Marvin Frisbee Scaife (1855-1921)

The following is from: "Year Book of the Pennsylvania Society, 1922," Barr Ferree, ed.

"Marvin Frisbee Scaife was born in Pittsburgh, October 28, 1855. He was the son of William Barrett and Mary Frisbee Scaife. He was educated in the Pittsburgh public schools, graduating from the Pittsburgh High School and afterward studied abroad. In business he was associated with the firm of William B. Scaife & Sons. Long retired from business, he devoted his time to the study and promotion of various interests, particularly to art. He was treasurer and director of the Art Society of Pittsburgh, and director of the American Federation of Arts in Washington D.C. He was secretary and trustee of the board of managers of the State Institution for the Feeble-Minded at Polk, Penn. He married Miss Jennie Melville Boyle, December 29, 1904. He died suddenly January 12, 1921. He was selected a member of the [Pennsylvania] Society in 1902, and was long chairman for Allegheny County."

The Johnstown Flood National Memorial is indebted to researcher John Leach who discovered the following information while researching the members of the South Fork Fishing and Hunting Club:

"Marvin Frisbee Scaife was an executive and partner in the metal products company that was started by his grandfather and expanded by his father. He was also an advocate for the arts. Scaife was born in Pittsburgh on October 28, 1855 to William Borrett Scaife and Mary (Frisbee) Scaife.

His grandfather, Jeffrey Scaife, emigrated to America from England in 1789 at the age of 8, accompanying an uncle and aunt. Jeffrey Scaife learned the trade of tinner in Philadelphia and in 1802 established the Scaife Co. in Pittsburgh, making tin, copper, sheet-ironware, and japanned-ware.

Scaife passed the company on to his oldest son, William Scaife, who bought out his father's partners and named the firm William B. Scaife and Sons.

The company began making metal parts for steamboats as the river trade exploded, then added roof frames and corrugated roofing and sidings. Eventually, it branched out into steel tanks for air, gasses, liquids, steel buildings, and water purifying equipment.

Marvin Scaife, one of William's 13 children, began working as a clerk in his father's company by 1870 and was listed as a partner with two brothers in 1888.

In 1891, Scaife was traveling in Europe when he learned of the plight of the Waldensians, a Protestant sect that had outgrown its land on the Italy-France border and was seeking a new home for some of its members. He owned the Morgantown Land and Improvement Company in North Carolina and sold 10,000 acres in Burke County to the Waldensians. About 200 relocated.

He married Jennie Melville Boyle on December 29, 1904. She was the daughter of Henry Boyle and Mary Jane (Gibson) Boyle. Henry was an auctioneer.

Scaife was still active in the family's company in 1910 but had retired by 1920 to devote his energies to study, public service, and promotion of the arts.

He served as treasurer and a director of the Art Society of Pittsburgh and a director of the American Federation of Arts in Washington, D.C. He also was secretary and a trustee for the State Institution for the Feeble-Minded at Polk, Pa., and a director of the Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce.

He died on January 12, 1921."

"The Scaife Family and the Scaife Company," by J. Verner Scaife Jr., in The Western Pennsylvania Historical Magazine, Vol. 34, No. 2 (June 1951).
Year Book of the Pennsylvania Society
Profile of father and his company at the Carnegie Public Library.
Tale of the Waldensians

Last updated: November 20, 2017

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