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Talk in Munhall Will Remember 'Carnegie's Captain' Jones

By Submitted Report
The Tube City Almanac
June 05, 2018
Posted in: Announcements

The man who arguably made Andrew Carnegie a titan of the steel industry will be remembered during a free talk and book signing Thursday in Munhall.

Author Tom Gage (above) will sign copies of his book, "American Prometheus: Carnegie's Captain, Bill Jones" during the event at 7 p.m. at the Pump House, 880 E. Waterfront Drive.

The event is sponsored by Rivers of Steel.

Gage is a great-grandson of William R. Jones, the first superintendent of Carnegie's Edgar Thomson Works in Braddock and the man credited, at the time, with perfecting and refining the techniques of steel manufacturing.

The son of Welsh immigrants, Jones was born in Luzerne County, Pa., and learned how to make steel at the Cambria Iron Works in Johnstown. After serving in the Civil War, where he rose from private to captain, Jones returned to Johnstown, but after becoming frustrated with the Cambria company's owners, he left to go to work at Carnegie's new plant in Braddock --- reportedly taking 200 employees with him.

While working for Carnegie in Braddock and Homestead, Jones would patent at least 50 new techniques for steel making. Perhaps just as importantly, Jones was respected both by Carnegie and the rank-and-file steelworkers as a tough, but fair boss who was concerned with both productivity as well as worker safety and welfare.

Jones was assisting two employees to clear a jammed furnace at Edgar Thomson in September 1889 when it suddenly gave way. One man was killed instantly, while Jones and the other man died a few days later.

The Edgar Thomson plant and most of the businesses in Braddock closed for Jones' funeral.

Gage is a professor emeritus in the English Department at Humboldt State University in California, where he took the lead in creating an International Studies Department. A graduate of the University of California at Berkeley, he is an expert on the Middle East who taught in Aleppo, Syria, as a Fulbright scholar in 1983, and has also taught in China, Turkey and Greece. He has authored, co-authored, and edited or consulted on more than 20 books.

During Thursday's talk, Gage will share his family’s legacy, including the story of how successive generations worked  to make sure their ancestor was not forgotten.

Copies of Gage's "American Prometheus" will be available for purchase, a spokesman said.

Originally published June 05, 2018.

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