John Jacob Glessner

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John Jacob Glessner

Birthplace: Zanesville, Muskingum County, Ohio, United States
Death: January 20, 1936 (92)
Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Jacob Glessner and Mary Glessner
Husband of Sarah "Frances" Glessner
Father of John "George" MacBeth Glessner; Frances "Fanny" Lee and John Francis Glessner

Managed by: Raymond H. Glessner
Last Updated:

About John Jacob Glessner

Glessner House

John Jacob Glessner was born January 26, 1843, in Zanesville, Ohio. While his father served for two years in the Ohio legislature, John ran the elder Glessner's Zanesville Times. In 1863, John moved to Springfield, Ohio, to begin a career in the farm implement industry, beginning with a post with Warder, Child & Co, which in 1866 reorganized into Warder, Mitchell & Co. John became a junior partner. John had met Frances Macbeth, when he moved into her mother’s boarding house in 1863; they married on December 7, 1870.

The couple soon moved to Chicago, where John established a sales office for the firm. In 1879 he was made a full partner and reorganized the company as Warder, Bushnell and Glessner. In 1882, John commissioned Isaac Scott to design a new headquarters for Warder, Bushnell & Glessner on Jefferson St, and in 1886 John became sole Vice President of Warder, Bushnell & Glessner. In 1902, John was a key figure in the merger of his company with McCormick, Deering, Plano Manufacturing, and Milwaukee Harvester Company. The resulting company, International Harvester, ended the “reaper wars.” John was named a vice president and served as chairman of the executive committee.

Throughout his life in Chicago, John Glessner played an active role in civic affairs. At times, he served on the boards of the Citizens Association of Chicago, Chicago Relief and Aid Society, Chicago Orphan Asylum, Rush Medical College, and the Art Institute of Chicago. He also participated in the Chicago, Union League, Quadrangle and Chicago Literary Clubs as an active member. Perhaps most significantly, he served as a trustee of the Chicago Orchestra Association.

John was also a prolific writer, producing many short pieces relating family history—including a tribute to his wife after her death—as well as more obscure topics like potatoes and snakes.

John Glessner died on January 20, 1936, a week before his ninety-third birthday and was interred at Graceland Cemetery beside his wife. Family and friends remembered him as a quiet and modest man whose industry and intelligence seem to have had a profound, though at times barely visible, effect on everything around him. Although his name is not as well known as some of his contemporaries, such as Marshall Field or George Pullman, his influence on the development of Gilded Age Chicago was considerable and his impact is still felt in many cultural institutions in Chicago today.

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John Jacob Glessner's Timeline

January 26, 1843
Zanesville, Muskingum County, Ohio, United States
October 2, 1871
Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, United States
March 25, 1878
Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, United States
January 20, 1936
Age 92
Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, United States