Biography of John Kendall


History of Columbia County, New York

By Captain Franklin Ellis

Published by Everts & Ensign

Philadelphia, PA



Pages  316 & 317


     Rev. Thomas Kendall, the grandfather of the above, was born in Massachusetts, and resided at an early time in the town of Millbury, Worcester Co.  He was a missionary among the Narraganset Indians, and chaplain during a portion of the Revolutionary War.

     Thomas Kendall, Jr., the only son of Rev. Thomas Kendall who arrived at maturity, was born in Millbury, Massachusetts.  He married Olive Crane, of Oxford, in that State, and had by her six sons and one daughter.  One son by this marriage died in infancy.  He married for his second wife Martha Sparawk, by whom he had two daughters and one son, and the family (all living except the youngest son) removed to New Lebanon, Columbia Co., N. Y., in June, 1820.

     The subject of this sketch, John Kendall, who was the oldest son by the first marriage, was born in Northbridge, Worcester Co., Mass., July 21, 1810, and was, consequently, ten years old at the time of the removal.  His father was a mechanical genius, and began early in life to work and experiment in machinery for his own amusement.  His experiments led him to consider the principle of graduating the degrees on the scale of the thermometer, and about the year 1820 he invented a machine for that purpose, giving with great accuracy a division of degrees conforming to the variations of caliber of the tube.  This was the great difficulty to be overcome in the construction of the thermometer, and it was never successfully obviated till Mr. Kendall invented his machine.  It was the result of close and accurate mathematical study, and the most ingenious application of mechanism.  Mr. Kendall perfected his own standard between the boiling and freezing points so completely that Prof. Henry says the degrees established by him conform almost exactly to the best standards obtained in London and Liverpool.

     After his removal to New Lebanon he established the manufacture of thermometers, which he continued during his life, and also constructed a barometer for his own use.  He died at the age of forty-five, in December, 1831.

     His son, John Kendall, inheriting much of his mechanical genius, and being brought up with him, naturally became interested in his father's occupation, and after the death of the latter took up the business, and has followed it most of the time since, building and furnishing his present well-equipped shop, and introducing many improvements in the way of machinery.  In 1832 he added the manufacture of barometers, which he has continued to make, although his principal attention is devoted to the other branch of his occupation.  Within the past ten or twelve years he has increased the capacity of his machinery so that he can now produce, if needed for the market, from forty to forty-five dozen thermometers per day.  The machine invented by his father is now, however, no longer monopolized or kept a secret, but has come into general use, and the competition has very much reduced the profits of manufacturing.  Mr. Kendall, however, makes a very popular thermometer, and supplies a fair share of the demand throughout the country.

     He was married in 1832 to Deborah Avery, of New Lebanon, and has three children, all daughters.  Though an earnest advocate of Republican principles, and sometimes a hard worker at elections, he has never sought nor desired office for himself.  He is universally esteemed for his integrity and uprightness of character, and his genial disposition has made him many warn friends.