Biography of John J. Tonkin
Oswego County, NY Biographies





Tonkin, John Jay, was born in England April 2, 1851, came to this country when about five years old, and was educated in the public, boarding and mechanical schools. At the age of twenty two he was first assistant superintendent of machinery for the Delaware and Hudson Coal Co., of Scranton, Pa., which company he left about two years later to accept the position of general superintendent of the James River Coal Co., of Richmond, Va., having full charge of all their property including mines, railroad and boats on canal. In 1879 he formed a company for the manufacture of the Tonkin Direct Acting Steam Pump, then went to Buffalo to take full charge of the Hart, Ball & Hart Works, manufacturers of oil well supplies, brass goods, cast iron pipe, sugar house supplies, forgings, etc. He found there was more money in making grape Sugar (glucose) and starch, so went with the Michigan Grape Sugar Co., as general superintendent, fitted up the new works. and started it successfully. He was then offered a position with the Chicago Sugar Refining Co. of Chicago, Ill., where he converted the first lot of anhydrous grape sugar ever converted on a manufacturing scale in this country, and was general superintendent of the works, which cost about two and one half million dollars. From Chicago he went to Oswego, and was engaged by the Oswego Starch Factory for the purpose of making starch for them by the latest process, the company being undecided whether to use the old process or the new. The output under his management was only about 4,800 lbs. per day, just to prove to the company on a small scale, the new process. Later on he was appointed by Thompson Kingsford as general manager of the Kingsford Foundry and Machine Works, having charge also of numerous other things under Mr. Kingsford, with whom he remained six years and one month, and was with the Oswego Starch Factory the whole time. While in Oswego he started the Oswego Tool Co., an incorporated company, of which he has always been president. They manufacture light machinery, tools for boiler shops, machine shops, for railway use, etc. He left Mr. Kingsford to take charge of the Warden Mfg. Co.'s Works at Philadelphia, Pa., manufacturers of boilers, gas engines, etc. Leaving Philadelphia in 1893 he organized a company for the manufacture of boilers, engines and general machinery, under the name of the Tonkin Boiler and Engine Works Co., whose officers are John Jermyn, president; Rollo G. Jermyn, treasurer, and John Jay Tonkin, engineer and general manager. The plant can work about 250 men and has a capacity of about 8400,000 worth per annum. The works are hydraulic throughout, and it is the second complete hydraulic plant in this country, the first being owned by the Pennsylvania Railroad Co., in their Altoona Shops. Altoona, Pa., where they build their locomotives. The Tonkin company has a 400 ton hydraulic flanging press, which was made in England; this press will flange up to eight feet diameter, one inch thick, in one heat. The company owns about twenty acres of ground at the present time for manufacturing purposes, and make nothing but high grade work. The Tonkin Co. make complete plans for steam power plants, including the buildings, brick chimneys, self supporting steel plate chimneys, and contract for complete steam plants of any capacity, all ready for steam. Mr. Tonkin has contracted for and supervised the building of several of the largest steam boiler plants in the country, among them the Third Avenue Cable road plant, New York city, of about eight thousand horse power; the Broadway cable road plant, New York city, of about six thousand horse power; boilers for the United States twin screw steamer, Maple, about two thousand horse power; for the World's Fair, Chicago, and many others.

FROM:
Landmarks of Oswego County
New York
Edited by: John C. Churchill, LL.D.
Assisted by: H, Perry Smith and W. Stanley Child
Syracuse, N. Y.
D. Mason & Co., Publishers 1895


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