Titanic Victim Benjamin Guggenheim - Mining Machinery Executive
Benjamin Guggenheim Portrait Photograph - He was a Victim of the Titanic Disaster. © 1912 Marceau, NY. Power (30 April 1912) p. 643. GGA Image ID # 10d4c931a8
Benjamin Guggenheim, who went down with the “Titanic,” was born in Philadelphia in 1865, is one of the younger of the seven sons of Meyer Guggenheim, who have become so prominent in the mining and metallurgical industries.
In the early 1880s, Meyer Guggenheim became a part owner of the A. Y. & Minnie mine at Leadville, Colo., which turned out to be profitable, and in 1885 Benjamin, just out of school, was sent to it to begin his business career and to look after the interests of his father, being given a position in the office.
During this period he became acquainted with global mining and smelting conditions, especially from the commercial standpoint, and in 1888 through Edward Holden, became interested in the smelting business, and in turn, interested his father and brothers in Philadelphia.
This was the inception of the Philadelphia Smelting & Refining Co., which erected works at Pueblo, Colo. In a very short time the business passed wholly into the hands of the Guggenheim family, several members of which were sent to Pueblo to learn it.
For two or three years the works were not very successful, but before long all of the difficulties were cured and the brilliant commercial career in this business, with which all are familiar, was inaugurated.
The great success began in 1892, when the importation of Mexican lead ore having been checked by the McKinley tariff, the Guggenheims immediately appreciated the possibilities of smelting in Mexico and erected a plant at Monterey, which was later followed by one at Aguascalientes.
Later a refining plant was erected at Perth Amboy, N. J., under Benjamin Guggenheim’s superintendence. After the smelting interests were consolidated he retired from active work for a time, passing two years in Europe.
Returning to this country, he entered into the mining-machinery business in 1903, organizing the Power & Mining Machinery Co., which built significant works at Milwaukee.
In 1906 this concern was merged with the International Steam Pump Co., in which Benjamin Guggenheim was successively a director, chairman of the executive committee and president.
This continued his primary business interest, and the visit to Europe, from which he was returning, was made to inspect and extend the work done through its foreign agencies.
-- The Engineering and Mining Journal, 27 April 1912, p. 827
The first definite information received of the death of Benjamin Guggenheim whose life was lost in the going down of the ill-fated “Titanic” on Apr. 14, was received by his widow in a message from Mr. Guggenheim, delivered by an assistant Steward who was with him until a few minutes before the “Titanic” sank. The message was: “If anything should happen to me, tell my wife in New York that I’ve done my best in doing my duty.”
In these words lies the keynote of Benjamin Guggenheim's whole life.
Born on Oct. 26, 1865, the fifth of the seven sons of Meyer Guggenheim, the founder of the great firm having mining interests all over the world, young Benjamin, at 20, took charge of the company's mining properties in Leadville, Colo., and to his shrewdness and energy is largely due the concern’s success in after years.
Later, he came East and managed a plant at Perth Amboy, N. J.
In 1903, Mr. Guggenheim erected a large machinery plant in Milwaukee, Wis., which was later merged in the International Steam Pump Co., of which he was elected president in 1909. With his brothers, he was also the controlling factor in the American Smelting & Refining Co.
Today, the International Steam Pump Co.'s products are limited only by the confines of industry in this country and abroad. It has seven plants, each large in itself, which operate in the United States, and one in England, at Simpson. The company employs 10,000 men.
Mr. Guggenheim married Miss Floretta Seligman, a daughter of James Seligman, the banker, who survives him with three daughters.
-- Power, 30 April 1912, p. 643
It is the habit to speak of the days gone by when young men of energy, industry, character, and brains were able to achieve brilliant business or professional careers in America, and to think that such careers are impossible now.
That they are unusual nowadays may be granted, but that they are possible can easily be proved. One of the striking examples of modern achievement in the industrial and financial world is that of the Guggenheim family, formerly of Philadelphia, where the founder, the late Meyer Guggenheim, settled many years ago, and, starting out for himself, built up a large and prosperous commercial business.
It is a remarkable fact that this fine old figure in the business community should have been succeeded by seven sons, all of whom have reached a plane of success that the father never dreamed of, not only in manufacturing, exploring, commerce, but in finance and statesmanship as well. And the way in which the family fortunes were diverted from commercial business pure and simple is little short of romance.
It was in 1885 that the father, Meyer Guggenheim, sent one of his 3 younger sons, Benjamin—then twenty years old—to Leadville, Colorado, to take charge of his mining interests, which at that time began to be enormously productive.
The A. Y. and Minnie mines became very heavy shippers of silver and lead ore. The products soon became of importance to the smelting-plants with which Mr. Benjamin Guggenheim naturally came into intimate relations.
Keen, far-sighted, level-headed as was his father before him, the young man studied the most advantageous methods of treating the ores and foresaw as with prophetic vision the tremendous possibilities of the smelting business.
He communicated his ideas to his father and brothers, and by his persistence and ceaseless urging finally convinced them of the vast opportunities in the smelting of ores, so that they were drawn into this line of industry, and built their first smelting- plant at Pueblo, Colorado.
Soon after Mr. Benjamin Guggenheim got this in operation the results were so satisfactory that his father and his six brothers decided to withdraw entirely from commercial business and devote their energies and abilities to the new and larger field.
Having abundant capital, unusual intelligence, undaunted energy, they took the next step, and built a large plant at Agues Calientes, Mexico, where they first embarked in copper smelting, and shortly thereafter erected a third plant at Monterey, Mexico.
In the meantime, recognizing the desirability of refining their own bullion, which was produced at their various plants, they built a refinery at Perth Amboy, New Jersey. Mr. Benjamin Guggenheim, the pioneer of the family in their Western operations, transferred his energies to the management of the new refinery, of which he remained in charge for a lengthy period.
When the consolidation of the smelting industries was accomplished, the Guggenheim enterprises had become so large that they Were naturally the ruling factor in the American Smelting and Refining Company; and having seen his great object an actual reality, Mr. Benjamin Guggenheim went to Europe for a well-earned rest.
Returning a couple of years later, he looked about for an individual field for his incessant activities and decided to enter into the manufacture of mining machinery. This was in 1903, and the large plant he built in Milwaukee at once became an element to be reckoned with.
Three years later his Power and Mining Machinery Company was merged with the International Steam Pump Company, in which Mr. Benjamin Guggenheim has been a director and a large stockholder for some years. Since that time he has been chairman of the Executive Committee of the International Steam Pump Company and was elected recently to the presidency.
Such, in brief, is the public career of a man only forty-four years of age, who possesses bodily and mental strength, decision of character, extraordinary executive ability, and the courage to do things.
He is now devoting his entire time and energy to directing the affairs of the International Steam Pump Company, and at the present writing is in Europe, visiting the company's plant near London, and inspecting its various Continental offices, with the object of extending its large trade in foreign countries; for Mr. Benjamin Guggenheim has in active preparation important plans for the expansion of his company's business and the extension of its present lines, as well as in new manufacturing enterprises.
Already the International Steam Pump Company has seven plants, six in this country and one in England, as follows: The Blake-Knowles, in East Cambridge, Mass.; the Deane, in Holyoke, Mass.; the Worthington, in Harrison, N. J.; the Snow- Holly, in Buffalo, N. Y.; the Laidlaw-Dunn- Gordon, in Cincinnati, Ohio; the Power and Mining Machinery, in Cudahy, WI.; and the Simpson plant in Newark, England.
An army of ten thousand men draws its sustenance from these great industrial workshops, whose product is of infinite variety, from the smallest feed pump, weighing but a few pounds, to the enormous municipal pumping engine capable of supplying a city's mains with 20,000,000 gallons of water daily.
They supply the pumping apparatus and condensers for the battleships of the nation; pressure pumps for the cotton press of the South and the steel-mill of Pennsylvania; the pumping engine which sends the crude oil on its long journey from the well to the refinery; the air compressor which makes it possible to work in caissons or in tunnels under the bed of river and lake; the pumps that keep free from water the deep workings of the copper mine in Alaska or the gold mine in South Africa; the distributing pumps that transfer the products from one point to another in the brewery and in the sugar house; the agricultural pumps that flood the rice fields in Louisiana and irrigate the fertile fields of the Nile.
The power behind the elevator which takes you to the office in the tower in the skyscraper is a steam pump. The company builds gas producers and gas engines in units up to the enormous prime mover of five thousand horse-power, which are destined to supplant the steam-engine on account of their great fuel economy; it builds blast furnaces, cement machinery, mining, smelting, and milling plants for all metallurgical purposes, and great rock crushers used in the production of concrete and ballast.
In a word, the products of the International Steam Pump Company are limited only by the confines of industry and civilization. So, in the career of Mr. Benjamin Guggenheim, we find that this young man did not rest content after his splendid achievements in the smelting industry, but that he turned his activities to another great industrial enterprise, advancing it rapidly on its road to success. Our country of to-day is still rich in its offerings to those who are ready to give it their enthusiastic energy and untiring effort.
"Benjamin Guggenheim," in Harper's Weekly: A Journal of Civilization, New York: Harper & Brothers, Vol. LIII, No. 2723, 27 February 1909, p. 29.
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