Thomas Beatty Inness, of Brockton, one of that city’s enterprising and progressive citizens, is a native of Pennsylvania, born at Pottsville March 4, 1848, only son of the late James A. and Mary Williams (Beatty) Inness, and a descendant of sturdy Scotch-Irish.
The Scottish name of Innes – British – Ynys, and Gaelic Inis – means an island. The Innesses are one of the titled families of the aristocracy of the United Kingdom, and have a coat of arms. The Inness Ker estate, located on the borders of England and Scotland, was the seat of this family for many years, and has been the subject of a great deal of controversy among the succeeding generations of the family.
James Innis was brought to this country from Ireland while an infant, about the year 1737. His mother and her sisters settled in Little Britain, where James received an education in the ordinary English branches from George and James Clinton. He married Sybil Ross, of Morristown, N. J., and settled in Newburgh, N. Y., in 1780. His children were:
- James Innis died unmarried. He was a soldier in the Revolution, and participated in the battle of Monmouth.
- Jane Innis married William Irwin, and removed to Ohio.
- Keziah Innis married James Owen.
- Lydia Innis married Moses Hanmore.
- Peter Innis died unmarried.
- Benjamin Innis married Margaret Denton.
- Elsie Innis married Thomas Aldrich.
- Sarah Innis married Anthony Presler.
- William Innis married Elizabeth, daughter of James Warring, and had:
- Sally Innis, married to Isaac Denniston
- Ross Innis, married to Catherine Cook
- Rebecca Innis, married to Richard Ward, Jr.
- Wygant Innis
- William Innis, Jr., married to Catherine Jessup
- Aaron Innis, married to Phebe Ann Warring
- Aaron Innis married Ruth, daughter of Luff Smith.
John W. Inness, whose father was James, was the grandfather of Thomas Beatty Inness. He was a native of New York City, where for several years he was engaged in the grocery business, later removing to Newburgh, N. Y., where he conducted the same business for some years. Eventually he located in Newark, N. J., where he established himself in the same line of trade. While in the latter city he took an active interest in public affairs, and for several years served as a member of the board of aldermen. After retiring from active business he removed to Brooklyn, N. Y., where he passed the remaining years of his life, and where he died. He married Clarissa Baldwin, daughter of Aaron Baldwin, and to this union were born children as follows:
- Jane Inness, who died young
- Aaron Inness, deceased
- John Inness, deceased
- James A. Inness, mentioned below
- Charles Inness, deceased
- George Inness, who was a famous landscape artist
- Clarissa Inness, deceased
- Joseph Inness, who died young
- Mary Jane Inness, wife of Francis P. Sakmeister, of Brooklyn, N. Y.
- Joseph Inness, deceased
- Miss Eliza Inness, who lives in Brooklyn
James A. Inness, son of John W., was born in Newburgh, N. Y., and died in Brooklyn. After finishing his public school education he graduated from Dickinson College, Carlisle, Pa. He then engaged in teaching, a profession he followed at Orwigsburg and Pine Grove, finally opening an academy in Pottsville, Pa., to which place he removed in 1840. This academy he conducted for several years, and then became shipping agent for coal operators of that district of Pennsylvania, and also for some years was internal revenue collector for that district. He next established himself in the rolling mill business, in which he continued with great success until 1880, when, having acquired a comfortable competency, he retired from active pursuits and removed to Brooklyn, N. Y., where he lived during the remainder’ of his life. While a resident of Pottsville Mr. Inness was prominently identified with the public affairs of both city and county, and was recognized as a substantial and progressive business man and valuable citizen in the community. Mr. Inness married Mary Williams Beatty, daughter of Thomas Dunham and Elizabeth M. (Martin) Beatty. Mrs. Mary W. (Beatty) Inness was born at the corner of Ann and Beekman streets, New York City, and as a child removed with her parents to Pottsville, Pa. Her grandfather, a native of County Longford, Ireland, was a professor in Dublin College, all his family being also well known in literary circles, and he was compelled to leave Ireland on account of his activity in connection with the political affairs of that country; with his family he embarked on a sailing vessel bound for America, and during the voyage his son, Thomas Dunham, was born. The latter, with his brother, was engaged in the grocery business in New York City, later removing to Pottsville, Pa., about the time anthracite coal was discovered, the trip from New York to Pennsylvania being made by easy stages, in a wagon in which their belongings were transported. He and his brother opened grocery stores in Pottsville, on the opposite side of the street from each other at the corner of Norwegian and Centre streets. The marriage of James A. Inness and Mary Williams Beatty was blessed with two children:
- A daughter that died in infancy
- Thomas Beatty Inness
Thomas Beatty Inness was born March 4, 1848, in Pottsville, Pa., where he attended school until he was fourteen years of age. He then entered the New Haven Military Academy, where he continued a student for a time, and then took up his studies at Columbia Grammar School, New York City, to prepare himself for Harvard University. On account of ill health he was obliged to give up his studies at the age of seventeen, and, returning to his home in Pottsville, became engaged in the iron business with his father, beginning at the bottom and passing through the various departments of the plant until he had acquired a thorough knowledge of the details of the business, and in time becoming bookkeeper for the establishment. While still quite young he established himself in business on his own account, but after being engaged in the iron business for a time withdrew and engaged in the coal mining industry in the anthracite district, in which he continued for several years, in the meantime taking up the study of civil engineering as a pastime. Upon disposing of his colliery he again established himself in the rolling mill business, at Port Clinton, Pa., being in partnership with his father. This continued for eight years, and then came the panic of 1879, and owing to the failure of those with whom he was engaged in trade he was obliged to discontinue. In 1880 Mr. Inness moved to New York City, and there he began business as an iron broker and dealer in railroad supplies, being so engaged until 1899, when he retired from active business. In connection with this latter business he was also actively engaged in railroad construction, having in charge the building of the railroad in New York State from Jamestown around Chautauqua Lake, and the road from Savannah, Ga., to Tybee Island, Ga., the latter at that time being considered quite a feat of engineering. Mr. Inness located the latter railroad, raised the money for its construction, built the road and for a time after its completion was the manager of it.
For several years prior to his retirement Mr. Inness had been spending the summer seasons in Brockton, Mass. He had become attached to the place, and held a firm conviction that the city would continue to grow and develop until it became one of the thriving industrial centers of New England. In December, 1901, he purchased a strip of land on Belmont street, together with the Brigham lot adjoining, on the corner of Belmont street and Wales avenue, and later added thereto the land upon which stood the Wales cottage on Cottage street, and the Curtis lot on the corner of Belmont and Cottage streets, and a year later he purchased the Packard property on Wales avenue, which then contained the auction store of W. D. Packard. Mr. Inness thus acquired by purchase the entire strip of land bounded on the north by Belmont street, on the east and south by Wales avenue, and on the west by Cottage street. After removing the buildings there-from, on March 31, 1902, he began the erection of the “Checkerton,” which was completed Nov. 1, 1902. This modern and strictly up-to-date apartment house is of brick, and as originally constructed was four stories high, with twenty-four two-room and three-room suites, equipped for light housekeeping. So great was the demand for apartments that the following year another story, with six additional suites, was added, making thirty apartments in all. The demand still exceeded the supply, far ahead of Mr. Inness’s expectations, and on Nov. 1, 1903, he began the erection of the “Chesston” on the adjoining land. The same was completed Feb. 20, 1904. This second building is of frame, and was at first three stories high, containing eighteen four-room suites, modernly appointed for complete housekeeping. Again the demand justified a larger building and a fourth story was added, making twenty-four suites in all. These apartment houses, which are connected by a subway, have all modern improvements, are heated by steam, have a continuous hot water system and house telephones, and the “Checkerton” is equipped with an elevator. In the construction of these apartment houses Mr. Inness, whose original ideas were followed by the architect in designing, solved the problem of light and air, and’ he has had his plans patented. The buildings are constructed with the ground plan resembling a checker board.
Mr. Inness has been long and prominently identified with Masonry. He joined Pulaski Lodge, A. F. & A. M., of Pottsville, in 1869, at the age of twenty-one years, and was also a member of Mountain City Chapter, of which he was past high priest at the age of twenty-five years, having the distinction of being the youngest member of the order to hold that office in the State. He also joined Constantine Commandery, K. T., of Pottsville, about the same time, and was marshal of that body at the time of its visit to the Centennial celebration at Philadelphia in 1876. Upon removing to New York City he became a member of Kane Lodge, A. P. & A. M., and Coeur de Leon Commandery, K. T., of which he is a past eminent commander, having been commander in 1889. Mr. Inness is now a life member of the lodge, chapter and commandery. While a student at the Columbia Grammar School, New York City, Mr. Inness raised the First Company of Cadets, which was under the auspices of the famous 7th Regiment of the New York State Militia, and he served as the first captain of same, which has now grown to be a battalion. In political views Mr. Inness has always been a stanch supporter of the principles of the Republican party, but his various business enterprises have prohibited him from giving much of his time to active political affairs. Since becoming a resident of Brockton he has been an active member of the Commercial Club, which is composed of the city’s leading business and professional men, and is also an active member of the Merchants’ and Manufacturers’ Club, being president of the latter.
On Dec. 28, 1869, Mr. Inness was united in marriage to Ada Sillyman, who was born in Pottsville, Pa., daughter of John and Margaret Sillyman. Mrs. Inness passed away in New Jersey in 1889, the mother of the following children:
- Ada Inness, who married Alfred D. Sillyman, a retired civil engineer of Philadelphia, and has two children
- James A. Inness, who is engaged in the brass goods business in New York City
- Arthur B. Inness, who is engaged in the machinery business in New York City (he is married and has three children).
Mr. Inness married (second) Nov. 23, 1910, Mary Frances Robinson, daughter of Mr. and. Mrs. E. F. Robinson, of Ellsworth, Maine.
Personally Mr. Inness is a man of refined tastes, one whose dignified yet democratic manner is a strong characteristic. He is affable and cordial and readily makes many friends, and as easily retains them. His various connections with military organizations have given him a commanding bearing, which, coupled with his strong personality and executive ability, easily makes him a leader among men.