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John J. Hummel


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"Spokane and The Spokane Country - Pictorial and Biographical - Deluxe Supplement." Vol. II. The S.J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1912. (No author listed.) pgs. 120-122.

       JOHN J. HUMMEL, president of the Multitype Machine Company of Spokane, is by birth a Hollander, possessing in a marked degree the practical qualities of mind and tenacity of purpose for which this people are noted. His birth occurred at Nithinsen, Province Groningen, Netherlands, June 5, 1876, his parents being John H. and Peteke (Drent) Hummel. The first eleven years of his life were spent in his native land, and in later years, when the cares and seriousness of life grow oppressive, he relaxes for a moment and indulges in reminiscences of his home by the sea, where were the long low sand dunes and the dykes to protect the town from the ruthlessness of the ocean but over which the music of the waves traveled.
       In 1887 John J. Hummel came with his parents to America and settled in Muskegon, Michigan, where the father engaged in agriculture. In the public schools of that city John Hummel acquired his education, which was supplemented by much home study, and during this time he also assisted his father in his agricultural pursuits. For a period of ten years following his school course in Muskegon he continued to work on the home farm, also learned the printer's trade, and developed, from the natural bent of his mind, a great interest in sociological, economic, philosophic, theological and scientific problems. Subsequently he went to Chicago and later to Davenport, Iowa. In 1907 he came to Spokane, and during his five years' residence here has, by his progress, proven what can be accomplished by conserving all energies and expending them in the special work where lies one's greatest ability.
       Mr. Hummel is now numbered among the inventors of the land of his adoption. When a youth battling with and trying to solve the mysteries of typesetting, the idea of inventing a machine to fill a very evident need originated, and since its birth he has devoted much time to the study of typesetting and typecasting machines, and the result is the multitype, which many printers believe to be the ideal typesetting machine of the immediate future, it differing from the linotype and monotype in that it accomplishes by machine work what has heretofore been done by hand in most printing establishments. The multitype machine promises to be of great commercial value. It has a field of its own and is demonstrating how thousands of dollars can be saved annually with also great economy in time and labor. When the inventor realized the worth of his product he interested prominent printers and machinists in the invention and a company was formed and a trial machine built. Subsequently the Multitype Machine Company was incorporated for one million dollars with John J. Hummel as president, but the capital stock has since been increased to ten million dollars. The experimental shop which the company now operates was installed in 1910, but plans are now being made to expand their works in order to facilitate the manufacture of their larger machines. Remarkable certainly has been the evolution of the printing industry since the epochal day Laurens Coster dropped his hand-carved letter on the sand and by its impression gained the first idea of reproducing manuscripts with movable type.
       Mr. Hummel has kept his mind and time so occupied he has found no opportunity to affiliate with any lodge or club. He is unmarried, his parents at present making their home with him. He holds membership in the First Presbyterian church of Spokane. In his political views he is a near socialist, his naturally analytic mind being impressed with the problems of the capitalist's oppression of the laboring man and his consequent resistance. His vote is always given to the party working for the betterment of social relations.
       Although still a comparatively young man he has made good use of his years, depending upon no outside aid or circumstances but exerting his powers to the utmost, always on the alert for improvement, never regarding any attainment as final but rather as a starting point for further achievement.

Submitted by: Nancy Pratt Melton

* * * * Notice: These biographies were transcribed for the Washington Biographies Project. Unless otherwise stated, no further information is available on the individuals featured in the biographies.


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