century association biographical archive

Earliest Members of the Century Association

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Edgar S. Van Winkle


Centurion, 1847–1882

Full Name Edgar Simeon Van Winkle

Born 3 August 1810 in New York (Manhattan), New York

Died 9 December 1882 in Litchfield, Connecticut

Buried East Cemetery, Litchfield, Connecticut

Proposed by N/A: Founder

Elected 13 January 1847 at age thirty-six

Archivist’s Note: Secretary of the Century Association, 1851. Father of E. B. Van Winkle; grandfather of William Mitchell Van Winkle. It was he who suggested the name “Century” for the club when it was established in 1847 because one hundred gentlemen were initially invited to join. After his death, a memorial address delivered to the Column Club, a predecessor of the Century, in January 1883 by Parke Godwin was included in a published collection of tributes available at In Memoriam Edgar S. Van Winkle.

Seconder of:

Century Memorials

Of these [deceased members], two, the Rev. Dr. Bellows and Edgar S. Van Winkle, were among the founders of the Club, leaving only four surviving that enjoy that distinction.

Augustus R. Macdonough
1883 Century Association Reports

Van Winkle lived from 1810 to 1882. He was a graduate of Nassau Hall Academy in New Jersey, the precursor to Princeton University. He then read law, specializing in trusts, wills and real estate. When Daniel Webster moved to New York, he chose Van Winkle as his law partner. Van Winkle chaired the first meeting of the Bar Association of the City of New York.

Van Winkle was comfortable in the Latin, French and English classics and composed poetry. He was also responsible for the naming of “The Century Association” when its constitution was adopted.

Van Winkle published a paper in the International Review of September 1878 on “The Spelling of Shakespeare’s Name,” referring to the multiple variations, including four versions in a single deed of 1605 and at least 51 other variants. He addressed the West Side Association in December 1870 on the importance of improvements to streets and the need for rapid transit and public parks.

In 1836, Edgar Allan Poe suggested that Van Winkle write for the Southern Literary Messenger on the study of law in the United States, but the invitation apparently was not accepted.

William A. Frosch
“Our Original Amateurs, 2009”