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Sheboygan County, Wisconsin Genealogy & History
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David S. Jenkins

Source: "Portrait and Biographical Record - Published 1894 by Excelsior Publishing Co., Chicago" Pages 622 - 623

David S. Jenkins, President of The Jenkins Machine Company of Sheboygan, is one of the old settlers and prominent manufacturers of this city. He was born in Llandennim, Montgomeryshire, Wales, June 24, 1834. His parents, Pryce and Margaret (Spoonley) Jenkins, were natives of the same country, the father being a gunsmith by trade. With their six children, they emigrated to the United States in 1842, and lived for about three years near Utica, N. Y. In the fall of 1844, they removed to Racine, Wis., and the following spring arrived in Sheboygan. In this city the remainder of their lives was spent, he reaching the age of seventy-three, and she sixty-nine years. Both attended the Methodist Episcopal Church, of which she was a consistent member. Of a family of eleven children, only two are living, David S. and Mrs. Thomas A. Long, of Sheboygan.

The early educational advantages of Mr. Jenkins were of the most primitive kind, but by reading and contact with the business world, he has to some extent made good the deficiency caused by lack of early training. When a mere boy, he showed a special aptitude for mechanics, and when only thirteen years of age ran the engine in the old sawmill that stood where the shipyard now is. Having been thus employed two years, he went to Milwaukee and learned the machinist's trade, serving three years. The next summer he shipped as engineer of the old steamer "Niagara," which ran between Chicago and Buffalo. Returning to Sheboygan, he was employed in a foundry for some time. He ran the first steam-dredge that was used in clearing the Sheboygan Harbor. In 1857 he unloaded from a scow and put on the track the first engine used on the Sheboygan & Mississippi Railroad, now a branch of the Northwestern. He also, unloaded the first engine for the Milwaukee, Lake Shore & Western Railroad. For nine years he was engineer on the first road mentioned, and two years on the latter. Leaving this road, he had charge of the shops at Ft. Howard, for the Green Bay & Minnesota Road. We next find him in charge of the machinery of the old Crocker & Bliss Chair Factory, holding that position until the factory burned. When the Phoenix Chair Company erected its plant, Mr. Jenkins had charge of the construction. In 1876, he and his son, De Witt, opened a machine-shop on ground now covered by Factory "A" of the Crocker Chair Company. The building in which they commenced business was a small affair, being 30x60 feet. In 1880, he built the works where he now does business, at the corner of Eighth and Virginia Streets. The plant has been enlarged and equipped with the latest improved machinery, and is one of the best appointed establishments of the kind in the State. The machine-shop and office occupy a building 30x200 feet; foundry, 40x190 feet; and patternshop, 30x150 feet. In April, 1887, The Jenkins Machine Company was incorporated, with a capital stock of $70,000. The present officers are: David S. Jenkins, President and Treasurer; and Thomas A. Long, Secretary. They do an extensive business, giving employment to about forty hands.

Mr. Jenkins was married at Sheboygan, October 29, 1855, to Miss Mary E-, daughter of Silas R. Crocker, an early settler of this county. Mrs. Jenkins was born in Essex County, N. Y. Of this marriage ten children were bora, of whom three are living, all machinists. Edward is employed by the Ashland Division of the Northwestern Railroad; DeWitt is in business at Vancouver, Wash.; and Henry works in his father's shop. They have an adopted daughter, Nellie. Mrs. Jenkins is a member of the Methodist Church. In national politics, Mr. Jenkins is a Republican, but in local affairs he votes for the best man, regardless of his political faith. Socially, he is an Odd Fellow.

Mr. Jenkins is recognized as a most skillful machinist, being widely known throughout the United States. Energy, skill and industry have made him what he is, both financially and otherwise.


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