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Old Chester, PA: Biographical Sketches

John Martin Broomall


John Martin Broomall

(A biographical sketch taken from One Hundred Years, The Delaware County National Bank Chester, PA 1814-1914)

Years in parentheses are years of service as a Director of The Bank of Delaware County and/or The Delaware County National Bank

Hon. John Martin Broomall (1846-47-53-55), son of John and Sarah (Martin) Broomall, was born in Upper Chichester, Delaware county, January 19, 1816. His primary education was obtained in the schools in the neighborhood of his parents' residence, and the higher branches he acquired at the noted boarding school in Wilmington, Delaware, of which Samuel Smith was principal.

After graduation, for a time he followed farming as an occupation, but finally entered the office of Hon. John Bouvier, of Philadelphia, a prominent lawyer and noted legal author of recognized authority. On August 24, 1840, Mr. Broomall was admitted to the bar of Delaware county, where he rose rapidly in the profession and soon became a leader in the political affairs of this section.

He was elected to the Legislature, and in the session of 1850-1 acquired a reputation throughout the State as a ready debater and exact reasoner. He was re-elected to the session of 1852-3 and in 1854 was appointed a member of the State Revenue Board. During the Fremont campaign in 1856, he was one of the most effective stump speakers in the Commonwealth, and was an elector on the Lincoln ticket in 1860, a place he held eight years later during the first Grant Presidential campaign of 1868.

During the interval, in 1862, he was elected to and served in the Thirty-eighth Congress, and was reelected to the Thirty-ninth and Fortieth Congresses. During the stormy days of reconstruction Mr. Broomall took an active part in the debates in the House, in which his sarcasm, quickness in repartee, clearness in stating propositions, and logical deduction in argument brought him into national prominence. He was a member of the State Constitutional Convention of 1873, and in the spring of 1874, he was appointed by Governor Hartranft, the first President Judge of the newly created Judicial District comprising Delaware county. He received the Republican nomination for the bench, but at the election of that year he was defeated by Thomas J. Clayton, in one of the bitterest political campaigns ever known in the history of this county.

During the summer of 1862, when Lee invaded Maryland, Governor Curtin called the Pennsylvania militia to the field. John M. Broomall was appointed captain of Company C, Sixteenth Pennsylvania Emergency Regiment, and was in command of his company at Camp McClure, Franklin county, where the troops were assembled, subject to the call of the National Government.

When Lee invaded Pennsylvania in 1863, Mr. Broomall, then a member of Congress, was appointed captain of Company C, Twenty-ninth Regiment, Emergency Troops, and encamped at Greencastle, Franklin county, subject to the orders of General Meade. With the defeat of Lee, the United States mustered these auxiliary soldiers out of the service, but their presence had no little influence in thwarting the aggressive campaign the Confederates contemplated when invading the State.

John M. Broomall's enterprise in the development of Chester from a sleepy old borough into a thriving, pushing center of industrial activity, is a part of the history of this section. As a lawyer, he ranked with the leaders of the State bar; as an author he was epigrammatic, clear and comprehensive. As an all 'round man, he was conspicuous in his day. Literature, science, art were at his command in illustrating an argument or adorning his spoken sentences. He was an originator of the Delaware County Mutual Insurance Company, and served as its president. As a man of science, he was elected president of the Delaware County Institute of Science, a position he held at his death, June 3, 1894, aged 78 years, 4 months and 15 days. 

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2002 John A. Bullock III.

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