His family in America is traced to John Perkins, Sr., who was born in
Gloucestershire, England, in 1590, and sailed from Bristol December 1, 1630, in the ship
Lyon, with his wife and five children, landing in Nantasket, Massachusetts, February 5, 1631.
His ancestry is derived from John Perkins, Sr., through John Perkins, Jr., Isaac Perkins,
Jacob Perkins, Francis Perkins (who organized a military company in Chebacco Parish,
Ipswich, in 1774, of which he was ensign and afterwards captain), David Perkins, and Henry
His preparatory education was obtained in various private schools in Philadelphia,
after which he entered Rev. J. W. Faires' Classical Institute in the same city, where he was
prepared for Williams College.
Having passed his examinations satisfactorily, he was duly enrolled as a member of
the Class of 1863. During Freshman and Sophomore years his rooms were in the house of
Professor Tatlock; in Junior year he roomed over N. F. Smith's store, then located where
the Congregational Church now stands, and in Senior year he occupied rooms at Mr.
Ingraham's, on Spring Street. In college he was a member of the Sigma Phi fraternity; a
member of the Pholotechnian Literary Society, and during Senior year president of the
Adelphic Union; received the appointment of an English oration on Junior exhibition
program; was one of the ushers for Class Day exercises, July 9, 1863, and received the
appointment of an oration on Commencement program.
Graduating and receiving his degree of Bachelor of Arts in 1863, he commenced the
study of law in the office of and under the preceptorship of William F. Judson, Esq., a
prominent member of the Philadelphia bar. At the same time he matriculated in the law
school of the University of Pennsylvania, graduating with the degree of Bachelor of Laws
in 1868, in which year, also, he received the degree of Master of Arts from Williams
In May, 1866, he was admitted to the Philadelphia bar, and subsequently to the
Pennsylvania supreme court, the United States district and circuit courts, and the supreme
court of the United States, and has practiced his profession continuously, to the present
time, in Philadelphia.
In 1869 he was appointed secretary of New Mexico by President Grant, but resigned
that position in a short time and returned to Philadelphia.
Since May, 1865, he has been a member of the Union League Club of Philadelphia,
and is now a life member of the same.
He is a director of the Union Trust Company of Philadelphia and a member of the
board of managers of the Howard Hospital for Incurables of Philadelphia, being also
connected with a number of other eleemosynary and charitable institutions.
He is also a member of the following bodies, viz., the Law Association of
Philadelphia; the Pennsylvania Bar Association; a life member of the Alumni Association
of the law department of the University of Pennsylvania, the Historical Society of
Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Society of the Sons of the Revolution, and for six years was
a member of the board of governors of the Lawyers' Club of Philadelphia. Of the General
Court of the Order of the Founders and Patriots of America he is now the attorney-general,
and of the Pennsylvania Society of the said Order was one of the charter members, and is
For many years he has been connected with a number of Masonic bodies in
Pennsylvania, being a member of Philo Lodge No. 444, of which he was master in 1877; of
Jerusalem Chapter No. 3, Royal Arch Masons; St. John Commandery No. 4, Knights
Templar, and the board of stewards of the Stephen Girard Charity Fund; as also a life
member of the Masonic Art Association.
On January 24, 1882, he married Caroline A., daughter of Rev. Alexander and
Elizabeth Parker (Brooke) Heberton. Their only child, a daughter, died in infancy.
And now, my dear Dudley, having answered formally and categorically the questions
you propounded, my memory carries me back to some of the jolly times of our happy
college days. Happy, indeed, they were to us, light-hearted boys as we then were, little
thinking, and nothing knowing, of the great wide world with its joys and sorrows, its roseate
anticipations and its blighting anxieties and disappointments!
To each individual there comes different recollections of the social pleasantries and
roistering rollickings of those college days, according to the particular circumstances and
environments of each.
Just now my mind reverts to the many tramps I took with dear
"Steenie" Butler, on and over north and west mountains, in the fall and early winter, when, with guns in hand,
we deliberately premeditated the slaughter of wild pigeons and elusive gray squirrels.
I am not now prepared to say whether our innate skill as Nimrods, or the accuracy
of aim that might have come from practicing on Mr. Austin's ducks and Mr. Ingraham's
chickens (quite a number of which, I think, were said to be missing from time to time)
explained our success, but the fact remains that Butler and I seldom returned from our trips
without a fair share of game.
Of the drives to Pittsfield and visits to Maplewood Young Ladies' Seminary, much
to the delight (?) of the principal, Mr. Spear, and of the occurrences there, I may
"memorize," but dare not say much. The subject, even after this lapse of time, is fraught
with too tender and sentimental recollections to discuss, and then, too, it would be an
inexcusable breach of trust towards my companions, Mallery, Lapham, and
Vanderpool, and dear Will Corliss! You would not think it of one to whom we always looked up as the type
of strict decorum and dignified behavior, but once in a while we could even prevail on Will
to go with us, feeling highly honored at such condescension on his part! Once, however,
when he refused to go, and we found that he had quietly slipped off to
Lansingburg, not returning before we did, we came to the conclusion that he was not half so solicitous about
us as he was about attending "a sparking match" which was taking place quite frequently,
in those days, at Lansingburg!
For myself, my secret society associations furnish many of the most pleasant and
lasting of the friendships during the college course. References to these I might extend ad
infinitum, but perhaps I would be stopped before long by the question, Cui bono? But these
happy reminiscences of our college life are necessarily accompanied with a certain element
of pain and sadness as I contemplate our reunion next summer after a lapse of "forty years"
since as a Class we said "good-by" one to another.
Who will be there? How many will be missing from our circle, never more to meet
us this side of eternity ? How many will we recognize, and how many will at once
remember us as belonging to that little band, which about daybreak after the fatiguing
exercises of Class Day, with its banquet, history and poem, sang our Class song in loud and
earnest voices, bidding each and every member of '63 march through the untried and
unknown future of our respective lives, always observing the admonition of our Class motto,
"Acquit yourselves like men."
I fear I have already written more than will fill the space which you have allotted me
upon the pages of your report, and in conclusion desire, through the medium of said report,
to extend to all my classmates a most cordial invitation to call upon me, and make their
home with me when in Philadelphia.
Very sincerely, your classmate,
EDWARD LANG PERKINS.
Class of Sixty-Three Williams College Fortieth Year Report, by
the Class Historian, Thomas Todd Printer, Boston, 1903
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