Dr Abraham Pineo Gesner

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Dr Abraham Pineo Gesner

Birthplace: Cornwallis Township, Cornwallis, Annapolis County, Nova Scotia, Canada
Death: April 29, 1864 (66)
Halifax, Halifax Regional Municipality, Nova Scotia, Canada
Place of Burial: Halifax, Halifax Regional Municipality, Nova Scotia, Canada
Immediate Family:

Son of Colonel Henry Gesner and Sarah Gesner
Husband of Harriet Gesner
Father of George Weltden Gesner; Henry Gesner; Herbert Gesner and Rev Abraham Herbert Gesner
Brother of Rebekah Terry; John Henry Gesner; Elizabeth Chipman; David Henry Gesner, Sr.; Famicha Cossitt and 6 others
Half brother of Lavinia Caroline Gesner

Managed by: Private User
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About Dr Abraham Pineo Gesner

Abraham Pineo Gesner (1797 - 1864) , physician and surgeon, geologist, and inventor; , third son of Colonel Henry Gesner and Sarah Pineo.

Canadian physician and geologist who invented kerosene. Although Ignacy Łukasiewicz developed the modern kerosene lamp, starting the world's oil industry, Gesner is considered a primary founder. Gesner was born in Cornwallis, Nova Scotia. He died in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Dr and Mrs Gesner had seven sons and three daughters for whom they provided a Christian home and a good education. Two sons carried on their father’s work as chemists and metallurgists, one became a United States Army surgeon who served in the American Civil War, and another was a distinguished Episcopal clergyman. With such an admirable family it is hard to understand why their father’s grave in Camp Hill Cemetery, Halifax, was left unmarked for 69 years. It remained for Imperial Oil Limited, mindful that their great refinery across the harbour was the direct descendant of Gesner’s retort, to erect a handsome shaft over his grave in 1933 and inscribe on it a tribute to the pioneer geologist and the founder of the hydrocarbon refining industry. In 1969 the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada set up an impressive monument to Gesner in front of his former home at Chipman Corner.

According to his son George Weltden, Abraham Gesner was of medium height but with broad shoulders. His eyes were black and piercing, and his hair remained black all his life. The published portrait shows him as partly bald, with heavy side-whiskers, perhaps in emulation of his friend Lord Dundonald. He played the flute and the violin, and was fond of the old Scottish airs. He loved to tell stories, and joined in the laughter as fully as his audience. He was abstemious, his only indulgence being an occasional good cigar. His religion was important to him and he was an active member of the Church of England in Nova Scotia and the Episcopal Church in Brooklyn.

Abraham Gesner was a man who believed that science was good, and that through technology it could make a better world in which to live. This philosophy, together with his religion, enabled him to meet his many disappointments without self-pity, and to pick up the pieces and go on to the next project with undiminished enthusiasm. If he could come back today and see the great aircraft now propelled over continents and oceans by his kerosene, he would be delighted but not surprised.

Canadian Biographies

“The Father of Kerosene.” Although a medical doctor, his love for geology led this Canadian to revolutionize the energy industry. Beginning in his childhood on the Nova Scotia coast, he collected and studied fossils and rocks becoming a self-taught geologist. In the mid-1840s he began experimenting with coal looking for an alternative illuminant to whale oil. By distilling lumps of coal he was able to develop a clear liquid that when lit with a wick produced a bright light. He called the new fuel “kerosene”. His discovery was a success and he moved to Long Island, New York where he established the North American Kerosene Light Company. His company eventually became a part of Standard Oil Company and he returned to Canada to teach at Dalhousie University. His work, “A Practical Treatise on Coal, Petroleum and Other Distilled Oils” published in 1861, is recognized as a standard in the industry. In 1933, Imperial Oil Company erected a tombstone at the geologist’s grave in his honor. (bio by: [fg.cgi?page=mr&MRid=46780407" target="_blank Bigwoo)]

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Dr Abraham Pineo Gesner's Timeline

May 2, 1797
Cornwallis, Annapolis County, Nova Scotia, Canada
June 25, 1832
Parsboro, North Carolina, United States
April 29, 1864
Age 66
Halifax, Halifax Regional Municipality, Nova Scotia, Canada
Age 66
Halifax, Halifax Regional Municipality, Nova Scotia, Canada