Documentary History of American Water-works

Introduction Historical Background Chronology Geography Biography Technology Ownership and Financing General Bibliography

Biography Joseph L. Pillsbury

Joseph L. Pillsbury

Joseph L. Pillsbury was born in Boscowen, New Hampshire on February 10, 1829

Pillsbury died on January 18, 1873 in Bowcowen.

Joseph L. Pillsbury from The history of Boscawen and Webster from 1733 to 1878, by Charles Carleton Coffin (1878) Advertisement from The Ohio Statesman, February 26, 1872, Page 1.

Joseph L. Pillsbury's Water Works Experience
City State Years Projects
Designed and supervised construction of system
St. Joseph MO 1869 Prepared report and estimate
Akron OH 1870 Prepared estimate
Designed and supervised construction of system
Grand Rapids MI 1871 Prepared report
Dubuque IA 1871 Designed system

1869 "The Holly Water Works," The St. Joseph Gazette, May 9, 1869, Page 1. | Part 2 |
Report of Mr. Pillsbury, the Engineer, May 8, 1869.

1873  Joseph L. Pillsbury (1829-1873) grave

1878 The history of Boscawen and Webster from 1733 to 1878, by Charles Carleton Coffin
Pages 428-429:  PILLSBURY, JOSEPH L., COL.,
Son of Dea. Joseph and Martha (Little) Pillsbury, was born in Boscawen, N. H., 10 Feb., 1829. At the age of twelve years he accompanied his father to Pennsylvania, where he spent one summer with a surveying party, acting as chain-bearer. He was not a robust youth, but life in the woods improved his health, and he early matured to a vigorous manhood.
At the age of sixteen he displayed a military spirit, making himself familiar with tactics and drill exercises. At eighteen he was captain, and at twenty-one was colonel of the 21st N. H. Regiment. He commenced the study of medicine, which he soon after abandoned, and in 1851 went to Pittsburgh, where for about three years he acted as paymaster of the Ohio & Pennsylvania Railroad. Possessing a mathematical and scientific mind, he qualified himself for the duties of civil engineer, which calling he followed for about twenty years.
In 1854 Col. Pillsbury commenced as contractor and builder of railroads in the South and West, doing an extensive business on the Mobile & Girard, Port Wayne & Chicago, and also on a road running west from Dubuque, Iowa. Associated with him in part of these contracts was his brother, Henry W. Pillsbury.
Subsequently Col. Pillsbury was engaged in the oil business in eastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania, where a number of oil wells were bored by him. He was also superintendent of the Deep Oil Mining Company, in northern Ohio.
Col. Pillsbury excelled as a hydraulic engineer. His first important work in this direction was the building of the Canton (Ohio) water-works, in 1869, '70. He was also advising hydraulic engineer for various cities in the West.
The last great labor of his life was at Columbus, Ohio, where in 1870 he was employed as chief engineer to supply that capital with water from the Scioto river. During the progress of this enterprise his health was seriously impaired, and soon after its successful completion he returned with his son and daughter to Boscawen, where he died, 10 Jan., 187[3].
Col. Pillsbury was a man of positive character, indomitable energy, and of great nobility and kindness of heart. In writing, he had the happy faculty of expressing himself with fluency, and to the point. From his youth he was an extensive reader of books that required thought, whether in poetry or prose; was a diligent student, and greatly interested in mechanical and scientific pursuits. In the study of geology he took great delight, and in this, as well as in other departments of science, his mind was a rich storehouse of useful and interesting facts. He invented several valuable improvements pertaining to his various fields of labor, and secured a patent on a hydrant for city water-works.
Col. Pillsbury was an active and esteemed member of the Episcopal church, at Canton, Ohio, and was always ready to do his part in every good word and work. He married, 18 May, 1854, Mary Anna Ely, of Wooster, Ohio, daughter of Col. Daniel Ely, of Owego, K Y. She died at Delaware, Ohio, 18 Aug., 1867.

1885 Proceedings of the American Society of Civil Engineers 11:75 (April, 1885)
Additions to Library:  Report of J. L. Pillsbury, Hydraulic Engineer, concerning the supplying of Grand Rapids, Michigan, with water.  [1871]

2018 Morris A. Pierce