Pusey & Jones Corporation and Parsons Engineering Company records1888-1935
The Pusey & Jones Corporation were shipbuilders, founders, and machinists of Wilmington, Delaware, which later expanded into papermaking machinery manufacturing. The Parsons Engineering Company was established for the manufacture of smoke-consuming devices and innovations with railroad technology. This collection includes papers from the Pusey & Jones Corporation and Parsons Engineering Company.
The Pusey & Jones Corporation were shipbuilders, founders, and machinists of Wilmington, Delaware, which later expanded into papermaking machinery manufacturing.
In 1848, Joshua L. Pusey (1820-1891) and John Jones (1818-1897) formed the partnership of Pusey & Jones, with machine shops and a factory for the building of engines. In 1851, they were joined by Edward Betts (1825-1917) and Joshua Seal (1820-1896), and the firm became Betts, Pusey, Jones & Seal. By 1857 Edward Betts and Seal had withdrawn, and Alfred Betts (1835-1918) became a partner, and the firm name changed to Pusey, Jones & Betts. Alfred Betts was succeeded in 1860 by William G. Gibbons (1833-1886), and the firm again changed its name to become Pusey, Jones & Co. In 1866, John Jones retired from the partnership, and Thomas H. Savery (1837-1910) was admitted. The firm continued as the Pusey, Jones & Co. until 1879 when it was incorporated as the Pusey & Jones Co. In 1927, it became the Pusey & Jones Corporation, under the presidency of William G. Coxe, and continued as such until liquidation in 1959.
In its initial operations, the firm built general machinery and steam engines and did a variety of repair work. In 1853, it entered the field of shipbuilding, the first contract being for the Mahlon Betts, an iron side-wheeler, claimed to be the first iron sailing vessel built in the United States. Also in 1853, the company launched the Flora McDonald for use on the Cape Fear River in North Carolina. During the Civil War, the firm filled numerous government contracts, especially in fitting machinery and engines in hulls built elsewhere. Among these were the Juniata and the gunboats Wyalusing and Mingo, and certain smaller vessels including the Pilgrim, Stanton, Foote, and Porter.
After the war, the company returned to the building of river steamers, many of which were for use in South America. About 110 steamers of various types were built for South America between 1865 and 1900. Others were built and outfitted for government agencies in the United States, including the Coast Survey, Lighthouse Service, and Quartermaster Department. During World War I, government production increased, and fourteen cargo vessels and two minesweepers were launched, besides much activity in outfitting others and in producing parts for tanks, gun tractors, Pershing locomotives, and other war material. A second shipyard was added in Gloucester City, New Jersey, to help meet the demand, but closed after the war. Equal activity characterized the years of World War II.
The company was widely known in the area of pleasure craft and built the steel-hulled racing yacht Volunteer (designed by Edward Burgess for General Charles J. Paine), which defeated the English Thistle for America's Cup in 1887. They built other noted yachts, including those of Pierre Lorillard (Caiman), H.E. Dodge (Nokomis), Richard M. Cadwalader Jr. (Savorna), Fred J. Fisher (Nakhoda), Walter O. Briggs (Cambriona), Alfred P. Sloan Jr. (Rene), R.R.M. Carpenter (Galaxy), Ogden Mills (Avalon), and Edsel Ford (Onika).
The firm was active in other fields of production. In its early years, it produced the ironwork for the Crystal Palace at the Exhibit of the Industry of All Nations, which opened in July 1853 in New York. In 1867, the firm expanded into the manufacture of papermaking machinery, the first commission being from the Jessup & Moore Paper Co. at Rockland, Delaware. This proved to be a profitable field, and by the 1890s, the Pusey & Jones Corporation was one of the largest manufacturers of such machinery in the world. Aside from sales in the United States, their equipment went to England, Germany, Finland, Japan, Norway, Sweden, Russia, and Thailand.
After 111 years, the Pusey & Jones Corporation filed for Chapter 11 reorganization on November 7, 1959. President Joseph B. Ulicny and John B. Jessup (1894-1970) were appointed receivers. Attempts to reorganize the company failed, it was judged bankrupt on January 27, 1960, and Jessup was appointed liquidating trustee. The firm's designs, drawings, and work on hand were sold to the John Inglis Company, Ltd. on February 26, 1960. The Wilmington Trust Company assumed the physical plant as mortgagee on March 15, 1960, and resold it to Philip L. Moskowitz & Associates, Cincinnati scrap dealers. All remaining claims were settled, and the liquidation was completed early in 1962.
The Parsons Engineering Company was established for the manufacture of smoke-consuming devices and innovations with railroad technology. The company was founded in 1907 by John H. Parsons (1855-1934), Theodore C. Search (1884-1973), and Herbert H. Ward (1856-1927). The Company offices were located at the Equitable building in Wilmington, Delaware, at 9th and Market streets.
Parsons was an engineer. He had worked for twenty years as an engine driver in the Delaware division of the Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR), and prior to his time at PRR, he was at the Baldwin Locomotive Works. He was also an inventor. Parsons designed a heater box that was used on boilers for the purpose of getting all the fuel value out of the coal and reducing the smoke output. The heater box was patented, and the device was a popular addition to the locomotive as it increased fuel efficiency.
William H. Savery (1865-1949) became Secretary and General Manager for Parsons Engineering Company, which produced other railroad technology as well. Despite the company's success, it went into debt and by 1914 was in receivership. Savery became the court-appointed receiver. On February 24, 1915, a public sale was held at the Court of Chancery in Wilmington, Delaware. The patent for the heater box was sold to the St. Louis Terminal Company, which equipped 149 engines with it.
Scope and Contents
This collection consists of a variety of papers relating to Pusey & Jones Co. and Parsons Engineering Company, both of Wilmington, Delaware. The materials include papers pertaining to pulp-saving machinery, patent papers; reports; agreements and correspondence of Thomas H. Savery; blueprints; financial papers, and a description of business relations of Pusey & Jones with E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co. near the end of the nineteenth century.
No restrictions on access; this collection is open for research.
Language of Materials
Thomas H. Savery collection - pictures relating to Pusey & Jones Co. (Accession 1972.369), Audiovisual and Digital Initiatives Department, Hagley Museum and Library.
Finding Aid & Administrative Information
- Pusey & Jones Corporation and Parsons Engineering Company records
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- 2021: Ashley Williams