Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
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NEWTON, Isaac, naval architect, born in Schodack. New York, 16 January, 1794; died in New York city, 22 November, 1858. He was the son of Abner Newton, who served as an officer during the Revolutionary war. Early in life he turned his attention to the building of steamboats for navigation on Hudson river and the great lakes. Nearly ninety vessels for this purpose were constructed by him, including "Balloon," "Hendrick Hudson," "Knickerbocker," " North America," " Isaac Newton," and "The New World." The first anthracite coal used on a steam vessel was employed under his direction on the "North America." Mr. Newton was the founder of the People's line of steamboats between Albany and New York, and he was also interested in the construction of many ocean steamers. He was associated in the development of the great transportation lines between New York and Chicago, including the New York Central and the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern railways.--His son, Isaac, civil engineer, born in New York city, 4 August, 1837; died there, 25 September, 1884, studied letters at Hamilton college, civil engineering at the University of the city of New York, and medicine at the medical department of the latter institution, but received no degree. His practical education as an engineer was acquired at the Novelty iron-works, and at the Delamater works, in New York city, after which he served as assistant engineer on the People's line, and as chief engineer on one of the Collins line between New York and Liverpool. At the beginning of the civil war he was appointed 1st assistant engineer in the United States navy, and in 1861 assigned to the "Roanoke." Subsequently he was associated with John Ericsson (q. v.) in the building of the " Monitor." He accompanied this iron-clad to Hampton Roads, and participated in the fight with the "Merrimac," on 9 March, 1862, having special charge of the engines and turret during the conflict. On the trip from New York to Hampton Roads the ventilation-apparatus of the vessel became deranged, and the gas from the furnaces escaped into the boiler-room, nearly causing the death of the stokers. At the risk of his life he entered the boiler-room, dragged the men out, and performed their work till the immediate danger was past, when he was taken insensible from the place. In his report of the battle, John L. Worden said of Newton: "In the emergency which arose in the passage to Hampton Roads he showed great readiness in resources and quickness in the application of them ; in the action with the ' Merrimac' he did his duty with coolness, skill, and energy, thereby contributing largely to the successful result of the combat." Later he became supervising constructor of iron-clads for the United States government in New York, and in this capacity superintended the building, among others, of the "Puritan" and" Dictator." He resigned from the navy on 8 February, 1865, and thereafter followed his profession in various capacities, until 1869, when he was appointed by congress to investigate the condition of the navy. Subsequently he assisted General George B. McClellan in the work of reconstructing the Stevens battery, and in 1872 became his assistant, when General McClellan was chief engineer of the department of public works in New York city. After various private engagements he was appointed one of the rapid transit commission to arrange plans for the transportation of passengers and freight in New York city, out of whose deliberations grew the present system of elevated roads. In 1881 he was appointed chief engineer of the department of public works in New York city, and he was identified with the beginnings of the new Croton aqueduct. Mr. Newton was a member of the American society of civil engineers, the Society of mechanical engineers, and other scientific bodies, His professional articles contributed to current literature were many, and he was an accepted authority in certain directions.--Another son, Henry, mining engineer, born in New York city on 12 August, 1845 ; died in Deadwood, Dakota, 5 August, 1877, was graduated at the College of the city of New York in 1866, and at Columbia college school of mines in 1869, receiving also the degree of Ph.D. from that institution in 1876 for advanced scientific studies. After graduation he continued at the school as assistant in metallurgy. In 1869 he became assistant in geology, and he remained as such until 1876, likewise assisting Professor John S. Newberry in his work on the Ohio geological survey during the summers. He was appointed assistant geologist to the Black Hills expedition that was sent out in 1876 under Walter P. Jenney by the department of the interior. During the summers of 1876-'7 he was active in the field, studying the mineralogy and geology of that district, and he spent the winter in collating the information. In 1877 he was called to the chair of mining and metallurgy in Ohio state university, and expected to begin his duties in the autumn of that year, but when he was visiting the Black Hills he was stricken with a fatal fever. Dr. Newton was a member of scientific societies, and had made himself a specialist on the metallurgy of iron and steel, on which subject he contributed papers to the literature of his profession. His most valuable work was his " Report on the Geology and Resources of the Black Hills of Dakota" (Washington, 1880), which is prefaced by a memoir by Professor John S. Newberry.
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