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Jenkins Fill Cap Fill Cap marked "PATENT APPLIED FOR J. JENKINS" Note the radial scratches on the enlarged image that resulted from unscrewing the burner as it scraped across the top of the cap.

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Jenkins Patent Lamp Fount Detail of grinding marks on the fount thought to be the result of the process for forming the filler neck as outlined in the patent description.

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Joshua Jenkins and The Suffolk Glass Works
     The curious tale of a painter turned glassmaker turned farmer.
Pre-Patent Jenkins Fount
A J. Jenkins lamp fount which pre-dates the issue of Jenkins' 1860 patent. The glass is embossed "PATENT APPLIED FOR" and the fill cap is marked "PATENT APPLIED FOR J. JENKINS." From the collection of High Pribell

If you dig deep enough, there are lots of fragments of information available on Joshua Jenkins and the Suffolk Glass Works. There has been little of substance written and certainly nothing comprehensive. The author will attempt to assemble these "shards" into a reasonable timeline of the man and his glass company.

Joshua H. Jenkins was born to Davis and Nancy Jenkins on September 17, 1813 in the town of Scituate, Massachusetts. Scituate lies approximately thirty miles south-east of present-day Boston. Davis and Nancy Jenkins were married on November 4, 1804. Davis Jenkins appears in the 1810 census living in Scituate. The census data from the early 1800's lists only the name of the head of the family and the numbers of other individuals residing in the household. At that time, there is one male under the age of ten, two females under the age of ten, one female between the ages of 26 and 44 (Nancy), and one female 45 years of age or older, presumably the mother of either Davis or Nancy. From Scituate birth records, the following information about Joshua Jenkins' siblings was gleaned; this information is consistent with the enumeration in the census:

	Davis		April 10, 1806
	Nancy		October 25, 1807
	Ruth		December 5, 1809
	Henriatte		March 8, 1811 (twins)
	Henry		March 11, 1811 (twins)
	Joshua		September 17, 1813
	Isaac		August 4, 1816
From the limited information available, the author believes that the Suffolk Glass Works was started sometime in the mid- to late-1840's. Dorothy Daniel lists the company as having started in 1845. While the specific sources of her information are not noted, they are listed as "Crockery and glass journals" and "Directories of the glass industry." (Daniel 396) There is an engraving of the factory building, believed to be circa 1849, that appeared in Gleason's Pictorial and Drawing Room Companion (Sammarco 11) an illustrated weekly newspaper that was popular during the period of the 1850's. From the picture, an observer would likely assume that it was a substantial manufacturing concern and in a prime location being located on the harbor and convenient to shipping. To date, the author has found no information on the glassworks during these early years.

Author's note: thanks to a tip from Larry DeCan about an eBay auction, it has been verified that the Gleason's engraving is NOT of the Suffolk Glass Works as the caption reads, "View of the American Flint Glass Works, South Boston, From the Harbor" and is from an 1853 issue. I had been skeptical because the engraving is not consistent with any of the map images of the period showing second street where the glass works was located; my suspicion has been confirmed.

1850 Boston Directory Advertisement
Advertisement from the 1850 Boston Directory for Painters and Glaziers. Joshua Jenkins appears to have had a well-established paint business at 98 Broadway for a number of years, from at least 1849 through 1860.

According to Kenneth Wilson, the Suffolk Glass Works first appear in the Boston Directories in 1852 and Jenkins is first listed as proprietor in 1859. Wilson's observations are consistent with the entries in the Boston Directories of the period. It is uncertain whether Jenkins started the business from scratch or took it over from others, but the research strongly suggests the latter. An 1885 newspaper article states, "The glass business was started at this point some 25 years ago by Joshua Jenkins, since deceased, and was carried on extensively by him..." (Boston Daily Advertiser, Tuesday, July 21, 1885). If the reader does the math, that puts Jenkins in control of the business circa 1860. But the fact remains that the company existed in some manner as early as 1852. An 1852 advertisement about an auction sale conducted by Horatio Harris & Company on April 5, 1852, is reproduced below. Could Joshua Jenkins have been the successful bidder? Further research along these lines is warranted.

Going Out of Business Sale...
By Horatio Harris & Co.
Mortgagee's Sale
Tools and Fixtures complete of a Glass Factory.
THIS DAY, April 5, at 10 o'clock, on the premises.
All the Tools, Fixtures, &c, &c, used in the Factory called the
Suffolk Glass Works, on --- street, South Boston, viz - Furnaces -
Ovens - Pots - Moulds - Blow Pipes - Packing Trays - Pickle
Molds - Lemon Syrup do, &c - and all other Tools and apparatus
usually found in a Glass Factory.
Also - 2 tons Burnt Clay - 50 do Sand - 50 packages Glass Ware -
1 Horse - 1 Wagon - 1 Harness.
By order of Mortgagee.

-- The Boston Atlas, Monday Morning April 5, 1852.

As early as 1835, Joshua Jenkins, then 22 years of age, shows up in the Boston Directory as a "painter and glazier." This listing remains consistent, with the exception of a few address changes, until 1859. A fairly consistent timeline can be stitched together by browsing through the Boston City Directories and Almanacs.

On March 27, 1836, Joshua Jenkins married Lucy Jane Cole. The ceremony was held at the Phillips Church located at the intersection of A Street and Broadway in South Boston. The service was performed by Rev. Joy Hamlet Fairchild. Lucy Cole was born on May 30, 1815 in Weymouth, Mass., a town located about midway between Boston and Scituate. By the time of the 1850 census, Jenkins and his wife had five children: Amanda M., Charles H., Laura J., Emma L., and Flora D. Jenkins.

In the 1850 census, Joshua Jenkins is listed as a "painter," having real estate assets in the amount of $50,000.00 - a tidy sum in those days - large land holdings or a glass manufactory, perhaps? Throughout the 1850's he is still listed as a painter. By 1860, the value of his real estate holdings had grown to $75,000.00 (an even tidier sum) and they had added three more children to their "brood:" James D., Maria A., and Clarence A. Jenkins. There was a clear pattern of having a child about every three years. His occupation in the 1860 census is listed as "glass manufacture."

Suffolk Glass Works Building
An undated picture of the Suffolk Glass Works building on Lowland Street as depicted in the book South Boston by Anthony Mitchell Sammarco. Photo courtesy Mr. Sammarco.

Joshua Jenkins appears to have been a rather influential and civic-minded individual. In 1852 Jenkins was listed among the thirty largest taxpayers in South Boston (Toomey 183).

Author's note: It would interesting to determine how "taxes" during the period were based. This could not have been, in my opinion, solely the result of his paint store or derivative income, but more likely on real property. Later in the article the real estate holdings of Jenkins will be explored, and I will research further into the tax structure of the period. It appears that Jenkins was in South Boston early enough to "snap up" a fair amount of property and would ultimately have a few rental houses, although many of his lots were vacant.

Jenkins was very active in the South Boston political scene and his name appears in many newspaper clippings from the mid-1840's through the late-1860's in this context. Jenkins was a Democrat. In 1845 he was a member of the Board of Assessors serving as an assistant assessor for Ward 12. In the latter 1840's he began serving on the Common Council representing Ward 12. In 1852 he was on a committee to enforce the newly enacted liquor laws. In 1853 he was nominated as an Overseer for the House of Correction, but lost the election to another individual. Over the years, Jenkins sponsored many petitions for improvements around South Boston which included street paving, expansion of the municipal sewer system, and expanded street lighting on city streets. In May of 1855, after several failed attempts by others, Jenkins was instrumental in getting Washington Village and its 1300 inhabitants "...annexed to South Boston, thereby greatly increasing the extent of the territory of the Ward." (Simonds 227, Roberts 211)

1852 Boston Map
Detail from an 1852 Boston map showing the Washington Village area. In May of 1855 Jenkins would be instrumental in getting this area annexed to South Boston. Note also that Lewis Street would be renamed Jenkins Street on August 7, 1855. Map Reproduction Courtesy of the Norman B. Leventhal Map Center at the Boston Public Library.

An 1852 Map of the City of Boston and Immediate Neighborhood by H. McIntyre shows how undeveloped the area of Washington Village was at the time. Aside from the Dorchester Turnpike and Boston Street, there are only a handful of smaller streets noted. It was noted in A Record of the Streets, Alleys, Places, Etc. in the City of Boston that Lewis Street would be renamed Jenkins Street on August 7, 1855 (p. 261). Joshua Jenkins would eventually own most of the land along Jenkins Street all the way to Dorchester Bay, where the latter Suffolk Glass works would eventually be constructed, only to burn to the ground in 1871, and be rebuilt again. Even though the aforementioned book was published in 1910, Jenkins had a hand in compiling the information used therein before his death: "Mr. J. H. Jenkins, Mr. John W. Morrison and Mr. Irwin C. Cromack were employed by the Board to work in collaboration in the preparation of a list of the ways of the city, to be published without delay. These gentlemen, with long terms of service with the city in departments intimately connected with the laying out of its streets, were possessed of a special knowledge regarding them and were eminently fitted and qualified to carry this important undertaking to a successful and satisfactory completion." (A Record of the Streets. p. xiii).

On Tuesday afternoon, as Mr. Joshua Jenkins was passing up Broadway, South Boston, he was, without the slightest provocation, assaulted by a drunken rowdy, who struck him in the face, causing the blood to flow freely. Mr. J. finding the fellow would not desist, threw him down, and attempted to carry him to the watch-house, opposite; but after a short struggle the rowdy succeeded in escaping.

-- The Boston Daily Atlas, Thursday, August 12, 1852

In The History of South Boston, Toomey writes: "Of engine companies there were two, Mazeppa No. 1, house on Broadway, between F and Dorchester Streets, next to the Hawes School; and Perkins No. 2, house on Broadway, between B and C Streets. Elijah H. Goodwin was foreman of Mazeppa and Joshua Jenkins foreman of Perkins." Jenkins had been recommended for the foreman's job in July of 1851. In December of 1852 he resigned from the fire department, but remained a staunch supporter of the department. In 1855 he advocated for an additional engine to be purchased for Ward 12. In 1856 he was appointed to the Fireman's Cemetery Association which was formed to raise money for the purchase of cemetery plots "for the use of the past, present and future members of the Boston Fire Department." (Boston Daily Atlas, December 15, 1856).

"On the evening of March 23, 1853, a meeting of citizens of was held for the purpose of organizing a Shade Tree Society." Joshua Jenkins served as one of the Directors of the Society. The goal of the society was to raise money for, and to plant shade trees along the the streets "which will be of incalculable benefit to future generations." (Simonds 221). Nearly a thousand trees were planted in the few years of the society's existence (Toomey 183).

Joshua Jenkins was apparently not afraid to challenge the establishment. The author found the following newspaper clipping to be both interesting and amusing:

The evening papers mention a meeting on the Simon Pure Democracy of Ward 12, held on Wednesday evening, at which the apostacy [sic] of certain Custom House officials was discussed in a highly amiable and interesting manner. Resolutions were adopted, calling solemnly upon the Administration, "in the name of true Democracy," to remove the principal appraisers at the Custom House, on the ground that they were doing all they could to pull down the Administration, and had no business there at present. Mr. Joshua Jenkins tried to have Mr. Fletcher Webster's name included among the denounced, as he had a fat salary, and it would show that they were not afraid to attack giants; but Mr. Isaac Adams, the late Democratic candidate for mayor, said it would not do; public opinion might not sustain President Pierce in removing him. If he (Mr. Adams) was President, however, he should try it bravely. Mr. Jenkins inquired, what would have been done at the time of the rendition of Burns, had public opinion governed the President's action; but it would not all do, and Mr. Webster's fat salary is not to be protested against. In the course of the discussion, Mr. Adams announced that the 703 votes he had received for Mayor, were cast by the back-bone of Democracy, from which it appears that the skeleton of that party has been whittled away till nothing remains but the vertebrae.

-- The Boston Daily Atlas, December 15, 1854

As early as 1845, Joshua Jenkins was a member of the Pulaski Guards having attained the rank of 3rd Lieutenant (Boston Daily Atlas, December 25, 1845). The Pulaski Guards, of South Boston, were chartered in 1836. They were part of The First Division of the Massachusetts Volunteer Militia. Their first captain was Col. Josiah L.C. Amee. Subsequently they changed their name to the "Mechanic Greys," but resumed their old name in 1841 (Roberts 211). In 1856, he was listed as captain of the First Regiment of Infantry, Company C (1856 Boston Directory). In 1857 Thomas Simonds writes, "They are now in a prosperous condition, under Capt. Joshua Jenkins as commander." He is still listed in the 1858 Directory as captain. On April 17, 1860 it is reported in the Boston Daily Advertiser that Jenkins had requested and received a discharge. Surely as a result of the Civil War, by July 1863 he's back in the ranks as a 1st Lieutenant (Boston Daily Advertiser, July 30, 1863). On August 17, 1863 the Boston Daily Advertiser reports that "The 3d and 4th companies of the State Guard have been raised...and have been officered as follows:...1st Lieut. Joshua Jenkins of Boston..., " Jenkins serving with the 3d Co. It is not known if Jenkins saw active duty, but the author could not find Jenkins' name on any of the published lists of Civil War veterans from Massachusetts.

Col. George H. Johnston
Col. George Henry Johnston, husband of Amanda Jenkins. Johnston descended from a family of glass makers and was purported to have started the Suffolk Glass Works and then sell the business to Joshua Jenkins, his father-in-law. The author has found no strong support for this notion. Photo: Bart Johnston.

By the time of the 1860 census, Amanda, then twenty-three years of age had married. She and her husband, George H. Johnston, aged twenty-eight, resided at the Jenkins' family household at 4 Jenkins Street. They were married on February 18, 1859. George's occupation in the census that year is listed as Superintendent of the Suffolk Glass Works, and he is seen in the Suffolk Glass Works advertisement, circa 1859, below. In his article on Colonel George Henry Johnston, Bart Johnston wrote "George was born in 1832 and grew up in a glass making family whose factory was in rural South Boston, MA. He started the Suffolk Glass Works in 1855 and sold out to his father-in-law before the Civil War."

The 1850 census confirms the part about growing up in a glassmaking family. George was the son of William and Susanna Caines Johnston. William was a glassmaker and was closely associated with Thomas Cains & Son and later the Phoenix Glass Works. The listing in the 1853 directory under glass manufactories reads: "Cains & Johnston, 35 Broad, and Second, near B, (Phoenix Works)." Thomas Cains was his maternal grandfather, so indeed, he descended from glassmaking lineage.

The part about him starting the Suffolk Glass Company is a little more difficult to grasp as the author has uncovered little to substantiate it. This account of Johnston starting the glassworks was published in Wilcox's A Pioneer History of Becker County Minnesota in 1907. The verbal account was told to Mrs. Jessie C. West by Henry S. Jenkins, of Boston, on December 10, 1892. Henry S. Jenkins was the nephew of Joshua Jenkins; he was the son of Henry Jenkins (one of the twins), the older brother of Joshua. In 1892 he would have been about 55 years old. If the account is accurate, and not some distortion of the truth or "mis-remembering" of the facts, perhaps it was Johnston who bought the glassworks at the 1852 auction noted above. However, in the years preceding the Civil War, there is no apparent association with any glass business. In 1854-55 he is listed as a clerk at the post office, in 1856 as a policeman and in 1857 there is no occupation listed. In 1858 he is in business with his two younger brothers as Johnston & Bros. selling coal. In 1859 he is still listed as a partner with his brothers, and as manager of the Suffolk Glass Works, as noted in the 1859 advertisement shown below.

G.H. Johnston & The Tremont Glass Works - Truth or Myth?
Tremont Glass Works
Advertisement for the Tremont Glass Works from
the 1860 Boston Directory.    Enlarge image [+]

A passage from the American Pottery & Glassware Reporter below refers to George H. Johnston's involvement with the Tremont Glass Works. Little information is available on the company. The advertisement featured here notes that J.M. Cook is the proprietor. In 1859 he is listed as the proprietor of the Stained & Cut Glass Manufactory at 125 Congress Street. In 1860, that business has been taken over by "Dobinson, Jones & Brownbill, Successors to James M. Cook." The author will follow up on this company as time permits in an attempt to either substantiate or refute the claim made in the Reporter. If true, it would appear that Johnston had his hand in a fair number of glass houses!

The author has located one additional reference to Johnston from the American Pottery & Glassware Reporter for November 6, 1884 as follows: "The Minneapolis Glass Company is organized with a capital of $75,000, and is under the management of George H. Johnston, a practical glass man of life-long experience, whose grandfather grafted the manufacture of flint glass on American industries in 1812. Mr. Johnston built and successfully managed both the Suffolk and Tremont glass works of Boston..." Thus it appears that Johnston went back to his glassmaking roots after he moved west and the notation clearly ties him back to the Suffolk Glass Works...if it is indeed accurate. In the end, this snippet raises more questions than it answers. Another question that begs to be answered is why Joshua Jenkins, a seemingly successful painter for a quarter of a century, suddenly enters into the manufacture of glassware? The timing of this association with his son-in-law George H. Johnston may hold the answer, but until further evidence and documentation is discovered, the question remains unanswered.

1859 Boston Directory Advertisement
Display advertisement from the 1859 Boston Directory. George H. Johnston, Manager and Lorenzo Hodsdon, Agent. Johnston was Jenkins' son-in-law, having married his daughter Amanda. Hodsdon would have a long association with Jenkins lasting well into the 1880's. A note about Highland Street, the location of the factory: The name of Highland street, from Eighth Street to Jenkins Street was accepted on July 5, 1860; the name changed to Lowland Street on April 21, 1868. During the "Jenkins' Years," the factory was always in the same general location.

In May of 1861 George H. Johnston joined the 1st Massachusetts Infantry as a 1st Lieutenant. He was a courageous soldier and fought in many of the famous battles of the Civil War including Fredericksburg and Gettysburg and was ultimately promoted to Lt. Colonel and Adjutant General. After the war he returned to Boston. In 1871 he and Amanda traveled to Minnesota where, as a Trustee for the New England Colony, he founded the town of Detroit Lakes (Johnston 7).

1862 Boston Directory Advertisement
The first of two advertisements that appeared in the Boston Directories featuring J. Jenkins' Patented Tubulated Fount. This one is from the 1862 Boston Directory. It is interesting to note that the engraver spelled the word patented incorrectly.

In 1861 and 1862 a gentleman named George S. Laselle is listed in the Boston City Directories as a salesman at 115 Milk Street. A cursory search of the directory for those years reveals both a lumber company and a coal company sharing that address. It would appear that in late 1862 or early 1863 that Jenkins took in a partner as the 1863 the listing for Suffolk Glass Works in the business sections lists "J. Jenkins and G.S. Laselle, props." (See the display advertisement from the 1863 directory below.) The year before, Charles H. Jenkins was listed as the superintendent; there is no listing for him in the 1863 directory - had he gone off to war perhaps? Jenkins and Laselle as co-proprietors are listed again in the 1864 directory. In 1864 Charles returns as the "super" and remains in that role until the demise of the company. From 1865-67 Laselle is still listed with the company but no title or occupation is listed. In 1868 and 1869, Geo. S. Laselle no longer appears in the directory. It is assumed that partnership had dissolved or that Laselle had moved or died. Interestingly, after numerous attempts, the author cannot locate him in any of the census reports of the 1860's or 1870's.

1863 Boston Directory Advertisement
Display advertisement from the 1863 Boston Directory. George S. Laselle is listed with Jenkins as "proprietors." Laselle is associated with Suffolk Glass from about 1862/63 through 1867, then seemingly disappears from the Boston area.

On September 18, 1860, Joshua Jenkins received Letters Patent No. 30,066 (a PDF file) for a "Mold for Glass Lamps." The patent depicts a mold for a pear-shaped bracket lamp fount. What Jenkins was claiming was a process for blowing the fount into a mold in such a manner that both the neck for the burner collar and a neck for a filler cap were formed, but the filler neck remained closed, like a bubble or dome. In the advertisements above, Jenkins calls this a "Tubulated Fount." To actually utilize the filler, one would have to cut or grind the top of the bubble off, thereby creating the opening for the collar and cap, or other stopper.

Jenkins Patent Fount
Jenkins' Patent Fount marked "J. JENKINS BOSTON MASS PATENTED SEPT. 18. 1860" Collection of Hugh Pribell.

Two of the Jenkins' founts depicted in this article (the fount to the left and the images at the top of the page) are from the collection of Hugh Pribell. The pear-shaped fount likely precedes the patent as it is marked "PATENT APPLIED FOR" on the shoulder of the fount just above the ring. It retains its original fill cap which is embossed "PATENT APPLIED FOR J. JENKINS." The flatter bracket fount is embossed on the glass with the patent information: "J. JENKINS BOSTON MASS PATENTED SEPT. 18. 1860" just under where the bracket would hold the font. The fill cap is unmarked. Interestingly there is a circular grind mark on the shoulder of the lamp around the filler neck. It is believed that this is the result of the manufacturing process stated in the patent description whereby the dome of glass would be cut or ground away to make the opening for the fill cap. A very interesting find indeed!

Thomas Gaffield, a Boston glass merchant and noted glass scholar of the period, interviewed Jenkins at the glassworks on May 6, 1862. The published report of the interview is particularly interesting because it gives some personal insight into Jenkins himself. Gaffield reported that Jenkins was meticulous about producing fine quality glassware. Jenkins spoke about how he took the needed steps to purify the materials he utilized in the manufacture of his flint glass. Particularly he spoke about purifying the manganese, which was used as a decolorant, by removing the alumina, iron and other impurities. Jenkins also produced his own cullet (broken scrap glass) through precisely controlled methods to ensure both quality and consistency. Gaffield noted that at the time of his visit "the iron molds in one tiny room of Jenkins' factory were worth $8,000, an indication of the expense of such molds." (Wilson)

In his 1864 book, John Bishop states that "Boston is also the commercial centre of a number of very important Glass manufactories, whose works are in the immediate vicinity. The Boston and Sandwich Glass Company employ about 500 hands, and make about 60 tons of Cut and Pressed Glass per week. The New-England Glass Company has probably the most complete establishment in the United States for the manufacture of all kinds of Glassware. Their Opal Glass is said to be superior to a great portion of that produced in Europe. Besides these, there are the Suffolk Glass Works (Joshua Jenkins), the Mount Washington Glass Works (Timothy Howe, proprietor), the Phoenix Glass Company (J. B. Callender, agent), the Union Glassworks (Amory Houghton, agent), the Bay State Glass Co. (S. Slocomb, agent), and the long-established Glass Manufactory of Thomas Cain & Son, to which we have elsewhere alluded. The manufacture of Silvered Glass is extensively carried on by Alonzo E. Young, and from its showy and effective appearance is in great demand" (Bishop 669). Jenkins was in pretty good company!
This interesting bit of information, circa 1863, was found relating to the employment women and children in the glass-making trades. "The Suffolk Glass Co. inform us they employ one girl in capping lamps, &c. The work affords plenty of air and exercise. Their girl is paid by the day, and earns $4 a week, working ten hours a day. The work done by women could not be given to men. The reason they employ a woman is that women are employed by others for the same work. Men could accomplish much more in their work, but not enough to pay the difference in their wages. Boys are sometimes employed for such work. Women receive $2 while learning. Spring and fall are the busy seasons, but work is furnished all the year. Board $2 to $2.50" (Penny 254). The author assumes that "capping lamps" refers to the application of, or cementing on, the brass collar to accept the burner or filler cap.

The building of the Suffolk Glass Company, at the front of Lowland street, Washington Village, was totally destroyed by fire last night. It was owned by a corporation of which Mr. Joshua Jenkins is agent, and together with the stock of glassware on hand, was valued at about $30,000. The company was fully insured in Boston and other offices. The fire was started by the bursting of a pot containing molten glass. The heated metal flowed out upon the wood-work, which at once burst into flames that were beyond the power of the watchman to extinguish. This occurred about half-past eleven o'clock, it being the custom to begin work at 1 o'clock A.M. by which time the glass was ready for working. An alarm was given at a quarter before twelve from box 128, and the fire department was soon at work; but the building, which was a long wooden structure three stories in height, was enveloped in flames before anything could be done to reach the fire, and the stream from the engines had no effect upon it. The building extended out over the water upon pilings and was therefore almost inaccessible to the firemen. It was a light structure, and nothing was left of it by half-past one o'clock. There were about 1200 packages of glassware on hand, consisting of tumblers, lamps, etc. At half-past twelve o'clock the alarm bottles exploded with a loud noise. The fire illuminated Dorchester Bay and the neighboring heights brilliantly while it lasted.

-- Boston Daily Advertiser, Saturday, March 25, 1871

In the 1870 census, Joshua's occupation is once again listed as "painter." However, in the 1870 Boston Directory his professional entry is noted as treasurer of the Suffolk Glass Company. His son Charles H. Jenkins, then married with two children, was living next door, and lists his occupation as "Sup't Glass House." Charles' wife, Emily H. Jenkins, was a native of New Hampshire; his children, both boys, were named Charles D. and Harry H. Jenkins. Charles H. Jenkins will be listed as the Superintendent of the Suffolk Glass Works (or Company) for the years 1862 through 1884. From entries in the city directories for the years 1868 through 1876, Joshua is listed as the treasurer of the firm.

On April 12, 1870, Charles H. Jenkins received Letters Patent No. 101,737 (a PDF file) for "Improvement In The Manufacture Of Glass." The patent is generally a formula or recipe for making white glass using waste marble. In the patent description he states: "The object of my invention is to utilize the waste chips of statuary marble, or other marble free from protocarbonate or other salts of iron, such as are prejudicial to the fabrication of good white glass." He goes on to state that the powdered marble reduces the manufacturing costs and will "utilize a substance of which vast quantities are or have heretofore been wasted." A true recycler!

The Lowell Daily Citizen and News (Lowell, Mass.) reported on Saturday, March 25, 1871 that "The Suffolk Glass Works at Washington Village were completely destroyed by fire last night." Fortunately, there was adequate insurance coverage for the $30,000 loss that occurred. The factory was rebuilt after the fire, as seen below, and continued operation for many more years. A year and a half later, their offices located at 78 Water Street would be ravaged by the Great Boston Fire of 1872. This fire, which spanned the two-day period of November 9th and 10th, would ultimately destroy about 770 mostly commercial buildings covering approximately sixty-five acres in Boston. After the fire, the offices were relocated to 84 Washington Street.

Barlow Insurance Survey circa 1875
Drawing of the Suffolk Glass Works from Barlow's Insurance Surveys as rendered in July, 1875. This depicts the glassworks as reconstructed after the devastating fire of 1871. It provides a unique insight into the construction of the building and the layout of the different areas of the facility, showing the placement of the furnaces and liers, cutting room, shipping shed, and other key areas of the building. Together with the actual picture of the building, one can get a real sense of the space.

The 1875 Barlow Insurance Survey shows both the elevation of the building, depicted above, and a plan of the first floor of the building. The building was constructed chiefly of brick; the walls were twelve inches thick. The roof was slate shingles. The first section of the building closest to Lowland Street was of wooden frame construction. Transitions from one room to another were protected by large iron doors, presumably as a fire break. This section contained the cleaning, packaging and shipping operations on the first floor. Above that were the mold storage rooms and on the third floor was an engine and repair shop. The middle section of the building, standing upon arched brick piers with water flowing beneath, housed the annealing ovens on the first floor, a machine room on the second, and on the third floor were the glass cutting operations. The third section of the building was one large open vertical space and contained the glass furnaces. A small brick structure adjoining held the oil storage tanks which was used to fire the furnaces. The plant's operating capacity was listed as employing 60 to 70 persons. Heating was provided by steam boilers and the lighting was by kerosene. Remarkably, although the works had been totally destroyed by fire a few years previously, the factory seemed deficient on "fire appliances." The surveyor noted that "A system of fire pails would very much improve the risk."

The late Kenneth Wilson noted that between the years of 1880 and 1885 the business was run by S.B. Lowland, an agent who had worked with Jenkins. The author challenges this assumption by proposing the following: Wilson misinterpreted the entries in the city directories at that time, or mistakenly accepted the research of others in the belief that the entry "Suffolk Glass Works, Lowland, S.B." was a person, when in actuality it is merely the address of the glassworks at the time. This can be substantiated by an 1884 map of South Boston which shows the Suffolk Glass Works - the location being Lowland street, and S.B. being the abbreviation for South Boston. The map indicates the property adjacent to the glassworks and that of "Heirs Joshua Jenkins," and also shows the substantial property still owned by Mrs. Lucy Jenkins. Additionally, the author found no entries in the directories of anyone with the surname Lowland.

The Jenkins House in Scituate
The Jenkins' Scituate house, erected around 1800, as it looked in 2003. From tax records courtesy of Dan Jenkins.

The extensive real estate holdings of Joshua Jenkins are worth noting. In an 1874 Suffolk County map published by G. M. Hopkins & Co. showing Boston South and Dorchester, the extent of his properties can be seen. He owned eleven of the twenty-two lots between Jenkins Street and Boston Place which also bordered along the Old Colony and Newport Rail Road line. To the north, between the tracks and Champney Street, he owned another nine lots. Above Champney there were another half-dozen lots. To the east of the tracks, below Champney, he owned a large tract of undeveloped land and eight lots that were bound on the east by Lowland Street. On the other side of Lowland, on the bay, was another large piece of land with a wharf upon which sat the Suffolk Glass Works. Jenkins also owned seven lots at the head of Earl and Ewer Streets abutting the rail tracks. As small report in the Boston Daily Advertiser on Saturday, April 6, 1867 states: "The burning of a few shingles on the roof of a house owned by Joshua Jenkins, on Earl street, South Boston, caused the alarm soon after six o'clock on Thursday afternoon from box 127. The fire probably caught from sparks from a locomotive on the Old Colony and Newport Railroad, and did very little damage."

The 1878 and 1879 Boston City Directories list his home address as North Scituate, so it is assumed that he was making preparations for his retirement from the glass business and gradually removing himself from the day-to-day operations of the company. The 1880 city directory entry states: "Jenkins Joshua, removed to Scituate." In the 1880 census enumeration conducted in June, he had clearly returned to his birthplace of Scituate, Massachusetts where he is listed as "Ret. Merchant." [Does it stand for retired or retail?] With him are his wife Lucy, three of their daughters, Laura, Maria and Emma L. White, and Emma's four year old daughter Helen W. White (1880 census).

The Jenkins Hall in Scituate
This is an image of the former Jenkins Hall in Scituate after it was purchased in 1883 from the estate of Joshua by Post 31 of the G.A.R. The building still stands today and is being restored as a Preservation Project of The Scituate Historical Society. Image courtesy of The Scituate Historical Society.

In Scituate, Joshua and his family lived in a house that was erected around 1800. An 1879 Map of Scituate (from the Atlas of Plymouth County Massachusetts, Geo. H. Walker & Co., Boston, 1879.) shows the location of the J. Jenkins property, lying just north of Scituate Harbor, along the bay. The house still stands today and can be seen to the left above. According to tax assessment records dated May 1, 1880, Jenkins owned about 110 acres of land. These records detail the real estate and other personal property that the Jenkins' owned. Among the buildings on the property were the house and various out-buildings including a barn, a tool shed, a carriage house, an ice house, and other lesser structures. There is livestock listed and valued as well; Jenkins had six cows, four oxen and two horses. There was a carriage valued at $50.00. There were fields and pastures surrounding the house which were all itemized individually. As they were along the bay, there was also about an acre of salt marsh and some swamp. There was one curious entry listed as "Jenkins Hall" that is explained below.

In 1869 the Baptist Chapel relocated into a new church that was erected in North Scituate. The old meetinghouse, which was originally constructed in 1826, was sold by the Society to Joshua Jenkins for $600.00 (Bonney). In 1870, Joshua Jenkins renovated the interior by removing the pulpit and pews thereby creating an open floor plan. He named the building Jenkins Hall. Jenkins Hall was akin to the community centers of today. "Jenkins provided the Scituate community with a host of entertainments which included dances, recitals and musicals. In addition, Jenkins also rented the hall out to various fraternal organizations that gained popularity in the late 19th century. Among those groups that used the hall was a group of local Civil War veterans. In 1875, these men formed Post 31 Grand Army of the Republic. In 1883, Post 31 G.A.R. purchased the hall from the estate of Joshua Jenkins. That same year with great ceremony the hall was renamed Grand Army Hall" (The Scituate Historical Society).

Joshua Jenkins died in Scituate on February 21, 1881, aged 68 years and six months. The cause of his death was listed as diabetes; his occupation, as listed on his death certificate, was "farmer." The author would like to think that he retired to more leisurely pursuits and gardening, rather than farming. Farming is hard work and doesn't sound like much of a "retirement," but from the assessor's listing above, it would appear that he did indeed have a working farm. Joshua Jenkins, and later his wife Lucy, were buried in the Mt. Hope Cemetery in Boston. The monument marking the grave site is shown below.

Jenkins Monument at Mt. Hope Cemetery
The gravestone of Joshua and Lucy Jenkins in the Mt. Hope Cemetery in Boston. Death records in more than one place clearly indicate the date of Joshua's death as February 21st.; the stone cutter must have made an error as he cut the 24th instead. Photo courtesy Dan Jenkins.

After Joshua Jenkins left the Suffolk Glass Works, Charles and his associates appear to have carried on in a profitable manner without him - at least for a few years. In the Thursday, July 22, 1880 edition of the American Pottery & Glassware Reporter, the following appeared: "The Suffolk glass works, South Boston, Mass., have in its use two seven-pot furnaces, each pot holding 2,000 pounds of glass. The company calculate to get four melts a week, thus averaging four tons out of each pot. There are two sets of annealing ovens, two glory-holes and two pot arches for annealing the pots. About 105 men are employed about the works, and the company make their own molds." On February 17, 1881, just four days before Joshua Jenkins died, another note appeared in the Reporter under the heading "The State of Trade" which reads: "From L. Hodsdon, agent of the Suffolk Glass Company, Boston: Our sales are rather larger than usual this time of the year, and we can see no reason why they should not be greater throughout the present year than last." As we shall see, however, Hodsdon's financial forecast would be short-lived.

By 1884, the company had fallen on hard times. A notice in the American Pottery & Glassware Reporter for July 3, 1884 stated: "The Suffolk Glass Co., of Boston, Mass., are in insolvency. A meeting of the creditors was held on June 27 to choose assignees. The liabilities are not stated. The Suffolk Glass Works consist of two 7-pot furnaces. They made tableware, lamps and chimneys. C.H. Jenkins and Lorenzo Hodsdon were partners in the concern." On December 12, 1884 the Suffolk Glass Company was reincorporated with a capital stock of $50,000, and took the plant of the late Suffolk Glass Works (A. P. & G. Reporter, May 7, 1885). Apparently this attempt at reorganization ultimately proved futile as early in 1885 small legal notices run in many newspapers proclaimed the bad news: "Soon Got Enough. The Suffolk Glass company, of Boston, has failed. It was incorporated in December last, with a capital stock of $50,000 to manufacture prismatic lenses and illuminating window glass." (The Logansport [Indiana] Daily Pharos, April 30, 1885).

A legal notice in re William Hodsdon vs. Charles H. Jenkins appeared in the Boston Daily Advertiser on, Tuesday, June 30, 1885. The issue was over a promissory note to L. Hodsdon and states that he is a "...member of the firm of Charles H. Jenkins & Co's. the maker of the note. The author assumes this is Lorenzo Hodsdon, former long-term employee and agent for the Suffolk Glass Works. There is no information readily available on Charles H. Jenkins & Company.

Portion of 1884 map showing the glass works
Part of the 1884 South Boston map showing the Suffolk Glass Works. A larger portion of the map is available by enlarging below. Map courtesy of Peter Kastner, Community Heritage Maps.

About a month later the following appeared: "The manufacturing property situated on the tide water near Newman street, South Boston, known as the Suffolk Glass Works, was sold by auction yesterday afternoon by Lewis J. Bird & Company." Interest in the sale of the property was reportedly dismal, with only two bidders interested in it. The eventual winner was none other than Charles H. Jenkins himself! Bidding started at $10,000 and only reached $12,000 before the hammer fell. The article stated that about one year prior to the sale "...the company became so badly embarrassed that it went into bankruptcy, and its affairs were wound up." "The buildings consist of a large brick structure, with two cones of seven pots each, with all the necessary furnaces. There are also large wooden buildings used for machinery and packing houses." (Boston Daily Advertiser, Tuesday, July 21, 1885).

The following appears in the September 17, 1885 edition of the Pottery & Glassware Reporter: "The Suffolk Glass Co. has been reorganized into the Boston Antique Glass Co., which is now erecting at South Boston a new building to make colored window glass." There is little information on this incarnation of the company. They appear in the Boston Directories until at least 1892 under the headings of "Stained and Cut Glass" or "Glass Stainers" and most often at "53 Devonshire, rm. 6." The address of the factory is once given as Lowland Street, but based upon the article, it appears that they built a new factory rather than occupied the old one. Additionally, a supplement attached to the Barlow Insurance Survey noted above reads: "SUFFOLK GLASS WORKS, SOUTH BOSTON, MASS. Idle. All locked up and property for sale. December 1886."

An article in Boston Daily Advertiser on Friday, April 13, 1888 states: "For Sale or To Let. The property formerly known as the Suffolk Glass Works, on Lowland street, South Boston, and the land connected with the same, consisting of about 230,000 square feet. The buildings are in excellent repair, and have five new fire brick furnaces suitable for smelting, etc. in the same. Will sell on easy terms or will let low."

An 1891 map of South Boston published by G. W. Bromley & Co., shows the former Suffolk Glass Works building is with a new occupant - The Oakman Manufacturing Company. The company is shown to occupy the wooden portion of the building bordering Lowland Street, which by then had been renamed Mercer Street. [Renaming was effective March 1, 1888.] The Oakman Mfg. Co. was in operation between 1890 and 1897. Their office was at 219 State Street. During its seven year existence, Samuel Oakman was noted as treasurer of the company. In 1892 the company changed to the Oakman Glass Works. Oakman made glass insulators and "specialized in larger, heavy power distribution designs, especially those intended for supporting heavy direct-current trolley car cables." (Maurath).

In 1900, the former Suffolk Glass Works building, which had sat vacant for a number of years, was destroyed by fire (Toomey 239). Charles H. Jenkins died on December 12, 1903. He was 63 years of age. The cause of death was noted as Diabetes Mellitus, from which he had suffered for three years. He was buried in the Mt. Hope Cemetery. The story of the Suffolk Glass Works had finally come to a close.

Comparison of filler neck details
Comparison of J. Jenkins' founts showing the differences in the filler neck construction between the pre-patent fount on the left and the patent-dated version on the right. Photo courtesy Jamie T. Jones.

Author's note: I have spoken to both Hugh Pribell and Jamie T. Jones about the founts in their collections. Both gentlemen have examples of the pre-patent founts with the embossed filler caps and the patent-dated varieties. Both agree that the pre-patent founts are heavier in comparison, indicating somewhat thicker glass. Jamie also pointed out, and Hugh confirmed, that the patent-dated founts have a built-up shoulder around the filler neck area and the pre-patent versions do not. Clearly Jenkins made a change in the mold, but the reasoning is uncertain. It is possible that it was done to strengthen the filler neck area to reduce stresses from the cutting/grinding process, or to strengthen that area of the thinner-walled, lighter founts, or both. It could have also been an aesthetic change as the filler collar now has a level ledge upon which to sit, rather than on the curved shoulder of the earlier version. Should the reader have any additional observations regarding J. Jenkins founts in his or her collection, please contact me. I would also be interested in hearing about any other items - chimneys, lamps or other glass products, that are attributable to the Suffolk Glass Works.

References  Acknowledgements
  • Special thanks to the following, in alphabetical order, for their contributions:

    -- Gail Bardhan, Reference & Research Librarian, The Corning Museum of Glass, for information from the J. Stanley Brothers collection pertaining to the glass industry, particularly the entries from the American Pottery & Glassware Reporter;

    -- Larry DeCan for information from his research related to Jenkins and the Suffolk Glass Works which included most of the newspaper articles cited, the death certificates of Joshua and Chas. H. Jenkings, and other pertinent information. Larry's assistance and guidance were invaluable;

    -- Barbara Hockman, Clan Johnston/e genealogist, for additional source information on Colonel George Henry Johnston; and to Bart Johnston and Steve Johnston for their help with same;

    -- Daniel G. Jenkins, Jenkins Family Genealogist, for his extensive research pertaining to the Joshua Jenkins branch of the Jenkins family, and his findings regarding Jenkins' years in Scituate, including maps and tax, death, probate and burial records;

    -- Jamie T. Jones for images of the Jenkins founts in his collection;

    -- Peter Kastner of Community Heritage Maps in Auburndale, Massachusetts, for the digital image showing the Suffolk Glass Works and Jenkins' properties from the 1884 Atlas of East Boston and South Boston;

    -- Hugh Pribell for the images of the Jenkins' founts and for his ongoing support to my research endeavors;

    -- Anthony Mitchell Sammarco for permission to use the images of the Suffolk Glass Works from his book South Boston;

    -- Eileen White for the tip and excerpts from the Welker and Wilson books from her personal reference library on glass; and

    -- Christine S. Windheuser, Volunteer Reference Assistant, NMAH Archives Center, Smithsonian Institute, for the copy of the circa 1875 Barlow's Insurance Survey and a circa 1859 advertisement.

References  References
  • Adams, George, The Massachusetts Register for the Year 1853, Boston: Damrell & Moore, 1853.

  • A Record of the Streets, Alleys, Places, Etc. in the City of Boston, Boston: City of Boston Printing Dept., 1910.

  • Bishop, John Leander, A History of American Manufactures from 1608 to 1860, Philadelphia: Edward Young & Co., 1864.

  • Bonney, Margaret Cole, My Scituate, self published, 1987.

  • Boston City Directories and Boston Almanacs for the years 1834 through 1885.

  • Boston Daily Advertiser, Tuesday, September 6, 1898, and other newspapers as cited in the text.

  • Daniel, Dorothy, Cut and Engraved Glass 1771-1905, New York: M. Barrows & Company, Inc., 1950.

  • Foster, F. Apthorp, editor, Vital Records of Scituate Massachusetts to the Year 1850, Boston: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1909.

  • Galluzo, John, Scituate, Scituate Historical Society Edition, Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing, 2000.

  • Johnston, Bart, Col. George Henry Johnston - Founder of Detroit Lakes, MN, The Spur and Phoenix, Vol. 25, No. 1, Spring 2005.

  • McIntosh & Smith, Merchant's Exchange News Room, New Directory of Firms Removed from Their Old Locations Since the Fire, Boston: Press of Rockwell & Churchill, 1872.

  • Maurath, Joe Jr., A History of New England Insulators,

  • McKearin, George S. and Helen, American Glass, New York: Crown Publishers, 1948.

  • Penny, Virginia, The Employments of Women: A Cyclopaedia of Woman's Work, Boston: Walker, Wise & Company, 1863.

  • Roberts, Oliver Ayer, History of the Military Company of the Massachusetts, Now Called the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company of Massachusetts 1637-1888, Boston: Alfred Mudge & Son, 1898.

  • Sammarco, Anthony Mitchell, South Boston, San Francisco: Arcadia Publishing, 1996.

  • Simonds, Thomas C., History of South Boston: Formerly Dorchester Neck, Now Ward XII of the City of Boston, Boston: David Clapp, 1857.

  • The Scituate Historical Society, Restoring the Grand Army Hall, from their web site -

  • Toomey, John J. and Edward P.B. Rankin, History Of South Boston (Its Past And Present) And Prospects For The Future With Sketches Of Prominent Men, Boston: self-published, 1901.

  • United States Federal Census reports for the years 1810, 1840, 1850, 1860, 1870 & 1880.

  • Welker, John and Elizabeth, Pressed Glass in America: Encyclopedia of the First Hundred Years, 1825-1925, Boyertown, PA: Antique Acres Press, 1985.

  • Wilcox, Alvin H., A Pioneer History of Becker County Minnesota, St. Paul, Minn.: Pioneer Press Company, 1907.

  • Wilson, Kenneth M., New England Glass & Glassmaking, New York: Thomas Y. Crowell Co., 1972.

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