James Hervey Sternbergh was a pioneer in the manufacturing of nuts and bolts in America. He was born in Henrietta, Monroe Co., N. Y., May 20, 1834. His choice in life had been to become a professional man, but study affected his sight, and in 1865, he removed to Reading, Pa., where he became interested in the manufacturing of bolts, nuts, rivets, etc.
In 1867 Mr. Sternbergh invented and patented a machine for making hot-pressed nuts. This was only one of many important and useful inventions of Mr. Sternbergh. He invented a superior grinding machine for grinding hard metals, doing the work much more effectively than before, and at much less cost.
In 1886 Mr. Sternbergh took his son Philip him into partnership. His son subsequently became the manager of the branch works in Kansas City, Mo. There he died on April 2, 1903, at the age of thirty-eighth.
The Reading Bolt and Nut Works was a plant extending over some eight acres of land, lying between Third and Fourth streets, and between the Lebanon Valley Railroad and Buttonwood street. The large and important industry had its inception in 1865. The substantial buildings were first occupied in January, 1869.
On Feb. 6, 1891, during Mr. Sternbergh's absence in New York, his works caught fire and were totally destroyed, save the rolling mill buildings and part of the large machinery. It was a heavy financial blow, but with characteristic energy he went about immediately getting things in shape, and within ten days after the fire the works were again in operation.
Mr. Sternbergh's goods were awarded medals at the Centennial Exposition at Philadelphia in 1876; at the Chicago Exposition in 1883; at the New Orleans Exposition in 1885; at the Paris Exposition in 1889; and at the Columbian Exposition in 1893, where they had three exhibits.
On Sept. 1, 1899, J. H. Sternbergh & Son consolidated their works with the Pennsylvania Nut & Bolt Company, of Lebanon, the Lebanon Iron Company, the East Lebanon Iron Company, of Lebanon, and the National Nut, Bolt & Rivet Works, of Reading, thus forming what was known as the American Iron & Steel Manufacturing Company, of which Mr. Sternbergh was president during the six years ending February, 1907, when he retired. It was capitalized at $5,550,000, $3,000,000 being full paid preferred stock, and $2,550,000 full paid common stock. In 1909 the works employed 4,000 men.
Residence of James Harvey Sternbergh
- opposite main entrance to Charles Evans Cemetery
on Centre Ave.
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