Member Biography

Israel Wilson Durham 

Sessions Office Position District Party
1897-1898       6 Republican
1909-1910       2 Republican

COUNTIES: Philadelphia  


10/24/1855 - 06/28/1909

Israel Wilson Durham (R6) Philadelphia County, 1897-1898 (R2) Philadelphia County 1908-1909

Early Life:

Israel Wilson Durham, born October 24, 1855, Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania; son of Thomas Durham and Jane Elizabeth Norris Durham; public schools education; engaged, cloth business; apprenticed, bricklayer; engaged, flour buyer, salesman. elected, Philadelphia Police Magistrate, 1883-1895; elected, Republican, Pennsylvania State Senate, 1897-1898, appointed, Insurance Commissioner, 1899-1905; elected, Republican, Pennsylvania State Senate, 1908-1909; delegate, Republican National Convention from Pennsylvania, 1900, 1904, 1908; president, Philadelphia Phillies National League Baseball Club, 1909; died, June 28, 1909, suddenly, summer residence, Atlantic City, Atlantic County, New Jersey; interment Mount Moriah Cemetery, Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania.

Early Career:

Engaged, cloth business, J. B. Ellison and Company; bricklayer, apprenticed, Silas Emory; engaged, father's business, flour buyer, salesman.

Pennsylvania Politics:  

Elected, Philadelphia Police Magistrate, 1883-1895.

Elected, Republican, Pennsylvania State Senate, 6th district, Philadelphia County, 1897-1898, vacancy, Honorable Boies Penrose, United States Senator; member, Corporations, Education, Finance, Insurance, Judiciary Special, Legislative Apportionment, Municipal Affairs and Public Supply of Light, Heat and Water Committees.

Appointed, Insurance Commissioner, Governor William Alexis Stone, 1899-1902; re-appointed, Insurance Commissioner, Governor Samuel Whitaker Pennypacker; January 1903 - June 1, 1905.

Delegate, Republican National Convention from Pennsylvania, 1900, 1904, 1908.

Elected, Pennsylvania State Senate, 2nd district, Philadelphia County 1908-1909; vacancy, resignation, John M. Scott; member Appropriations, Corporations, Finance, Judiciary Special, Law and Order, New Counties and County Seats, Public Health and Sanitation and Railroads Committees. Died, June 28, 1909.  


Part of an investment group that bought the Philadelphia Phillies National League Baseball Club, president, February 1909-June 1909.

Obituary in Sporting Life Magazine, Vol. 53, No. 17, July 3, 1909. Philadelphia, page 1:

ISRAEL W. DURHAM, President of the Philadelphia National League Club.

Died, June 28, 1909.

Within ten days after the death of President Dovey, of the Boston Club, of the National League, that organization is bereft just as suddenly and tragically of another member. At Atlantic City, afternoon of June 28, 1909. President Israel W. Durham, of the Philadelphia National League Club, died suddenly while seated at luncheon in his cottage. Without a word of warning Mr. Durham reeled in his chair and fell over. His sister, Mrs. Phillip H. Johnson, wife of the Philadelphia architect, was sitting beside him, and she caught her brother in her arms as he fell. He was unable to speak and died in a few moments. Senator Durham and his sister had returned just before luncheon from an automobile trip. Mrs. Johnson said over the long distance 'phone that the Senator had been cheerful throughout the trip, but when they reached the cottage he complained of shortness of breath. Mr. Durham, in conjunction with Messrs. McNichol and Wolf, purchased the Philadelphia Club last March and Mr. Durham was at once elected President, displacing William J. Shettsline. Strangely, since his ownership of the club Mr. Durham had not seen his team play a game, as just before the local championship series between the Phillies and Athletics he was prostrated by an attack of grip, which confined to his bed for weeks and enfeebled him so that he was compelled to go to Atlantic City for recuperation without seeing his team play, in which he took great pride and interest and with whose doings he kept in close touch even when confined to his sick bed. A comprehensive biographical sketch of the deceased appeared in "Sporting Life," issue of March 6, 1909.


Smull’s Legislative Hand Book, (1898) Cochran, T.B., (Ed.). Miller, H.P., (A. Ed.) Biographical Sketches of Senators, pages 1136, 1163 and 1169-1171.

Smull’s Legislative Hand Book, (1909) Miller, H.P. (Ed.). Baker, W.H., (A. Ed.) Biographical Sketches of Senators, pages 919, 942 and 949-952.

Cox, Harold. "Senate Members D"Wilkes University Election Statistics Project. Wilkes University.

The Boston Globe (Boston, Massachusetts) Tuesday June 29, 1909, Page 16

The Philadelphia Inquirer (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) Tuesday June 29, 1909, Page 1