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John Arbuckle 1838-1912

Inventor, merchant and philanthropist born in Scotland, son of Thomas Arbuckle who brought his son to the United States at an early age. Arbuckle’s father was the proprietor of a cotton mill in Allegheny City. His son attended the public schools of Allegheny and Pittsburgh, and had a strong bent for science and machinery. In 1856 he enrolled at Washington and Jefferson College, but left before graduation to engage in the coffee roasting business with his younger brother Charles under the name Arbuckle Brothers. He married Mary Alice Kerr in Pittsburgh, Pa. in 1868 and died without issue.

John Arbuckle with the aid of a draftsman and machinest invented a machine which filled, weighed, sealed and labeled coffee in paper packages of coffee the firm sold. Their "Arbuckle Ariosa" became the coffee used all over the country. Eventually the business became the largest importer of coffee in the world, and Arbuckle determined to pack and sell sugar the same way. Refined sugar was purchased from the Havemeyer interests, but Arbuckle was soon considered a menace to their trade. The historic Arbuckle-Havemeyer trade battle cost the combined sugar and coffee forces $25 million, making this one of the most spectacular controversies in the history of American industry.

Arbuckle, the largest ship owner in America since every merchant ship engaged in the South American coffee trade was his, decided in 1906 to turn his attention to the salvage of vessels and founded The Arbuckle Wrecking Company. He maintained a fleet of ocean-going tugs equipped with wireless telegraphy which responded to alarms received at government life-saving stations.

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