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 Henry Disston

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Henry Disston

  • Birth 23 May 1819 Tewkesbury, Tewkesbury Borough, Gloucestershire, England
  • Death 16 Mar 1878 Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, USA
  • Burial Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, USA
  • Plot Bridge Section, Lot 1-2-3-4
  • GPS
  • Memorial ID 11377562

Business Magnate. Social Reformer. Orphaned at fourteen, with a sixteen year old sister to support, he got a job as an apprentice saw maker. He learned to make saws and the machines that produced them. He developed a tempered steel that guaranteed that his saws were both flexible and strong. Operating out of a basement, Disston started his own business in 1840. Despite obstacles, he had real success when he chose to build his factory in the Tacony section of Philadelphia. He not only saw himself building a factory, but a working class community in which workers would live in homes with open space and have a chance to own their own houses. Disston saw a responsibility to meet his workers' economic, social, and cultural needs. In 1872, construction began on the saw factory. By 1876 the workers' homes were built. Money to buy homes was available through a building and loan association established by Disston; he even gave cash advances to guarantee that his employees could buy their homes. Disston even piped fresh water from the Delaware River to Tacony. He built a school, the Tacony Music Hall, and a library containing two thousand books. A newspaper was established. A firehouse was built; Disston's eldest son Hamilton , was an integral part of it. Tacony even had its own scientific society. All of these projects were supported by Henry Disston's money. His wife, Mary, built Disston Memorial Presbyterian Church in honor of her husband, a devout Presbyterian. A community park was laid out by Disston to provide a visual barrier between the houses and the factories.

Bio by: rjschatz


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Originally Created by: rjschatz
  • Added: 18 Jul 2005
  • Find A Grave Memorial 11377562
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Henry Disston (23 May 1819–16 Mar 1878), Find A Grave Memorial no. 11377562, citing Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .