The Founding Fathers of Invention
“Men of Progress” depicts U.S. inventing past, present and future
A group portrait honoring America’s rich invention history captures its greatest inventors in a moment in time that never occurred.
If you are re-reading the line above, don’t worry. I had to read it twice too.
I started to get the notion that the “founding fathers” were not exactly who historians say they where when I kept finding two different images of famous people in modern history.
Research into Cast Iron Foundries has lead, to many discoveries. We walk on and over them everyday, but who are these foundries named after, and why.
I will not touch on the why aspect in this article, but my interest was piqued when I walked on one that had a family “name” on it, and another that had the name of a school I was very familiar with, Jordan L. Mott.
or as it was called I.S. 22
What I discovered was even stranger, and sinister than I could have imagined.
There were three successive generations named Jordan Lawrence Mott: (1) the founder of J. L. Mott Iron Works, (2) his son, Jordan Lawrence Mott (1829-1915), and (3) the son of the second Jordon Mott, Jordan Lawrence Mott (1857-1932). Each was an important figure in the history of J. L. Mott Iron Works. (There was also a fourth generation Jordan Lawrence Mott (1881-1931), a novelist and writer, better known as Lawrence Mott.)
In 1900 the Biographical Directory of the State of New York had the following two listings: “Mott, Jordan Lawrence – Iron Manufacturer, 90 Beekman street, New York City; residence 2122 Fifth avenue. Born in New York City, Nov. 10, 1829. (Son of Jordan Lawrence Mott.) Educated at New York University (’49). (Married.) Became partner in his father’s business in 1853 and succeeded to its management in 1866…” and “Mott, Jordan Lawrence, Jr. – Iron Manufacturer, 90 Beekman street, New York City; residence 17 East 47th street. (Married.) Vice-president and director J. L. Mott Iron Works; treasurer and director North American Iron Works; director Mott Haven Co. and Washington Life Insurance Co…”
The second Jordan L. Mott’s obituary, New York Times, 27 July 1915, read in part: “Jordan Lawrence Mott, President and Trustee of the J. L. Mott Iron Works, one of the oldest members of the Chamber of Commerce and for many years a notable figure in the life of the city, died last night at 6 o’clock at the old Mott homestead, 2122 Fifth Avenue, in his eighty-sixth year…
“Mr. Mott came of distinguished ancestry, being descended from Adam Mott, who came to this country from Essex, England, and settled in New Amsterdam before 1647. His grandfather, Jacob Mott, was prominent in politics in this city and was an Alderman during 1804-10, President of the Board of Aldermen when De Witt Clinton was Mayor, and for a time was Acting Mayor. His memory is perpetuated by Mott Street, which was named after him…
“Mr. Mott was born in William Street, the city home of the family at that time, and received his early education at Irving Institution in Tarrytown. Later he attended the University of the City of New York, but left during his junior year at the age of 20 to join his father in business. His father was Jordan L Mott, the first of the name, and who founded the iron works that grew into the present company. He was an inventor, and made the first stove for burning anthracite coal. Mott Haven, on the Harlem River, received its name from the iron works he established there, and he was largely instrumental in building the town of Morrisania.
“After joining his father Mr. Mott served an apprenticeship of four years, and was admitted into the business in 1853, when the J. L. Mott Iron Works was incorporated. In 1866 he took entire charge of the business, and has continued until his death. Ten years ago he removed the works from Mott Haven to Trenton, N. J.”
(J.L. Mott Iron Works on the side of building near the Third Avenue Bridge in The Bronx, New York)
The third Jordan L. Mott died in 1932 while yachting in the Bahamas. His obituary, New York Times, 8 Jan. 1932, read in part, “Announcement was made here last night of the sudden death yesterday in Nelson Harbor, Bahamas, B. W. I., of Jordan L. Mott, former president of the J. L. Mott Iron Works, at the age of 74. His grandson, Jordan L. Mott 3d, received a cablegram stating that death was due to a sudden heart attack… Entering the family business as a young man, Mr. Mott succeeded to the presidency of the company on the death of his father in July, 1915. He retired about ten years ago…”
This ad for the J. L. Mott Iron Works dates from 1857. Their warehouse was located in downtown Manhattan on Water St., and the president at the time was Augustus F. Weekes. Weekes, (born ca. 1815, died March 1887) was listed in city directories as president of J. L. Mott Iron Works from 1856 to 1872. He appears in the 1860 U. S. Census living in Brooklyn, age 45, born New York, with a family consisting of a wife, a mother-in-law, 5 daughters and 1 son. He also appears in 1863 Civil War Draft Registration records age 44, merchant, born New York, living at 146 South 9th St., Brooklyn. His last entry in the U. S. Census (1880) recorded him age 67, retired, living in North Tarrytown, Westchester County, NY.
On 7 July 1902 the New York Times reported on the departure of the Mott iron works from the Bronx, “Trenton, N. J., July 6. – It was announced definitely here to-day that the Jordan L. Mott Iron Works will desert the plant at Mott Haven, New York City, and move to Trenton within the next twelve months. President O. O. Bowman of the Broad Street National Bank, this city, with whom the Mott people are associated closely in a business way through the Trenton Fire Clay and Porcelain Works, said to-day that the entire plant of the Mott Company is to be transferred to Trenton as fast as the necessary buildings can be erected.
Various iron products of J. L. Mott still exist on the streets of New York. This coal chute cover in Brooklyn Heights carries the inscription “Established 1828.” This drain on Broadway in front of Trinity Church is typical of much that remains. An inoperative sidewalk drain with the Mott name is found on Mercer St. Another Mott coal chute cover is found on East 67th St.