Sep 22, 2008 | Posted in Essays, Technology


David L. Weber, 2008

“The Young & Locke Iron Works, organized in 1879 by Edmund R. Young and Robert D. Locke, located opposite the Titusville Iron Works [on South Franklin Street], engaged in the business of making and repairing engines, boilers, steam pumps, and giving steady employment to 20 expert mechanics, enjoy a large and growing business, the confidence of the trade and a sound and enviable financial standing” - GEORGE A. CHASE, c. 1889.

Edmund R. Young was born in Crewe, Cheshire, England (Britain), January 27, 1844. He learned the boilermaker’s trade in Cheshire, emigrating to America, 1870.

Young soon moved to Titusville and found employment with Bryan, Dillingham & Company (Titusville Iron Company / Titusville Iron Works Company). The Titusville Evening Courier recounted E.R. Young’s early Oil Region activities, 1906:

“He is a boilermaker by trade…. which he has always followed. At first he located in Pittsburgh, where he remained about six months; then he came to Titusville and went to work for Bryan & Dillingham and stayed with them for two years, leaving their employ to start for himself, opening a shop at Triumph, Pa. [near Tidioute, Warren County], which he conducted for three years, returning to Titusville and founded the present business.”

Robert D. Locke was born in Lyman, New Hampshire, August 26, 1850. His father, Elbridge Gerry Locke, settled the family at the Drake Well site (Cherrytree Township, Venango County), 1860. Jonathan Locke, Elbridge Locke’s brother, was chief millwright / blacksmith for the Brewer, Watson & Company lumber mills.

Robert D. Locke worked as the Drake Well “pulley boy” (and knew both Edwin L. Drake and William “Uncle Billy” Smith), 1862. He later was employed as a tool dresser, oil well driller, refinery operator, well shooter (for the Roberts Petroleum Torpedo Company), blacksmith and machinist.

Locke learned the machinist’s trade in a Titusville shop, Locke & Hamilton, co - founded by his uncle. Subsequent places of employment were at Gibbs & Sterrett, Titusville Iron Works, and Bovaird & Seyfang.

Jonathan Locke was also involved in the Titusville Iron Works. He went own to own machine shops at Pleasantville and Bradford (the latter shop evolved into the Bradford Supply Company).

Robert Locke, while working for Bovaird & Seyfang, was hired to dress tools on the first oil well drilled in Taiwan (Formosa), 1877. The Titusville Herald recounted this event, August 26, 1942:

“The contract for drilling a well was made between Dr. E.W. Kellogg, of Hartford, Conn., and the Chinese Government, which had taken note of oil springs in Formosa. Dr. Kellogg came to Titusville to obtain his drilling equipment from Gibbs & Sterrett, purchasing $30,000 worth. He bought duplicates of everything, including [the] boiler.

“While here, Dr. Kellogg inquired about a competent driller and A.P. (Port) Karns was recommended to him. When an assistant was mentioned, chance alighted upon a young man named Robert D. Locke, then working for Bovaird & Seyfang in Titusville.

“The two men left Titusville on September 4, 1877, going via San Francisco….”

“The Chinese were slow in getting started and it was well into 1878 before the two men really got down to work….

“As a commercial venture the well was a failure, since the highest production it ever reached was six barrels a day.”

Karns and Locke returned to the United States, 1879. David Bovaird and John Seyfang moved their Titusville machine shop to Bradford, PA, where it became a major producer of boilers, wood alcohol distillation equipment, drilling and fishing tools, rig irons, pumps, air and gas compressors, pneumatic pumping heads (“air heads”), steel tanks, pumping powers, pumping jacks, bull and band wheels, dimension cut rig timbers, store fixtures / store fronts; and steam, gas / gasoline and Diesel engines (with an on - site oil well supply and hardware store). The vacant Titusville B & S shop, located at 68 and 70 South Franklin Street (once the site of the Titusville Iron Works boiler manufacturing department), was purchased by Edmund R. Young and Robert D. Locke, 1879.

History of Crawford County, Pennsylvania (1885) described the Young & Locke business:

“The machine shop of Young & Locke is situated at 68 and 70 South Franklin Street. The building is 100 by 180 feet in dimensions, and gives employment to ten men. The proprietors conduct a general repair shop, and also deal extensively in second - hand machinery. In the oil regions, where operators are constantly retiring and arriving, the latter business has proved quite important in relieving the retiring speculators of their machinery, and supplying it to those incoming. Bovaird & Seyfang, in 1873, started a repair machine shop at the foot of Monroe Street. They removed it to the corner of Mechanic and Perry streets [present Charter Plastics, Inc. parking area and pipe storage yard site], where, in 1877, the building was destroyed by fire. Resuming business on Franklin Street, they [moved their operation to Bradford, PA and] sold [the Titusville plant] to [Edmund R.] Young and [Robert] Locke, the present proprietors.”

David Bovaird later sold out his interest and opened a separate oil field supply store / oil field machine and blacksmith shop, although in the same Bradford industrial complex as the Bovaird & Seyfang plant, 1895. The two adjacent plants once employed a combined total of 700 - 750 people. Oil Well Supply Company’s Bradford packer and engine conversion cylinder manufacturing plant, which employed fifty people, was also located in the Bovaird & Seyfang - Bovaird & Company Davis Street industrial complex.

Young & Locke Iron Works employed 20 men by 1889 - 1890. The proprietors also operated oil leases at Shamburg (Venango County), and in the Church Run field (Oil Creek Township, Venango County).

Young & Locke’s machine shop - used oil field equipment yard was damaged in the June 5, 1892 Fire & Flood. The boiler repair shop - warehouse building was demolished by flood waters. Rebuilding took place almost immediately, and the plant resumed operations.

Edmund R. Young and Robert D. Locke’s machine shop and oil production partnership was dissolved, 1896.. Edmund R. Young retained the machine shop; Robert Locke the Shamburg and Church Run oil wells. Locke later acquired an interest in the Titusville Supply Company (coal and building materials dealers). The latter business, located on Arch Street, Titusville (present Drake Mall parking lot site), was owned in partnership with Robert A. Locke (a son), Cornelius Raymond McNierney and John T. Dillon, Jr.

Young & Locke’s machine shop was said to have manufactured one of the first eccentric powers for multiple oil well pumping. The plant also manufactured and repaired pumps and acid blowers for oil refineries; and performed general farm machinery, sawmill and industrial plant repair jobs.

Edmund R. Young’s sons - E.R., Jr.; Frank R. and Robert A. - became partners in the machine shop and foundry business. Marinus N. Allen wrote the following, 1898:

“The plant was founded in 1878 by Edmund R. Young, who has been at the head…. ever since. In 1879 he took Robert D. Locke into partnership, which lasted about seventeen years under the name Young & Locke. In 1896, Mr. Young purchased Mr. Locke’s interest, and took his sons into partnership. Since then the firm of Young & Locke have operated the plant. The business consists of a machine shop, boiler [repair] shop and foundry. The works are located at 68 and 70 South Franklin Street. The company deals extensively in second - hand oil well supplies, second - hand [oil field and industrial] machinery, pipes, fittings, engines and boilers, etc. The institution has been in operation for twenty years, and it has always done a good business. It is proper to say that Mr. Young is highly respected in the community, both as a business man and as a citizen.”

Mary Young Hall, Edmund R. Young’s daughter, was the first girl’s basketball coach at Titusville High School, c. 1898. E.R. Young served four years on Titusville City Council.

E.R. Young & Sons manufactured the “Edmund” internal combustion cylinders, for converting oil field steam engines into “half breed” gas engines (12 and 15 H.P.).

The Titusville Evening Courier described the growth of Young & Sons’ business, 1906:

“A house that has contributed to Titusville’s industrial activity is that conducted by E.R. Young & Sons, manufacturers of steam pumps, oil separators, gas engines, derrick pumps, pipe cutters, and oil well supplies of all kinds, located at Nos. 68 and 70 S. Franklin St., where their [shops,] offices and warehouses are situated, and they also have a branch office at Marion, Ind. This enterprise was established in 1880 by Young & Locke and conducted by them up to ten years ago, when the present company took charge. The plant consists of three large buildings owned by the company, 70 × 80, 60 × 80 and 70 × 80 feet in dimensions, equipped with all the latest improved machinery, and employment is given to a large force of expert machinists. The company controls a large patronage covering the United States and Europe.”

It is interesting to note that three different years - 1878, 1879 and 1880 - were given as the date of the Young machine shop’s founding .

E.R. Young & Sons, according to 1908 advertisements, offered “Iron and Brass Castings, Forgings, Machine and Pattern Work. Pipe Cutting to Specifications.”

Charles W. Brown (1851 - 1928), a Batavia, NY native, was employed as a machinist in the Young & Locke / E.R. Young & Sons shops (and by the Titusville Machine & Foundry / Titusville Foundry & Supply, Titusville Oscillating Washer Company and Jacobson Engine Manufacturing Company successor firms) for over 40 years.

Tools and other items made by the Young & Locke / E.R. Young & Sons Machine Shop were shipped to the oil and gas fields of Texas, Oklahoma and California.

Edmund R. Young, Jr. bought out his two brothers’ interests in the machine shop - foundry business after 1910. E.R. Young & Son also expanded their machine shop to include a Paige - Detroit automobile agency, c. 1911 - 1915. An automobile repair and storage garage was added to the South Franklin Street machine shop, foundry, blacksmith / boiler repair shop and oil field supply warehouse complex.

E.R. Young & Son’s business activities gradually ended during World War I. The shops were sold to the Titusville Foundry & Supply Company, according to The Titusville Herald, June 26, 1919:

“Announcement was made yesterday that Robert A. Locke and C. Raymond McNierney, two well - known Titusville young men who operate the business of the Titusville Supply Company, had purchased the machine shop and foundry of E.R. Young & Son, South Franklin Street, and will take possession today. Mr. Locke’s father was formerly associated with the elder Mr. Young in the business, for a number of years the firm being known as Young & Locke. The new firm will do a general machinist and foundry business and will also manufacture oil pumps and gas engines.”

Titusville Foundry & Supply Company - also known as Titusville Machine & Foundry Company - was a short - lived venture.

Edmund R. Young died at the home of his daughter, Mrs. Mary Young Hall, East Main Street, Titusville, February 15, 1920, age 76. He was survived by his widow, Selma Rhead Young, one daughter and five sons. Funeral services took place at the Hall residence.

Titusville Oscillating Washer Company purchased the formerE.R. Young machine shop - foundry complex, c. 1921 - 1922. Jacobson Engine Manufacturing Company (Jacobson Engine Works), formerly of Warren, PA, later bought the Oscillating Washer South Franklin Street factory from local investors, 1923.

Jacobson Engine Works, Inc. produced stationary and portable gas / gasoline engines (2 ½ to 16 H.P.), soldering furnaces, oil field tractor winches and tractor reversible clutches (for powering drilling rigs). Iron cylinder castings were purchased from Barnhart - Davis Company, Warren, PA; bed and flywheel castings from Mutual Foundry Company, Franklin (Sugar Creek), PA. The plant also performed general machine shop repair jobs for municipal water systems and oil producers / drilling contractors.

Jacobson Engine Works, Inc.; owned by Coy C. Hogg, Bert Johnson, Louis C. McKinney, Eugene McCabe and Frank Lanning; ceased operations during the Great Depression, 1931.

Barnhart - Davis Company, Warren, PA, acquired the Jacobson Engine repair parts manufacturing rights, 1932. This firm continued to provide spare parts for gas engines through the 1950s.

The Titusville Herald carried the following, March 6, 1935:

“Negotiations have just been completed whereby S.S. Bryan becomes the owner of the old Young & Locke machine shop property, 308 - 310 South Franklin street, in recent years known as the Jacobson Engine company plant.

“Mr. Bryan told The Herald yesterday that he is undecided as to the uses he will make of the property, but on account of its central location, it will be ideal as a storage [facility] for oil well supplies handled by the Bryan hardware store [on South Franklin Street], and with suitable machinery included in the deal, an excellent repair plant for oil well supplies could be maintained.”

Samuel S. Bryan (1862 - 1947) leased the Young & Locke site to welding shops and automobile dealers. The Rainey Tool Company, a manufacturer of industrial cutting tools and wrenches (owned by machinist Austin Rainey), also occupied part of the old plant, 1939 - 1940. Most of the buildings were razed, 1947 - 1949. One structure remained in existence (and use) until it was finally demolished, 1976.

Robert D. Locke died in 1943, age 92. He was actually the last survivor of the people connected with the Drake Well!