THE PUSEY AND JONES CORPORATION, Wilmington, Delaware
A HUNDRED YEARS A-BUILDING
( Joshua L Pusey John Jones )
Section I. YESTERDAY. Highlights in the History of The Pussy and Jones Corporation - 1848 to 1948.
Section II TODAY. A review in pictures of some of the outstanding Pussy and Jones Papermaking
Machine installations of 1947 and 1948.
In 1948, The Pusey and Jones Corporation of Wilmington, Delaware is celebrating its 100th Anniversary. This Anniversary book is in a sense two books in one. First, we give you a history of the Company, not a dry-as-dust narrative, but separate, selected stories. Second, we present a pictorial record of modern papermaking machine installations which comprise a graphic story of the present.
From its early beginning in the little brick building leased from the Wilmington Whaling Company, the firm of Pusey and Jones has grown into an industrial organization which is internationally known. Its papermaking machines and ships have gone into every major country in the world and to some remote corners of the earth.
In the field of shipbuilding, The Pusey and Jones Corporation reached a peak of production several times during the past century. Starting in 1853, ships of many types were launched from the yards at Wilmington and the 6rm at that period became the largest builder of ships on the east coast of the United States. In the 1920's the company built many palatial yachts. During World War I and World War II, the shipbuilding facilities of Pusey and Jones established peak records in turning our cargo vessels for the Government.
Shipbuilding facilities were converted, when World War II ended. The two voluminous end launching ways were enclosed and the space divided equally between the Papermaking Machinery Division and the new Metal Fabrication Division. While ship building occupied an important role in the history of the company, the manufacture of papermaking machines has always been a leading interest of The Pusey and Jones Corporation. The firm's reputation for building fine papermaking machinery launched The Pusey and Jones Corporation into a lea position in the papermaking machine field.
As a new century opens, major facilities of The Pusey and Jones Corporation will be guided toward the building of better, more efficient and faster papermaking machines. This, then, is a story woven out of the past and present - a story of papermaking machines, ships and the men and women who built them.
The Men at the Helm
I n 1848, two young, ambitious mechanics Joshua L. Pusey and John Jones, formed a partnership which became the nucleus of Pusey and Jones. They had little money, but an abundance of confidence. They opened their small Wilmington plant ready for any and all general machine shop work. As small orders began to come into the plant, the two mechanics hired several men to assist with the work. One of these men was Matthew Spiegelhalter, grandfather of Andrew G. Spiegelhalter, now president of Pusy and Jones. The name of Spiegelhalter was destined to become linked with Pusey and Jones through the years.
The payroll in those beginning years amounted to $9o per week, an impressive sum for that period. In 1851 Edward Betts and Joshua Seal, who were operating an iron foundry in Wilmington purchased an interest in the business, and the name of the company then became Betts, Pusey, Jones & Seal.
The advent of the Civil War found the company equipped to handle the Government's urgent requirements for war vessels. The very first contract received was one calling for the building of a sloop of war." The contract was a very large one and necessitated the hiring of many workers who toiled day and night to complete the building of the sloop. In addition, many marine engines and boilers were built to be installed in wooden steamers built by other shipbuilding firms.
It was during this period that Andrew Spiegeihalter, father of Andrew G. Spiegeihalter, camc to work for the Pusey and Jones Company as it was later known. In 1932, he retired as General Superintendent of the entire plant. And in 1900, Andrew G. Spiegelhalter began his apprenticeship with the firm. His weekly pay totaled $2 for the first year and with subsequent increases of $1 per week for five years. His apprenticeship was completed at the end of that period. Successive promotions took place, and in 1939, Mr. Spiegeihalter was elected president and general manager of Pusey and Jones.
Men who succeeded Joshua L, Pusey and John Jones at the helm of Pusey jones are the following: Charles W. Pusey who became president in 1879; Thomas L. Savery, in 1906; John M. Mendinhall in 1907; Sterling H. Thomas in 1912; Christoffer Hannevig, in 1916; William Griscom Coxe in 192.1; Clement C. Smith in 192.7; John P. Pulliam in 192.9; Andrew G. Spiegel-halter in 1939.
More than 2.000 employees worked for the firm during the period of World War I shipbuilding. After the business slump of the early 1920's, the Company had a rebirth in 192.7 under the direction of Clement C. Smith, a business leader from the Middle West. At this time, the Pusey and Jones Corporation acquired all of the assets of the Pusey and Jones Company.
The highest peak in employment at Pusey and Jones
was reached during Wotld War II when more than 3600 employees
worked in the shipyards, plants and offices of the Company. At
the present time, approximately woo people are employed.
Building the First Iron Sailing Vessel in the U.S.A.
An iron sailing vessel is going to be built by Pusey and Jones! This exciting news passed from ear to ear in Wilmington, Delaware, in 1854.
Preparations for laying the keel were already under way at the shipbuilding yards of the company. Rumor of its building had fired the imaginations of those who heard of it, and the word drifted into the streets and shops of Wilmington.
Soon the newspapers got hold of the story, and in the weeks that followed, the entire nation and countries abroad were reading accounts of the 'daring engineering innovation." Skeptics were quick to laugh at the mere thought of such a project. They quickly pointed out that sailing vessels had always been made of sound oak timbers and hand hewn planking. But iron, the thought was fantastic. Iron would sink as soon as it touched the water-that was obvious, the so-called experts stated flatly.
The day of the launching of the "Mahlon Betts," the sailing schooner with an iron hull, became a day of almost national importance. Dignitaries from many walks of life journeyed to the Pusey and Jones shipbuilding yards to witness this unheard of attempt. The sober shaking of heads was a common sight among the crowds that spilled across the yards and clambered up on scaffold rigging to catch a better glimpse of the pending event.
Under the iron hull, shipyard workers roiled feverishly to grease thc ways, and at the various stations, swearing, heavily muscled laborers stood poised with sledges to drive out the shoring and posts at a given signal. A tenseness gripped the crowd as the launching whistles shrilled around them.
As the keel blocks were knocked our under the blows of sledges, the huge, iron-hulled vessel lumbered stern first down the ways, cables hanging loosely from firm fittings. It slid into the water with a gushing roar that set up huge waves. Then cheers swept the crowd. The "Mahlon Betts" floated majestically in the waters of the Christina River-a monumental tribute to the men who had believed it possible, and had carried the idea through to completion. Pusey and Jones marine engineers had concrete evidence that a body capable of displacing its own weight in water could float anywhere, regardless of whether it was made of iron or wood.
And thus the first iron sailing ship ever to be built
in the United States had been successfully launched by the men
of Pusey and Jones.
A Land-locked Steamer
PROBABLY one of the most intriguing tales concerning a Pusey and Jones-built steamer is the story of a river boat "locked in a lake' in Colombia, South America.
Between 1861 and 1879, a large number of ships were built for South American companies in Colombia, Venezuela, Peru and Brazil. Many Pusey and Jones steamers ply the river waters of South America. Types of steamers that were built at Pusey and Jones were twin-screw, side wheel and stern wheel vessels. Some of these had a hull depth of only 8 feet.
A few years ago a Pusey and Jones employee, traveler on a river boat in South America, saw a steamer with guns mounted aboard afloat in a small lake nearby. The only connecting tributary to the river was a small trickling stream. Puzzled, the representative asked about the stranded steamer.
The steamer, he learned, built by Pusey and Jones years before, had once been a fine river boat. During a sporadic revolution, the steamer was commandeered by a rebel army, and guns were mounted on her decks. Due to flood conditions, the river had risen to a high crest, and during a raiding foray, the steamer was navigated across a gushing stream into a small lake nearby to avoid scouting government troops.
Suddenly the river waters receded. The rebel troops aboard the steamer saw the wide stream quickly reduced to a narrow trickle of water. There was no way to float the steamer out other than digging a new channel which would take months. Reluctantly, the steamer was abandoned when government troops arrived nearby.
But the steamer later became a sort of symbol of
authority and power for during every revolution that occurred
in later years, revolutionaries would board her decks, cheering
they took possession. The abandoned "river queen" still
floats proudly on the small lake, her paint worn away, guns rusting,
a floating trophy to the armies that claim her.
Puseyjones' First Papermaking Machines
DOWN to 1867, the prevailing custom in the United States was to order papermaking machines from abroad. Pusey jones had made parts for papermaking machines in many sections of the country but had never built a complete machine.
In 1867 a top-hatted gentleman launched Puseyjones into this field. He stepped from a carriage in front of the Puseyjones shop, walked briskly into the front office and earnestly stated his business.
"1 am William Luke of the Rockland Paper Mills," he announced crisply. "As you may have heard, my mill burned to the ground. I need your help."
Mr. Luke wanted Puseyjones to construct two complete papermaking machines, and to start work on them immediately. Some serious thinking went on in the minds of Joshua L. Pusey and John Jones. Here was a challenge to be met, taxing the abilities and skill of the LI-year-old firm which up to that time had concentrated on marine engines and general machine work.
They decided to accept Mr. Luke's order and the work went forward immediately. When this order was completed the 86-inch Fourdrinier parts of these machines were the largest built at that time. Later when the machines were put into production on book paper, the results greatly pleased the owners of the Rockland Paper Mills.
As time went on, Puseyjones began to receive a number of orders for papermaking machines based on the work the firm. had done for the Rockland Mills. More than fifty-two years later, the first two machines built by Puseyjones were still in operation!
Though the Rockland Paper Mills was later reorganized and the name changed to the Jessup and Moore Paper Company, this firm still continued to do business with Puseyjones. A number of machines were purchased through the years like the high-speed machine ordered in 1926 with a width of 166 inches.
Neither Joshua Pusey nor his partner, John Jones, nor William Luke realized on that momentous day in 1867 how far Puseyjones would go in the papermaking machine field, and how many foreign countries would contact this Wilmington firm to purchase papermaking machines and mill equipment.
Perhaps it was destiny that led William Luke to the small shop in Wilmington, but the same service, spirit of accomplishment and skilled craftsmanship that went into the first two machines for the Rockland Paper Mills have continued through the years at Puseyjones.
A 69-year Story of Labor-Management Relation:
A REMARKABLE example of devotion to one's job and loyalty to the firm is the classic record of a former Puseyjones employee. The employee, a machinist, Francis Patrick Cummerford, of Wilmington, piled up an impressive number of years of service. This was in the days before employee retirement plans. Cummerford worked at Puseyjones for sixty-nine years, an almost unbelievable record! He was employed from 1864 to 1934 and rose from an apprentice to a master machinist.
Frank Cummerford, at eighty-two, looked like a retired country doctor, white-haired, distinguished with his neatly-trimmed moustache and beard. Standing almost erect at his machine, he would check the adjustment of a micrometer as quickly and accurately as any machinist in the shop. His skilled fingers could swiftly trim the controls of the large automatic planer in front of him, and a few moments later, his experienced gaze would follow the hardened steel tool biting into a shaft of metal.
Year after year Cummerford worked at his post while all around him a swell of shop noises echoed sharply. These familiar sounds were to him the daily assurance that the work he understood so well was being done. Frank Cummerford came to Pusey jones as a young apprentice-boy at a time when the country was still engaged in the savage Civil War. He was paid $2. a week for his first year.
Cummerford was one of the old school Machinists, a man who saw a tremendous change in the sixty-nine years with Pusey jones, the discarding of hand tools for the fast, precision -machines of a mechanical age. Everyone from the youngest apprentice to the general manager looked up to Frank Cummerford as a source of inspiration. His record as an employee was excellent and his ability as a machinist was admired by the men who worked with him.
Frank Curumerford 's loyalty to his job and to Puseyjones
will always remain an outstanding record of accomplishment, and
a typical example of excellent labor-management relations.
SHIPS of many types, weight and design were launched from the Puseyjones shipyards during the firm's century in business. From the early sidewheel gunboats used during the Civil War to the steamers which still ply the river waters of several South American countries, and the sleek yachts cruising through the Caribbean, Puseyjones-built ships frequently made news.
In the yacht class, one of the notable examples is the 'Volunteer," winner of the America's Cup in 1887. The order for this trim sailing craft was placed by the owner of the "Mayflower," General Paine, of Boston, Mass. The "Mayflower" had won the Cup during the previous year, and in 1887, the English challenged the America's Cup holder.
General Paine decided to build another yacht, a sister ship to the 'Mayflower," and gave Puseyjones an order to start the construction Work started immediately after receipt of the order. With the laying of the keel plates of the steel hull, building of the yacht got underway. In a remarkably short space of time, the yacht was completed and launched from the Puseyjones yards.
Christened the "Volunteer," the yacht's hull measured 86 feet in length with a beam of 23 feet 6 inches and a depth of 14 feet. When completely out-fitted, her sleek hull glistening with white paint. the "Volunteer" unfurled her sails and began her trial runs.
Over the trial course, the "Volunteer" was matched with the "Mayflower" to determine which yacht would be selected to defend the Cup. The "Volunteer" heeled gracefully and pointed high going up wind under the competent guidance of her hand-picked crew.
As a result of the excellent performance during the trial runs, The New York Yacht Club selected the "Volunteer" as the Cup defender. At a prearranged date, the English challenger, the "Thistle," arrived in this country from England.
On September 27 and 30th, the "Volunteer" and the "Thistle" were matched over the New York course under the intent gaze of thousands of spectators gathered on other ships standing by. The "Volunteer" raced across the waters to capture the winning honors, and the America's Cup remained in the possession of the United States.
News of the "Volunteer's" victory was received with jubilation by all at Puseyjones who had worked untiringly to build a successful Cup defender. The "Volunteer" was truly a blue ribbon champion.
Thus Puseyjones joined that select list of shipbuilders who have contributed successful 3-class sloops to the America's Cup series, and since 1887 the Puseyjones hall mark is to be found on some of the finest and most luxurious yachts built in America.