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Gabriel Grant


Centurion, 1894–1909

Born 4 September 1826 in Newark, New Jersey

Died 8 November 1909 in New York (Manhattan), New York

Buried Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, Sleepy Hollow, New York

Proposed by Salem H. Wales and Henry E. Howland

Elected 6 October 1894 at age sixty-eight

Century Memorials

Gabriel Grant had been for fifteen years a frequenter of these rooms, a member of the inner circle. He was born eighty-three years ago in Newark, New Jersey, of earliest colonial stock. Educated at Williams and Columbia, he practised as a physician and organized a hospital in Panama during the close of the gold rush, returned to New York as a cholera expert, was an army surgeon during the Civil War, in charge of important government interests in military hospital work, was on the firing line in a dozen of its fiercest battles, had mention and decoration by Congress for distinguished gallantry and retired only when incapacitated by wounds. His interests were medical, historical and social, and he belonged to six important associations of the city. He will be remembered here as a true friend, an entertaining talker and a delightful companion.

William Milligan Sloane
1910 Century Association Yearbook

The adventures of John Hays Hammond in gold-mine prospecting on four continents were as colorful as those of the rough-and-ready pioneers in the California or Klondike “gold rush”; but he was not altogether of their type. Hammond was an educated mining engineer, graduate of the Sheffield Scientific School, and of the Saxon Royal School of Mines. He himself recalled that, when he first sought employment and the California prospector to whom he applied objected that “practical miners” were wanted, not “scientists,” the applicant insisted that he had not learned anything at Freiberg. But that, though it got him the job, was hardly true. The subsequent paramount success of Hammond as infallible discoverer, for the great mining companies which he served, of the possibilities or impossibilities of a new venture, resulted probably as much from his thorough geological training as from his individual genius in the calling. During many years he provided the scientific vision, first for the Guggenheims, then for the Consolidated Gold Fields.

This did not mean that Hammond’s career was of routine order. He had his initiation at the Western mining camp, when citizens with a grudge against one another exchanged shots in the street or across the saloon, and when improvised courts imposed immediate justice. But if his later explorations were conducted, not in the covered wagon but in the private car, his responsibilities and his reputation brought him in contact with governments, in a way not at all commonplace. No personal history has typified more strikingly the clash between Boers and Uitlanders in the Nineties, when Hammond met his great adventure. The broader political merits of that conflict have been always more or less obscured. Hammond insisted that the “reform movement” at Johannesburg, the mine managers’ accumulation of guns and ammunition, were only preparation for a revolt against Kruger’s intolerable treatment of a community which consisted of virtual Transvaal citizens, who indeed had originally been invited by the Transvaal president, and who owned nine tenths of the Boer Republic’s assessable real estate.

Dr. Jameson’s hot-headedness, in beginning the “raid” from the Cape Colony border prematurely and without adequate preparation, his immediate capture by the Boers, upset the whole undertaking. Along with other active leaders at Johannesburg, Hammond was seized, jailed and, until commutation of his sentence to a heavy money fine, was condemned to death. Relying on the meager Cape Town dispatches, Hammond’s fellow-countrymen across the water pictured the American prospector as languishing forlornly in a prison such as our up-to-date dictators nowadays provide for inconvenient citizens. But it was hardly so; Hammond’s own later reminiscences picture an interesting and by no means uncomfortable episode. Mark Twain called on him sociably at the Pretoria prison, and informed the reporters that the conveniences of the mining conspirator’s present residence were far superior to those of the Western camps where his career had begun. Hammond recalled, in after years, how the official prison ménu had its defects, but how even those were repaired by the wife of Solly Joel, one of the imprisoned mine promoters. Availing herself of the feminine costume of that day, Mrs. Joel visited the prisoners with the crown of her hat packed full of good cigars, a bottle of cream under her skirt, and a brace of ducks in her bustle.

Alexander Dana Noyes
1937 Century Association Yearbook