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Alexander Lyman Holley

Born: 20-Jul-1832
Birthplace: Lakeville, CT
Died: 29-Jan-1882
Location of death: Brooklyn, NY
Cause of death: Illness [1]
Remains: Buried, Mt. Hope Cemetery, Rochester, NY

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Business, Inventor

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Designed steel foundries

Alexander Lyman Holley was an inventor, mechanical engineer, metallurgist, and founding Chairman of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. His father owned a cutlery factory, from which Holley developed his early interest in manufacturing. In 1863 he purchased US rights to Henry Bessemer's steel manufacturing process, allowing the cheap manufacture of vast quantities of steel, and allowing unprecedented construction of bridges, railroads, and ships. He was a leading industrialist of his era, becoming a millionaire and helping the United States become a world economic power. He obtained ten patents for assorted improvements to Bessemer's process, as well as several unrelated patents, and designed most of the largest steelworks in America in the 19th century. A bronze bust of Holley has stood in New York City's Washington Square Park since 1890, eight years after his death.


[1] "Peritonitis, due to a complication of diseases," according to his obituary in The New York Times.

Father: Alexander Hamilton Holley (Governor of Connecticut, b. 12-Aug-1804, d. 2-Oct-1887)
Mother: Jane M. Lyman (m. 4-Oct-1831, d. 20-Jul-1832 childbirth)
Mother: Marcia Coffing (stepmother, m. 10-Sep-1835, d. 1854, five children)
Mother: Sarah Coit (stepmother, m. 11-Nov-1856)
Wife: Mary Slade (m. 1855, two daughters)
Daughter: Gertrude

    University: BA Philosophy, Brown University (1853)
    Administrator: Trustee, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

    The New York Times Foreign Technical Correspondent (1858-75)
    American Society of Civil Engineers
    American Society of Mechanical Engineers Co-Founder, 1880
    American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical and Petroleum Engineers President, 1876
    Institution of Civil Engineers
    Iron and Steel Institute of Great Britain
    Theta Delta Chi Fraternity
    National Inventors Hall of Fame (2006)
    Risk Factors: Peritonitis

Author of books:
The Permanent Way and Coal-Burning Locomotive Boilers of European Railways (1858, non-fiction; with Zerah Colburn)
A Treatise on Ordnance and Armor: Embracing Descriptions, Discussions, and General Opinions Concerning the Material, Fabrication, Requirements, Capabilities, and Endurance of European and American Guns for Naval, Sea-Coast, and Iron-Clad Warfare, and their Rifling, Projectiles, and Breech-Loading (1865, non-fiction)


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