Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Letters and other Ephemera Signed by John B Jervis

Letter Signed by John B Jervis and Peter Hastie in 1847 just before completion of The High Bridge portion of the Croton Aqueduct

Document dated June 27, 1847, New York City, signed by John Bloomfield Jervis (1795–1885) Chief Engineer of the Croton Aqueduct and The High Bridge and Railroad and Canal Pioneer. He designed the first locomotive to run in America, designed and supervised the construction of five of America's earliest railroads, was chief engineer of three major canal projects, and designed and built the Croton Aqueduct – New York City's fresh water supply from 1842-91. He is the namesake of Port Jervis, NY.

This document is an accounting of work done by a contracting company, Nodwell and Lusk, on a portion of the Croton Aqueduct. Jervis signs as Chief Engineer and Peter Hastie signs as Resident Engineer. Jervis was born in N.Y. In 1817 he started worked on the Erie Canal as an axe man, while studying engineering. By 1819 he was the lead engineer on the canal's 50 mile center section. In 1827, he became the chief engineer for the Delaware and Hudson Canal Co., which, although starting as a canal company, became one of the earliest railroads in the U.S.. In this position, he designed the Stourbridge Lion, the first steam locomotive to be used in the U.S.. In 1831, he became the chief engineer for the Mohawk and Hudson RR, which became the New York Central RR. In 1833 Jervis became Chief Engineer of the Chenango Canal (N.Y.) project and helped in its design and construction. Jervis was the first railroad engineer to design a 4-2-0 steam locomotive (it is called the Jervis type in his honor). In 1836, Jervis became the Chief Engineer on the 41-mile long Croton Aqueduct, the capacity in which he signs this document. The Croton Aqueduct operated for over 120 years (1842 to 1965), bringing fresh water to New York City. Many of Jervis's original diagrams for this project are in the Smithsonian and the Library of Congress. The still standing High Bridge over the Harlem River connecting Manhattan and the Bronx was part of the Croton Aqueduct project. After designing and building the Croton Aqueduct, Jervis served as a consulting engineer for the Boston water system from 1846-48. In the 1850s and into the early 1860s he worked as Chief Engineer for a few railroads in the Midwest, and was President of the Chicago and Rock Island RR from 1851-54. He retired in 1864 but was not idle. He helped build the Rome Iron Mill, and in 1877 wrote a book on economics, The Question of Labor and Capital. He also founded the Rome, N.Y. public library. The city of Port Jervis, N.Y., is named in his honor. Peter Hastie (b. 1805) was born in Scotland and emigrated to the U.S. in 1832. He worked as an assistant engineer in the construction of the Chenango and Erie Canals. In 1837 he was promoted to Resident Engineer of the Croton Aqueduct, the position in which he signs this document.

Another letter signed by Jervis for work on the Croton Reservoir:

Letter from John B. Jervis to Alexander Hamilton dated May 1,1832:

addressed to "Alexander Hamilton, [Jr.], Esq., Queenstown, Upper Canada."
Postmarked "ALBANY MAY 3" in a small red circular datestamp and rated at Albany "18 3/4."
Docketed by Mr. Hamilton upon arrival "J. B. Jervis, Esq., Albany May '32."
Contents relate to the writer (Jervis) discussing the possibility of getting a railroad from Schenectady to Buffalo.
Signed at the bottom of page 3 "With Esteem Respect, I am Truly Yours, John B. Jervis."
Much excellent content includes:
"Your failure to obtain an act of incorporation is not surprising, you must in the outset have met with impediments and conflicting interest that you could not well be prepare to meet..."
"The delay in the commencement of your projected work will I think indicate your chance of obtaining an experienced Engineer to Supervise its construction, and should I be so circumstancial as to have it in my power to afford your personal services, I should not regret the opportunity of such engagment..."
"The Legislators have not been willing to charter the company for constructing a Road from Schenectady to Buffalo, which would have been the first to command the capital for its construction...."
"Your views of the value of constructing public improvements on a permananet place is no doubt counted as a general principle and you have a strong case in your vicinity, which will soon if it does not already manifest itself in the decline of the Wood Locks on the Willand Canal."
"The Spring paralleling has commenced and our Rail Road again looks like active operation, during the past winter we have been engaged in getting on materials for the 2nd track which we intend to put down the present season, we also have authority to construct a branch into the central part of Albany."

Stock Certificate "Chicago & Rock Island Rail Road Co." signed John B Jervis, 1854:

Stock Certificate "Chicago & Rock Island Rail Road Co." signed John B Jervis, 1851:

JUNE 6,1839 Haerlem, NY stampless letter

Below is a very nice and detailed stampless folded letter written June 6, 1839 by William Hoffman in Harlem, New York and sent to his brother the Reveren John W. Hoffman at Harris Lot Post Office (an actual location) in Charles County, Maryland.  Scarce destination !
The writer talks about the decision to build a "high bridge" across the Harlem River and how it will positively impact his supply business.  
Postmark is a red HAERLEM, N.Y circular date stamp with an 18 3/4 cents manuscript rate mark.  Also another flowery manuscript mark - could be a "6" but don't know if the rate was changed.
Letter is written on lovely yellow stationery - fairly unusual for this period.  It is fully intact.

Here is another stampless envelope addressed to John B. Jervis in Albany NY in 1831 from Rome NY.

Here is a Northern Indiana Rail Road Company construction Stock signed by John B Jervis dated in the 1850s.

last modified 9/20/16

1 comment:

  1. If you have any historical memorabilia that you would like to share with the blog, pleas contact us or just reply below.