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Disston, Henrylocked

(24 May 1819–16 March 1878)
  • Mary Ellen Wilson


Disston, Henry (24 May 1819–16 March 1878), manufacturer, was born in Tewkesbury, England, the son of Thomas Disston, a machinist, and Ann Harrod. His grandfather owned a textile mill, and his father invented a lace machine. An ambitious group of English businessmen arranged for Thomas Disston to set up his lace-making device in the United States. Taking his eldest daughter and fourteen-year-old son, Henry, with him, Thomas Disston reached Philadelphia in early 1833. When his father died three days after their arrival, young Henry apprenticed himself to a company of sawmakers in Philadelphia, where he learned all aspects of the manufacture of saws. Seven years later he started his own business with his savings. Also in 1840 Henry married Amanda Mulvina Bickley. After only one year of marriage Amanda died while giving birth to twins, who survived only a few hours. By 1843 Henry had married Mary Steelman; they had nine children, eight of whom survived infancy. The five sons would eventually join their father’s business....

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