William Stuart Symington II (born 1871)
[ William Stuart Symington II's mother was] Lelia Skipworth Powers, a daughter of a prominent Episcopal clergyman. In addition to her beauty, she possessed an impeccable Virginia lineage. Through her mother she was a direct descendant of Benjamin Harrison, who was married to Anne Carter, daughter of Robert "King" Carter, whose descendants included the Lees. [...] Lelia died at the age of forty-four, [which is after her and husband William Stuart Symington I ] had a daughter and seven sons. The sons were all strapping young men, inheriting physiques that reflected their father's strength and their mother's beauty. All of them, with [the one exception of W. Stuart Symington II ], went into business and became financially successful.
[The young William Stuart Symington II ] had no interest in business, but instead went to Johns Hopkins University, where he studied language and literature. He became fluent in three foreign languages and ultimately received a Ph.D. in French literature. An athlete as well as a student, he was captain of the football team at Hopkins and played lacrosse on a Baltimore club team that won a national championship. At the age of twenty-three he received an appointment as an associate professor of romance languages at Stanford; after a year he returned east to become a full professor at Amherst College. Two years later, on November 17, 1897, he married Emily Haxall Harrison, a young woman of rare beauty and, apparently, rather daunting determination. Like many southerners, the Harrisons had lost everything in the Civil War, and Emily brought little to the marriage except her beauty, her strong personality, deep religious convictions, and some fine antique furniture.
[ William Stuart Symington II and his wife Emily Symington ] had six children: a daughter, Louise, and five sons, the oldest being W. Stuart Symington III , born June 26, 1901.
With a growing family, the young professor and his wife found it difficult to make ends meet on a salary that was never more than one hundred dollars per month. Moreover, teaching may have lost some of its allure, possibly because of the situation at Amherst. Family legend has it that from the beginning of his tenure, Professor Symington had difficulty with the college janitor. Then one day, so the story goes, he used some blackboards that were still wet. The janitor, observing this from the door, shouted, " He wrote on them boards." The students laughed, and young Symington, knowing that his control of the class was in jeopardy, called the janitor and threw him out. Deciding that he had better report the incident to the president, he was met with the comment, "This man is the first janitor we have had here in many years who is able to keep Amherst warm in the winter; so, especially in that you are relatively new, if it came to which one of you would have to leave, I wouldn't give much for your chances with the Board of Trustees." After this episode, he is supposed co have gone home and told his wife, "Pack up. The janitor has more weight than I do."
In any event, in 1903 Professor Symington resigned his post at Amherst and moved his family to New York, where he enrolled in the law school at New York University. They had virtually no money, and Emily was too proud to cake any help from their relatives, some of whom were quite well off. As a result, her husband eked out a living as a translator while attending school. Their son remembered the first years of his life "as years of real poverty. "
1906 - 1913
[In 1906 (see news on passing), William Stuart Symington II finished law school at the University of Maryland.]
[ Fresh out of law school, William Stuart Symington II ] took his family back to Baltimore, where he began the practice of law. He met with only sporadic success, and complicated his life by engaging in a number of unsuccessful business and real estate ventures.
"Much of his attention after he began the practice of law and especially to the interests of the Symington Company manufacturers of railroad devices, of which his brothers were the officers." [news article]
The family's fortunes waxed and waned. At times they were very poor, and even when they enjoyed a degree of prosperity, there never seemed to be enough money, at least not enough to support the way of life to which they aspired and which their ancestry would seem to predict. Moreover, they felt disadvantaged when they compared their situation to that of the other Symington brothers, all of whom were successful in business. [...]The family had a pleasant home, built with help from Uncle Tom, in Roland Park, one of the pioneering upscale residential developments in the country, IO but after a few years they had to give it up and move back to the city, living first in a small apartment and then a small house.
1914 (Summer) - Wife and children go to Switzerland
In the summer of 1914, however, Emily took all of the children - by then numbering six - on an extended tour of Europe. [...] Emily settled the family in a small Swiss hotel in Vevey, a pleasant little town between Lausanne and Montreux on the shore of Lac Leman. She put the children in school, primarily to learn French [...].
Apparently, [his wife Emily] had no specific plans to return home. She rarely heard from her husband, but his infrequent letters were red-letter events for the entire family. [ William Stuart Symington II ] rarely sent money, and before long the family was desperately short of funds, [and on August 20 the oldest child noted], "We are now staying entirely on credit." [...]
Whatever Emily's plans, the outbreak of World War 1 cut them off. After some hesitation, she decided that she should return home. She took the family to London and with help from [brother-in-law] Powers, a captain in the navy, booked passage on the Britannia, arriving in New York on October 22 .
Then it was back to the little house in Baltimore. Indeed, the transition from summer in Switzerland to winter in Baltimore was symbolic of the roller-coaster kind of existence the family endured. Their finances, never equal to Emily's aspirations, created severe tensions between an easygoing [husband] and a strong-willed, determined [wife].
1915 - 1919
When the United States entered the World War Mr. Symington attempted to enter the ranks of a fighting arm of the United States Army. he was rejected after a physical examination.
He then turned his attention to such patriotic work as he could do outside the army. In 1919, at a meeting in Cleveland, he was elected president of the Association of Manufacturers of War Materials.
One of his activities during the war was to organize a $6,000,000 unit of the Symington Company in Chicago for the manufacture of 155-millimeter shells. He was the president of this unit. It had just been completed when the war ended.
1921 - Purchases Gibson Island, Maryland
(founder of Gibson Island )
1924 - Appointed to Supreme Bench in Maryland
"Appointed by Governor Albert C. Ritchie to Supreme Bench of Baltimore City, 1924. Died while serving on bench. Noted by his colleagues for having mastered academics, business, and law." See [HG000J][GDrive].