Edwin H Vare
Born in Southwark, Philadelphia, July 19, 1862, Edwin H. Vare was the son of pig farmer, coal dealer, and garbage and excavation hauler Augustus Vare and wife Abigail. The second oldest of the three “Dukes of South Philadelphia,” pursued his father’s business; became a member of the House of Representatives in 1897, resigned; and entered a contracting partnership with brothers, George A. and William S. as the “Vare Brothers.” The business brought tremendous wealth to all of the Vares, along with any number of civil complaints and criminal indictments. In 1908, Ed effectively and successfully challenged (mostly enemy) Boies Penrose for sole control of Philadelphia politics, landing 80% of the Republican vote in Philadelphia’s First (Senate) District. He literally controlled the courts and political power brokers across the Commonwealth. Vare’s control of politics was always evident in the state Capitol. Entering the Capitol Rotunda, each freshman senator had to advance under the inspecting stare of Ed Vare, who would stand at the top of the marble stair case, directly in front of the entrance. This “staring down” exercise not only sized up the individual senator, it branded the legislator as the property of Ed Vare – or at least, that was his purpose. Ed Vare died in office on October 16, 1922. He married Flora Morris. In 1927, Flora Morris Vare became the first elected woman state Senator.