John Roach & Son


FirmennameJohn Roach & Son
OrtssitzChester (Pa.)
Art des UnternehmensSchiffswerft
AnmerkungenBis 1870: "Reaney, Son & Archbold" (s.d.). Ab 1871 oder 1887: "Delaware River Iron Shipbuilding & Engine Works" (s.d.). Vergl. Als Maschinenfabrik mit den NamenszusĂ€tzen "Morgan Iron Works" bzw. "Etna Iron Works" in New York; diese wurde bald durch die Erfolge der Werft in Chester ĂŒberschattet.
Quellenangaben[Lloyd's register of ships] [Dayton: Steamboat days (1925) Internet]
Hinweise[Ashmead: History of Delaware County (1884) 388]


Zeit Ereignis
25.12.1816 Geburt von John Roach im County Cork, Irland
1871 Übergang von "Reaney, Son & Archbold"
1873-1874 Bau der Dampfer "City of Peking" und "City of Tokio" fĂŒr die "Pacific Mail Steamship Company", jedes ist 432 Fuß lang und hat eine KapazitĂ€t von 5.079 t - die grĂ¶ĂŸten Schiffe, die bisher in den USA gebaut wurden.
1873 Die eisenverkleideten Kriegs-Schaluppen "Alert" und "Alliance" werden fĂŒr die amerikanische Regierung gebaut.
22.05.1877 Beim Stapellauf des Dampfers "Saratoga" kommt es zu einem schweren Unfall. Sieben Arbeiter, die sich noch unter dem Schiff aufhalten, werden zerquetscht.
06.04.1878 Stapellauf der "City of Para" in Gegenwart des amerikanischen PrÀsidenten und Hunderten auserwÀhlter GÀste. - Danach werden die Schiffe "City of San Francisco," "City of New York" und "City of Sydney" jedes mit 3020 t; "San José", "San Juan" und "San Blas" , jedes 2080 t; die "City of Panama" und die "City of Guatemala" jedes 1590 t.
1887 Umfirmierung in "Delaware River Iron Shipbuilding & Engine Works"


Produkt ab Bem. bis Bem. Kommentar
Schiffe 1872 Beginn (ex Reaney Son & Archbald) 1887 Ende (dann Delaware Iron Schip Bldg.)  
Schiffsdampfmaschinen 1872 Beginn (ex Reaney Son & Archbald) 1887 Ende (dann Delaware Iron Schip Bldg.) Unsicher, ob die ganze Zeit; fĂŒr 1873 / 1884 ausgewiesen; auch auf Weltausstellung 1876

Firmen-Änderungen, ZusammenschĂŒsse, Teilungen, Beteiligungen

Zeit = 1: Zeitpunkt unbekannt

Zeit Bezug Abfolge andere Firma Kommentar
1887 Umbenennung danach Delaware River Iron Shipbuilding & Engine Works  
1871 Umbenennung zuvor Reaney, Son & Archbold  


TEXTIn 1859, Thomas Reaney, who had been a member of the firm of Reaney & Neafie, in Philadelphia, removed to Chester, he having purchased the lot of ground on the Delaware River, where the Pennsylvania Oil-Works had been located in 1855, and had been destroyed by fire several years subsequent to that date. There he established an extensive ship-yard in connection with William B. Reaney and Samuel Archbold, the firm being Reaney, Son & Archbold, the industry itself being known as the Pennsylvania Iron-Works. Here a large business was done, which required the erection of costly buildings, wharfing, and filling in of the river-front, together with an outlay of many thousands of dollars in the purchase of machinery. At these works during the civil war the United States war vessels, the double-enders "Wateree," "Suwanee," and "Shamokin" were built, hull and engines complete, ready to go to sea, as were also the monitors "Sagamon" and "Lehigh," and the light-draught monitor "Tunxis;" two powerful tug-boats for the United States, the "Pinta" and "Nina," were constructed at these works. Among the list of other vessels built by Reaney, Son & Archbold, was the fleet river-steamer "Samuel M. Felton." In 1871 the firm made an assignment, and the yard and machinery was purchased by John Roach, who established "The Delaware River Iron Ship-Building and Engine Company" thereat, which since that time has become so familiar to the people of the United States. In the year 1873-74, at these works, were built for the Pacific Mail Steamship Company the "City of Peking" and the "City of Tokio," each being four hundred and twenty-three feet in length, with a capacity of five thousand and seventy-nine tons, - the largest vessels built in this country. The "City of Para" was launched April 6, 1878, in the presence of the President of the United States, and hundreds of distinguished guests from all parts of the country and thousands of spectators. The following-named vessels have been built since for the same company: "City of San Francisco," "City of New York," and "City of Sydney," each three thousand and twenty tons; "San José," "San Juan," and "San Blas," each two thousand and eighty tons; the "City of Panama" and the "City of Guatemala," each fourteen hundred and ninety tons.

In the year 1873 the iron-clad sloops-of-war "Alert" and "Alliance" were built for the United States government. The name of the latter was later changed to "Huron." It was wrecked and lost off the coast of Virginia.

In 1875 the United States monitor "Miantonomah," iron-clad, double-turret, was built, and is now at Hampton Roads. There are at present in process of construction for the government the "Boston," "Atlanta," and "Chicago" (still on the stocks), the "Puritan," a monitor, double-turret, with a capacity of two thousand eight hundred and ninety-eight tons, and the dispatch-boat "Dolphin," the last two lying at the docks.

The following United States monitors have been refitted at the yards: "Wyandotte," "Nahant," "Jason," "Passaic," "Nausett," "Niobe," "Cohoes," "Modoc," and "Napa."

In 1875 the "Graciosa" was built as a dispatch boat for the Spanish government.

On Tuesday morning, May 22, 1877, the steamship "Saratoga'' which was on the ways, after it had been blocked up to be launched on the high tide, was observed to be pulling, and the order was passed down along the side of the ways to "stand clear." A number of men under the vessel ran from beneath it, and after a few moments, no others appearing, the order was given to cut the shoes which held the vessel, for it was straining hard to tear itself loose. As the ship started swiftly to the river, those who witnessed it greeted her movements with cheers, which in a moment after were hushed, when a cry of terror went up from those nearest the ways that a number of the workmen, who had not gotten from under the "Saratoga" when the shoes were cut, had been caught in the packing, which had been carried down with the vessel (a mass of timbers and block at the point where the ways are nearest the ground on the margin of the river), and had been killed or were so injured that death must ensue. The news spread with marvelous rapidity. The workmen in the yard were from all sections in the city and South Chester, and the anxiety to learn whether among the killed and wounded were relatives and friends caused a general suspension of business. The streets leading to the ship-yard were soon thronged with people hastening thither, and a crowd of men, women, and children besieged the outer gates clamorous for admission. The physicians - for every medical man in the city had been summoned to the works - had directed that to avoid confusion and excitement the public should not be admitted to the office where the dead and dying had been carried. All that medical skill could do was done, but with the exception of three men who were slightly injured, all those who were under the "Saratoga" at the time the vessel was launched were killed or died in a few hours thereafter. The following is a list of the dead: Edward Burke, Charles Wright, Sr., Edward Fawley, John J. Crewe, John Neilson, George Woof, and Bernard Cannon.

In the year 1877 there was built at the yards for the United States government a sectional dry-dock in four sections, having a total length of one hundred and sixty-eight feet and one hundred and eighteen feet in width. After completion it was shipped to Pensacola, Fla., where it was placed.

Vessels have been built for the Oregon Steamship Company of San Francisco, Old Dominion Steamship Company of New York, Ocean Steamship Company of Savannah, Brazilian Mail Steamship Company, Cromwell Line of New York, C. H. Mallory & Co. of New York, J. E. Ward & Co. of New York. Since 1871 ninety vessels have been built at these yards.

There is used annually at these works about sixteen million pounds of iron, and about fifteen hundred men are employed. The yards embrace about thirty-two acres, with a frontage on the river of twelve hundred feet. The buildings include a brick three-story structure forty-three by forty-four feet, occupied as offices and draughting-rooms; foundry, one hundred and eleven by one hundred feet, blacksmith-shops, boiler-shops, machine-shops, and many other buildings. Fifty comfortable dwellings are adjacent to the yards for the use of employes.

John Roach

John Roach, Sr., proprietor of the celebrated iron ship-yard at Chester, and of the Morgan Iron-Works in New York City, is one of the most remarkable self-made men of the country. Few life-stories can equal his in incident and interest. None can furnish more striking illustration of what may be accomplished by purpose, perseverance, and pluck, backed by a will which no difficulties could daunt, and by a heroism of moral character which no test or trouble could overcome.

Mr. Roach was born in County Cork, Ireland, Dec. 25, 1816. In his veins flows that Irish blood which has produced so many eminent names in Parliamentary and military history, of the purest and sturdiest to be found in Great Britain's isles. His family were highly respectable and well-to-do trades-people. Until he was thirteen he had such schooling as his native neighborhood afforded, this, however, consisting rather more in the application of birch than of useful instruction on the teacher's part, and in devotion to sport rather than to study on the part of the scholars. The school-days, such as they were, were cut short by money embarrassments at home, Mr. Roach's father having become involved by indorsements to such extent as to cause his financial ruin, and finally his death from grief.
QUELLE[Ashmead: History of Delaware County (1884) 388]

THEMABiografie von John Roach Sr.
TEXTIn his veins flows that Irish blood which has produced so many eminent names in Parliamentary and military history, of the purest and sturdiest to be found in Great Britain's isles. His family were highly respectable and well-to-do trades-people. Until he was thirteen he had such schooling as his native neighborhood afforded, this, however, consisting rather more in the application of birch than of useful instruction on the teacher's part, and in devotion to sport rather than to study on the part of the scholars. The school-days, such as they were, were cut short by money embarrassments at home, Mr. Roach's father having become involved by indorsements to such extent as to cause his financial ruin, and finally his death from grief.

Inspired with the indomitable resolution which has been the marked characteristic of his career, the boy determined to seek his fortunes in America. The previous emigration of an uncle was one inducement to this step, and, in the expectation of finding this uncle in New York, at the age of sixteen he crossed the ocean, and landed a stranger, alone and almost penniless, in the metropolis. There he learned, to his dismay, that his uncle was in Texas. Left thus to face the fact that he had no one to whom he could turn for help, and that his small supply of money must soon be gone, he resolved to work at anything he could find to do to earn his passage back to Ireland. Bethinking himself of a man who had once worked for his father, and who was now settled in New Jersey, he made inquiries, and at length found him in Monmouth (now Ocean) County, N. J. Here he received a welcome, but aid was beyond the poor man's ability. Near by was a brick-yard, however, and he got work as a hand with the wheelbarrow. That was the beginning of a self-earned fortune. But the toil was very severe for one so young, and he was treated more like a slave and brute than a human being. A month at this brought him seven dollars. Then he went to the place where Mr. James P. Allaire, of New York, was building the Howell Iron-Works, and applied for work. As he could get nothing better, he hired out as attendant on the masons. He worked till he had saved fifty dollars. When it is recalled how low the wages were for such labor, it will be seen with what perseverance these hard-earned dollars were made and laid aside. Always before him was the purpose to rise to something higher. In this spirit he boldly went to the foreman of the department where iron hollow-ware was made, and offered his fifty dollars as meeting the requirement for apprenticeship to the trade. The foreman laughed at his pretensions, and refused to receive him. Not to be put down thus, he applied to Mr. Allaire himself, and by his intelligent remarks, bright face, and worthy ambition so impressed the proprietor that he gave orders to have the young man admitted to the foundry. Here he had many obstacles to contend with, but made steady progress notwithstanding. His associates were ignorant, rough men, with no idea of bettering their condition. A barrel of whiskey was kept for general use, contributions for this purpose being exacted from each person. Young Roach contributed, but refused to partake of the liquor. At the end of the first year he had five hundred dollars due him, and at the end of the second one thousand dollars more. The conditions on which the fifty dollars were paid to learn this trade were that a certain class of articles moulded and cast from the melted iron should be paid for by the piece. The more and faster the person worked the more he made, and while many with the same chance as himself made nothing, by his skill and his indefatigable industry, working over-hours, and wasting none of his energies, he succeeded in saving this handsome sum. It was from the start his firm conviction that no man could rise in the world who could not lay by something in whatever position he might be.

By this time he had married. Planning for the welfare of his family, he concluded to go into the new West and buy land with a view to settlement on a farm. Drawing five hundred dollars of his money, and traveling west by canal and stage and other slow methods of those days, he at length reached what is now the site of Peoria, Ill., and bought three hundred acres of land in the neighborhood, paying his five hundred dollars as security. It seemed settled that John Roach was to become an Illinois farmer. But there was a different course of life mapped out for him, with more telling work for his country. By one of those providences which some wrongly consider to be chance, just at this time Mr. Allaire failed. That ended the Illinois farming. Mr. Roach, not being able to get his thousand dollars, could not make the further payments, forfeited what he had already paid, and found himself far from home, without money enough to get back, and in a land where a day's wages was not money, but as much corn as a man could carry on his back. That would not pay fare, since there was no market where it could be turned into cash.

But there was no such idea as "give up" in his head. Within twenty-four hours after learning of his loss, he was working his way homeward on the canals; and in some four months after his departure from New York, with high hopes of success in the great West, he was back again, richer in experience, but poorer in pocket, with nothing to do but begin over. He had, however, the capital of a thoroughly-mastered trade, a powerful constitution, and an indomitable will.

Mr. Allaire, who had resumed business, was glad to regain so skillful a workman. Mr. Roach, however, was not satisfied with his old trade, and learned that of making castings for machinery. Here again a foreman opposed him, but Mr. Allaire knew his valuable qualities, and insisted that he should be taken into the foundry. He rose rapidly, and subsequently was offered the place of the very foreman who had opposed him, but refused to take it from him. He worked himself ill by his over-hours and his intense application, and for a long time it was thought he would die of consumption; but the strong constitution stood him in good stead, and he recovered.

When he got two hundred dollars ahead again, - and it was slower work saving now with a family to support, - he determined that he must be something more than a workman in a foundry if his children were to be properly cared for and educated. He finally hit upon the scheme of starting out for himself by buying a small foundry in Goerck Street, New York City, - the Etna Iron-Works, - then in the hands of a receiver, and for sale. The property consisted of only two lots of ground, forty by one hundred feet; but before he left for yet larger works it was enlarged, so as to cover fifty city lots. Nothing ever grew smaller under his hands. Finding three other mechanics, each having two hundred dollars, who were willing to join in the enterprise, the property was bought for four thousand seven hundred dollars, with a small cash payment, which left an equally small cash capital with which to begin business. The firm became Roach & Johnson, and the subsequently famous Etna Iron-Works sought public patronage, - that is, Mr. Roach sought it. The responsibility of the purchase was taken by him, and his partners left the management of everything to him. Where he was bound to succeed, they were doubtful; where he was resolute, they were holding back; where he was enterprising, they were timid. Those days showed the man. He scoured the city for work. He was unknown, without cash capital, credit, or influential friends; but his pluck shone in his face and inspired confidence. The first work he got, after long search, was to make some grate-bars for a Brooklyn distillery. When this was done there was not a dollar left of the cash capital, and he himself took the bars to the distillery, and asked for immediate payment, frankly stating that money with him was scarce, and he would willingly make a reduction for cash. His struggles for success in this foundry were such as few men go through. The partners early became discouraged, and he promptly bought their interest, giving them his note for three hundred dollars and a mortgage as collateral, and keeping them in his employ. Not one of them rose afterwards to a proprietor's place. He made frank statements to the iron merchants of his condition and prospects. His work was always satisfactory, both in price and character; his contracts were always kept to the letter; and his known probity of character gradually obtained for him a limited credit. Often during this period he had to obtain credit in order to support his family, because it took all the money he had to pay his workmen on Saturday night. During all his more than forty years of proprietorship and employment of thousands of workmen, never once did his men fail to receive their weekly wages when they were due.

Mr. Roach's first decided rise was when he was fortunate enough to get a contract for an iron building, and made eight thousand dollars in six months. This work was so satisfactory that his business and credit were increased largely. He took contracts which were beyond the capacity of his works, but tore down the old buildings, and in forty days had new and adequate works in operation, and carried out the contracts. That was characteristic of the man. Any work he could get to do he was sure he could provide the necessary capacity to do.

Business was now fairly prosperous with him when, in 1846, by the explosion of the boiler, his works were mostly destroyed by fire, and what was far more grievous, with accompanying loss of life. No insurance was recovered, and again he found himself nearly ruined. But he had an enlarged experience, an established business, and a sound though not large credit, being so much the richer by his hard toiling years. To go on with his contracts without loss of time he laid pipes and carried steam from a boiler in a factory over two hundred feet away to his own engine, which in the general wreck had singularly escaped destruction. By so doing, in forty-eight hours work was resumed. By extraordinary exertions he overcame the most distressing discouragements and re-established the foundry. There came out once more the indomitable spirit of the man. Business men generally recognized the fact that nothing could crush John Roach, and from that time his credit was good anywhere, and his word was as good as his bond. Pluck and patience and persistency will powerfully tell. All men honor the man who makes himself the master of misfortunes.

With the profits of the business in eight years Mr. Roach built an establishment having facilities to construct larger marine-engines than any yet built in this country. He was bound that nothing in his line should be done anywhere in the world that he could not do. He sent an agent to Europe to examine the greatest establishments there, and thus was able to avail himself of all the advantages in selection and arrangement of machinery. Some of the tools introduced were the largest in the country. Where other works were unimproved he was constantly making advance in facilities. He stimulated the inventive genius of his workmen, and was quick to adopt a good thing when he found it. Having gone through every branch of his business, and understanding every detail, his eye was swift to see and his judgment was rarely at fault. Nothing escaped his personal attention. His capacity for work was wonderful. His pay-lists enrolled from nine hundred to fifteen hundred men. Two immense engines were built by him in these works for the iron-clad "Dunderberg,'' and the engines for the double-end gunboat "Winooski," the steam frigate "Neshaming," the great sound steamers "Bristol" and "Providence," and other large vessels. No work was too great or too difficult for him to do, and do at its best, and no unsatisfactory work went out of his establishment. His superior facilities enabled him to do work in shortest time and at lowest price. In 1858 he took into partnership one of his sons, and the firm became, as at present, John Roach & Son.

But Mr. Roach's ambition was not yet satisfied. The Etna Works, large and complete as they were, lay distant from the river-front and lacked other advantages. In 1867 he bought the Morgan Iron-Works, an immense establishment at the foot of Ninth Street, on the East River. These works were built in 1838 by T. F. Secor & Co., and in 1850 were bought by George W. Quintard, who conducted them until 1867. The engines for a large number of first-class merchant and war vessels were constructed in them. They consist of various buildings, - foundries and shops, - occupying six city blocks, giving a water-front of three hundred feet. Great alterations were made and the establishment was brought to the highest point of capacity and perfection. For the construction of marine-engines of the old style there was no superior plant in the world.

But when the works were brought to this condition another discouraging train of circumstances came on which threatened to make establishment and experience useless and the property of little value, except as real estate.

During the civil war our shipping was driven from the sea, and England embraced the opportunity to get possession of the carrying trade formerly ours. For years a revolution had been going on in ship-building, in the change not only from wood to iron, from sail to steam, but from the wooden side-wheeler to the iron propeller, and from the ordinary to the compound engine. No compound engine had at that time been built in this country. Our iron interest had not been developed. And at this time, when England was in possession of the carrying trade, and when everything that entered into the construction of a ship was taxed, the free-ship cry was raised in Congress. This utterly discouraged capital invested in the iron business, and nearly all the great iron-works in New York, Philadelphia, and Boston were closed up. Mr. Roach held on. He looked over the whole subject, - saw the need of this great country for ships and its danger without the power to build them, - and had faith to believe that the people would demand a revival of the American carrying trade. He proved his faith by investing all he had in the ship-yard and engine-works at Chester, an establishment which covers some twenty-five acres and thirty branches of skilled labor, and has in many respects no equal in the world, and where a finished ship, from the ore up, can be produced. Over three thousand men are in his employ, and nowhere are to be found superior facilities or superior ships. Nearly one hundred splendid iron steamships have been launched by him, and no unsatisfactory work has he ever done. It is a remarkable fact that in his business career of over forty years Mr. Roach has never been sued, nor has he ever brought suit against any man with whom he has had dealings. His ability to manage men is as marked as his executive powers. Strikes have been markedly absent from his work-shops, and his men have ever been treated with kindness and consideration. He is a model employer.

By his persistency in advocating an American policy of protection not only for American ships, but for all American industries, Mr. Roach has done more than any other one man to stem the tide of foreign influence in favor of free trade, which means the pauperization of American labor in favor of foreign labor. By his powerful arguments before Congressional committees, arguments which proved unanswerable, he has, year after year, fought and defeated the bills for free ships and free trade introduced into Congress; his opponents have conceded that they owe defeat to him alone. This will secure him high honor at the hands of the American people when our history shall be written, and when, free from prejudice, men shall be able to see how much the country and its industries owe to the firm stand taken and maintained with consummate ability by Mr. Roach. He is a man of genial disposition, a fluent and persuasive speaker, overflowing with broad and sound ideas on all subjects. He has aided many a young man and influenced him to make something of himself. The rules which he has followed and which be would recommend to all are these:

1. Keep your promises and appointments.
2. Never let a customer go away dissatisfied, if you can possibly help it.
3. Never lend a friend your note, rather loan him the money, if you can spare it. Never indorse another man's note as an accommodation.
4. Do no business with a man who is troublesome, and whom you know you cannot satisfy.
5. Pay your bills and workmen promptly when pay is due.
6. Be honest and honorable in all things, and kind to all men.

The rules are characteristic of a man whose life cannot be studied by young men without advantage, and who is worthy of the honors that have been conferred upon him by those who know his worth.
QUELLE[Ashmead: History of Delaware County (1884) 389]