Biography of John McEwen Ames

John Moewen Ames. One of the leading business institutions of Caney, Kansas, is that operating under the name of Kan-o-Tex Refining Company, an industry which has contributed materially to the importance of this city as a center of business activity. The credit for the success of this enterprise is largely due to its president, John McEwen Ames, a man of broad experience and marked business talents, who, until coming to Caney in 1915, had been identified with large business corporations in the East.

Mr. Ames was born in New York City, New York, February 12, 1867, and is a son of John Hubbard and Sarah Lucy (Hyde) Ames. He belongs to a family which originally came from England to Weathersfield, Connecticut, during colonial times, and on his father’s side has Revolutionary ancestors, one being Ithiel Battle, the grandfather of his maternal grandmother, who enlisted in the patriot army from Tyringham, Massachusetts; while another was Josiah Harvey, a surgeon’s mate who enlisted from Connecticut, and who was the father of Mr. Ames’ grandfather’s mother. Mr. Ames is also directly descended from Mayflower ancestors, as is shown in the following genealogy: John Tilly and wife were on the Mayflower, and both died a little after coming ashore. Their daughter, Elizabeth Tilly, was married in 1620, when fourteen years of age, to John Howland, aged twenty-eight years, also of the Mayflower. Their daughter, Hope Howland, of Plymouth, was married in 1646 to Elder John Chipman, Boston, 1631; Barnstable, 1649; Sandwich, 1684-1708. Desire Chipman, daughter of Elder John and Hope (Howland) Chipman, born February 26, 1673-4, died 1705, married February 23, 1692, Col. Melatiah Bourn, of Sandwich, born 1673, died 1742. Bathsheba Bourn, daughter of Col. Melatiah and Desire (Chipman) Bourn, born in 1703, married William Newcomb, born in 1702, died 1736. Their daughter, Sarah Newcomb, born in 1729, married October 19, 1760, Benjamin Fessenden, born 1729, died 1783. Lucy Fessenden, daughter of Benjamin and Sarah (Newcomb) Fessenden, born in 1770, died in 1852, married April 25, 1793; Alvan Hyde, D. D., born in 1768, died in 1833. Joseph Hyde, son of Alvan and Lucy (Fessenden) Hyde, married Catherine McEwen. Sarah L. Hyde, daughter of Joseph and Catherine (McEwen) Hyde, married John H. Ames, and they became the parents of John McEwen Ames.

John Hubbard Ames, the father of John McEwen Ames, was born at Housatonic, Massachusetts, December 27, 1838, his parents being William Henry Ames of Housatonic and Lucy Bartlett of Lee, Massachusetts. Entering Williams College in 1856, he discontinued his course in 1858 to go abroad in company with George Fuller, the artist of Deerfield, Massachusetts. At the outbreak of the Civil war, in 1861, he applied for examination and was commissioned in the United States Navy as engineer of the third grade and assigned to the Connecticut for blockade duty. His service continued throughout the war in this duty, except for the time during which he, with others, was detailed by the Government to experiment with superheated steam on boats plying between Baltimore and Fortress Monroe. At the close of the war he started on the Minnesota to circle the globe, but the ship broke down and had to return to New York, and Mr. Ames resigned his commission as past assistant engineer to become superintendent of the Yale Lock Company, then located at Shelbourne Falls, Massachusetts. In 1871 he was superintendent of the Herring Safe Company, New York, and in 1872 was made superintendent of the Grant Loeomotive Works, at Paterson, New Jersey. As representative of this concern he was sent to Odessa to erect a consignment of locomotives purchased by the Russian Government, the first ever exported by an American concern. The Grant Company failed while he was abroad and in 1875 he again became superintendent of the Yale Lock Company, at that time located at Stamford, Connecticut, which position he held until 1879, when he was employed by the Northern Pacific Railroad Company in the purchase of rails and locomotives. In 1881 he was made purchasing agent of this company and was transferred to Saint Paul, Minnesota. Mr. Ames retired from the position in 1890, as his health was failing, and shortly thereafter moved back to the East, dying April 14, 1908, at his home at Ware, Massachusetts. Mr. Ames was a member of the Loyal Legion. He made the designs for the first government postoffice boxes for the Yale Lock Company and secured a number of patents, among others a steam separator for boilers, a Yale padlock, a refrigerator, an automatic brake for railroad cars, a railway signal apparatus and a pneumatic transmitter for store service.

At Clifton, Staten Island, December 26, 1861, Mr. Ames was married to Sarah Lucy Hyde, and they became the parents of the following children: William Henry, who is connected with the M. B. Farrin Lumber Company, of Cincinnati, Ohio; Joseph Hyde, with the American Car and Foundry Company, of Chicago, Illinois; John McEwen, of this review; George Fuller, with the freight department of the New York Central Railroad, at Rochester, New York; Henry Olmsted, connected with the St. Paul Fire and Marine Insurance Company, St. Paul, Minnesota; Lucy Bartlett, who is the wife of Remsen McGinnis, treasurer of the Holly Sugar Company, of Denver, Colorado; and Catherine McEwen and Sarah Hyde, unmarried, who reside with their mother at Ware, Massachusetts.

After some preparatory education, John McEwen Ames entered the Shattuck School, at Faribanlt, Minnesota, from which he was graduated in 1887, following which he pursued a course at Johns Hopkins University, where he secured the degree of Bachelor of Arts and graduated in the class of 1890. While at college he was a member of the Alpha Delta Phi Greek letter fraternity. In the spring of 1891 he started his business experience with the Peninsular Car Company, as a draughtsman, at Detroit, Michigan, and with the organizing of the Michigan Peninsular Car Company, was made chief draughtsman, a position which he retained from 1894 until 1899. In the latter year he accepted a position as mechanical engineer of the American Car and Foundry Company, and went to New York City, acting in that capacity until coming to Caney, in October, 1915.

In the meantime, in 1909, he had become president of the Kan-o-Tex Refining Company, a concern which had been organized that year for the purpose of refining crude oil from the Kansas and Oklahoma fields. Jacob Bartles had built the original plant at Caney, while Bennett & Miller had erected a plant at Longton, Kansas, and the new organization purchased the two plants, dismantled the one at Longton, and brought both together at Caney, where the main offices and plant are now located beside the Santa Fe Railroad tracks. The company now has machinery of the latest invention and manufacture, and the capacity of the plant is 1,000 barrels per day, with the force working up to capacity output practically all the time. The present list of officers includes: president, John McEwen Ames; vice president, Wilbur Munn, of Orange, New Jersey; secretary, Frank Heilig, of Caney, Kansas; treasurer, Robert R. Cox, of Caney; superintendent of refineries, E. S. Dorrance, of Caney; superintendent of lesses, Clyde M. Boggs, of Bartlesville, Oklahoma; directors, John McEwen Ames, Wilbur Munn, H. M. De Lanoie of New York City, Frank Heilig and Robert R. Cox. In addition to being the directing head of this large and important enterprise, Mr. Ames has various other interests, being a director of the American Car and Foundry Export Company of New York City, and president of the Columbia Bolt and Nut Company of Bridgeport, Connecticut. He has a broad and firmly established reputation as a mechanical engineer, and has been the patentee of a number of ingenious inventions. He belongs to the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the New York Railroad Club and the Engineers’ Club of New York City, and to the Alpha Delta Phi Club of New York City, and the Havana Country Club. Politically, he is a republican, and his religious support is given to the Protestant Episcopal Church, of which he has long been a member.

On January 5, 1907, Mr. Ames was married at Williamsport, Pennsylvania, to Miss Josephine Bowman Coleman, daughter of Fletcher and Millicent Coleman, both of whom died at Williamsport, where Mr. Coleman was engaged in business as a lumber merchant.



Connelley, William E. A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans. Chicago : Lewis, 1918. 5v. Biographies can be accessed from this page: Kansas and Kansans Biographies.

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