John Van Dussen Reed.
John Van Dussen Reed, president of the Eureka Fire Hose Company, who died in Paris, France, on November 26 last, mentioned in FIRE AND WATER at the time, had not been well for some time, but he possessed such an indomitable energy that few even of his intimate associates knew that he was not in possession of rugged health. A friend now writes us the following additional information: Mr. Reed left New York on November 3 for the purpose of spending the holiday season with his family, who were residing in Paris, intending to return immediately after January 1, and devote his energies to the advancement of the interests of the company of which he was president. He suffered severely on the passage across, and immediately on his arrival in Paris took to his bed, from which he never arose. Funeral services were held at the American Chapel, Paris, and his remains will be brought to his native land for interment. Mr. Reed was born in New York. April 26, 1838. He was married to Miss M. L. Mitchell, a daughter of Samuel I.. Mitchell, for many years a prominent shipping merchant of New York. Mrs. Reed and three daughters survive to mourn the loss of a devoted husband and father.
Mr. Reed first became interested in circular weaving machinery in 1869. His father, Almct Reed, had before that date retired from mercantile life with a competency, but possessing the same dislike of inactivity that characterised the son, he turned his attention to machinery, and finally, with P. 1., Slayton, produced a loom for weaving hats, Almet Reed and other gentlemen, who became associated with him, piovided considerable capital for the purpose of building and.operating these looms, but with the increase of facilities the management passed partially from Mr. Reed’s hands, and a too rapid expansion caused a failure of the enterprise. J. Van I> Reed, however, believing yet the looms still possessed merit, bought one of them, and took it to London for a] further trial. B. L. Stowe, now treasurer of the Eureka Fire Hose Company, became associated with Mr. Reed at this time and remained with him until Mr. Reed’s death. Improvements were made on the loom, and J. Van D. Reed contracted with ⅜ firm to build ten of them, it heing stipulated that the ten should be completed within eight months The firm, however, had a manager, who was either dishonest or incompetent, and although Mr. Reed, in his endeavors to procure looms, paid sums of money equal to the contract price of several looms, no loom was produced for nearly two and one-half years. In justice to the firm, it should be said that they removed (heir manager, replacing him with one who was as honorable and competent as the former one had been incompetent, but the delay had proven fatal to Mr. Reed’s plans, as the financial stringency of the early seventies rendered the launching of a new enterprise impracticable, if not impossible, and the contractos were not required to complete their contract.
Mr. Reed was called back to New York by other duties in 1873, and in 1874, Mr, Stowe, after years of tiresome waiting for the looms, also returned, and the project was abandoned. The time had not been entirely lost, however, as many alterations had been made in the loom taken from the States and many experiments tried. During this period Mr. Reed first saw samples of what was known as the Boyd riveted hose, which consisted of an originally flay-woven cotton fabric that was folded longitudinally into a cylindrical form and had its edges riveted together forming a tube, and he was at once impressed with the desirability of producing a similar hose, but without the riveted seam, and which should consist of a seamless multiple-woven cotton fabric. Notwithstanding the lack of success that had thus far attended his efforts, Mr. Reed believed that circular looms possessed merit, and therefore, in the autumn of 1874, he procured another one of the hat looms, and such alterations were made in it as were needed to demonstrate that the desired hose fabric could be woven, and early in 1875 it was woven ; a rough and unsightly sample, but good enough to warrant the building of suitable looms tor producing it. Such looms were built, and in the autumn of 1875 the first fifty-foot section of seamless woven, multiple hose fabric was produced.
Junius Schenck, who had become identified with the enterprise. used that first section as a sample and procured from the New York Fire Department an order for 5000 feet of “ Eureka,” as the new hose was called ; the company being unable from lack of sufficient machinery to accept the full order for 20,000 feet that was tendered them.
The Eureka Fire Hose Company was incorporated in 1875. Colonel Richard Vose becoming the president and Junius Schenck the general selling agent, and later became vice-president. Mr. Reed at all times owned a controlling interest in the company, and it was always his aim, as well as the intent of those about him, to secure the highest standard of excellence for the productions of that company. A new and thoroughly equipped Factory has recently been built, and it was Mr. Reed’s intention, had his life been spared, during the coming year to make personal visits to as many as possible of those interested in the sale of goods produced by the company, and by consultation learn in what way the interest of all might be conserved and the good reputation of the company’s products maintained. He had a very extensive circle of friends and acquaintances in his native country and in France and England as well. He was one of the very first to show the value of American industrial enterprises to English capitalists, and he so successfully negotiated some of the earlier of those financial transactions, so that to a great extent he was the cause of the later popularity of these projects. Mr. Reed made such an excellent exhibition of the products of his company at two world’s fairs held in Paris, that gold medals were awarded to his goods, and he himself received the Cross of the Legion of Honor from the French government. Mr_ Reed had a residence in New York and one in Newport, but illness of members of his family had caused the family to reside abroad for about two years.