J. H. Temple

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John H. Temple


Boston, Massachusetts

West Roxbury, Massachusetts

"John H. Temple was born in Princeton, Massachusetts on October 4, 1812, and died in West Roxbury, July 25, 1877.  Leaving the farm at eighteen, he engaged in Sterling, Massachusetts in the manufacture of chairs; at twenty (1832) he entered the service of Nathan B. Chamberlain, maker of philosophical instruments, and soon came with him to Boston, working with him two or three years; then commencing business for himself about 1838, he began the manufacture of philosophical and school apparatus, and afterwards that of mathematical instruments.  He is first listed in the Boston directories of 1839 at 11 Cornhill.  In 1866 he moved to West Roxbury, where he remained until his death.  During his lifetime he built about one hundred instruments, mostly transits and levels.  Finding great difficulty in getting the circles for his instruments satisfactorily divided, he became impressed with the idea that he could make an engine that would do his work better than he could get it done elsewhere.  After giving the subject much thought, he began the construction of a thirty-six inch dividing engine about 1852.  He had never seen a dividing engine, and so far as known, never saw any other than that he made.  He spent all his spare time for twenty years, many sleepless nights, and much money upon his engine, but had the satisfaction of using it for dividing his instruments for a few years after completion.  Mr. Temple was, without question, the finest workman in his department in this country, and in his engine he will live to future generations.  Excerpts from Buff & Berger Catalog of 1879.  After his death, Buff & Berger bought this engine from his widow.  When Buff & Berger dissolved partnership, the Temple engine became in the possession of C. L. Berger & Sons.  James E. Moody (1848-1913) who was employed by Temple assembled the incomplete instruments after Temple's death and sold them locally.  Moody also repaired transits, levels and alidades.  He is reputed to have been a very skillful instrument maker."

Reference:  Smart, Charles E.   The Makers Of Surveying Instruments In America Since 1700  Troy, New York:  Regal Art Press.  1962 

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