John Deming, Industrialist
Few lives are so full of accomplishment and activities as that of John Deming. He is remembered as one of Salem’s finest citizens – a man of unusual character and integrity. His name continues to be internationally known and respected in the pump business.
He was born in Berlin, Connecticut on Feb. 21, 1817, and when he was about 15 years old his family moved to Ashtabula County, Ohio. John and his older brother, William, established a general store in New Lyme. On Oct. 25, 1849 he married Angelina Bown, daughter of Benjamin and Sarah Bown from Pittsburgh, Pa. Before coming to Salem, John was involved in various wholesale and retail businesses with his father-in-law, Mr. Bown.
After bringing his family to Salem, Mr. Deming was associated with Major J. S. Clemmer in the pottery business for three years (the firm later became Purdy, Baird & Co.). Around 1856, John opened a grocery store on Main (E. State St.), and Levi Dole and Albert R. Silver began dealing with him. That is how Deming became interested in the success of the Silver & Dole Mfg. Co., manufacturers of labor-saving tools for carriage-makers and blacksmiths. He saw how the market for the firm’s products continued to grow throughout the country.
In 1866 Mr. Deming bought a one-third interest in the business of Silver & Dole. The company then became Dole, Silver & Deming Co. Upon the death of Mr. Dole one year later, the firm’s name was changed to Silver & Deming Co., and then to Silver & Deming Mfg. Co. In 1890, the firm split into two separate companies – the Silver Mfg. Co. and the Deming Co.
In his personal life, John Deming was interested in almost every cause for the good of humanity. Early in his life he identified with the anti-slavery movement. He was actively connected with the Underground Railroad in Salem, and associated with many local abolitionists, including Marius R. Robinson, Jacob Heaton, Daniel Bonsall, Joel MacMillan, Thomas Sharp, Dr. John Whinnery and Jonas D. Cattell. He also was a friend of Parker Pillsbury (a national abolitionist), and was a follower of William Lloyd Garrison, publisher of THE LIBERATOR anti-slavery newspaper. Garrison took an uncompromising stand for immediate and complete abolition of slavery. For years, John Deming faithfully observed the Garrisonian principle of refusing to vote.
John and Angelina Deming were close friends of Sojourner Truth, the slave of a Dutch master in New York, who ran away and eventually became a spokesman for her race. She was a frequent visitor at the Deming home, and Deming’s horse and carriage were at her disposal.
John Deming’s early home was once located on the southeast corner of E. Third St. and N. Ellsworth Ave. The eight-room frame house was built sometime during the years 1851 and 1859. John bought the house in 1872. In 1986, the house was dismantled by Kevin and Karen Penner and rebuilt on the Pidgeon Road.
Upon organization of the Republican Party, Mr. Deming became identified with it. He was an earnest advocate of temperance, and a strong believer in education, feeling that it was the foundation and safeguard of our social, religious and political institutions.
Friends of Mr. Deming considered him to be a living example of the Golden rule, always ready to lend a helping hand to those worthy of assistance. His private life was without reproach. He had three sons – William, Walter and Frank – and four daughters – Ellen, Carrie, May and Eva.
John Deming died of pneumonia on Jan. 10, 1894 at the age of 77. His funeral service was held on Jan. 13 in his home at 882 S. Lincoln Ave. Tributes to his life came from all over the country. Words of praise sounded like this: “No one stood higher in public estimation…During ante-bellum days, he helped dozens of unfortunates to liberty and independence…A more faithful, consistent and persevering worker in the great movements of reform – especially anti-slavery, temperance, woman suffrage and peace – cannot be found.”
The old “Pitcher Spout Pump” on display at the Salem Historical Society Museum symbolizes the Deming Co. This is the type of pump that could be found in the kitchens of many old farm houses. Also called a “Cistern Pump,” it was used most commonly in houses for pumping cistern or well water. Because the cylinder was in the stock of the pump, it was limited in its capacity to withdraw water from a depth of no more than 25 feet.
When John Deming rode into Salem on horseback in 1862, carrying his only possessions in a money belt, it hardly was an auspicious beginning for what today is an internationally-known name in the pump business. He was on a trip from Cincinnati to Ashtabula, but decided to settle among the Quakers and open a grocery store.
He eventually joined the manufacturing business of Levi Dole and A. R. Silver, which became the Dole, Silver & Deming Co., and later Silver & Deming Mfg. Co. In 1874, the business moved into the old Aetna Mowing Machine Co. plant (S. Broadway Ave. and Aetna St.). The Silver & Deming Co. began manufacturing hand and windmill pumps in 1880.
In 1890 the firm divided into two separate entities, and Deming began specializing in pumps and hydraulic machinery. Up to 1894, the line of pumps manufactured included house force pumps, well pumps, rotary pumps, hydraulic rams, and a small line of spray pumps.
The firm grew rapidly, expanding to produce pumps in sizes and capacities from the smallest cistern pump and hand sprayer, to the large triplex and deep well power pumps for use in mines, factories and waterworks. Deming products were sold throughout the world. Its pumps earned the reputation of being the “World’s Best.”
With a complete line of shallow well and deep well water systems, centrifugal pumps, cellar drainers, deep well turbines, high pressure pumps, hand and power pumps and cylinders, the Deming Co. was able to provide dealers and distributors with practically all their pump requirements.
One of the company’s most memorable pumps was built in 1905. It was one of the largest ever manufactured in the U. S. The giant pump, shipped to southern California for irrigation purposes, had a capacity of five million gallons a day. Three large freight cars were needed to transport it.
In 2006, the Deming Co. closed its doors and left Salem, where it was founded, moving its operations from 1453 Allen Road to another city.
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