24. October 2012 · Comments Off on FRY, John W. · Categories: Biographies · Tags: , , , , , , ,

JOHN W. FRY. For many years John W. Fry has been active in the development and improvement of Columbia, and Tennessee is indeed proud to number him among her native sons. He was born in Giles county on the 10th of July, 1859, a son of William and Mary Jane (McCreary) Fry. The father was born in Germantown, Stokes county, North Carolina, on the 20th of December, 1800, and moved with his father to Giles county in 1808, locating near Lynnville. There he engaged in general farming and stock raising and became well known in that connection throughout the state. In October, 1845, he was united in marriage to Mary Jane McCreary and to their union two children were born: John W., whose name initiates this review; and Angeline, whose demise occurred in 1911. She was the wife of C. L. Smith, who survives her. Throughout his life the father was a stanch supporter of the democratic party, and his religious faith was that of the Christian church. He and his wife were highly respected citizens of the community in which they resided.

John W. Fry attended the common schools of Giles county and then entered Carleton College at Bond, Texas, which institution was under the direction of his uncle. After putting his textbooks aside he returned home and engaged in farming until 1896, when he came to Columbia and organized the Farmers & Merchants Bank, which institution he served as president until it was merged with the Maury National Bank. He then became vice president and was active in that connection for some time, subsequently tendering his resignation in order to devote his entire time and attention to the phosphate and fertilizer business. He is now secretary and treasurer of the Consolidated Phosphate Company, which he organized in 1911. The company is one of the largest of its kind in the state and owns some very valuable phosphate lands. Mr. Fry is a man universally liked for his splendid business acumen and genial and cordial spirit and he has been influential in many movements whereby the general welfare of the community has been benefited to a great degree. He is now president and treasurer of the Tennessee Orphan Home, in the organization of which institution, in 1909, he was a dominant factor. A few statements concerning this home will not be amiss here.

The Tennessee Orphan Home is non-sectarian and undenominational in its work. It is a home for homeless children, controlled by a board of directors of the Church of Christ. Since the present management took charge of the home on the 30th of October, 1917, two hundred and eleven children have been cared for, including the forty-six children in the home at that date. Orphan and destitute children, regardless of creed, sect or denomination, are cared for and some of the children taken care of in the home have one living parent, but such parent, who is financially and physically able, is required to pay the full cost of maintenance. The Juvenile courts frequently send destitute children to the Tennessee Orphan Home and they receive the necessary care and attention, the same as other children. The home is proud to say that it has never yet turned away any child known to be destitute and dependent, or has neglected to treat such children as well as those who are maintained by churches, friends or parents. The home discourages the separation of children from their mother, for it feels that the church and community in which they live should help keep the mother and children together. By keeping the children and mother together the churches and communities will do a great work and be rewarded in the end. The children in the Tennessee Orphan Home are cared for and looked after by good Christian women, who devote their time to the children, and as near as possible try to fill the place of a real mother. Assistance is also given by an advisory committee of five women, appointed by the board of directors, who serve without charge. The business and finances are handled by the treasurer, Mr. Fry, at his downtown office, without charge, and an executive committee keeps in close touch with the affairs and workings of the home, as well as do the directors of the institution. All of the children of school age are sent to the city public school and the younger ones are instructed in the home. Those attending school average in progress with the children of the town who have parents to assist them. The present high cost of living has taxed the institution to its utmost, but churches and individuals contribute willingly. Every opportunity that presents itself is taken to place children in good Christian homes. They are placed on trial in family homes, and if not congenial the child is returned to the Tennessee Orphan Home. The husband and wife who receive a child sign an agreement to care for the child as good parents would care for children of their own, give it the necessary medical and surgical attention in event of sickness, etc. This home is one of the finest institutions of its kind in the state, and Tennessee owes a debt of gratitude to Mr. Fry and others who have made it a possibility.

On the 8th of July, 1885, was celebrated the marriage of Mr. Fry to Miss Anna Horne, a native of Giles county, and a daughter of James R. and Virginia Anna (Wagstaff) Horne. To their union six children were born. The eldest child, Hallie, married S. C. Harlin of Florence, Alabama, vice president of the Florence Wagon Company. William, the second in order of birth and the eldest son, was educated for the bar and had just started into practice at Chattanooga when the United States entered the World war. He immediately put aside all personal interests and enlisted in the army, being sent to the Officers’ Training Camp at Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia. He was sent overseas in October, 1917, and remained in France until 1919. Minnie, the third member of the family, is the wife of W. Brown Taylor, of Kansas City, Missouri, who is sales manager for the Twin City Machine Company of Minneapolis, Minnesota. Charles Carlton is a resident of Columbia and has been for some time head of the Ford agency for Maury county, the business being operated under the name of Fry Brothers. Clarence Horne, the fifth member of the family, met death in the defense of his country. A detailed account of his life and service is presented elsewhere in this work. Grace Hampton, the youngest member of the family, is residing at home with her father. Mrs. Fry’s demise occurred on the 13th of August, 1905. She was a consistent member of the Christian church throughout her life, active in all church work, and a prominent leader in all child welfare movements.

Since attaining his majority Mr. Fry has given his political endorsement to the democratic party. In 1899 he served in the state legislature and was chairman of the finance and ways committee of the house. He also served as commissioner of the seventh congressional district to the Pan-American Exposition at St. Louis. He is a student of the living issues of the day and ever cognizant of the duties and responsibilities as well as the privileges of citizenship. Fraternally he is identified with the Knights of Pythias, and his religious faith is that of the Christian church, to the support of which he is a generous contributor. Mr. Fry is one of Columbia’s most substantial citizens and well merits the respect and esteem in which he is held by his fellowmen. (Tennessee, The Volunteer State, 1769-1923, Vol. 2, John Trotwood Moore and Austin P. Foster, S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., Chicago, 1923, pp. 576-578)

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