It was the evening of Sunday, September 7, 1913. The late summer heat of the day had begun to die down. But around the big mansion at 4th and Chew Streets in Allentown there was a burst of activity. Pedestrians seeing the big faux Tudor mansion with its surrounding greenhouses and stables fully lit up could mean only one thing: its owner, Judge Edward Harvey, the most respected attorney and jurist in the county and state, was failing. Harvey’s passing would come as no surprise. For several years he had been consumed by stomach cancer. At the start of the summer the worst seemed to have set in. “Three weeks ago a turn for the worse came,” noted the Morning Call. “His stomach refused to retain nourishment and only the most desperate measures were keeping him alive.”

All that day relatives had been arriving. His half-sister, Mrs. John Rex of Norristown, along with Harvey’s nephew and niece, were noted by the press. Several of his extended family from Doylestown, his hometown, were also present. For whatever reasons, the Morning Call in its coverage lumped Harvey’s household staff at his bedside together simply as “the servants.” Finally at 9:10 p.m. the doctors noticed that Harvey’s labored breathing had seemed to cease. Dr. C.D. Schaeffer made a quick examination and pronounced that Judge Harvey was dead.

It was 47 years before, in January of 1866, that a young attorney named Edward Harvey came riding into Allentown. He was not necessarily welcome. “Allentown was a provincial town in those days after the war,” noted the Morning Call in Harvey’s obituary. “When Edward Harvey came here with his bags and his big white collar and string tie, he was a stranger absolutely without family or social ties here. They said, ‘the town is full enough of lawyers.’ Then as now there seemed too many lawyers for the business.”

It was easy to wonder why the local people were surprised that Harvey came to the Lehigh Valley. The founding ancestor of the family was a Matthias Harveye (the way the family first spelled its name then) who came to America from Northampton, England in 1669. He landed at Long Island and by 1690 he was named a justice in King’s County. Sometime later in the late 17th or early 18th century Matthias relocated to Pennsylvania and Bucks County. In 1698 he purchased 1,400 acres of land for 275 pounds in Upper Makefield Township.

Enoch Harvey, a great grandson of Matthias Harveye, moved to Doylestown and at the close of the 18th century, purchased the Fountain House, a popular inn that still exists as a national landmark on the National Register of Historic Places. It was a stopping place for the stagecoaches between Philadelphia and Easton. Enoch married Sarah Stewart, a member of a prominent family.

Edward Harvey’s father (and Enoch’s son) Dr. George T. Harvey established a prosperous medical practice in Doylestown. It was here that the future judge Edward Harvey was born on January 17, 1844. His father saw to it that Edward had an excellent education. He attended a private school conducted by Rev. S.A. Andrews. Later he went to Lawrenceville Prep School and in October of 1860 entered Princeton. For unknown reasons at the end of his junior year Harvey left the college. He returned to Doylestown where he studied law under the direction of George Lear, a leading member of the Bucks County Bar and later Attorney General of Pennsylvania. In the fall of 1865 Harvey was admitted to the Bucks County Bar. It was Samuel A. Bridges, a longtime Lehigh County and Allentown attorney, who on November 8, 1865 got Harvey’s admission to the Lehigh County Bar.

After his arrival Harvey began his career in earnest. According to several accounts Harvey quickly proved himself. “It was soon evident that he prepared his cases with masterly skill and precision and his forceful and logical presentation before court and jury soon demonstrated his ability to cope with intricate problems of jurisprudence.” Another wrote this: “ He was especially well qualified for the successful performance for the duties of his profession, possessing an analytical mind, a keen insight into the vital subjects involved in a subject, a pleasant presence, and superior gifts of oratory in presenting matters forcibly and eloquently.” A third put it this way: “In a comparatively short period he attained to the leading position at the Lehigh County Bar and has since held that place.“

Soon Harvey was in demand in other counties. He also argued cases in state and federal court and soon acquired what one source called a ”lucrative practice.” Harvey was a Democrat politically but largely had no interest in public office. It was only in 1903 to appease party leaders that he agreed to run for the position of President Judge of Lehigh County. He was defeated by Frank M. Trexler, General Harry C. Trexler’s brother.

In 1873 Harvey played a role in the constitutional convention, representing Lehigh and Delaware counties. As a member of the commission on corporations he took an active part in framing this section of the state constitution of 1876. As the movement for a new constitution had begun in Allentown and was directed toward rules governing corporations, Harvey’s role was significant on this important subject. From June 1878 to January 1879 Harvey was appointed by the governor to fill a position as President Judge of the thirty-first judicial district of Pennsylvania as the result of a vacancy. That the Governor, John F. Hartranft, was a Republican testified to the esteem with which Harvey was held by both parties.

Despite his intense interest in the law, what seems to have intrigued people most about Harvey was that he was far from being a one-dimensional person. Harvey had been the president of two local banks, one of which he took over after it collapsed following the Panic of 1873 and was able to work out a deal that compensated most of its depositors. After his retirement he was for a time the president of the Nazareth Portland Cement Company. When he took over the mansion at 4th and Chew Streets in 1876 it had somewhat of a checkered past. It was built in the mid-1850s for Jonathan Grubb, a land speculator in Allentown properties, who left for Philadelphia following the Panic of 1857. Apparently, Grubb continued his investments in real estate until the Panic of 1873 which wiped him out totally. But he did return to Allentown in the 1880s as Grubb & Medlar, Allentown’s first stockbrokers.

In the 1860s the mansion became the home of Stephen Gould. Together with his brother Isaac, these two Connecticut Yankees in the 1830s and 40s managed to acquire vast acres of woodland in Carbon, Monroe, Luzerne and Lycoming counties. They clear cut these properties but did adopt minimal safeguards. Others followed who were not as careful as the Goulds, leading to a huge flood at Hickory Run that killed two of Isaac’s children. Stephen witnessed it all. With that the brothers gave up the personal involvement in the lumber business, turning it over to Stephen’s sons to run. According to one source Stephen decided to live a retired life in Allentown. Although he was the richest man in town few people apparently saw him. His social interactions were mostly with his brother’s family at their home in Trenton, N.J. Later Gould suffered a severe stroke. He died in 1876.

This was when Judge Harvey bought the mansion. At Gould’s death the value of the estate was put by the county at $85,000. When he was not involved in his legal cases, Harvey enjoyed it to the fullest. The household duties he passed on to his sister, Mrs. A. Carrie Morris. The local press ran no obituary on her. She died the March before his own death.

Here is what the Morning Call had to say about Judge Harvey at home:

“Mr. Harvey was a gentleman of the old school. In bearing, manner of living, style of dress, there was everything to suggest descriptions such as Washington Irving best knew how to write. His home, easily the most conspicuous in the city, was a place an invitation to which was a treat for anyone. It had the bearing and the dignity of its owner, surrounded on all sides by that beauty by which its owner was a passionate lover. It was a veritable library from top to bottom, the books being the best private collection in the city and best of all it was made for books that were read by its owner. It was not a mere collection of books for show but for use and no one knew better how to use them. In addition to books, his home contains a fine collection of paintings, sculpture and other forms of art. Lover and admirer of flowers, the finest exotics were raised by his greenhouse on his estate. Fine horses and fine dogs were among the other of his hobbies. Immaculately dressed at all times he was a conspicuous figure wherever he chose to be.”

Perhaps because his father was a doctor, Harvey was a champion of Allentown Hospital, serving on its first board and leaving a large bequest of $100,000 for it in his will. The Edward Harvey Memorial College for Nurses at the hospital named in his honor was dedicated in 1915 by former U.S. President William Howard Taft. At his death his home was turned over to Sacred Heart Hospital, which made it its main building for several years.

But perhaps his greatest contribution to the community was the generations of young law clerks he trained in the law. A number were pallbearers at his funeral. Among them was a tall, young man named Malcolm W. Gross, who later served several terms as mayor, and one of the most significant political figures in 20th century Allentown.