Thursday, July 21, 2011

Occupations of my ancestors - Percy Hunter: Engineer

My great great grandfather, Percy Earle Hunter, was born in Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, on October 18, 1873. He attended the Western University of Pennsylvania (which became the University of Pittsburgh in 1908), graduating in 1895. Percy is on the far right in the picture below.

Back of photo is written (in Percy's handwriting, I believe): "W. U. P. - 1895. Engineering School"



See Matrilineal Monday: Grandmother's family for images of Percy's family in the 1900 and 1910 U.S. Census. The detail from the 1900 Census shows that he was listed as a Civil Engineer.

Detail of Percy E. Hunter in 1900 U.S. Federal Census

I found some Pittsburgh City Directories online at Don's List and found Percy E. Hunter in both 1898 and 1900, where is listed as a civil engineer at City Hall, A[llegheny], with his home on Broadway.

From the 1900 Pittsburgh / Allegheny City Directory
From the 1900 Census, I knew that Percy lived on Broadway, and by 1910, he was living at 3623 Perrysville Avenue, where his parents had lived in 1900. (His parents both died in 1902.) These city directories indicate that where he lived on Broadway was probably near Perrysville Avenue. "A" indicates that the address is in Allegheny, which was a separate city until 1907, when it merged with Pittsburgh.

The 1910 Census shows that he was a Manufacturer at the Iron & Steel Works.

The heading of the following census column is: "Working as employer, employee or working on own account." Percy is noted as "Empl." I believe this indicates employer, as the following column is titled "If an employee, whether out of work on 15 April 1910 and number of weeks out of work during 1909" and these are blank for Percy.
Detail of Percy E. Hunter in 1910 U.S. Federal Census

From the 1914 Pittsburgh City Directory
By the time of the 1914 Pittsburgh City directory, great-grandfather Percy was President of the Independent Bridge Company and living at 5629 Elgin Avenue:


See My mother's mother's family in 1920 for images of Percy's family in the 1920 U.S. Federal Census. Detail from this Census shows that Percy is the President of "Bridge Co." From the City Directories (images above), I can see that it is the Independent Bridge Company where he works.

Detail of Percy E. Hunter in 1920 U.S. Federal Census
Percy's occupation in 1920 U.S. Federal Census
GenealogyBank, in addition to newspaper images, has some historical documents, including annual reports of the Commissioner of Patents for various years. Following are just a few of the patents that I found that he was granted for several items having to do with the steel industry.


from the Annual report of the Commissioner of Patents for the year 1917.
Dated 1918-01-01.
This patent, in March 1917, is for welding apparatus.




from the Annual report of the Commissioner of Patents for the year 1919.
Dated 1919-12-01.
Two patents, in 1919, are for annealing boxes.





from the Annual report of the Commissioner of Patents for the year 1920.
Dated 1920-12-06.
In 1920, Percy received a patent for a metal supporting and transferring table.



from the Annual report of the Commissioner of Patents for the year 1925.
Dated 1926-01-01.
And again, as assignor to the Pittsburgh Annealing Box Company in 1925, for an apparatus for welding metal.


The Independent Bridge Company was hired by the city of Pittsburgh to build the Liberty Bridge, completed in 1928, over the Monongahela River. HistoricBridges.org (a neat website if you like pictures and information about bridges all over the U.S.) has a page about this bridge. According to his death notice and family stories, he invented safety railings for bridges, but I'm still trying to find more details about that.

In the 1930 census he is again President of "Bridge Co." (See Why can't I find Grandfather in 1930 for the image of all of Percy's family in 1930.)

Detail of Percy E. Hunter in 1930 U.S. Federal Census


From the 1930 Pittsburgh City Directory
However, the 1930 Pittsburgh City Directory indicates that he is President of the Pittsburgh Annealing Box Company. The Pittsburgh Annealing Box Company was aquired by KMA Manufacturing in 2003. On KMA's website, I found a brief history of the company.

From GenealogyBank: Seattle Times, May 26, 1937
From the various things I've read about my great-grandfather, Percy Earle Hunter, he was very successful with several business enterprises in the Pittsburgh area having to do with steel and bridges. He must have been well known, as his death notice was found in newspapers across the country.

My descent from Percy Earle Hunter and Marguerite Lysle > Helen Lysle Hunter > My mother > me.

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