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THE AMERICAN SOCIETY OF MECHANICAL ENGINEERS
THE AMERICAN SOCIETY OF
OF JOHN FRITZ
HONORARY MEMBER AND PAST PRESIDENT
Ti-.-- , • fvv "
, ,, t T • 1 .-' A r\ 1
Special Edition issued by The American Society of Mechanical
Engineers through the courtesy of the Author and concurrent with
the edition published by John Wiley and Sons.
n^HIS book is dedicated to the loyal^ able^ brave and fearless
men who so faithfully stood by me throughout my career.
To them all^ in whatever capacity employed^ I am ever grateful^
and I should like to call each one by name and to thank them
personally^ from the depth of my hearty for their most valuable
assistance and for the uniform kindness they have ever shown me.
They deserve the plaudits of the country for the innumerable
blessings they have conferred in performing the great amount of
mental and physical labor necessary in accomplishing the marvelous
changes and wonderful results that have marked the development
of the iron and steel business from my first connection with it some
seventy years ago.
In this short preface I wish to tell my friends who
read this book how it was that I came to write it. My
undertaking it came about wholly through the persistent
urging of a number of old friends, who insisted on my
writing out for them, in my own words, an account of
my life struggles ; and the publication of my autobiography
before my death is again owing to the fact that, against
my wishes, these good friends would not wait for it, but
insisted on having it now. And so I have jotted down
the record of my life, and it is given to you as I wrote it.
You must not expect fine language nor eloquent periods,
but only the honest record of the hard-working life of one
who loves his country and his fellow men, and who has
tried to serve both.
TABLE OF CONTENTS.
Forewords from Old Friends xi
I. Family History i
II. Early Farm Lite 7
III. School Life 13
IV. School Life (continued) 20
V. Boyhood Days 24
VI. My Apprenticeship Days 32
VII. NORRISTOWN 40
VIII. NoRRiSTOWN (continued) 49
IX. Safe Harbor 59
X. Fever and Ague 67
XI. NoRRiSTowN, Second Time 77
XII. KuNZiE Furnace 80
XIII. Catasauqua 90
XIV. Cambria 91
XV. Cambria (continued) : The Three-high Rail Mux . . . 108
XVI. Cambria (continued): Fire and Reconstruction 116
XVII. Cambria (continued) : Retrospect 125
XVIII. Bethlehem: Iron Rolling Mill and Blast Furnaces 139
XIX. United States Rolling Mill at Chattanooga 144
XX. Puddling 147
XXI. The Bessemer Process 149
XXII. The Bessemer Process (continued) 159
XXIII. Open-hearth Process 166
XXIV. Blooming Mill 169
XXV. Structural and Plate Mill 173
XXVI. Forge and Armor-plate Plant 177
XXVII. Forge and Armor-plate Plant (continued) 189
XXVIII. Conclusion 204
X TABLE OF CONTENTS
Engineering Societies, College Degrees, Medals, Committees 215
The Fritz Engineering Laboratory 216
Seventieth Birthday Anniversary Dintsier 227
Eightieth Birthday Anniversary Dinner and Foundation of
THE John Fritz Medal 266
Awards of the John Fritz Medal 325
Testimonial Dinner by the Manufacturers' Club of Phila-
FOREWORDS FROM OLD FRIENDS.
Many men have written their autobiographies, giving
the details of lives which had been more or less useful to
their fellow men, and covering periods in the world's
history during which events of greater or lesser moment had
occurred. It is my privilege to write this foreword to the
self-told story of a long life of great activity, whose every
accomplishment was for the advancement and betterment
of civilization. If ever the appellation of "a self-made
man " was correctly appUed, it is emphatically so as relat-
ing to John Fritz. Born from sturdy stock, given very lim-
ited opportunities for education, but blessed with splendid
physical health and strength, and endowed with a clear and
logical mind and inherent mechanical genius, he resolutely
set himself the task of mastering every problem which
might confront him in life's struggle, and persistently sought
the problems. This necessitated a life of hard labor and
frugality, in which was developed a character of great
strength, but also one of equal integrity, remarkable
simplicity, and broad sympathies. So active a life of
necessity encountered frequent opposition and many con-
tests, defeats as well as triumphs, but always commanding
respect and generally receiving affection. Respect and
affection for Mr. Fritz are not confined to his own country
or continent. He has been honored by many of the Scien-
tific Societies of the whole world, and has had many and
remarkable evidences of personal esteem and affection
from his fellow men, while to the whole Iron and Steel
fraternity, as well as to his neighbors, he is, in his old age,
respectfully and affectionately known as " Uncle John."
Mr. Fritz's more than 89 years have covered the most
eventful era in the world's history; in fact, it is hard to
realize that any one life could have witnessed so many and
such wonderful achievements; — placing on a practical basis
the construction and operation of steam and electric rail-
ways; the invention of the electric telegraph; that of the
daguerreot3^pe, and the art of photography; the laying and
operation of ocean cables; electric lighting; the telephone;
the phonograph; and the other wonderful electrical en-
gineering developments — perhaps the most startling of
all — wireless telegraphy; the making actual of submarine
navigation; and the until lately unbelievable science of
aviation. In Mr. Fritz's own particular field of engineering,
he witnessed the discovery, and participated in the develop-
ment of the epoch-making Bessemer process, followed by
the Acid and Basic Open-hearth, and now the electric
furnace; and besides those, the other tremendous develop-
ments in the Iron and Steel arts, in which he was an active
It is fortunate that the incidents of such a life should
be recorded in Mr. Fritz's own way and in his own words;
and speaking for those of us who are left of the many who
were associated with him and therefore who knew and loved
him, I thank him for this his latest work.
ROBERT W. HUNT.
In July, 1 86 1, the clouds of war hung dark over the
placid valley of the Brandywine. News had come that
Bull Run had been fought and lost. In a plain farmhouse,
a depressed wife went about her daily tasks, when a slender
lad entered. " Mother," he said, " I have enlisted; I
am going to the war." She only turned and rejoined:
" Well, my boy, never let me hear that they shot you in
That woman was the mother of John Fritz; the boy, his
youngest brother. If his mother never had occasion to use
this Spartan encouragement to her eldest son, we know that
her training of him had been on the same lines, and we also
know that never did any of the Fritz children, boys or
girls, ever turn their backs on any duty, any hardship, any
danger. But, side by side, with this stern teaching there
acted upon them the gentle, though not less powerful,
influence of the father, the German farmer, whose very
glance, though never hand or voice was raised against his
children, was more feared by them than the mother's, we
may be sure, always unmistakable corrections. This man,
George Fritz, John Fritz's father, was one of Nature's
noblemen; a born mechanical genius, a clear thinker, with
a gentle heart and keen sense of humor, all of which
quaUties he handed down to his son.
The humble home built by these people was the university
of John Fritz. His post-graduate course was taken in the
battle of a long and varied Hfe, covering, we may say, the
entire period of modern development. In these two schools
he acquired those qualities which characterized the parents
and helped to create his own commanding personality.
There he learned, and learned well, the great lessons of
humanity and life. Let us rejoice that there were no
universities and hardly any schools in reach of Chester
County, Pennsylvania. If there had been, America would
never have had a John Fritz. He would, no doubt, have
become a great personality, but one moulded in the common
form, and of the usual type; he would have been one of
several others. Now, he has been unique, alone in his class.
Untaught, as far as printed education went, he entered
life at the bottom, but with a vision always above and
beyond the surrounding horizon, whilst ever holding close
to the practical possibilities of the world in which he lived.
He advanced, led, always led. Often opposed by the
timid and commonplace with whom he sometimes had to
work, he generally achieved that which he set out to do,
because it was practical, logical and needed.
John Fritz started out with the best of educations —
the example of his parents. His clear head, his correct
judgment, his justice, his tact and his kindly heart did the
rest. And thus it is that he has now given to us who know
him and to the several generations of men with whom he,
during the better part of a century, has come into contact,
glimpses of that education, of the life work built on it and
of the man it made. And it is this personality, made up of
strength, cautious daring, resource and judgment, but also
of gentleness and honor, that his nearest friends, his
brothers in profession, his aides, his workmen, and all the
many who must remember him with gratitude as a helping
friend in need, a sound and sympathetic adviser, a chari-
table judge, do, and always will, honor and admire.
It is to John Fritz, " The Man," that the technical world
and his countrymen give homage in his old age when his
life work is done, even more than to the great engineer who
built the guns and armor which won the battle at Santiago.
This is the fact which I, by these lines, wish to point out
and emphasize to those who will now read his own simply
told story of his life work. And it is again this personality
of John Fritz, seen between the lines of his book, which
will always give this autobiography a special value to the
host of American engineers amongst whom he now stands
honored and revered as the only surviving representative
of that advance guard of engineers who, small in nimiber,
strong in resource, perseverance and genius, laid the founda-
tion for and started the building of the greatest industrial
empire the world has ever known.
When I was working for the Bethlehem Iron Works under
the direction of John Fritz, he was ready at all times to
consider suggestions from anyone. It is a great faculty
to be able judiciously to discuss matters with those about
us, and gather the consensus of opinion. This consensus
of opinion is generally nearer right than any one man's
judgment, and I believe that Mr. Fritz's ability and willing-
ness to do this probably contributed much to his great
He concerned himself not about money but about results
that should be advantageous to his associates and the
human race. If he had in hand a man or a machine they
had to produce results. He could see the essence of a
subject as none other could, and he could apply a remedy
for a difficulty as none other could.
The material engineering works of Mr. Fritz are ample to
give him lasting fame, but the successful construction of
the Bethlehem Iron and Steel Plants and his other previous
great undertakings are far from being his most useful and
The best work, in my judgment, done by him was the
training of the young men who worked under him. They
have gone out to carry and spread broadcast his creed of
initiative industrial progress, and through them Mr. Fritz's
work is still going on from the St. Lawrence to the Rio
Grande in all sorts of industrial enterprises based on his
D. A. TOMPKINS.
"What man is there among us who coming in contact
with a great soul is not made the wiser, better and happier
thereby. A drop of water on the petal of a lotus glitters
with the lustre of a pearl."
And who among us that have had the honor and privi-
lege to know the author of this book, to know Uncle
John Fritz, but will say we have come in contact with a
great, a noble soul.
Who of us will ever forget the cordial greetings, the
delightful talks he has given us, the cheery smile on his
face as he has told us of his life work; aye such men as
Uncle John "help to move this dark world nearer the
sun." They fail not to pour good oil on the axis of this
old round earth that she may run smoother on her bear-
ings as we journey around the sun. It is such men that
" Give us the glad good morning
As we pass along the way,
And leave the morning's glory
Over the livelong day."
The world knows Uncle John Fritz as the great engineer,
his loved ones and we his friends of ye olden time know
him as a man among men.
JOHN ALFRED BRASHEAR.
THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF
I WAS born August 21, 1822, in Londonderry Township,
Chester County, Pennsylvania, and was the oldest child of
a family of seven children, three brothers and four sisters.
I was born of parents of exemplary character, my father
being a man of high moral standards; he fully impressed
upon my mind the importance of absolute integrity, energy,
and economy. My mother was a true Christian woman,
and early taught me to read and revere that book of books,
the Holy Bible, and to trust in the Supreme Being; and
that to respect and obey His laws was a duty which man-
kind should not disregard. At this distant day, to my
mind, the moral and religious training received from my
parents was the most important training I could possibly
have received; and I have ever thought the highest honor
I could pay to their memory was to endeavor to follow their
My father, George Fritz, was born July 26, 1792, in
Cassel, Hesse Cassel, Germany, and came to this country,
landing in Philadelphia August 26, 1802, with his father
and mother, Johannes and Gertrude Meinhard Fritzius,
and their children, Conrad, Margaret, John, and Henry
(EUzabeth, Catherine, and Mary were born in this country).
2 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
They were accompanied to this country by my grand-father's
brother, J, George Fritzius, and his wife, Eva Catherine.
My great-uncle and his wife immediately went West and
were never afterwards heard of.
My mother, Mary Meharg, was born June i8, 1799, in
Londonderry, Chester County, Pennsylvania. She was
a daughter of William and Hannah Connor Meharg. My
Grandfather Meharg emigrated from Tobermore, London-
derry County, Ireland, about 1787. He was of Scotch-
Irish Presbyterian stock.
My father and mother were married July 26, 182 1, at
Hepzibah Church, East Fallowfield, Chester County, Penn-
sylvania, by the Rev. Jethro Johnson, a famous Baptist
minister of that day. They had seven children. John,
the subject of this sketch, married Ellen W. Maxwell and
had one daughter, Gertrude, who died at the age of seven
years; Hannah Ann married B. Frank Stroud; Catherine
married Isaac E. Chandler; George married Ella Maclay;
Sarah married Robert Russell; Elizabeth married Hiram E.
Russell; and William married Eleanora Paddington, of
My brother George was born December 15, 1828, in
Chester County. He early displayed a proclivity for
mechanical pursuits, a talent which he certainly inherited
from his father. When about the age of eighteen he was
apprenticed to one of the leading master builders of Phila-
delphia, to learn the carpenter's trade. He became a first-
class workman, but I could see no great outlook for him in
that line of business and believing he had much mechanical
ability, I made up my mind to get him, if possible, into the
mechanical engineering line. I was at that time in the
employ of Messrs. Moore & Hooven of the Norristown
Iron Works, Norristown, Pennsylvania. Fortunately for
both George and myself, there was quite a good machine
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ $
shop in Norristown, and a highly esteemed friend of mine,
Mr. Archibald Johnston, was financially interested in and
also the manager of the shop and was an able mechanical
engineer. I told him about my brother George bemg a
good carpenter and that I wanted to get him in the engineer-
ing line, and said to him, " Sometime when you are in want
of a man to do the coarser work in the shop, I should be
pleased if you would give him a trial." He said, " Send for
him at once; I am in want at this time of just such a man."
This I did, and inside of three months George was on the
best work in the shop and soon proved to be a first-class
pattern maker, an important person about a manufacturing
plant. When I went to Catasauqua I took him with me
and also to Cambria. There I found him apt in any place
I put him and he soon became useful to me and learned the
business rapidly. When I left Cambria in i860 he suc-
ceeded me as Engineer and Superintendent of the Cambria
Works and remained in that position until his death.
When the War broke out he was connected with a volun-
teer company and at once offered his services. The com-
pany was accepted and he was in his place ready to fulfill
his duty. The Cambria Company requested him to remain
at home and upon his refusing to desert his comrades in
arms, Mr. Morrell, the General Manager, appealed to the
men, showing them that if George went with them the
rolling mill would be compelled to stop. It was only at
the earnest request of his fellow soldiers that he reluctantly
consented to remain at home. Later when drafted, al-
though exempted through the loss of part of all the fingers
of his right hand, he refused to claim his right under the law
and contributed to the support of the Government by
paying the exemption money. Not satisfied with this, he
subsequently furnished a representative recruit. While
making no profession of religion, he contributed largely to
6 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
the building of the Methodist church at Johnstown, as well
as looking after its erection. He died August 5, 1873.
WilHam was born in Chester County, Pennsylvania,
February 26, 1841. When fourteen years old he followed
us to Johnstown and apprenticed himself to the Cambria
Iron Company as a machinist. He remained in this
capacity imtil i860, when he went to Bethlehem. At the
outbreak of the War, he responded to his country's first
call and enlisted in the three months' service in the First
Pennsylvania Infantry, and after his first term had expired
he enlisted in a cavalry regiment and served for three years.
While thus engaged, he was seriously wounded and was
granted a furlough. When the Government erected its
rail mill at Chattanooga, according to plans I prepared at
the Gk)vemment's request, he was placed in charge of it,
and ran it successfully until the War was over. He then
accepted the superintendency of the Abbott Iron Company
of Baltimore and remained there several years. Later he
entered into partnership with Horace Brooke in the blast
furnace business in Baltimore, Maryland. About five years
before his death he was obliged to give up work on account
of faihng health. He died March 20, 1884.
EARLY FARM LIFE.
At this distant day I look back to my early boyhood,
when I lived on the farm, as the most pleasant period of my
life. In the summer we waded in the brook, caught butter-
flies, and, as we grew older, had the more exciting sport of
fighting and destro3dng the bumblebee and hornets' nests,
which required both skill and daring, and we often came
out of the encounter somewhat wiser, but many times not
The most innocent, interesting, and instructive pleasure
that we, as youths, so much enjoyed was the time we spent
with the young stock in the fields, — the colts, calves, and
lambs; and it would, to the people of to-day, who know
nothing of farm life, be a great surprise to know how tame
and companionable they can be taught to be, — the colts,
of course, first, as the noble horse is always in the lead; they
could be taught to rear up, and lie down. We would twist
straw into ropes and make what we called straw harness
and dress them up in the most fantastic style, and march
them around for hours at a time, they seeming to enjoy
themselves as much as we did.
The calves would follow us all around and were very
tame and gentle, but seemingly had some object in view
and generally wanted something to eat. They were not
susceptible of being taught like the colt, but at times were
The lamb became very domestic and playful, and there
was one trick that he would readily learn and that was to
8 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
butt; unfortunately, however, he would never forget it and
often became troublesome and at times vicious, frequently-
practicing his early learned tricks on people, much to their
annoyance and sometimes to their detriment, which caused
timid people to give him a wide berth. At times some of
his butting was amusing to spectators, but annoying to
Children on a farm also get a correct knowledge of all
domestic animals, such as learning how to take care of the
noble horse — to handle, harness, and drive him. They
also learn about the forests, — the names of the various trees,
and their peculiar properties, the character of the wood,
and the various purposes it is used for. They have an
excellent opportunity to study botany, learning the names
of flowers and plants and how to cultivate them. They
visit the orchard, and in season pluck the ripe and delicious
fruit from the trees with their own little hands and eat it
with a relish that they will never experience in after life.
They hear the birds sing and admire their beautiful plum-
age, and learn their manner of building their nests and
rearing their young. They learn a useful and instructive
lesson from the industrious ant and the busy bee. The
study of the habits of the bee is an exceedingly interesting
one, not only to naturalists, but to all people who take an
interest in the habits of the more intelligent insects, amongst
which the bee ranks high. They visit the sweet little
brook and see the small fish darting through the water;
they wade and dabble in the stream, which is as clear and
fine as their own dear little hearts. Where can children
have such an opportunity to commune with nature as on
the well-regulated farm? Moreover, the information gained
in early youth is frequently retained in the mind, when that
which is gained in after years is forgotten.
Between the ages of six and seven years my farm labors
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FBITZ 9
commenced by dropping corn, in grains to the hill. When
the corn was about three inches high, I rode the horse,
attached to the harrow, to guide him between the rows.
Next the corn had to be kept clear of weeds, which had to
be pulled up and hoed out. By this time the hay harvest
was on and mowing commenced, and it was my duty to
carry drink to the harvest men in the field. This consisted
of fine old rye whiskey and fine water fresh from the spring
About the time the hay was secured the wheat was quite
ready for the sickle, and in addition to seeing that the men
had all they wanted to drink and water quite fresh from the
spring, I gathered sheaves between drinks, — which were
quite frequent. Shortly after the wheat was housed the
oats were ready for the cradle if erect; if down, the scythe
was frequently used; the oats harvest is generally easier
and more quickly over than the hay, wheat, or rye. My
duty continued the same until the crop was all in the barn,
and as I now remember I was not at all sorry the harvest
I now supposed that my duty as grog boss and gathering
sheaves was ended, and I began wondering what would turn
up next, but did not have long to wait. The next morning
after the completing of the harvest, I was called as usual
at about four o'clock. I walked down two pair of stairs,
as I slept next to the shingles, rubbing my eyes, feeling
somewhat tired, but more sleepy. I went out and took
down the tin wash basin which was hanging by the side of
the house, filled it with water, and gave my face, neck, and
eyes a good washing, which refreshed me very much. About
this time my father came up from the barn and said,
" Good morning, John. This promises to be a fine day.
We will raise the potatoes; the ground being dry no soil will
adhere to them, and they will go in the cellar clean and dry,
10 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
which is important, they being much more likely to keep
well than if put away wet and dirty. After you have
driven up the cows, come to the field."
It was the custom on the farm to go to work at sunrise,
the women doing the milking, properly putting the milk in
place, and feeding the young stock and chickens before
breakfast, which was taken at seven o'clock. After break-
fast we again went to the field, all having been previously
arranged for the plow. It was started and a furrow was
made as close to the potatoes as possible without injury to
them. Then spades or shovels were used to turn them out.
There was no use for old rye in digging potatoes, conse-
quently not so much water was used. My duties were,
therefore, changed to that of picking potatoes, a task which
did not to me savor much of a promotion, as it required
neither technical nor practical knowledge; but being a
private, it was my duty to obey commands and to faithfully
do as ordered. My father being a particular man and at
times exacting (at least as a boy I often thought so), every-
thing had to be done in the best possible and most careful
manner, consequently the potatoes were put in a basket
and gently placed in the cart or wagon without a bruise or
an abrasion of even the outer skin, i
I mention this fact as an illustration not only of how I
was taught to pick potatoes, but also of how I was taught
to do everything, for all I was called on to do had to be done
in a like manner, to the best of my ability. And I unhesi-
tatingly say that much of the success that I may have
attained in life is largely due to the careful and exacting
training received in early youth from a kind and exacting
It was early in the hot month of August and a hot day.
In picking potatoes you can neither stand erect, sit, nor lie
down, but must be in a stooping position, and as the hot
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ II
sun was shining on my back I fully made up' my mind that
I would rather be grog boss and gather sheaves in the har-
vest field than pick potatoes. But it was a duty and had
to be done, so I stuck to it, saying nothing, but my mind
was active. I was next sandwiched into school for a short
time, until the time to get ready for the fall seeding was on.
Being now in my eighth year and large for my age, and
healthy, I was able to do a considerable amount of work in
the way of getting the ground ready for the plow. I
assisted in loading and spreading the manure on the field,
which my father told me was very healthy work and not as
hard as carrying sheaves and drink to the harvest men, so
I was happy. By the time seeding was completed the corn
was ready to cut and stack and in a short time was ready
to husk. When this work was finished and the corn and
fodder had been taken care of, the time for threshing out
and winnowing the grain had come; this work was at once
commenced and soon completed. Both grain and straw
were put in their proper places.
It was now November and next in order was to prepare
for the winter. As coal at that time was not used, at least
not in the farming districts, wood had to be cut and so
placed that it could be easily secured during the winter.
The cattle of all kinds were housed and made comfortable,
the farming implements looked up and put in their proper
places, under cover. The leather had come from the
tanners and the shoemaker was in the house, as was the
custom at that time, ready to make each member of the
family a pair of shoes, which were calculated to last a year.
Our dear mother furnished all the family with a good supply
of woolen stockings, much better and more serviceable than
can be gotten to-day, knit out of yarn, that was spun off
the distaff, by her own hands, from wool sheared from the
sheep that were raised under her fostering care. Society
12 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
was then more economical and simpler in habits than it is
to-day, it being the custom for people to raise wool and flax,
to spin, knit,and weave, and largely make their own apparel.
The people were industrious, contented, and happy, and full
of sympathy for the poor and unfortimate.
My father, having attained celebrity in his trade as mill-
wright and machinist, and being pressed by people who
were greatly in want of his services, decided to devote his
time wholly to his calling. Doubtless thinking I was
rather fresh to become a full-fledged farmer, he concluded
to put the farm, or rather lot, in some other hands to work
it for a time.
, I was then over eight years old and as I had had but little
schooling my parents were both anxious to get where I
could have the benefit of six months' schooUng in a year.
This was a number of years before the time of free or public
schools, and the only opportunity of securing an education
was limited to three months in the summer and the same
in the winter. It was before pedagogy had become a
science, and the teachers were not so well qualified for the
discharge of their duties as they are at the present time.
We moved to a place much nearer the school than where
we had formerly lived, so near that I could attend in all
kinds of weather. For three months of the time in summer
I was very fortimate in attending a school kept by a lady,
Miss Rebecca Clark, who was educated at the Friends'
School, at West Town, Chester County. She was a born
teacher, and I am sure that I learned more in the three
months that I attended school with her, as teacher, than in
three times three months with any other teacher I was ever
with. She was a lovely woman with a magnetic and
commanding presence, kind-hearted, and gentle, yet pos-
14 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
sessing a moral firmness, which she skillfully applied,
always reproving with kindness and in the most gentle
manner, endeavoring at all times to command the confidence
and respect of the children, which is so essential for the
success of both teacher and pupil; this she accomplished
in an eminent degree, not only with the children of the
school, but also with all who knew her.
The winter school was some two and one-half miles from
where we lived; the snows were much deeper than those we
have now, and the roads were generally so badly drifted
that it was scarcely possible for one of my age to attend
regularly. The next summer Miss Clark failed to get a
sufficient number of scholars to warrant her enough com-
pensation for her labor. This was owing to the estabHsh-
ment of a school at the other end of the district, which I
was compelled to attend, in consequence of Miss Clark's
failure to secure a school. I was disappointed, and, as the
teacher was incompetent, I learned but little. Probably
it was much my own fault. Miss Clark was an ideal
teacher, greatly loved and respected by all her scholars.
As I was compelled to go to an indift'erent teacher who was
not hked, satisfactory results were not likely to be fully
realized. As one of the objects my father had for leaving
the farm (that of giving me an opportunity for an educa-
tion) was in a measure a failure, as his business required
him to be from home so much of his time that he grew weary
of it, and as he was fond of his family and all were happy
when he was with them, it was agreed all round that it
would be best for him to go back to the farm.
I was now nearly ten years of age, stout and healthy, and
was able to do much of the farm work. The farm or lot we
had formerly lived on was small, and as quite a family of
children were growing up, both father and mother thought
it very desirable to have more land. Consequently, they
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ 1 5
sold the farm and bought a larger one, of about fifty acres,
about one and a half miles from a school. This enabled
the girls to attend the summer quarter and the boys the
It was here in an old country log house that I took my
scholastic degrees. The building was under the jurisdic-
tion of the Society of Friends, generally known at that time
as Quakers. They held service in their meeting house
twice a week, first-day and fifth-day meetings as they were
called, which were attended regularly whether in seedtime
or harvest. They also had what were called quarterly
meetings, which took place every three months, and which
it was the custom for all the school, when in session, to
attend ; all walked over to the meeting in a body under the
eye of the teacher, and remained until it was over. I have
been informed that I heard Elias Hicks speak, and I have
no doubt it is so, but I cannot remember him. He was an
able man, and a great leader of the Friends, and it was
his views on the Divinity of Christ that caused the separa-
tion of the Society into two parts, now known as Hicksite
and Orthodox. The Friends were a most excellent people,
good neighbors, charitable, peace-loving, and peace-making;
in early life I was much amongst them, and I have no doubt
that I profited by association with them.
In order that the present generation may fully compre-
hend the difficulty of securing an education when I was a
boy, some eighty odd years ago, it will be quite in place
to state, very briefly, the condition of the schools, as they
existed at that date. It was a number of years prior to
the time when the great commoner, Thaddeus Stevens,
made his eloquent and farseeing appeal to our State legis-
lature, sixty odd years since, in favor of our common school
system. The predictions he made in that memorable
address when the bill was under discussion have been fully
l6 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
verified. The benefits the youth have derived and are
deriving from the free school system, viewed alone from a
social and economic standpoint, are incalculable, and the
impetus public schools have given to agriculture, manu-
facture, and commerce is of great importance to both state
Well, we were on the new farm and were pleased with the
change and with the new farm also. My father was from
home but little the first summer, leaving only for some
important work and then only for a few days at a time.
My duties were practically the same as those of my two
former years on the farm. As the farm was large, the work
was somewhat harder and the harvest season longer. When
the seeding was done, the corn all in, and all fall work
completed, I was next gotten in order for my three months'
schooling, which generally commenced in the latter part
of November or early in December. I was then over ten
years of age, and had only about one and a half miles to
walk. I attended school every day it was in session, up to
the latter part of February, or the first of March, when the
winter term closed.
The teacher was a Mr. Baker, who was considered a very
competent person. He had succeeded in obtaining sub-
scriptions for about forty scholars, which was quite a good
number for that time. He was a stern, resolute person,
qualifications that many people at that day thought essen-
tial, especially for the winter term, when only boys attended.
As a great many of the boys were from fourteen to twenty
years of age, people were of the opinion that to insure
proper control it was necessary for the teacher to know how
to handle the rod. In this line Mr. Baker was an expert,
ever lookyig for an excuse to use it. An opportunity one
day occurred in the most imexpected manner. The older
boys took delight in plaguing the kids, as they called the
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ 1 7
younger boys, by breaking up the plays, whatever they
were, and annoying them in any way they could. One day
when there was snow, the younger boys, I being one of
them, were passing by the end of the Friends' meeting
house. I spied a knothole in the shutter of the gable-end
window, and having a snowball in my hand I inadvertently
threw it to see how near I could come to striking the hole.
Of course all the rest, boylike, must see how near they could
come to striking the mark. About the time we were getting
our best work in, we received such a volley of snowballs
from the older boys that we were compelled to make a
hasty retreat, much to our chagrin. But we did not have to
wait long for revenge and it came in a most unexpected
manner. The older boys at once took the cue to see if
they could put a ball through the hole, but they threw such
a volley against the time-worn shutter that it went to
pieces. About this time we younger boys saw our teacher
coming up the road. We stepped out of the way, but where
we could have an eye on him. He halted a short distance
from the older boys and took in the situation. As he was
in the rear of them, they did not see him until he was
quite close. Then, of course, they began snowballing each
other. He passed them seemingly without taking notice
of what had happened, but knowing the pleasure he seemed
to take in the use of the rod, and that he was always on the
lookout for an opportunity to use it, we could see danger
ahead. But, as the larger boys had done the damage, we
consoled ourselves with the thought that they would get
the worst of it, and we would have the satisfaction of see-
ing them severely chastised for the rude treatment we ever
received from them.
We did not have long to wait to see what was going to
happen. As soon as school was called to order and all had
taken their seats, Mr. Baker called the older boys whom
l8 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
he had seen snowballing the shutter and ordered them to
stand in line. He then took down one of his choice rods,
of which he kept a number on a couple of pins in the logs
back of his desk, stepped to the front, and addressed them.
I do not remember the words, but their substance is clear
in my mind, and knowing him well as a man and neighbor,
and being familiar with his disposition and his manner of
talking to the boys, I think I can give quite a clear idea
of what he said, but probably more certainly of what he
thought. He at all times greatly magnified any offense
the boys were so unfortunate as to commit. He said,
" You seem to be possessed of a mahgnant spirit and prone
to do evil. The defacement of property used as a place
of worship by a God-fearing and unassuming people, to
whom you are indebted for the use of this building for a
schoolhouse (in which I yet hope to teach you all to see the
evil of your ways), is not only a great outrage against the
Society of Friends, but also against the community, for
which offense you must be punished. While I greatly
regret that you have committed this outrage, it gives me
some pleasure to administer to you the chastisement
you so richly deserve." He began at one end of the line,
and gave every boy a severe whipping, sending each
one to his seat as he completed the punishment. He
then returned to his desk with a benignant smile on his
face, as though he had done his duty, but somewhat
Being looked on as rather a leader of the younger boys, I
must confess this was an anxious period for me. As I was
not sure that the teacher had not seen the younger boys in
the same act and that some questions might not be asked
who commenced it, I quite naturally supposed that I might
be called on to answer that question. Had I been asked I
should have promptly said, as we had entire confidence
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ 1 9
in each other, that I was the one, and that would have been
all I knew about it. There was no fear of squeahng among
the boys so long as no disgraceful or wicked act was com-
mitted. There were, however, no questions asked, much
to the relief of the younger boys, myself included.
SCHOOL LIFE. — Continued.
In looking back at this distant period to my schoolboy
days and taking all the conditions into consideration, I
think that next to Miss Clark, Mr. Baker was the best
teacher I ever had. Yet their mode of teaching and manner
of keeping order were diametrically the opposite, the former
accomplishing the purpose by kindness and simple per-
suasion, the latter with absolute despotism. But in fairness
to both teachers it is proper to say that the make-up of the
schools was widely different. As Miss Clark taught in
the summer, her scholars were principally girls and the
younger boys, but few of them being over ten or twelve
years of age. As Mr. Baker taught in the winter, his
school was entirely of boys, from eleven upwards to seven-
teen, and frequently twenty years of age. The winter
schools were the only chance the farmer boys, who were old
enough and able to work, had to get an education. This
condition of affairs (primitive as the schools were) neces-
sarily caused a large attendance. The last three winters
that I attended school, at the age of thirteen, fourteen, and
fifteen, the attendance numbered daily over forty scholars,
all boys, and of all ages from eleven to eighteen, and some
up to twenty-one. The reader, if he knows anything of
boys of the ages referred to, can well imagine the difficulties
the teacher had to contend with in keeping proper order,
to say nothing of the time necessary for the proper instruc-
tion of the students.
Fortunately for the teacher, but very unfortunately for
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ- 21
the scholars, the studies were few and simple in character.
However, had they been otherwise, a very large majority
of the boys could not have given them proper attention,
as after school they had long distances to walk, the stock on
the farm to take care of, the wood for the night to put in
the box, then supper. The principal light used in the rural
districts at that time was the tin dish open lard lamp, and
the tallow dip, with frequently the spitting wick. In the
morning the duties of the night previous had to be repeated;
after this was done, then the long walk to school in all kinds
of weather. When I look back from this distant period to
my boyhood days and compare the economic conditions
of the school system of that time with those of the present,
with the beautiful and comfortable schoolhouses (I might,
comparatively speaking, say palaces), located at most con-
venient distances, divided into rooms suitable for elemen-
tary teaching, and to some extent technical, under the
charge of teachers graduated in the science of pedagogy, all
under the watchful eye of the county superintendents, who
are, generally speaking, persons well educated and intelli-
gent, comparing favorably in that respect with most of our
learned professors, and when I consider the high schools
where the graduates who receive their diplomas are well
fitted to accept responsible positions or to study almost any
one of the learned professions, I feel that the youth of
to-day should be most profoundly grateful for the almost
marvelous opportunity they have for securing, in our free
schools, an education that will fit them for almost any
position in life.
When I was going to school, some of the well-to-do
farmers would send their sons to an academy and their
daughters to what was called a Young Ladies' Seminary,
but neither of these schools could be compared with our
present system of high schools. The Friends, or Quakers
22 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOBN FRITZ
as they are now generally known, would send their children,
for a year or so, to their own school at West Town, when
they were say about fourteen to sixteen years of age, but
the poor farmer with a mortgage on his farm (as was gen-
erally the case), and with a large family of children to raise,
and interest on a mortgage to be paid, had but little chance
to give any of his sons an education beyond what they
could get at the winter subscription schools.
It was my good fortune to get along well with the teachers.
I do not remember getting a whipping at school or even a
severe rebuke. I do not claim that I was any better or
freer from pranks than other boys, but in school I was a
student. When out, I was a boy amongst the others. At
that time the schoolmaster was a perfect despot, making
his own rules and enforcing them absolutely. Should his
oral commands not be obeyed at once, the rod was applied
until the command was complied with, and there was no
appeal. Should the victims complain to their parents, the
reply was, *' Behave yourself and do as the master tells you,
and you won't get thrashed." This was cold comfort,
consequently but few complaints were made at home. In
the winter schools, the course of instruction was extremely
simple. Comly's spelling book, with definitions, was
studied; in reading, the introductions and sequel of the
English reader, and the Columbian Orator were the books
used; history, geography, and grammar were not taught.
In mathematics. Pike and Bennett's Arithmetic completed
the studies, except in the case of a very few pupils, whose
parents lived near the school and were able to let their
children attend in the summer; boys who had mastered
Pike and Bennett struggled with mensuration for the
purpose of becoming surveyors, a title that commanded
some respect at that time, and to see a surveyor with his
instruments and chain measuring the farms and roads,
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ 23
caused much excitement with the boys of that day, and
should any of the boys be so fortunate as to help carry the
chain, they forthwith would become surveyors. The in-
struction received in writing was, if possible, even more
meager than that in the other subjects. Learning to
properly hold the quill-pen, making letters, and imitating
headlines written by the teacher, was the limit. Such a
duty as writing an essay or composing a sentence we were
never called on to do.
We had now lived on the new place one year, and as I
was one year older and as my father was more from home,
I had much more and somewhat harder work to do than
the previous year. I had this year to learn to do all the
important work on the farm, such as plow, harrow, mow
grass, and reap grain, — all hard work. There were no
mowing or reaping machines at that time; all grass and
grain had to be cut with the scythe or sickle. All this I
had to learn and do something at. My father was doing
more at his trade this year than the previous year, and this
not only put more work on me, but more responsibility.
I had a slight offset against this, however, as I occasionally
had to take my father's chest of tools to where he was going
to work. This I enjoyed very much, as I got to see the
country, and besides it gave me an opportunity to see the
different mills, — flour mills, cotton and woolen mills, for
all of which my father did work. This was a rare treat for
me, deepening and broadening the foundation for the love of
machinery that I already possessed, and gave me the oppor-
tunity of seeing and becoming familiar with the various
operations and the ingenious and delicate machinery that
was used in the different processes of manufacture.
The spinning and weaving of cotton goods was the kind
of manufacture which I had the best opportunity to see,
as there were two mills but little over a mile from where
we Uved, and my father did all the difficult repairs for both
of them. This necessitated my making frequent visits
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ 25
to the mills, and when I could possibly spare the time I
would spend it in the manufacturing department. It
commenced at what was at that time called the picker, or
beater, which prepared the cotton for the carding machine,
which properly arranged the fibers of the cotton. The
throstle and mule did the spinning and put the yarn in
shape for the loom. All of the machinery interested me
greatly, but the shuttle flying or shooting from side to side
was a mystery that I was unable to solve. But of all the
machines in the factory, the mule was to me the most
interesting and instructive. But why it was called a mule
I; was at a loss to know. But however degrading its
name may have been, it was the one machine that com-
pletely captivated me. To see a machine some thirty feet
or more in length, with its many spindles, spinning yam,
with one-half of the machine fixed and the other part moving
back and forth through a space of some eight feet or more,
spinning the thread as it ran out, and winding it on spools
or bobbins on its return, making it ready for the loom, was
to me most marvelous. Being young, with mind free,
clear, and active, and not yet crowded, the impression was
the more lasting, and although eighty years have passed
over my head since I first witnessed that almost bewildering
sight, and I have changed from a tow-headed boy to an old
gray-headed man, with a mind filled with events that have
taken place during my long, eventful, and active fife, the
feeling of astonishment, and I may say of fear, that I
experienced when the door was opened and I was, for the
first time, ushered into the noisiest place I had ever been in,
is almost as clear in my memory as it was on that first day.
The machine, or mule as it was called, was placed at the
end of the building, and so close to the wall that when
the traveling part of the machine was out the space was so
narrow that it looked dangerous. When I first entered,
26 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
the man in charge, called the mule spinner, was placing
his knee against the pad to start or push the moving part
back, as I supposed, to its place (they are now driven by
power), but it immediately started back again, coming
directly toward where I was standing. Not knowing the
exact place it was going to stop, I rather instinctively
moved sideways toward the door to await results. After
seeing it moving in and out several times, always stopping
at the same place, my fears were, in a great measure,
quieted, but the noise was at first something terrific. After
a few visits, however, I got quite used to it, and lost but few
opportunities to get in to watch the machines at work.
I must now come back to the farm again. The next two
years on the new farm differed but Kttle from the previous
year, except that as I grew older I had to do all kinds of
farm work, and I was quite proud of my attainments.
My father being a very particular man, everything I was
called on to do had to be done in the best manner possible.
The furrow must be kept straight and of even depth; if the
plow struck a stone in the bottom, that was too large to be
taken out quickly, the place was marked and the stone
was either taken out or buried deeper so that the plow would
not touch it. This had to be done before the ground was
harrowed and finally prepared for seeding. This training
was a good thing for me, as it taught me to do everything
well, an important lesson for me in after life, as principles
instilled in the mind in youth are seldom forgotten.
The duties and routine of farm life were so similar to
those of the previous year that it is unnecessary to allude
to them. The next two winters of school also were practi-
cally the same as far as routine was concerned. Of course
some progress was made in learning; but no new books or
new studies were introduced.
I shall now very briefly describe the last two years of my
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ 27
farm life as one; as they were so similar and the routine of
the farm changed but little, it is useless to go over it fully.
I was at that time in my fourteenth year and made a full
hand at any work on the farm. In the harvest field I held
the post of honor, pitching on on the near side in the field,
and pitching off in the barn, the two hardest positions to fill
in harvesting. During these two years we burned Hme
to put on the farm. The limestone quarry was about two
and a half miles distant from the kiln in which it was burned,
and it fell to my lot to do the hauling; this was done in the
spring, after seeding and before harvest, or after harvest
and before fall seeding time. The hours for all workmen at
that time were from sunrise to sunset. It was my duty to
be at the quarry, have the wagon loaded and on the scales
waiting for the workmen to take the weight of the load.
This required early rising in order to get the team in proper
shape and in the quarry at the time named. But this I
did not mind, as all farmers at that time were early risers.
I was anxious to have some knowledge of everything that
was necessary to be done on the farm, and the burning of
lime was about the only part of the business that I had no
experience in. Hence, it was a source of pleasure, as at all
times I tried to get all the information possible about
everything I had to do with. This practically completed
my farm education; as it was before the introduction of
agricultural machinery, all work was done by hand. It was
a source of great satisfaction to be able to say that I had
done all kinds of work on the farm, and to feel fully con-
scious that I had not only done it, but had done it well.
Having given a very brief account of my last two years of
farm life, I wiU next give briefly something of my last two
winters of school life.
First, we had a new teacher, by the name of Elisha
Jefferis, the son of a well-to-do Squire, who lived close to
28 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
the schoolhouse, and whose sons were so fortunate as to
have had the advantage of both winter and summer schools;
besides this, our teacher had attended an academy for two
terms, and was quite a well-educated man for that time;
he seemed to be a good teacher, was very generally liked
by the scholars, had good order, and used the rod but little
in comparison with the previous teacher. There was little
or no change in the books or in the system of teaching,
especially during the first winter. The boys generally
seemed to be getting along quite well with their lessons and
were pleased with the new teacher. In spelling and defini-
tions I was doing so well, standing at the head of the class
in which I was the youngest, a large majority of the class
being from sixteen to eighteen years of age, that I became
ashamed of standing at the head, or rather sympathized
with the others, and asked the teacher to let me stand at
the foot of the class as long as I missed no word in either
spelling or definition, with the understanding that if I
missed any he should place me in the class, where, in
accordance with the rules, I properly belonged. He agreed
to do this, and it was so rarely that I failed that he let me
remain at the foot permanently, and it seemed to have a
good effect on the older boys.
In arithmetic I got along quite well and I was very fond
of it; my father told me that it would be very useful to me
in the future, consequently I did my best. But five days
in the week for three months in the year, is too short a time
for the proper study of Bennett's Arithmetic. The teacher,
however, was well satisfied with the progress I was making.
This pleased me very much, and my parents also, and their
satisfaction added much to my previous stock of pleasure.
But this was not all that was in store for me. Being handy
with the ball, and lively on foot, I was asked by the older
boys to take a place with them in their ball game, some-
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OP JOHN FRITZ 29
times called long town ball, the predecessor of modern base-
ball. In the simplicity of my boyhood days I thought this
a very great honor, and imagined that it was a great step
on the road to manhood, the goal of boys' ambition. This
was the second of the two winters and the last school that
Being now between the ages of fifteen and sixteen, I was
fully impressed with the importance of a good education,
and did my best at this session to get it, and not without
some good results. At the close of the session, the teacher
commended me for what I had accomplished in the way of
mathematics, and said that the next winter I should take
up the subject of mensuration, as it would be a useful
branch of education in after Ufe. That subject was attain-
able at the schools as they then existed, but, most unfortu-
nately for me, it was the last schooling I received, except
the one month of schooling provided in my articles of
apprenticeship. But it was not only in mathematics that
I was successful, as I ranked second in the ball game, as it
was played at that time. Judging by the interest some
colleges of to-day take in baseball and football games,
success in them is more important than in mathematics and
all other studies.
I have given a brief account of the last two years of farm
life and the last two years of my happy schoolboy days. I
said good-by to my loved companions and the playmates
of my early youth, a large majority of whom I have never
since seen, and many never heard of. Having no class or
graduating days, and no Alumni Associations, to hold or
call us together, except by mere accident, we lost sight of
each other for all time. I often think, when I hear and
read of the meetings of the Alumni Associations of the many
colleges and schools, how thankful the graduates should
be for the opportunity they now have for securing an educa-
30 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
tion compared with that of seventy or eighty years ago.
Now there are free schools for all, with their well-educated
and trained teachers, under the eye of able, practical, and
scientific Superintendents, with rooms to suit the various
classes and teachers for each of them, and with the studies
scientifically arranged. An education can be obtained at
the public schools to-day superior to that of the country
academy, as it existed before the days of free schools. At
that time the academy filled a gap between the day
or subscription school and the college, much the same as
the preparatory school does to-day between the public
school and the college, for those who are so fortunate as
to have an opportunity to secure a collegiate course of
As I now had but one more summer to spend on the farm,
and as I have previously referred to the various duties as
being largely routine, I will make no further allusion to
them, except to say that I occupied the same leading posi-
tion that I had been occupying for years previous, until the
harvest was all properly stored and the fall grain in the
ground. This ended my early days on the farm. Receiv-
ing my father's most favorable congratulations on what I
had done and on the manner in which it had been done,
and hoping that whatever should fall to my lot in the future
might be equally satisfactory to my employer, the time of
my departure had come. Notwithstanding the long hours
and hard work that had to be done on a farm (as before
stated, it was prior to the introduction of agricultural
machinery, and everything had to be done by hand), yet
the Hfe on a farm is so natural and so free and interesting,
and above all so independent, that when my time came to
leave it, and to go into a new field of business, with all to be
learned, I must confess that the separation caused me much
regret; and to leave a plain and happy home, looked after
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
by kind parents, surrounded by affectionate sisters and
brothers, to go for all time out into the world to meet no
one but entire strangers, was a source of very great anxiety,
and it was difficult for me to fully realize that such an event
was about to take place.
MY APPRENTICESHIP DAYS.
Early in October, 1838, I went to Parkesburg, Chester
County, Pennsylvania, as an apprentice, to learn the trades
of blacksmithing and country machine work. These con-
sisted of doing such work as was required by the farmers and
small manufacturers of the neighborhood, such as the shoe-
ing of horses, ironing wagons, carts, and carriages, and all
work required of a smith; and in the machine line, repairs
wanted by the farmers on their threshing machines and
other machinery used about the farms, and also both the
smith and machine work for repairs and renewals required
by the cotton, woolen, and other manufacturers, such as
grist and saw mills, blast furnaces, and forge plants.
At the shop where I worked there were four smith fires,
four anvils, and for that time a fair supply of small smith
tools and stocks, taps, and dies for cutting screws. There
were also two small lathes for turning iron, and a small lathe
for doing pattern work; at times the latter was used for
turning and finishing light brass work, all on wooden shears
or beds. There was also a very good makeshift of a drill-
press bolted up against a ten-inch wooden post. All of these
tools were of the crudest character, but capable of doing,
in a very elementary way, such machine work as was re-
quired in the neighborhood. In addition there was a set
of rolls for bending boiler plate, shears and punch, and a
kit of small boiler maker's tools, which put the shop in a
position to do boiler making in a small way.
The power to drive these tools was a six-horse-power
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ 33
engine and boiler; both had, practically speaking, been
built in the blacksmith shop by my new master. It was a
rude machine, but worked quite well, and I don't believe
there is to-day one mechanic out of one thousand that could,
under the same conditions, build such an engine. He would
have to make his own drawings and patterns, make his own
forgings, and fit the work all up, without tools, except
makeshifts. To-day as many men work on an engine as
there are parts to it, and each man has a special machine,
specially designed to do his work on. There are few all-
round mechanics to-day such as there were sixty years ago;
even good all-round machinists, valuable as they are to-day,
are getting scarcer daily, and the present shop practice is
better calculated to make machines out of men than to
make good all-round mechanics.
After pumping the bellows and handling the sledge for
some days, I was set to holding the dolly against the rivet
heads on the inside of a thirty-inch boiler shell, with two
awkward fellows on the outside doing the riveting, fre-
quently missing the rivet, striking the sheet, and making
such a noise as made my ears buzz like a nest of bumblebees.
The diameter of the shell was so small that the shell had to
be placed in a vertical position to rivet the sections to-
gether; after some four or five feet in length were done
the rivets had to be taken in from the top. Picking them
off from there in so small a space and placing them in the
holes was no very easy job, and the heat in the rivets and
the mild October weather, combined with the noise made
by the riveting and the cramped position I had to do the
work in, made the job a very undesirable one.
To make things a Httle more lively for me, and to have a
little fun for themselves, the workmen commenced to play
tricks with the cubs, as the apprentices were called at that
time. Being quite familiar with the men and boys of the
34 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
cotton and woolen mills, I had learned something of the
pranks they would play on each other, and this placed me
on my guard. Consequently, I was not so easy a victim
as they had anticipated. I talked but httle to them, but
watched for an opportunity to turn the tables, and had not
long to wait. One day one of the workmen complained in
my presence that his feet were troubling him. I asked him
if he had greased his shoes and on receiving an affirmative
answer I asked how the grease had been appHed. He
answered, " On the outside." I replied, '' Why, you booby,
you ought to put the grease on the inside of your shoes and
then you won't have any more trouble." My trick was
such that they played no more tricks on me, and I was at
once admitted into their confidence.
I w^orked on the boiler — chipping, calking, riveting in
the heads and flues, and the like — until it was completed
and tested. I was not sorry when the work was over; my
head was in a buzz from the noise in riveting and my hearing
has never been as distinct as it was previous to my boiler-
making experience. In chipping and calking I used the
hammer in the right hand, consequently the left hand was
a subject for sympathy, being covered with sores. No
bones were broken or fingers mashed, however, and in a
week or ten days the hand was all right again. This trouble
was not unlike some of the diseases incidental to children,
rarely occurring the second time. This ended my first
experience in boiler making. While it was somewhat
rough, it was of great value to me in after life, and will be
referred to later.
My next advancement made me helper to my boss,
Thomas Hudders. My duty was to pump the bellows, use
the sledge, and do anything and everything I was told to do.
As his fire was the largest and best equipped one in the shop,
and as he was a good workman, the heaviest and most
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ 35
difficult work was done at his fire. Consequently, I was
in the best possible place to learn, and I made good use of
the opportunity. My boss, having the business to look
after, was necessarily at times away from his fire. At first
he left me, during his absence, doing small and light work,
such as could be done without a regular helper, but in a
short time, when he might be absent from the fire for half
a day or so, he would give me a striker, and would leave
heavier and more difficult work for me to do. This was my
opportunity and I did my best.
I remained in this position for some months, when my
boss was taken sick and was unable to get to the shop to
remain long. I, however, continued at the fire and learned
I had now reached my second year of apprenticeship.
The boss had gotten able to be in the shop most of the day,
but was unable to do any physical work. One morning he
said to me, " There is a very heavy wagon that must be
ironed and it must be done soon, and I want you to do it."
The wagon was what was called, at that time, broad tread,
with tire five inches in width, and, as I recollect, about three
quarters of an inch in thickness. The magnitude of the
job almost took my breath, and I could only say that I
didn't know how to do it, whereupon my boss said, " I will
tell you." This was the heaviest job that up to that time
had ever been done in that part of the country. There
were no proper facilities for handling that class of work, and
no rolls of sufficient capacity to form the tire; altogether it
was a most formidable undertaking for a sick man and a
boy. My boss, though unable to work, was in the shop
the greater part of the time and could give instructions as
to how to do the work. Under his direction, and with the
assistance of two helpers, we succeeded in doing the work,
and the boss said it was a very creditable piece of workman-
36 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
ship. I was very proud both of what he said and of the
workmanlike manner in which we had succeeded in doing
the job. When my boss got well, he and I ran the large
fire, doing the best and heaviest work.
Primitive as the shop was, it was the only shop in the
neighborhood that could do any heavier class of work than
that required by the farmer, and in addition to being able
to do the heavier and a better class of forgings it was the
only shop of the kind that had power and machine tools.
These consisted of a drill press, lathes, shears, and punches
for boiler-plate work, and taps and dies for cutting screws.
They were all of the most primitive construction. The
drill-press head was cast off a sixteen-inch lathe head
pattern and bolted to an upright post about ten inches
square; the table consisted of wooden blocks of various
thicknesses piled upon the shop floor until they were of
the proper height for the job that had to be drilled. But
crude as the tools were in both design and finish, we were
able to do a variety of work on them, and the experience
was useful to me in after fife, as it taught me how to do
work in case of an emergency, without proper tools. An
ability to do this is, at times, of the utmost importance,
especially about an iron and steel plant, where delays are
very costly and at times dangerous.
Some time during the year 1839, I first saw a shotgun,
with the percussion cap lock. I at once saw it was so much
superior to the flint lock then in use that it would surely
come into general use. Having in my own right a very
good gun with the old-fashioned flint lock, I made up my
mind to have it changed, if possible, to the cap lock. As
there was no gunsmith nearer than Lancaster or Philadel-
phia and as I had no money to pay for the change, I de-
cided to make the change myself, or at least to make the
attempt. The result was so satisfactory that every person
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ 37
in the neighborhood who had a gun and used it brought it
to me to have it changed. It was no uncommon thing to
see a number of guns in an old chest that I kept for the
purpose, waiting their turns, or for the money to pay for
the change, as there was no trust for gunsmith work, it
being a separate business from the smithy. As I was the
sole proprietor and as there was no other gunsmith nearer
than Lancaster or Philadelphia, I had something like a
monopoly and the Attorney General did not interfere. I
did all the work myself and at night when other people were
having a good time or were sleeping. Saturday night was
my harvest time, as I could work all night. I would make
the forgings in the early morning and the noon hour, during
the week. All the fitting and putting together was done
at night. The Hght was a tallow dip or an oil lamp, both
of them bad for this class of work. All of the parts that
were needed for the change, so far as I was concerned, had
to be forged. Consequently, it necessitated much work to
fit them up in good and proper shape, and a good and smooth
finish was essential to make the change look well. The
owner, in turn, was proud of the change and took pleasure
in showing his gun to his friends. This was to my advan-
tage, as it brought more work, and another important
benefit to me was the fact that it impressed upon my mind,
as a boy, the importance of making a job, of whatever kind
it might be, look pleasing to the eye, which I ever after
endeavored to do. The work was also a valuable experi-
ence for me, as I learned how to use small tools and do small
and hght work in a creditable and workmanHke manner.
During my apprenticeship quite a variety of work was done
in the shop, the new and especially the most difl&cult jobs
were generally assigned to me to do. All this was of much
value in after life.
Parkesburg was situated on the line of what was known
38 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
at that time as the Philadelphia and Columbia Railroad,
now a part of the great Pennsylvania system. The shops
for the repair of the motive power were located there,
consequently I soon became interested in the locomotive.
The Superintendent of the shop, William Hardman, who
was an Englishman and boarded with my master, was quite
a talker, and at that time I was a good listener, and showed
him some attention, while the other boys would at times
be rude to him. The consequence was that he and I became
very friendly and he would tell me anything I asked of
him. This was before the link motion was in use, and with
some of the engines, especially the Baldwin, which used but
one eccentric for both forward and back motion, skill was
required to get the valves so set as to exhaust evenly, in
both motions. The Superintendent, when he could do so,
would arrange the time for setting the valves so that I
could be with him, until I fully understood the principle
and was capable of doing the work myself. We became
fast friends, and the knowledge I obtained from him was
of great value to me in after Ufe, and he ever has had a
warm place in my memory. He went South to take charge
of the motive power on a road, as I remember, in Georgia,
and wanted me to go with him as Assistant Superintendent.
I was very anxious to do this, but my mother did not want
me to go so far from home, as it seemed to be at that time;
consequently I somewhat reluctantly abandoned the idea
of adopting railroading as a calHng.
There being several wheelwright shops in the neighbor-
hood, I was induced to start a smith shop to do their work,
but this business, after I had my mind set on railroading,
did not prove congenial, as there was but little or no out-
come in it. The little knowledge I had gained of mechanics
only made me eager for more, so I made up my mind to
take up the iron business as a calling. But here a more
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ 39
serious difficulty was encountered, which, for the time,
prevented me from carrying out my more advanced ideas.
It was in the early forties, when the general business of the
country was in such a depressed condition that the iron
works, small and primitive as they were at that time, had
little or nothing to do, so it was not possible for me to get
employment in that line. As stated before, my father was
a millwright by trade. This caused him to be from home
the greater part of the time, consequently the farm was
necessarily more or less neglected; so, for a time, like Cin-
cinnatus, I returned to the plow and to my first love, the
farm, where I was one of a happy family, and I again took
up the work I had left some five years previous.
In the latter part of the year 1843 business, to some
extent, revived, and in the autumn of '44, much to my
delight, a party commenced to build a mill, in Coatesville,
for rolling bar iron. This was a branch of the business that
I was most desirous to enter into, but unfortunately the
condition of the iron business of the country did not war-
rant the proprietors in pushing the work to completion.
This was to me a grave disappointment, but I did not
despair, and at once I made up my mind to try to get work
of any kind in some one of the distant works.
At that time the Iron Works, at Phoenixville, Pennsyl-
vania, were considered the largest and best in the country,
and I concluded to see if I could get employment there.
I arrived there on a Saturday at about noon and found the
mill standing idle. Upon inquiry as to where I would be
most Ukely to see the Superintendent, I was told some-
where about the mill. I looked him up and told him I
was looking for employment. I received, at once, an
unfavorable reply. The Superintendent said business was
very dull and that they had more men than they knew
what to do with. Thus ended my first interview.
Knowing there was quite a large iron works at Trenton,
I concluded to go there. I had heard that a new mill was
being built at Norristown, and so I thought it prudent to
stop off, as it was on the road to Trenton, and I might
possibly be successful in securing employment. I landed
in Norristown on the same afternoon at about three o'clock
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ 41
and went direct to the ofi5ce, and there met both of the
proprietors, Messrs. Moore & Hooven, and found them both
to be courteous gentlemen. I told them what I wanted.
They said in reply they were sorry they could not give me
emplo^TTient, as their mill was not completed ; if it had been,
they said, the times were so bad, they would not start it.
So I left their office for Trenton.
In returning to the street, I passed through the mill and
was looking at some of the machinery when Mr. Moore,
one of the owners, came towards me. A thought passed
through my mind that he was going to order me out, but
this thought was soon dispelled. He at once commenced
to talk to me in a pleasant manner. Being a Friend he used
the plain language, which caused me to feel quite friendly
toward him, as most of our neighbors at home belonged to
the same persuasion and of course used the plain language.
After a pleasant talk he asked me if I was used to hard work,
to which I frankly answered, " Yes." He asked where I
was raised; I told him, on a farm, and what I had been doing.
To all his questions I gave a prompt answer. He then said,
" Young man, I like thy looks; will thee remain here until
Monday?" I replied that if there was any probability of
my getting employment I should be pleased to do so. He
then said their manager was absent, but was expected to
be at the works on Monday morning, and that I should call
at about eight or nine o'clock; so I remained over. But
it was both a long and an anxious period, from Saturday
evening until Monday morning, and in a strange place.
At length the appointed time came around, and I was on
hand promptly. In a short time Mr. Moore, accompanied
by a large, fine-looking man, walked leisurely into the mill.
Near to where I was standing they came to a halt and held
a short conversation in an undertone. To me this was a
most trying ordeal, as it was to determine my fate. as to
42 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
whether I should get a job in Norristown (situations were
not asked for at that time) or should have to go to Trenton
and find out what the chances of work were there, with the
probability that owing to the general depression of business
the result would be very unfavorable.
After the brief conversation before alluded to, Mr. Moore
and the other gentleman walked up to where I was standing
and Mr. Moore introduced the gentleman with him as
John Griffin, their general manager. I confess that I had
some dread of meeting him, as the words general manager
at that day seemed to my simple mind as though I were to
meet a supercilious kind of a person who would hold one
at a distance, but the contrary was the case. Mr. Grifl&n
was a fine-looking, affable, and intelligent gentleman; the
last-named trait worried me, as I did not know how to talk
to him. After some hesitation, I mustered up the courage
to tell him what I wanted. He then asked me what I had
been doing, and if I was afraid of hard work. I answered
both questions in a manner that seemed to be entirely
satisfactory, and he told me to come to work the next
When I entered the mill first to go to work, I fully
reaHzed that I was amongst entire strangers, without pres-
tige to aid me or compass to direct my course, with mind
untrained for systematic work or study, with but scant
education and untrained talent. My thoughts naturally
went back to the scenes of my boyhood days, and to the
old home where my kind parents and my loving sisters and
brothers still remained. My feelings at that time can be
better imagined than described. I now fully realized that
I was enlisted, as a private, in the army for the great battle
of fife, and I made up my mind that I would faithfully do
my duty in whatever position chance might place me.
I was put to work by the foreman to assist the mechanics
Fig. 3. — John Fritz in his youth. (From an old daguerreotype).
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ 45
in erecting the machinery, boilers, and furnaces in the mill.
I went diligently to work, keeping my eyes and ears open
and my mouth shut. In a few weeks I was advanced to
the grade of a regular mechanic, and continued in this posi-
tion until the mill was completed and in operation. I was
soon after placed in charge of all the machinery of the plant.
This was quite a responsible position, and soon proved to
be an onerous one. There were three sets of rolls in the
mill, all driven by one engine. This made a number of
gear wheels necessary, in order to have the trains properly
located and the proper speed for each set of rolls. In
order to have the rotation of one set of rolls changed to
deliver on the opposite side of the other two, idlers were
used. These idlers soon proved to be a source of great
trouble, as all idlers do, whether animate or inanimate.
It was here that my most serious trouble commenced, and
simultaneously my rolling-mill education commenced.
The cogs in the wheels would break out, and at times
would get out of mesh with the wheels in contact ; a general
smash-up was the result, and the whole plant would come
to a standstill. Then it was work day and night, in the
grease, until all was ready to start again, — a job which
sometimes would take a week or more. At times only a
cog or so would break out, and we would dovetail and bolt
others in their places temporarily, at all times a most
dangerous practice, but so expeditious that we would fre-
quently assume the risk. But the trouble became so
serious and costly that the idlers were taken out and re-
placed by two wheels of proper diameter to gear into each
other, thereby entirely dispensing with the idler. This
portion of the mill gave but little trouble after the change
was made, but the product was delivered on the wrong side
of the rolls, and had to be passed back over them. This
caused delay and was to a small extent costly, but the
46 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
consequent delay and cost could be reckoned absolutely
per ton of finished product, while the cost resulting from
the delay and repairs of a breakdown could not be foretold.
It was there that my hostihty to all geared mills com-
menced, and I said if ever I had an opportunity to build a
rolHng mill, there would not be a cog wheel in the rolling
department, and my opinion has not changed. It was here
that the Httle knowledge I had gained about the locomotive,
combined with a small amount of practice with hammer
and chisel, and also a pretty good amount of experience
in how to do rough machine work without tools, was a great
advantage to me in keeping in order and making repairs
on the engines and the general mill machinery. At last the
machinery in the mill was gotten into what was, for that
time, fairly good working order.
Having previously made up my mind to learn the iron
business, practically, in all its departments, ' I concluded
to take up puddling first. This was the most difiicult
branch of the business to learn and properly control, and
at that time the most important and most arduous. As
my time was fully occupied in the day in looking after and
keeping the machinery in order, the only possible time under
the then existing conditions was to spend the evenings after
supper at the puddling furnaces until about ten o'clock.
This I did every evening, until I obtained a good practical
knowledge of the art. At the same time I gave the furnace
much thought and discovered that when the furnace was
new it did not work as well as when it was about burnt out.
I made up my mind that the roof was much too low. When
put in, the bricks were nine inches in length and the furnace
would be run as long as the bricks stayed in place, until the
roof, in places, was but Uttle over one inch in thickness.
This at once led me to the conclusion that the roofs were
too low, but I wanted to be sure I was right before I made
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ 4f
any suggestions. After several months of long hours, and
hard and laborious work, and much thought on both the
process of puddling and the improvement that was possible
on the furnace, I concluded that I had gained sufficient
practical knowledge to enable me to build a much-improved
furnace, for both puddhng and heating.
During all this time I had charge of the mechanical end
of the business, which of the many branches of this great
iron and steel industry is the most essential for success.
It matters not how well you may be skilled in all other
branches, if your machinery is imperfect you will surely
come to grief, and the only possible way to attain success
is to obtain a thorough practical knowledge of both the
engineering and the mechanical construction of all the
machinery used in the art. My desire to secure this
knowledge became inordinate, as I soon learned that with-
out it success could at most be only partial. Having
already mentioned some of my troubles in this line, it is
only necessary to say they were many and great and con-
stantly increasing. Never shirking a responsibihty and
never missing an opportunity to acquire knowledge was
at all times my guiding star.
Now, having by hard and hot work and long hours
succeeded in acquiring a good knowledge of puddling,
which at that time was the only process known to make
cheap and fairly good iron out of pig iron made in the blast
furnace with a mineral coal as a fuel, and being quite well
satisfied that I could make important improvements in the
puddling and heating furnaces, I turned my attention to
the heating and rolhng departments, which are both im-
portant, and spent my evenings there in the same way I
had done in the puddling branch of the business, in order
to get a thorough practical knowledge of the heating,
rolling, and finishing departments. This was the only way
48 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
possible to secure the knowledge I had fully made up my
mind to obtain. While the work was much less laborious
than that which I had performed in the puddling depart-
ment, there were many problems met that were difficult
to solve and at the commencement gave me much anxiety,
owing to the secretiveness of the workmen, especially of
the rollers and roll turners, who kept their templets in their
pockets. At that time the practical men in the mill,
especially the rollers and roll turners, were generally English
or Welsh, and they were very jealous of any person whom
they suspected of having any desire to learn their secrets.
This made it exceedingly difficult to get any information
direct from them. The experience I had gained in using
tongs in the smith shop now became useful, and the rollers
were much surprised at my skill in handling them. Con-
sequently, I soon learned to roll on the puddle rolls, and on
the roughing or breaking-down rolls, as they are frequently
called. Both being hard work, the rollers did not object to
my taking the tongs and giving them a rest for a spell.
This gave me an opportunity to get quite a good knowledge
of the proper shape and of the amount of work that was
being done. At the same time I became better acquainted
with the men and had in no small degree gained their
confidence, which is a great step forward in the management
of men. Much to my surprise, this soon proved to be a
great advantage to them.
NORRISTOWN. — Continued.
About this time I was called to the office by the pro-
prietors. This was so unusual that it caused me some mis-
givings as to what they wanted. I promptly responded to
their call, however, and was informed that they wanted me
to take charge of the mill on the night turn. This was truly
a great surprise, as such a possibility had never entered my
mind. After my surprise had in a measure subsided, I said
to them that I did not think I was capable and did not wish
to assume so great a responsibility. I also said there were
several young men who had been in their employ longer
than I had and were entitled to promotion, and as there
was some clerical work to be done, they, being much better
educated than I, would be better prepared to fill the posi-
tion. I gave their names, two of them being nephews of
Mr. Moore, who was the spokesman on that occasion. In
reply he said, " John, if I were going to look for thee in the
evening until ten o'clock, I would come to the mill." This
was the first intimation I ever had that the owners of the
works were paying any attention to what I was doing after
working hours. After some further conversation on the
subject, both Mr. Moore and Mr. Hooven assured me that
it would be a source of great comfort to them to know that
I was in the mill at night, it being important to have a
practical mechanic there at all times. Knowing this even
better than they did, I accepted the offer, but I did so
reluctantly, as I feared it might, in a measure, interfere
with my plans for gaining a more practical knowledge of
50 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
the iron business; this I had fully determined to practically
work out in each and every branch. My mind had become,
if possible, more fully imbued with the importance of the
iron business, and I believed that it was sure to become the
leading branch of American industry.
After taking charge as Night Superintendent, I soon
found that the practical knowledge I had gained by working
at nights at the puddling furnace, and the attention and
thought I had given the heating and rolling departments,
had fairly well quahfied me for the position I was placed
in. After some five or six months of hard and vexatious
work I was placed on the day turn, in order to relieve Mr.
Hooven, the acting partner, of much of the active work.
By this change, Mr. Hooven and I could consult together
on ever}' problem that might arise. Such problems were at
that time of almost daily occurrence, it being previous to
the application of that beautiful and wonderful science of
chemistr}' to the metallurgical arts, especially in the iron
and steel industries.
I will allude to only one of the problems, and that one
simply to give an idea of the difficulties that we encountered,
and the roundabout way we had to resort to in order to find
out what the trouble was, and how to avoid it To-day we
simply take a piece of iron or steel to the laboratory and
say to the chemist, " This piece of metal is cold-short or
red-short, and I want you to tell me what causes it to be
so." In a short time and, comparatively speaking, at a
trivial expense, we get the desired information, which
enables us at once to remedy the evil, whatever it may be.
In making bar iron, flats and squares, the iron has to be
made neutral — that is, neither cold- nor red-short. Con-
sequently, neutral iron is much more troublesome and ex-
pensive to make than either cold- or red-short. This was
prior to the introduction of what is known as the boiling
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ 51
process, which is in use at this time, generally called
The difference in the practice of to-day and that of fifty
or more years ago is principally in what is called the fixing
or lining of that part of the furnace in which the iron is
worked. In the old-time practice, called the dry or fer-
menting process, soapstone was used for the lining, and only
white or mottled pig metal was suitable. In the present
practice iron ore is used. Phosphorus is the principal
element that makes iron cold-short (a fact which at that
time we did not know), and all pig iron contains more or
less of it; consequently it was a most difficult task to get
a pig iron that was right, and the only way we had of learn-
ing was by experimenting, which was both troublesome and
expensive. After succeeding in finding an iron that could
be used successfully, another and unexpected trouble
turned up. In making round iron for shafting and car
axles, red-short pig iron was used. When we would change
back to neutral iron for flat and square bars, we would find
for a time that the neutral iron had become red-short.
This was a surprise and caused great annoyance, expense,
and delay. It was thought that the men who had charge
of the pig iron had made some mistake, and had gotten the
different irons mixed, but we could find nothing wrong
there. Next the blast-furnace men were accused of using
different ores, or hot blast, but they vigorously denied it.
After a more thorough investigation it was found that the
trouble occurred every time the change was made, and that
the trouble righted itself in a few days. This thoroughly
satisfied us that it was not the fault of the pig metal but
that the trouble was somewhere in the manipulation, and
the only cause to which we could, in any possible way,
attribute it was the cinder used in charging the furnace.
Accordingly we had the cinder, made while puddling
52 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
neutral iron, kept separate, and when the change was made
from red-short iron to neutral, the cinder was correspond-
ingly changed, and the trouble ended. This was an impor-
tant lesson, and one that I will refer to later.
Being now practically in charge of the mill and being in
touch with Mr. Hooven, I had the opportunity to talk with
him in regard to a number of improvements which I had
thought out while I was working at night at the puddling and
heating furnaces. The one to which I had given the most
thought, before alluded to, was the increase in the height
of the roof over the puddling furnace, I considered this to
be of the utmost importance, and I wanted the roof raised
some nine or ten inches. Mr. Hooven thought I was a little
wild and suggested the width of a nine-inch brick — that is,
about four and a half inches. At the same time I thought
it would be an advantage to have the furnace longer, but
this was not possible except at a great expense, and the
height of the roof could be raised only some four inches,
except at a considerable expense, which the condition of
the business at that time did not warrant. So the roofs
were raised only about four inches. Later they were raised
nine inches. This made quite an improvement in the
working of the furnace and thoroughly satisfied me that
the change was in the right direction. I shall refer to this
I was now completely installed in my new position, and
found both Mr. Hooven and Mr. Moore very clever and
companionable gentlemen. They soon seemed to place
entire confidence in my ability to look after the mill, not
only in a general way but in detail. This I did and it
pleased them very much.
Notwithstanding I was now practically in charge of the
mill, my hat still fitted me, and, as formerly, I came to the
mill every evening, not to work at the puddling furnace, as
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ 53
I had previously done, but to go through the works leisurely,
seeing what was being done and how, and thinking whether
any improvements could be made, either in the machinery
or in the practice. As the mill was in charge of the night
foreman, I was in a measure relieved of the responsibility
that I was subjected to during the day, in looking after the
mill and seeing that the machinery was kept in proper order,
and in addition having everything made ready for the night
turn. The night foreman had only to see that the work was
properly done and the machinery well looked after. My
mind being much relieved at night-time, it was in a much
better condition to imbibe and retain any improvements
that might be suggested.
One night an amusing incident happened. We were short
of steam and I put a cut-off on the engine; as we wanted
it finished, we concluded to work on it at night. Archie
Johnston was doing the work. Mr. Hooven took a great
interest in it and stayed with us all night. While I was
busy at work at the engine house, they got to talking.
The flywheels used to go to pieces in those days. Mr.
Hooven said, " Now, I've got a flywheel in my mind that
will not go to pieces." Archie said, " What is it?" Mr.
Hooven said he wasn't going to tell. After a while Archie
said, " I've got a puddling machine in my mind." Mr.
Hooven said, "What is it like?" "Well," said Archie,
" you tell me about the fljrwheel and I'll tell you about the
At that time the mill men, such as puddlers, heaters, and
rollers, were generally EngHsh and Welsh, and they got a
full share of my time. In the evenings between heats,
while they were smoking their pipes, cutties as they generally
called them, I would sit down on a charge of pig iron and
listen to them describing their mills in England and Wales,
and their method of working. In all of this I was greatly
54 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
interested, and at the same time I gained their confidence,
which is so essential in the management of workingmen.
In all my experience I have ever sought to secure and retain
the good will of the workmen. With confidence fully
established between the workmen and their employer,
strikes rarely occur. I continued spending evenings in
the mill as usual, and did so as long as I remained at Norris-
town. My friends were all the time saying that it was all
foohshness to spend so much time at nights in the mill,
but what I learned in this way helped me greatly in the
discharge of my duty as Superintendent on the day turn,
and proved to be of inestimable value to me in after life.
In fact, it was the foundation of whatever success I may
I was now in a position to learn thoroughly the rolling-
mill practice, as it then existed, which included the manu-
facture of merchant bar iron of all general sizes, — flats,
squares, and rounds, and in addition boiler plate, tank plate,
skelp plate for making welded pipe, cut nails and spikes of
all sizes. All of these branches were practically under my
general charge. Mr. Hooven, attending to the office and
the general business, had but httle time to be in the mill
beyond giving orders as to the work that should be done.
All this work was done in the daytime and was conse-
quently under my general charge, but I found that looking
after the machinery, which had to be kept in good order,
was the most onerous, difiicult, and uncertain duty I had
to perform, and above all the others combined the source
of the greatest anxiety. When the machinery went wrong,
as it frequently did, the whole plant was brought to a stand-
still. So serious were the breakdowns, that they would
at times keep the plant idle for a week or more at a time,
compelling us to put in new gear wheels, and new teeth in
some of the old ones, which caused me trouble. Many
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ 55
years after (at the celebration of my seventieth birthday),
I was arrested, tried, and convicted for practicing dentistry
without a diploma.
With all the troubles that beset us we made some im-
provements and a Httle money, and established the reputa-
tion for making the best iron in the country. I was very
proud of this reputation, and I have ever endeavored to
follow the example set me by Mr. Hooven, of never allowing
anything to go out of the works that was not the best in
its line. This policy, if rigidly carried out, will surely pay,
and to a conscientious person it is a source of much grati-
fication to feel conscious that he has done his best.
Quite a pleasant episode took place one day in the office,
which at first seemed as if it might prove to be a source of
embarrassment, as for a short time it did. A gentleman
representing the Delaware, Lackawaima and Western Rail-
road, came into the office quite hurriedly and with but Httle
formahty, and said: " I want to talk to you about car axles.
Some two or three years ago we got some from your works,
and I was told you used nothing but charcoal pig iron in
your plant." Mr. Hooven's face all at once became red,
and I must even at this late day confess that I did not feel
very comfortable, as there had not been a pound of charcoal
used in the manufacture of those car axles. I had had no
little to do in bringing this condition of affairs about, and
whatever might have occurred I would have to face the
music. Mr. Hooven, supposing there was something
wrong with the axles, asked him what the trouble was. The
visitor said, " Nothing at all. They were the best axles
we ever had on our road, and we want a thousand more just
like them." Then Mr. Hooven explained to him that, in a
measure, he had been misinformed; that while it was true
we used nothing but charcoal pig iron in the manufacture
of bar iron, — flats, squares, and small rounds, — yet heavy
56 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
rounds, such as shafting and car axles, were made entirely
out of pig iron smelted with anthracite coal. The gentle-
man then said he did not care what they were made out of
but that he wanted one thousand more axles just like the
others. He said that they had had a train of cars going up
a heavy grade; near the top of the grade the cars broke
loose at the tender and ran back at a furious speed, and on
striking a curve went off the track down an embankment
and were piled on top of each other and all smashed to
pieces; wheels and axles had been broken in all sorts of
ways, but not one axle with " Norristown " stamped on it
was broken. The pig iron used had been largely made at
the Robesonia furnace, out of Cornwall ore, and had been
puddled by the old dry process, and I doubt if equally good
iron could be so successfully made at this time by the same
process of puddling. At that time we were in the dark for
a reason why the iron was so perfectly free from cold-short-
ness, and we did not know until after the introduction of
the Bessemer process, a practice that compelled us to know
absolutely what was in the ore. It was then that the
chemist was called in to tell us some of Nature's wonderful
secrets. This will be referred to again, and more fully,
under the Bessemer process.
In 1849 Messrs. Reeves, Abbott and Company arranged
to build a rail mill and blast furnace at Safe Harbor, on the
Susquehanna River, about twelve miles below Columbia
and ten miles from Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Having in
mind that the furnace and the rail branches of the iron
industry were in the near future destined to become im-
portant parts of the business, and having quite a good
knowledge of rolling-mill practice, and a very good prac-
tical knowledge of machinery, such as was used in the
rolling mills of that day, I made up my mind that it
would be a good thing to learn something practical about
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ 57
the manufacture of rails and blast-furnace practice. Being
determined to learn all I could, and having an opportunity
to assist in building both the furnace and the mill, I con-
cluded to accept the position.
It so happened that Mr. John Griffin, who was Cjeneral
Manager of the Norristown Iron Works when I went there,
had been made the General Superintendent at Safe Harbor,
and wanted me to go there with him, but did not want me
to leave Moore & Hooven without their consent. So I
went directly to them, fully and frankly stated the position
in which I was placed, and also told them how important
it would be to me to get such a practical knowledge as could
be obtained in assisting in the erection of the rolling mill
and furnace plant. At the same time I told them Mr.
Griffin would not take me without their consent and that
consequently I was at their mercy.
At first they both demurred, sa3dng they did not want
me to leave them; they moreover pointed out that Mr.
Griffin could not afford to pay the salary they were paying
me. " In this," I said, " you are correct, and I do not
expect it, but the knowledge gained will much more than
compensate for the difference in salary." My Norristown
position was paying me $1000 a year, but I gave this up
for a $650 position in order to obtain knowledge of another
branch of the iron business. I asked them, especially Mr.
Moore, who was a very liberal and broad-minded man, to
give the matter full consideration. In the course of a few
days I was called to the office and Mr. Moore said they had
thought the subject over very fully and had come to the
conclusion that my \dews on the subject were correct and
that they could not conscientiously stand in the way of my
accepting the situation. We parted the best of friends, as
we had ever been, and remained so until death called them
both to their long home.
58 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
The time at length arrived when I had to say good-by to
the proprietors who had been so good and kind to me, and
to the loyal and kind-hearted workingmen, who had ever
faithfully performed their duty, and were ready to obey any
proper command. During the three long years, which, if
measured by the hours I was in the works, compared with
the time now spent in a similar position, would surely be
over five years, so good and faithful were the employees that
I cannot remember having had to discharge a single work-
man, or having had occasion to severely reprimand one.
This was no doubt largely due to the mutual confidence
which at all times existed between us ; and this kindly and
loyal feeling was no doubt established while I was working
at night at the puddling furnace, gaining all the knowledge
I could from them in regard to the art of puddling, the most
essential branch of the business. During the talks between
heats, before referred to, I gained quite a good knowledge
of the arrangement of the mills and the methods of manage-
ment, all of which was useful to me, and my familiarity with
the workmen doubtless had much to do in bringing about
the pleasant relations that ever existed between workmen
and myself. I was never happier than when surrounded by
them, and I found that if properly treated, they were ever
loyal and faithful. I said to one of my good friends that
I went to work in Norristown an entire stranger and now I
left with a host of friends, to whom I sorrowfully bade
good-by to try my fortune in another place and in another
branch of the business, which, in my opinion, was des-
tined to become more and more important. I had made
up my mind that I would know something about it, well
knowing it meant a year or more of the hardest and
most vexatious class of work ever encountered, but I had
no fear of hard work and would gain knowledge that
would surely prove valuable in after life.
In May, 1849, I went to Safe Harbor, In Lancaster,
while waiting for a conveyance to carry my trunk to its
destination, I met a gentleman whom I happened to know,
who knew all about Safe Harbor, and who tried to persuade
me not to go there, saying it was the worst place in the whole
State of Pennsylvania for fever and ague, and that no
stranger ever escaped it. From the way he talked the
probabilities were that I would die with it. I told him my
object in going there. He shook his head, smiled, and said
good-by. I arrived at Safe Harbor in the evening and
secured a boarding house, but not a very homelike one.
After supper I walked down to the confluence of the Sus-
quehanna River and the Conestoga Creek, quite a large
stream, about a third of a mile from my boarding house.
After taking a somewhat cursory view of the waters and
their surroundings, I became somewhat apprehensive that
my Lancaster friend's predictions might prove correct.
However, my mind was made up to try to learn something
of the rail business, and bad and all as the fever and ague
was, it required something more dreadful to cause me to
change my purpose.
The next morning at five o'clock I was at the works.
At that time the mechanics worked twelve hours for a day's
work. At about seven o'clock Mr. John Griffin, before
mentioned, the General Superintendent, came into the mill
where I was and said, " Well, Fritz, how are you? I'm
glad to see you here. You have got here just in time. The
6o AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
machinery is now coming and I'm anxious to have it put
in place as soon as possible." How different was this
meeting from our first meeting in Norristown several years
previous, when we met as entire strangers, and I not even
knowing what I would be called on to do or what I could do.
Now we met as friends, with full confidence in each other
personally, and he was satisfied that I was competent to do
the work he had designated for me. At that time the duties
of a person in charge of the erection of machinery about an
iron works were very different from what they are to-day.
It was expected that he should, in a general way, under-
stand rolling-mill practice. Most of the machinery, except
the engines, was fitted up in the mill, and there were no
planers or slotting machines large and heavy enough to do
the work on. The two-handed chisel and sledge were sub-
stitutes for them, and men that were skilled in their use
could do a large amount of work in a day, so well that but
Httle work with the hand chisel and file was required to
make the parts fit for use. All of this work had to be
looked after by the person in charge and it was essential
that he should be a practical mechanic, and besides he had
to do his own erecting. At that time the facilities for
hoisting and handling heavy weights were about as in-
adequate as the machines were for doing heavy work.
The plan of the mill being much the same as that at
Norristown, I was quite at home in it. The gearing was
well fitted up and made heavy and strong, so as not to
break, — but it did break, as will be mentioned later. I
got my crew organized, mostly Pennsylvania Germans,
fresh from the farm, without any knowledge of what they
were going to do, but they were good and wilHng workers
and apt, soon becoming expert in handling the heavy parts
of the machinery, and in doing the general work, such as
is common in the erection of a new iron plant.
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ 6t
After getting the men fully organized, we got along with
my part of the work so rapidly that it was evident that the
rolling mill would be completed before the blast furnace.
Then the blast furnace superintendent would be in trouble,
as the mill could not start until they could get pig iron.
Mr. Collins, the furnace manager, came to me and begged
me to help him get the furnace completed so that he could
be making iron before the mill was ready to start. I told
him to see Mr. Griffin and that I would do whatever Mr.
Grififin wished me to do. Consequently Mr. Griffin came
to me and told me that Collins was in trouble and wanted
me to help him out, and he, Mr. Griffin, wished to know if
I was wilKng to go. I said, " Certainly." I was at all times
ready to do whatever he might want me to do, but I told
him I would prefer not to work with the men who were
putting up the blowing machinery, as they were too slow
and their gait would demoralize my men. I suggested to
him that I put up the gas and hot-blast pipe and the hot-
blast stoves, or ovens, as they are at times called. This I
was anxious to do, as it was an important part of furnace
work — a branch of the iron business that I had made up
my mind to learn. Both Mr. Griffin and Mr. Collins were
pleased that I was going to take hold of that part of the
plant, but they had no idea of the difficulty that was in
store to get the pipe in place. In order to have the plant
built quickly, different parts of the work had been done in
various places. This fact caused me much anxiety, the
probability being that the work from the different shops
would not come at the same time. Being about a hundred
miles from the shops where the work was done might cause
much delay, and I might be blamed for a part of it. When
mistakes are made, there is too frequently a disposition on
the part of the parties who make them to shift the blame
on some one else.
62 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OP JOHN PRITZ
Well, the first part of the work I took hold of was the
pipe that conveyed the gas from the top of the furnace to
the hot-blast stove and boilers. The total length of the
pipe was about seventy feet, the diameter sixty-six inches.
It had three angles in it, and it was shipped in three pieces
for convenience of carriage. After some trouble I got a
mast long enough to hoist the pipe in place, but the pipe
did not fit, the error in the angles being so great that it
would not go in place. Mr. ColHns was at hand and, being
of an impetuous disposition, he fairly exploded in the use
of language that was both expressive and impressive. We
next sent for Mr. Griffin. He looked it over and calmly
said it was a bad job, and that it would have to be sent
back to the shop. This would take several weeks and be an
expensive job, as the pipe would have to be hauled some
ten miles on a wagon to the railroad, that being the best
route to take it for the quickest transportation. From the
first, my mind was made up that the best and quickest way
was to do the work right there, and after the excitement was
somewhat allayed I so told them. They wanted to know
who was there that could do it. I told them that I could
do it. They said, " It requires a boiler maker, and you
are not one." In reply I said, " I do not pretend to be a
boiler maker, but having held the dolly for riveting up
boilers, worked the punch lever for punching the plates,
turned the rolls for bending them, chipped and calked the
joints and seams, and done some boiler patching, and
knocked the skin off my left hand during my apprentice-
ship, I am quite sure that I can make a creditable job out
of it." Besides I looked upon it as much more of an en-
gineering problem than a mechanical one. Finally, Mr.
Griffin said, " If you feel sure you can do it, go ahead."
This I did and at once set to work to get the proper angles.
While I was at this part of the work, much the most
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ 63
difficult I had there, a fine-looking, elderly gentleman came
along. It being a very hot day he was carrying an um-
brella, which was uncommon at that time unless it was
raining quite fast. He looked up at the pipe and said,
" Young man, that does not seem to have the proper angles."
In reply I said to him, as pleasantly as one could do under
the circumstances, as I thought it was none of his business,
" They are not right." After getting the correct angles, we
took the pipe down and in one week's time made the change
and had the pipe up again in its proper place, all right.
Just as we had gotten the derrick down and the place cleared
away, the same gentleman came along again. He looked
up at the pipe and said, " Young man, you have made a
good job of it." After he went away I asked one of the
workmen who had been at the works from the start who
that gentleman was. He said, " He is one of the owners,
but I do not know his name." Soon after I learned from
Collins that it was Mr. David Reeves, who afterwards
became one of my lifelong friends.
'After completing the work at the furnace which was
assigned to me, I returned to the mill, and took up my work,
which was in the same condition as when I left it. In the
meantime, the erection of the machinery had become well
advanced, so much so that it became necessary for me to
hustle in order to be ready by the time the driving power
was completed. Very fortunately, as it proved afterwards,
we got one of my old Norristown companions, Mr. Louis
Bowman, who was a good machinist and a good worker,
to come and help me. Thus far my force consisted of none
but handy laborers, but the time had come when there was
much machine work that had to be done, requiring good
mechanics, who were used to that class of work. All went
smoothly until the works were started; then trouble com-
menced. As the squeezer was driven by bevel gear, placed
64 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
underneath, the cinder would fall in the gear wheels and
on the journals, which caused them to cut and grind out
to such an extent that the mill could not make good time.
We finally took the squeezer up and made a shield of boiler
plate to fit tight around the shaft. Here the knowledge
I had of boiler making came in handy again. After the
shaft and journals were completely protected they did not
make much trouble.
The next trouble that turned up was with the flywheel
shaft. They called me up at about three o'clock one morn-
ing. I went to the mill and found one of the journals cut
and ground down from twelve to eight and one half inches
in diameter. Just before sending for me they had sent for
Mr. Griffin, and he came in shortly after I had gotten there.
The day and night superintendents were both there, and
the engineer whose fault it was. They all had a powwow
over it, and all concluded there must be a new shaft, which
would, at that time, take at least two weeks to get.
I stood a little in the background, but was taking in all
that each of them had to say. Mr. Griffin was in the habit,
when any trouble occurred, and I was about, of saying,
*' Fritz, what would you do?" This was what I was ex-
pecting to come. He turned toward me, and said, " Fritz,
this is a bad case, what would you propose to do with it? "
I said, " Mr. Griffin, I would turn it up in place." He
asked if I could do that. I said, " Yes." Then they all
said it would be too light to stand the work, and would
surely break and might kill a number of people. I then
told them I would get a new pedestal six inches longer than
the present one, and would make the journal six inches
longer by trueing up six inches of the body of the shaft,
which was twelve inches in diameter. Should the smaller
part of the journal break, this would keep the shaft in place,
and it would be perfectly safe, so far as the workmen were
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ 65
concerned. I suggested, however, that a new shaft be
ordered at once, that we might be prepared for future
emergencies. Mr. Griflan said, " All right, go ahead day
and night until you have it completed."
The workmen at that time were very skeptical, and did
not believe the job could be done as I proposed, and so
reasoned from the fact that I had suggested the ordering of
a new shaft. There was a heater named John Griffith, a
Welshman, who was a first-class heater, and a very intelli-
gent man. He had listened attentively to what had been
said, and soon after the crowd had left, he came to me and
said, " You have but little skilled help that will be of any
use to you in doing this job, and I am something of a
machinist and am quite sure I can be of service to you, if
you will give me the opportunity." I said, " John, come
on and go to work, as I want all the good help I can get, and
must have one good man for the night turn." My right-
hand man, Louis Bowman, had had a part of his thumb
taken off in the machinery and had gone back to his home
in Norristown to have it taken care of. Personally, I was
suffering from fever and ague. Altogether things were in
a bad shape to take hold of such an unusual job as that
which confronted us. Yet with all the impending difficul-
ties, and they were many, we went to work, raised the fly-
wheel shaft to its proper place, and put a temporary bearing
under the journal. Notwithstanding that all the tools and
fixtures had to be improvised, the next morning we com-
menced turning the journal. In about a week's time the
mill was in operation again, and the shaft ran for years,
with the new shaft lying close by, and did not break, but
was replaced by the new one during some extensive repairs.
John Griffith proved to be a good mechanic and was a great
help to me, having charge on the night turn during this
66 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
Shortly after starting up again, Mr. Griffin said the mill
was not getting out the amount of work that it should do,
and asked me what I thought about it. I told him that
I fully concurred with his views. He was anxious, indeed
it was absolutely necessary, to produce a much greater
tonnage in order to make their contract deliveries, and he
asked if I would take the mill by contract, so much per ton.
I told him that I would like to do so, but that together with
the fever and ague and the hard work I had been doing since
I had been with him, I was fearful that I could not keep up
under any more of a load, having to do the roll turning,
which at times was about all that one man could do. After
some thought over the subject, and being fully satisfied
that the tonnage could be greatly increased, which meant
increased compensation, I told Mr. Griffin that Bowman
would be back and that if he was able to go to work, and
would join me, we would take hold of it. On Bowman's
return, I stated Mr. Griffin's proposition to him and what
he would have to do to make a success of it. He agreed
with me in everything and was anxious to accept Mr.
Griffin's proposition, which we did.
Now, having almost practical control of the manufacture,
we did our very best to get the mill in good shape, and in the
course of a month we about doubled the output, a condition
of affairs which pleased Mr. Griffin very much, and much
elated both Bowman and myself. Besides the pride we
had in what we had done, we were each of us earning much
more money than we had ever earned before.
FEVER AND AGUE.
In the course of two or three months, the fever and ague
increasmg in violence, and the attacks becoming more
frequent, together with the hard and exacting work which
required a strenuousness that I could not endure, I was
compelled to leave the place or die. I naturally chose the
former course and went home to the old farm. Having
great faith in the old family physician, I thought he surely
could cure me, but he utterly failed to do me any good.
There was a lady — a lovely woman — Hving on an adjoin-
ing farm, who practiced the Thomsonian system of medicine,
which, at that time, had many followers, and being a good
neighbor and a kindly woman, she took a great interest in
me and most thoroughly diagnosed my case. I told her
of all my efforts to prevent the chill from coming on, that
I had lain on a three-inch-thick plank between two heating
furnaces, both at work, and only thirty inches apart, that
the chill and shake had come on while I was lying there,
that the suffering I had endured was simply indescribable,
and that it had become a matter of indifference to me
whether I lived or died. I also told her that every person
I met, black or white, had a cure for me. After I had told
her all, she said if I had faith she could surely warm me up.
I told her I ought to be very strong in faith, as I had drawn
but little on my stock on hand of late. The first thing she
gave me was a concoction of lobelia, as an emetic, which
made me so sick I thought I should surely die. After I had
in a measure recovered from the effects of the emetic, she
68 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
gave me a dose of the concentrated essence of all the heat-
giving plants known in the science of botany; it was so hot
that I was fearful I should take on fire, but she at once
assured me that there was no danger, and that she had now
accomplished what was absolutely essential. Before con-
valescence could be expected, the cold needed to be com-
pletely expelled from the system and must be driven from
the center out. The good woman was greatly elated when
I told her she had certainly warmed me up. She was now
confident that she could cure me, but you can imagine her
surprise when she came the next morning and found me
suffering with one of my worst chills, and I told her I did
not have any faith in the Thomsonian theory of medicine.
It was useless to pursue in that direction any further.
In the meantime, my former employers at Norristown,
Messrs. Moore & Hooven, had learned where I was and
wrote for me to come back to them, I answered their letter,
saying I was totally unfit to do anything but sit about, and
in the morning try to keep from freezing, and in the after-
noon try to keep from roasting. They repHed to come over
at once, as I could sit in Norristown as well as I could in
Chester County and they could have the benefit of my
Mr. Joseph C. Herr of Philadelphia, a good friend of
mine, owned some iron ore property in Michigan about ten
or twelve miles from the Lake Superior shore. He was
going out to see it, and wanted me to go with him. He and
others of my friends thought a change of climate and sur-
roundings would certainly, in a measure, be beneficial to
my health. Of one thing I was quite sure, the journey could
not make me any worse, and so I arranged to meet him in
Cleveland and go with him. In the meantime on my way
to Cleveland I took in Newcastle and Sharon, Pennsylvania,
to see the iron works at those places and in the vicinity.
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ 69
On the morning of the Fourth of July I went down to
Beaver to take the boat for Wheeling. While waiting for
the boat I had one of my worst chills and went down to
the bank of the Ohio River and lay in the hot sun with a
heavy overcoat on, shaking hke a nail-packing machine.
Every party that came along had something to say, gener-
ally asking what was the matter with me. Some of these
remarks were quite amusing to me, even cold as I was.
One fellow said, " Come on, all's the matter with him is he
has got too much of the Fourth of July in him." I told this
class of people, " You'd better go on, as you may catch the
fever and ague and it is worse than the cholera." There
was cholera about at that time. The more sympathetic
class would want to know what was the matter with me.
I told them it was fever and ague, but that they should
not be alarmed as it was not contagious. They wanted to
know if there was anything they could do for me. I told
them the only thing that they could do was to stop the
first boat that came down the river and put me on board
for Wheeling, which they did. While they were very kind,
yet I think they were glad to get me away, fearing some-
thing might happen to me.
The first thing I did after my arrival in Wheeling was to
secure the services of a good physician. After spending
several days in WTieeling under the care of a doctor, I
recuperated sufficiently to enable me to get to Cleveland
and meet my friend, Mr. Herr, at the time appointed.
After spending a few days in Cleveland, we took passage
on a steamboat for Ste. Marie, this being before the canal
was cut at Sault Ste. Marie, connecting the waters of Lake
Superior with Lake Huron. When we arrived at Ste.
Marie, we had to wait some two or three days for the arrival
of a boat on Lake Superior to take us to Marquette, that
being the nearest landing to the iron mines we most wanted
7© AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
to see. At that time there were only two boats on Lake
Superior. Some time after they collided and one of them
sank, and, as I now remember, several lives were lost. The
trip from Cleveland to Ste. Marie was very pleasant; the
water on Lake Erie, Lake Huron, and Lake Superior was
all the time very smooth. The passage through Detroit
River, Lake St. Clair, St. Clair River, and St. Mary's River
is quite narrow in many places, so that we could, without
a glass, see both shores at the same time. There were quite
a number of passengers aboard, most of them very pleas-
ant people, including some stage celebrities, one of them
being Miss Charlotte Cushman, then in her palmy days.
In addition there was a brass band on board, which
would occasionally blow, in order to stir the animals up.
Altogether, it was a very pleasant and enjoyable trip,
and one that even at this late day I look back to with
The voyage on Lake Superior from Sault Ste. Marie was
rather monotonous until we were nearing Marquette, when
the lake quite suddenly became rough. This caused an
epidemic which continued until we arrived at Marquette.
There were no deaths and many of the patients landed
there, and all their stomachs were in fine condition to
receive a good square meal. This was no easy matter to
get, there being at that time, as my memory serves me now,
only three or four houses, one of them a hotel built out of
boards in shanty style. Ground rents being cheap, kitchen,
dining room, sitting room, parlor, and sleeping rooms were
all on the first floor.
We landed in the evening. Early the next morning we
looked for a guide and transportation. The former we
found without delay, but the latter was very difficult to
procure. The best we could find was a single mule which
we chartered, concluding that we would ride and tie, which
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ yi
means that one of the party rides the animal for say half
an hour, then gets off, ties him and goes on foot; when the
other party comes up to the mule, he gets on him and rides
the same length of time, and ties. We soon found that the
plan did not work in this case, as both of us walked faster
than the mule, consequently we put Mr. Mule in charge
of the guide and let him hurry him along, and Mr. Herr and
I footed it together, which was more comfortable than
riding the mule.
We went first to see what was called the Cleveland loca-
tion, which showed a body of ore that, to a person used
to mining brown hematic ore, was truly marvelous. We
wanted to see what was known at that time as the Jackson
location, a few miles distant. The guide did not want to
go, saying there was more ore where we were than could
ever be taken away. At that time I was told that a con-
trolling interest could be secured in said Jackson location
for $25,000, and I at once made up my mind when I re-
turned home I would try to induce some of the iron men
to take the subject up.
The next day we returned to Marquette and went up to
Eagle Harbor to see a copper mine. On the boat were
several gentlemen who were interested in the mine I was
going to see. As we had gotten pretty well acquainted on
the boat, they invited us to go with them, and go down in
the mine and see the native copper about which they had
much to say. Of course I accepted their in\dtation and
went with them. The mine was of some depth, but I
cannot remember how many feet it was. After reaching
the bottom and creeping through a small hole, we saw a
mass of fine copper they said would weigh five or six tons,
which, to my mind, would cost more to get out than they
could get for it in the market. They had to take out the
rock over it to give room for the workmen to swing the
72 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
sledge, as it had to be cut in small pieces in order to get
it out of the mine.
In the evening, after we got back to the hotel, as it was
called, they asked what I thought of the native copper I
had seen in their mine. I told them that to me it was a
marvel, but would cost too much to get to the surface to
ever make it pay, and said if I had money to invest, I
should certainly put it in the iron mines I had seen near
Marquette, as they would surely become very valuable.
But their heads had been so completely turned by the solid
copper they had seen that day that they did not seem to
know that there was such a thing as iron ore in the world.
I afterwards learned they lost all the money they put in the
Now, having seen all that we intended to see, and my
health being seemingly much improved, so much so that I
was anxious to get back to work again, we turned our faces
homeward. I anticipated much pleasure in getting back
to Safe Harbor and felt able to fill my position again.
But how soon one's fondest hopes are blasted. At
Detroit we had to change boats, as I wanted to go to Dun-
kirk, my friends going to Cleveland. While waiting for my
boat, I had unmistakable evidence of the return of my old
enemy. I went on board as soon as I could and at once
went to my room and got to bed, and suffered with a most
violent fever all night. I arrived in Dunkirk at about half
past eight in the morning, about an hour late. The express
train for Philadelphia, with which the boat was to connect,
had gone about half an hour before. Rather than lie there
all day, I took an accommodation train for Elmira. Soon
after we left Dunkirk, the chill came on. After every stop
the train made the conductor would come along, saying,
" Tickets, gentlemen." Any person who has ever suffered
with fever and ague will fully appreciate how annoying this
AUTOBIOGFLiPHY OF JOHN FRITZ 73
was. At last I lost all patience and said to the conductor
that any man that could not remember a passenger sitting
in a car behind the door, with a heavy winter overcoat on,
shaking with ague on a hot August day, was totally unfit
to be a conductor on any railroad. After this short con-
versation he disturbed me no more.
I arrived at Elmira in the evening, and as soon as I got
to the hotel I told the proprietor I wanted him to send for
the best doctor in Elmira. This he did at once. In a short
time the doctor came to my room, and said, " Young man,
what's the matter? " I told him I had fever and ague. He
wanted to make a diagnosis of my case so that he could treat
me more intelligently. I told him that was useless, and
would only be a waste of time, as I had fever and ague,
pure and simple. I then asked him if he had any remedy
other than quinine; he said he had not. I then told him
to give me a prescription on the best druggist in town for
thirty grains in three doses. He asked me when I was going
to take them. I replied, "All before twelve o'clock." He
said, " That will not do, the dose is too large; it will make
your head buzz like a lot of bumblebees." Experience told
me it would do so.
The next morning I took the train for New York and
escaped the chill, but my head was in a bad condition for
several days. I went from New York directly home to
Chester County and remained there for a few days and then
went to Safe Harbor, to give it another trial, but I could
not remain, as the attacks became more frequent and so
violent that I was compelled to leave the best job I ever
had up to that time. I was again a complete wreck and
cared but little whether I lived or died, so I bade Safe
Harbor a final adieu, and again went home to Chester
When I got back from Lake Superior in 1852, after visiting
74 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
the iron mines out there, the iron business was in an awful
condition. Every one who had anything to do with iron
was out of patience. In an effort to get them interested
in the Jackson location, I went to see Coleman, Kelton &
Campbell, Commission men in Philadelphia, and they were
the only people who would talk about it. I was almost a
boy, but they treated me very nicely, said they saw the
value of the proposition, but that business was very dull
and the property was too far away. Another iron man said
I might as well talk about bringing iron ore from Kamchatka
as from the Jackson location. In reply, I said, " You will
see iron ore from Lake Superior sold in Philadelphia within
ten years." Receiving no encouragement, I finally gave
the matter up. If I had had $25,000, I would have bought
one half interest in the Jackson location and it has been
worth millions and is still extremely valuable.
I was now in my old home, and in the midst of the
surroundings where I passed my boyhood days, the happiest
days of my life, but now in a condition that I did not know
or care what I was going to do. In the course of a week
or so my old Norristown employers learned that I had left
Safe Harbor and had gone back home. They wrote me,
saying they wanted me to come back to them. I replied,
saying I was unfit for work of any kind. I was simply able
to sit around, sometimes in the house or shade, sometimes
in the sun; some days, if able, I would get to the barn. To
this they replied, the same as previously, saying to come
on, I could sit around as well with them as I could in Chester
County and they could have the benefit of my experience
and advice. Consequently, I made up my mind to go.
A few days after I had been at Norristown, an old friend
of mine came into the mill to see me and expressed much
delight at seeing me back again in my old place. He said
in a brusque but familiar manner, " What the devil ails
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ 75
you?" I told him I had the fever and ague. "Damn
you," he said, " you ought to have it." I said, " What do
you mean?" " Why," he replied, " I told you a year ago
what to do and if you had done it you would surely be
cured." '' Yes," I said, " but almost every person I have
met for the last year has told me of a certain cure; many of
them I tried but all failed and I became disgusted and re-
pudiated them all." In reply he said, " If you will go
where I told you to go, to Dr. John R. Rowand, of Phila-
delphia, I will pay all expenses if Dr. Rowand does not cure
you." He said the doctor had cured his brother of the
same complaint after suffering with it for several years.
He was so positive that Dr. Rowand would cure me that
I told him I would go to see him the next day. This I did.
Dr. Rowand asked me when I expected the next chill. I
told him in a day or so. He then handed me a bottle of
medicine, telling me to take three doses during the day.
He said, " Ague goes by the multiple of seven and if you
get it to-day, you will be most likely to get it in seven days
from to-day. On the sixth day again take the medicine
and continue taking it in periods of seven days for a month
or two." This I did and I have never had the least touch
of ague since, although it was a long time before my general
condition became normal. I do not know what the remedy
was, but I do know that I cured a large number of my friends
of ague, by sending them to Dr. Rowand.
To show that a first-class doctor is not necessarily an
expert in other professional lines I will tell the following
anecdote about Dr. Rowand. After he had cured me of
the fever and ague he consulted me about a scheme of his
that he thought would revolutionize the transportation of
coal. His plan was to construct cylinders about six feet
in diameter with flanges on the outside to fit the rails.
He enthusiastically explained how easily these cylinders
76 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
would roll along the rails. After I had shown him that the
coal would be powdered by that process to such an extent
as to become useless he thought that if partitions were put
in the cylinders the scheme would work. I had such
difficulty in convincing him that the plan was impracticable
that I came to the conclusion that he was worse than the
NORRISTOWN, SECOND TIME.
I NOW entered the employ of Moore and Hooven for the
second time, and in my old position, which I filled as far
as my health would permit. It was pleasant to be back
in my old place and with my dear friend, Mr. Hooven, and
to be in the midst of the mill workingmen who had ever been
considerate and kind to me and who received me with true
Some weeks after I had left Safe Harbor, Mr. David
Reeves, the largest proprietor of the works, was there and
said to Mr. Collins, who had charge of the blast furnace,
*' I don't see the young man about who put up the work at
the furnace." Mr. Collins said, " He has gone away."
Mr. Reeves asked why and was told that it was on account
of fever and ague. He then said, " We can't afford to lose
him; where has he gone to?" He was told to Norristown.
Mr. Reeves then wrote me, asking me to call at his Phila-
delphia office, as he wanted to have a talk with me. I
called as requested and found him to be a very courteous
gentleman. He asked if I had left Safe Harbor for good;
I told him I had. He said he was sorry as he did not want
me to leave there. I told him I also was very sorry to
leave, but that it was not possible for me to stay there on
account of fever and ague. He then told me he would like
to have me go to Phoenixville and take charge of the shops
and all the machinery in the works; in other words to be
their mechanical engineer. He said if I would go there he
would pay me a good salary. I learned afterwards it would
78 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
have been $1500 a year, a big salary for that time. Al-
though I was getting only $1000 a year at Norristown, I
declined Mr. Reeves' offer.
He then told me that he had personally leased the old
Kunzie Furnace on the Schuylkill River, about twelve miles
from Philadelphia and asked me if I would be willing to go
there and take charge of the rebuilding and changes which
he proposed to make. I said I should be glad to do so, as
I had been pretty well schooled in the rolling mills and I
was well satisfied that the mineral coal furnaces must soon
come to the front, as timber was becoming too scarce and
too valuable to be used any great length of time for char-
coal furnaces; that I wanted very much to get a practical
knowledge of the blast furnace, but that I had just arranged
to go back to the Norristown Works with Mr. Hooven.
Mr. Reeves said he thought that all could be arranged as
he and Mr. Hooven were good friends and the roUing mill
business was very dull at that time, — and I knew well that
was so. Mr. Reeves now told me that at the Kunzie
Furnace he could afford to give me but little more than
half the salary he could give me at Phoenixville. I asked
him what he could give me. He said, eight hundred dollars
per year. I told him if I could get away honorably from
Mr. Hooven, I would accept the position.
When I returned to Norristown, I told Mr. Hooven
frankly the talk Mr. Reeves and I had had and gave him
my reasons for wanting to go. I told him that I had quite
a fair knowledge of all branches of rolLing-mill practice up
to that time and was very anxious to learn something of
blast-furnace practice. After some days and several talks
it was agreed that I should stay with him long enough to
get the mill in good order, which would take some six or
eight weeks. I so reported to Mr. Reeves, and he at once
agreed; consequently all was satisfactory.
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ 79
After completing my engagement with Mr. Hooven, and
when the time had come for the separation for the second
time from one who had ever been a true and kind friend to
me, to engage in what was at that time, comparatively-
speaking, a new business, with strangers to work with, who,
in all probability, knew but little if any more than I did
about it, and my friends all the time telling me how foolish
it was to leave such a position as I had and to accept such a
one as I was going to, and at a lower salary, — I must con-
fess that I reluctantly left. It was, however, my desire and
determination to get all the information possible in the
practical branches of the iron business that compelled me
I NEXT reported to Mr. Reeves for instructions. He told
me the plans, drawings, and specifications would be fur-
nished by the Phoenix Iron Company, from Phcenixville,
Pennsylvania. The machinery', castings, etc., would have
to be made at different places, and my duty would be to
see they were all right and have them properly erected,
and get the furnace ready for blast. I also learned that
Mr. James Collins, of Safe Harbor, was going to be the
Business Manager, an appointment which was very agree-
able to me. The furnace had been built by Mr. Kunzie
(of the firm of Farr & Kunzie, manufacturing chemists of
Philadelphia), who was an able chemist but was without
mechanical or practical metallurgical knowledge, and the
furnace had been unsuccessful from a business standpoint.
Mr. Kunzie 's wife relates a story on him, that gives a
good idea of the Httle chemical knowledge they had at the
time of Mr. Kunzie's first experimenting in blast-furnace
practice. He had much difficulty in blowing in, as we
call it to-day, in other words in getting the furnace properly
started in making iron. After having much trouble, and
after several unsuccessful attempts to get properly started,
he employed Benjamin Perry, known as Ben Perry, an
Englishman, who was quite a good fumaceman for that
time, to blow the furnace in, which he did successfully.
Mr. Perry then wanted to get away to blow in a furnace for
some one else and gave notice to that effect. Mr. Kunzie,
not wanting him to leave, invited Mr. Perry to come to his
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ 8l
house that evening for the purpose of having a talk with
him in order to get him to remain. Mr. Perry, being an
uneducated man, who could neither read nor write, supposed
it was a social and that he would get a drink, consequently
called. Mr. Kunzie, being a thorough chemist and well
read up on the theory of blast-furnace practice, at once
commenced to talk to Mr. Perry about the effect the dif-
ferent gases had on the proper working of the furnace and
had much to say about oxygen, hydrogen, and nitrogen.
Mr. Perry, supposing he had been invited to have a drink,
said to Mr. Kunzie, " I don't know a damn thing about oxy-
gin or hydro-gin, if you have some good Holland gin I will
take some of that."
Here let me say the problem in the early forties was, —
can iron be made in the blast furnace with anthracite coal
as a fuel? It was said (and I believe correctly), that Mr.
Kunzie had experimented with a cupola to learn if heat
sufficient to smelt iron ore could be gotten with anthracite
coal ; having demonstrated to his satisfaction that sufficient
heat could be so gotten he then built the furnace to prove it
practically. But while he was experimenting, Mr. David
Thomas (afterwards affectionately called Father Thomas
in honor of his being the first man in this country to make
iron with purely mineral coal as a fuel, on a commercial
basis) built the Number One furnace for the Crane Iron
Company's Works at Catasauqua, then called Craneville,
and it was a success from the start.
Mr. Kunzie deserves much credit for what he did and had
he been so fortunate as to have had a good practical man
with him he would have made a success. In changing
the old plant, I saw some good ideas had they been properly
In a short time we had that part of the plant that was to
be changed torn out and the place cleaned up all ready for
82 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
the mechanics to commence to rebuild, and the machinery
was coming in and was being placed in position as fast as
it arrived. Everything so far had gone smoothly, but some
of the work was not up to the standard. I called the
attention of the machinist in charge to it, requesting him
to notify the engineer who had charge of the designing of
the work, that part of the work was not up to standard
and also that some of his plans should be modified. This
brought a great storm over my head, but it was not of long
duration. The engineer came down on me full of fight,
wanting to know what authority I had for criticizing the
workmanship. I told him it was my duty to see that the
work was done and to have the furnace erected. " In
regard to my criticism of your designs," I said, " they were
made for your good, for I assure you, that, if erected on the
plan you now propose, the furnace will be a dead failure.
The modification that I would suggest can be made very
readily, and while it is not good engineering, it will do the
work and do it well, and is the best thing, in my opinion,
that can be done to utilize the work that is already done."
He became very angry and said the furnace should be put
up as per plan.
I then told Mr. Collins what had taken place between
their engineer and myself, and I also told him what I had
never done before (as I did not want to humihate the
engineer), that the plan would not work, and that I did
not propose to put up a job of work that I knew was wrong
and would not answer the purpose it was intended for, and
that he should get some one else to take my place, as I did
not wish to be discharged. I also told Mr. ColHns that
Mr. Hooven wanted me back at Norristown, and I would
go where I could have work done as it should be.
Mr. ColHns, without my knowledge, went at once to
Philadelphia to see Mr. Reeves, and told him what had
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ 83
taken place between the engineer and myself. Mr. Reeves
said, " You can tell Fritz that no one has the authority to
discharge him outside of myself, and that I will be up to-
morrow and see what the trouble is and see if it can't be
arranged satisfactorily to both parties." He came up the
next day and we together looked the plans over and he said
I was right but he still wanted me to put the hoisting
machinery up according to the engineer's plan. This I
objected to, saying I could see no reason for going to that
expense when we knew that it would not work. He said,
" The engineer is a good fellow but seems to forget that you
have had an experience that he has not had, and it will do
him good when he finds the hoisting machine will not work;
he will begin to think that there are some people in the world
that know a little more about some things than he does.
He does not seem to have taken into consideration that
you have had more practical experience than he has had,
which is so essential in changing and repairing work."
At Mr. Reeves' request I put up in place the work in
dispute just as it was received at the works. As soon as
the furnace was completed it was tried and my predictions
were completely verified. The material — coal, ore, and
limestone — was taken to the tunnel head in cars on an
inclined trestle work. The difficulty was in stopping the
cars at the proper time and keeping them in the proper
position, while the barrows containing the ore, coal, and
limestone were taken off and the material dumped in the
When ready to start I asked Mr. Colhns to have Mr.
Reeves and the engineer on hand and on the top of the
furnace, to see how their arrangement for getting stock up
was going to work, and to have them near the lever that was
to control the car, being well satisfied that they all could
not get it out of gear. I placed the engineer at the throttle
84 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
with instructions to run slowly and keep his eye on me.
I would place myself in a position where I could see the
men on top and him and I would signal him when to stop.
I also instructed the leverman and manager to try to stop
the car before it reached the top.
All being ready we started up. When the car was about
some twenty feet from the top the leverman tried to stop it,
but.failed. Mr. Collins then jumped to the lever, then the
engineer who had designed the plan, and finally Mr. Reeves.
All failed to get it out of gear, so I signaled the engineer
to stop the engine. They all came down and came into
the engine house to see me. Mr. Reeves said, " Well,
Fritz, I think we are all satisfied that this design will not
work, and I want you to change it to the plan you first
proposed and no one shall interfere with you in any way."
So at it I went and made drawings, such as were made at
that time, had such patterns made as were actually neces-
sary, and castings were made, set up and in place in about
ten days' time.
All worked to our entire satisfaction and in about two
weeks we had the furnace in blast and everything going
well and the changes that were made all working as in-
tended. The furnace continued to do well, made good
iron and for that time a large quantity, and was considered
the best furnace on the Schuylkill. Everythmg operated
so satisfactorily that Mr. Reeves sent his furnaceman and
engineer to see how nicely all was going. The engineer
and I talked over the failure of his plan for the hoist,
and he said it went to show that one man did not know
everything and that I had one great advantage over him
and that was experience, which was all important to the
engineer. From that day until his death we were close
friends and consulted with each other on important prob-
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ 8$
One important improvement in furnace practice that
was made at that time was brought about, I might say, by
accident. One of the keepers was Mr. Colhns' brother,
and the other one was a Welshman. On the latter' s turn
the most and best iron was made. Mr. Collins, the Man-
ager, was constantly finding fault with his brother, and
charged him with negligence, especially on the night turn,
where the difference was at all times the greatest when
Collins was on duty. Being anxious to learn all I could
about blast-furnace practice, I spent my spare time about
the furnace, consequently knew much better what was going
on there than the Manager did. My sympathy was with
the brother, who was at all times watchful, and in my
opinion, the more competent man.
At that time there was a space under the tymp, which
was about two feet from the inside of the crucible, and the
dam plate about three feet from the tymp, making the
opening about five feet in length and some thirty inches
in width. This was used when the furnace was in blast,
the idea being that it was necessary to clear the hearth or
bottom of the crucible of anything that might collect there
when the furnace was in blast. After the iron was run out
of the furnace it was the practice to clean this space, with
bar and sledge, at the expense of a great amount of hard
work. The space was then filled with coal dust and loam,
then covered with a heavy cast-iron plate held in place by a
prop against a cast-iron plate or Hntel in front of the tymp ;
this had to be done after every cast and once between
casts, the time for casting being morning and evening.
This working of the furnace, as it was called, was done
about the middle of the day. This intermediate working,
I made up my mind, was worse than useless. I could see
no sense whatever in driving the heavy long cold bars in
at the bottom of the crucible where it was essential that
86 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
the furnace should be hottest. Some of the bars, called
ringers, were ten feet long, so that they would reach the
center of the crucible. They were driven in with a sledge,
then four or five men would take hold of the end of the bar
and work it round and roimd and get a lot of hot fuel out of
the very place where it was most wanted. Besides, the blast
was off the furnace all the time this working was being done.
I now paid close attention to the two keepers to see how
they worked the furnace and how long each of them had
the blast off. I soon found out that Collins worked the
furnace much more thoroughly, driving the cold bars into
the furnace, and keeping the blast off longer. While this
explained the matter in a measure, there was still a mystery
why the Welshman should do so much better than Collins
on the night turn, both in make and in quality. The inter-
mediate time for working the furnace on the night turn was
between twelve and one.
I next directed my attention to the night turn and soon
solved the mystery. Mr. Collins worked the furnace at
midnight, the same as he worked it in the daytime, while
the Welshman rarely worked the furnace at all in the night.
This at once solved the problem, and proved that the
intermediate working was not only useless, but was detri-
mental to the natural working of the furnace. This was
an important discovery, and fully confirmed my theory that
it was wrong to put] cold bars in the crucible and work
out a lot of good hot fuel and material that was, practi-
cally speaking, on the verge of fluid metal, filling the space
with crude and colder material, and that in the bottom of
the crucible below the tuyeres, the most sensitive part of
the furnace. Mr. Collins the Manager, his brother, the
keeper, and myself got together and talked the whole sub-
ject over, and were unanimous in the conclusion that the
frequent working of a furnace was deleterious.
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ 87
It had already been shown to the satisfaction of us all
that the intermediate or second working was now, beyond
any question, injurious, and should at once be abandoned,
but the question of the first working, after casting, known
amongst furnace men as cinder raising, was not so easily
disposed of. The long forehearth was filled with coal dirt
and loam. After casting and after the blast had been put
on, the cinder would, in the course of an hour or more, come
up to the tuyeres. The blast was then slackened, the plate
heretofore designated was taken off, the coal dirt and loam
was shoveled out up to the t>rmp, and the cinder flowed in
and filled the place up and was allowed to run out until
it was level with the tapping hole on the dam plate. Then
the cinder was covered with loam, and the heavy plate was
placed in position again, and the blast put on; then the
cinder was tapped as often as it came up to the tuyeres
until casting time came around.
It was now arranged that at the next cast the loam and
coal dirt should be shoveled out to about eight inches from
the tymp and the space be filled with loam, well rammed
down up to that point and a narrower plate put on, and that
at cinder raising, instead of opening up and working the
furnace, a single bar should be driven in under the plate
until it reached the cinder and then be withdrawn. It was
supposed that the cinder would flow out after the bar was
The next morning Mr. Collins was on hand at casting
time and had the forehearth filled up as before arranged,
and when the blast was put on he said to the furnace men
in the most emphatic manner and in language that would
not be becoming to a church member that if any man put a
bar into the furnace other than in tapping for cinder he
would at once discharge him. We now had an anxious
wait of an hour or so to know what the result might be; we
88 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
watched the tuyeres with much interest and when the
cinder began to bubble there, we all knew that the crisis
had arrived, and all went to the front to see the result
of our long, anxious, and interesting investigations. The
keeper cut a small gutter in the loam from the tymp to the
dam plate, some three or four inches in depth, in order to
guide the cinder to the notch in the dam plate. The place
selected to drive the bar for cinder was some four inches
below the tj^mp and about twelve inches below the tuyeres.
The keeper placed the bar as directed by Mr. Collins and
it was driven in some fifteen inches without any difl&culty.
When the bar was withdrawn the cinder flowed out rather
slowly but it was sufiicient to guarantee success, as we well
knew that the next flush of cinder would be hotter. It was,
and the result was entirely satisfactory. Taking into con-
sideration the condition of furnace practice at that time,
this was a marked improvement, making in all respects
a closed front. Some years later Mr. Liirmann, of Ger-
many, made an improvement on what we had done by
the introduction of the water cinder notch, patented it,
and it is now in general use.
After being in Mr. Reeves' employ some twelve months,
doing all that I was called upon to do and getting the
practical furnace experience I so much desired, I concluded,
as Mr. Hooven wanted me to go back to Norristown, to do
so, and I told both Mr. Reeves and Mr. Collins of my
intention to leave them and return to Mr. Hooven at Norris-
town. They both objected, saying they did not want me
to leave them. In reply I said to them that the furnace
was going smoothly, and there was but little for me to do,
and that I would be much more useful to Mr. Hooven than
I could be to them, and besides I would be near by in case
they had any trouble. " I could be with you," I said, "with-
in an hour's time." They both were satisfied with this
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ 89
arrangement, so we parted in the most pleasant manner,
and I confess that I left them with regret.
I did business with four generations of the Reeves family.
My first employer was Mr. David Reeves; the next genera-
tion was Samuel; the next generation was David. When
I was recently doing some work in Chester County, I
wanted some beams and I sent over to Phcenixville for
them. When Mr. David Reeves came to answer my
letter, he said to his son Wilham, " You attend to this
matter and then you can say to Mr. Fritz that he has done
business with four generations in this firm," William
mentioned that fact to me and said, " I cannot tell you
anything about the fifth generation; I am twenty-six, but
I have not yet come across a woman that pleases me."
I NOW returned to Norristown for the third time, but not
with the intention of remaining there. A party was plan-
ning to build a nail mill and wanted me to build it for them
and take the superin tendency of it. My intention was to
do some work that Mr. Hooven wanted done and get the
mill in good order, then take hold of the nail-mill project.
As business was dull at that time, however, the project
was deferred for a year.
In company with my brother George and two brothers-
in-law, Mr. B. F. Stroud and Mr. Isaac E. Chandler, who
were then living in Catasauqua, we built a machine shop
and foundry there, with the view of doing work for blast
furnaces and rolling mills. But before we got fairly
started, the party that had intended building the nail mill
abandoned the project altogether on account of the dull-
ness in the iron business. It so happened that Mr. David
Reeves, whom I had been with at the Safe Harbor Iron
Works and the Kunzie Furnace, had become interested
in the Cambria Iron Works, at Johnstown, Pennsylvania,
and wanted me to go there as General Superintendent.
He asked me to meet him at his office in Philadelphia, which
I did, and it was arranged that I should go to Johnstown
as soon as I could get away. My stay in Catasauqua was
not only brief, but somev/hat unprofitable. I made some
good friends, however, whom I esteem most highly at the
In June, 1854, my family and I landed in Johnstown at
about nine o'clock at night. It was a dark and uninviting
place. Looking down the Conemaugh in the direction of
the works, the only light that could be seen was the reflec-
tion from the coke ovens. We went to a hotel and spent
an uneventful night. The next morning, while waiting for
breakfast, I went out to see how the town looked in day-
time, and I can truly say it was the most unattractive place
I had ever been in. The streets were of clay, or rather of a
dark loam, and organic matter; the sidewalks, with few ex-
ceptions, were of boards or plank, and in a great part of
the town were of the same material as the streets. Cows,
hogs, and dogs, all ran at large; the dogs would get after
the pigs, they would squeal, the cows would bawl, the dogs
would bark, and fight. I should have been amused if I had
not been there to stay. After I had been at Johnstown a
short time I met Governor Porter, who told me that he had
recently crossed the mountains in a stage, sitting outside
with the driver. He said, " In looking forward I saw a
number of houses. I asked the driver what place we were
coming to. He said it was Johnstown. When we came
near to it the driver said it was a darned shame to spoil such
a nice piece of ground to build such a town on it."
I next went down to the coke plant, which was on a level
with the tunnel head of the furnace, some eighty feet above
the valley in which the rolling mill and shops were located.
After taking a bird's-eye view of the plant, I went to the
92 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
mill and found it unfinished and not at all to my liking, but
too far advanced to make any changes. Consequently, I
concluded to complete it as designed and as early as possible,
at the same time well knowing there was trouble in store
for us when we came to start. One of the blast furnaces
had been in operation for some weeks and there was some
pig iron in the metal yard, which I examined and found to
be a very inferior metal. I was told by persons who knew
something about the reputation of the metal that it was no
good, that it could not be sold or given away in Pittsburg,
and that it could never be made into a rail. This, in con-
nection with my own opinion, was enough to chill the ardor
of a veteran.
In starting the mill we made the pile in the usual way,
and when it went into the rolls it split in two pieces and
went out into the scrap yard. The conclusion was, too
much heat. We tried another at a lower temperature;
result, it spHt about halfway. We then turned end for
end and passed it through the rolls, which closed it to-
gether; sent it back to the furnace and reheated it, and then
rolled it into a rail; the result was, flanges on both sides all
torn from one end of the intended rail to the other. The
rolls were then taken to the lathe and altered, put in place
and tried again; result no better. Anticipating trouble, I
had a set of new rolls quite ready, put them in the housing,
and tried them; some improvement, but the flanges of the
rails were still seriously torn and the head of the rail badly
cracked on both sides.
It was now evident that my worst fears were going to be
fully reaUzed, and that we must have some better iron and
devise some plan to get along with the least possible quan-
tity. It was now that my Norristown experience proved
helpful, as I had had much to do in getting up the piles for
the various classes of work. This required different qualities
•■ C-A -los,^
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ 95
of iron, some cold-short, some red-short, and some neutral,
the neutral being the most desirable; to obtain a good
quality of it at a reasonable cost was the only way that I
could think of to get over the difficulty.
When I told the owners of the trouble and that we must
have some good iron to help us out, for a time matters
looked serious. They had been told, when they leased the
property, that they could make pig iron for about six dollars
per ton, and the kind of iron that I wanted for the flanges
and heads of the rails had to be of a much superior quality,
but after being told how small a quantity I thought would
help us out, and that it was not possible to make rails with-
out some better iron, they concluded to get it, hoping that
later we could get along with a less quantity of the superior
iron. In this view of the situation I gave them no encour-
agement whatever, well knowing it would only be waste of
time as well as of money to make any further attempts.
Consequently, I let the mill stand until we got the better
When the good iron arrived we had it puddled and
started up the rail mill to try the experimental pile. So far
as the pile was concerned, it was a success and the form was
never changed in the least. A sketch of the pile is shown
in Figure 5 on page 96, and this method was used as long
as the Cambria Works made iron rails. On some orders we
used what was called second-bottom iron, as shown in
Figure 6 on page 96. This second-bottom iron was rolled
out of the crop ends of rails into bars one and one-half
inches wide, and of the same thickness as the puddled iron
bars, generally about five-eighths of an inch. We had a pile
that was eminently satisfactory so far as making the rail
was concerned, if roUed on edge. How well the rail would
wear was a very serious problem in my mind. Nothing
short of an experiment would demonstrate the wearing
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ 97
qualities of such a rail, and at that time it would have taken
too long to make the test. My fear was that the rails would
split under the load. I finally made up my mind that if
the piles were properly heated and that if the second-bottom
iron bars in the rail pile were in contact with iron on its
flat with a good heat, no trouble would occur. This in the
end proved correct, but my anxiety did not cease until
the rails were tested in absolute use.
I was now satisfied that with a very small quantity of
suitable iron for the flange and head an excellent rail could
be made out of the iron produced at the Cambria furnaces,
and that with such a mill as could be constructed the com-
pany would be a great commercial success. But to attempt
to run the mill as it was would have been commercial ruin.
We now started the mill again, and while the flanges and
heads were much better, the splitting was worse than before,
as the strong iron in the top and bottom would bear more
heat than the puddled iron in the center of the rail. I again
tried, with no success, to make a pig iron that would stand
more heat, so as to prevent splitting, but having only one
kind of ore little could be done. I then had the rolls taken
to the roll lathe and the work on the roughing rolls reduced.
The result was only a slight improvement, and I felt that I
had done all that could be done under the existing conditions.
I had now fully made up my mind that there was but one
thing to do and that was to build practically a new mill,
making it three-high. That would require a large amount
of money, which was hard to get in those days. The only
thing that could then be done was to start up and do the
best we could. As before stated, the reduction of work on
the roughing rolls helped slightly, and by careful heating
we could get some work out. Consequently, we made what
we called a final start.
In the meantime, we had gotten up a heavy buggy which
gS AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
we used as a battering ram and when the pile did not split
open too much we would use the buggy to force the piece
into the rolls so as to save the time and labor of turning the
piece end about, but there were many piles that in the first
or second pass would split or that would get too cold to
roll and had to go in the furnace again. All this caused
much delay, and the amount of patching of flanges that
had to be done made me seasick, but the greater the difh-
culty the more determined I was to fight it out, as I could
see in my bed at night, when I should have been asleep,
visions of a three-high rail mill, but in the distance. Yet
I had faith that it would come, and I was certain in my own
mind that it would be a great success, and that Cambria
was destined to be the greatest rail plant in the world.
But the road that had to be trodden was long, hard, rough,
and dreary, and besides was beset with great danger. But,
to use a lawyer's phrase, the Cambria Company was my
client, and no lawyer ever wojked harder for his client than
I did for mine, both mentally and physically. I knew no
hours day or night, except time to eat, and but little to
sleep, and that irregularly.
This was the time that my all-round practical experience,
which I worked so hard for and made so many sacrifices to
obtain, came into use, and, coupled with courage and a
spirit that bears it company, I felt able to meet any con-
tingency that might arise. I did not have long to wait for
an opportunity to put my mental, physical, and courageous
qualities all to test. The puddle-mill engine flywheel was
thirty feet in diameter, with a fourteen-inch-square rim;
the segments were held together by double-headed T-bolts,
which had been put so close to the end of the segment that
the metal pulled off and the tees and the end of a segment
went across the mill. Fortunately, no one was hurt.
The mill was stopped at once and made safe. The
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ 99
repairs were made as follows: ten inches from the end of
each segment across the face of the wheel grooves were
cut in each end of the segment, two and one-half inches in
width and of the same depth. There being sixteen seg-
ments in the wheel, this made thirty-two grooves. Iron
bands, sixteen in number, made out of two and one-half
by three inch best wrought iron, were then put in on edge.
These bands, or rather links, had to be made in a common
blacksmith's fire and without a steam hammer, as the
steam hammer and also many other important tools were
not in general use at that time. The grooves in the
segments had all to be cut by hand. The grooves were
first roughed out with a two-handed chisel and sledge
and then finished with the hammer and chisel. This
was a big job for that period, and I can assure you that
I got but little sleep during the time this work was on hand.
We double-turned the work, both in chipping the grooves
and making the Unks, and not a single man shirked his duty,
but each did all he could to get the job done. We had
neither gas nor electricity and had to use the old coffee-pot
tin oil lamps to give light.
We got the mill all in operation again but in a short time
the rail-mill flywheel, which was built in the same manner
as the flywheel on the puddle-mill engine, was considered
unsafe to run at a speed that was absolutely essential for
rail making, consequently we had to stop and fix it. This
was a big, tiresome, and expensive job, and besides it kept
the rail mill standing and nothing coming in, which, under
the circumstances, was a very serious matter. Finally, we
got in operation again and were getting along, making rails
about as well as it was possible to do, with the mill as it was,
and with the smaller mishaps that were daily occurring.
These were not serious when compared with what we had
gone through, but were exceedingly annoying, keeping the
lOO AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
mill idle so much of the time, when the company was
seriously pressed for money, and making it impossible to
run the plant with economy; but I kept my temper as near
zero as possible, and remained hopeful. Anticipating all
shortcomings as far as possible, and being ready for them
when they did occur, was the only thing that could be done,
and by constant vigilance in all minor details and by
making betterments when possible, we made a marked
improvement in time of running, increased the output in
a greater ratio, greatly reduced the cost of rails per ton,
and also improved the quality.
In the midst of all my troubles, the company took a
contract to make several thousand tons of rails with hollov/
heads. It was impossible to make them out of their own
iron, and I told them so at once. In reply, Mr. D. J. Morrell,
the business manager, told me that hollow-headed rails
were at that time being made at Wheeling out of pig iron
that was made at Johnstown of the same ore that Cambria
was using. I said it was not possible and some one was
not telling the truth, and that we would go down to Wheel-
ing at once and see for ourselves what they were doing.
We arrived at Wheeling in the evening. After supper,
Mr. Morrell proposed to call and see the proprietor of the
mill where the rails were being made. I said, " No, we will
call at the works to-morrow morning at about daylight."
This we did, and hunted up the roller and found him, and
he and I at once recognized each other, as he had worked
for me in the Norristown Iron Works. After a few casual
remarks, I said to him, in the presence of Mr. Morrell,
" How are you getting along with the hollow-headed rails?"
He said they had been having terrible trouble with them in
trying to make them out of Johnstown iron and found it
utterly impossible. He said they then got some better
pig iron, which gave fairly good results, and used but little
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ lOI
of the Johnstown iron. I asked to see the puddle mill and
stockyard and saw they were using about enough of Johns-
town iron to say it was a part of the mixture.
At about eight o'clock, I remember, Mr. Stephens, the
President and owner of the Wheehng plant, and the in-
ventor of the hollow-headed rail, came into the works and
was evidently much surprised to see us there. I told him
frankly what I had come for and that we had seen all we
wanted, and that they were using but little of the Johns-
town iron in their mixture. He said, " You are mistaken
about that; you have been wrongly informed." I said,
"No, we have seen the mixture in the furnaces and I know
the Johnstown iron wherever I see it."
We now returned home and I was feeling somewhat
better, and told Mr. Morrell we must have some good iron to
start with and find out what we could do, that I thought we
could use considerable of our own make of pig iron and that
he could rest assured we would use as much as possible of it.
I learned from Mr. Morrell that he was responsible for
making the contract for the rails, and he understood from
Mr. Stephens that they were using the Johnstown iron to
make the rails out of, but he was now satisfied, and I told
him I would do the best I could. This seemed to be a
great relief to him. When we got well under way in making
the rails, we found we could use considerable of the Johns-
town iron and got out of the trouble much better than we
We had now gotten the mill generally in pretty good
shape, and running about as well as could be expected, and
making some money, when an event occurred which was
very serious. Previous to the time that my employers, the
lessees of the mill, took the property, as I remember, Mr.
Simeon Draper, a banker of New York, had advanced
money for a certain railroad company to the original
I02 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
Cambria Iron Company, for rails to be made for them as
soon as the mill was completed, and had taken a mortgage
on the property to secure the loan. The original company
having failed to complete the plant, the railroad company
held the lessees liable for the fulfillment of the rail contract;
and here appeared the United States Marshal, looking as
gentle as a preacher, but we soon found him as firm as a
judge. Next came the sheriffs of the adjoining three coun-
ties, where the Cambria Iron Company held property, then
came the constable with orders to attach anything that was
movable, from a goat to a locomotive. We were now up
against the real thing, — want of money, — and to make
rails for the company on their contract without money
was simply impossible, and we so told them.
It was a gloomy day for Cambria. The workmen were
restless and threatened to quit work, which I thought would
help me in a proposition I had in mind to make. In com-
pany with the United States Marshal, there was a gentleman
whose name I think was Mitchell. He proved to be a very
clever man, and was to remain there to look after the
interest of the railroad company, while their rails were
being made. I said to him, " There is, so far as I can see,
but one way that you can get your rails. The men are
dissatisfied and may quit work at any moment, and as soon
as we commence work on your rails, unless there is some
provision made that will insure their pay, they will quit
work, and I understand there are judgments against this
property that can be foreclosed at any time. In that event
you will never get a rail or one dollar of your money. If
your company will let us roll some rails not merely for you,
but for other people, so as to obtain enough money to pay
the laborers, I think you will eventually get all your rails,
and I will promise you to do all I can to help you get them."
The proposition was finally accepted.
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ 103
When we came to start making rails the workmen de-
manded that the rails be delivered to some person author-
ized to receive them and be held by him until they were
paid. The company appointed their business manager,
but the men would not accept him, and asked that I should
be appointed; their request was granted. I was also made
the agent for the railroad company, and every evening after
the day's work was finished I received the rails, first to
secure the pay of the men, and secondly, in the name of the
railroad company to see that it got them. This plan
seemed to work well and was satisfactory to all parties,
and the sky seemed clearer and brighter for the success of
the works than I had ever seen it. But at all times it was
on the verge of bankruptcy, and the lessee company, tired
of being harassed, not only by its own debts, but also by
the obHgations of the parent company, concluded it must
in some way secure more capital. This at that time was
no easy matter, especially when the concern was in such a
compHcated financial position as Cambria then was.
The mill was shut down, and I was ordered to Philadel-
phia to in a way become a promotor, a new business for
me, and I had to do some talking to make some of the party
I met believe that there could be any money made out of
the works. But I assured them the Cambria Works could
be made a great money-making plant if put in proper shape.
All this time the three-high mill was uppermost in my mind,
but I did not say a word about it, fearing it might provoke
discussion ; this I did not want at this time, as several of the
party were in rather a passive frame of mind and I thought
it wise to let them remain so, as it would have proved fatal
to my long-cherished idea to have the subject brought up in
any way until after the matter now in hand had been
settled. I was sure there would be opposition, and my
chance for success would be much better then, as I believed
I04 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
the opposition would be in the minority but could not well
back out. For several days but little was done beyond
some small skirmishes about the propriety of putting more
money into a manufacturing business that had made two
failures in two years. This seemed to be the knock-
down argument, and the fact could not be ignored.
During this time I fortunately made the acquaintance of
Mr. Edward Y. Townsend and soon gained his confidence.
He was connected with the mercantile house of Wood,
Bacon & Company, one of Philadelphia's best-known
houses. This gave him a standing with capitalists, the men
that were wanted. His firm looked upon the project with
favor, wliich was encouraging. Then came up the question
as to the amount of money that would be wanted. Here
I was again placed in a vexatious predicament, being called
on to name the amount required for the mill, well knowing
that, if the three-high mill and other all-important improve-
ments that really should be made were named, it would
surely defeat the whole scheme. I concluded to make the
amount as small as possible. Some of the party were
inclined to think well of the property.
We met at Mr. Charles Wood's office to talk over some
plan of organization, and see what amount of money could
be raised and how it could be done. They had previously
decided it would require about one hundred and eighty
thousand dollars, that this amount should be divided into
six shares of thirty thousand dollars, that each share should
have one representative only, but without limit as to the
number of persons that it might take to make up each share,
and that the name of the firm should be Wood, Morrell &
Company. This was a wise arrangement and probably at
that time the only way the project could be accomph'shed.
The six representatives of the shares, who were all the
stockholders that were known to outsiders, were the busi-
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ 105
ness managers. As I recollect they were Mr. Charles Wood,
Mr. David Reeves, Mr. Matthew Newkirk, Mr. Edward Y.
Townsend, Mr. Daniel J. Morrell, and Mr. George Trotter.
All of them were successful business men and men of high
standing and character.
They next went to work to get all the shares fully made
up, and in a few days succeeded. We thought everything
was completed and that I could soon take the good news
with me to Johnstown, and I was planning to go the next
day, but we were mistaken. An unexpected trouble about
the lease turned up, and for several days the atmosphere
was gloomy and it seemed as if all our labor had been for
naught. This condition of affairs existed for several days,
but on the last day of grace in which they had to make the
lease, they got all the six holders of the six shares together
and at about nine or ten o'clock at night they agreed to
sign the lease, but Mr. R. D. Wood, who was largely in-
terested, despairing of their agreeing to sign it, had pre-
viously gone home and gone to bed, and so the others had
to go to his house, where all were in bed, call them up, and
get Mr. Wood out of bed to approve the lease before twelve
o'clock. Otherwise, as I now remember, the property
would have been sold the next day by the sheriff.
This was a close call and to me was a period of intense
anxiety, not so much on my own behalf, as in the interest
and welfare of some three or four thousand men whose
existence and that of their families depended upon their
daily labor; and for all this time, nearly two weeks, they
had been idle. How those men with large families managed
to get along is more than I can tell, but they were sympa-
thetic, generous, and would share the last bite with each
The next morning I started for Johnstown as the bearer
of glad tidings. The morning after my return, I met the
Io6 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
workmen and told them what had taken place (all of which
they received joyfully), and further said, by way of en-
couragement, that I did not see what could happen that
would prevent the works from starting and running steadily,
but I must confess that in the face of so many setbacks I
at times had some misgivings, fearing something unforeseen
might turn up. However, I told the men to get their
furnaces ready to start up and said, " We must all work
together and do our best to make it go. If we do this,
success is assured." I was ordered to start the mill, and
the workmen and the citizens of the town were all happy.
All that could be seen from the Johnstown end was of good
But after I had left Philadelphia for home a very great
difference of opinion had shown itself in the new company
in regard to the appointment of the officials in Johnstown.
This resulted in the appointing of two General Managers,
one General Superintendent, and one Assistant Superin-
tendent. The last-named official was not needed. Mr.
D. J. Morrell was made General Manager to succeed
Mr. James, then the General Manager, and Mr. Wyatt
Miller was supposed to be assistant to the Superintendent,
but was not so named. I was again placed in a very
embarrassing position. Mr. James, having been the Gen-
eral Manager of the previous company, and having been
requested by the minority stockholders to remain, had no
disposition to resign. The result was that for some weeks
we had two General Managers. Mr. James was a very
clever man, to whom I had become much attached, and he
was a brother-in-law of Mr. Da\dd Reeves, who was a good
friend of mine. I had been in Mr. Reeves' employ for some
years, and was sent to Cambria by him, and his uniform
kindness placed me under obligations to him, but the
majority of the firm were in favor of Mr, Morrell. Con-
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ 107
sequently, I decided my course should be absolutely neutral.
The majority party did all they could to get me to side with
them, but I positively refused to do so; in an unguarded
moment, however, I said there was no use for two General
Managers or an Assistant Superintendent. This was true,
but it was not said to be used by them to get Mr. James or
Mr. Miller out. This they did, however, much to my sur-
prise and chagrin. They put them both out, and it natu-
rally caused a coldness on Mr. Reeves' part toward me,
which I greatly regretted, and it was some time before I got
an opportunity to explain the matter to him. Mr. D. J.
Morrell now became the sole General Manager. He was
a very clever gentleman, but knew nothing about the iron
business, which, to say the least, was unfortunate. Mr.
Charles Wood was made the head of the firm and Mr.
Edward Y. Townsend his assistant.
CAMBRIA.— Continued : THE THREE-HIGH RAIL MILL.
After the new organization was completed and the
officials got well in their places and all was working smoothly
so far as they were concerned, the change in the official
organization of the company did not remove or lessen the
troubles in the manufacturing department, or increase the
output, both of which items were absolutely essential to
insure success. To continue to run the mill as it was, I
could see nothing ahead but a most disastrous failure. Hav-
ing previously given the whole subject my most thought-
ful consideration, even to its most minute detail, I was
prepared to submit my plans and recommendations to the
new company. My proposal was to build a new train of
rolls, three high, and twenty inches in diameter. This
involved a new engine that would run with safety one
hundred revolutions per minute, and it practically meant an
entirely new mill. To this proposition they demurred, say-
ing that it could not be done, as the expense was too great;
besides, the mill they had was entirely new and was supposed
to be the best mill in the country, and they were at loss to
see why good rails could not be made on it. After some
time and a great amount of earnest talk, I succeeded in
convincing some of the representative stockholders that it
was absolutely necessary to make some changes and im-
provements, and that, if my suggestions were adopted,
success was sure.
At the next meeting the subject was taken up with a full
board, and, as I was informed afterwards, the matter was
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ 109
fully discussed, and it was decided to build an eighteen-
inch two-high train, geared, to replace the train we had,
and I was ordered to go ahead at once with it. This was
to me a very severe setback, as I supposed I had Mr.
Townsend converted to the three-high direct-driven mill.
To this order I replied most emphatically that I would not
build the geared mill, as it would be money thrown away
and time lost. In reply to my refusal to build the mill as
ordered, they said my position was high-handed and most
arbitrary and one I had no right to assume, as I was in their
employ on a salary for the purpose of managing their works
and had no right to dictate to them what they should do.
I in a measure assented to this, at the same time telling
them that if they persisted in running their works on the
lines they had laid down for me, there would be a humiliat-
ing funeral, and I did not want to remain to attend it,
especially as one of the mourners. In a few days after
receiving my reply, they gave me permission to build the
mill as I wanted it, but suggested that I make the roll
eighteen inches in diameter instead of twenty. I consented,
as a compromise, — a great mistake, — and commenced at
once to build the miU, and make other important im-
About the time the patterns for the new train and also for
the engine were completed, a protest was received at the
works in the form of a legal document from the minority
partners notifying the managing directors that they would
hold them personally responsible for the building of the new
mill. This was a most unexpected setback, and all the
work on the new mill was suspended for a time, and the
directors made another effort to get me to change my plans
and build the old two-high geared mill, which the company
had previously so earnestly urged me to do. I told them I
was tired out trying to make rails on the old mill. They
no AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
suggested that I could make a better mill two-high that
would give less trouble, and consequently do more work.
I admitted that it could be done, but the advantage to be
gained would not warrant the expenditure, and the only
thing that could possibly be done to make the enterprise
a success was to build the three-high mill.
The next Sunday morning Mr. Townsend came to the
mill, where he found me in the midst of the regular Sunday
repairs. After I was pretty well through with them he
took me aside and showed me the protest. My hands being
greasy, I asked him to read it to me, which he did. After
all these years have passed, there is no person other than
myself who can fully appreciate the trying position the
managers were placed in. On the one hand, I was urging
them to build a mill, on an untried plan, as a strong minority
called it, this minority also legally notifying the managers
that they would hold them personally responsible for the
result. On the other hand, I was absolutely refusing to
build the mill they wanted, and besides all this, they ridi-
culed the idea of adopting a new and untried method that
was against all practice in this and the old country, from
which at that time we obtained our most experienced iron
workers. Moreover, the prominent iron makers in all parts
of the country had said to Mr. Morrell that the whole thing
was a wild experiment and was sure to end in a failure, and
that young, determined, cracked-brained Fritz would ruin
him. The heaters and rollers all opposed the three-high
mill and appointed a committee to see the managers and
say to them that the three-high mill would never work, and
that they, themselves, would suffer by reason of its adoption,
but that if the managers would put in a two-high geared
train, which they said was the proper thing to do, the mill
would go all right.
As I now look back to that eventful Sunday morning,
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ III
many long years ago, sitting on a pile of discarded rails,
with evidences of failure on every side, Mr. Townsend and
myself quietly and seriously talking over the history of the
past, the difficulties of the present, and the uncertainties
of the future, I cannot but feel, in view of what since has
come to pass, that it was not only a critical epoch in the
history of the Cambria Company, but that as well the
future well-being of my Hfe was in the balance. For, as
Mr. Townsend was about to leave, after a full discussion
of the Cambria Iron Company's condition at that time, he
turned to me and said: " Fritz, go ahead and build the mill
as you want it." I asked, " Do you say that officially?"
to which he replied: " I will make it official," and he did so;
and here I wish to say that to no other person so deservedly
belongs the credit, not only of the introduction of the three-
high-roll train but also of the wonderful prosperity that came
to the Cambria Company, as it does to Mr. Edward Y.
Townsend, then its Vice-President.
Notwithstanding I now had the consent of the com-
pany to go on with my plan for the new mill, many of my
warmest friends, some of whom were practical ironmen,
came to me and urged me not to try such an experiment.
They said I had taken a wrong position in refusing to build
the kind of mill the company wanted. " By so doing,"
they said, " you have assumed the entire responsibility,
and in all probability the mill that you are going to build
will prove a failure, and being a young man your reputation
will be ruined for life." To this I replied that possibly they
were right, but that I had given the subject the most careful
consideration and was willing to take my chances on the
The work was now pushed as fast as possible. In the
construction of the rail train I made a radical departure
from the old practice, which was to place breaking pieces
112 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
at dangerous points in the train; these pieces were expected
to give way under certain strains so as to save the roll from
breaking. One of the previous methods was to make the
coupling boxes and spindles light, so that they would break
when any extra strain came on them; and the leading
spindle had a groove cut around it to weaken it, so that it
would be sure to break before the rolls. The result was
the constant breaking of some of these safety devices. In
addition to all these devices, there was what was called a
special breaking box on top of the rolls which held the rolls
in place. This was made hollow so as to crush if the strain
on the rolls became too great. I directed the pattern
maker to make this box solid. The mill manager, seeing
the pattern was solid, went to the pattern maker to have it
changed and made hollow, as he supposed it had been made
solid through a mistake. The pattern maker refused to
alter the pattern, saying the old man (as they called me
over fifty years ago) had ordered it to be made that way.
" Well," said the manager, " the old man has gone crazy;
and if that box is put in as it is, the mill will be smashed to
pieces, and I am going to see him about it." This he did,
and I told him the box was going in solid, as I would rather
have a grand old smash-up once in a while than be constantly
annoyed by the breaking of leading spindles, coupKngs,
and breaking boxes, to which he replied: " By God, you'll
When it became known that I had abandoned all safety
devices another violent storm arose, and it was of such a
character as to much annoy Mr. Morrell. He was a very
clever gentleman, without experience in the manufacturing
end of the business, and, being known as the General Mana-
ger of the plant, he was naturally worried. This, of course,
gave me much trouble, to keep him in hne, as every person
he would meet that knew anything about the business would
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ 113
tell him of the great failure that was in store for the Cambria
Iron Works. Some one told Mr. Wood, the President of
the company, all about what was going to take place when
the mill was started. I was told afterwards that he listened
attentively to what they had to say, and then said to them :
" Mr. Fritz has done many clever things for us that were
said would never work, but always did, and I shall not
interfere with him or his plans."
The next and last person to talk to me on the subject was
Mr. James Hooven, proprietor of the Norristown Iron
Works, one of my dearest friends, with whom I had spent
several of the happiest years of my life. He came to pay
me a visit and to learn for himself what I was doing. He
remained with me for several days and we talked the whole
subject over, and, like the rest of my friends, he thought I
was assuming an unwarrantable risk. " If this is a failure,"
he said, " your reputation is ruined for life. Have you
thought this over?" I told him, " I have, and it is my
rule not to make a move in any new thing until I have
thought it over, not only as a whole, but also in all of its
details, and I assure you this is no exception, and I now feel
that success is assured." While he was with me I took
him into the mill so that he could better understand why
the change was so important. He at once saw that great
results could be gained if the plan could be successfully
carried out, but he could not see his way clear to indorse it,
and thought I had attempted to do too much, all at one
time, and thought it very dangerous to do away with ail
safety devices, as they at times might prevent serious
accidents. To this I replied that the only possible good
such safety devices could do was the saving of a roll, and
that it was very rarely that any roll was broken, except the
finishing roll ; if the collars were as deep and fitted as closely
as they should do to insure good work, and the safety
114 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
device, or breaking box, as it was generally called, should
crush, one end of the roll would go up and it was more than
likely that some of the collars would be broken and the roll
rendered useless. The loss by delay, caused by the break-
age of the safety devices, was not only annoying, but
was expensive. The train had to stop; all hands in that
end of the mill were idle, heating furnaces damped up, coal
and iron wasted in the furnaces. Add to this the loss in
production and it became a matter of much importance,
not only to the proprietors, but also to the workmen.
The train was now practically completed, with all break-
ing devices abandoned. The old mill was stopped on the
evening of the 3rd of July, 1857, and after the 4th I com-
menced to tear the old mill out, and get ready to put
the new one in, and also to put the new engine in place at
the same time. Everything in the rail department was
remodeled and the floor line raised two feet. On the 29th
of the same month everything was completed and the mill
was ready to start. I need not tell you that it was an
extremely anxious time for me, nor need I add that no
engraved cards of invitation were sent out, that not being
the custom in the early days of iron making; had it been, it
would not have been observed on that occasion.
As the heaters to a man were opposed to the new kind
of mill, we did not want them about at the start. We
secured one, however, out of the lot, who was the most
reasonable one amongst them, to heat the piles for us. We
had kept the furnace smoking for several days as a blind.
At last, everything being ready, we charged six piles. At
about ten o'clock in the morning the first pile was drawn,
and it went through the rolls without the least hitch of any
kind, making a perfect rail. You can judge what my
feelings were as I looked upon that perfect and first rail
ever made on a three-high mill, and you may know in part
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ 115
how grateful I felt toward the few faithful and anxious men
who were about me and who stood by me during all my
trials and difficulties, among whom were Alexander Hamil-
ton, the Superintendent of the mill, Thomas Lapsley, who
had charge of the rail department, William Canam, and my
We next proceeded to roll the other five piles. When
two more perfect rails were rolled we were obliged to stop
the engine, as the men were all so intently watching the
rolls that the engine had been neglected, and, being new,
the eccentric had heated and bent the eccentric rod so that
the engine could no longer be worked. As it would have
taken some time to straighten the rod and reset the valves,
the remaining piles were drawn out of the furnace onto the
mill floor. About this time the heaters, hearing the exhaust
of the engine, came into the mill in a body, and from the
opposite end to where the rails were. Seeing the unrolled
piles lying on the mill floor, they took it for granted that
the new train was a failure, and their remarks about it were
far from being in the least complimentary. Mr. Hamilton,
coming along about that time and hearing what they were
saying about the mill, turned around, and in language more
forcible than poHte told the heaters, who were Welsh, that
if they would go down to the other end of the mill they
would see three handsomer rails than had ever been made
in Wales, where the greater part of the rails used in this
country at that time came from, as well as the heaters who
were so bitterly opposed to the three-high mill.
CAMBRIA. — Continued :
FIRE AND RECONSTRUCTION.
The next day being Friday, the regular day turn was
put on in the morning, and in the evening the regular night
turn was put to work, and all went well up to Saturday
noon. It was the custom to stop rolhng at about twelve
o'clock on Saturday. Mr. Hamilton and I left the mill at
about six o'clock, and on our way home we congratulated
each other that our long line of troubles and disappoint-
ments was now over, and that we should have more time
to give to changes and improvements that were so essential
in other departments of the works.
About an hour later I heard the fire-alarm whistle blow,
and, rushing back to the mill, I found it one mass of flames
from one end to the other, and saw at once that it was ab-
solutely useless to attempt to save any part of the mill or
anything in it. The shops were all close to the mill build-
ing, the end of the machine shop being within twenty-five
feet of the end of the mill. It being of the utmost im-
portance to save the shops, all our energy was centered on
them, but all hands seemed paralyzed for a time, thinking
it useless to attempt to save the shops, as all of them were
frame, with wood shingles for roofs, and all of them —
pattern shop, foundry, and machine shop — were regular
fire traps and all huddled together. It looked useless to
try to save them. The company had a large boarding
house near by. I ordered some of our best men to go there
and get all the carpets and blankets they could find and take
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ II7
men enough to have them all brought up at once. I
directed another party to get the ladders, fire hose, buckets,
ropes, and hooks. As soon as the blankets and carpets
came, the blankets were wet and the best men wrapped
themselves in them, and ladders were gotten ready. For-
tunately the roof on the end of the shop next to the mill
was low and quite flat, so the men could walk on it readily.
In a few minutes the roof was covered with carpets and
blankets and two streams of water were playing on them.
By the time the men got down off the roof the steam was
rising off the carpets and it was so hot that we were fearful
that the shop would share the fate of the mill. The crucial
time would be when the mill building fell, and it was im-
portant which way it fell. If it fell in, the shops would be
safe; if out, then another hard fight was before us. The
next few moments were of intense strain and excitement.
But, if the walls fell out, we were prepared, as we had hooks,
chains, and ropes ready, to pull the falling and unbumed
timbers away. I had instructed the foreman in each de-
partment to have his men all organized, and go to the
foundry, get all the chains there were there, and ropes,
hooks, etc., so that they could fasten to the charred and un-
bumed timbers and pull them away from the engines and
all important machines. I directed all to be at their places
the moment the building fell, free the machinery from heat
as quickly as possible, and see there was no water put on
the machinery. Fortunately our suspense was of short
duration. In less than one hour from the time the fire
started, the whole building was lying on the ground, a mass
of ruin. When the building fell, it all fell inward, to our
The situation of Cambria affairs on that Saturday night
was such as might appall the bravest heart. The result
of our unremitting labors and anxieties lay there, a mass
Il8 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
of black and smoking ruins, and the money that had been
so hard to get, with which the new mill was built, was gone.
The prospect was gloomy, but there was a gleam of light
amid all the darkness, and that the pile of new and perfect
rails which Mr. Hamilton had said had never been beaten
by Wales, from which country most of the rails used at
that time came. Above all, the mill had been tried and
was a most magnificent success, and it was these two facts
that cheered us up and renewed our courage with a deter-
mination to rebuild the mill.
The following day, Sunday, was devoted to rest and
thinking over the situation; at any rate, it was not spent
in the mill. During Sunday the workmen met and agreed
to give the company one day's work on Monday, to help
clear the rubbish away. I told them all to be cheerful and
said that the works would surely be rebuilt and as quickly
as possible. They aU, to a man, went to work, and I never
saw a set of men work harder. By Monday night the mill
was clear of all rubbish and on Tuesday morning we com-
menced to get in shape to start up again.
On Monday morning we sent a number of axemen to cut
poles or timbers, say about twenty feet long and eight or
ten inches in diameter at the butt or large end, and we also
sent teams to haul the logs into the works. On Tuesday
morning, carpenters went to work to frame them together,
and the men raised them and braced them in place to carry
the steam pipe and feed-water pipe for the boilers. The
larger and upper pipe was the steam pipe, about ten inches
in diameter; the smaller and lower was the feed pipe for the
boilers, four inches in diameter. The trestles were placed
about twenty feet apart the whole length of the mill, — six
himdred feet, — and were erected the same way in the
transepts, which were two hundred feet long each, making
the total length of ten-inch steam pipe about one thousand
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ II9
feet, and the same length of four-inch water pipe, all of cast
iron, and cross pipe leading from the main steam and water
pipes to the boilers, made of four-inch wrought iron and
copper. The old cast-iron steam and water pipes were
almost totally destroyed. Where the pipes were not broken
in two, the branches on them for the boiler connections were
broken, and the cross steam and water pipes, which were
made of wrought iron with copper turns for expansion,
were so bent and twisted that many of them could not be
used. Shafting, pulleys, and all light machinery were badly
injured. The engines were all more or less damaged. The
roll bearings, being soft metal, were generally melted out,
and the rolls all had to be taken out and new metal put in.
The outlook was most discouraging. The mill workmen
were in sore distress, having been told by some persons that
it would take a year at least to get the mill ready to run
again. They came to me to know what they should do, as
they could not live without work until the mill would start
up again. I at once assured them that we would make rails
inside of thirty days, and that we would give them all the
laboring work we could during that time. This cheered
them up very much. In twenty-eight days from the time
of the fire we were running the mill on full time, but
without a building; we put up a temporary frame to carry
the hooks, and the workmen were covered temporarily mXh
boards throughout the mill.
The building that had just burned down was of wood,
and I suggested that we rebuild with brick. This was
vehemently opposed by some of the stockholders, but, there
being a brickyard with good clay at the door of the mill,
I at once made a contract with the men who had charge
of the yard for all the brick that it would take to put up
the building at $2.62^ per thousand. The building, whose
total length, including transepts, was over one thousand
I20 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
feet and width one hundred feet, was put up and ventilator
completed and under roof with slate by January i, 1858.
At that time it was the finest rolling-mill building in the
world, and I think it was the best building ever put up in
this country at the same cost. It was put up and roofed
while every man was at work and the mill working up to its
full capacity, and not a single person hurt. This was
something that I was always proud of, but I never left the
building while the trusses were being put in place. They
could not be put together on the ground and raised as a
body on account of the pipes and machinery and the hot
iron that was constantly in motion on the mill floor; conse-
quently they had to be put together in place over the heads
of the workmen, while they were all at work. This was
a most difi&cult task, requiring extreme care ; consequently
I was on the building while every member of every truss
was being raised and put in place. This was the most
trying ordeal that I ever had, not that there was any serious
practical difficulty in doing the work in the manner we were
doing it, but it was the danger that the men both above and
below were constantly exposed to that rendered it so haz-
ardous. The falling of a member of the truss, or a bolt, nut,
wrench, or tool of any kind, striking a man on the head,
would cause instant death, and no person but myself knew
what a load was off my mind when the last truss was in place
and I came down off the building for the last time, late in
December, 1857, and could say that the building was
practically completed and not a single person had in any
way been hurt, so as to disable him even temporarily.
This was a source of gratification that well rewarded me
for the intense anxiety I had been laboring under from the
commencement to the finish of the erection of the building.
During all the time we were erecting the new building,
the mill was working nicely and doing good work, which.
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ 121
under the circumstances, was also a source of untold
Previous to starting the three-high mill we had com-
menced to increase the output of puddled iron, as the new
mill was capable of doing over four times the amount of
work the old one could do. It was most important to take
up this end of the work, which had, in a measure, been
necessarily neglected. The puddling furnaces were origi-
nally all single, but we had already changed some of them to
double. We now put on all the force we could and changed
all the furnaces to double and built some new ones. This
greatly increased the output. In order to roll the increased
quantity of puddled iron, we had to build a new top and
bottom mill, and at the end of the same we put in a set of
rolls for flattening old rails so as to pile them in with the
puddled iron in the rail pile. Up to this time the tops and
bottoms for the rail pile had been rolled on the puddle
train. By removing the rolls to the new train we had place
for another set of puddle rolls. We also had to put in
a Burden squeezer, as the Winslow squeezer originally
installed could not take care of the increased quantity
of puddled iron that was being made.
Up to this time, in order to make smooth heads and
flanges, we were compelled to use two pieces of top and
bottom with head on flange, an expensive method of
manufacture. This led to the building of a sixteen-inch
train to roll bars one and a half inches wide by five-eighths
of an inch in thickness. In the middle of the pile next to
top and bottom was placed a puddled bar five inches in
width and five-eighths of an inch thick; on each side of this
was placed a piece one and one-half inches wide by five-
eighths of an inch thick. These bars were generally rolled
out of old rails, thereby saving a large amount of reworked
iron, and on the same sixteen-inch train was rolled all the
122 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
bar iron that was used about the works. We also built two
heating furnaces for this mill. From the first, the plant
was short of steam. The boilers were plain cylinder, under-
fired, but as fast as the puddling and heating furnaces were
changed and new ones built, boilers were put over them.
At length we had all the steam that was wanted. The
puddling furnaces, Burden squeezer, and puddle rolls, the
top and bottom furnaces, and rolls were all working well,
also the heating furnaces for the rail mill, and the new three-
high rail mill worked most magnificently. All this made a
better and more perfect rail and made cold-patching a thing
of the past. We put in new hot beds and curving plates,
substituted the straightening machine for the sixty-pound
old-time sledge, greatly improved the punching machines,
and by the introduction of the driven rollers on the rolls
the mill could turn out four times as much work as could
possibly have been done on the old mill and with less than
half the labor and no wear and tear of muscle.
Having gotten all the furnaces of both kinds and all the
rolls and machinery in the mill in good shape, we next took
hold of the handling of the puddled and top and bottom iron
to see what improvements could be made in that line. Up
to that time the puddled and top and bottom iron, especially
the puddled bar, had been dragged from the rolls, out on
the bank, as it was called, and when cold taken to the cold
shears, cut to length, and taken on a wheelbarrow to the
heating furnaces and there piled. This made it impossible
to keep the space about the furnaces clean and tidy, and
the place was at all times cluttered up with puddled and top
and bottom iron of various lengths which could not be used
in the pile. To remedy this, we placed a pair of shears in
front of each set of rolls, both puddled and top and bottom,
and in an iron fratne of proper length we placed rollers
opposite to each shear. As the iron came from the rolls it
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ 123
was fed into the shears and cut to proper length for the
piles. The iron was neatly laid at the shears, a two-horned
buggy was put under it, and the bars were taken to the bed
and let cool ; then the same kind of buggy was used to take
it to a place arranged for piling it. The iron was not
touched by hand from the time the pig iron was charged
into the puddling furnace until it came to the piler. This
arrangement greatly lessened the cost and made the work
much lighter for the men. We put rail tracks from the
place of piling to each heating furnace and had cars made
that would hold one heat of piles, and the iron was piled
on the car and taken to the furnace as wanted. This ar-
rangement worked admirably, and the mill looked like a
parlor as compared with the other rolling mills of that day.
In regard to the blast furnaces, they were old-fashioned,
and short of blast and water. We did not have sufl&cient
water on the coke yard to properly extinguish the fire in the
coke as it was drawn from the oven. The first and most
important thing was more blowing capacity. As the fur-
naces were located on an abrupt rise in the ground, it made
it very expensive to get a place for more blowing engines on
account of the excavation that would have to be made to
receive them, and, having already used so much money in
making improvements in the mill department, I did not
want to spend any money on the blast furnaces that was
not absolutely essential. In carefully looking over the
blowing-engine room, I concluded that I could design a
short-stroke quick-running ^upright engine that would give
all the blast needed, and would go in, one in each corner in
the rear of the present engines, and save a great amount
of expense. The engines were built by Matthews & Moore,
of the Bush Hill Iron Works, Philadelphia, and they worked
quite satisfactorily. While this engine was designed for a
special plant and purpose, the design was adopted and used
124 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
for a long time in Western Pennsylvania and Ohio. We
also put in a new pump to get more water for the tuyeres.
As water was very hard to get, we had to collect the tuyere
water and pump it up to the coke ovens, to be used in putting
the fire out of the coke as it was drawn out of the ovens.
After these improvements were put in things went along
much more comfortably about the furnaces and coke ovens
than they had been doing for some time previous.
CAMBRIA. — Continued : RETROSPECT.
It was in 1854 that I went to Johnstown. Previous to
this but little had been done west of the mountains in
making iron in the blast furnace with mineral coal. I
think there was not a blast furnace in Pittsburg at that
time. Mr. Benjamin Perry, who was referred to in Chap-
ter XII, as having been at Kunzie Furnace, and who prob-
ably ranked next to Father Thomas as a pioneer in the
anthracite region, had charge of the Cambria furnaces
when I went there, but they were not in blast. He was an
unlearned man, was said by almost every person there to
be very troublesome and one I would have to get rid of if
I wished to keep peace in the family. I told everyone I
came there to manage the Cambria Works and not to send
men away if they did their duty. I found Mr. Perry to be
a good furnace man, but Uke many other uneducated men
he wanted to be handled without his knowing it. This I
did most successfully, and he remained in charge of the
furnaces over two years, and left of his own accord to take
another position where he thought he could do better, and
I was sorry to see him go away. He was a man, unfortu-
nately for himself, who would not brook contradiction.
Mr. John Griffin, one of the best-learned iron men of that
day, was once on a friendly visit to see me, and having
heard much of Mr. Perry wished to meet him. Conse-
quently I invited Mr. Perry to my house in the evening.
Soon after being introduced they began talking on the
subject of iron making. Mr. Griffin asked him about the
126 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
coal we were using for making coke, to which Mr. Perry
replied that it was bad, being full of brass. Mr. Grifl&n
said, " Mr. Perry, you mean iron pyrites." " Well," said
Mr. Perry, " you may call it what you damned please, but
I tell you it is brass," and the manner in which he spoke
was so emphatic that Mr. GrifEn wisely concluded not to
pursue that branch of the subject any further. Yet Mr.
Perry was one of the best practical furnace men that I
knew at that time.
After all that has been said of the conditions of the
Cambria Iron Company when I went there and what I
went through, I feel that I have come far short of showing
the real condition of affairs as they then existed. The
works were divided into a number of small principalities,
each of them being governed by a despotic foreman who
would neither go out of his kingdom to do any work nor let
anyone else come in. I soon found out that arrangement
would not do, but I thought it best to bide my time until
a good opportunity should occur to correct the evil. One
day, soon after the blast furnaces were put in blast, the
iron broke out. The day was hot and the men soon gave
out, and Mr. Perry sent word to me of what had happened,
asking for some extra help. There being trouble in the
mill, I could not well get away at once, so I sent word to the
coke-yard foreman to send Mr. Perry some help, and said
I would be up as soon as I could get the trouble in the mill
all straightened out.
In the course of an hour I went up to the furnaces and
found Mr. Perry and his men aU quite used up, and saw that
no extra help had come to his aid. I asked Mr. Perry if
he had sent my message as directed to the foreman of the
coke yard. He replied that he had done so. I then sent
word direct to the foreman that I wanted to see him at the
furnace at once, to which he promptly responded in person.
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ 1 27
I asked him why he had not sent the help to Mr. Perry as
I had requested him to do. He at once said that his busi-
ness was to look after the laborers on the coke yard, and he
did not intend to do anything else, and that he was em-
ployed by the President of the company and not by me.
In reply I said to him that from that time on I intended to
manage the works and not the President. He then said,
" You can have my resignation at once." I replied, " What
I want you to do is to send Mr. Perry at once half a dozen
good men, and to think over the subject of your resignation
until to-morrow morning, and then come and see me."
When he came the next day I said to him, " You seemed a
bit hasty yesterday, but now you seem to be in a good
humor, and I want to have a talk with you, which I hope
will answer for all the foremen around the works. It was
true what you said yesterday. You were hired by the
President, but I want you and all the foremen about the
works to know that I was sent here to manage these works,
and from this time on I intend to do it. And I further wish
to say to you and to all the persons in the employ of the
company whose services are needed that you will be re-
tained as long as you do your duty to the company, and
that while I fully expect the foremen to faithfully discharge
the duty assigned to each of them, I want you to assist each
other when in trouble, as far as possible, without detriment
to^your assigned duties ; and I want you to bear in mind that
you are all in the employ of the Cambria Iron Company,
and it is your bounden duty to look to its best interests."
After this talk the gentleman withdrew his resignation and
apologized for what he had done the day before. From
this time forward there was no further trouble, and no set
of men could have worked more faithfully for the best
interest of the company than they did, and it was a source
of much consolation to me when in trouble to know that
128 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
all the foremen were loyal and working in harmony with
The mechanics I had to rely on to do the work in the shop
and mill had never before done any mill work, and but few
of them had ever been inside of a rolling mill, and for a time
I had an uphill business. Fortunately I had had a severe
schooling in that line and was able at all times to properly
direct the beginners. As they were desirous to learn and
energetic, they soon proved themselves equal to the emer-
gency, and by the time we had the new mill in operation
and the whole mill in good shape, the Cambria Works had
the best set of men about them in the country. In proof
of this I can point with pride to the niunber of men that
have gained prominent positions in other works. The
training they received at Cambria was such as to well
qualify them to fill any position they might assume. The
men would frequently say that all the passport they wanted
was to say they had worked in the Cambria Iron Works.
I feel as though I could not commend too highly the brave,
energetic, and loyal men who so faithfully stood by me in
times of sore disaster, and were it not that it might prove
invidious I should like to call many of them by name.
How little the young men who are coimected with the
immense iron and steel plants of to-day know of the diffi-
culties the old-time ironmen had to encounter! A drill
press, cast off the pattern of the fixed head of a sixteen-inch
lathe, bolted to a ten- or twelve-inch post upright, with
blocks of timber for the table, a small lathe or two, the
crudest kind of a machine for turning rolls, a few small
tools, the greatly respected chipping hammer, cold chisel,
and file, about completed the list of tools, but in the hands
of skillful and energetic mechanics there was but little they
could not do. It seems ridiculous to compare the facilities
and mode of doing work of fifty odd years ago with those
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ 1 29
of to-day, with ponderous tools and massive cranes. To-
day the casting is taken from the foundry to the machine
shop, the heaviest housing that is made is hfted and placed
on a large, heavy, powerful, and ingeniously planned tool,
is set, placed on the planer, which has a slotter combined,
planed on the inside, the recess that contains the bearing
for the roll-neck slotted out, the base slotted off, the hole
for the screw bored out to receive the nut which contains
the screw, the casting taken from the planer to the mill and
placed on a shoe or bedplate, which is cast in one piece, the
whole length of the bedplate planed off from end to end,
so that the housmg can be placed at will anywhere to suit
the space for the length of the rolls. The fixings that go
into the housings that secure the rolls in place are all planed
to a templet, so that they will go in place easily and all
at one setting and on one tool. There need not be a chisel
or file mark on the whole job. After the shoes are in place
the housings and fittings are put in position without either
line or level, and the train cannot get out of fine. The
whole of the work is placed in position by an electric travel-
ing crane which commands the length of the train. Yet,
after all, the old-time machinists, with their hammer, chisel,
and file, and with their experience, are still in demand,
and on the best class of work, and they are at all times the
men for emergencies, — a class of workmen that are known
as all-round men, who will acquit themselves with credit
in any position you may place them.
As before stated, after the introduction of the three-high
rail mill at the Cambria Works, and the improvements
pertaining thereto, and the change of the manner of fitting
up the mill, which was superior to anything that had been
done up to that time, it became necessary to substitute
machinists in place of the millwright and the forge carpen-
ter, who, up to that time, had been doing the fitting up of
130 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
the machinery. The mills, practically speaking, were all
geared, and all the trains of rolls were driven by one engine
of long stroke, consequently slow-running, the power being
transmitted from the engine to the rolls through gear wheels,
with the diameter so arranged as to give the roll trains the
proper number of revolutions per minute, the engine
practically running at a given speed all the time. The
shafts at that time were of cast iron and the space on the
shaft occupied by the wheel was increased in size. The
shafts were generally hexagonal, but sometimes were cast
square and the wheel was secured in its position by hard-
wood keys about one-half to three-quarters of an inch in
thickness. After the wheel was set true and the space
between the wheel and the shaft all driven full of hard wood,
wedges of thin steel were driven in the wood on both sides
of the wheel. While this was not at all mechanical, yet
if the wood was hard and dry, and if the work was well done,
they gave but little trouble. The housings that contained
the rolls were used just as they came out of the sand.
Practically no work was done on them at all, except to chip
the bumps or swells off the casting. The housings rested
on a narrow shoe that was bolted to a large timber placed
on the top of the foundation; the plate had lugs cast on it
corresponding to the size of the base of the housing; the
lugs were dovetailed and the base of the housing was made
with the same angles as the lugs on the shoe. The housing
was set in this shoe and bolted fast. Another and a much
better plan was at times used. This was to make a casting
with two shoes combined in it, the shoes forming part of
the casting and being placed the proper distance apart so as
to conform to the length of the roll. This was a great
improvement over the two separate shoes.
When I built the Cambria mill, we got the shoes made
the whole length of the train. They were made by James
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ 131
Moore of the Bush Hill Iron Works and were a great
improvement over the old style. The shoes were planed
the whole length of the train and as a result the housings
could be placed at any point and at any distance apart.
I have described the plan of fitting up the mills somewhat
fully in reference to the Cambria works. This has been done
in order to show the importance of substituting machinists
for millwrights; in fact, the machinist of that day who was
good with the hammer, chisel, and file was a more important
person about the works than he is at this time. Then all
the work that was done on a rolHng-mill housing was done
by the machinist by hand.
It is not possible for a mechanical engineer of to-day,
who is well posted in the use of our modern tools, electric
travehng cranes, and all the general faciUties that are in
use at this time for doing work promptly and correctly
(with money galore), and with electric light, so that work
can be done by night as correctly as in the day, to realize
the condition of affairs at the time the changes and improve-
ments were made at the Cambria Iron Works over fifty
years ago, practically speaking without tools. For all
parts of the work that could not be done with chisel,
hammer, and file, special makeshift tools had to be designed
and gotten up to suit the occasion. This required much
time, money, and inventive talent of a high order. Energy,
determination, and patience of a staying quality were the
great requisites for doing work under the then existing
conditions. We had no crane for handling or erecting the
work, and had to build a kind of portable derrick which
could be moved from place to place, as it was wanted, by
either horses, mules, or men, but generally the last. It
proved to be a most efl&cient machine as a makeshift for a
crane. It did all the erecting and changing of rolls. It
was so essential and so powerful that the men named it
132 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
Uncle Sam. We had no electric light to work by at night,
or even gas when we commenced. All the light we had was
made by the use of lamps filled with smoky rosin oil, as it
We had no money, and at that time the iron men were
looked upon as paupers. The banks would not loan them
any money as long as they could get what they called first-
class commercial paper, and at that time money was not in
abundance, as it is to-day; consequently the iron men got
but little, and that little only for a short time, the bankers
fearing they would fail, as in the early days of rail making
they were very likely to do. At the time when we were in
the midst of our improvements at Cambria, a banker to
whom the company owed twenty thousand dollars came
into the rolling mill and asked me what we were doing. I
told him we were making some changes and improvements.
His reply was that any man that would destroy property
and spend money as we were doing was a fool or a madman.
I told him that I was doing it and it had never occurred
to me that I was either. He took the train that night for
Philadelphia, and the next morning called at the company's
office and demanded his money in such an emphatic manner
that they had to pay him that day. I might mention many
instances showing the distrust of the bankers toward the
iron men, and also what they said about myself and about
what I was doing. But suffice to say that I passed through
a merciless fire of vindictive ridicule to victory, with sim-
plicity and becoming dignity, doubtless to the disgust of
some of the wiseacres who had made some direful pre-
We started to put on two feed rollers at Cambria, one on
the front and one on the rear of the train. The workmen
all said, " They are no good." In spite of the prophecies
of the workmen, we put them on and they worked satis-
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ 133
factorily, but in about a week or so the belt (which had
been used temporarily) broke. I came through and found
the mill standing idle. I said, "What is the matter?"
They said, " The belt on the feed roller is broken." Turn-
ing to the heater, I then said, " George, is it time to roll? "
He said, " Yes." I said, " Go ahead. I am going to make
the mill work a little without the feed rollers." The work
was so much lighter after the installation of the feed rollers
that the men who had a week or so before opposed them
now thought it was impossible to run the mill without them.
There was so much objection coming from the workmen
to anything that was new that I once told them if I got up
anything new and they all said it was all right, I should
look over my drawings again, thinking there must be some
Notwithstanding the many invidious attacks we were
subjected to for what we were doing, every rail mill in the
country had at once to adopt the three-high system, and
in changing the mills made them stronger and better fitted
up. Mr. Frank Jones, of Pittsburg, (B. F. Jones, of the
firm of Jones & Laughlin), the leading, most practical, and
successful iron man in the country, and one of the first to
see the advantages of the system, said to me, some years
after its introduction, that the three-high mill was the com-
mencement of the great improvement that took place in
the iron works after 1857, paving the way for the introduc-
tion of the phenomenal Bessemer process.
In July, i860, after upwards of six years of as earnest and
faithful hard work as few, if any, men ever had to endure,
and without any vacation, I made up my mind that the
time had come to sever my connection with the Cambria
Company, a decision which in many respects caused me
deep regret. In taking a retrospective view of the condi-
tion of things as I found them, and also of the trials and
134 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
difficulties which had been encountered and in the face of
dire predictions of the soothsayers, and others who were
equally ignorant, but should have been better informed,
and of the condition that the plant was in at that time, I
congratulated myself in ha\dng accomplished a great work,
under the most difficult conditions, in building for the
Cambria Iron Company a rail mill far in advance of any
mill existing at the time, and a great commercial success.
As Frank Jones once said to me: " Cambria was the cradle
in which the great improvements in rolling-mill practice
were rocked," which revolutionized the rail mills, making
a better rail, doing away with all patching, and increasing
the production fourfold; and out of the two small driven
rollers came the present system of handling the work in
mills, by the use of live rollers, by the heavier, stronger,
and better fitting up of the mill without breaking points,
Dy the improvement in the arrangement and better fitting
up of the side guards, by the closing of the grooves in the
roughing mills, by the increase in the width of the pile, by
the increased length of the furnace, and by the increased
height of the furnace roof, which carried the heat much
farther, thereby enabling us to charge eight nine-inch piles
instead of six five- and six-inch piles. All of these improve-
ments were calculated to improve the quality of the work,
and increased the production, both important factors.
The improvements that were made in those tr3dng and
active years were not confined to rails alone, but all branches
of the iron trade came in for a full share of the benefits of
all the changes that had taken place, and they were many;
many of them were revolutionary in their character, and
were always met with opposition to their introduction,
some of them being fiercely opposed. But I had laid down
an absolute rule not to even suggest anything new or
untried until I had satisfied myself that it was all right
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ 135
and was a proper thing to do; consequently I was well
fortified and was in a position that was at all times impreg-
nable. But this almost constant opposition became at
times unpleasant to both parties. At last I became tired,
yet had I yielded one jot or tittle the result would have been
different, and it is not at all improbable that the great
Cambria Works would not be in existence to-day. After
six years of as hard, laborious, and vexatious work as ever
fell to the lot of a man to do, I decided to leave the scene of
my early struggles and try my fortune elsewhere, and on the
morning of the 5th of July, i860, with feelings of sorrow I
said good-by to my many friends and to as loyal and efi&-
cient a corps of foremen and workmen as any man ever had
the honor to have around him. On the next morning,
July 6th, I reported for duty with the Bethlehem Iron
Company, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
During the six years I was with the Cambria Company I
had no vacation whatever, and with the exception of the visit
to Philadelphia to raise funds, previously referred to, I was
only once away from the works over two consecutive days,
and then on ofl&cial business, when I went down to Chat-
tanooga for the purpose of examining an iron ore and coal
property. This was in the spring of i860.
BETHLEHEM: IRON ROLLING MILL AND BLAST
As I before said, on the morning of the 5th of July, i860,
my family (wife, daughter, and I), boarded a train on the
Pennsylvania Railroad at Johnstown, Pennsylvania, for
Bethlehem, leaving the scenes of my early struggles behind
me, to enter into another, which, in the end, proved one of
much greater importance.
We arrived in Bethlehem on the evening of the same day,
July 5 th. I had previously made arrangements with the
Bethlehem Iron Company to accept the position of General
Superintendent and Chief Engineer. On the morning of
July 6th, I reported to the directors of the said company,
and in company with Mr. Augustus Wolle, Mr. Charles B.
Daniel, Mr. Charles W. Ranch, and Mr. Robert H. Sayre
I visited the ground where the proposed plant was to be
located. The next day I looked over the location again
to see if any change was desirable, and I found on measure-
ment that the space between the Lehigh River and the
Lehigh Valley Railroad was not wide enough to locate the
plant without encroaching on the river. The location we
had made the day before was on the widest part of the land,
consequently we had either to change the design of the
plant or to encroach on the river, and we chose the latter.
We arranged at once with the Lehigh Valley Railroad
Company to have a siding put in. Ground was broken on
the 1 6th of July, and about the last of July we got fairly at
work to erect two medium-sized blast furnaces and a rolling
I40 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
mill, containing eight double puddling furnaces and six heat-
ing furnaces (later, increased to fourteen double puddling
furnaces and nine heating furnaces) ; we also commenced to
build a stone building to cover them. We worked at this
until winter set in, but, owing to the excitement incident to
the threatened Civil War, we ceased work for the winter.
When spring came we commenced work again, and during
the summer of 1861 we erected the mill building out of
In the fall we had one of the greatest rises known in the
Lehigh River; it destroyed all of the part of the building
that had been built on the encroachment on the river,
amounting in length to about eighty feet. During the time
the mill was being built we erected one of the blast furnaces,
but in the fall and winter of 1861-62 the general outlook was
so discouraging that the work on the whole plant was again
suspended for the winter. In the spring of 1862 work was
commenced again, and during the summer the building,
including that portion of it which had been washed down
by the flood, was completed; most of the foundations were
in and we had much of the machinery ready to be set up in
place. The machinery of the rail train consisted of three
stands of rolls — two sets for rails, and one set for top and
bottoms — driven by one engine connected directly to the
train. There was also in connection with the finishing end
of the mill one train of rolls twelve inches in diameter, with
four stands of rolls, for rolling light rails and such light
merchant iron as was wanted for use about the works.
There were seven heating furnaces in the finishing end.
In the puddling department there was one puddle train
with two sets of rolls and a rotary squeezer, driven off the
end of the rolls. The rolls were driven direct from the engine.
The puddling department, as stated above, contained eight
double puddhng furnaces, with shears and hot beds, and
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ 141
such equipment as was necessary for handling the iron
economically. Both the finishing and the puddle rolls were
twenty-one inches in diameter. All furnaces, both heating
and puddling, had boilers over them.
During the summer and fall of 1862 the mill was quite
completed, and in September, 1863, we commenced rolling
rails. Every department worked entirely satisfactorily.
The roll housings were of new design and were dressed out
inside with hammer, chisel, and file; the fittings inside were
fitted up in the same maimer. The furnace plates, being
corrugated, were strong and handsome; the building was
of stone (good masonry) ; the train was of the largest diam-
eter used in any rail mill in the country; and altogether the
plant was completely fitted up. In addition to the rolling
mill, we had erected a large machine shop and foundry, a
blacksmith shop, and a pattern shop, all built of stone in
first-class manner. Altogether, they made a fine show, and
were for some years a Mecca for the iron men to visit.
There was nothing in the world in the way of an iron plant
that could be compared with the Bethlehem Works.
In the meantime, we had built the second furnace, which
was a curiosity in its way. The first furnace, or Number
One, was built of plate iron one-fourth of an inch in thick-
ness. It was the first shell furnace, as they were called at
that time, built in the Lehigh Valley. Iron was first made
in this furnace on January 4, 1863. The second furnace, or
Number Two, was also built of iron, but instead of being
a boiler-plate shell it was constructed with bands of wrought
iron eight inches in width, about seven-eighths of an inch
thick at the bottom of the furnace and five-eighths of an
inch thick at the top. These bands, or circular rings, were
riveted about twenty-four inches apart to uprights, eight
by half -inch, placed about thirty inches apart from center
to center. As the distance from center to center of the
142 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
bands was about twenty-four inches, and as the uprights
were about thirty inches apart, there were spaces or open-
ings sixteen by twenty-two inches. This is known as the
crinoline construction. By leaving a small hole in each
space in whatever depth in the lining seemed proper, one
could see and learn something of the temperature in the
furnace; should there be a scaffold, one could learn where
it was; should the furnace be working hot in any place,
it could be cooled off by the use of a swinging platform,
which could readily be hooked to the band on any part of
In the early seventies we bmlt two more blast furnaces on
new lines, seventy feet high and seventeen feet in diameter
at the bosh. These furnaces were higher than those in
general use. About this time coke began to be used in the
furnaces in Western Pennsylvania and Eastern Ohio, and
nearly double the amount of iron was made in the same
sized furnaces that we could make with anthracite as a fuel.
I thought that by building larger and higher furnaces and
much more powerful blowing engines and by increasing
the blast pressure from six to twelve pounds we could make
as much iron in a given time with anthracite as they could
with coke. Some of my Western friends came to Bethle-
hem to see our new furnaces and learn how they were
working. They were so well satisfied with the result we
had attained by high-pressure blast that they increased
their blast pressure from about three and a half pounds to
seven or eight, and we were again beaten about as badly as
we had been before. We were the first, so far as I know, to
use high-pressure blast.
The new blowing engines were made horizontal and were
much criticized, but I paid little or no attention to the
critics. The engines, however, ran constantly for over
thirty years, to my knowledge, day and night (which is
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ 143
equivalent to sixty years as the great majority of engines
run), and during all these years they were blowing from ten
to twelve pounds pressure and frequently more, notwith-
standing the fact that they were so generally condemned
by metallurgical engineers, and they are still running.
Two of the oldest practical ironmasters from the other side
of the Atlantic, John Lancaster and Sir I. Lo\^lhian Bell,
were looking over the engines soon after they were started,
and I ventured to ask what they thought of them. The
former said that I had gone far in removing the objections
in his mind to the horizontal blowing engine. Mr. Bell said
they were certainly working beautifully, but that he would
Uke to see them after they had been in use five years.
The result of the working of the two new furnaces was so
satisfactory that I designed a new furnace, somewhat larger
and higher, with some change in the lines, and with a
blowing engine that would blow a pressure of twenty to
thirty pounds. I had the foundation for the stack put in,
but the caution of our directors was so great that they
objected to the building of this new furnace, and much to
my regret the subject was for the time dismissed from my
mind. The advantage of higher pressure in blast-furnace
practice, however, soon became apparent to practical
furnacemen, and higher pressures were soon generally
UNITED STATES ROLLING MILL AT CHATTANOOGA.
During the Civil War the Government felt the need of
having somewhere in the South an iron rolling mill for the
purpose of re-rolling rails which had been torn from the
railroads by the Confederate Army. The authorities at
Washington took up the matter with some of the leading
iron men of the country and entirely to my surprise, as
I had known nothing about it, I received, in March, 1864,
a letter from Col. D. C. McCallum, of which the following
is a copy:
Military Director and Supt. of Railroads, U. S.
Washington, March 14, 1864.
To Whom it may concern:
This is to certify that John Fritz is authorized in behalf
of the United States Government to purchase the necessary
machinery and materials to be used in the construction of
a Rail Rolling Mill at Chattanooga, Tenn., and any ar-
rangements he may make will be fully carried out by the
The early completion of this mill is important and in-
dispensable to the advance of the Army, and all persons
who may engage to furnish machinery or material therefor
are directed to do so to the exclusion of all other business.
Your Obt. Svt.,
D. C. McCALLUM,
Col. Director 6* Genl. Manager M. R. R. U. S.
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ 145
I took up the work at once and made plans for the mill
and arrangements for securing the necessary machinery and
In connection with procuring the machinery, I was
obliged to secure an engine for driving the rolling mill. I
went to see Mr. George H. Corliss, of Providence, R. I., the
manufacturer of the Corliss engine, at that time very
famous. I explained to him just what I wanted for the
rolling mill at Chattanooga, and asked him if he could supply
such an engine. He told me that he was then building in
the shops, and had nearly completed, an engine just such
as I wanted, under a contract made previously, but that
the man who had ordered the engine was in no hurry for
it on account of the unsettled condition of the country. I
was greatly pleased to find an engine just such as I wanted,
as it was then very difficult to obtain finished machinery, and
on account of the nature of the work it was essential for
us to begin on the construction of the rail plant at Chat-
tanooga as soon as possible. I said to Mr. Corliss, " This
engine of yours just about meets my needs. What is the
price of it? " He called his secretary, who brought in the
original contract for the engine. At that time material
was selling for at least double what it had sold for at the
time when this contract was made. I said to Mr. Corliss,
" I should like to make as good a bargain as possible for
the Government, but I want to be fair with you in this
matter." Whereupon Mr. Corliss replied, " You can have
this engine at the original contract price, although it is
worth more to-day. No good citizen can afford to take
advantage of the Government in its hour of peril." In this
remark he showed a public spirit and patriotism which
marked all his actions.
It was impossible for me to personally superintend the
erection of this plant, and also unnecessary. I saw that
146 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OP JOHN PRITZ
the plans were properly drawn up and the machinery
ordered. My brother William, who had been in the army,
was made Superintendent of the plant, and T. W. Yardley,
later connected with the R. W. Hunt Bureau of Inspection
and Tests, of Chicago, had charge of the business end as
distinguished from the manufacturing end. The plant was
erected according to my plans and was operated by the
Government throughout the war, after which it was sold
to Mr. Abram S. Hewitt, of New York City.
If space would permit, I should like to go more fully into
the practice of puddUng, commencing with its invention in
1783, and following it all through its successive stages until
it reached its climax in the year 1890.
While puddling is generally going out of use and has been
so greatly overshadowed by the Bessemer process that it is
now rather sHghtingly spoken of, yet there are certain
purposes for which high-grade iron is still used, and will
continue to be used for some time, notwithstanding the
fact that steel can be gotten at less cost.
Having had charge of puddHng furnaces and puddlers for
about fifty years and never having had any trouble with
either furnace or puddler, I do not propose to see my old
puddHng friend, who has been so true and faithful, and
once served the country so well, laid away without saying
something of his good quaUties and what he has accom-
Prior to the introduction of puddling in this country, or
rather to the time it was introduced in a number of mills,
about 1830, all the wrought iron was made in charcoal fires.
It was, consequently, expensive and the quantity small,
and as wood was all the time getting scarcer, in a few years
the quantity of iron necessary to supply the demands of
the country could not be made by that process. Then
came the puddling process to supply the deficiency, which
it did, and furnished the country with the iron that was so
essential for the wonderful development that took place,
148 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
and at the same time prepared the way for the introduc-
tion and remarkable development of the Bessemer process.
The puddling process, as it was generally practiced, was a
hard and laborious one, and unmechanical, and in its earlier
stages it was not very scientific, yet to a person who was
about a puddling furnace and gave it any attention it soon
became interesting, if he did not have to do the work.
Up to the time of the discovery of the basic process by
the late lamented Sidney Gilchrist Thomas, it was the only
process in which a pig iron high in phosphorus could be
used, commercially speaking. The name of Henry Cort,
the inventor of the puddHng process, well deserves to be
enrolled among the list of great inventors, as one to whom
the whole civilized world is greatly indebted.
While it may be out of place here to mention any special
class, yet I feel that I would not be doing my duty to let
this opportunity pass without paying tribute to the meri-
torious and hard-working class of men who, up until 1870,
made practically all the iron that was used in the construc-
tion of the railroads, that, as it were, practically gridironed
the country. They also made the iron for the bridges that
spanned the great rivers, and for the locomotives and cars
that were used on them; also the iron that was used for
manufacturing, mechanical, and other purposes. In the
year 1890 there was produced by this process in the United
States the enormous quantity of 2,518,194 gross tons. Now
I think, in view of the magnificent results that have been
achieved by the process, it is surely entitled to a prominent
place in the history of the iron industries of the world.
THE BESSEMER PROCESS.
In 1864 the Bessemer process was introduced into the
United States. Its introduction and perfection will ever
remain one of the most interesting epochs in the history of
the iron business, being, practically speaking, revolutionary
in its character. The late Hon. Abram S. Hewitt refers
to the Bessemer process as one that takes rank with the
great events which have changed the face of society since
the time of the Middle Ages.
During the early excitement over the Bessemer steel rail
made by Mushet from metal melted in common melting
pots, a steel rail was laid on the Midland Railway in 1857,
at a place where iron rails lasted only about three months.
The wearing qualities of the rail, which was double-headed,
and which had been rolled at Ebbw Vale Iron Company,
were so marvelous that I thought it might be well to see if
iron ores could be found in this country pure enough to make
good Bessemer steel. Having had much experience in the
manufacture of good merchant bar iron, I had learned that
there were but few brands of pig iron that could be used in
the dry process of puddling, which was in use at that time,
to make a high quality of good wrought iron. This was
before the application of that most valuable science, —
chemistry, — to the metallurgy of iron. But I had in some
way learned that phosphorus was not permissible in the
manufacture of good wrought iron. This led me to the
conclusion that an iron high in phosphorus would be
unsuitable for steel-making purposes.
ISO AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
At this time the making of Bessemer steel was a most
important and interesting subject, and so far seemed to
be surrounded with doubts and difficulties that looked
Having taken an interest in the process from its early
inception, and closely watching the progress it made in
England and Sweden, I made up my mind it was an inven-
tion of such importance to us that I would investigate it.
After the patent rights for the United States had been
bought by Winslow, Griswold & HoUey, I made a visit to
Troy, N. Y., where they had an experimental plant, to try
to get the right to use the patents for a small two-and-one-
half- or three-ton converter, for experimental purposes, at
Bethlehem with American pig iron, to see whether our ores
were suitable for acid Bessemer steel. My interview with
Mr. Griswold was very unsatisfactory. After seeing him
and talking the subject over thoroughly with him, he showed
me a circular from Mr. Bessemer in which he said the Hmit
of phosphorus was 0.02 in the steel. A reference to this
circular was made in the discussion of a paper read by Sir
Henry Bessemer at the December, 1896, meeting of the
American Society of Mechanical Engineers, of which at the
time I had the honor of being President. (It is reported in
" Transactions American Society of Mechanical Engineers, "
Vol. XVIH, page 482.) When I saw the Bessemer circular
I at once said, " Mr. Griswold, if that is the limit of phos-
phorus, it is useless to consider the subject any further, and
the process will be of little value in this country." We had
had, practically speaking, most of the ores of the country
analyzed by WilHam T. Roepper, of Bethlehem, Pennsyl-
vania, and had found it was not possible to make any consid-
erable quantity of pig iron low enough in phosphorus to meet
the requirements of the Bessemer circular. I well knew it
was not possible to get any large quantity of iron so low in
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ 151
phosphorus, as in a general way the coal and ores carried
nearly that amount ; consequently the Bessemer fever which
I had when I met Mr. Griswold was changed to a Bessemer
chill after the interview. This was a great disappointment
to me. By the time I reached home I was all right, however,
and I abandoned the idea of going into making Bessemer
steel. Knowing the inferiority of the iron rails made in the
country and knowing something must be done, I then
turned my attention to the improvement of their quality,
and with some success.
I set my mind at work to make all possible improvement
on iron rails, and gave considerable thought to steel-headed
rails. We succeeded in making a much better iron rail
than had been made up to that time, and made some
experiments in the direction of steel-headed rails with some
promise of success. But having all the work we could do
on iron rails, we paid but little attention to steel, as the
information I received from Mr. Griswold satisfied me that
it was useless to spend any more time on the steel ques-
tion. During this time, in or about the years 1863 or 1864,
William F. Durfee and Robert W. Hunt were at Wyandotte,
Michigan, making experiments with a small converter.
They succeeded in making steel, but their experiments could
not be called a commercial success. About the same time,
or probably a httle later, Mr. A. L. Holley was successful
in making steel at Troy, N. Y., at the experimental plant
before referred to.
In or about the year 1865, the Lehigh Valley Railroad
Company imported some steel rails from England. In
being unloaded from the cars one of the rails was broken
and it was sent to the Bethlehem Iron Company's works
to be drilled and spliced. We had the drillings analyzed
and found the rail to contain about 0.12 of phosphorus.
The rail had broken, as might have been expected with that
152 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
amount of phosphorus, Mr. Bessemer's limit being 0.02.
At this time the steel-rail question did not look inviting,
and I was glad we had so far kept out of it. A short time
after this the Lehigh Valley sent two more steel rails, made
by another English firm, which had been broken in the
track. This looked so very discouraging that the end of
the steel rail seemed in sight. But knowing about the
marvelous wearing qualities of the one steel rail laid on the
Midland Railway in 1857, I thought it important to inves-
tigate the subject further. So I sent for the track master
of the Lehigh Valley Railroad and went to the place where
the breakage of the second and third rails had taken place.
I there learned that a loaded coal car had from some
unknown cause left the rail. Upon close examination we
found the flange of the wheel had struck the head of the
spike that held the rail in place, causing injury to the rail,
and in each case of breakage we found it had occurred at a
point in the flange immediately under the head of the spike.
I came to the conclusion that that had caused the breakage
of the rails. We had the two broken rails analyzed and
found them to contain each about 0.06 of phosphorus.
The analysis of the two rails that were broken in the track
inspired new hope, and we took the ore question up again
and had a number of analyses made of the Lake Superior
ores, but all were too high in phosphorus, to keep as low as
the two rails broken in the track; after carefully looking
over the analyses of the ores we had previously made, we
did find some ores in other localities that were so low in
phosphorus as to give us hope that steel could be made
within the limit of 0.06 of phosphorus, but the ore was not
found in large quantities and was low in iron. It was a
question in my mind whether sufiicient ores of the quality
desired could be relied on for any length of time. However,
we must have a better rail in some way, and concluded to
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ 153
take our chance and build a Bessemer plant. We did this
very reluctantly, as we could not see sufficient ore in sight
to warrant a supply for any great length of time. We would
have to take our chances and would have to rely to some
extent on importation, probably of both ore and pig iron,
and on the hope that more low-phosphorus ores might be
We started the foundations of the building in the fall
In building the Bessemer plant and the rolling mill I
made a new departure. In place of building separate
buildings for the Bessemer plant, and also for the various
roll trains, I built a good substantial stone building, 931
feet in length and in feet in width, with four transepts,
two on each side, arranged in the form of a double cross.
Each of the transepts was in feet in width and 386 feet in
length and 29 feet high to the square. They were located
to best serve economically the purpose intended. In one
of them was placed the machinery for the converting
department, one was used for a train of rolls for making
Ught rails for mining and light tramway purposes, the other
two were intended for rolling merchant steel. Near one
end of the main building the converting department was
located, in line with the transept that contained the ma-
chinery for operating the converting plant. This machin-
ery consisted of blowing engines and high-pressure pumps
for working the cranes and handling the converters. We
put in four eight-ton converters. The object in putting
in the four converters was to practically do away with night
and Sunday repair work, which is expensive and a great
nuisance. Back of the converters were placed the cupolas,
eight for melting the iron, and two for melting the spiegel-
eisen. A space back of the cupola was arranged for the
mixing of the refractory material for making the converter
154 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
bottoms and stoppers. The floor for making them on, and
an oven for drying them in, were arranged for economical
working, with an eye to neatness.
The floor line of the whole plant was on a level except the
casting pit, which was about two feet below the floor line.
This made it convenient for the men to pour into the moulds,
and at the same time protected the men in case of accidental
breaking out of the metal, which in the early history of the
Bessemer process frequently occurred.
The converters were arranged in pairs, two on each side
of the center of the building, with distance between them
sufi&cient to allow work to be done in the pits for each pair
of vessels without interfering vnth. each other. The con-
verters, which as before noted were in pairs, had a hydraulic
lift between them, which raised the molten metal up to
the height to pour into the vessel.
The engines of the mill for blowing and rolling the steel
were of the following dimensions :
The first Bessemer blowing engines had two steam cyl-
inders thirty-six inches by sixty inches, coupled direct,
with two blowing tubs forty-eight inches by sixty inches.
The second pair of blowing engines (built later) had two
steam cylinders fifty-six inches by sixty-six inches, with
two blowing tubs sixty inches by sixty-six inches. These
engines were capable of maintaining forty pounds' air
pressure. The smaller blooming-mill engine had a cylinder
thirty-six inches by sixty inches, coupled direct, with two
stands of three-high rolls thirty-two inches in diameter.
The large blooming-mill engine cylinder was sixty-five
inches by ninety-six inches, with a ninety-ton flywheel,
driving direct one stand of three-high rolls, forty-eight
inches in diameter by ten feet long.
Both trains were supplied with movable tables controlled
by two levers at one point. The first rail train, twenty-
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ 1 55
four inches in diameter, was composed of four stands of three-
high rolls driven by an upright compound engine; high-
pressure cylinder, thirty inches in diameter; low-pressure
cyUnder, fifty-four inches in diameter; stroke, fifty inches.
The large rail train, also intended to roll shapes, was
twenty-eight inches in diameter, composed of three stands
of rolls three-high, driven by a triple tandem compound
condensing engine connected to the train direct and exert-
ing 8000 H.P. This engine had three high-pressure cyl-
inders thirty-six inches in diameter, and three low-pressure
cylinders fifty-four inches in diameter, with forty-six-inch
stroke. This train was equipped with tables.
The finishing end of the mill was equipped with the
necessary saws, hot beds, drill presses, straightening presses,
cold beds, and loading apparatus.
The perplexities and anxiety connected with the manu-
facture of Bessemer steel were fully described by me in an
address delivered before the Franklin Institute in 1899,
from which I quote:
" In witnessing the beautiful and interesting but simple
process of blowing a heat of metal, and the regularity with
which it is done at this time, and the quantity turned out,
it is impossible for one wholly unacquainted with its early
history to even in a measure realize the fear and anxiety
of those who were responsible for the result. When a
charge of metal was poured into the vessel, the blast put
on, and the vessel turned up, our anxiety commenced, and
as the heat increased our anxiety increased in a corre-
sponding ratio, until both became intense. It was when the
heat was greatest that accidents were most likely to happen.
The refractory material with which the converters were
lined, especially the bottoms, would give out, and when in
that condition the effect of the heat and the blast would
waste the tuyeres and bottoms away so rapidly that from
156 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
one to three heats were all we could get off of one bottom.
Frequently they would give out at the first heat, then out
would come the metal through the bottom; and having to
use much water about the converter, the place imder the
vessel was at all times wet, and the result was explosions,
often very dangerous, as the hot metal was blown in all
directions, frequently inflicting serious injuries on the
workmen, a calamity greatly dreaded and the cause of the
gravest anxiety to those in charge. When an accident
occurred anywhere about the works the first question asked
would be : 'Is anyone hurt? ' If not, we would go to
work at once to repair with that object only in mind. If,
on the contrary, some of the workmen were seriously
injured, it is impossible to describe the distress of mind
that the person in charge had to endure. When the vessel
was turned down it sometimes went too far and some of
the metal ran out, resulting frequently in a grand pyro-
technic display of an exceedingly dangerous character.
" The next operation was to get the metal in the ladle,
which was generally not a very difficult one, but it would
frequently burn through the ladle, and then the only thing
that could be done was to let it run into the pit and order
all hands out of the way, for fear of an explosion. As soon
as the metal was partially set all hands commenced to clean
the pit, which was no easy task. Here were eight tons of
molten steel in the pit, burned fast to ingot moulds, bottom
and sides of the pit, and to everything that would not burn
up. If we were so fortunate as to get the ladle over the pit
in good shape, our anxiety was not yet at an end. It quite
frequently happened that the stopper would pull off the
end of the rod; then we had to use what we called a pricker
to open the nozzle from the bottom. If the metal happened
to be cold, which by that time it was apt to be, the nozzle
would freeze up, as we called it; then the metal would have
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ 157
to be poured out of the top of the ladle into the mould,
cinder and steel all together, with the result that generally
the most of it got into the pit; then again, if we escaped an
explosion we still had a mess in the pit. Altogether the
difhculties we encountered were enough to appall the
bravest hearts. My brother George once said, when at
Cambria, that he did not believe there was a man who ever
went into the Bessemer business, and was responsible for
the result, who did not at times wish he had never gone
into it; and so far as my experience goes, I can fully corrobo-
rate it. And, further, I think that, if it had not been for
the interesting and exciting character of the business, but
few men would have been willing to incur the trouble and
anxiety, and to endure the physical labor and danger to
which he and the workmen were constantly exposed, long
enough to have placed the business on a commercial basis."
The difficulties that confronted us in the early manu-
facture of steel were grave and almost innumerable. To
cite one instance : We had put in a new bottom and turned
the vessel up, and out went one or two tuyeres; we turned
it down to put the tuyeres in again, and we had to turn it
down two or three times for the same purpose. By the
time we got the metal out into the ladle, to pour it into the
moulds, the stopper " froze up," that is to say, the stopper
came off. Well, then we tried to prick the thing from the
bottom, but did not succeed, so we had an arrangement by
which we poured it into the mould. Cinders and all went
in together, but in some manner the whole heat went into
the pit. As soon as it got into the pit I said, " Get out of
the way." It gave one of the grandest pyrotechnic ex-
hibitions I have ever seen in my life. I was afraid someone
would be burnt, but fortunately no one was injured. We
got to work and cleaned up the pit. Holley, who was
visiting me at the time, helped us, and after we had the pit
158 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
cleared up and started up again, a workman let an ingot fall
off the bugg>' beyond the reach of the crane. I said to Hol-
ley, " Look at that." He said, " Boss, that will lie still."
Immediately after this I was sent for to go to the blast fur-
nace on account of trouble there. We had been discussing
these bottoms right along and all blamed the tuyeres. The
manufacturers of the tuyeres would say, " Well, we cannot
put any more refractory material into them." The tuyeres
were filled in between with ganister; we just lined the vessel
with stone after that. I contended that this ganister blew
out. It could not melt, because it could stand more heat
than the tuyeres, but I thought the friction of the blast
blew it off until the tuyeres became exposed, and they could
not stand the heat and pressure both. On my way over to
the furnace I noticed some sixteen-inch blast-furnace lining
brick, and I used some of this as a filler between the tuyeres.
On the first experiment we got twelve heats off one bottom,
which was phenomenal. That was the end of the trouble.
From this time our troubles began to diminish, and
instead of making ten and twelve heats per day we soon
ran up to fifty and sixty heats in twelve hours, and some
of the works are now making seventy and eighty. This
system of making bottoms was at once generally adopted,
and is still in use.
At this time the machinists before alluded to were called
to the front to brave the danger and fight the great battles
that have ever to be encountered in the introduction of new
metallurgical processes, and in none were the difficulties
more alarming and disheartening than in the Bessemer
process. These men had now received a training which
eminently fitted them for the duties they were called upon
to perform. Having been inured to hard work, they
entered into this new field with such an amount of energy
and determination that it made failure impossible.
THE BESSEMER PROCESS. — Continued.
One of the earliest and most graphic accounts of a Besse-
mer " blow " at night was written by our ever-lamented
friend, A. L. HoUey, to whom I have before referred. It
was published in the Troy Daily Times in 1865, and quoted
by Dr. Rossiter W. Raymond in a memorial address at the
Turf Club Theater, of New York City, November i, 1883,
at a combined meeting of the American Society of Civil
Engineers, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers,
and the American Institute of Mining Engineers. In
describing the blow, Mr. Holley said :
" The cavernous room is dark, the air sulphurous, the
sounds of suppressed power are melancholy and deep.
Half-revealed monsters with piercing eyes crouch in the
comers, spectral shapes ever flit about the wall, and lurid
beams of light anon flash in your face as some remorseless
beast opens its red-hot jaws for its iron ration. Then the
melter thrusts a spear between the joints of its armor and
a glistening, yellow stream spurts out for a moment, and
then all is dark once more. Again and again he stabs it,
till six tons of its hot and smoking blood fill a great caldron
to the brim. Then the foreman shouts to a thirty-foot
giant in the corner, who straightway stretches out his iron
arm and gently lifts the cauldron away up into the air and
turns out the yellow blood in a hissing, sparkling stream,
which dives into the white-hot jaws of another monster, —
a monster as big as an elephant, with a head like a frog, and
scaly hide. The foreman shouts again, at which up rises
l6o AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
the monster on its haunches, growling and snorting sparks
" What a conflict of the elements is going on in that vast
laboratory! A million balls of melted iron, tearing away
from the liquid mass, surging from side to side, and plung-
ing down again, only to be blown out more hot and angry
than before — column upon column of air, squeezed solid
like rods of glass by the power of five hundred horses,
piercing and shattering the iron at every point, chasing
it up and down, robbing it of its treasures, only to be itself
decomposed, and hurled out into the night in roaring blaze.
" As the combustion progresses, the surging mass grows
hotter, throwing out splashes of liquid slag; and the dis-
charge from its mouth changes from sparks and streaks of
red and yellow gas to thick, full, white, howling, dazzling
flame. But such battles cannot last long. In a quarter
of an hour the iron is stripped of every combustible alloy,
and hangs out the white flag. The converter is then turned
upon its side, the blast shut off, and the recarburizer run in.
Then for a moment the war of the elements rages again;
the mass boils and flames with higher intensity, and with
a rapidity of chemical reaction, sometimes throwing it
\dolently out of the converter mouth; then all is quiet,
and the product is steel, — liquid, milky steel, that pours
out into the ladle from under its roof of slag, smooth,
shining, and almost transparent."
In the early history of the process Mr. Holley, Captain
Hunt, my brother George, and Captain Jones would fre-
quently come to Bethlehem to talk over our troubles —
not high finance, but the difficulties we daily met, which at
times seemed almost insuperable. We did not meet as
diplomats, to find out what each other wanted, without even
hinting of anything they wanted, but we met as a band of
loving brother engineers trained by arduous experience,
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ l6l
young, able, energetic, and determined to make a success.
I doubt if ever five natural brothers were more loyal to each
other than the five brother engineers above named. What
each of us knew was common to all.
Upon one occasion we all met at my house and talked over
our troubles in detail, and they seemed so grave that some
of us doubted if we could ever make the Bessemer process
a financial success. In fact, my doubts were such that I
had thought seriously of making a steel-headed rail and had
made some experiments in that line, with some little show
of success, when some one of the party said that if there
could be a patent secured on the steel-headed rail it would
be worth more than any other patent that could be taken
out. To this my brother George dissented, putting his
hand on the top of his head and facetiously saying that if
someone would discover something that would make the
hair grow there, it would be worth more money than any
invention that could be gotten up. Referring to Captain
Hunt, he said : " Here is Robert ; he would give five thousand
dollars for it."
Sometimes we were joined by my dear friend Eckley B.
Coxe, who though not a steel man was one of the most
able and distinguished mining engineers our country has
ever known — a man so highly trained scientifically, so full
of resource and suggestion that my recollections of my
conferences with him are an ever present pleasure. I
delighted to have him and Holley together.
In connection with the Bessemer process of steel manu-
facture, it is interesting to note that although the credit
of it is generally given entirely to Sir Henry Bessemer, of
London, England, yet an American inventor, William
Kelly, had experimented for a number of years, at Eddy-
ville, Kentucky, along the same lines. The original desire
of both Sir Henry Bessemer and Mr. Kelly was to improve
l62 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
the quality of iron. So far as is known, neither of them at
that time had in view the manufacture of steel.
When Mr. Bessemer received his patent in this country
in 1856, Mr. Kelly immediately set up a claim of priority
of invention, and supported this claim with an account of
what he had previously done at his forge at Eddyville,
Mr. Kelly continued his Eddyville experiments at Johns-
town, at the Cambria Iron Works, during my time there.
The Bessemer and Kelly claims were considered by the
Commissioner of Patents, and Mr. Kelly was granted a
patent on the ground of priority, and in 1863 a company,
known as the Kelly Process Company, was formed, for the
purpose of making steel under the Kelly patents.
As stated before, the control in this country of the Bes-
semer patents was obtained in 1864 by John F. Winslow,
John A. Griswold, and Alexander L. Holley, of Troy, N. Y.,
and the firm was successful in 1865 in making Bessemer
steel at their experimental furnace at that place. A com-
promise was arranged between them and the Kelly Process
Company. The Bessemer Company attracted more general
attention than the Kelly claims ; but considerable credit is
due to Mr. Kelly for what he had accomplished.
Early in the history of the Bessemer process the Bethle-
hem Iron Company had an opportimity to make a long-
time contract with the Cornwall people, on favorable terms,
for a quantity of suitable ore, but the directors were not
then disposed to do so, notwithstanding the fact that we
had used large quantities of both the iron and the ore, and
knew them to be good, especially as a mixture. The
directors thought we could buy the iron and the ore as
we wanted them, and would not be embarrassed by a long
contract. At that time we were the only people who knew
how valuable the Cornwall ore was. The other Bessemer
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ 163
makers were, in a general way, fearful of the sulphur, but
we had learned that for rails and some other purposes the
sulphur was practically quite harmless, and that we could
use the Cornwall ore to great advantage up to one-half of
the mixture. The other Bessemer people soon learned that
the Bethlehem Company was using Cornwall ore largely and
doing good work, consequently they got to using it and
found it so valuable that some of them invested largely in
the Cornwall ore property. This was much to our detri-
ment, as it was about all that we could do to get the proper
material to make the special high-grade steel that we had
a large demand for, which was being used largely in place
of open-hearth acid steel ; in fact, it was the best steel that
at that time was being made, and for many purposes was
preferred to crucible steel.
The condition of affairs as to the quality of steel we were
making was to me sickening, as it had at all times been the
pride of my profession to do good work in whatever line it
might lie. But here I found myself in such a position that,
so far as rails were concerned, they were but httle, if any,
better than the greater part of the rails that were being
made, and were, to my mind, very unsatisfactory. At
that time we had a contract for high-carbon rails, which
caUed for the maximum phosphorus to be below six one-
himdredths, and it was with great difficulty that the phos-
phorus could be kept low enough. I went to the President
of the company. He said the rails were as good as any
others that were being made. I told him that the rails
were being made under a contract, and that if they did not
come up to the specifications in every way the inspector
would not accept them. I said we must have some Corn-
wall iron, or some other that was equally low in phosphorus.
At the same time I told him if we could not get a good iron
for making rails, I would have nothing to do with the rail mill,
l64 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
At this time Mr. Algernon Roberts, of the firm of A. &
P. Roberts, was making car axles at the Pencoyd Iron
Works. He told me the trouble the firm had had in reduc-
ing the axles in the middle uniformly, and asked if I could
help him out of his trouble. Previous to this Sir Joseph
Whitworth had invented a hydraulic press for forging. I
had made up my mind it was a good scheme and was what
Mr. Roberts wanted, but Mr. Whitworth would neither
make one nor let anyone see it. I also understood that
Haswell in Vienna was using some kind of a press for making
heavy drop forgings, using a press instead of a hammer,
and I suggested it would be well to see what Mr. Haswell
was doing. Mr. Roberts was so much interested in the
press that he and Mr. James Dougherty went over to see it.
On his return he came to see me, and said he did not think
Haswell's press was what he wanted. I asked him if he
could get the drawings of what Mr. Haswell was doing.
He said he thought he could, and would arrange to do so,
and said that if we got the drawings we could use them for
the purpose he wanted them for. Unfortunately, shortly
after our conversation, Mr. Roberts died quite suddenly,
and for a time the subject was dropped, but not forgotten.
The condition of affairs in the Bessemer plant was most
deplorable, but there was one more chance to get quite a
large quantity of Bessemer acid ore. By ceasing to make
rails and by being able to get high-grade ores in sufficient
quantities to supply the demand we had for high-quality
steel, we could do a profitable business in that line, and a
satisfactory one. At that time we were using a small
quantity of an ore known as the Tilly Foster ore, but the
mine was in such bad condition that only a small quantity
could be mined, and it would cost much money to put it in
such shape that a large amount of ore could be gotten out.
The ore was of such a character that 1 was quite sure it was
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ 165
a good business proposition to spend the money to develop
the mine. Consequently, I took our best practical mining
experts and made a very thorough examination of the mine
and an estimate of the cost of putting it in such shape
that a large amount of ore could be taken out annually.
As I now remember, the estimate was about $100,000, not
over twenty-five cents per ton on the ore, in addition to the
royalty. Taking the quality of ore into consideration, it
was a very cheap ore. The proposition, however, did not
meet the approval of the management and the project was
dropped. I was now at the end of my line in that direction,
and told our management that it was not possible to make
good special steel or good rails out of such material as we
were being compelled to use. In reply they again said we
were making as good rails as other works were making, and
that they could see no reason why we should make them any
better. I told them the work we were doing was unsatis-
factory to me, that it was the aim of my life in whatever
line I might be to turn out good work, that it could not be
done with the material we were using, and that I would not
be responsible for the result. We were now up against the
real thing and something had to be done. My reputation
and money were both at stake, and at my age I could not
afford to lose either of them.
In 1868 the manufacture of acid open-hearth steel com-
menced. The Siemens regenerating furnace was used, and
the Martin system, generally known as the Siemens-Mar-
tin process. But its progress was slow, as it followed the
Bessemer, which was spectacular, beautiful, exciting, and
most intensely interesting in the blowing of a heat of metal.
While the Siemens-Martin process is scientific and simple,
it is not so interesting and exciting as the Bessemer process,
and it did not command the attention and respect to which
it was entitled. The fact that the Bessemer had been
introduced and the machinery in use, and the knowledge
gained in the use of refractory material and in the handling
of steel, made the introduction of the open-hearth process
easy as compared with the Bessemer. But the fact that
it so modestly made its way into general use does not in any
way detract from its great usefulness, and with the later
introduction of the Thomas and Gilchrist basic process
and its application to the Siemens furnace, the basic open-
hearth process takes rank as the greatest metallurgical
discovery of the age.
Taking into consideration the character of our ores and
coal, and their geographical location, its importance at once
becomes manifest. It is the most important and valuable
invention that has yet been made in the line of metallurgy.
The ores that can be used in the basic open-hearth process
are known to exist in almost every state in the Union, while
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ 167
the ores that are suitable to make good Bessemer steel, by
the acid process, are very limited, so far as is known, the
phosphorus of most American ores being too high for the
Bessemer acid process. The rails that were being made in
this country by the Bessemer process were generally in-
ferior in quality, and the time was near when the railroads
would demand a higher quality of rails, and they necessarily
had to be made in the basic open-hearth furnace. The
failure to make steel high in quahty is not due to the
Bessemer process, but to the difficulty of procuring suitable
ores, phosphorus being the most baneful element. This
fact alone placed the basic process in the lead, where it will
remain until some other startling process is discovered.
The Thomas and Gilchrist basic process, the greatest metal-
lurgical discovery of the age, in connection with the Siemens
open-hearth furnace, has taken the lead of all other known
processes in the manufacture of steel.
In or about 187 1, Mr. Leach of Boston called on me at
Bethlehem to have a talk over the Siemens regenerative
gas furnace, for which he was the agent in this country.
I wanted to use it in the Bethlehem plant. After he had
agreed on the price I told him the roof was too low to get
perfect combustion and that I would make it much higher.
He at once said, " Do you pretend to know more than Dr.
Siemens? " I told him, " No, I wish I knew half as much
as he did." But I told him further that I had puddled and
heated more iron than Dr. Siemens had, and had had more
experience in rolling-mill practice where great heat was
required ; but Mr. Leach was not wilHng to let me make any
change in the construction. He went over to New York,
called on Mr. Abram S. Hewitt, and told him what had
passed between us in regard to the furnace. Mr. Hewitt
advised, " You go back to Bethlehem and tell Fritz to
make any changes he wants." Mr. Leach returned to
1 68 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
Bethlehem and told me exactly what Mr. Hewitt had said.
We thereon compromised on a straight roof, but I didn't
build it, as I knew it wasn't right. When we came to
build the furnace I built it just as I wanted it, and it was
In 1872 the writer built a blooming mill in Bethlehem,
and ha\ing had the experience of both the Holle}^ mill at
Troy and the Fritz mill at Cambria and a large rolling-miU
experience, made some important changes, — making all
the three rolls fixed, with grooves in the rolls corresponding
with the work in reduction we wanted to put on each groove,
avoiding the use of screws altogether, except for adjustment
of the rolls, — a great saving in cost in construction and
repairs. I had an aversion to cog gear of any kind, and
the spur gears with idlers to keep the motion of the rollers
in the proper direction, adopted in both the Holley and my
brother's mill (at Cambria), had one serious defect. The
gear on the roll to which the power was attached had to
transmit the power to drive all the rolls in the table, the
power being transmitted from the first roller to the second
by an idler, and so on to the last roll in the table. The
strain increased until it was so difiicult to keep things in
order that some change in the system of driving the rollers
was necessary, and there was no practical way of doing it
without the use of cog gear of some form. In the spur-gear
system the idler was necessary, but the idlers gave so much
trouble, and they became such an abominable nuisance,
that some device had to be adopted to get rid of them. As
it was impossible at that time to drive the mill without cog
gear in some form, I adopted the mitered system and put
a miter-gear wheel on the end of each roller shaft in the
table, as large in diameter as could be readily put in, then
1 70 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
placed a shaft in line with the center of the rollers, and
parallel with the table; on this shaft I put a wheel cast off
the same pattern as on the rollers to gear into each wheel
on the rollers in the table, the shaft transmitting the power
separately to each roller in the table, instead of driving all
the rollers through a system of idlers from one driven spur
wheel on the first roller in the table, thus avoiding the tre-
mendous strain on the first gear, the great amount of
friction, the great expense in repairs, the loss of time while
repairs were being made, and a great waste of power.
The power used for driving the rollers in the table was
taken from the same engine that drove the train. It was
transmitted to the rollers by a belt on the flywheel shaft,
which drove a horizontal shaft that conveyed the power
to a set of friction clutches properly secured to the roll
housing, which, in turn, connected with a square vertical
shaft on which was placed a bevel cog-gear wheel, loose,
which geared into a wheel on the shaft of one of the end
rollers on the table, it becoming the driver, through the
idlers, of all the rollers in the table. The reversing of
rollers in the tables was done by friction clutches, which were
always a source of trouble. The raising and lowering of
the tables at that time was a most difficult problem to solve.
They had to be moved up and down a distance equal to the
diameter of the working rolls, at that time about thirty-two
inches, and they had to run at any point within this dis-
tance, both back and forth. It was this which caused so
much trouble and expense. It was not possible to do this
with machinery for driving a positive fixture, and it must in
some way have a yielding point automatically adjusted.
The first and most important thing was to get rid of the
idlers, and by the use of the parallel shaft and miter gear
we most effectively obviated them. The next thing to do
was to get rid of the friction clutches, which were a great
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ 171
source of trouble, and also of all the complicated machinery
for conveying the power to the rollers in the tables. The
next and most important thing to do to make the bloom-
ing mill a grand success was a plan to convey the power
to the rollers that would permit the raising and lowering
of the tables and would at the same time drive them at any
and all points within the travel of the tables. The device
must be automatic, simple, and effective. All these com-
binations made quite a difficult problem to solve. A
number of plans were suggested in my mind, and were well
thought over, but all lacked the one all-important element
of sim.plicity, which I had in view when we started to build
I destroyed all the bridges as I crossed over them. One
plan was to use the power from the main engine to drive
the rollers in the table. The friction clutches for driving
and reversing the rolls were another problem — both had
to be arranged for. The power to be used for driving the
table rollers must be separate and must be used for no other
purpose whatever. A two-cylinder engine of the proper
size was the most simple way of getting the power, and by
making it reverse, the friction clutches were dispensed with
and became a curiosity of the past.
The only thing that remained to be done was to get some
simple way of conveying the power from the engine to the
table, and here for a time there seemed to be an insurmount-
able difficulty in the way. As the rollers were not station-
ary or fixed, having to move up and down, and to revolve at
will in either direction, it was not possible to have a fixed
or positive connection of the power between the engine and
the table, as the distance between them increased and
diminished as the table was raised or lowered. Many plans
to get over this trouble were suggested and thought over,
but all were complicated, and would surely be difficult
172 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
to be kept in order — something that must be avoided.
At this stage, things looked as if there was trouble ahead,
and something had to be done, mechanically or otherwise.
I now took into consideration that the variation in the
distance between the driving and the driven points was
short, say about eight feet, and I at once concluded to put
a pulley on the engine and one on the horizontal shaft on
the table which drove the rollers, and connect them with
a belt, and put a tightener on the belt to keep it uniformly
taut. The arrangement was so complete and so satis-
factory that I felt somewhat abashed to think I had spent
so much time over what seemed to be such a difficult
problem, and yet in the end was so perfectly simple. But
I remembered that Mr. Holley and my brother George,
both able men, had each of them built a blooming mill, and
had doubtless given the same problem much thought; and
yet, since they used a complicated scheme for the same
purpose, they could not have thought of anything so per-
fectly simple. This was, in a measure, a panacea for my
wounded feelings, as one of them was a dear friend and the
other a brother. In the next mill that Mr. Holley built, he
used a geared device so arranged as to accommodate the
variable distance between the engine and the table, in place
of belt and tightener; this answered the purpose equally
well, and was much more mechanical.
This blooming mill was a complete success and was ca-
pable of doing a very large amount of work with moderate-
sized ingots, such as were being used at the time it was built.
But for large ingots and a great variety of work such as
is being called for at this time, the reversing mill with
adjustable top roll is preferable.
STRUCTURAL AND PLATE MILL.
After the steel plant was completed and doing splendid
work, and well knowing the want and importance of a good
structural mill, I turned my attention to that subject. At
that time the flanges of the beams and channels were so
narrow and the angle of the flanges so great that it was
difficult to construct sections that had to be riveted to-
gether; this was not only embarrassing to the engineer, but
was an impediment in the advancement of his profession,
and any difficulty that stands in the way of progress in any
line of business should, if possible, be overcome. Con-
sequently, I took up the subject of structural material and
had drawings made of beams and channels, with wider and
lighter flanges and with less angle, so that they could be
punched without difficulty and be riveted together readily.
I also designed a mill and rolls that would roll them out of a
square steel ingot. In fact, the sections and manner of
rolling standard shapes that I then proposed were practi-
cally what is being done at the present time.
I showed the whole scheme to some of our ablest engineers,
and they indorsed it most emphatically, and urged me to
get the Bethlehem Iron Company to go into the business.
One of the oldest and ablest, Charles Macdonald, said that
if they would, and would make shapes of sections such as I
showed, he would put up at Bethlehem a structural machine
shop for the manufacture of members of bridges and build-
ings and equip it with tools, and the conveniences for han-
dling and facilitating the work, that would surpass any
174 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
shop of the kind there was in the country. I urged the com-
pany with all the eloquent language I could command, but
with no effect. Then I tried compulsion, by saying it
was absolutely essential for the permanent success of the
company to have some diversity in their business. This
raised a question, and I was asked if I knew how many tons
of structural material was made in a year in the country.
I told them I did not know, and did not care, but there was
one thing I did know, — that there was not a proper section
of beams or channels in the country, or a proper mill to roll
them, that the use of structural material for building pur-
poses was in its infancy, and that steel was the material
that was going to be used for the purpose, in the near future.
When the steel plant was built I arranged for a mill that
small sizes of beams and channels could be rolled on, and
also put up a mill that larger ingots could be rolled on, so
as to make the proper shapes to roll the larger sections of
beams and channels out of, knowing that in France they
were rolling beams of great width with thin and wide flanges.
This fact greatly increased my desire to go into the business,
as wide sections with wide flanges were what were wanted
in the engineering line. But it was no use, and some of the
directors said I was never satisfied, but must be at some-
thing new, and could not let well enough alone. So for the
time I let the subject drop.
Some years later, when the Gray and York system of roll-
ing wide sections with wide, thin, and parallel flanges first
came up, I at once investigated the principle, and to my mind
it appeared a much more complete system than the French,
and I once more ventured to call the attention of our people
to the plan. The mention of it, however, met opposition,
and I thought it best not to pursue the subject further.
Some years later, one of the directors (a railroad man)
came to me, saying, " You iron men are the most incon-
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ 175
sistent men in the country." I said, " What now? " He
said, " You are at all times preaching protection, and I now
want some four-by-six-inch angles and cannot get them
short of going to England for them." I ventured to say
rather facetiously, " If you had let me go into the structural
business, you could get any shapes you wanted." I then
said, " How long do you want them? " He said, "It is
useless to talk about them. I have tried all the best mills
in the country and they can't make them." " Well," I
replied, " tell me how long you want them and in less than
two weeks' time you will have them in any lengths you want
them, and you can't get them from England at best short
of four weeks." I at once ordered a set of rolls turned up,
and in about the time named we sent for him to come and
see the four-by-six-inch angle, some eighty feet in length,
and see if it was all right, and would suit him. He came to
see it and was much pleased with it. He said he would give
us a list of what he wanted and give us the order, and said
he thought the longest of them would be between fifty and
sixty feet. I told him we could roll them one hundred feet
if he should want them. This was the first four-by-six-inch
angle that was rolled in this country. They were rolled in
the old mill on the twenty-one-inch train, and I must con-
fess we were all a little proud of the result.
The Bethlehem Iron Company made many mistakes, but
their refusal to go into the manufacture of structural mate-
rial at the time alluded to was to my mind the greatest.
Later Mr. C. M. Schwab acquired the entire property, and
erected a structural steel plant, which is now in success-
Shortly after I had failed to get the company to go into
the rolling of structural material, I suggested the propriety
of building a plate mill, as plates of large size and high-grade
in quality and finish were wanted. I said that in the
176 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
future ships of all kinds and classes would be built of iron
or steel, and the demand for plate must necessarily be great.
In talking with one of the directors, who was a large stock-
holder, I found him favorably inclined toward the project,
so much so that I concluded to get up a complete set of
drawings of a mill and a general plan for the layout, I
knew that plates were in demand, and the demand was sure
to increase, and there was great money in the business. I
thought it would be well to have a set of drawings and
ground plan made, but the plate-mill scheme, for the time,
came to an abrupt end.
FORGE AND ARMOR-PLATE PLANT.
Atter the failure to get the company to go into the
manufacture of structural material and the plate business,
I concluded that it would be well to give them time for
consideration before making any further suggestions.
Some one or two years later I called the company's atten-
tion to the fact that there was not a forge plant in the
country where a ten-inch shaft could be properly forged.
The heaviest hammers that were in use for forging were of
about ten or twelve tons, but they were entirely too light
for heavy forging. In order to make the blow more effec-
tive, steam was used on the top of the piston, which for
forging heavy shafting was worse than useless, as the blow
is so quick that the center does not receive the full force
of it, and the tendency is to create longitudinal seams and
circumferential cracks; the center, not receiving the full
force of the blow, is in a measure elongated by the tension
of the outer portion of the shaft. Knowing this to be the
fact, I did not use either wrought-iron or steel shafting that
was forged under a light hammer, but always, where great
strength was required, used air-furnace castings made out
of the best cold-blast charcoal iron that it was possible to
get, and in my long experience I never had one fail. In
some instances, where iron forgings failed we replaced them
with air-furnace castings, and they gave no trouble.
I have known wrought-iron forged shafts to fail and be
replaced by cast-iron shafts which never gave any trouble,
and a person giving the subject any serious consideration
will see at once why a cast-iron shaft should be safer and
178 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
better than one of wrought iron as they used to be forged.
In the first place, by the use of good iron, intelligently
melted, in an air furnace, you can get a tensile strength of
32,000 pounds per square inch, and with a proper sink-head
you can get a practically solid casting, and I might add,
homogeneous and close in the grain; while, as I have already
stated, the forged shaft of that day would in all probability
be unsound in the center and coarse-grained, and its tensile
strength Uttle greater, if any, than cast iron.
I shall now refer to a single experience I had, believing
that a brief description giving the reasons why I used
wrought-iron and steel shafts in place of cast iron, which
had for over forty years served me well, will be both in-
teresting and instructive.
The reason for using wrought iron and steel in place of
cast iron was that I wanted a three-throw crank for a
three-cylinder engine, and I had to use a built-up crank,
as at that time I could not get any other in this country.
As the stroke of the engine was rather short, it reduced the
distance from center of shaft to center of crank pin, so that
the shafts had to be kept down to the smallest possible size,
in order to get sufficient metal between the holes to give
the cranks the required strength between the shaft and the
As steel at that time was more expensive than wrought
iron, I concluded to make the main shaft and first crank pin
out of steel, and the others out of wrought iron. Not
having at that time any overflow of confidence in either
forged iron or steel shafts, and being anxious to get the best
that could possibly be gotten, I consulted a friend, who was
using steel shafts, and asked him where was the best place
in this country to get them. He kindly advised me where
to go for the steel shaft and crank pin, and I took his advice
and ordered them. The iron shafts and pins were ordered
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ 179
from what I considered, at that time, the best forge plant
in the country.
Having had some previous experience, in a small way,
with both metals, with results not altogether lovely, I
thought it prudent to see in what condition the metal was
in the center. In order to show this, a hole about four
inches in diameter was bored through the center of them all,
seven in number, five iron and two steel, and all were found
to be unsound in the center. In the iron the imperfections
ran longitudinally and the four-inch hole practically cleaned
them out. The steel shaft, which was about fourteen
inches in diameter and some twelve feet long, proved so
unsound in the four-inch hole, as there were imperfections
in the form of large cracks or circumferential openings, that
the hole was enlarged to about six and one-half inches.
Some of the imperfections were still visible. The position
of the shaft was such, when in use, that, should it give way,
it would not be likely to do any serious damage, so we con-
cluded to use it. When the hole was bored through the
steel crank pin, the imperfections showed so badly that we
placed it on the planer and cut it in half lengthwise. It
was full of circumferential cracks, some of them extending
almost to the edge. It was frightful to a person who was
contemplating the building of a forge plant, for the purpose
of making steel forgings, as I was at that time. The result
was not entirely unexpected, as my experience in making
steel and in heating, rolling, and forging had already con-
vinced me that it would require great skill and still greater
care to prevent internal imperfections in the steel forgings,
yet I was not prepared to witness anything approaching
the condition which the spHtting of this forging revealed.
This was a revelation to the engineers that saw it, and at
the same time it furnished an argument in favor of a large
forging plant that could not be gainsaid.
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
The chemical analysis of the steel, if I remember correctly,
was very good. There had been some blowholes in the
ingot, as there are in too many of them. To my mind the
trouble was almost entirely to be attributed to two causes.
First, the ingot had been charged in a hot furnace and
Fig. 8. — Section of Steel Shaft showing Imperfections in
heated up too quickly, pulHng the center apart, thereby
causing the cracks. Second, as the ingot was forged under
a hght hammer, in all probability using steam on top of the
piston (which gives a quick stroke and does not give the
metal time to flow or to reach the center, thereby elongating
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ l8l
the outside more rapidly than the interior), the imperfec-
tions, whatever they might be, being the weaker parts,
were drawn more rapidly than the more perfect parts of the
ingot, consequently the imperfections were greatly aug-
Mr. Durfee once read a paper before the Franklin Insti-
tute, on the conditions which cause wrought iron to be
fibrous and steel low in carbon to be crystalline, and a most
admirable paper it is, and one which every maker and user
of steel should read and study. In regard to unsound ingots,
he says it is a common opinion that one of the reasons why
steel forgings are often found hollow in the interior is the
failure to work them under a sufficiently heavy hammer,
but no hammer can do more than aggravate the evil of
internal ruptures in ingots of steel. This is well said, and a
truth that cannot be gainsaid. It was imperfect ingots,
lack of knowledge in heating and forging, and also the want
of skill to treat the forgings properly after they were made,
that caused so many failures in steel forgings only a few
years ago, and caused many people to think and believe
that there was some mysterious uncertainty in the metal,
and, consequently, to discard its use altogether. To some
extent, this impression is still in existence. To my surprise,
only a short time ago quite a prominent engineer told me
that he was still using wrought-iron shafts.
The experience with the steel shaft brought the system
of hydraulic forging, before alluded to, most vividly to my
mind again, but unfortunately Mr. Roberts, who was re-
ferred to in a former chapter, was no more. Consequently
I went to the Pencoyd Works, with which Mr. Roberts had
been connected, but as he had died suddenly the matter
had been dropped and I could get no information from them.
I then went to see Mr. James Dougherty, the gentleman
who went with Mr. Roberts to Vienna, but could get no
l82 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
information from him, as he said that what little he had
known at the time of his visit had passed from his mind.
This being the true condition of affairs, as they existed
in the country, I concluded to try to get the directors to
build a forge plant, using the foregoing in argument to
prove that a good forge plant was a necessity, was practi-
cable, and desirable. For a time I thought I was at last
going to be successful, as the General Manager seemed to
favor the project; but all at once he changed his views,
giving as a reason that the President was opposed to going
into anything new. The President was a nice old gentleman
and I liked him very much; he was a man of commanding
appearance, was intelligent, and could gain access to a busy
railroad president when others less favored by nature and
culture had to wait. He managed the business affairs of
the company as they then existed most admirably, but in
looking to the future it took a clear day for him to discern
anything whatever that would be likely to make a change
in the business of the company, consequently I was doomed
to failure again. This was a dark hour for me.
For a time the situation seemed hopeless, and had it been
manly I would have given up the whole matter. But the
condition of the country was such that it was apparent to
my mind that a good forge and armor-plate plant was
indispensable — I had armor plate in my mind from the be-
ginning. Practically speaking, we were in a most defense-
less condition, having neither a navy nor modern guns for
land or coast defense. We were at the mercy of the world,
— a disgraceful condition for a great nation to be in. But
after every suggestion that I had made had been turned down,
it seemed like a forlorn hope to attempt resurrection. Hav-
ing fully considered the importance of a great forging plant
to the country, I was well prepared to meet any objection.
I then concluded that I would try our management from
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ 183
a patriotic standpoint, but that did not seem to take, as
some of the directors belonged to a sect that was opposed
to fighting in any way or manner. But I thought, from
what some of the directors had previously said and what
others did not say, that a strong presentation of the case
might set them to thinking.
Armor plate was one of the things the Government must
have, and as iron was useless in front of modern steel shot
and shells, steel must be the material that would be sub-
stituted for it. We knew that for steel where close grain
and hard surface were desired, as is required for armor
plates, the hammer was superior to rolls or press. The
face of the armor should be close-grained and harder than
the back, and as the hammer side of a plate is closer in
grain than the anvil side, a plate made under a hammer
would be harder on one side than a plate made in the rolls
or press. Therefore, the hammer was then superior to the
rolls or press for armor plates. (This was before the inven-
tion and introduction of the Harvey process.) This fact
was somewhat encouraging, as there were no patents to
interfere and we could build the hammer ourselves. I now
brought the forge and armor plant to the front again, but
was met by the old ghost of failure, sheriff, or assignee, or
the argument " better let well enough alone," which is
death to all progress. But some of the directors were not
quite so outspoken against the scheme as formerly.
About this time my friend, Mr. Charles Brodhead, told
me about William H. Jaques, a bright young Lieutenant
in the Navy, who was Secretary of the Gun Foundry Board,
during its visit to Europe for the purpose of seeing the best
plants for the manufacture of ordnance, and such other ma-
terial as was necessary for the complete equipment of the
United States Navy. Among the many plants they visited
was Sir Joseph Whitworth's, where they were cordially
1 84 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
received, and were most favorably impressed with the plant
and what they saw. Up to the time of their visit no
strangers had been permitted inside of the \\Tiitworth
shops, but the Board were not only admitted into the shops
but were shown everything they wished to see. Lieutenant
Jaques got a contract from Sir Joseph Whitworth, giving
him personally authority to build a plant in the United
States, the Whitworth Works to furnish plans for the plant
and build the forging presses, a fluid-compression press, the
machine tools, and all the necessities for the equipment of
a complete forging plant. To Lieutenant Jaques is due the
main credit for our subsequent acquisition of the Whitworth
system of forging.
Some time after the Board returned home, Lieutenant
Jaques came to Bethlehem to talk over the subject of
building a forge plant at Bethlehem, imder his contract
with Sir Joseph Whitworth. This was just what I wanted
and what the country in some way must have. I well knew
it would be the fight of my life to carry it through, as it
was a forlorn hope, but I made up my mind to enter the
arena with sleeves rolled up to do or die, as something must
be done. I could plainly see the end of the acid Bessemer
everywhere, and especially with us, as the company had let
every ore property that was available and suitable for the
Bessemer process pass beyond their control, and the end
was in sight.
When Mr. Jaques was in Bethlehem he was introduced
to Mr. Alfred Hunt, who was at that time President of the
Bethlehem Iron Company. Mr. Hunt was very much of
a gentleman and knew how to meet any person from a king
to a beggar. Of course, he treated Mr. Jaques politely,
but said little that was in any way encouraging; he finally
said the subject was " significant," and that he would bring
it before the directors but without recommendation.
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ 185
The Board meeting was held monthly, and so it happened,
as I remember, that it was some ten days or two weeks
before a meeting would take place. In the meantime, there
was much talk between the directors, singly and myself,
but it seemed to have but little if any effect. At length the
time of the regular Board meeting came, but what they
said I did not know. After the meeting was over I talked
with the directors singly again. Some of them thought the
Lieutenant was bright but young and inexperienced and
not a safe adviser, as he knew nothing in regard to the
practical working of such a plant; they said it was so dif-
ferent from what we were doing that we would have to
teach all new men, which would be very costly, and they
could not see where the work to keep such a vast plant as I
wanted to build was to be secured, and did not know where
the money was to come from to build it, and the chances
were, it would be a failure and the whole plant would get
into the hands of the sheriff or assignee, or some other
But I was favorably impressed with what Mr. Jaques told
me about the plant, what Whitworth's works were doing,
and how kindly the Gun Foundry Board had been treated
by the people connected with those works, and with the
fact that Mr. Jaques had a contract giving him permission
and all necessary information to build a plant in the United
States. This was more than I ever expected could be
gotten from the Whitworth people, as their policy up to that
time had been to keep everything secret. As there seemed
some doubt in the minds of some of the directors as to
Lieutenant Jaques' being able to form a correct opinion of
what he had seen, I proposed to our President and General
Manager to let me go over to Whitworth's and investigate
the whole subject thoroughly; but they did not seem to
take any interest whatever in the matter, saying the project
1 86 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
was premature, and they looked upon it as a vague experi-
ment, that would surely end in trouble. But, as at Cam-
bria, my mind was made up that something had to be done
or trouble would surely come, so I urged the company to
let me go over to Whitworth's to see for myself and meet
Jaques there. This finally they did, but very reluctantly.
As soon as I had their consent to let me go, I got things
about the works in the best shape that was possible, so that
I could remain from home for a month or so. In this con-
nection, the General Manager one day placed his hand on
my shoulder and said, " John, you have done more than
any other man to draw us into this wild scheme, and I am
going to hold you responsible for the result." I was not
discouraged by this, and I told the General Manager that
I would assume the responsibility, and that I had much
more at stake than he had. I said I well knew that it was
a great undertaking, and, indeed, compared with the then
existing plants in the country, what I wanted was truly
On the second, third, and fourth days out, if I could have
been landed on the American side of the Atlantic, it is quite
likely I would have done so, but on the fifth day I had
gotten into a better frame of mind and stomach, and by
the time I arrived in Liverpool I was as full of enthusiasm
as ever on the subject of my mission.
On my return I reported to the directors. As I had had
several disappointing failures to get the company to look
forward to a change in their business, and well knew that
they must, in some measure at least, make a change, and
as Lieutenant Jaques had secured the right for the use of
the Whitworth patents for hydraulic forgings, and as I had
talked the subject over with the directors at various times
without any success and but Uttle encouragement, I now
told them most emphatically that something must be done
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ 187
at their next Board meeting, which was to take place in a
At the next meeting they took the subject up, and after
most seriously talking it over they sent for me to come to
the meeting. This I did, and I found them looking as if
they were about to bury the last friend they had on earth.
They had their say, all but one. They generally thought
it was a wild and visionary scheme; it would take a vast
amount of money, and they could not see where the money
was to come from, and failure was sure to take place.
Some said we had been making money and they could see
no reason for a change. They asked what I had to say. I
replied: " I have given you my views so often and so frankly
that it seems to me useless to repeat them. I will, however
say that you have turned down everything that I have
suggested, and you are up against the last that I have to
suggest. Some of you say, Let well alone. I say that in
this case such a policy will be suicidal. Some of the direc-
tors have their doubts of my abiUty to carry through a job
of such magnitude. Now, gentlemen, I wish to say to you
all that I have given this proposition mature consideration,
and from three standpoints. First, it is of the utmost
importance that the nation should have within its control
just such a plant as it is proposed to build; it must have it
and should have it at once. Second, the engineers of the
country are greatly in need of it; there is not a forge plant
in this country that can forge a good steel shaft. I have
shown you individually the result of my effort to get a good
steel shaft fourteen inches in diameter. It looked all right
on the outside, but, knowing how it was forged, I had it
turned up to size, outside diameter, and cut in two length-
wise, and it showed such internal seams and cracks that it
could not be used; the second one we bored a five-inch hole
through longitudinally and found it unsound all the way
1 88 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
through. The third and last consideration is the com-
mercial or financial one; this is the one that we are most
vitally interested in, and I am confident that a plant such
as I propose will be a paying investment and an honor to
us all. Now, to prove to you my confidence in it, I will
agree to carry my share of the capital as far as it is possible
to do so, and further I will say if I had the money I would
put in five hundred thousand dollars."
After this Mr. Wilbur beckoned me to come out. He
then said to me, " You seem to have confidence in the plan."
I told him if I had not I would not have talked as I did.
He said, " If the Government should want no work, would
there be work in the country to keep the forging plant
busy? " I said, " Not to-day, but put the forging plant up
and let the engineers know what they can get and then
wants will soon grow up to it." He then said, " We will
build the plant."
I at once went to work, having the plans of buildings and
machinery well thought over, and had drawings made for
the largest and most complete plant that had ever been
designed for such a purpose, and the work was completed
FORGE AND ARMOR-PLATE PLANT. — Continued.
Soon after our Civil War I gave the subject of armor
plate much thought. As experiments had proved that iron
was practically useless in front of modem steel shot or shell,
the question naturally came up, What is the best material
to use, and the proper method to adopt for its manufacture?
The officials of the navies of the world were much agitated
over the subject, and various modes of manufacture were
suggested. The one most favored was what was after-
wards known as the compound plate. In addition to
armor plate, I had given guns, forgings, and large shafting
much thought, and could clearly see that a forging plant
capable of doing this class of work in the best possible
manner was of the utmost importance to the Government
and the manufacturing interests of the country at large.
Both were in a humiUating condition. Practically speak-
ing, we had no navy or guns of sufficient power for coast
defense, and no plant to make them. Our seacoast cities
and towns and our foreign commerce were all at the mercy
of the navies of the world. The then existing conditions
were disgraceful to a great nation.
At that time the civilized nations of the world, which
required a navy, were giving the subject of guns and armor
plate much thought. Many different methods for making
the latter were suggested, and some of them patented.
There are two things in the construction of armor plate
that must be reckoned on: first, the face must be hard, so
as to break the point of the shot; second, the back must be
jgo AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
strong in order to resist the force of the blow, without
breaking. The latter was a most difficult problem to solve.
The English navy adopted the compound system, with
soft back of wrought iron or low-carbon steel, and high-
carbon steel on the front or face of the plate. There were
three ways of combining the metals, that seemed to be the
favorites; the results were all the same, but different plans
were devised to accomplish the same result. One was to
form a mould of the proper material to stand the heat of
the molten steel, and of the proper size to make the finished
plate. This was placed on edge in the floor ; then a wrought-
iron or a soft-steel plate of the proper size to make the plate,
but less in thickness than the pattern, was put in a heating
furnace and heated to a welding heat, and placed in the
mould, close to one side ;j this left a space which was filled
with hard steel to make the face of the plate. This all had
to be done in the quickest time possible, in order to get the
adhesion of the two metals on which the value of the plate
largely depended. When it cooled to the proper tempera-
ture, it was taken to the rolls or the press, and was finished
to the proper thickness, then to the machine tools, and was
finished to the proper si2e for the vessel.
A large amount of money was expended on these experi-
ments, which were wrong in both theory and practice. In
the first place, the plates were not welded perfectly, which
was essential in order to make a good armor plate ; then the
soft back was a mistake, as it was not at all possible to get
the required strength with soft metal to support the back
against the shock; and great strength in the back of an ar-
mor plate is an all-important element, and one that is most
difficult to get. My first thoughts on the subject soon led
me to think that a soKd steel plate was the best, and that
good steel was the best material. When I first wanted the
company to build a forge plant and put in a hammer, I had
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ 191
the solid steel armor plate in my mind. The hammer is
the best system of forging to get close-grained metal.
The efficiency of the Navy would depend on high-power
guns and on an armor plate that would resist solid steel
shot fired out of a steel gun at a high velocity. Any plate
that would not stand this test was worse than useless.
Consequently, it was idle to think for a moment of ever
making a wrought-iron armor plate that would be effective
under such conditions, to meet the improvements that had
been made in. guns and projectiles.
At the time the Bethlehem Iron Company took the
subject up, all Europe was speculating and experimenting
on various devices, hoping to find something that would
meet the conditions. Among the many plans, the com-
pound plate above described seemed to be the favorite.
To my mind it was clear that an armor plate could not be
made on that principle that would stand the shock of a
solid forged oil-tempered steel projectile, at the velocity
specified by the Navy Department.
The ideal armor plate, I was convinced, should be made
out of one solid piece of steel, the ingot being cast large
enough to give sufficient work in forging to properly close
the grain to prepare it for annealing and tempering. But
how such a plate would stand the ballistic test could only
be solved by actual experiment ; there were diverse opinions
on this point, but generally unfavorable, and the only way
to demonstrate it would be by actual experiment, which
at that time would have been very expensive, as there were
no means of forging and treating the plate, or proper tools
for shaping it.
About this time Mr. Schneider, of the Creusot Works
in France, was experimenting in making solid steel plates,
forging them under a hundred-ton hammer. This being
to my mind the only way to make a good armor plate,
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
Lieutenant Jaques and I went to their works to see what
they were really doing. We spent several days there, saw
Fig. 9. — One Hundred and Twenty-five Ton Steam Hammer,
Bethlehem Iron Company.
them forge a plate, and thoroughly investigated the work
they had done and the results attained. While not fully sat-
isfied, yet both Lieutenant Jaques and I had sufficient faith
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ 1 93
in the process to agree that on our return home we would
recommend the Bethlehem Iron Company to make some
arrangement, if possible, whereby they could use the Creusot
patents and the benefit of their secrets and their experience.
This we did, and we explained to the directors all we had
seen and what had been accomplished, and strongly urged
them to take the subject up and learn what arrangements,
if any, could be made. They listened to us, but with
seeming indifference. However, in a short time after this
meeting, and after some delay and much talk, the Board
concluded to take up the subject. They did this, but could
not come to an agreement.
Mr. Jaques and I were sent to Paris to meet Mr. Schnei-
der and learn if any arrangement could be made that would
be satisfactory to both parties. This was in the summer of
1887. We met in Mr. Schneider's office with his lawyer,
and after a somewhat formal introduction the subject was
taken up by Mr. Jaques and the lawyer in the French
language. I could not understand a single word either of
them said, but I was very proud of Jaques; he kept cool
and could talk as fast as that French lawyer could.
Mr. Schneider was a thorough gentleman. I thought I
could see that he was not pleased with all that his lawyer
said, and he would occasionally speak to me in a way that
confirmed my thoughts. After a time I got tired listening
to a talk of which I could not understand a word that was
said, and got up and walked into an adjoining room. In a
few minutes Mr. Schneider followed and said to me, "Should
we fail this time to come to some understanding, will this
end the negotiation? " I told him that I was not authorized
to say so, but my opinion was that it would. After some
further conversation on the subject, on matters of detail,
he said he would accept, and have an agreement made in
accordance with the understanding we had just arrived at.
194 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
Having completed our mission, I returned home, and
reported to the Board of Directors what we had done.
While I did not have the honor of being a member of the
Peace Commission appointed by the President of the United
States to proceed to Paris to settle the difficulties between
our country and Spain, yet I had the honor of being ap-
pointed by the President of the Bethlehem Iron Company,
a member of this Commission, and ordered to proceed to
Paris, and in company with Lieutenant Jaques, if possible,
to negotiate a treaty with the Messrs. Schneider of Creusot,
for the right to use all their patents and their secrets, that
might be useful in the manufacture of armor plate on the
After negotiations were completed with Messrs. Schneider
of La Creusot, in accordance with our instructions we went
to England to visit the Whitworth Works. As I had been
requested by our President to return home as soon as pos-
sible, I sailed for the United States on the first ship leaving
Liverpool after the completion of our labors, happy in the
consciousness that we had secured the Creusot contract.
After a somewhat tempestuous voyage, otherwise unevent-
ful, I landed in New York; as the mission had been a secret
one, there was no reception committee, not even a news-
paper reporter, or a special train for Bethlehem. There
was neither wining nor dining, not even a warm reception.
Neither was there any indication that the people at large
took any interest whatever in the great work we had ac-
complished, but I did not take the indifference of the people
to heart, being conscious that we had done our duty, and
had accomplished a great and far-reaching work, the result
of which is now widely known; and to the wisdom, fore-
sight, and progressiveness of the President, Directors, and
Executive Officers of the Bethlehem Iron Company, and
to the intelligent, indomitable energy and determination of
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
Fig. 10. — Fourteen Thousand Ton Hydraulic Forging Press,
Built by the Bethlehem Iron Company. Two Cylinders,
Each Fifty Inches in Diameter.
its employees, manifested in the construction of the plant,
is the credit largely due for making it possible for the Gov-
ernment to achieve the glorious victories in our late war
196 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
After the contract, which had been mailed from Paris
by Lieutenant Jaques, had been acted upon by their law-
yer, the Board of Directors accepted it.
Some of my ablest engineering friends had urged me not
to undertake the building of an armor plant, saying I was
not justified in assuming so great a risk, and that, should
failure occur, my reputation as an engineer would surely be
ruined. In reply I told them that the same argument had
been used to try to prevent me from making the changes
and improvements which I had made at Cambria Iron
Works, and which were eminently successful. I also told
them that I was well satisfied I could build the plant and
make it go all right, and that it was just such a plant as the
engineers of the country wanted. In addition, the ship-
building trade was at that time quite active, and all the
shafting and heavy forgings were being made abroad,
generally at Krupps', and also the heavy forgings for both
Army and Navy, and the gun forgings for both.
The Bethlehem plant was the first to be erected for the
purpose of making armor plate for the United States
After a great deal of worry and anxiety we succeeded in
making several hundred tons of plates which to our joy stood
the Government test, although these tests were not so severe
as they were afterwards, but much more difficult for us, as
armor plate was then made, than the more severe tests that
later on were imposed on us by the Government.
In this connection I recall an anxious day I once spent.
After we had the works partially erected, and had made an
expenditure of a large amount of money, the Cammell
people got our Government to believe that it was impossible
to make a solid steel plate that would stand the test, and
the Government went so far as to order a Cammell com-
pound plate, and a Creusot soHd steel plate, the latter
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AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ 1 99
made at the Creusot Works in France, and they were tested
by the Government at Annapolis.
This trial was the source of great anxiety. While I had
entire confidence in solid steel plate, yet if by any chance
the compound plate should stand the test, and the soUd
steel plate fail, from any cause which might have occurred
in its manufacture, the money which we had spent would
have been practically lost, as our arrangements would have
been of little use in the manufacture of compound plates.
On the day of the trial Lieutenant Jaques was sent to
Annapolis to witness the test. Expecting to hear from him
at about two or three o'clock, and not hearing from him, my
anxiety increased. At six o'clock I went home from the
works with a terrific headache. I got a cup of tea and a
piece of toast, and lay down on the sofa, wondering what
would be the consequences if the solid steel plate failed. At
about eight o'clock a telegram came. My wife received it
and said, " Here is a telegram for you." I said, " Open it
and read it." She opened it, but said she could not read it.
I asked her for what reason, and she said she did not under-
stand it. I said, " What does it say? " She replied,
" Compound something, knocked to smithereens." I got
up, but waited anxiously to hear how the solid steel plate
stood the test. The telegram said, " Solid steel plate stood
the test." Imagine my rehef !!
During the course of the evening I reflected on the
pre\'ious trial of the Creusot and compound plates made
at Spezzia, Italy. In that test the compound plate failed.
The solid steel plate cracked, but kept the shot out, and
I concluded that it would be much better to have the plate
crack and keep the shot out, than to let the shot go through
the plate without cracking. Knowing, as I did, that it
was an exceedingly difiicult point to just reach the limit
that the shot could be kept out, and prevent the cracking
200 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
of the plate, I was satisfied in my own mind that such a
result could be reached, and it was reached.
Later Mr. Harvey taught us all how to make the ideal
armor plate with a hard face and strong back. This was
a boon to the armor-plate manufactures, for which he
should have received a Knighthood, but instead he was
hounded by the manufacturers, by their refusal to pay him
any royalty, resulting in a law suit which worried Mr.
Harvey until his death. They fought his patent on the
narrow principle that case-hardening was not new, and
they were not generous enough to admit that a carbonized
steel armor plate weighing fifty tons or upwards was a new
article of commerce, but compared the carbonizing of a
steel armor plate to the case-hardening of a Httle spring for
a gunlock made out of iron, surrounded by some carbona-
ceous material, such as the soft parings of horses' feet,
leather of old shoes, or certain kinds of old hats, wrapped
up in a ball of clay not much larger than a wasps' nest,
presumably heated in a smith's fire, and let cool. This
is what I did when a boy, many times. Yet this argu-
ment was brought up to prove that his patent was invaHd.
Up to the time the Bethlehem Iron Company commenced
making gun forgings the gun hoops were made in short
lengths. On the occasion of a visit to Bethlehem of Com-
mander Folger, then Chief of Ordnance of the United States
Navy, we discussed the merits of longer gun forgings, and
we agreed that an improvement could be made over the
guns that had been manufactured up to that time, if longer
forgings were used. The Bethlehem plant was equipped
for such forgings. The proposed change was made, and
now guns are all made with much longer hoops, with a
much better gun as a result.
In 1897, by act of Congress, a Board known as the Armor
Factojy Board was appointed for the purpose of investigat-
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ 203
ing the then existing plants and reporting to the Secretary
of the Navy its findings, as to the desirability of having the
United States construct, own, and operate its own armor-
plate plant. This Board visited numerous steel companies
of the country and urged that I help them as an expert.
I had previously suggested some other engineers to serve
them, but they insisted on my taking up this work. This
I did, and after about three or four months of strenuous
work, in connection with which I employed several engineers
and draftsmen, I turned over to the Secretary of the Navy
detailed plans and specifications and estimates of cost for
the proposed plant. This in turn was reported to Congress
at its next session. After consideration, the Government
decided not to build the plant.
In looking back to the date of my first connection with
the iron business in October, 1838, over seventy years ago,
it seems ahnost impossible for the mind to fully realize the
improvements which have taken place in the iron and steel
business, especially those that were commenced in 1854,
and paved the way for the enormous production that in-
creased the quantity made from 637,000 tons in 1854, to
the enormous production of 24,000,000 tons in 1909. With
all of this I have been contemporary, and I had much to do
with the inventions and changes which have taken place
during this remarkable period. A retrospect of whatever
has taken place during my long career seems necessary, as
I owe much to the wonderful progress that has been made
in the arts and sciences and the growing interdependence
of the various branches of the mechanic arts, as contrasted
with their policy many years ago.
It should not be forgotten that England is the home of the
manufacture of iron and steel, and the birthplace of the
Iron and Steel Institute, and much of our success is due to
the information we gained from the invaluable papers read
at their meetings, and the discussions that followed them.
And here, at this late day, I call to mind many pleasant and
instructive talks I had with the English and Welsh work-
men who were employed at the Norristown Iron Works.
I wish, also, to give credit to the brave and noble workmen
who, throughout my long connection with the business, ever
stood ready to meet any emergency, no matter what the
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ 205
danger or difficulty might be. All that needed to be said
was " Come, boys," but never " Go, boys," and if the difficul-
ties were not insurmountable they were sure to be overcome;
too much credit cannot be given to these fearless and ener-
getic men for the marvelous progress that has been made
in the manufacture of iron and steel in this country.
While we have properly received great credit for the
unprecedented developments we have made in the iron and
steel industry in the United States, we must not forget that
it was the inventions of Cort, of Mushet, of Bessemer, of
Siemens, and of Thomas that enabled us to accomplish
such important results; and to them all civilized nations
owe a debt of gratitude for the incomparable blessings their
inventions have conferred on society.
Yet few of us even for a moment think of the trials,
troubles, disappointments, mental anxiety, and bodily toil
these men had to undergo in the introduction and perfec-
tion of their inventions, besides suffering the sneers and
jibes of those who imagine that an inventor is nothing but
a wild enthusiast, and treat him accordingly. The story
of many inventors is truly pathetic, and none more so than
that of the lamented Sidney Gilchrist Thomas. The per-
sonal side of the story of the inventor of the basic process
can only be appreciated by the reading of his life. He died
February i, 1885, at the early age of thirty-four years.
When I look back to my early days in the iron business
long, long ago, it brings to mind one of the happiest periods
of my life.
How little do the younger men who now have charge of
our great iron and steel industries know or even think of
the severe mental strain, the great amount of bodily toil,
the vexation, the surprises, and the disappointments that
had to be endured by the men in charge during the erection
and perfection of these vast establishments that are now
2o6 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
engaged in the manufacture of iron and steel! And let me
here say that this great work was not accomplished by
command but by example. It was the men in training,
before alluded to, who erected, perfected, and put in opera-
tion these most marvelous enterprises of the age. And to
these noble, brave, and energetic men the people of this
country owe much for the far-reaching results they so
thoroughly accomplished, which have already changed
the social condition of our vast territory. They have
furnished us with a material which for quahty, cheapness,
and the quantity furnished in a given time is without
parallel, and could not have been realized by any other
known methods. Without it the building of transconti-
nental railroads would have been almost impossible. Had
the rails been made in the old way out of puddled iron,
with the increased traffic on the Atlantic ends of the lines,
they would have been worn out before the Pacific coast could
have been reached. The credit does not end here. The
reduction of freight rates, owing to the general use of steel
rails, is so enormous that it was said by one of our most
distinguished public men, the late Hon. Abram S. Hewitt,
that the saving alone on the cost of transportation due
to the use of steel in the place of iron would, if available,
amount to a sum sufficient to pay our national debt in a
comparatively short time.
In addition to the use of steel for rails, the Great West is
being fenced with steel at a cost that seems almost fabu-
lously cheap, and this product is being used largely for many
other purposes. It was formerly iron that was used for
structural work, now it is steel ; and it has practically super-
seded the use of wrought iron. Steel is largely used in the
construction of all grades of machinery employed in the
manufacturing arts. It is the base of our immense inland
system of transportation. It is this imperial metal that
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ 207
has enabled the engineer to perform the daring and re-
markable engineering feats which he has accomplished
during the last half of the century; without it they would
have been practically impossible. It is the material used
in the construction of the monster floating palaces that
cross the vast ocean with the regularity of a railroad train.
Fifty years ago steel was a luxury to the engineer.
Modern practice of steel making in the hands of the me-
chanical engineer, the metallurgist, and the chemist has
wrought wonders in producing a material which is used
alike in the manufacture of articles of the most weighty,
the rudest, and cheapest grades, and in the construction of
the most intricate, the finest and most delicate implements
and machinery. And it is boldly asserting its value and
It is to the invention, introduction, and perfection of the
modern system of steel making in this country that we are
indebted for the education of our people in the scientific,
mechanical, and metallurgical arts, which has enabled us
to build a navy respected by the nations of the world.
We find steel asserting its value through every walk of
life and extending through every clime, linking hands in
bonds which gi-ow broader and stronger with the years,
till even now we can see dimly on the horizon the promise
of the universal brotherhood of man, the longed-for era
of Eternal Peace.
The foreword of my friend and colleague, Robert W.
Hunt, contains one word which I would fain emphasize
in this afterword as the keynote and moral of the life
hereinbefore narrated. It is quite needless to point out
that the story has been given from the standpoint, and in
the words, of John Fritz himself, and that he has told it in
characteristic unconsciousness of either keynote or moral.
He, who never preached a sermon before, is not preaching
a sermon now. But I may venture to do what he has not
dreamed of doing; and my text shall be the word " integ-
rity," as designating a dominant feature unwittingly ex-
hibited by these reminiscences.
In endorsing Mr. Hunt's ascription of integrity to John
Fritz, I am not merely saying that he never stole money
or told lies or accepted bribes. Praise for such negative
virtues would be almost insult. I would give to " integ-
rity " its original meaning of complete and invulnerable
manhood. In this sense, it includes not only the self-
respect which scorns dishonesty, but also the courage which
asserts conviction, the ambition which accepts responsi-
bility, the loyalty which ignores self-interest, and the energy
which despises ignoble rest. In a word, it is noble, ardent
No man achieves success by \drtue of his individual
quahties only; and the Hfe of John Fritz shows plainly
enough that he won advancement by impressing upon
other men his fitness for their needs. In other words, he
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ 209
made friends, who became his sponsors or employers, and
whose verdict upon his work now constitutes the basis of
his fame. This is the normal career of merit under the
system of individual liberty and responsibility. We have
heard much, in these later days, of proposed reconstructions
of society in which masses and classes are to be substituted
as units for integral men. Yet no one denies the immense
value to society of great achievements and inspiring ex-
amples; and it is fair to ask of any new sociological phi-
losophy whether, if put into operation, it could produce a
man like John Fritz.
ROSSITER W. RAYMOND.
THE AMERICAN SOCIETY OF MECHANICAL
In honor and respect of our esteemed member and
ex- Vice President
who, after long years of active duty as a Mechanical
Engineer and as a noted Captain of Industry, seeks a rest
well-earned, whose ever busy life began almost co-tempo-
rary with the manufacture of iron in our Country, who
through all its advancing stages imprinted upon it the marks
of his thoughtful labors, who with his friend Holley stood
beside the cradle of the newly born industry of steel making
in the United States by the Bessemer and kindred processes,
promoting its growth by his wide and varied experience,
and crowning its highest achievements with the versatility
of his genius and his rare good judgment, the Council of the
American Society of Mechanical Engineers
desire to make this minute. Endeared as he is to us indi-
vidually, and to the Society we represent, we cannot per-
mit this eventful occasion to pass without tendering him
our love and respect, and without joining in a hearty wish
for his future health and happiness, and without expressing
the earnest hope that for years to come we may be aided
by his counsel and encouraged by his genial good fellowship.
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ 211
Believing that his great warm heart will receive this shght
tribute in the spirit in which it is tendered, we have the
honor to subscribe ourselves the loving friends of
John Fritz of Bethlehem.
On behalf of the Council. On behalf of the Honorary
Stephen W. Baldwin J. F. Holloway
Carleton W. Nason George H. Babcock
Andrew Fletcher Robert W. Hunt
W. A. Perry Horace See
J. E. Denton
Chas. H. Loring, President
F. R. Hutton, Secretary
Wm. H. Wiley, Treasurer
New York City, August 21, 1892.
THE IRON AND STEEL INSTITUTE.
Victoria Mansions, Victoria Street.
London, S. W., July 29th, 1893.
I am instructed to inform you that at a meeting of the
Council of the Iron and Steel Institute held yesterday, you
were unanimously elected an honorary member of the
The honorary members of the Institute now comprise:
The Prince of Wales,
The King of the Belgians,
Professor Ackerman of Stockholm,
The Hon. A. S. Hewitt,
The Ritter von Tunner,
Journal No. 1-1893 of the Institute will be sent you
directly it is pubhshed, early next month.
I have the honor to be.
Your obedient servant,
Bennett H. Brough,
John Fritz, Esq.,
Bethlehem, Pa., U. S. A.
THE IRON AND STEEL INSTITUTE.
28 Victoria Street,
London, S. W., November 19, 1909.
My Dear Sir:
Under the new Bye-laws of this Institute, it is within the
province of the Council to elect Honorary Vice-Presidents
from among the distinguished Members of the Institute
who, by reason of residence outside Great Britain or other
restraining cause, are precluded from taking an active part
in the management of the affairs of the Institute. Ac-
cordingly, I have the honour to inform you that, by a
unanimous vote, the Council yesterday elected you an
Honorary Vice-President, for Hfe, of the Iron & Steel Insti-
tute, with the right to attend all Council Meetings whenever
it may suit your convenience to do so.
I hope to be able to send on to you shortly a card giving
a list of all meetings in the year 1910.
I have the honour to remain.
G. C. Lloyd,
John Fritz, Esq., M. A., D. Sc,
Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, U. S. A.
THE BESSEMER GOLD MEDAL.
IRON AND STEEL INSTITUTE.
Under the Presidency of His Grace the Duke
This is to certify that John Fritz, a member of the
Institute, was by the unanimous votes of the President and
Council awarded the Bessemer Gold Medal for valuable
services in connection with the manufacture of steel.
Witness our hands and seal this 24th day of May,
E. Windsor Richards, President.
Bennett H. Brough, Secretary.
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ 215
Member American Institute of Mining Engineers 1872
President American Institute of Mining Engineers 1894
Member American Society of Mechanical Engineers 1882
Vice-President American Society of Mechanical Engineers 188 2-1884
Hon. Member American Society of Mechanical Engineers 1892
President American Society of Mechanical Engineers 1895-1896
Member American Society of Civil Engineers 1893
Hon. Member American Society of Civil Engineers 1899
Hon. Member Iron and Steel Institute of Great Britain 1893
Hon. Vice-President Iron and Steel Institute of Great Britain 1909
Hon. Member American Iron and Steel Institute 19 10
Columbia University: A. M 1895
University of Pennsylvania: D. Sc 1906
Stevens Institute of Technology: D. Eng 1907
Temple University : D. Sc 191 1
Centennial Exposition Bronze Medal 1879
Bessemer Gold Medal: Iron and Steel Institute of Great Britain . . . 1893
John Fritz Gold Medal: United Engineering Societies 1902
Louisiana Purchase Exposition Bronze Medal 1904
Ellicott Cresson Gold Medal: Franklin Institute 1910
Member of Group i, Centennial Exposition 1876
Presidential Elector for Pennsylvania 1896
Hon. Expert on Iron and Steel, Louisiana Purchase Exposition 1922
THE FRITZ ENGINEERING LABORATORY.
A CHAPTER in the long and active life of Mr. Fritz would
remain unwritten if no reference were made to his relation-
ship to Lehigh University. When that institution was
established in 1866, the Founder, the Hon. Asa Packer, of
Mauch Chunk, Pennsylvania, selected Mr. Fritz as one
of the original trustees, well knowing that his practical
experience would be of great value in directing the policy
of the new college, which was to be devoted largely to in-
struction in the arts of Mechanical and Metallurgical
Mr. Fritz has maintained his trusteeship from the found-
ing of the University up to the present time, with the excep-
tion of a few years, during which, at his request, he was
relieved of active participation in the affairs of the Uni-
versity. He has always discharged the duties of his trustee-
ship with the fidelity and devotion that are so characteristic
of him, and he has contributed liberally to the support of
One day in the spring of 1909, in talking with Dr. Henry
S. Drinker, President of the University, he said: "I want
to tell you something. In my will I have left Lehigh
University a certain sum of money, to be expended in your
discretion. I now intend to revoke that bequest. Yes,
I'm going to revoke that bequest, and instead of leaving
money for you to spend after I am gone, I'm going to have
the fun of spending it with you and Charley Taylor. I
have long watched the careers of a number of Lehigh gradu-
ates, and I have been impressed by the value of the training
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ 219
they have received at Lehigh. But you need an up-to-date
engineering laboratory and I intend to build one for you."
No sooner had Mr. Fritz announced his intention than
with characteristic activity, in spite of his eighty-seven
years, he set about making the plans for the new laboratory.
Various suggestions and ideas as to the most suitable plans
and arrangements of the building were considered, archi-
tects were consulted, but finally Mr. Fritz concluded that,
for the purpose in view, he would be his own architect, and
that the most appropriate structure would be a large oblong
building with a high center and somewhat lower sides,
substantially on the Unes of the large shop he had some
years before built at the Bethlehem Steel Works. The
outHne of the building can be seen in the accompanying
picture. Such a building would provide the necessary
essentials: adequate space, sufficient hght, and the logical
arrangement of having the larger machines for heavy work
in the center of the building and the Ughter and smaller
machines at the sides.
Not only did Mr. Fritz furnish the design of the new
laboratory, but whenever possible he was on the University
campus to superintend its erection. He also personally
selected the greater part of the equipment.
The Fritz Engineering Laboratory is of modern steel-
frame mill construction, 94 feet wide and 115 feet long,
with the main center section 65 feet in height and the
two side sections of lesser height. The external walls
which inclose the steel frame are of cement brick hned
on the inside with red brick. A travehng crane, operated
by electricity and of 10 tons' capacity, commands the
entire central portion of the building, in which the testing
of large specimens is carried on. Ample light has been
provided for by numerous windows in the side and end
walls, in the clerestory, and by a skylight 84 feet long and
220 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
9 feet wide in the north roof. The main aisle of the build-
ing is 49 feet 2 inches between centers of crane columns,
and has a clear height of 40 feet. The remainder of the
width is taken up by two sides aisles, 20 feet in height.
The laboratory consists of four sections: (a) a general
testing section containing the testing machinery, a small
machine shop, and the office; (6) a cement testing room;
(c) a room for making and storing concrete test specimens;
(d) a hydraulic section.
The testing section occupies the larger part of the western
end of the building and contains all of the testing machines
except the briquette machines, which are in the cement
section. For facility in handhng the test specimens, a
lo-ton crane, 47 feet 2 inches center to center of runway
beams, operated by three direct-current motors, has been
installed. A small machine shop, containing a drill press,
lathe, milling machine, shaper, etc., operated by a 7.5 H.P.
motor, is available for general repair work.
The principal eqiiipment of the testing section proper is
Type of Machine. Capacity in Pounds.
Tension and compression 20,000
Wire tester 20,000
Cold bend 1.5 inch diameter "bar
Torsion 24,000 inch pounds
The cement testing section occupies a separate room on
the main-floor level. The equipment consists of tables for
making cement specimens, storage tanks, briquette testing
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ 223
machines, and apparatus for making standard cement
The concrete room is under the cement room and is used
by the students for the construction of cubes, beams, and
cylinders for testing; also for the construction of concrete
columns, plain and reenforced, and concrete beams, of
commercial size, which are tested for strength by the
students. It is cormected with the main testing room by a
hatchway through which the heavy specimens may be
hoisted into the main room by the crane. The equipment
consists of bins for sand and stone, mixer, and moulds.
The hydraulic section occupies the northeastern portion
of the building. The lower floor is 10 feet below the level
of the testing room, the second floor or elevated platform
is 10 feet above the testing-room level, giving 20 feet of
The equipment on the lower floor consists of:
I DeLaval centrifugal pump, 2000 gallons per minute
against 60 feet head.
I Atlantic HydrauUc Machinery Co. centrifugal pump,
200 gallons per minute against 255 feet head.
1 steel pressure tank, 65I inches_ in diameter by 34
feet 6 inches high.
2 steel caUbrating tanks, 8 feet in diameter by 12 feet
3 steel weighing tanks, 4 feet in diameter by 3 feet
I steel weir tank, 4 feet by 4 feet by 21 feet long.
I Trump turbine.
I Pelton water wheel.
I Rife hydrauUc ram.
The upper platform carries:
I steel weir tank, 3 feet by 3 feet by 18 feet long.
T steel tank, 6§ feet wide, 3 feet deep, ly^- feet long.
224 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
The equipment also includes pressure, mercury, oil, and
hook gauges, meters, scales, and so on.
All electricity for lighting and for power for the testing
machines and for the pumps is 2 -phase 60-cycle alternating
current at no and 220 volts.
Instruction in testing of materials and hydraulics is given
to students of Lehigh University. The equipment is used
for thesis work in the Senior year, and is also used for
making commercial tests of materials of construction for
Frank P. McKlbben,
Professor of Civil Engineering,
A Short Account of the Anniversary Dinner given to
John Fritz, the Engineer, and of his Arrest, Trial^
AND Sentence, at the Opera House, Bethlehem,
Pa., September 28, 1892.*
'Twas in the early summer of '92 that two gentlemen,
whose families were then in the Adirondacks, but whose
business engagements in the city prevented them from being
there as well, sat in the parlor of the Engineers' Club,
enjoying their cigar. The phrase " enjoying their cigar "
was purposely chosen because there were but one smoker
and one cigar. The smoker evidently enjoyed the smoking,
while the looker-on enjoyed seeing him smoke, and in
watching the curling wreaths as they slowly floated upward.
" Do you know," said the smoker, as he came back from
dreamland long enough to tip with the end of his Uttle
finger the dead ashes from off his cigar, " that Uncle John
Fritz will be seventy years old in August? "
" Yes," said the non-smoker; " I had heard of it, and I
also heard it hinted that he meant after that date to unload
himself of a part of the labors and cares he has so long
borne in connection with the great establishment he has
been connected with for so many years."
" Well, I don't know about that," said the smoker, who
with half-closed eyes seemed to be looking backward into
the past; " but I tell you what I think, and that is, that the
Engineers and other friends of Mr. Fritz ought not to let
such an occasion pass without in some way recognizing the
* Reprint of a pamphlet compiled and published for private circulation
following the dinner to Mr. Fritz at Bethlehem, Pa., September 28, 1892,
signalizing the celebration of the seventieth anniversary of his birthday.
228 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
event, and in some way honoring the man, who, by his
kindly, loving disposition, his untiring industry, and his
rare mechanical genius, has done so much for the company
he is connected with, and for the profession of engineering,
of which he is so conspicuous a member."
" Well, that's an idea that does you credit," said the
non-smoker, as he took a sniff out of the ascending wreath
of incense as it took its upward flight, " and I not only
agree with you myself, but I am certain that all over this
broad land are friends of John Fritz who would do so also,
and who, I know, would be glad to join in any scheme that
had such an end in view."
So in the gathering twilight of the summer day these
two gentlemen at their club talked over a variety of things,
which, if they could be brought about, would accomplish,
as they thought, the desired purpose. One was to invite
Mr. Fritz to come to New York and give him a dinner at
the club ; but the objection to this was the inviting a gentle-
man away from his home on his birthday. Another plan
was to present him through the means of a committee with
a testimonial of some kind. The objection to this was that
it would not bring his friends together where they could
shake him by the hand and offer him their individual con-
gratulations. Then it was proposed that a few friends
should go to Bethlehem and have a dinner at a hotel, to
which he should be invited, and this seemed to be the most
feasible of all; but it was not forgotten that the person
whom it was proposed to honor was extremely modest, and
shy of demonstrations of every kind, and that, in view of
this fact, it would be best to catch our hare before preparing
it for a banquet, and the conclusion arrived at was that in
some way the consent of Mr. Fritz must be obtained before
anything could be done, and as the cigar had burned to the
end the two conspirators went out into the electric-Ughted
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ 229
Broadway and leisurely sauntered homeward, thus ending
this, the first chapter.
As Mr. Fritz was not a smoker and could not be in-
fluenced by the tender of a cigar, be it never so fragrant,
it was decided that the non-smoker should make the trip
to Bethlehem and undertake the somewhat difficult task
of obtaining his consent to a dinner or a demonstration of
some kind. Understanding the difficulties of the mission,
and knowing how fruitless the result would be, if it were
so awkwardly managed as to elicit the irrevocable "No!
I won't have it," the diplomat decided not only to approach
Bethlehem by night, but when nearing it he further de-
cided to pass on and land at Catasauqua, there to secure
the aid of a renowned citizen of that borough whose per-
suasive powers had made him famous. The Catasauqua
citizen entered into the conspiracy with the ardor and zeal
for which he stands in high repute. He offered at once to
" hitch up " and drive over to Bethlehem and aid in the
assault upon that peaceful hamlet. Under cover of the
darkness the journey was begun, and as the lively team
sped over the smooth country road, the various methods
of making the assault were talked over, and, as now re-
membered, at the beginning of the journey there was no
doubt whatever on the part of anyone but that the consent
could be obtained without the least difficulty; but the
nearer they came to Bethlehem the less certain this seemed
to be, until at the last, as the clattering hoofs of the team
awakened echoes in those quiet streets, these doubts had
grown to such an extent that it was deemed best not to
approach the home of the victim until further assistance
could be had from near neighbors and personal friends. So
driving about for a time, a home was found which it was
said was the residence of an influential friend, but the
premises looked suspiciously dark. However, the Catasau-
230 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
qua ally jumped out of the carriage, rang the door bell, and
after a long wait was told that the family were all away at
the seashore. Coming back to the carriage, a further
council was held, and, while there were other houses where
other friends lived, it was doubtful if they were at home, so
it was suggested, why not go at once to Mr. Fritz's house
and have it out with him? "Why not?" "Why! yes;
of course," said the other. And the corner was turned,
and soon the team was tied up in front of that most hospi-
table mansion, where, under the shelter of the wide and
pleasant veranda, Mr. and Mrs. Fritz, in the calm quiet
of the summer evening, were found sitting, looking out
upon the same twinkling stars that had shone out upon
their pathway long years before, when a seventieth birth-
day seemed ever so far away. After the hearty greetings
that always come to the visitor at that home were over,
after the merry jests were tossed and parried back and
forward, there came a time when the business of the hour
claimed its place, and for its success it was necessary that
the victim should be separated from his better half. This
was accomplished by the Catasauquian being suddenly
attacked by a raging thirst that could not be resisted, and,
as the hostess rose to give the necessary order, the thirsty
conspirator followed her into the house, and the coast was
clear. The non-smoker having no bribe to offer in the
shape of a cigar with which to pave the way, saw no way
before him other than to tell in a simple, straightforward
manner what the friends of the listener would like to do,
and that they would Hke to do these things for several
reasons: First, of course, as a mark of respect and esteem
for the listener as an acquaintance and friend, to show their
regard for him for what he had accomplished as an engineer,
and in elevating the profession of engineering higher in
the estimation of all; and lastly, they would like to have a
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ 231
good time themselves, and they thought the coming birth-
day would be a good excuse for it.
To all this the victim Hstened attentively, and, as it
seemed to the speaker, revolving in his mind the memory
of the past and the varied experiences of a long and busy
life. After something of a pause he said: "You know
I don't take much to blowing my horn, and I don't exactly
Uke to be prominent in any affair like what you have been
telling me about. What I have done has not been much,
and it is not worth making a fuss about. I only did the
best I knew how, and " — " But your friends," interrupted
the first speaker. " Yes," he said, " that's another thing;
now, if my friends (and I have a great many warm ones) —
if my friends think they can come to Bethlehem and have a
dinner on my seventieth birthday, and can have a good time
in so doing, I ought not and will not stand in the way.
So I give my consent; but, remember, I am not to be called
upon to say anything." " Oh, no; of course not," was the
reply, as the hostess and her guest returned to their chairs.
The neighborhood talk went on again until the drive to
Catasauqua was remembered, and, as the carriage rolled
away, hearty good-nights were exchanged, for the con-
spirators had won, and the second chapter was ended.
Were you present at the dinner given to John Fritz, the
engineer, at the Opera House in Bethlehem, September 28,
1892? Oh! you were? Ah! well, then, you need not read
anything beyond this, for what is hereinafter written is for
the man who kindly contributed to aid that affair, but who
could not himself be present, and also for a number of
other persons, both in this country and Europe, who were
honored with invitations as guests, and who would most
gladly have been there to assist in honoring their friend,
but who could not come.
The inception of the affair having been thus briefly
232 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
explained and the preliminary steps described, it only
remains to relate as briefly as possible what was said and
done, and who were there.
The next step taken was the selection of a General
Committee, that should be representative as to position
and character, and so widely located as that it might be
considered National rather than local, all of which was
accomphshed when the following gentlemen consented to
ECKLEY B. COXE, Coxe Bros. & Co., Drifton, Pa.
S. W. BALDWIN, New York Sales Agent Pennsylvania Steel Co.,
New York City.
R. P. LmDERMAN, President Bethlehem Iron Co., Bethlehem, Pa.
E. D. LEAVITT, Consulting Engineer Calumet & Hecla Mining Co.,
OLIVER WILLLAMS, President Catasauqua Mfg. Co., Catasauqua, Pa.
S. T. WELLMAN, President Wellman Steel and Iron Co., Thurlow, Pa.
JAMES MOORE, Bush Hill Iron Works, Philadelphia, Pa.
ROBT. W. HUNT, President R. W. H. Inspection Co., Chicago, lU.
J. F. HOLLOW AY, President Engineers' Club, New York City.
W. H. WILEY, Treasurer, New York City.
CHAS. KIRCHHOFF, Secretary, 96 Reade St., New York City.
On August 8th a circular-letter was sent out by the
General Committee to such friends of Mr. Fritz as it was
thought could avail themselves of the opportunity offered,
and in which was briefly stated the purpose of the proposed
gathering, and the reason why the 25th of August had been
selected. The first responses that came to the Committee
were protests against the date selected, for the reason that
so many were either away on their vacation or had planned
to be away, all wishing so much to be present and to take
a part in the exercises. So, in deference to such a general
request, the date of the dinner was changed to September
28, and later on another circular was sent out requesting
the person to whom it was addressed to indicate if he would
or would not be present.
Fig. i6. — John Fritz, 1892.
T.I.-; .V. ■ VUHK
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ 235
It had been the expectation of the Committee that
enough people would respond favorably to make quite a
little dinner party at some one of the hotels in Bethle-
hem, and the smoker, who had burned quite a number of
cigars " thinking it over," was so confident of success that
he was willing to wager on at least twenty-five. Scarce
twenty-four hours had elapsed before the returns began to
come in, and but a few days passed before it became evident
that no hotel could accommodate the party, and inquiries
were set on foot to see if the large hall in the University
building could be had, and, while a prompt and favorable
reply came, it soon became evident no hall there was large
enough to hold the friends of John Fritz, and so at last
it was apparent that nothing of less dimensions than the
Opera House would answer the purpose.
The magnitude of the affair having outgrown the ex-
pectations of the Committee (and the wildest dreams of
the smoker), it became necessary to select a local committee,
to whom should be intrusted the preparation of what now
promised to be a large gathering.
The committee selected for this purpose consisted of
Robt. P. Linderman, President of the Bethlehem Iron Co.,
chairman, and W. H. Jaques, Garrett B. Linderman,
W. A. Wilbur, RoHin H. Wilbur, and E. H. Mcllvaine, and
it was to their good judgment and careful attention to the
details of preparation that much of the success of the affair
was due. The date of the dinner having been definitely
fixed, the local committee proceeded to have the parquet of
the Opera House floored over level with the stage, and to
having the entire house properly decorated. This was done
in admirably good taste, with flags and banners, waving
palm trees, floral designs, and grouped and scattered
electric lights of various hues, vmtil, taken as a whole, it
was fairy-like and beautiful to a degree rarely excelled.
236 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
At the rear of the stage an arch of immortelles inter-
twined with white rosettes of flowers and glowing electric
lamps hung above the inscription " Aimiversary to John
Fritz," while along the long lines of tables huge banks of
flowers lent perfume to the air and brightness to the scene.
At the center of the head cross table and immediately
in front of the honored guest of the evening stood a huge
columbiad mounted on wheels, the whole composed of
beautiful flowers and loaded to the muzzle with good things
and trained towards the assembled guests, as emblematic
of the kind of guns and projectiles " Uncle John " would
always be glad to fire off against friend or foe. Special cars
kindly tendered by ofl5cers of the Reading Railway System
for the occasion brought the invited guests from New York
and Philadelphia, and, as both trains rolled up to the
station, carriages in waiting distributed them among the
various hotels and the numerous private residences that
so generously had opened their doors to receive them.
By 7 P. M. the parlors and halls of the Hotel Wyandotte,
and the vestibule of the Opera House, which had been
specially connected for the occasion, were filled with as
notable an assembly of men of affairs as it is possible to
conceive. Here were men long known as the foremost iron
and steel masters of the country. Mine owners stood sand-
wiched in between managers of blast furnaces and super-
in.tendents of steel plants, while engineers, famous for what
they had accomplished at home and abroad, stood side by
side with capitalists and bankers whose invested means had
made possible the building of the famous industrial works
that are dotted all over our country, and which serve to
make the United States the foremost nation of the world
in industrial pursuits. Here and there, meeting, perhaps,
fox the first time after a lapse of years, were men identified
with the building and operating of the first mills to roll
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ 237
rails, or the first plants to make Bessemer steel, in this
country. Presidents of colleges and professors of engineer-
ing in technical institutions were there, and, as well, pro-
prietors and editors of journals devoted to science and
art. Ministers of various creeds v-ied with each other to do
honor to the engineer, while lawyers and laymen talked of
what he had done. In the midst of all stood the man they
had come to honor, grasping as best he could the hands that
were stretched out from all sides, and answering as oppor-
tunity would allow the hearty greetings and congratulations
that were showered upon him by everyone. Soon the open-
ing doors of the Opera House revealed a scene of beauty
none who were there that night will soon forget, as, keeping
step to music whose strains were not unlike an " Anvil
Chorus," they marched in to take their appointed places at
one of the many well-decorated tables that greeted their
vision. Standing with bowed heads, they listened to the
invocation of a blessing upon the occasion, and all that it
meant, and upon all that participated therein.
The banquet, served by the Hotel Wyandotte, and under
the special supervision of the steward of the Reading
Railway Company, who, with his assistants, came up from
Philadelphia for the occasion, left nothing to be wished for.
Mingling with the mellow strains of music that floated in
the air were the tales of the guest told to the neighbor by his
side or across the table ; many a merry jest was tossed to and
fro as friends were recognized up or down the tables, who,
perhaps, had not met before for years; and so, amid a babel
of sounds mingled with bursts of uncontrollable laughter,
the hours sped on, until with the arrival of coffee and cigars
came the reminder that the feast of edibles was over, and,
if there was to be a flow of soul, the hour had come.
In view of the fact that the idea of the dinner had origi-
nated at the Engineers' Club of New York, and that many of
238 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
its members were the friends of Mr. Fritz, the compliment of
presiding over the occasion was -tendered to the President
of that club, Mr. J. F. Holloway. Fortunately the duties of
the Chairman were greatly hghtened by the fact that, in
deference to the wish of Mr. Fritz that the usual custom
of proposing and answering toasts should not be followed,
there was left but Uttle for him to do. In order that the
" subsequent proceedings " should not be entirely devoid
of interest, a scheme had been quietly arranged among a
few of those present, which, while it would be a surprise to
nearly everyone, would permit a few to indulge in "talk"
which by no means could be construed into speech-making.
The scheme proposed was to turn the after-dinner procedure
into a Mock Court, with all the paraphernalia of judges,
court officers, attorneys, and witnesses, while the criminal
was to be the honored guest of the evening. So well had
been the plan arranged, so admirably was it carried out in
the arranging of the tables and the seating of those selected
for the court proceedings, that, without the slightest hitch
and without any change except in a few instances the turn-
ing of one's chair, the court was speedily arranged and
organized ready for business.
In opening the legal proceedings, the Chairman, who, as
he said, " By reason of powers conferred upon him by the
Vice-Chancellor of New Jersey and a lot of fellows in New
York, had assumed the duties of Attorney-General," now
proceeded briefly to outHne the situation and explain the
occasion that had served to bring all present together.
He said the remarkable feature of the whole was the hearty
interest and cooperation of everyone who had been seen or
written to in regard to the affair. This was not only true of
this country, but also of those who, Hving in foreign lands,
had been tendered invitations as guests of the Committee,
and friends and acquaintances of Mr. Fritz; and one of
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ 239
the pleasurable features, which, unfortunately, all could not
for want of time participate in, was the letters that had
been received by Mr. Fritz and the Committee, brief ex-
tracts of which only could be read. These letters and
cables, brimful as they were of kindly regards and warm
appreciation of the host as a man, spoke in the highest
terms of what he had done in bringing about a better under-
standing among engineers and in building up ties of kindly
brotherhood and good will.
Short extracts were then read from letters received from
such eminent foreign engineers as Sir I. Lowthian Bell,
E. Windsor Richards, E. P. Martin, C. P. Sandberg, J.
Hoecher, Professor Herman Wedding, Adolph Grainer, Sir
James Kitson, Richard Akerman, James Dredge, and others,
leaving a mass of other letters which could only be referred
to. As well were there letters (some of which were read)
from friends in this country, who, by reason of absence from
home or otherwise, could not be present, much to their
regret. These various letters, which of themselves would
make quite a volume, would, if published, be of much
interest to engineers of all professions; for outside of the
personal good will they contain, they show a high regard
for the " American engineer " and for what in so short a
time he has accomplished.
When the Chairman announced that one John Fritz,
of Bethlehem, Pa., was to be arrested and brought to trial
then and there on the charge of pretending to be an " en-
gineer," and for pretending to know something about
making steel, the absurdity of the charge and the novelty
of the procedure instantly caught the fancy of his assembled
friends, and such a shout and such a cheer as there arose
that Opera House had never before heard. The Attorney-
General (in view of the authority which he said had been
conferred upon him) proceeded in the most arbitrary and
240 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
despotic manner to select judges, sheriff, clerk, bailiffs, and
officers of the court in general. The selections he made,
as it turned out, proved so exceedingly judicious that no
one ventured either to object or decline. The names of
those selected were as follows :
R. A. Lamberton, Prest. Lehigh University.
Charles H. Loring, Prest. American Society Mechanical Engineers.
G. W. Melville, Engineer-in-chief United States Navy.
William Sellers, Prest. William Sellers & Co.
Henry Morton, Prest. Stevens Institute.
Charles E. Emery, Consulting Engineer.
John M. Hartman, of Hartman & Taws.
J. F. Holloway, Prest. Engineers' Club, New York.
John Birkinbine, Prest. American Institute Mining Engineers.
Oliver Williams, Prest. Catasauqua Manufacturing Co.
Jos. D. Weeks, Editor "American Manufacturer and Iron World."
Counsel for Prisoner.
R. W. Raymond, Sec. American Institute Mining Engineers.
General W. Emil Doster.
J. Davis Brodhead, Esq.
William F. Durfee, Supt. C. W. Hunt Co.
Clerk of the Court.
Charles Kirchhoff, Editor "Iron Age."
E. G. Spilsbury, Managing Director, Cooper, Hewitt & Co.
R. W. Hunt, Prest. R. W. Hunt Inspection Co.
E. D. Leavitt, Consulting Engineer Calumet & Hecla Mining Co.
John Thomas, Gen. Supt. Thomas Iron Co.
Uncle John Fritz.
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ 241
The judges being in place on the bench, the court was
opened by a comprehensive and bombastic proclamation
by the sheriff, partly in English, somewhat in Latin, with
a sprinkling of Pennsylvania Dutch, in which the case of
the Commonwealth vs. John Fritz was announced, and the
prisoner placed in the dock. Next came the reading by
the Clerk of the Court of an indictment purporting to have
come from some mythical Grand Jury, which proceeded to
give a comprehensive outline of the Ufe of the prisoner,
beginning with his boyhood on the farm, and his early
training in riding bareback (the " bareback " objected to
by the counsel for the prisoner, but objection overruled by
the Court) to mill, and in plowing com, all of which,
while of value to a farmer, was by no means a suitable
training for an engineer, at least not as engineers are now
trained at Stevens Institute, Cornell, and other famous
training schools. The indictment showed how the prisoner,
growing up, turned his back (same objection by counsel,
and overruled) on the old farm, and sought out a country
blacksmith and machine shop, where he thumped his
fingers, greased his clothes, and grew black in the face,
thinking he was becoming an engineer. The indictment
said (and it was proved by old citizens called upon the
stand) that later on this man came to Bethlehem, where,
selecting a fine wheatfield, he threw down the fence and
built thereon furnaces and rolling mills, covering the entire
field with ashes and cinders, buildings and railway tracks,
until it was not now worth a cent an acre (for farming).
Notwithstanding the care and minuteness with which
the indictment had been prepared, it was no sooner read
than the senior counsel for the prisoner, Sergeant Raymond,
arose and moved that " the indictment be quashed."
Thereupon the associate counsel. Solicitor J. Davis Brod-
head, proceeded, in a manner that will not soon be forgotten
242 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
by those who listened to him, to show the court how illegal
was the indictment in every respect, how loosely drawn;
how deficient in definite statement, and how no court of
any grade — not to say a court of such high distinction as
was this — could for a moment permit such an indictment
to have a standing. But it did stand, the Court overruling
the motion and directing that the trial should proceed.
At this moment the doors of the balcony were opened,
and the ladies of Bethlehem, preceded by Mrs. Fritz, filed
in, taking the seats that had been reserved for them. As
they came in, a Catasauquian, rising to his feet, said that,
while he was there to prosecute the prisoner to the bitter
end, he would say that he was blessed with a good wife:
"Let us give her three cheers!" They were given, all
rising, and he could have had more just for the asking for
No attempt will be made to describe the scene of that
famous trial. Witnesses were called on behalf of the
prosecution that promised well at the start, but under the
cross fire of counsel weakened, until, at last, all they had
said against the prisoner was turned in his favor. Inter-
jection of witticisms between opposing counsel, mingled
with unheard-of ruHngs by the Court, were wont to set the
tables in a roar; " quips and quirks and paper bullets of
the brain " were shot forth on all sides, rebounding to and
fro, until court, judges, attorneys, prisoner, and all held
their sides as they bent backwards and forwards in un-
controllable shouts of laughter. The gravest men there
were swept into the wild whirl, while the jolHest simply
shouted as they wiped the tears from off their cheeks.
At last, the speeches of the counsel on either side having
been made, the Chief Justice, summing up the evidence in
a most masterly manner, proceeded, after a conference
with his associates, to announce the decision of the court,
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ 243
which was, the acquittal of the prisoner; and, as the statute
made no provision for hanging the prosecution, the decision
of the court was that they should pay all the costs.
In conveying to the prisoner at the bar the decision of
the bench, the Chief Justice availed himself of the oppor-
tunity to pay him such a tribute of love and esteem as
was well warranted by their long friendship for each other
as neighbors, and also by reason of what he (the prisoner)
had so well done in aiding by his presence and counsel at
the board meetings of the institution of learning over which
he (the Judge) had the honor to preside. It was a loving
tribute from one old friend to another, the recital of which
touched the heart of everyone who in that quiet house
listened to catch each word. As the Doctor wound up he
said to the prisoner, who, with bowed head, stood before
him: "And now, John, we could not let you go without
receiving, if not a penalty sentence, at least something,"
and turning toward the stage box at his right, as he waved
his hand, the slowly parting portieres revealed standing
therein a splendid Hall tubular chime clock, of Tiffany's
best, which, as the prisoner raised his wondering eyes
towards it, rang out sweet and clear the famous chimes
which long years ago had pealed out over London's air
from the ringing " Bow Bells," and which, Hke the bells
of old, as they smote upon the ear of Whittington, thrice
Lord Mayor, seemed to say, " Turn back, turn back."
They were the midnight chimes, although the midnight
had long since passed. As the sounds died out and the
cheering that followed was over, the Doctor proceeded to
say, " That clock is yours, John. It will be taken to your
home, there, as we hope, to ring out its hourly chimes for
years to come, and our wish is that, when by day or night
its sweet music shall fall upon your ear and that of your
loving wife, it will awaken memories as sweet of this night,
244 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
and memories not only of the host of friends that are
gathered here, but of the larger host of your friends else-
where who could not be here as well." Then, turning to
the listening throng, he added: " Dear friends, let us pray
that these moving hands will measure off many hours of
peace and happiness in that quiet home to which they will
be sent, and, when its last chimes have been nmg out in
the hearing of our dear friends on earth, may they hear
them anew in that peaceful state that passes all under-
standing. I hope you all will join with me in saying,
' We love John Fritz ! God bless John and EUen B. Fritz ! '"
And as the deeply felt amen died out, joining hands, all
sang " Should Auld Acquaintance be Forgot." And so
ends this chapter.
THIS IS THE INDICTMENT PRESENTED BY THE GRAND JURY,
AND ON WHICH HE WAS TRIED.
May it please the Court, the Grand Jury, composed of
hangers-on about the Court, shoemakers, tinsmiths, car-
penters and joiners, members of Congress, briefless lawyers
and clergymen on call, being duly sworn, and all (except
a few from New Jersey) being citizens of the United States,
and good men and true, having been informed that one,
John Fritz, of the Borough of Bethlehem, County of North-
ampton, State of Pennsylvania, had said in the presence of
rehable witnesses, that he believed that he could make a rail
train, and that if he had a chance he thought he could build
a blast furnace, blowing engines and aU; that he had been
known to aver, that if he had given him the right kind of
stuff he could make steel; that at sundry times and places
he has been known to attend gatherings of iron and steel
makers, had gone to meetings of engineers, and had then
and there talked about tensile strength, carbon, phos-
phorus, etc., and about three-high rail trains, about expan-
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ 245
sion, and on one occasion was heard to say that he knew
about pumps, but he afterwards retracted and said he
thought he knew about them, but had since learned that
he was mistaken; that in this and many other ways he had
endeavored to mislead the pubHc into the belief that he
was an engineer, and an iron and steel maker. The Grand
Jury hearing that many persons calling themselves engi-
neers, and iron and steel makers, were going up and down
through the land persuading men to put money into works
for making iron and steel by all kinds of processes, but
mostly by short-cut processes, and into building machinery
which, if it worked at all, worked directly the opposite way
from what it was intended and promised, the Grand Jury
felt it their duty to investigate as to the antecedents of this
man Fritz, and to ascertain, if possible, whether, by reason
of his education or practice, he had any right to call himself
an engineer, so that if he had no such right he might be
prevented from inflicting injury and bringing serious loss
upon the honest but too confiding citizens of this Common-
The jury find that this aforesaid Fritz, who now sets
himself up as an engineer, was, and ought now to be, a
farmer; that he was born and raised on a farm, in the town-
ship of Londonderry, county of Chester, State of Pennsyl-
vania, near Doe Creek; that, when he was large enough, he
split wood to heat up his mother's brick oven, and was paid
for so doing with a " turnover," baked after the bread
Then later on he rode the old white horse bareback, while
his father held the plow through the rows of the waving
com. That later still he rode the same horse over to the
grist mill, where he waited for his grist to be ground. The
jury have ascertained, from sources entirely reUable, that
in the summer time and while waiting for his grist it was
246 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
the practice of this pretending engineer to roll up his low
pants and wade in the tail-race and watch the big water-
wheel go round.
It was not clearly proven to the jury whether it was in
watching the movement of the big water-wheel or listening
to the merry rattle of the damsel as it fed the corn into the
eye of the millstone, or in gazing at the wooden cog wheels
as they rolled together, or listening to the knocking of the
revolving reels, that the idea first came to him to wish to
be an engineer; but there is no doubt it was then and there
he was first filled with ambition to the extent that he said to
himself, " If I ever grow up to be a man, I will make the
wheels go round too." The jury being well informed as to
the education of engineers, as they are annually being
turned out in great numbers from our colleges, each one
having a long roll of parchment paper, tied up with blue
ribbon, they investigated as to the college from which this
man graduated, and they found that his entire education
had been obtained in his attendance at a red schoolhouse
on the hill, about two miles away from his home. That he
spent there several winters in terms of three months' school-
ing, for the reason that at that time of the year the business
of plowing was rather dull. In addition to this splendid
opportunity for procuring an education, he also attended
several evening spelling bees, and was assessed, as all the
rest were, to occasionally bring a candle. While it is
possible that he may have graduated from this institution
with high honors, he cannot now prove it, because the
master he once helped to " lock out " is dead, and his
diploma (if he ever had one) has been mislaid. It was also
ascertained that the education of this pretending engineer
received some extra poUshing touches at a " night school "
which he attended (whenever he could get a chance),
which was situated at the cross-roads down near the creek.
AUTOBIOGRAl'IlY OF JOHN FRITZ 247
It was known as the Blacksmith Shop. Here on winter
nights he would perch himself on an empty keg at the back
of the forge, with his head in the smoke and his toes in the
warm ashes; he by the hour watched the blacksmith heat
and pound, bend and weld, the iron as he formed it into
shoes for horses or irons for the wagon, listening the mean-
while to tales of spooks and Indians told by the old settlers
as they sat around the smithy and smoked, until his creeping
hair almost raised his cap while he waited in patience for
someone going his way to start for home. While the jury
(at least some of them) recognized the country school and
the blacksmith shop as valuable aids to an education, as
a whole they do not beheve they would at this time warrant
anyone in calling himself a " mechanical engineer " or an
expert in making steel. The jury further found that this
man in his younger days left the farm and the profession of
agriculture, of which he would no doubt have been a shining
ornament had he continued in the way he began, and went
up to Parkesburg and took the position of " cub " in a
country machine shop, having as well a foundry attachment.
Here he, so to speak, let himself out in repairing and
renewing lame and spavined horse-powers, and in bracing
up worn and unbalanced threshing machines, varying his
labors by occasionally turning a gudgeon in a hand lathe.
As an example of the pushing, pretentious ways this man
has, the jury learned that he soon after left the allurements
of the country machine shop, going up to Norristown, and,
by representations as yet unknown to the jury, there
obtained a job in a bar, plate, and nail mill. While in
Norristown he claimed that he served an apprenticeship
at the "dentistry business;" this bold claim was not be-
lieved by many of the jury, and witnesses were examined
and cross-questioned, when it came out in evidence that
the " dentistry business " consisted in repairing the broken
248 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
teeth of the gear wheels at night that had dropped off during
the day; and he was reported to have said that, if at any
time he had any fears of being out of a job, he went and
looked in the wheel pits and was sure to find work. It was
further reported that this man Fritz claimed to be very
expert in setting " single teeth," but that he did not pre-
tend to know much about " plate work " at that time, but
later on in his Hfe it is said that he did some very creditable
work in that line as well, for his Uncle Sam.
It is hardly worth while to further occupy the time of
the Court in showing how preposterous it is for a man with
such an education and experience to pretend to be an
" engineer " or a steel maker.
The second count of the indictment is, that the aforesaid
John Fritz is a disturber of the peace.
Several years ago this man, now at the bar of this Court,
came to the borough of Bethlehem, and, as it is supposed,
for the purpose of attending a horse race; at least that was
the ostensible object of his visit. The race course was a
large, level field on the banks of the Lehigh, below the
town, and away from any settlement. Sitting on the top
rail of the fence, watching the boys trot their blooded steeds,
the notion came into his head that the land about there
would be a pretty good place on which to build a blast
furnace, and perhaps a rolling mill or two. It is one of the
known peculiarities of this man that when he gets a notion
in his head all creation cannot change him, and there are
witnesses here in court who can testify to this. So, having
conceived the notion of covering this race course with
furnaces and mills, the people who knew him best said it
would be of no use opposing him, and that they might as
well come down with the dust first as last, and they did,
and he not only covered the race track with blast furnaces,
rail mills, workshops, etc., but he covered the farms adjoin-
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ 249
ing, and this can also be proved if necessary. By a careful
search of the records and by examining recently published
documents, the Grand Jury learned that many years ago a
body of peace-loving, mild, and unassuming persons came
from over the sea to find, if possible, in the New World a
spot where they could Uve a quiet Ufe and be assured of
an undisturbed rest afterwards. They found, as they be-
lieved, such a spot in the wilderness, here on the banks of
the Lehigh. Purchasing the land from the native Ameri-
cans (upon terms not made public), they founded the
peaceful hamlet long known as Bethlehem. It was the
belief of many witnesses who appeared before the Grand
Jury that, had it not been for the man now at the bar of
this Court coming here, Bethlehem would have remained
to this day the quiet place it was previously noted for
being; that the waving grain would still be bending to the
summer breeze over lands now occupied by streets and
lanes or covered with comfortable and costly homes; that
no noises would have been heard, other than the shrill cry
of the blue jay or the warning note of the kingfisher as he
dropped from the swinging bough into the river beneath,
the cooing of the turtle-dove in the wooded heights above,
or the pleading song of the whippoorwill as the sun went
down behind the western hills. That all this has been
changed by the advent of this alleged engineer can be proven
to the satisfaction of this Court. The rumbhng of huge
wheels, the throbbing pulsations of mighty blowing engines,
the shriek of steam whistles, the angry roar of burdened
engines, the clanging noise of falling beams and bars, the
snorting puffs of the impetuous and bustling locomotives
that ply to and fro over the clanking rails and rattling
switches, have changed beyond all recognition the old-
time peaceful hamlet of Bethlehem. Disturbing and dis-
tracting as all this noise and confusion now is, the prisoner
25© AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
has recently built and set in operation other and new steam
hammers of a size and weight hitherto unknown, whose
descending blows make all the surrounding country to
shiver and to shake; in short, the evidence has been so
overwhelming against the prisoner as a disturber of the
peace and quiet that once reigned along the banks of the
Lehigh before he came that the Grand Jury, mindful of
their oaths, deemed it their duty to the commonwealth to
present him to this Court, and to demand that he be tried
by a jury of his peers, if such a one can be found.
(Signed) John Oldboy,
THE POEM WHICH DR. R. W. RAYMOND, SENIOR COUNSEL
FOR THE DEFENSE, RECITED IN COURT, AND WHICH,
NO DOUBT, HAD MUCH TO DO WITH THE SENTENCE
IMPOSED ON THE PRISONER.
Whom shall we choose the flag to hold
In our vast contests, yet untold,
Which to the New World adds the Old?
Donner und Blitz!
Leaders unseen are with us yet:
Nor they nor we the past forget.
The fate that took them early, yet,
Thank God, omits
When doubters doubted whether we
Could beat our brethren over sea
In rolling-mill machinery,
Who gave 'em fits?
Who stands before us to combine
A level head, an upright spine,
With nowhere any crooked line?
Most clearly it's
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ 251
Whose heart is warmer than his blast?
Whose faith more steadfast to the last
Than any steel he ever cast?
That figure hits
Whose fame commands our homage, such
As bears of envy not a touch,
Because we love the man so much?
Why, there he sits —
THIS IS WHAT THE ATTORNEY-GENERAL SAID IN HIS CLOS-
ING SPEECH, AND WHICH SHOWS THAT HE KNEW VERY
LITTLE ABOUT THE DUTIES OF THAT OFFICE.
May it please the Court, while it was my imperative
duty to present the charges on which the prisoner has been
tried, I would like to add a few words to what has already
been so well said by the distinguished attorneys on both
sides. I hope that whatever sentence you have in mind to
inflict upon the prisoner at the bar, it will be tempered with
mercy; that you will bear in mind that through all these
long years he has spent, burdened by the cares, anxieties,
and perplexities that ever surround the life of an engineer
and the ironmaster, he has always had a kind word for all
about him. Did sickness and death come to the homes of
any, he brought to them words of consolation and hope;
did any have heavy burdens to bear, his hand helped to
lighten them; were any despondent, his cheering words gave
them new life; and in many to us unknown ways he has
done what he could to make this world the better for having
lived in it.
I am somewhat of a privileged person to-night, having
borne a somewhat confidential relation to all concerned in
arranging what has been done here, and with your Honor's
permission, I would like to impart a portion of the inner
history connected with the preparations made for this event.
252 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
It is known to a few present that originally it was intended
to have this a small dinner given at a hotel, but when the
announcement was made that a dinner was to be given
John Fritz by his friends, so numerous were the persons
who wished to have a part in it that the hotel had to be
given up, and even a large hall was found too small, and
this Opera House was the only available place to be had,
and, had the dinner been postponed a week longer, we would
have been obliged to build a special auditorium.
A few days ago, as you all know, Pennsylvania Avenue
was filled with old and battle-scarred veterans, who were
marching under waving banners of red, white, and blue,
along that historic avenue, many of them for the last time.
Among them was the remnant of a regiment known as the
Twenty-ninth Ohio, and in the ranks and beside the old
soldiers, sorely wounded as many of them were by the
arrows of misfortune and poverty, there walked a man
who was once their colonel, and once the President of the
United States; and, in the time to come, when Rutherford
B. Hayes comes to be better known and better appreciated,
one of the grandest tributes paid to his memory will be the
story that on that last march of the old veterans through
the capital of the nation, he took his place in the ranks, and
alongside of what Abraham Lincoln was pleased to call
" the plain people." And now for the secret I have to tell
you. When it was announced that this anniversary dinner
was to be given in this large Opera House, the prisoner at
the bar, who had asked nothing for himself, came to us and
said that, " if there was plenty of room, and no one would
be discommoded in the least, he would so much like to have
some of his reliable workmen who had been with him for so
many years, and on whom he had so much relied, to have a
place at the table and a part in the exercises." I need not
tell you how promptly he was told that there was a place
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ 253
at the table, and a part in all that was to be seen and heard,
and a warm welcome for all he chose to bring; and here
to-night there are none more glad and proud at the honors
shown to their chief than are John Fritz's old guard; and
when the story of his Hfe shall be told, no page will shine
brighter, no incident will more truly illustrate his kindness
of heart, his modesty, and his thoughtful regard for others,
than will the one that relates that, in the hour of his greatest
success, when praise and honors came to him from all sides,
he turned his thoughts backward to a review of his past
life, to a remembrance of the hours of trial and difl&culties,
and in that retrospective view he did not forget the faithful
men who so long had stood by him and helped him; and
his happiness to-night would have been incomplete had they
not been here to share his pleasure.
AND THIS IS THE " BLUE-PRINT " SPEECH MADE BY THE
PRISONER IN HIS DEFENSE, AFTER LISTENING TO WHICH
THE CHIEF-JUSTICE AT ONCE GAVE HIM A " TIME SEN-
Judge, they say I am not much of an engineer, and at
times I have had doubts about it myself, but there is one
thing I never had any doubt about, and that is, that I could
not make a speech in public.
When I began to try to become an engineer, we used to
whittle out a wooden model of anything we wanted to make,
or else we would draw it on a chalked board with a square
and a pair of compasses; but the times are changed, and
every engineer who begins a job now has to have a blue
print before him to work from, and so for this job I have
Under ordinary circumstances I would have preferred to
remain silent, but on account of the grand reception you
have given me, and the many hearty congratulations that
254 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
I have had on the occurrence of my seventieth birthday
from friends at home and abroad, I cannot do so. I only
wish I could fitly express to you how highly I appreciate
the compliment you bestow upon me by such a gathering
of friends as are here to-night. Be assured I shall ever
remember it as one of the happiest events of my life.
Years ago, when as a barefooted boy I followed the plow
from early mom till late at night, I little dreamed that the
time would ever come when I would be the recipient of such
an honor, and would be surrounded by so many kind and
thoughtful friends. Often during my hfe, when burdened
with trials and anxieties, coupled as they sometimes were
with bitter disappointments, I had almost concluded that
life was not worth the struggle I was engaged in; and had
it not been unmanly to do so, I would have been tempted
to step down and out; but, gathering new courage, I strug-
gled on; and now, at the end of threescore and ten years, to
receive such a royal welcome from so many warm friends
touches me beyond what words can express.
As to my past Hfe and its results, I can only say I tried
to do the best I could.
When as a young man I began work in the line in which
all my after years were spent, we had none of the aids to
progress that the young men of to-day have. There were
no technical schools where we could learn the theory and
science of engineering; there were no papers or books out of
which we could learn the practice and experience of others;
whatever a boy then got in the way of knowledge came to
him by hard knocks and often bitter experience; and so,
when you are pleased to commend what I may have ac-
complished, I esteem it doubly, for you know the school in
which I was taught, and you are men fully competent to sit
in judgment on such matters. Proud and grateful as I am
for all the kind things you have been pleased to say about
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ 255
me and of my life work, it would be ungenerous in me not
to say that whatever good I have accomplished has been
largely due to the faithful and able assistants that I have
had the good fortime ever to have had about me, and also
to the true and loyal workmen in the various departments,
to whom, by their skill, energy, and the faithful manner in
which they have performed their duty, I am much indebted ;
and much as I would like to thank them individually for
their loyalty to me, and the interest I represented, time will
not permit me to do so.
As I look backward over my hfe, I am reminded how one
and another of my associates have passed over to the other
side, and on my lips and in my heart are the names of your
friends and mine who I wish might look on this scene
It would be vain in me to assume that this large assem-
blage of engineers, metallurgists, capitalists, and professional
men from all parts of the country are here wholly on account
of their personal regards for me; so far as it is so, none can
be more grateful than I; but I assume it is in part in honor
of the profession of engineering, which we so dearly love,
and which in its various branches has done so much for our
country and for humanity the world over. Time will not
permit me to enlarge on this point as I might, but as
engineers we all know how important it is to our success to
have behind us the men who not only have the money, but
have as well the faith and confidence so necessary in push-
ing forward great undertakings. Such men it has been my
good fortune to be associated with, and I want to thank
them, not only for their personal friendship so often ex-
pressed, but for their confidence in me, which has so much
helped me in my labors.
But, Judge, you have asked me if I had anything to say
why sentence should not be pronounced upon me. I can
2 $6 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
only say that my attorneys have said all and more than
could rightfully be said in my defense, and so I can only
rely on the mercy of the Court. But, Judge, remember,
at the least, I was grateful and thankful for all the kind
words that have been spoken about me; that my aim in
life has been to always do the best I knew how, and make
no fuss about it
The " time sentence " was an elegant tubular chiming
hall clock, on which was inscribed :
Time ! Deal Gently with Our Loving Friends,
John and Ellen B. Fritz.
THE CURTAIN F;\LLS.
The day has come and gone, and the night has waned;
the lights have gone out, and the musicians, unjointing
their horns and packing them away, have vanished from
the scene; the flowers have faded and the wreaths have
shriveled to dust; the decorations stowed away in the
garret even now are gathering the grime that ere long will
change them beyond recognition. All is over save memory,
and even that is being dimmed by more recent events. To
those who have patiently followed what has been herein
written, there will come, perchance, the thought that it
was unwise to attempt, as it certainly was impossible, to
revive in full the pleasure and ecstasy of this bygone event,
and possibly you are right in so thinking; but take this
leaflet, and bind it to the menu card you brought home
from Bethlehem, and on which is written the autograph
of the friends that were about you at the table that Septem-
ber night, and possibly, in after years, — years that have
brought whiteness to your hair and a yellow tinge to these
leaves, — in some idle moment, you may come across both,
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ 257
stowed away among your papers, and, glancing over what
is here written, and over the names attached, there may,
perchance, for a moment, come to you a remembrance of
the faces you there saw and may never see again, and of
words spoken but well-nigh forgotten; and as you lay it
down again, may you say, as did the smoker first mentioned,
as long afterwards he threw into the ashes of the grate the
remnant of his well-smoked cigar: "Well, it was a great
success, and I am glad I was there."
THE GUESTS INVITED, MOST OF WHOM WERE PRESENT.
Stephen B. Elkins, Secretarj' of War, Washington, D. C.
Benj. F. Tracy, Secretary of the Navy, " "
Brig.-Gen. D. W. Flagler, Chief of Ordnance, War Dept., " "
Com. W. M. Folger, Chief of Ordnance, Navy Dept., ... " "
Chas. H. Loring, Pres. American Society Mechanical
Engineers, 239 Clermont Ave., Brooklyn, N. Y.
Eckley B. Coxe, Coxe Bros. & Co., Drifton, Pa.
B. F. Jones, Jones & Laughhn, Ltd., Pittsburg, Pa.
James Hemphill, Mackintosh, Hemphill & Co., " "
James McMillan, Johnstown, Pa.
David Reeves, Pres. Phcenix Iron Co., Phoenixville, Pa.
Joel Cook, Philadelphia Ledger, Philadelphia Pa.
Percival Roberts, Pencoyd Iron Works, 261 South 4th St., " "
John Sellers, Wm. Sellers & Co., Incorp., " "
Wm. B. Bement, Bement, Miles & Co., " "
Frederick B. Miles, " "
David Clark, Hazleton, Pa.
John Kinsey, Easton, Pa.
A. A. McLeod, Pres. and Gen. Mgr. Reading Railroad
System, Philadelphia, Pa.
Robert P. Linderman, Pres. Bethlehem Iron Co., Bethlehem, Pa.
Robert H. Sayre, Vice-Pres. and Mgr. Bethlehem Iron Co., . " "
Jos. Wharton, Director, Bethlehem Iron Co., " "
E. P. Wilbur, Director, Bethlehem Iron Co., " "
Geo. H. Myers, Director, Bethlehem Iron Co., South Bethlehem, Pa.
Beauveau Borie, Director, Bethlehem Iron Co., Philadelphia, Pa.
R. W. Davenport, Assist. Supt. Bethlehem Iron Co., Bethlehem, Pa.
W. H. Jaques, Ordnance Engineer, Bethlehem Iron Co., ... " "
258 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
C. O. Brunner, Treas. Bethlehem Iron Co., Bethlehem, Pa,
Abraham S. Schropp, Sec. Bethlehem Iron Co., "
Sam Adams, "
Owen Leibert, "
Hon. Chas. Brodhead, "
C. M. Dodson, Pres. Morea Coal Co., "
Truman Dodson, Vice-Pres. Morea Coal Co., "
W. H. Sayre,
E. B. Ely, Coxe Bros. & Co., New York, N. Y.
Chas. Otis, Pres. Otis Steel Co., Cleveland, Ohio.
Oliver Williams, Pres. Catasauqua Mfg. Co., Castasauqua, Pa.
Samuel Thomas, Pres. Pioneer Mining and Mfg. Co., " "
C. B. Dudley, Chemist Pennsylvania R. R. Co., Altoona, Pa,
Edward S. Moffat, Gen. Mgr. Laclia wanna Iron and Coal Co., . . Scranton, Pa,
Albert Lewis, Bear Gap, Pa,
Henry M. Boies, 530 Clay Ave., Scranton, Pa,
John Thomas, Gen. Supt. Thomas Iron Co., Hokendauqua, Pa,
Joseph Morgan, Chief Engineer Cambria Iron Works, Johnstown, Pa.
Major L. S. Bent, Pres. Pennsylvania Steel Co., Philadelphia, Pa,
Frank Firmstone, Easton, Pa,
B. F. Fackenthal, Durham Iron Co., Riegelsville, Pa
C. F. Mattes, Sec. Vice-Pres. Lackawanna Iron and Coal Co.,. . Scranton, Pa
Maunsel White, Bethlehem Iron Co., Bethlehem, Pa
Sydney Broadbent, Supt. Dickson Mfg. Co., Scranton, Pa
Theo. N. Ely, Gen. Supt. Motive Power, Pennsylvania R. R., .Altoona, Pa
Robert Lockhart, Bethlehem, Pa
Clark Fisher, Pres. Fisher Rail Joint Works, Trenton, N. J
Joseph D. Weeks, Editor American Manufacturer, Pittsburg, Pa
E. G. Spilsbury, Gen. Mgr. Trenton Iron Co., Trenton, N. J
Henry Morton, Pres. Stevens Institute of Technology, Hoboken, N. J
R. H. Thurston, Director, Sibley College, Ithaca, N. Y
Robt. Forsyth, Chief Engineer Illinois Steel Co., Chicago, 111
R. W. Hunt, Past Pres. American Society Mechanical Engineers, " "
Henry M. Howe, Vice-Pres. American Institute Mining Engi-
neers, Boston, Mass.
Henry R. Towne, Pres. Yale & Towne Mfg. Co., Stamford, Conn.
Wm. F. Durfee, Supt. C. W. Hunt & Co., West New Brighton, N. Y,
Geo. W. McNulty, Chief Engineer Broadway Cable Rail-
way, New York, N. Y,
Chas. Kirchhoff, Editor The Iron Age, 96 Reade St., " "
Geo. H. Babcock, Pres. Babcock & Wilcox Co., 30 Cort-
S. W. Baldwin, New York Agent Pennsylvania Steel Co., . " "
Prof. James E. Denton, Stevens Institute of Technology, . . .Hoboken, N. J.
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ 259
J. H. Harris, Vice-Pres. Worthington Pumping Engine Co., . . .London, Eng.
J. F.HoIloway,Pres. Engineers' Club, loWest 29th St., . .. .New York, N. Y.
Prof. F. R. Hutton, Sec. American Society Mechanical Engi-
neers, " "
James F. Lewis, Rand Drill Co., 23 Park Place, " "
Chas. Macdonald, Union Bridge Co., 247 Fifth Ave., " "
John Birkinbine, Pres. American Institute Mining Engi-
neers, 26 North Juniper St., Philadelphia, Pa.
James Moore, Bush Hill Iron Works, " "
Percival Roberts, Jr., 261 South 4th St., " "
Wm. Sellers, Pres. Wm. Sellers & Co., Incorp., " "
Coleman Sellers, Past Pres. American Society Mechanical
Engineers, 3301 Baring St., " "
Washington Jones, 1632 North isth St., " "
H. G. Morris, Mechanical Engineer, Drexel Building, " "
W. A. Perry, Pres. Henry R. Worthington, 86 Liberty St., . . New York, N. Y.
C. C. Worthington, Chairman Henry R. Worthington,
86 Liberty St.,
T. F. Miller, Sec. Henry R. Worthington, 86 Liberty St., . . " "
John Stanton, Treas. Atlantic Copper Mining Co.,
70 Wall St.,
Horace See, Engineer and Naval Architect, i Broadway, . . " "
John Thomson, Civil Engineer, Temple Court, " "
R. W. Raymond, Sec. American Institute Mining Engi-
neers, 13 Burling Slip, " "
Geo. W. Maynard, Consulting Engineer, 31 Nassau St.,. . . " "
James C. Bayles, Engineers' Club, 10 West 29th St., " "
John Bogart, Civil Engineer, 71 Broadway, " "
Geo. W. Bramwell, 59 Wall St.,
Frank S. Witherbee, Witherbee, Sherman & Co., Port Henry, N. Y.
W. H. Wiley, Treas. A. S. M. E., 53 East loth St., New York, N. Y.
Edward Cooper, Cooper, Hewitt & Co., 17 Burling Shp, ... " "
Abram S. Hewitt, Cooper, Hewitt & Co., 17 BurHng Slip, . . " "
Chas. A. Hague, Hydraulic Engineer, 86 Liberty St., " "
E. D. Leavitt, Consulting Engineer Calumet and Hecla
Mining Co., Boston, Mass.
S. B. Whiting,'Gen. Mgr., 11 Ware St., Cambridge, Mass.
C. J. H. Woodbury, Vice-Pres. Manufacturers' Mutual
Ins. Co., Lynn, Mass.
Oberlin Smith, Pres. Ferracute Machine Co., Bridgeton, N. J.
Horace S. Smith, Sec. Vice-Pres. Illinois Steel Co., Chicago, 111.
F. W. Wood, Pres. Maryland Steel Co., Sparrows Point, Md.
Capt. H. G. H. Tarr, 86 Liberty St., New York, N. Y.
Walter Wood, Mgr. R. D. Wood & Co., Philadelphia, Pa.
26o AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
W. B. Cogswell, Gen. Mgr. Solvay Process Co., Syracuse, N. Y,
A. C. Rand, Rand Drill Co., 23 Park Place, New York, N. Y.
John F. Wilcox, Pittsburg Engineering Co., Pittsburg, Pa.
William Thaw, Fifth Ave. Hotel, New York, N. Y.
Geo. W. Melville, Engineer-in-chief, United States Navy, Washington, D. C.
Wm. Metcalf , Crescent Steel Works, Pittsburg, Pa.
Chas. E. Emery, Consulting Engineer, 915 Bennett Build-
ing, New York, N. Y.
W. H. Bailey, American Tube Works, 20 Gold St.,
David Williams, Publisher, 96 Reade St., " "
J. C. Kafer, Morgan Iron Works, 814 East 9th St., " "
Jos. Leon Gobeille, Gen. Mgr. Gobeille Pattern Co., Cleveland, Ohio.
H. S. Haines, Vice-Pres. and Gen. Mgr. Plant Investment
Co., 12 West 23rd St., New York, N. Y.
W. H. Adams, Virginia Sulphur Mining Co., 71 Wall St., . . " "
W. A. Sweet, Pres. Onondaga Steel Works, Syracuse, N. Y.
Lieut. J. F. Meigs, South Bethlehem, Pa.
E. C. Felton, Supt. Pennsylvania Steel Co., Steelton, Pa.
A. Mitchell, Supt. Motive Power, Wilkes-Barre, Pa.
Capt. Frank Hobbs, Watervliet Arsenal, West Troy, N. Y.
Stanley H. Goodwin, Gen. Supt. Lehigh VaUey Division,
Reading R. R., Bethlehem, Pa.
R. H. Wilbur, Asst. to Gen. Mgr. Reading R. R. System, " "
W. A. Wilbur, Vice Pres. E. P. Wilbur Trust Co.,
Hon. J. Davis Brodhead, " "
R. A. Lamberton, LL.D., " "
G. B. Linderman, " "
Jos. WTiarton, Jamestown, R. I.
C. H. Cramp, Pres. Wm. Cramp Shipbuilding Co., Philadelphia, Pa.
Edwin S. Cramp, cor. Beach and Ball Sts., " "
Stackhouse Powell, Pres. Cambria Iron Co., " "
Jay C. Morse, Pres. Illinois Steel Co., Chicago, 111.
H. C. Frick, Chairman Carnegie Companies, Pittsburg, Pa.
E. M. Mcllvaine, Assist, to Pres. Bethlehem Iron Co., Bethlehem, Pa.
J. Tatnall Lea, 4th and Chestnut Sts., Philadelphia, Pa.
Alfred Earnshaw, 203 Walnut Place, " "
W. J. Taylor, Pres. Taylor Iron and Steel Co., High Bridge, N. J.
A. L. Colby, Chemist, Bethlehem, Pa.
Chas. Hartshorne, Vice-Pres. Philadelphia & Reading R. R.,
John M. Hartman, 1233 North Front St., " "
John Hughes, Delaware Rolling Mills, " "
Horace L. Brooks, Baltimore, Md.
Harry Moore, James Moore & Son, Philadelphia, Pa.
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ 261
Andrew Wheeler, Pres. Morris Tasker & Co., Philadelphia, Pa.
Thos. A Edison, Orange, N. J.
W. L. Conynghan, Wilkes-Barre, Pa.
E. H. Jones, Pres. Vulcan Iron Works, " "
Chas. Ziegenf uss, Gen. Supt. Juragua Mines South Bethlehem, Pa.
Calvin Pardee, Drexel Building, Philadelphia, Pa.
Hon. Robt. E. Wright, Pres. Lehigh Valley Car Co., AUentown, Pa.
Hon. W. H. Allison, Treas. AUentown Rolling Mills, " "
J. K. Mosser, " "
J. Rogers Maxwell, Pres. Central R. R. of New Jersey, .... New York, N. Y.
John Taylor, Gen. TraflSc Mgr., Bethlehem, Pa.
J. Raymond Claghorn, Pres., 204 Walnut St., Philadelphia, Pa.
W. A. Lathrop, Wilkes-Barre, Pa.
A. N. Cleaver, Esq., South Bethlehem, Pa.
Henry Coppee, LL.D., " "
W. L. Estes, M.D., Director St. Luke's Hospital, Bethlehem, Pa.
Prof. C. L. Doolittle, Lehigh University, " "
Prof. Mansfield Merriman, Lehigh University, " "
J. H. Dudley, Consulting Engineer, Grand Central Station, .New York, N. Y.
Anthony Victorin, Consulting Engineer, Ordnance Dept., . . West Troy, N. Y.
Wm. Kent, Consulting Engineer, Times Building, New York, N. Y.
James M. Doherty, Esq., 2212 Green St., Philadelphia, Pa.
Jos. C. Herr, Esq., 224 South 3d St., " "
S. H. Chauvenet, Vice-Pres. Wellman Iron and Steel Co., . . . .Thurlow, Pa.
Richard Peters, Jr., Wellman Iron and Steel Co., " "
P. W. Moen, Gen. Mgr. Washburn & Moen, Worcester, Mass.
S. T. Wellman, Pres. WeUman Iron and Steel Co., Thurlow, Pa.
Carleton W. Nason, Pres. Nason Mfg. Co., New York, N. Y.
Andrew Fletcher, Pres. W. & A. F. Fletcher Co., 157 West
Geo. D. McCreary, City Treasurer, Philadelphia, Pa.
Edwin Thomas, Gen. Mgr. Pioneer Iron and Mining Co., . .Catasauqua, Pa.
Theo. D. Wilson, Chief Constructor, U. S. N., Washington, D. C.
Geo. E. Weed, Pres. Morgan Iron Works, New York, N. Y.
John E. Sweet, Pres. Straight Line Engineer Co., Syracuse, N. Y.
Alfred Longsdon, 9 New Broad St., London, Eng.
C. P. Sandberg, 19 Great George St., . . . .Westminster, London, S. W., Eng.
R. Gladhill, Mgr. Sir Joseph Whitworth & Co., Manchester, Eng.
H. S. Carrington, Sec. Sir Joseph Whitworth & Co., " "
Sir I. Lowthian Bell, Middlesborough, Eng.
E. Windsor Richards, "
E. P. Martin, Dowlais, Glamorgan, Wales.
James Dredge, 36 Bedford St., Strand, London, Eng.
J. Hoecher, Chief Engineer, Fred. Krupp, Essen-on-Ruhr, Germany.
262 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
Prof. Herman Wedding, Berlin, Germany,
I. Kraft, Chief Engineer Cockerill Iron Works, Seraing, Belgium.
Adolphe Grainer, Director Cockerill Iron Works, " "
Jos. C. Piatt, Consulting Engineer, Waterford, N. Y.
Gen. Ario Pardee, Hazleton, Pa.
James M. Swank, Sec, Philadelphia, Pa.
Gen. Doster, Bethlehem, Pa.
J. A. Sweigard, Assist. Gen. Mgr. Reading R. R., Philadelphia, Pa.
James A. Burden, Woodside, Troy, N. Y.
Prof. Thos. Egleston, School of Mines, Columbia College,. .New York, N. Y.
Capt. James Jenkins, Harrisburg, Pa.
Sir Henry Bessemer, Denmark Hall, Surrey, Eng.
Percy C. Gilhurst, Finchley, New Road, Hampstead, London, Eng.
Sir James Kitson, Monkbridge Iron Works, Leeds, Eng.
Wm. Keyser, Baltimore, Md.
Richard Akerman, Royal School of Mines, Stockholm, Sweden.
John GJeirs, Middlesbro-on-Tees, Eng.
P. Boward, care Schneider, Creusot, France.
J. Barba, care Schneider, " "
Wm. C. Whitney, ex-Secretary U. S. Navy New York, N. Y.
Gen. Joseph R. Hawley, U. S. Senator, Hartford, Conn.
F. A. Pratt, Pres. Pratt & Whitney Co.,
L. Hernsheim, 29 Broadway, New York, N. Y.
Chas. H. Morgan, Engineer and Contractor, 25 Lincoln St., . Worcester, Mass.
Geo. Pierce, Supervisor, Fall River Line, Newport, R. I.
E. B. Leisenring, Mauch Chunk, Pa.
W. R. Tucker, Sec. Board of Trade, Drexel Building, Philadelphia, Pa.
Judge Henry Green, Easton, Pa.
Edmund C. Pechin, Roanoke, Va.
Senator Wm. E. Chandler, Waterloo, N. H.
Archibald Johnston, Bethlehem, Pa.
Mathew Addy, Cincinnati, Ohio.
Joseph Johnston, Bethlehem, Pa.
George Chandler " "
Harry Leibert, Bethlehem, Pa.
J. S. Jeans, Victoria Mansions, London, Eng.
Alexander Hamilton, Johnstown, Pa.
Lieut. Kossuth Niles, Ordnance Ofl&ce, U. S. N., Washington, D. C.
Captain O'Neal, Navy Dept., " "
Lieut. Karl Rahror, Bethlehem, Pa.
Capt. Ira McNutt " "
Senator John L. Morgan, Washington, D. C.
Senator H. M. Teller,
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ 263
Capt. W. T. Sampson, Navy Yard, Washington, D. C.
Irving M. Scott, Union Iron Works, San Francisco, Cal.
Clarence S. Bement, Philadelphia, Pa.
Marriott Smyth, Latrobe, Pa.
Andrew Carnegie, 5 West 51st St., New York, N. Y.
C. P. Goss, Scoville Mfg. Co., Waterbury, Conn.
Senator W. B. Allison, Washington, D. C.
Congressman Chas. A. Boutelle, " "
Dr. W. H. Chandler, Lehigh University, South Bethlehem, Pa.
George Brooke, Birdsboro, Pa.
A. S. Patterson, 330 Walnut St., Philadelphia, Pa.
Chas. L. Bailey, " "
A. J. Dull, Harrisburg, Pa.
G. C. Wilkins, Gen. Mgr. Pennsylvania R. R. Co., Baltimore, Md.
J. M. Gledhill, Sir Joseph Whitworth Co., Manchester, Eng.
James Fuller, Catasauqua, Pa.
Capt. Montgomery Sicard, Navy Yard, U. S. S. Miantono-
moh, Brooklyn, N. Y.
C. Y. Wheeler, Stirling Steel Co., Pittsburg, Pa.
G. E. Taintor, New York, N. Y.
Chas. A. Hewitt, Trenton, N. J.
Henry McCormick, Harrisburg, Pa.
Arthur Brock, Lebanon, Pa.
R. H. Sayre, Jr., South Bethlehem, Pa.
R. E. Jennings, West Bergen, N. J.
David H. Thomas, Hokendauqua, Pa.
Samuel R. Thomas, " "
Stevenson Taylor, Vice-Pres. North River Iron Works, .... Hoboken, N. J.
Wm. Fletcher, North River Iron Works, " "
Chas. Wales, Engineers' Club, 10 West 29th St., New York, N. Y.
A. J. Haws, Johnstown, Pa.
R. B. Keyser, Baltimore, Md.
Frank L. Neale, International Navigation Co., 305 Wal-
nut St., Philadelphia, Pa.
Prof. J. Harvard Biles, care Chas. H. Camp, " "
Owen J. Conley, Ogden Mine, Ogden, N. J.
Joseph Stokes, Trenton, N. J.
Wm. H. Morris, Pottstown Iron Co., Pottstown, Pa.
E. H. Austin, Philadelphia, Pa.
Wm. B. Schiller, Monongahela Furnace Co., Pittsburg, Pa.
C. W. Roepper, Solid Steel Co., Alliance, Ohio.
Albert Brodhead, Bethlehem, Pa.
Dr. R. I. Bailey, Normandie Hotel, New York, N. Y.
264 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
Horace G. Lash, Carbon Iron Co., Pittsburg, Pa.
Chas. G. Roebling, J. Roebling's Sons Co., Trenton, N. J.
James Riley, Glasgow, Scotland.
Benjamin Riegel, Riegelsville, N. J.
Geo. T. Barnes, Philadelphia, Pa.
Rev. P. McEnroe, Bethlehem, Pa.
Edwin Menner, " "
Tinsley Jeter, South Bethlehem, Pa.
W. T. Walters, Baltimore, Md.
Josiah Monroe, 208 South 4th St., Philadelphia, Pa.
Robert F. Kennedy, 216 South 4th St., " "
F. G. Gorham, N. Y. Sales Agent Bethlehem Iron Co., New York, N. Y.
Col. H. G. Prout, 73 Broadway, " "
Wilham Canam, Bethlehem, Pa.
William Stubblebine, " "
Patrick Briody, South Bethlehem, Pa.
Ensign F. R. Brainard, Bethlehem, Pa.
Capt. H. L. Jewett, " "
Lieut. Com. Wm. Swift, U. S. N., " "
Lieut. S. E. Stuart, South Bethlehem, Pa.
Rev. Gilbert H. Sterling " , .; , "
Isaac H. Chandler, Johnstown, Pa.
George Crocker, 32 Cliff St., New York, N. Y.
Chas. Parrish, Wilkes-Barre, Pa.
Wm. Chapman, Bethlehem, Pa.
Capt. R. A. Abbott,
Price Wetherill, South Bethlehem, Pa.
E. O. C. Acker, Bethlehem, Pa.
Merritt Halliday, South Bethlehem, Pa.
James E. Tatnall, " "
A. M. Mattice, 2 Central Square, Cambridgeport, Mass.
Chas. H. Manning, Supt. Amoskeag Mfg. Co., Manchester, N. H.
W. R. Mcllvain, Reading, Pa.
Henry S. Drinker, 227 South 4th St., Philadelphia, Pa.
Prof. Jos. F. Klein, Bethlehem, Pa.
Harry Jones, " "
Clemens Jones, Hokendauqua, Pa.
Frank Johnston, South Bethlehem, Pa.
Henry Smith, Bethlehem Iron Co., "
William Strawn, " "
Harry Hart, " "
Chas. Anthony, " "
Henry Trumbower, " " "
J.B.Archer, " "
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
John Horn, Bethlehem Iron Co., South Bethlehem, Pa.
Edward Murphy, " "
John Opp, " "
Hartley Wolle, " "
Michael Bitler, " "
Wilson Weaver, " "
George Sherer, " "
Ed. Welden, " "
John Leibert, " "
Henry Stahlneeker, " "
Horatio Yeager, " "
Isaac Deremer, " "
George Jenkins, " "
Jos. Brodhead, " "
Martin Hackman, " "
C. W. Buchhotz, 21 Cortlandt St., New York, N. Y.
Joseph Hartshorn, Pottstown, Pa.
Chas. H. Wellman, Thurlow, Pa.
James Christie, Pencoyd and Philadelphia, Pa.
B. W. Grist, 113 West 38th St., New York, N. Y.
W. L. Elkins, Jr.,
J. T. Knight, Sec. and Treas. Thomas Iron Co., Easton, Pa.
R. Morris Gummere, South Bethlehem, Pa.
Geo. F. Kunz, Tiffany & Co., 11 Union Square, New York, N. Y.
Geo. B. Roberts, Pres. Pennsylvania R. R. Co., Philadelphia, Pa.
James Walters, Bethlehem Iron Co., South Bethlehem, Pa.
C. Miner Dodson, Bethlehem, Pa.
James Walters, " "
The John Fritz Banquet to Celebrate the Founda-
tion OF the John Fritz Gold Medal, Waldorp-As-
TORiA, New York, October 31, 1902.*
THE JOHN FRITZ MEDAL.
Early in the spring of 1902, at the call of Mr. S. T. Well-
man, of Cleveland, a number of prominent engineers and
manufacturers met in New York to discuss the question of
a suitable celebration of Mr. Fritz's eightieth birthday, the
outcome of these meetings being the appointment of the
following committee, which decided to invite subscriptions
to a John Fritz gold-medal fund :
President, S. T. Wellman; treasurer, John Thomson; secretary, C. Kirch-
hoff; S. W. Baldwin, R. W. Hunt, F. R. Hutton, C. Warren Hunt,
J. C. Kafer, T. C. Martin, |E. E. [Olcott, R. W. Pope, H. G. Prout,
E. G. Spilsbury, Jesse M. Smith, Ambrose Swasey, Oliver Williams,
Calvin W. Rice, Wm. Maver, Jr.
The organization was effected by the appointment of four
sub-committees, as follows:
Medal Committee. — C. Warren Hunt, chairman; F. R. Hutton, R. W. Pope,
Finance Committee. — John Thomson, chairman; Ambrose Swasey, Jesse M.
Smith, E. E. Olcott.
Dinner Committee. — T. C. Martin, chairman; J. C. Kafer, H. G. Prout,
E. G. Spilsbury.
Invitation Committee. — S. W. Baldwin, chairman; R. W. Hunt, Oliver
The task of designing a gold medal and cutting the dies
was intrusted to Victor D. Brenner, of New York City.
There was contributed by about 500 persons a sum which,
* Reprint of a pamphlet issued at the time by the subscribers to the
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
after providing for the artist's fees and other expenditures,
left a balance of about $4,000 as a permanent fund, the
interest on which is adequate for the annual i)urchase of
the gold medal. A brief memorandum by the treasurer
will be found in this pamphlet.
The general scope of the memorial is indicated by the
following rules adopted for the award of the medal:
y^ /»*- ^^
Fig. 17. — -The John Fritz IMedal.
PROPOSED RULES FOR THE AWARD OF THE JOHN FRITZ
1. — The John Fritz Medal was estabhshed by the pro-
fessional associates and friends of John Fritz of Bethlehem,
Pa., U. S. A., August 21, 1902, his eightieth birthday, to
perpetuate the memory of his achievements in industrial
2. — The medal shall be awarded for notable scientific or
industrial achievement. There shall be no restriction on
account of nationality or sex.
3. — The medal shall be of gold and shall be accompanied
by an engraved certificate, which shall recite the origin of
the medal and the specific achievement for which the award
268 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
is made. Such certificate shall be signed by the chairman
and secretary of the Board of Award.
4. — The medal may be awarded annually, but not
5. — No award of the medal shall be made to anyone
whose eligibility to the distinction has not been under
consideration by the Board of Award for at least one year.
6. — Awards shall be made by a board of sixteen, ap-
pointed or chosen in equal numbers from the membership
of the four national societies, the American Society of
Civil Engineers; the American Institute of Mining En-
gineers; the American Society of Mechanical Engineers,
and the American Institute of Electrical Engineers. The
governing bodies of each of these societies shall be requested
to appoint from its membership one representative who
shall hold office for one year, one for two years, one for
three years, and one for four years; and each succeeding
year to appoint one member to serve for four years.
7. — In case of failure of any of the national societies to
make the original appointments as requested, the selection
of representatives from its members shall be made by those
appointed from the other societies, and should any future
vacancy occur by reason of the failure of any of the said
societies to act, or otherwise, such vacancy shall be filled
by the Board of Award from the membership of the society
8. — Should one or more of the four national societies go
out of existence, its representation on the board shall cease
and determine, and future awards shall be made by the
representatives of the remaining societies.
All of the four societies have selected representatives and
the council of award has now been duly constituted in
accordance with the above terms.
The preUminaries for the medal having been duly settled.
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ 269
the successful foundation of the fund was signalized by a
banquet at the Waldorf-Astoria, October 31, 1902, a report
of which is given in the following pages.
The models of iron and steel making processes that
adorned the banquet room were loaned by the Stevens In-
stitute of Technology. The Elbright Company of America,
Russell : Spaulding, manager, made and loaned to the Dinner
Committee without charge, a beautiful sign in frosted incan-
descent lamps, several feet in length, reading, " John Fritz,
1822-1902," which was hung at the back of the speakers'
table, and which was illuminated as soon as the guest of the
evening took his place beneath it. FaciHties for committee
meetings, etc., were furnished courteously by the American
Society of Mechanical Engineers and by the Engineers'
Club. No small share of the success of the banquet was
due to the kindly help and suggestions of " Oscar," of the
Waldorf-Astoria, who prepared specially a number of
trophies in candy to be borne around the hall in procession,
illustrative of the triumphs of American steel production.
Before the banquet began, the Dinner Committee sent to
Mrs. John Fritz, who occupied with friends the central
box in the balcony, a handsome birthday bouquet. The
balcony was occupied by over 150 ladies, to whom Ught
refreshments were served while the dinner was in progress
below, and whose presence in full evening dress added
greatly to the brilliancy of a memorable occasion.
BRIEF FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE JOHN FRITZ MEDAL FUND,
AS OF JANUARY 23, igo3.
Total receipts, including accrued interest $6,039.32
Total disbursements 1,930.00
Balance on hand $4,109.32
Now deposited in the Mercantile Trust Company, drawing
interest at the yearly rate of 3 per cent.
Note. — The cost of designing and constructing the medal, the dies, and
the album was $1,700; the incidental expenses, such as circulars, stationery
270 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
and postage, making up the remainder, $230. It is practically certain that
the net amount available for fixed investment will not be less than, say,
$3,700; which will be ample to carry out the purpose of the founders in an
appropriate and satisfactory maimer.
While the subscriptions were purposely limited to the small sum of $10,
in order to give the large circle of Mr. Fritz's friends and admirers an oppor-
tunity to become identified with the foundation of the medal, the Committee
felt justified in yielding to the insistence of Mr. Andrew Carnegie, who con-
tributed $1,000, and Mr. A. J. Moxham, who contributed $100.
SPEECHES AT THE DINNER TO JOHN FRITZ, AT THE WAL-
DORF-ASTORIA OCTOBER 31, 1902.
The Toastmaster (Col. Henry G. Prout) : — Gentlemen:
This afternoon a lady came into this room to look at the
decorations and she looked at this design and she read it,
" John Fritz, 1822-1902," and she said, " What a shame to
drag an old man like that out of his bed! " (Laughter.)
Obviously, she had not seen the " old man." We are met
here for two principal purposes — first, to celebrate the
eightieth birthday of our friend, John Fritz. (Applaus3.)
And second, to celebrate the successful founding of the
John Fritz Medal. (Applause.) If I might venture to
follow for a moment the thought of the immortal Gettys-
burg speech, I should say that Mr. Fritz himself had an-
ticipated this celebration and made it superfluous by his
great and lasting gifts to the happiness and prosperity of
mankind and by his simple and dignified and sincere life.
(Applause.) It is little that we can add to the estimation
in which he is held by those who have known him long and
well. It is little that we can add to the glory of his name
throughout the civilized world. It is little that we can add
to the endurance of that monument which he has built for
himself. But we can find pleasure for ourselves in express-
ing to him here in this public way our admiration and our
affection. We can find inspiration and the glow of en-
AUTOBIOGRAPUY OF JOHN FRITZ 27 1
thusiasm for own lives in listening to the words of those
who know his worth and his character and are qualified to
appreciate them. These, I take it, are the real reasons
why we are here.
The General Committee has directed me to say to you a
few words about the John Fritz Medal, its origin, its purpose,
and its present state. The story is short. Last spring, a
few friends of John Fritz met to organize a celebration of
his eightieth birthday, and then the further thought came
that they would establish a memorial in order that future
generations might know that the men who had lived in the
time of John Fritz had had the sense to appreciate his
worth. (Applause.) It was natural that that memorial
should take the form of a medal, and then the committee
decided that this medal should be given to anyone in the
world who might have proved his title to it by achievements
in research or in applied science, and then it was decided
that this medal should be given by a committee of sixteen
to be chosen from the four great national engineering
societies of our country. The General Committee believe
that this medal, considering its scope, considering the
method of award, will be even a more distinguished honor
than the Bessemer Medal which Mr. Fritz himself is proud
to hold. (Applause.) It was decided that the fund for the
medal should be raised by a subscription, and that each
individual subscription should be strictly limited to a small
sum in order that many men might share in the honor of
contributing to the fund. The Committee beheves that
the John Fritz Medal thus established will be, like the olive
wreath of the Olympian games, in itself a little thing of
trifling cost, but representing such distinguished achieve-
ment that it will always be amongst the most precious
trophies of the man or the woman who is successful in
getting it. (Applause.) The medal is now secure. The
272 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
fund is established. The design has been made. The die
is made, and the album containing the signatures of the
subscribers to the fund will be presented now to Mr. Fritz,
as will the master cast from the artist's model, by Mr. John
Thomson, to whom, more than any other one man, we are
indebted for the idea of this medal. Mr. John Thomson.
PRESENTATION OF THE MEDAL — JOHN THOMSON, C.E.
Mr. Thomson: — We have thought, Mr. Fritz, that it
would please you to have a permanent record in respect to
the founding of the medal which is to bear your name. I
have here an album. It is entitled, " The John Fritz
Medal." It is dedicated to " John Fritz, Engineer, One
of the Principal Founders of America's Iron and Steel
Industry." It contains a photograph of yourself, Mr.
Fritz, also photographs of the obverse and reverse of the
medal, under which is inscribed " To Perpetuate the
Memory of John Fritz and His Achievements in Industrial
Progress." In addition to the historical data and the rules
for the award of the medal, it also contains the names and
addresses of the founders and their autographs, some four
hundred and eighty-four in all.
In the name of and in behalf of the founders of the John
Fritz Medal, I have the great pleasure to ask you to accept
this album, Mr. Fritz, as a slight testimonial of our admira-
tion and regard, and we would have you beHeve that we
desire no greater honor than to be known as the friends of
John Fritz, of Bethlehem. (Applause.)
We have also thought, Mr. Fritz, that it would add to
your pleasure to announce, especially on this occasion, the
name of the recipient of the first medal. The rules adopted
relative thereto seem to indicate at this time one name, in
that the stipulation is expressly set forth that the award
AUTOBroCRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
shall be made to commemorate the most notable scientific
and industrial achievement. These plaster plaques were
reproduced from the original medal made by the artist,
and from these one set of castings in bronze has been made,
Fig. 18. — ExTKRiOR of Album.
but no more shall e\cr be made therefrom, for I shall now
destroy these original master patterns. (Applause.) (Mr.
Thomson here smashed the plaster plaques.)
Mr. Fritz, I am duly authorized and directed by the
founders of the John Fritz Medal to make the following
274 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
official announcement of the award. We ask that you,
John Fritz, accept these bronze plaques, the only ones of
the kind that will ever be presented as an award, made by
and coming directly from the founders, our unanimous find-
ing being that of all the Captains of Industry this medal
may most worthily be awarded to you. (Applause.)
And we beg to assure you of our abiding faith that the
crowning reward of your splendid achievements and char-
acter will be the perpetuation of your name, than which
there can be no higher ideal for the engineering and in-
dustrial captains of the future. (Applause.)
Xow, ]Mr. Fritz, for each and all of the founders. I wish
you many happy years and growing honors, and the love
of friends. (Cheers.)
The guests, on the proposal of Colonel Prout, here drank
to the health of John Fritz. There were loud cheers and
long calls for " Fritz."
SPEECH OF MR. JOHN FRITZ.
Mr. President, Dear Friends: I do not know what to say
in response to this reception that I am given here to-night.
It is utterly beyond my power to express the things that
are in my mind. The only thing that I can say is that I
accept this in the name of the four great engineering
societies. I am not going to detain you long, as you can see.
Standing here, my mind is carried back to the days of my
youth, when I worked on a farm, from sunrise to sunset,
barefooted. Then my wildest imagination could not have
foreseen this honor.
I appreciate this greeting, and accept it as a token of your
esteem; and am truly sensible of the great honor you have
thus conferred upon me. which gives rise to sincere joy in my
heart, that takes precedence of all other emotions, and I can
only say that I thank you from the depths of my heart.
AUTOBIDCRAI'IIY OF JOIIX hlUTZ 275
But what have 1 done to earn this reception! What little
I have done has been much overrated, and I am the re-
cipient of honor beyond what I deserve; but I hope that my
kind friends will continue to overlook my shortcomings, as
I have ever tried to do mv best.
Fig. 19. — Frontispiece of Album.
I do not now forget the laboring man. and especially the
able, brave, and noble men who loyally stood by me in times
of the severest trials that were encountered during my long
connection with the iron and steel industries, and who were
ever ready to face any hardship or danger that would in
any way tend to prevent success. To these kind and loyal
men much credit is due for such success as I have attained.
276 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
But, alas, the majority of them have gone, the grave has
closed over them, but they are not forgotten, and they will
ever have a green spot in my memory.
It was my misfortune to start in the world with a meager
education. I was born of exemplary parents; my father
being a man of high moral character, he fully impressed
upon my mind the importance of energy, economy, and
absolute integrity. My mother was a true. Christian
woman, and early taught me to read and revere the Holy
Bible and to trust in the Supreme Being, and that to respect
and obey His laws was a duty which mankind should not
At this distant day, to my mind, the moral and religious
training received from my parents, and their noble example,
was the most important training I could possibly have
received; and I have ever thought the highest honor I could
pay to their memory was to endeavor to follow their noble
example. In after years, when overburdened with grave
responsibilities which were ever recurring and had to be
met, it was then I sorely felt the want of a better education;
but on reflection, I knew my parents had done the best they
could, and I was content.
It has always been my good fortune to be blest with
many kind and lovang friends, who have stood by me in the
darkest days and were ever ready to give assistance by their
wise and sympathetic counsel.
There are times when it is an agreeable servitude to be
under obligation to those whom you esteem, and I am
deeply sensible of the honor conferred upon me on this
occasion, and greatly regret that I have not the command
of language to make a fitting acknowledgment to my kind
friends, who have provided for the '* Fritz Medal " and ar-
ranged this splendid birthday feast, and to you all for your
presence here to-night.
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ I'J'J
But no words of mine can ever express the full measure of
gratitude that I so deeply feel towards you all. And here,
my dear friends, I beg to assure you that the uniformly kind
and thoughtful attention that you have always shown me
will be held in grateful remembrance.
May God, in His infinite mercy, vouchsafe to you all long,
useful, and happy Hves, surrounded by kind and loving
friends, is my most fervent desire.
Three cheers for John Fritz were called for by Mr. Martin
and given, and the diners sang, " For he's a jolly good
The Toastmaster: — Strange thing, isn't it, that John
Fritz has so many kind and loving friends?
The next sentiment is " The Fathers of the Art." For at
least seven hundred years the Anglo-Saxon people have been
carrying on their struggle for liberty regulated by law, and
in that struggle we, on this side of the water, have taken
the characteristic part. We have gone out and fought our
stubborn wars and then we have gone home and sat down
and carried on the still more stubborn conflict with ignorance
and folly and ignoble ambition and rapacity. The gentle-
man who was to have spoken for the Fathers of the Art, in
the greatest of our wars, contributed of his money, of his
wisdom and his energy, and since that war he has continued
to give the same devotion to the long civil struggle that has
been going on, and all of that time he has walked in parallel
lines with Mr. Fritz, for he too is an ironmaster. That is
Abram S. Hewitt. (Applause.) Lowell has said that the
chief duty of a nation is to produce great men, and I am
sure in Fritz and Hewitt we can present fine specimens of
the product of our nation. (Applause.) Unfortunately,
Mr. Hewitt is too delicate to be here to-night, but he has
sent a letter which will now be read by Mr. Martin, the
chairman of the Dinner Committee. (Applause.)
278 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
Mr. Martin, who was received with cheers, said: " This
letter from the Honorable Abram S. Hewitt is addressed
to his personal friend, Mr. E. G. Spilsbury, my associate
on the Dinner Committee, and runs thus :
" I have been debarred for some time by the limitations
of age from assisting at any function which takes place in
the evening. I have been trying, however, to make an
exception in favor of the compHmentary dinner given by
his admirers to my old and valued friend, John Fritz; but
now that the time has arrived, I find I must deny myself
the pleasure of personally congratulating him, in the com-
pany of his loving friends, upon the attainment of his
eightieth birthday in the full possession of his health and
faculties, and with the promise of many honorable years to
" We have made the journey of life together and, to some
extent, upon the same lines of action. It is pleasant to
recall that during the half-century of our association, at
times of competitive struggle, the friendship which has
existed between us has never in the slightest degree been
disturbed. This happy experience is due, doubtless, to
the amiable traits of Mr. Fritz's nature, which, with all its
mascuHne energy, is tempered with the sweetness of the
gentler sex. ' Once a friend, always a friend,' will be
inscribed upon the record of a career which in some respects
is unique among the men of our day and generation.
" I do not intend to indulge myself in recounting any of
the interesting details of his long and useful Hfe. This
pleasant duty will be performed by others, but I do desire
to point out that the Hfe work of John Fritz affords a very
conspicuous example of the working of American institu-
tions during the century which has just closed, the most
remarkable era of progress in the history of the human race.
" That a boy bom in humble life, with no advantages of
AUTOBIOGR-iPHY OF JOHN FRITZ 279
education or opportunities for position, without influential
friends or the favoring accidents of fortune, should be able
to advance steadily in usefulness, power, and the respect of
his fellow men, until by common consent he occupies the
first place in the domain of practical industry with which
he has been connected, gives conclusive evidence that
political institutions which afford free play to individual
ambition, industry, ability, and strict integrity are worthy
of all loyalty and should be cherished and preserved at all
costs and hazards.
" The developments of the twentieth century show that
these institutions are in great peril. Their essence is to be
found in individual liberty, involving the right of free labor
and the acquisition of private property under lawful con-
ditions. When the right of free action shall be suppressed,
the possibility of a career like that of John Fritz will be
destroyed. Collectivism ending in Socialism, may afford
other advantages, but let it not be overlooked that these
advantages will be obtained only by the sacrifice of personal
freedom, and will arrest the progress of civilization due,
during the ages that have passed, to the substitution of
freedom for force.
" John Fritz is a living proof of the results of individual
and industrial Hberty in a country endowed with boundless
resources. In vain shall we seek for a like career in nations
or in countries where the individual initiative has been
suppressed. The stagnation of China, whose men are
physically strong and whose resources are abundant, is in
marked contrast with our own land, where heretofore every
citizen has been free to employ his labor and his energies in
his own way, so long as the rights of others were respected.
" John Fritz, therefore, is to us more than a man whom
we love and respect, more than a friend to whom we wish
many years of health and happiness: he is an example of
28o AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
the free spirit of American institutions, a beacon light warn-
ing the present and coming generations against permitting
any invasion of the principle of the hberty of the citizen,
which alone has made our beloved country great and free."
Mr. Martin, after reading the letter, proposed three
cheers for Mr. Hewitt, which were given heartily.
The Toastmaster: — In this wicked world which we
inhabit it is very little use to build a nation, such as Mr.
Hewitt has suggested, unless we are prepared to keep it
with the sword. I am told that in certain newspaper offices
war has been abolished, and that armies and navies are now
refuges for the idle, and schools of pride and cruelty.
(Laughter.) And yet some of my friends of some practical
experience assure me that the devil is not yet dead and that
the richest man must still be prepared to fight for his own.
However that may be, this gentleman on my right whose
amiability you have heard expressly dwelt upon has spent
some valuable years of his life in making material for
the efficient and complete destruction of his brother man.
(Applause and laughter.) In 1898 we were very glad to
have some of that material in our ships. (Applause.) I
spoke a moment ago of the Anglo-Saxon struggle for liberty
regulated by law. I ought to have said the struggle of
those born to speaking the English language, for the
Scotchmen, who I believe are not Anglo-Saxon, have a
certain fine aptitude for fighting, and with their broad-
swords they have helped us in carving out that path toward
liberty. I am about to introduce to you a Scotchman.
He is, I presume — I am not told so — a descendant of
William Wallace himself. (Laughter.) He is a sailor and
a warrior. He is an explorer who has written his name
across the Arctic Sea and he is an engineer who has written
his name across the story of our new navy. I have the
honor to introduce Rear-Admiral George Wallace Melville.
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ 281
SPEECH OF REAR-ADMIRAL MELVILLE.
Rear-Admiral Melville : — Gentlemen : I am called on
to respond for the Navy of the United States. (Applause.)
The Navy of the United States is no mean institution. It
is second to none in the world, except in tonnage. (Ap-
plause.) You will rightly understand that I am pleading
for more tonnage — more tonnage, more guns, more armor,
more speed. I will divert from the Navy, however, for a
few minutes and for a very few minutes.
Among us here to-night is our veritable Vulcan, whom we
are assembled to honor, the Fire God and Iron King of the
great engineering profession, — John Fritz.
" Those who labor
The sweaty forge, who edge the crooked scythe,
Bend stubborn steel, and harden gleaming armor,
Acknowledge Vulcan's aid."
Who of US all would not doff the hat and bow the head in
honor to this our grand brother of the forge and the mill ! . .
Our guest, by his mechanical abihty and resourceful enter-
prise, has done much to force the recognition of engineering
as a profession. But the engineer of the hour is not without
honor, and we who are here to-night know full well that
the praises of John Fritz have been sung again and again,
and that his name is grandly Hnked with the development
of the iron and steel industries in this country. , . .
'' Good Uncle John," as we call him, was born in a hamlet
where everybody worked, and in early youth he acquired
the habits of industry. It was a community where every
one respected the rights of his neighbor, and he grew up
with the love of his fellow man as the cardinal precept of his
creed. Living in a State that was rich in natural resources
and the center of the infant iron industry, he began to
comprehend the possibilities of making the United States
the granary of the world, and of so improving the manu-
282 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
facture of iron and steel that the product of the western
plain could not only be carried cheaply to the manufactur-
ing districts of the Atlantic coast, but even to the remote
countries beyond the sea. When we review the life work
of this man, and measure his influence in the moulding of
the destinies of the industrial world — no wonder that we
account him great. He has seen the crude mill and furnace
grow, under his very hands, as it were, into the perfectly
equipped modern plant — he having been identified with
every important improvement that made for increased
production in iron. ... In the naval world he will be
regarded, by reason of the part he played in giving us our
first armor plant, as one of the few persons without the
service who made it possible for the nation to secure on
the seas even a greater prestige and influence than it ever
It is because dear old Uncle John, during his long and
busy life, has stood for integrity, faithfulness, and applica-
tion, and everything of good report and right living, that
he has, aside from his mechanical genius, been able to make
so good a fight. Our hearts go out to this man, who has
done more than his duty — more than his share of the
work. His open-hear tedness and gentleness of soul win
our universal good will and esteem. Those who know him
best love him most. ... I know that Uncle John
would dispense with these honors that we would show him
to-night; but he, good man, must not forget that we are a
little selfish in this matter, because we are proud to be
associated with him, and to be able to shine just a little
bit by his reflected glory.
I can but repeat the only toast of the evening, — Uncle
John Fritz, the Fire God and the Iron King, our Vulcan,
our great and able leader, and, as well, our kind and gentle-
hearted brother. (Loud applause.)
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ 283
The Toastmaster : — This is a very remarkable occasion
in some unexpected ways. We are honored to-night by the
presence of the oldest Hving marine engineer probably in
the world, the man who designed and engined the first
steamship for the United States Navy, and I ask you to
rise and give three cheers for Mr. Charles Haswell. (Cheers.)
Mr. Haswell: — Through a long, varied, and eventful
life I have received some compliments, but I know of none
equal to the gracious manner in which you have been
pleased to receive my name. (Applause.) And I assure
you that I shall cherish it, not only in memory, but I shall
instruct my children to bear in mind your gracious compH-
ment bestowed upon me. (Applause.)
The Toastmaster : — The engineer and soldier are one
type of man, their work is substantially the same. It deals
with the properties of matter, with the relations of time,
space, and force. It develops the same intellectual and
moral quahties, — quick resource, self-reliance, courage, forti-
tude, and devotion to duty. Joshua, himself a great com-
mander of troops, was a born engineer, and I doubt not
that he destroyed the walls of Jericho by much the same
means that would have been used to-day by the distin-
guished engineer and soldier who will now speak for the
Army. I have now the honor to introduce Gen. Eugene
SPEECH OF GEN. EUGENE GRIFFIN.
General Griffin : — The force known as the regular
army, existing by the will of Congress annually expressed,
does not comprise all that should be properly included in
the terms of our toast. The history and traditions of the
past; the long record of glorious victories which are in-
scribed on the blood-stained pages of the book of fame,
all belong to the army of the United States. Its battle
284 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
flags adorn our capitols; its trophied guns our parks and
public places. The army includes the unfed, unshod, un-
paid, tattered veterans of Valley Forge alike with the con-
quering host which Sherman led through the heart of the
Confederacy; it includes the militia of 18 12, alike with the
grand old Army of the Potomac against whose iron front at
Gettysburg were broken and scattered the advancing waves
of the rebellion ; includes the victorious armies which feasted
in the halls of the Montezumas, alike with the heroes of
San Juan Hill; it includes the knightly troopers of the West,
who in years of savage warfare have written a record of
bold adventure, of daring achievements and heroic sacrifices,
which are but feebly portrayed by the cold, brief words
accompanying the medals of honor so brilliantly won, so
sparingly bestowed. Regulars and volunteers ahke, in
foreign, domestic, and savage warfare, our army has made a
record which no criticism can behttle, which no eulogy can
enhance. . . . What part have the engineers played
in this glorious record? Have our military brothers upheld
the reputation of our profession? Let us see. . . .
Armistead, the third graduate of the United States Military
Academy, commanded an army in the field . . . and
Alexander Macombe was called from his high place as
Chief of Engineers to take command of the army of the
United States as Major- General. But it was in the Civil
War that the great opportunity came — after political influ-
ence had ceased to be a potent factor and when real merit
was pushing men to the front. . . . Here is a list of
twelve army commanders all taken from the Corps of
Engineers. . . . Twelve corps commanders were taken
from the Corps of Engineers. On the Confederate side
there were eleven general officers with big commands, and
all taken from the Corps of Engineers. And again, as
division and brigade commanders, as chiefs of staff and as
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ 285
staflF officers, as commanders of engineer and volunteer
troops, there were many others whose names would make a
much longer list.
Such a glorious record is sufficient evidence that the
Corps of Engineers furnished much more than its fair pro-
portion of skillful leaders and able soldiers, and that they
well uphold the reputation of the engineering profession.
The fact that over 10 per cent of all the officers in the Corps
of Engineers were killed in battle during the Civil War is
the best possible evidence that they knew how to fight.
And it is not alone in practical demonstration of the art
and science of war that the engineers of the army have made
so good a record. Their work in civil lines bearing upon
social and economic conditions has been most important.
There came into my possession to-day the manuscript of a
most interesting chapter bearing upon this subject. I
quote from it as follows:
" The Baltimore & Ohio was the earliest important rail-
road enterprise undertaken in the United States. S. H.
Long, William Howard, and William Gibbs McNeill, all
officers of engineers, . . . were chosen as a board to
select the proper route to the Ohio. Upon the rails defi-
nitely located by McNeill, for the first time in America, ran
a steam locomotive. Before McNeill resigned in 1837 he
had surveyed the summit division of the C. & O. canal, and
had acted as chief engineer of seven other railroads from
New England to Florida and Alabama. After he resigned,
for the remaining sixteen years of his Hfe, he acted as chief
or consulting engineer upon many railroads and other
public enterprises in the United States and Cuba, completing
the western railroad of Massachusetts, planning and practi-
cally constructing the first large dry docks at the Brooklyn
Navy Yard, and acting as president of the Chesapeake &
286 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
" Probably greater than McNeill was his junior, Whistler,
. . . In 1835 the Russian government determined to
build a line from St. Petersburg to Moscow. A commission
of Russian engineers suggested Major Whistler to take
charge of this work, and he accepted in 1842. The road
and its equipment were planned by him in detail. . . .
His report upon the gauge to be selected has been pro-
nounced one of the finest models of any engineering docu-
ment ever written. ... In building of engines, all
parts were standardized and interchangeable. Whistler
died in 1849. Another graduate of West Point, T. S.
Brown, was invited to succeed him. ... In a hasty
inspection of the records, I have been able to count 49
graduates who have been chief engineers, and 22 who have
been presidents of railroads. Many have acted in these
capacities on several railroads, and the list would be long
indeed of those who have served as resident or assistant
Now, as to our honored guest. We are here to-night to
testify our respect, our admiration, our affection for that
sturdy engineer, that noble man, — John Fritz. He has
lived a life which we may well strive to emulate, and made
a record we all dehght to honor. Longfellow says :
" But age is opportunity no less
Than youth, though in another dress;
And as the evening twilight fades away
The sky is filled with stars, invisible by day."
It is my hope and my prayer, it is the hope and prayer
of all of us, that these stars, even though invisible to us,
may shine brightly and serenely upon the pathway of
John Fritz until the day comes when the great Archangel
sounds the last taps and the lamp of Hfe is extinguished.
(Hearty and continued applause.)
The Toastmaster: — We will now have a few extracts
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ 287
from letters and other messages that have been received,
and first I would like to read something that has been
handed to me. The President of the World's Fair to be
held at St. Louis, Governor Francis, who regrets his in-
ability to join with us on this occasion, has asked me to
announce here the appointment of Mr. John Fritz as
Honorary Expert in the Metallurgy of Iron and Steel for
the Exposition. (Applause.)
The messages of congratulation and so forth will be read
by a gentleman who with characteristic modesty has under-
taken to conceal his identity, inasmuch as he had the
preparation of this printed list. At the risk of interrupting
a friendship of twenty years, I am going to tell you his name
presently. I want to tell you that we are all very greatly
indebted to him for the tremendous amount of energy and
devotion and ingenuity which he has put into the prepara-
tion of the details of this dinner; as, for instance, this
beautiful menu which you see. It was prepared entirely
under his direction, and I would suggest that each one of
you carry away his menu with religious care, because it
will be extremely difficult for you to replace it if you lose
it now, and I am sure you will prize it very greatly. You
will observe on the first page the autograph of Mr. John
Fritz, which he has put there with a good deal of trouble;
I think he signed some six hundred of them, ha\dng before
him the constant terror of writer's cramp. (Laughter.)
To the chairman of the Dinner Committee we owe this,
also, which I am told is the revised American Society
section of rail (laughter), and we owe to him a great many
other things; but I promised to tell you his name, — Mr.
Thomas Commerford Martin. (Applause and cheers.)
Mr. Martin: — On behalf of the Dinner Committee, I
wish to announce that we did not attempt to revise the
standard section of steel rail in America. (Laughter and
288 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
applause.) You will find this sample in the catalogues;
I will not say whose. (Laughter.) I told Mr. Wellman,
when he remarked to me in the way of criticism that he
was not famiUar with that section (laughter), that Oscar
said it had to fit the sorbet boxes. Mr. Wellman said that
that was something new to him in the way of steel rails.
(Laughter.) I have here a bimch of messages, cable dis-
patches, and letters, and a whole volume more on ice at the
Engineers' Club. (Laughter.) I will not inflict many on
you, but I beheve you will be glad to hear each one of these.
MESSAGES OF CONGRATULATION.
Letters, telegrams, etc., read.
Regret enforced absence on this occasion, which marks an epoch in
American metallurgy by honoring your birthday. " Ithuriel's spear
touched a toad, it became a jewel." You touched iron ore and transformed
it into armor, guns, shafts, plate, materials, with which American engineers
have conquered the whole world by land and sea. All hail Unser Fritz,
father of us all. Deem it not a too presumptuous folly, this spray of western
pine beside your eastern oak and holly.
Irving M. Scott.
Though absent and far away, I wish to add my congratulations to Mr.
Fritz on his eightieth birthday. He has done more for the steel industry
than any man living, and we all acknowledge him as our master and prize
him as our friend. Charles M. Schwab.
Absent in body, present in mind. Thanks for thirty years' friendship.
C. P. Sandberg.
Sincere wishes to your eightieth birthday and respectful homages to one
of the pioneers of American iron industry. Max Meier.
Heartiest congratulations and hopes that we may for a long time still,
keep your true friendship.
Chf. Engr. John Cockerill Works,
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ 289
Happy salutation to the well-deserved chief of Ironmasters.
Verein Deutscher Eisenhuettenleute,
Carl Lueg Schroedter.
Winsor Richards, Edward Martin, and Arthur Keen, London, much
regret they are not with you to-day, but join your many friends on the other
side of the Atlantic in wishing you very many happy returns of your birthday.
(Mgr. Director, Dowlais Works, England.)
On this day of honor congratulations and heartfelt well-wishes.
G. M., Millom & Askam Furnaces, West Cumberland, England.
The Rectory, St. Andrews, Scotlan-d.
Absence deeply regretted. Long life, happiness, health, wealth, and
honor to John Fritz, rolling-mill pioneer, friend and counsellor of us all.
Sheffield's heartiest greetings to John Fritz.
(Inventor of Manganese Steel.)
Regret my absence. Add my best wishes to all those showered upon
John Fritz this evening.
Editor, London Engineering.
Best wishes for the John Fritz Medal banquet.
P. T. Berg,
(Formerly Chf. Eng. of the Homestead Works.)
As I am obliged to sail for Europe on the morning of October 31st, it is
with profound regret that I have to announce my inability to be present
at the banquet to be given on that date to Mr. John Fritz, the man who has
done so much for this country as a pioneer in its great iron and steel indus-
When we compare the feeble beginnings of this department of metal-
lurgy with its strength to-day, we are astounded and can well understand
the consternation of European nations, as they contemplate the giant
strides we have made and are still making in this branch of industry. This
state of things has been made possible only by the great work of such masters
290 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
as our honored friend. May his latter days be like those of Moses, " his
eye not dim, or his natural force abated."
E. E. Olcott,
(Pres. Am. Inst. Mining Engrs.)
Mr. Ambrose Swasey also cabled his congratulations from Japan, where
he was traveling.
The Toastmaster: — Ever since men quit fighting with
clubs, iron has been the great war material, and it is still
the real precious metal, because the man who has iron can
get coal, and yet the consumption of iron as a material of
war is very insignificant as compared with its consumption
in the arts of peace. Civilization is well measured by the
consumption of iron, and in our own country we consume
more per capita than any other nation. You may draw your
own inference as to our standing in civilization. Of all
the iron and steel that we produce now, it is probable that
not more than one-half of one per cent goes into ships of
war, guns, shell, and other military material. Practically,
all of it is consumed in the tools of peace. The gentleman
who will speak for the American Society of Civil Engineers,
of which he is an honored past president, has himself, I
suppose, consumed about one hundred thousand tons of
iron and steel in the bridges which he has built. I have
the honor to introduce Mr. George S. Morison. (Applause.)
SPEECH OF MR. GEORGE S. MORISON.
Mr. Morison: — Mr. President, Gentlemen, Ladies:
The amount of iron and steel which I have myself consumed
is so insignificant in comparison with what is used every
day now, that I feel as if your introduction was a puff which
I did not deserve. But we are here with especial respect
to a great ironmaster, and the ironmaster has done more
than anybody else to raise the profession of the civil en-
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ 291
gineer to the rank which it holds to-day. (Applause.)
The civil engineer's profession is less than a century old.
The civil engineer's work, dating from the remotest an-
tiquity, was confined to other materials than metal. His
works were built of timber and his fine works of stone.
The iron master has added iron and steel. The profession
is no longer dependent solely on the laws of compression:
it has the laws of tension and of elasticity as well. It has
been elevated and raised by these increased powers, and
it is the ironmaster who has rendered this possible. To no
one does our profession owe such a debt of gratitude as to
these men who have given us the material of modern con-
struction. But it is not only in this way that we would
refer to our guest of the evening. The profession of the
ci\'il engineer is new as a profession. It has been built up
in the last century. The men who built it up and made it
what it is, were men who not only had to build it but to
make their own precedents and find their own way. They
could not be educated, because no man is educated in that
which has not yet been done. They had to do their first work
themselves. (Applause.) If we go back through the his-
tory of the world, we find in the earhest times that a set
of men established the conditions while working with the
sword, by personal bravery, by indomitable skill. We find
those men classed in all ancient history as heroes. They
were the heroes of war, and if they were the right kind of
heroes they were the masters in peace. The hero was the
man of the earliest times, and after that when we come to
a time when intellect rather than prowess began to have
its effect, when education was not general but was special-
ized among a few, we find another set of men of very different
order, who led people forward by the force of their minds,
and their intellect, and who were known as the prophets of
those days. And passing from the time of prophecy to the
292 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
times which we can almost remember ourselves, because
we remember the people who were active then, we come
to the very class of men who made our country possible,
who did the work which Mr. Hewitt has so graphically
described, and who were the patriots of that period. These
three classes of men have made the history of the past.
Their work was done practically before our profession
began, but in the work of the last century, the time that
has made the profession of civil engineering what it is, we
have had in that profession a set of men who have perhaps
done more than any of the others to render the conditions
of universal humanity possible which we see to-day. Those
have been the men, who, working without precedent, find-
ing their own way, laying the foundation for the education
which the profession in the twentieth century will enjoy,
have brought up civil engineering to what it is. You may
call them heroes, you may call them prophets, you may call
them patriots; they have the best quahties of all three.
But I think they can in no way be described better than
the men who have done the most to utihze the forces and
the materials of nature for the best good of our race. They
are the pioneers and the best civil engineers, and among
them we can place no one in a higher rank than our guest
of to-night. (Applause.)
The Toastmaster : — Now we come to the foundation
of things. But for the mining engineer we should have
no ironmasters. The mining engineer made John Fritz
possible. He made Bob Hunt possible. He made Alex-
ander Holley possible. (Applause.) The American In-
stitute of Mining Engineers will be spoken for to-night by
a gentleman who for many years has ably served that
institution as its secretary and who has made a great mark
on its history. I mean Dr. Rossiter W. Raymond. (Ap-
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ 293
SPEECH OF DR. ROSSITER W. RAYMOND.
Dr. Raymond: — Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen:
Nothing less, I think, than the occasion and the subject of
to-night could have stimulated a busy and a weary man to
come here at this hour. I suppose that very few men now
living or who ever have lived, or if they did live, ever lived
very long under such a burden of reiterated, monotonous,
successive, and onerous occupations as has been for the past
few months, particularly, in view of certain extra volumes
and so forth, the lot of the secretary of the Institute of
Mining Engineers. In fact, when I consider the work of
my recent occupation, I can find no parallel to it except the
case of the old fellow who kept a lighthouse off the Maine
coast, who was left alone, tending his light, coming to the
mainland once in a while to buy himself a plug of tobacco
and row himself back again to his lonesome habitation.
Well, there was a colporteur and tract distributor in Maine
who heard of this hermit and resolved to bring him some
spiritual benefits. So on one occasion, seizing the oppor-
tunity of a calm sea, he rowed himself out of sight of land
and reached the distant lighthouse on the outside Hne of
our coast, and he undertook to leave with the hghthouse
keeper a package of useful and inspiring tracts, and the
old man said: " Take them away; I haven't got any time
for them." (Laughter.) "Why," said the other, "you
must have a great deal of time; you have nothing to do here
but to tend your light. I should think you would be very
glad of a little occupation." " Occupation," said the old
fellow; " I have got occupation enough. I have got St.
Vitus's dance and a Waterbury watch." (Laughter.)
That is about the condition of the office of the secretary
of the Institute of Mining Engineers. (Laughter.) But
if I were weary unto death, methinks I would stir myself to
294 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
rise and come hither and accept the great privilege of speak-
ing a word to-night for the man and for the society that I
You do well, Mr. President, to call upon the Institute of
Mining Engineers upon this occasion. The Institute of
Mining Engineers was the first technical society in this
country to recognize those virtues and merits, that bril-
Hancy, that fidelity, that glorious character in John Fritz
which you now at this meeting do again. (Applause.)
Our society was organized in 1871 and we elected John
Fritz in 1872 a member, in 1875 we made him vice-president.
I do not blame the Mechanicals for not doing it so early —
they were not bom. (Laughter.) In 1894 we made him
our president. The Mechanical Engineers, with commend-
able imitation of us (laughter), elected him a member in
1 88 1 and president in 1895, after we had got through.
(Laughter.) The Civil Engineers elected him a member
in 1893, ^iid, much to their credit, elected him an honorary
member in 1899. In that, gentlemen, as in almost every
other important step, the progress of the American Institute
of Mining Engineers leads the procession. (Laughter.)
But there is another reason why you do well to couple the
name of this honored man with the name of the society
which honored him first. The American Institute of
Mining Engineers belongs to the class of which John Fritz
is an example and a type. There are three kinds of people:
the men that do things, the men that hinder things, and the
men that report and criticize things (laughter) ; the workers,
the shirkers, and the reporters. Now, the American In-
stitute of Mining Engineers is composed of the men that
do things. (Laughter.) The chairman of your Dinner
Committee has just read a long list, from celebrated sources,
of congratulatory telegrams. Every single name in that
list except the Japanese name which I could not understand
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ 295
as it was pronounced, is a member of the Institute of Mining
Engineers. Last year a collection was made of the so-
called Captains of Industry to welcome Prince Henry of
Germany. Twenty per cent of the entire list were members
of the Institute of Mining Engineers; of those who were
eligible for membership, ninety-nine per cent. (Laughter.)
The first president of the Institute of Mining Engineers,
Father David Thomas, and its twelfth president, John
Fritz, alike were practical men, — men who had made their
own way, and who, although they had been obHged to
triumph without the aid of an early education, were among
the most cordial to welcome such an education, its advan-
tages to the next generation, its aid to themselves. We
begin at the outside, unlike the other technical societies of
this country, and I do not claim that our system is better.
I have often said that I could recognize the advantages of
others, but I do think that it is different. We have in our
membership common miners, laborers, mine foremen, and
people that cannot spell — but then, that is nothing, most
of you can't spell. (Laughter.) I am an editor and I
know. (Laughter.) We have men who understand, and
it has been our strength and our glory and our growth that
we had from the beginning the men who understood, not
merely the intricacies of theory, but the still more devilish
intricacies of practical experience. Let me tell you just
a little thing that I heard John Fritz once say, and let me
sum up the whole matter as to this point with that. Fritz
said to me: " When I am going to start a new engine, I
want a good draughtsman to make the drawings, and I
want the patterns to be well made, and I want the pieces
to be assembled and put together in the shop, and then I
want them taken to the mill, and I want the machine
erected, and then when the boys come to me and say it is
all right, I say, Are you sure it is all right? Does every-
296 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
thing fit? Is it all according to the drawings? Are all the
proportions just right? Yes, yes, yes. Well, then, turn
on the steam and let us see why the thing won't go."
(Laughter.) That is another matter in which I claim that
John Fritz is a worthy member and a typical member of
the Institute of Mining Engineers. In the thirty-one
volumes of our transactions, over twenty-five thousand
pages octavo, you will not find in the transactions of this
really national mine workers' union — you will not find one
single fine about raising the pay of engineers. (Laughter.)
You will find a great many pages about raising engineers.
You will not find one single plan for shortening a day's work
or diminishing the quantity of labor that an honest man
gives for his wages. (Applause.) But you will find a great
many pages devoted to the problem of increasing and im-
proving the quahty of the labor. You will find the spirit
of giving more than you get stamped on its pages. You
will find that the enemy of that Society is not capital, but
ignorance; that the weapon of that Society is not the brutal
boycott or the senseless strike or the voluntary idleness,
which a certain great authority has recently declared to be
the weapon of another society, but industry, knowledge,
and light. You will find that Society recognizing individual
manhood. You will find that Society rewarding it with
its recognition and its praise and not believing in any
solidarity of occupation which constitutes a mass without
units. (Applause.) You will find that Society entertain-
ing the ideal of manhood that rises not upon the ruined
homes and slain bodies of its fellow men, but uplifted on
their grateful hands. You will find that Society standing
in a solid rank for individual liberty, for individual en-
deavor, for the man who works over hours, for the man who
thinks more of his duties than of his rights, for the man who
gives forever and forever more than he gets. (Applause.)
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ 297
And against the glorified picture of another John which has
been set before us in these latter days, we lift the t>'pe of
our John, — John Fritz (applause) ; and we match John
Fritz's day with John Mitchell's day; that was yesterday;
this is to-day, and thank God it is to-morrow and forever.
I pray God that the medal which we have this night
installed will stand forever for those who shall win and wear
it, as the name upon it stands to-day for such qualities as
these. I pray God that He may grant it — nay, He will
grant it, for He is not dead, and American manhood and
liberty inspired by Him are not dead, and Justice and Truth
are the foundations of our national life as they are the
foundation of His eternal throne. (Tremendous applause.)
The Toastmaster : — I have here a telegram which has
just been received: " Accept my heartiest congratulations.
I join with those present in honoring you. Controlling
reasons prevent my being with you. George Westing-
house." (Applause.) The stated order of proceeding will
now be rudely interrupted by Mr. John C. Kafer, of the
Dinner Committee, who has something to say. (Applause.)
Mr. K^fer : — Mr. Chairman, Mr. Fritz, and Gentlemen :
I am delegated by Mr. Irving M. Scott of San Francisco,
who has sent me this beautiful loving cup, to present it to
Mr. John Fritz, in commemoration of what Mr. Fritz has
done for him in his work in building the Oregon. On this
cup is inscribed the following: " To John Fritz on his
eightieth birthday. The builder of the West greets the
genius of the East. The Oregon's performance glorifies
the steel of Fritz." (Applause.)
We have with us here to-night the designer of the ma-
chinery of the Oregon, Rear-Admiral Melville. We have
Mr. Lewis Nixon, who was the designer of the hull. Mr.
Irving Scott promised to be here but could not get here,
298 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
and Mr. Henry Scott was unavoidably detained. Mr.
Fritz, I present this to you in the name of Mr. Irving M.
Scott of San Francisco. (Applause.)
The Toastmaster: — I suppose that no other body of
men ever spoiled so much good steel as the mechanical
engineers. (Applause.) And I know of no one so well
qualified to apologize for them as their honored past presi-
dent, whom I shall presently introduce. It is especially
fitting that he shall speak here, because he was one of the
Bessemer boys in the very infancy of the art. He worked
under and with John Fritz and George Fritz and Bill Jones,
and that soaring genius, that beautiful spirit, that greatest
of them all, Alexander Holley. (Applause.) What a priv-
ilege it was to begin one's life work building up a great
art in such company! It is my privilege now to introduce
to you that highly favored gentleman, Capt. Robert W.
SPEECH. OF CAPT. ROBERT W. HUNT.
Captain Hunt : — Mr. Toastmaster, Ladies and Gentle-
men: My tongue would have to be palsied if I could not re-
spond to such an introduction. The only thing that makes
it embarrassing is that my name should be coupled with
those greater ones. But it was, thank God, from the in-
spiration of them, that any success which may have come
to me has been my lot to achieve. And serving under John
Fritz, could you ask a better pioneer, could you ask a
greater, a more inspiring commander? (Applause.) The
American Society of Mechanical Engineers probably made
one great mistake in their selection of a president; outside
of that their roll shows a line of names of most distinguished
gentlemen, and among them none tower so high as that of
John Fritz. He made our society great, not only in this
land but in the lands of the world. Raymond says we took
Fig. 20. — Cup presented to John Fritz on his Eightieth Birthday
BY IR^^NG M. Scott, Builder of the Oregon.
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ 301
him second-handed. But we were only waiting to give him
the honor which belonged to him. (Applause.) And when
he came to us perfected from the crucial fire, he became our
president, and it is as our president that you will ever know
him. (Applause and laughter.)
It happened, gentlemen, to be my fate to commence my
active career in the iron and steel business at Cambria in
i860, and I went there just one month after Mr. John Fritz
had resigned his position as Chief Engineer and General
Manager of that concern to remove to Bethlehem and there
establish the Bethlehem Iron Company. When I went to
Cambria I found I entered a house of mourning, and I was
greeted with tales of the attributes and the loving-kindness
and all else that go to make up the character of the " old
man " who had gone away. I found there succeeding him
his brother George Fritz, and it was my fate to become and
to be to the end of his too quickly ended Hfe his most inti-
mate friend. He died in 1873, and it was through him and
by him that I knew and became known by John Fritz.
You call him " Uncle John "; I have a right and I claim it
to get closer, because he is nearer me, and it has been my
fortune during these many active years to know that I was
one of his boys. (Applause.) I regard George Fritz and
always did regard him, and I regard his memory to-day as
that of the greatest mechanic that I ever knew. (Applause.)
And still he thought, as he called him with the rest — the
" old man " was greater than he. (Applause.) But I
know that neither of them ever took a step that he did not
consult the other, and each bore to the other the greatest
respect for his ability. And later Alec HoUey was let into
the family. (Applause.) John Fritz, George Fritz, Alex-
ander L. HoUey. (Applause.) Think of that combination,
gentlemen. They were the pioneers of the Bessemer busi-
ness in America. (Applause.) And with leaders, able as-
302 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
sistants had to come. The result — America has led the
A peculiarity of Mr. Fritz which you all know is that he
has liked hard work, and he also has built better than he
really knew. Typically, I remember on one occasion
he called in a friend to criticize a piece of machinery which
he had designed, and steam had been turned on and it was
running. The only comment that this friend could make
was, " Mr. Fritz, don't you think that you have made it
unnecessarily strong ? " John rephed, " Well, if I have, it
will never be found out." (Applause and laughter.) And
I tell you he has loved hard work. There was an occasion
when there was a breakdown at the Bethlehem rail mill
and the mill was stopped. Impatient at the unsuccessful
efforts of those who tried to drive the broken casting off
the shaft, he seized a sledge and swinging such blows as
only those massive shoulders could deliver, it was soon
loosened; but as he put down the sledge at nine o'clock at
night, an old employee, a privileged man, who happened to
be an Irishman, said: " Now, plaze, Mr. Fritz, go home.
Sure you have been here since six o'clock this morning. Let
the boys do the rest, but begob, I don't know why I should
ask it of you, because during all these years you have worked
time and half-time." (Applause.) Looking at him to-
night, time and half-time don't seem to have hurt, and I
will tell you why. His labor has always been on straight
lines, no matter what opposed, no matter how others looked.
He has had his troubles, God knows, but his path was the
straight one, and he hewed it on those hues to the end.
(Applause.) Gentlemen, I think one of the greatest com-
pliments that was ever paid him, and he has been the
recipient of many, as you know, and none great enough,
was the fact that he could not make a bad thing. His
integrity entered into the products of his establishment.
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ 303
(Applause.) Bethlehem rails, and Bethlehem billets, of
special steel, ranked the highest. Commercial conditions
became such that there was no profit. Well ! The produc-
tion of rails and billets ceased, but the works were turned
on lines where perfection of result was all-important, and
so you had introduced into America the manufacture of
armor plate and of ordnance. He could not make the
armor so perfect but what he could make the ordnance to
knock it out, and they had a great time getting the equi-
librium. However, here I say, the great comphment came
when John W. Gates through his revenge against Andrew
Carnegie precipitated the discussion in the Committee of
Congress on the affairs of our nation as to whether or no we
were paying too much money for the armor for our ships.
They turned to Mr. Fritz to give them the figures of proper
cost of production, and give them the design of a plant if
the Government desired to build one or decided to build
one, and the cost of the plant. The then Secretary of the
Navy, in introducing him to the Congressional Committee,
said: " I present to you Mr. John Fritz, the most honest
man I have ever known." (Applause.) And the results
of Mr. Fritz's figures and their confidence in them saved our
nation from making the great mistake of entering into that
Gentlemen, from all you have heard to-night, and from
all we know, his talents, his integrity, have conquered the
respect of the world. Years ago his loving kindness and
himself made him the crowned king of our hearts. Long
live the king! (Applause.)
The Toastmaster: — In some sense, John Fritz belongs
to the world. That you have heard over and over again
to-night. But if you would know the real man, if you would
know him in his gentleness and in his strength, if you would
know him in his wisdom and in his sympathy, you must go
304 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
into the valley where he lives, and amongst the neighbors
who dwell around him. The Valley and the Neighbors
will be spoken for to-night by one of Mr. Fritz's old and
trusted friends, Mr. OUver Williams.
SPEECH OF MR. OLIVER WILLIAMS.
Mr Williams: — Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen:
Seventy-five years ago the Lehigh Valley was practically an
unknown district. At the upper end a few cranks were
endeavoring to persuade their neighbors that the black
stones that were outcropping all around them could be
burned, but with very little success. Thirty years after-
ward, by the course of evolution, these black stones became
black diamonds, and the cranks became coal operators.
Twenty years later through the same evolution, the opera-
tors became coal barons. I did not know until a few weeks
ago how they obtained this name, and it was only when I
went to John Markle, Dr. Wentz, and George McCreary, and
half a dozen more, with tears in my eyes, to beg for a carload
of coal and couldn't get it, that I found out why each one
of them was called a coal barren. (Laughter and applause.)
It has always been a question where the coal measures
ended and the slate measures commenced. John Markle
and the rest of them say that the slate measures appear
round about Slatington. My wife says they begin up
around Hazleton, judging from the coal bin that she has had
filled at different times. (Laughter.) The slate district
of the valley has been one of tremendous importance to us.
The boom in slate has been caused largely by the political
bosses of Pennsylvania and the adjoining States. Their
demand was very great. There has been, by the order of
wise Providence, another measure just below the slate
measure, and that is the cement measure, made, apparently,
because in the last few years the common people have
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ 305
smashed so many of these slates that our bosses have made
for us, that it took all the cement that was in that region
to repair, and that has caused a boom in the cement in-
dustry. (Laughter.) Another great and helpful influence
from the cement industry has been to repair the fortunes
of the poor old fellows who owned that ground originally,
and could not make a living from it, and that has now
enriched so many of the people of that district.
Adjoining the cement district comes the iron district. I
will not stop at this late hour to give you any history of the
wonderful story of the prosperity of the iron industry in the
Lehigh Valley from the day that Father Thomas blew in
the first anthracite furnace in '39 up to the present time that
these later furnaces have poured out their iron by the mil-
Kons of tons. It is about forty years ago that John Fritz
invaded that valley. He came from the rural districts and
took possession of our land. It was a scene of bucolic in-
nocence when he came there. I don't think I am preju-
diced, but with determined earnestness I want to tell you
that the people of that Valley — and it is a great thing to be
known as the Valley, without any prefix to it — the people
of that district were distinguished for their amiability, their
beauteous persons, their courteous manners, their dignity,
their earnestness, their firmness, their generosity, their —
well, I can go through the alphabet, but I won't. I don't
mean to say that all the people had all these virtues com-
bined in them. There were only two there, really, that
had all these virtues. I would say that one was John
Fritz, only I have to go back and live with him for the next
thirty or forty years, and I do not know what the effect
would be if I told him of those virtues that were combined
It is with the deepest feeling that I speak to you to-night
for a moment of the love and esteem in which we hold this
306 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
man in the Valley. We know all about him. We can say
that we have eaten with him, we have drunk with him,
we have slept with him, and we have gone to Pittsburg with
him. (Laughter.) I could a tale unfold, but I won't.
(Laughter.) I will only say this, — that our feelings, in
reference to this man, can only be expressed by a darky
story. A darky wanted to get a divorce from his wife.
Going to Lawyer Scott, the lawyer asked him what claim
he had — what had she done. What were his reasons for
getting a divorce? And the lawyer heard the darky sob-
bing and looking up he saw the great tears running down
from his eyes. He said to him, " You love this woman? "
"Love her — love her! Why, I fairly analyze her."
(Laughter.) That is the feeling we have toward John Fritz.
In the palmy days of Venice they had a book that was
called the Golden Book, and in that book were written the
great deeds of those men that had acted worthily toward the
Great Republic. The Golden Book of the Lehigh Valley is
the hearts of the neighbors of this man, and first and fore-
most in their hearts is written the name of John Fritz.
The Toastmaster: — A very few years ago there ap-
peared upon this planet a set of men who now threaten to
drive us all out of business. They deal with a body of
facts of which we who have gray hair know almost nothing.
They speak a language to which we listen without under-
standing. They are changing the mechanic arts and they
are changing the whole face of society, and they are doing
that by an agency which they themselves cannot explain
or define. Of course, I mean the electrical engineers.
The Listitute of Electrical Engineers, the youngest of our
engineering societies and already one of the strongest, is
represented here to-night by a pioneer in the art, one of
their past presidents, — Prof. Elihu Thomson. (Applause.)
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ 307
SPEECH OF PROF. ELIHU THOMSON.
Professor Thomson : — Mr. Toastmaster, Ladies and
Gentlemen: It is certainly a great pleasure on this inspir-
ing occasion to join in the homage to our honored guest,
John Fritz. We represent, as your toastmaster has said,
the youngest growth or development in engineering. One
of the speakers preceding me said that America leads the
world in certain directions. In what direction did America
lead the world first? Why, in electrical work, in electrical
engineering. These successes that have followed were the
natural outgrowth of the grand development that was going
on among our industries. The American electrical engineer
can, however, say that he set the pace for the world, by
Franklin, earlier than the others. He is, I hope, to be able
to continue setting that pace. It certainly will remain with
us electrical engineers to keep up the progress, and the
advancement which has been so rapid in the past twenty
years. When this electrical engineering industry first be-
gan, our honored guest, John Fritz, the man for whom we
are gathered here to show our respect and admiration, was
an old man, relatively speaking. Less than twenty years
ago, electrical engineering did not exist. Not much more
than seventeen or eighteen years ago (I think that is the
time), a band of a few enthusiasts, as they might be called,
gathered together and called themselves the American
Institute of Electrical Engineers. As the art grew, the
Institute grew. It has kept pace with that enormous
growth and development which now keeps us all so busy.
And what is that enormous growth based upon? Why, it
leads back to the ironmaster. . . .
We have, in the short time of the life of this American
Institute which I have the honor to represent, revolutionized
lighting, we have revolutionized power, we have revolu-
308 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
tionized the chemical industries to a large extent, and are
bound to revolutionize metallurgy much more than has yet
been done. We can almost see our way clear to the giving
a candle power of light for say a quarter of a watt, or 1500
candle power to a horse power perhaps — not the 2000
candle-power arc light that you have all heard of, that only
measures three or four or five hundred actually, but 1500
real candle power. We have given you not only one kind
of light, but half a dozen different kinds of light, and those
half-dozen different kinds of light having their own special
We have in these few years revolutionized the street-rail-
way systems and we are bound to revolutionize in time those
great systems that extend over the country for hundreds
and hundreds of miles. From the electric furnace we have
produced the best abrasives, the hardest substances, and
we have even produced the diamond. At the same time we
have some furnaces that have produced not the grittiest
and hardest of substances, but almost the softest of solids,
which will flow under pressure like liquid, — an artificial
graphite. We have given you aluminum, the Hghtest of
metals, with alloys which make it almost as common as
brass and cheaper bulk for bulk. There is even a promise
that we may be able to attack on a commercial scale the
elements of the atmosphere, nitrogen and oxygen, and unite
them commercially and produce nitrates for use in the
fertilization of lands. (Applause.)
Now we are, as it were, on the threshold of this develop-
ment. Within a few years we have had a most surprising
development in the way of transmission of signals for long
distances. The telephone itself was wonderful enough, — a
little piece of sheet metal in front of a magnet with a coil on
it through which you could talk over enormous distances —
but we have, as it were, seized upon the whole ether sur-
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ 309
rounding the world; we have seized upon an atmosphere, not
of air, but of that something which is within air and which
fills all space, and made it the means of communication.
In closing, I would say I know I voice the sentiments
of every one of the body of American Electrical Engineers
in doing honor — I stand as the representative of each and
every one of them in doing honor to the guest, John Fritz,
this evening. (Applause.)
The Toastmaster: — Bob Hunt has told us of the fame
of Bethlehem rails and billets and armor plate and castings ;
but to my mind the greatest product of Bethlehem is men.
Bethlehem men were bred under John Fritz, and under
hina they learned not only their business as engineers, but
they learned those things which lie at the very foundation
of society: they learned thoroughness and justice and
loyalty and fidelity and devotion to duty, and wherever
they went out, to carry Fritz's ideas over the country.
The gentleman who will speak to-night of John Fritz's old
boys is one of those old boys, and he carried Fritz's ideas
into the building up of the New South. He is not only an
engineer, but a business man; he is not only a politician,
but a patriotic citizen; and I take uncommon pleasure in
introducing to you Mr. Daniel A. Tompkins, of Charlotte,
SPEECH OF MR. DANIEL A. TOMPKINS.
Mr. Tompkins: — Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentle-
men: I am handicapped with being a provincial before a
metropoHtan audience, and perhaps an overfed and sleepy
metropolitan audience. I am handicapped in many respects
because I came here with a speech prepared to tell how well
educated a man John Fritz was, and Abram Hewitt's letter
and Mr. Fritz's speech knocked that speech of mine into a
cocked hat. Mr. Hewitt said he was not educated at all.
3IO AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
If I had not had time to reflect, I would not be persuaded
that Mr. Fritz said he started this life with a scant educa-
tion. What did we all do? (Laughter.)
About two months ago I happened to be in this city and
I learned that there were two ladies here from the South.
Their people were good friends of mine and I invited them
to dinner. Going through the lobby of this hotel down-
stairs we came upon the distinguished gentleman who is
the guest of honor at this feast. I stopped to speak with
him, and he was cordial, as he always is to his friends.
Leaving him to rejoin the ladies, one of them asked: " Who
is your very rich friend? " (Laughter.) " Why," I said,
" I never thought about him as being a rich man before in
my life, I think he is pretty well fixed, even as modern
riches go. But what made you think he is rich? " " Well,"
she said, " that beautiful smile that he has and that very
cordial manner he has — I think it is just exactly what I
would have if I was worth about fifty millions of dollars."
(Applause.) I said, " That benignant smile and cordial
manner do not come from his money, but they come from
what he did." One of them said, " What has he done?
Tell us about what he has done! " I said, " He has ad-
vanced the material development of this country. He has
improved the processes of steel and iron manufacture until
these in America surpass what is to be found in any other
part of the world. He has improved the manufacture of
ordnance forgings and armor plates until the chances of
war are materially decreased, and then he and I built the
Bethlehem Iron Works." (Laughter.) Well, this lady
looked rather quizzically out of the corners of her eyes and
said: "How much did he build, and how much did you
build? " (Laughter.) " Well," I said, " I see your in-
nuendo; I see you are suspicious. Come back and I will
prove by the gentleman himself that what I said is all
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ 311
right." We went back and I introduced these young
ladies and told him the claim that I had set up that he and
I had built the Bethlehem Iron Works, but I said: " Before
you commit yourself, I want to tell about a little incident.
There was a town we will call Duttersfield. It was owned
absolutely by a nobleman and a Quaker. The nobleman
owned every house in town except one and the Quaker
owned that one. The nobleman had often endeavored to
buy the Quaker out and the Quaker would not sell. One
day they met at a little alehouse, and after a glass or two
of ale, the nobleman said: " Now, look here, James, I have
ofifered you four times what that old house of yours is worth.
I don't care anything about bujdng it; I don't want to press
the sale on you. But you Quakers profess to be particu-
larly honest, and I want you to tell me now the reason why
you do not want to sell — just as a matter of curiosity."
And the Quaker said, " Well, John, if I tell thee honest, I
suppose it is because I could no longer say that thee and I
own the whole town of Duttersfield." (Laughter.) Then
Mr. Fritz sat down and said, " As long as you tell that
story, you are my partner in Bethlehem." (Laughter.) I
thought I was all right with the ladies, when he added:
" There's about five thousand other fellows that's got
exactly Just the same right to claim to be partners in the
Bethlehem works as Dan Tompkins has." Well, that
knocked me into a cocked hat, you know. That gives me a
text, — a text that fits the occasion. Five thousand people
sent out from the Bethlehem Iron Works to undertake the
industrial development of this country ! I leave out myself
and make it 4,999. (Laughter.) I do not believe that the
very greatest works of Mr. John Fritz have been in the
improvement of the iron and the steel industry. I do not
believe that his greatest work has been accomplished when
he has been called into counsel by kings and emperors and
312 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
foreign countries, to tell them what to do. I do not believe
that his greatest work has been in constructing the Bethle-
hem Iron Works, but rather in training those 4,999 fellows
to go out and preach his creed of thrift, economy, industry,
and financial integrity and industrial courage throughout
these United States, and to make the wheels turn, and to
establish pay rolls for the benefit of the population from the
St. Lawrence to the Rio Grande. (Applause.)
Now, I will tell you another thing, and I am going to say
something disagreeable to the audience, but not to him. I
beheve he will back me up. You have been praising him
too much. He did not do everything you said he did.
There is somebody at the other end of this hall that is
entitled to half the praise. (Applause.) I have known
many a woman who could have kept him from doing any-
thing. (Applause.) I make my obeisance to Mrs. Fritz,
and I say that the fruits of her work are here before you.
(Applause.) I asked Mrs. Fritz's brother how long Mr.
Fritz had been called the old man, and he said: " I don't
know. He was about twenty-five years old when he came
courting around our house, and he was the old man then."
(Laughter.) His life and its development have been parallel
with the development of the profession of engineering, and
that profession of engineering from the time of George
Washington down to the present time has been enlarging,
broadening, and widening itself all the time until it has come
to comprise almost every one of the arts and sciences that
are known. I make my obeisance to the gentleman whom
I honor above all others in the engineering profession. I
stand always uncovered in his presence. I wish him a long
and a happy hfe, and that the rest of his Hfe may fulfill all
the conditions that Mr. Abram S. Hewitt stipulated in his
letter, and being yet a young man, that is a great big wish.
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ 313
The Toastmaster : — It is too bad to break up this
beautiful occasion, but I am afraid we will have to do it.
Mr. Fritz asks me to express his thanks to you for your
attendance, and to express to the speakers his thanks for
the many graceful things that they have said about him,
and we will part with one toast which needs no spokesman :
" Mrs. Fritz and the ladies, God bless them all."
THE BANQUET AS SEEN BY ONE IN THE GALLERY.
That unique caravansary, the incomparable Waldorf-
Astoria, never opened its spacious gates to, or harbored
within its walls, a more intelHgent and all-round refined
and high-toned company than graced and dignified its
halls on the auspicious thirty-first day of October, 1902.
They numbered by the hundreds and had come from the
East and from the West, from the North and from the
South, neither for business nor profit, enticed by no self-
interest; theirs was an errand of pure pleasure, not, as
vulgarly understood, in " tripping the light fantastic toe
through the mazes of the dizzy dance," not to burn incense
at the shrines of wealth, not to worship at the feet of
beauty, not to pour libations in the welcome of some con-
quering hero, or sacrifice hecatombs to celebrate the victory
of some political chief, but simply to honor a modest
friend, a good man " eighty years young," whom they
loved, and whom they long since affectionately christened,
" Unser Fritz."
At the appointed hour this distinguished company, 600
strong, was thronging the elegant and brilliantly illuminated
lobby of the Banqueting Hall, doing homage and offering
hearty congratulations to the hero and the heroine of the
hour; for, as in all well-organized and desirable assem-
blages, this was not for men alone. As the best work since
time immemorial has been accomplished by the united
314 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
efiforts and cooperation of good men and women, so should
all happy results be shared and enjoyed by both. But,
" All hiunan history attests
That happiness for man, the hungry sinner,
Since Eve ate the apples, much depends on dinner! "
The banquet came next in order. At the entrance to the
theater of action, the ladies, being invited "to go up
higher," ascended into the regions of music, softer light,
and purer air, to the " Angels' Gallery," the men filling the
space only a little lower than the angels. Why attempt to
describe the magic scene that greeted our eyes after reach-
ing the hemicycle allotted us for observation! It should
have been painted then and there with the colors fresh on
the palette, under the enchanting spell of the moment, in
the warm glow of the lights, the exhilarating music, the
presence of friends, and the inspiration of the spirit afloat
in the genial atmosphere. Though time brings in quick
succession its varied seasonable festive functions, it can
never dim from memory the bright and beautiful vision
of that delightful night. What with the inviting groups of
cosy small round tables, the dazzling linen, the shining silver,
and glittering crystal; the myriads of pink-shaded lamps
diflfusing their soft rosy glow, the bountiful decorations of
gorgeous chrysanthemums, and the fine models of steel-
making processes, the setting of the picture was perfect,
both in itself and in pleasing relief to the somber and
monotonous regulation costume of the guests it enframed.
What a whimsical fashion that of the guest's dress suit,
so nearly resembling the livery of the garcon! An old
itinerant preacher illustrating his discourse with panoramic
views, called the attention of his audience to the picture
of Daniel in the lions' den, adding: " My friends, you will
easily distinguish Daniel from the lions, as the former
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ 315
carries a blue cotton umbrella under his arm." The
characteristic distinction of the guests this night, though
not so original, was even more effective, — a pure white
chrysanthemum, en boutonniere.
A brilliant overture by the band and the introduction of
oysters upon the scene opened the first act of the epicurean
melodrama. A full corps of modern Ganymedes began to
play their inspiriting part, other ministering spirits appear-
ing and disappearing, bearing in turn green turtle soup,
olives, almonds, celery, radishes, filet de sole with cucumber
salad, then appetizing sweetbreads with Parisian potatoes,
followed by lamb flanked with French peas as piece de
resistance. All tantalizingly near and aggravatingly far.
Feeding time in a menagerie is under certain circumstances
amusing and entertaining, but who has not observed the
unrest of the smaller animals looking on the greater devour-
ing their lion's share? A cat looking at a king can scarcely
find in the privilege the satisfaction of interviewing a mouse.
To beguile the fancy and help while away the tedium of
hope long deferred and great expectations, exquisite sou-
venir programs of the entertainment, genuine works of art
and triumphs of engineering skill, had been thoughtfully
distributed among the feminine denizens of the upper re-
gions ; but the dainty and artistically devised French menu
only emphasized the fact and added to the regret that on
this spicy occasion, what was sauce for the gander should
not be sauce for the goose. One of the most exquisitely
cruel modes of torture during the Dark Ages was by starva-
tion, the helpless victims bound in narrow cells in full view
of the inquisitor's kitchens, being forced witnesses of all
the culinary operations and preparations in the result of
which they had no share. History but repeats itself.
When the promised " light refreshments " reached the
altitude of the mouth-watering spectators, however, they
3l6 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
had been fit for the gods, and on Olympus had served as
nectar and ambrosia.
During these digressions above, things were progressing
in regular courses below, fish and flesh had been duly dis-
posed of with accessories galore, and as entre-acte, specimen
sections of a new kind of T-rail, skillfully contrived to
answer the double purpose of sherbet cups, had been pre-
sented to the banqueters as souvenirs of the Fritz Festival.
The irrepressible punster naturally pronouncing the sorbet
a Vorange " raal good." The band in the meantime en-
livened the swiftly passing hours with its gayest notes.
Years ago, at a popular bibUcal panoramic exhibition, each
scene was ushered in by an organ accompaniment explana-
tory or prophetic. Thus, as the return of the Prodigal
Son unrolled before the audience, the music struck up,
" When Johnny comes marching home again," and Christ
stood stilling the tempest to the tune of '' A home on the
ocean wave, a bark on the rolling deep." In the absence
of a music program and unfamiUar with the repertory of
the modern dinner-band, we infer that the selections were
up-to-date, and can certify to the suitableness of " For he
is a jolly good fellow," and " We won't go home till morn-
ing," as well as the reasonableness of the final " Good-by,
ladies, we're going to leave you now."
But the end had not yet come. Roasted squabs and
salad were next in order, followed by the delicacies of the
daintiest of desserts, fancy ices, various cakes and sweets,
luscious fruit, cheese and coffee, that subtle beverage,
medium between the material and spiritual life of man,
introducing as grand finale the happiest idea and greatest
surprise of this surprising spread. There entered, to the
liveliest notes of the band, a long procession of the entire
force of the waiting corps, marching and countermarching
through the intricacies of the array of tables, parading
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ 317
before the " beloved John " and his friends huge candied
representations of some of the striking results of the steel
industry, which, but for the work of the great and venera-
ble chief, had scarcely existed. The modem steel building
was exemplified by a beautiful model of the greatest sky-
scraping " Flat Iron " in the world, borne aloft in the arms
of the head of the cortege. Then followed miniature fac-
similes of the latest steel bridge, the steel-clad battleship
Oregon, of the biggest steam and electrical engines built,
and of the very latest type of American disappearing siege
guns, such as are now being mounted along our Atlantic
coast, beside which stood some toy cannon balls. Then
followed still other mechanical designs, intended to em-
phasize the triumph of the steel industry which John Fritz
has done so much to create.
And now for the feast of reason and flow of soul, since
" man should not live by bread alone." Behind an antique-
looking tribune, built on a slightly elevated platform over-
looking the joyous multitude, sat " Uncle John " in the
midst of the orators of the night, their noble and friendly
faces framed in by banks of ferns and flowers, against a
background of the three colors we love the best, broken
midway by mysteriously closed curtains, at the parting of
which we had expected some hand to trace writings upon
the wall, in letters of steel and words of heaven's fire,
" An honest man, the noblest work of God ";
but when the curtains opened, it was to introduce the inter-
esting ceremony of the medal presentation of which the
" Honest Man " was the first recipient. Then followed the
reading of a nobk epistle from Hon. Abram S. Hewitt. One
of the veterans of the art, detained by the infirmities of ad-
vancing age, he penned his message full of wisdom and good
cheer, to which the house responded with heartfelt and en-
3l8 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
thusiastic applause. The Navy was represented by Rear-
Admiral George W. Melville, one of the best and bravest
of the nation's heroes, whose exploits and achievements in
the Lena Delta astonished the world. Then congratula-
tory messages were read, coming " from the four comers of
the roimd world." Then the Army was responded to by
General Griffin, and able speeches generously savored with
Attic salt were enjoyed from representatives of the four
great American Societies and Institutes of Civil, MLning,
Mechanical, and Electrical Engineers. The facetious man-
ufacturer of " lucky omens " from up-country discoursed on
the Lehigh Valley and its neighbors, and last, but not least,
one of Uncle John's boys dwelt on the days of his brother
old-boys in a speech redundant with wit and humor. And
when the last good-by was spoken to the warm pressure
of the hand, all went on their various ways, feeling it had
been good to be there.
The event was a rare success from beginning to end;
thanks to the ingenuity, good taste, and appreciative realiza-
tion of the eternal fitness of things on the part of the various
committees. Kindness and good-will had conceived the
idea, talented ability had carried it out, the well-earned
laurels of a truly good and great man had been scattered
along his upward path to the land of all possibilities, while
yet he might gather them up, see the friend's face, and
press the kindly hand who brought them. No post-mortem
eulogiums, no flower-decked tomb could so well keep fresh
the memory of one whom his fellow men loved to honor,
while yet he trod the ways of life with them.
J. B. T.
LIST OF SUBSCRIBERS.
ACHESON, EDWARD G.
ADAMS, JOSEPH W.
ADAMS, W. H.
AEBY, A. E.
ALLISON, J. WESLEY.
ARCHER, EDWARD R.
ARNOLD, B. J.
BACHMAN, F. E.
BAILEY, JAS. B.
BAILEY, W. H.
BAKER, CHAS. W.
BAKER, IRA O.
BALDWIN, STEPHEN W.
BALL, FRANK H.
BANCROFT, J. S.
BARRUS, GEO. H.
BARTLETT, E. E.
BAYLES, J. C.
BELL, C. LOWTHIAN.
BELL, SIR I. LOWTHIAN.
BEMENT, CLARENCE S.
BENSEL, JOHN A.
BERG, P. T.
BILLINGS, CHAS. E.
BLAUVELT, WM. H.
BOLLER, ALFRED P.
BOND, GEO. M.
BORIE, A. E.
BOUSCAREN, L. F. G.
BRAINE, L. F.
BRASHEAR, JOHN A.
BREITHRUPT, WM. H.
BRINCHERHOFF, H. W.
BROOKER, CHAS. F.
BROOKS, JAMES C.
BROWN, ALEX. E.
BROWN, HARVEY H.
BRUNNER, C. O.
BUCK, LEFFERTS L.
BUCK, RICHARD S.
BUCKHOLZ, CARL W.
BUCKINGHAM, CHAS. L.
BULLARD, EDWARD P.
BURDEN, JAMES A.
BURR, F. A.
BURR, WM. H.
BURROWS, GEO. L.
BUSHNELL, JOS., Jr.
CAMPBELL, HENRY H.
CARRINGTON, H. H. SMITH.
CATHCART, PROF. W. L.
CHANDLER, GEO. A.
CHAPMAN, F. H.
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
CODMAN, E. D.
COFFIN, C. A.
COGSWELL, WM. B.
CONLEY, O. J.
CONVERSE, JOHN H.
COPE, GEO. W.
COREY, W. E.
CORTHELL, E. L.
CRAMP, EDWIN S.
CRESSON, GEO. V.
CROCKER, GEO. A.
CROES, J. J. R.
CROWELL, JAMES FOSTER.
CUMMINGS, CHAS. H.
CUNNINGHAM, A. C.
CURTIS, FAYETTE S.
DANIELS, F. H.
DAVENPORT, R. W.
DAVIS, CHAS. H.
DAVIS, H. C.
DAY, GEO. H.
DE CAMP, W. S.
DELANO, WARREN, Jr.
DENTON, JAS. E.
DERBYSHIRE, W. H.
DEYO, S. L. F.
DICKIE, GEORGE W.
DODGE, JAMES MAPES.
DODSON, CHAS. M.
DODSON, T. M.
DOSTER, GEN. W. E.
DROWN, THOMAS M.
DUDLEY, CHAS. B.
DUNN, GANO S.
EDISON, THOS. A.
ELLARD, J. W.
ELY, SUMNER A.
ELY, THEO. N.
EMMET, W. L.
EVEREST, CHAS. M.
FACKENTHAL, B. F., Jr.
FELTON, EDGAR C.
FELTON, SAMUEL M.
FINDLEY, A. I.
FIRM STONE, FRANK.
FLETCHER, ANDREW, Jr.
FLETCHER, WM. H.
FOLGER, WM. M.
FORD, E. L.
FRANCIS, LEWIS W.
FREEMAN, JOHN R.
FRICK, H. C.
FROSTZ, J. S.
FULLER, E. L.
FULLER, J. W.
GAYLEY, O. C.
GOBEILLE, J. L.
GORHAM, A. G.
GRAMMER, F. L.
GREEN, BERNARD R.
GREENE, GEO. S., Jr.
GRIFFIN, GENL. EUGENE.
GROVER, LEWIS C.
LIST OF SUBSCRIBERS
HADFIELD, R. A.
HAGMAN, W. J.
HAINES, COL. H. S.
HALL, JOHN M.
HALSEY, F. A.
HAMILTON, GEO. A.
HARDLEY, J. WHEELER.
HARTMAN, JOHN M.
HARVEY, HON. E.
HAWKS, JAS. D.
HEAD, ARCHIBALD P.
HEARNE, F. J.
HENNING, GUSTAVUS C.
HENSHAW, F. V.
HENSZEY, WM. P.
HERR, EDWIN M.
HERZOG, F. B.
HEWITT, ABRAM S.
HEWITT, CHAS. E.
HIBBARD, HENRY D.
HIGGINS, MILTON P.
HOLLIS, H. L.
HOLLOW AY, J. F.,
In Memoriam by
HOLLOW^ AY, MRS. ANNA C.
HORN, CHAS. R.
HOUGH, DAVID L.
HOWE, FRANK P.
HOWE, HENRY M.
HULICK, WM. H.
HULST, NELSON P.
HUMPHREY, GEO. S.
HUMPHREYS, ALEX. C.
HUNGERFORD, WM. S.
HUNT, CHAS. WALLACE.
HUNT, CHAS. WARREN.
HUNT, ROBERT W.
HUSTON, CHAS. L.
HUTCHINSON, DR. C. T.
HUTTON, F. R.
INGHAM, WM. A.
JACOBUS, D. S.
JAQUES, WM. H.
JARVIS, CHAS. M.
JENNINGS, ROBT. E.
JOHNSON, JOSEPH E.
JOHNSTON, J. FRANK.
JOHNSTON, W. J
JONES, B. F.
JONES, B. F., Jr.
JONES, E. H.
JONES, WM. R., ^
JUST, GEO. A.
In Memoriam by
HARTMAN, JOHN M.
KAFER, JOHN C.
KEEPER, THOS. C.
KEMMERER, M. S.
KENT, JOSEPH C.
KERR, WALTER C.
KIDDLE, ALFRED W.
KIRBY, FRANK E.
KNAP, JOS. M.
KNIGHT, FLETCHER H.
KUNHARDT, W. B.
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
LANGE, PHILIP A.
LASH, HORACE W.
LAUREAU, L. G.
LEAVITT, ERASMUS D.
LEIBERT, OWEN F.
LIEB, JOHN WM., Jr.
LINDERMAN, G. B.
LOREE, L. F.
LORING, COMMODORE C. H.
MABEN, J. C.
MAJOR, A. J.
MANNING, CHAS. H.
MARTIN, CHAS. C.
MARTIN, EDW. P.
MARTIN, T. C.
MATHER, WM. G.
MATTICE, ASA M.
MAW, W. H.
MAY, De COURCEY.
MAYNARD, GEO. W.
MEIER, EDWARD D.
MEIGS, LIEUT. JOHN F.
MELVILLE, GEO. W.
MILLER, FRED. J.
MILLS, COL. A. G.
MILSON, THOS. H.
MITCHELL, ALEX. C.
MORGAN, CHAS. H.
MORGAN, T. R.
MORISON, GEO. S.
MORRIS, HENRY G.
MORRIS, JOHN T.
MORRIS, WM. H.
MORSE, H. G.
MOXHAM, A. J.
MYERS, W. B.
McCREARY, GEO. D.
McCREATH, A. S.
McGRAW, JAS. H.
McILVAIN, E. M.
McKEE, J. J.
McLANAHAN, J. KING.
McMURTRY, G. G.
McNULTY, GEO. W.
NASON, C. W.
NEILSON, WM. G.
NICHOLS, O. F.
NORTH, EDWARD P.
NORRIS, FRANK P.
OCKERSON, JOHN A.
OLCOTT, EBEN E.
OLIVER, H. W.
O'ROURKE, JOHN F.
PALMER, GEORGE Q.
PALMER, N. F.
PALMER, S. S.
PARKER, E. W.
PARKER, RICHARD A.
PARSONS, H. deB.
PERIN, CHAS. P.
PERRY, JAMES H.
LIST OF SUBSCRIBERS
PETERSON, PETER A.
PILLING, WM. S.
PORTER, CHAS. T.
PORTER, H. F.
POTTER, ED. C.
PRIDE, H. C.
PROSSER, H. A.
PROUT, H. G.
RAMSEY, JAMES, Jr.
RAND, CHAS. F.
RAYMOND, DR. R. W.
RAYMOND, WM. G.
RE A, WM. H.
RICE, CALVIN W.
RICHARDS, E. WINDSOR.
RIGHTER, THOMAS M.
RIPLEY, SIDNEY D.
ROBERTS, FRANK C.
ROBERTS, PERCIVAL, Jr.
ROBINSON, C. S.
ROBINSON, T. W.
ROBY, L. A.
ROEBLING, CHAS. G.
ROEBLING, F. W.
ROEPPER, CHAS. W.
ROHRER, A. L.
ROWLAND, THOS. FITCH.
RUSSEL, WALTER S.
SANDBERG, C. P.
SAUNDERS, WM. L.
SAYRE, ROBT. H.
SCHEFFLER, F. A.
SCHILLER, WM. B.
SCHIRMER, FRANK A.
SCHNEIDER, CHAS. C.
SCHROPP, ABRAHAM S.
SCHWAB, CH.'\S. M.
SCOTT, IRVING M.
SCR.\NTON, WM. W.
SEAMAN, H. J.
SEAVER, JOHN W.
SEE, ALONZO B.
SELLERS, JOHN, Jr.
SEVER, GEO. F.
SHERRERD, JOHN M.
SHIMER, PORTER W.
SHOOK, A. M.
SIMPSON, C. D.
SINGER, CHAS. A.
SMINK, FRANK C.
SMITH, JESSE M.
SMITH, J. WALDO.
SMITH, J. WM.
SMITH, SIDNEY L.
SMITH, T. G.
SNELUS, GEO. J.
SNOW, COL. W. W.
SPRAGUE, FRANK J.
STAFFORD, C. ED.
STANTON, JOHN R.
STANTON, W. A.
STAUFFER, DAVID M.
STEARNS, IRVING A.
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
STEVENSON, A. A.
STEVENSON, J. P.
STEVENSON, JOHN, Jr.
STILLWELL, L. B.
STOUT, F. C.
STROMAN, G. W.
STRONG, GEO. S.
SUPLEE, HENRY H.
SWAIN, GEO. F.
SWANK, JAS. M.
SWEET, JOHN E.
SWEET, WM. A.
TARR, H. G. H.
TAYLOR, L. H., Jr.
TAYLOR, W. J.
THURSTON, ROBT. H.
TOMPKINS, D. A.
TOWNE, HENRY R.
TOWNSEND, J. W.
TREXLER, H. C.
TROTZ, J. O. E.
TRUMP, EDWARD N.
TUCKER, W. R.
UEHLING, EDWARD A.
UNDERWOOD, F. D.
VAUCLAIN, S. M.
WAITT, A. M.
WALES, C. M.
WALKER, W. R.
WALLACE, JOHN F.
WALLACE, H. T.
WARD, WM. L.
WARNER, W. R.
WARREN, B. H.
WEBSTER, GEO. S.
WEBSTER, WM. R.
WEED, GEORGE E.
WELLMAN, CHAS. H.
WELLMAN, SAMUEL T.
WESTINGHOUSE, HERIVIAN H.
WESTINGHOUSE, GEO., Jr.
WESTON, FRANCIS E.
WETHERILL, JOHN P.
WHEELER, S. S.
WHITING, S. B.
WILBUR, E. P.
WILBUR, COL. R. H.
WILBUR, WARREN A.
WILEY, MAJOR WM. H.
WILGUS, WM. J.
WILLIAMS, GARDNER S.
WILSON, JOSEPH M.
WITHERBEE, FRANK S.
WOOD, F. W.
WOLLE, HARTLEY C.
WORTHINGTON, C. C.
WYMAN, H. WINFIELD.
ZALINSKI, E. L.
ZEHNDER, C. H.
ZICK, WM. G.
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ 325
The Following are the Awards of the
John Fritz Medal:
No. Dale To
1902 John Fritz
1905 Lord Kelvin
1906 George Westinghouse
1907 Alexander Graham Bell
1908 Thomas Alva Edison
1909 Charles T. Porter
1910 Alfred Noble
191 1 (to be awarded Sir Wm. H. White in November)
326 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN FRITZ
Testimonial Dinner to John Fritz by the Manu-
facturers' Club of Philadelphia.
On November 17, 1910 the Manufacturers' Club of
Philadelphia tendered John Fritz a reception and dinner
at the rooms of the Club, the participants numbering
about 175. Col. W. F. Donovan acted as toastmaster.
Addresses were made by Nathan B. Folwell, President of
the Club, John Birkinbine, John Fritz, James M. Swank,
Charles M. Schwab, the Rev. Russell H. Conwell, Joseph E.
Thropp, the Hon. Hampton L. Carson, and Robert W.
In connection with the exercises of the evening the
Elliott Cresson gold medal was awarded Mr. Fritz by the
Franklin Institute of Philadelphia " for distinguished lead-
ing and directive work in the advancement of the iron
and steel industries," and Dr. Russell H. Conwell, Presi-
dent of Temple University, Philadelphia, announced that
the Trustees of Temple University conferred on Mr. Fritz
the honorary degree of Doctor of Science.
JAN 1 9 1939