SWASEY, AMBROSE (19 Dec. 1846-15 June 1937), mechanical engineer, manufacturer, and philanthropist, was born in Exeter, N.H. to Nathaniel and Abigail C. (Peavey) Swasey. He served as apprentice machinist (1865-69) and met WORCESTER WARNER, with whom he formed a partnership in 1880 to build and sell machine tools. The business eventually became the WARNER & SWASEY CO. of Cleveland.

Swasey held several patents on gear-cutting machinery and, influenced by his partner, became a designer of astronomical instruments, for which their company became world-famous. He was a founding member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers in 1880 and served on several government agencies, including the Natl. Research Council during WORLD WAR I. A generous benefactor of higher education and Baptist missionary work, between 1914-31 Swasey gave a total of $890,000 to the United Engineering Society in New York to establish an "Engineering Foundation" to promote research. In 1900 he was decorated by France for his work on astronomical instruments. Swasey was president of the Cleveland Chamber of Commerce in 1905. On 19 Dec. 1936 he received the Hoover Medal of the Engineering Societies of America, and in 1930 the Cleveland Medal of Service from the Chamber of Commerce (now GREATER CLEVELAND GROWTH ASSN.). On 14 Nov. 1923, Dr. Otto Struve named a newly discovered asteroid Swasey in his honor.

In 1871, Swasey married Lavinia Marston of Exeter; they had no children. The Swaseys moved to Cleveland when the company relocated there from Chicago in 1881. Swasey died at Exeter.

Black, white and red text reading Western Reserve Historical Society

View finding aid for the Ambrose Swasey Correspondence, WRHS.


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