KNOWLEDGE IS POWER
The Ingrams lived not far from the steel mills in one of two wooden houses, each two stories in height, which Reuben Harris and James Ingram had built for their families, when they began in a modest way to manufacture steel. As Reuben Harris grew rich he moved his family into a beautiful home in the fashionable part of the city, and good society accepted them as their equals.
The large family and small income of James Ingram forced him to continue his residence in the same brown house near the steel mills. The Ingram family kept much to their English ways and knew little or nothing of society. The English and Germans cling tenaciously to their old habits and customs which they carry across seas and over mountains. Generations must elapse before it will be safe to predict what the national type of an American citizen will be. One discovers on the British Isles the mixture of centuries of European blood which has developed a virility of body and brain that dominates the globe. “More honor to be a British subject to-day than to have been a Roman in Rome’s palmiest days,” thought James Ingram, who was proud of his race and his family blood.
James Ingram came from a well-bred English household. His environment now hedged him in. In England ill-health, and now, in America, ill-treatment made him miss golden opportunities. Except good qualities are inbred, it is almost as impossible for a person in one stratum of society to be lifted up into another as it is for the geological strata of the earth to change positions.
The grandmother of James Ingram had good blood in her veins; she came from a family that had performed valiant deeds in war and in peace. James Ingram’s father had erred in judgment, and a large estate, partially inherited, had been swept away as by a flood. He died, leaving James the eldest son to aid in supporting his mother and several children.
James Ingram was now over fifty years of age. Could he, or his children, retrieve their family prestige was a question he often asked himself. He still had energy, unconquerable determination, and faith in himself. These are some of the essential elements in a successful character; but the fates thus far had decreed adversely. His early education was not of the best, but by carefully devoting not less than two hours a day to good reading, he had not only kept pace with current history, but had also acquired a helpful knowledge of the sciences.
When his oldest son George was born, he planned to give his children the best education possible. Two of his three daughters were teaching in the public schools; May Ingram taught music. Two of his sons worked in the mills, one as chemist and one as an electrician; a third son was conductor on a passenger train, and a fourth was studying to be a physician.
The father and his son, George, after the day’s work at the mills was over, spent much time over a problem which, if solved, would revolutionize many things. Twice they thought they were on the eve of a solution of the subject, but unforeseen obstacles were encountered, and still they struggled on.