door of his room a sign reading: “Washing done here; Boots and Shoes mended.” The outbreak of the Civil war interrupted his course at Brown University. At the end of his second year he enlisted in the army, in the 1st Regiment, R. I. Light Artillery, and in his four years and three months of service at the front rose from private to captain of a battery in the light artillery. Nearly all this time he was in active service in Virginia and North Carolina. The war over he returned to college, and graduated in 1867. The following year he received the M. A. degree. He became a member of the Phi Beta Kappa, to which fraternity only those who hold high rank in their classes are eligible.

His school days ended Mr. Corthell entered a general engineering office in Providence, engaged in railroad, hydraulic and city work. In 1868 he was made assistant engineer in charge of the construction of the Hannibal & Naples railroad, in Illinois, and in 1869 was in charge of location and construction, as division engineer, of forty-five miles of the Hannibal & Central Missouri railroad, in Missouri; in 1870-71, chief assistant engineer in constructing the bridge over the Mississippi river at Hannibal, Mo.; 1871-74, chief engineer of the Sny Island levee; 1873-74, chief engineer on the construction of the bridge at Louisiana, Mo., for the Chicago & Alton Railway Company. This bridge had the longest draw in the world at that time – 444 feet. He had been subordinate to James B. Eads in the construction of the famous Eads bridge at St. Louis, and had won the hearty appreciation of that famous engineer. In 1876 the building of the great railroads had brought the harbor of New Orleans conspicuously before the public. No vessel drawing more than nine feet of water could get within one hundred miles of the city. The problem of solving the many difficulties presented in the situation created excitement all over the country, charges and countercharges were made, and through it all Mr. Eads, who was known as a skilled engineer who had studied the Mississippi from its source to its mouth, stood alone. In the end Congress agreed to let him try his plan, but on a “no cure, no pay” basis. At this crisis Mr. Corthell was made his assistant or resident engineer, and those two men labored successfully, in spite of all the opposition and all the discouragements that could be brought to bear. He took charge for Mr. Eads in July, 1875, of the engineering and construction of the jetties, and was engaged on this work four years, increasing the depth of the South Pass from nine feet to over thirty feet, which channel has been maintained from 1879 to the present time. These jetties have vastly increased the ocean commerce of the port of New Orleans and also the railroad commerce of that city, developing the Mississippi Valley route. In 1880 Mr. Corthell wrote and published an illustrated “History of the Mississippi Jetties,” which is generally acknowledged to be a standard work on hydraulic engineering. In the winter of that same year he did extensive surveying for Mr. Eads in Mexico, in connection with the proposed Tehuantepec ship railway, making a survey of the mouth of the Coatzacoalcos river, on the gulf of Mexico, and an examination of the Pacific coast, for a harbor for the ship railway, and in 1881-84, while-chief engineer on the construction of the New York, West Shore & Buffalo and the New York, Ontario & Western railways, and their terminals at New York City, looking after the work in the field, was in charge as chief engineer of the extensive surveys on the isthmus of Tehuantepec for the ship railway. This important project and the interoceanic question had nearly all his attention from 1885 to 1887. Besides studying and writing upon its engineering and commercial features he addressed the Commerce committee of Congress, which had before it the bill to charter the ship railway, and delivered addresses in several cities of the United States – notably Ann Arbor, Mich, before the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Lowell Institute (Boston), Academy of Science (New York), Franklin Institute (Philadelphia), a commercial convention at Pensacola, Fla., the Exposition at New Orleans, and Galveston, Texas, in the Academy of Music. Several of these ad-dresses were printed and widely distributed. He wrote a complete illustrated exposition of the subject, treating fully its historical, engineer-ing, constructive and commercial features, copies of this pamphlet, with others written by him, being sent to every civilized country, and doing much to enlighten the world upon the method proposed and the great value to commerce of an interoceanic route.

Mr. Corthell was associated for two years, 1887-88, with the late George S. Morison in an engineering partnership in New York and Chicago, designing and constructing railroads, bridges, harbors and waterworks, including the Cairo bridge, over the Ohio river, for the Illinois Central road, the longest steel bridge in the world; the Nebraska City and Sioux City bridges, over the Missouri river, for the Chicago, Western Railway Companies, respectively; two bridges in Oregon; the railroad bridge over the St. Johns river at Jacksonville, Fla.; and several other large bridges and viaducts. At this time Mr. Corthell also made several expert examina-Burlington & Quincy and Chicago & Northtions of railroad properties for bankers in London and New York. In 1889-90 he was chief engineer of construction of the St. Louis Merchants’ bridge over the Mississippi; and chief engineer of the improvements at the mouth of the Brazos river, in Texas, consisting of jetties built into the gulf of Mexico, increasing the depth of water from five to twenty feet. In 1890-93 he was in charge as consulting engineer of important railroad construction in Chicago for the Illinois Central and Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway Companies, the “independent entrance” of their roads, this work comprising the construction of a six-track railroad where only one had existed and a rearrangement of the tracks at one of the most complicated track situations in the United States, if not in the world.

It remained, however, for Mexico to have what Mr. Corthell regards as his greatest single work, and this, to use his own words, “lies under the waves at Tampico, and is not visible to the eye.” This was literally a battle between engineering skill and the forces of the ocean. In 1889 he made examinations, plans and report on the proposed improvement of the harbor of Tampico, Mexico, for the Mexican Central railroad, and had charge of the construction of the jetties as chief engineer during 1890-91 and 1892. The Mexican Central Railway Company built four hundred miles of track to tidewater at Tampico, only to find the harbor there a veritable graveyard in which lay buried many vessels. Engineers of worldwide reputation declared a deep-sea channel an impossibility, but the president of the road, Mr. Levi C. Wade, sent for Mr. Corthell, who looked it over, made his plans, and carried them out, increasing the depth from about eight feet, which existed at the mouth of de Panuco river, over a changeable and dangerous bar, to a minimum depth of twenty-eight feet, in a wide and navigable channel, raising Tampico from a port of little importance to second place in Mexico, and reducing freight rates from all United States and European ports to the entire interior of the Mexican republic. This deep channel was practically produced by the works alone, without resort to dredging, except to remove some hard material which had formed around a large number of wrecks sunken into the bar. It has been maintained without any dredging whatever to the present time.

In 1890 Mr. Corthell made a thorough personal examination between the Great Lakes and Quebec, Canada, of the question of an enlarged waterway between Chicago, Duluth and other Great Lakes ports and the Atlantic seaboard, and wrote a paper on this subject for the Canadian Society of Civil Engineers and the Western Society of Engineers at Chicago. He was president and chief engineer of the Southern Bridge and Railway Company, incorporated in 1889 to build a bridge over the Mississippi river at New Orleans, and completed the plans and specifications for construction.

In 1891 Mr. Corthell visited Europe with several important objects in view. As trustee of the University of Chicago he examined six of the leading universities and technical schools of Europe to obtain information for the University in carrying out its purpose of establishing in connection with it a great school of Engineering and Architecture. As a member of a committee of the Western Society of Engineers, engaged in solving the difficult railroad problem of Chicago, he examined in Europe thirty-five railroad terminals and complicated situations. He examined twenty-six harbors of Europe to jet special information to use in connection with his work at Tampico, Mexico, and elsewhere. He has examined nearly all the subways of the world from Budapest to Glasgow.

In 1892, under contract with the Mexican government, he was engaged with two associates upon the completion of the National railroad of Tehuantepec, Mexico, opening up a new and important interoceanic route across the Mexican isthmus. He had charge of the surveys, plans and estimates for the harbors for this route, and made a report upon them to the Mexican government.

Mr. Corthell has given special attention to the questions and conditions pertaining to rapid transit, improvement of railroad facilities, separation of railway and street traffic and related questions. Examinations and reports upon such subjects were made by him at New Orleans, La.; Atlanta, Ga.; Montgomery, Ala.; Chicago, 111.; Buffalo, N. Y.; City of Mexico, and Memphis, Tenn. He wrote articles for Johnson’s new Cyclopedia on “Jetties,” “Levees,” “Ship Canals” and “Ship Railways.” The honorary degree of Doctor of Science was conferred on Mr. Corthell by Brown University, Providence, R. I., in June, 1894, in recognition of the important works he had carried forward and for his contributions to engineering literature.

He was chairman of the executive committee of sixteen engineering societies which organized an International Engineering Congress, held at Chicago, at the World’s Exposition, in 1893, and was chairman of the general committee of the Congress.

In November, 1895, Mr. Corthell delivered a lecture before the National Geographic Society, of Washington, D. C., on the Tehuantepec Interoceanic route; this lecture was considered by the United States Senate of sufficient value to the general subject of interoceanic transit to authorize the printing of about 1,850 copies.

In 1897 Mr. Corthell undertook an extensive tour of Europe to examine a great variety of engineering works – harbors, terminals, railroads, mountain railways, methods of building and maintaining ship canals, methods of dredging, the protection of sandy coasts against encroachments of the sea, shipbuilding, under ground rapid transit, and particularly to learn the present methods of engineering education with the view of presenting the subject to President Harper of the University of Chicago. He made an exhaustive report on this subject, after examining nearly all the best schools of Great Britain and Continental Europe; this report was published by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Many of the results of his various examinations and investigations were published in the “Engineering Magazine” in New York and London. The most extensive work done by him, however, in the two years’ time in Europe, was upon the subject of maritime commerce, its past, present and future. In August, 1898, he presented the results of his work to the American Association for the Advancement of Science, which celebrated its fiftieth anniversary at Boston, Mass. The object of the paper was to show the development of commerce in the half century past and probable development in the half century to come.

In the spring of 1898 the secretary of state, Mr. Sherman, commissioned Mr. Corthell as delegate to the Seventh International Congress of Navigation held at Brussels in July of that year. He was elected a vice president of the Congress, and placed upon the Bureau of the Congress to arrange for a permanent organization to be adopted at its next meeting at Paris in 1900. He wrote a report upon the Brussels Congress of 245 printed pages and 115 illustrations, which was printed as a United States Senate document, 1,000 copies being bound, and distributed by the State Department to all parts of the world.

Mr. Corthell upon his return to the United States was engaged as expert on several important works in the United States and Mexico. He was for eleven years engaged as engineer upon the project of the Boston, Cape Cod and New York Ship Canal, preparing to build a ship canal across the isthmus of Cape Cod to shorten the distance between points south and points north of that peninsula, around which now pass annually over 18,000,000 tons of commerce.

He has gathered together into two volumes some of his published addresses and reports on commercial and engineering subjects, 1,078 octavo pages, embracing thirty-seven different subjects. The total number of his published reports is over seventy.

In 1899 the Argentine government requested the United States government to recommend an engineer of large experience upon river and harbor works who would undertake to act as its consulting engineer for two years upon the important problems connected with the great rivers and harbors of that country. Mr. Corthell was recommended for this position, the contract for which was signed in New York March 23, 1900, and on the 26th of the same month he left for Buenos Aires, where for over two years he was engaged in solving problems for commerce, and reporting to the minister of public works. Thirty-six different subjects were referred to him for investigation and report, and his work proved highly satisfactory to the South American republic. He presented to the International Navigation Congress, Paris, 1900, a paper on “The Ports of the World,” in which he compiled important information relating to 131 principal ports and ship canals of the world. The object of this paper, the tables of which were made up after an extended correspondence, was to show the necessity of making deep channels for sea-going vessels, and the paper was really supplementary to that upon maritime commerce noted above, presented to the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1898.

In 1902 Mr. Corthell was elected president of the government board of the port of Rosario, Argentine. The propositions and plans from Europe, presented to the government, were examined by the board during two months. It decided upon the plans and made its report to the government. The works were inaugurated by the president of the republic Oct. 26, 1902.

Mr. Corthell represented the Argentine government as a delegate at the International Navigation Congress held at Dusseldorf in the summer of 1902. He was also appointed by the United States government as one of the five members from the United States upon the permanent International Commission of Navigation Congresses, which has its domicile in Brussels, and which position he still holds. He was commissioned by the United States State Department delegate to the International Navigation Congress, convened at Milan, Italy, Sept. 24, 1905, which he attended and where he presented a paper on the dimensions of vessels and ports of the world, the result of five years of investigations.

During the winter of 1902 and the spring of 1903 Mr. Corthell delivered thirty-six lectures in thirty cities of the United States and Mexico, upon “Two Years in Argentine as Consulting-Engineer of National Public Works.” These were delivered before universities, commercial bodies, engineering societies, etc., at the request of the Argentine government.

He was appointed in February, 1904, by the governor of New York State upon the advisory board of consulting engineers to build the barge canals of the State, to cost over $100,000,000, from which he resigned to give all his time to Brazilian works.

As far back as 1876 Mr. Corthell had been consulted by the late Dom Pedro of Brazil concerning the harbor at Porto Alegre, in Rio Grande do Sul, and Para. During 1904-05 he was engaged in making examinations, plans and estimates for extensive commercial works at Para, in Santa Catharina, and Rio Grande do Sul, and was engaged in the construction of the Para and Rio Grande works, consulting engineer of the former and chief engineer of the latter. It was not until 1908 that the Brazilian government made the contract with him for the vastly important work of making a seaport for the outlet of the great valley of the Amazon. Although nearing man’s allotted span of threescore years and ten Mr. Corthell spent considerable time there directing a work that will take from three to five years from date (1910) to complete. He is not now in Brazil, a French company having taken up the work, but he finished a part of it before leaving, which he did of his own accord. The contract calls for the expenditure of $15,000,000, and the work is most difficult, but this grim, silent master of the greatest deep sea forces found keen enjoyment in his task.

Mr. Corthell has been engaged as consulting engineer on commercial works in other countries, and in hydraulic works in the United States. The cost of the work of which he has had responsible charge exceeds $180,000,000.

In 1904 he presented a paper to the International Engineering Congress held at St. Louis on “Railroad Terminals, Review of General Practice.” In the same year he wrote an illustrated article for the Encyclopedia Americana on “Large Passenger Stations of the World.” In 1906 he presented a paper to the Institution of Civil Engineers, London, oh “Pressures on Deep Foundations,” and to the French Society of Civil Engineers on “Currents in Navigable Waterways.” All four papers were the results of very extended investigations covering several years.

After over forty years of exceedingly active and laborious work Mr. Corthell finds his chief source of satisfaction in the fact that his works have conduced somewhat to the benefit of commerce by sea, river, canal and rail, and he can point with pride to the results which, in a measure, have aided in reducing the cost of transportation, on land and water, and so have benefited mankind. Three times has he been the representative of the United States at the International Congress of Navigation, and time and again he has been summoned as an expert by the River and Harbor committees in Congress, and he has omitted no opportunity to impress on governments and engineers that “trade hinges on the depths of the world’s harbors and ship channels.”

Mr. Corthell is a member of nearly every important engineering society in the United States, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina and Great Britain, and he belongs to all the chief geographical and scientific associations in America and England, holding membership in the American Society of Civil Engineers, second vice president, 1888, first vice president, 1893; Canadian Society of Civil Engineers; Institution of Civil Engineers of Great Britain; Society of Arts of Great Britain; French Society of Civil Engineers (member d’honneur) and corresponding member of that society; Mexican Association of Civil Engineers and Architects; Geographical and Statistical Society of Mexico (honorary member); American Geographical Society; National Geographic Society, Washington, D. C; fellow Royal Geographical Society, London; Boston Society of Civil Engineers; Western Society of Engineers, Chicago (president, 1889); fellow American Association for the Advancement of Science; honorary member Engineering Society of Portugal and Institution of Engineers of the River Plate, of the Centro de Navigation Transatlantica, and Sociedad Cientifica of Argentine; and member of the Engineers’ Club of Rio de Janeiro and American Railway Engineers’ Association. He is a member of several military and patriotic associations: Grand Army of the Republic, Military Order of the Loyal Legion, Sons of the American Revolution, New England Society, Society of the Army of the Potomac, and of academical and university societies and clubs, including the University Club of New York City and the Phi Beta Kappa and Sigma XI societies.

Back at North Egremont, Mass., is Mr. Corthell’s library of several thousand engineering works – one of the finest in the world. This, at his death, will go to Brown University. His knowledge of his profession, his careful personal study of more than a hundred ports in Europe and America, is almost beyond the comprehension of the ordinary man.

Mr. Corthell has been twice married. To him and his first wife, Emily Davis, of Providence, R. I., were born two children:

  1. Alice Elma Corthell, who married Edward S. Dewey, and had one child
    1. Lawrence Edward Dewey
  2. Howard Lawrence Corthell, who married Edith Morse, of Providence.

Mr. Corthell’s second marriage was to Marie Kuchler, of Berne, Switzerland.

Representative Men and Old Families of Southeastern Massachusetts: containing historical sketches of prominent and representative citizens and genealogical records of many of the old families. 3 Volumes. Beers & Chicago. 1912.

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