John Bergen Stevens

For nearly two decades John Bergen Stevens has practiced law at the Berks county (Pennsylvania) bar, the twentieth century finding him still a law student under the preceptorship of his honored father, Garrett Barcalow Stevens, who for thirty-nine years (1872-1911) practiced at the same bar to which his son was admitted in 1902. The city of Reading was the home as well as the professional residence of Garrett B. Stevens, although he was not a native son, an honor, however, that attaches to his son, John B. Stevens, whose entire life has been spent in Reading. Garrett B. Stevens was a lawyer of high attainment, learned in the law and skilled in its application. For a number of years, 1894-1908, he was the senior member of the law firm, Stevens & Stevens, his associate, William Kerper Stevens (no relation), being appointed additional law judge for Berks county on September 10, 1908. John B. Stevens and Garrett Stevens, sons of Garrett В., both embraced the law, studied in their father's office (then Stevens & Stevens), and were admitted to the Berks county bar, Garrett being admitted on December 20, 1899, and John B. on November 10, 1902. Both have attained eminence at that bar and have rendered important service, professional and public. A love for the law as a profession and of Democracy as a political faith was the heritage of both sons.

The Stevens family in this branch trace to Holland, the American ancestor settling in Bucks county, Pennsylvania, prior to the coming of William Penn. John B. Stevens, the principal character of this review, is a son of Garrett B. and M. Catherine (Zeller) Stevens, grandson of Benjamin and Elizabeth (Barcalow) Stevens, and great-grandson of Abraham Stevens, a merchant. Elizabeth (Barcalow) Stevens was a daughter of Garrett Barcalow, a Bucks county farmer. Benjamin and Elizabeth (Barcalow) Stevens were the parents of seven children, Garrett Barcalow Stevens being the youngest. Benjamin Stevens died in 1895, aged eighty-seven, his wife, Elizabeth (Barcalow) Stevens, dying in 1898, in her eighty-eighth year.

Garrett Barcalow Stevens was born September 29, 1848, and obtained a good education. He was admitted to the bar in 1872, and practiced his profession in Reading, Pennsylvania, until 1911. He married, November 19, 1876, M. Catherine Zeller, daughter of John Zeller, and they are the parents of five children: Garrett, a graduate of Yale, А.В., 1897, an attorney-at-law; Wallace, a graduate of Harvard, А.В., 1901, an attorney-at-law; John Bergen, of further mention; Elizabeth; and M. Catherine, who died at St. Nazaire, France, where she was with the Red Cross during the World War, and after her death awarded medal and citation for meritorious service.

John Bergen Stevens, third son of Garrett Barcalow and M. Catherine (Zeller) Stevens, was born in Reading, Pennsylvania, December 9, 1880. After completing public school courses of study with graduation from the Reading Boys' High School, class of 1897, he entered the University of Pennsylvania, whence he was graduated А.В., class of 1901. He then began the study of law under his father, who was then a member of the law firm, Stevens & Stevens, and on November 10, 1902, was admitted to practice at the Berks county bar. He has since been admitted to the Superior and Supreme courts of Pennsylvania, and since his admission in 1902 has been continuously in practice in Reading. After the dissolution of the partnership, Stevens & Stevens, in 1908, Garrett B. Stevens admitted his son and until the year 1911 they practiced under the firm name of G.B. & J.B. Stevens. Since 1911 John B. Stevens has practiced alone, his practice extending to all State and Federal courts of the Reading district and to the Pennsylvania Superior and Supreme courts. He is a member of the various bar associations and highly rated in his profession.

Mr. Stevens has important business connections, being treasurer of the Thomas Jackson & Son Company, cordage manufacturers, established in 1829; vice-president of the Wyomissing Glazed Paper Company; and director of the Northwestern Trust Company of Reading. In politics he is a Democrat, is an effective campaign speaker, but has never sought nor accepted political office. He is a member of the Masonic order, holding the thirty-second degree of the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite; is a member of Kappa Sigma fraternity; Friars' Senior Society (University of Pennsylvania); Pennsylvania Society, Sons of the Revolution; the Wyomissing Club; and the First Presbyterian Church.

In Evanston, Illinois, January 19, 1910, John B. Stevens married Elizabeth Hatch, daughter of Burgess Singleton and Sarah (Kerr) Hatch. Mr. and Mrs. Stevens are the parents of two children: Eleanor, born February 10, 1911; and John Bergen, Jr., born September 7, 1916.

Frank M. Eastman. Courts and Lawyers of Pennsylvania: A History, 1623-1923. New York: American Historical Society, Inc. 1922, pp. 256-257.

Contributed by: Nancy.

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