Lufkin, A.

A. Lufkin

Albert Lufkin was a member of the Newton Public Library board of trustees from its organization in 1896 to 1907.[1]  As well-read as he was and with the numerous interests he had, it was altogether appropriate that Lufkin would be named a founding member of the Newton Public Library board.  He was born on a farm on Casco Bay, at Freeport, Maine, January 7, 1831[2], the son of Benjamin and Eliza (Pote) Lufkin, both natives of Freeport.[3]  His early education was acquired in the public schools.[4]  He then entered the North Yarmouth Academy, which he attended several terms.[5]  After leaving school, Lufkin followed teaching for several years, specializing in mathematics, which he taught one term at Yarmouth Institute.[6]  He then attended an engineering school at Providence, Rhode Island, under Prof. William A. Norton.[7]  When Prof. Norton was called to Yale College in 1852, Lufkin, with most of his class, followed and entered the Yale School of Engineering, taking a course of scientific engineering and chemistry.[8]  Leaving New Haven, Lufkin went to work for H. T. Walling as a mapmaker.[9]  In 1853, he accepted a position with a Pennsylvania railroad as topographer.[10]  He made surveys on the north branch of the Susquehanna River, after which “he went to Philadelphia and spent the winter drafting for this road and while there he attended sixty lectures, having joined the Franklin Institute and the Pennsylvania Historical Society.”[11]  In the spring of 1855, Lufkin came west and located in Jasper County, Iowa.  He purchased a farm in what is now Richland Township.[12]  In 1858, he was elected County Superintendent of Schools.[13]  He then began the first set of abstracts of titles in the county.[14]  In 1869, with Gen. James Wilson, Lufkin established the Jasper County Bank, in which he had an interest until 1880.[15]  While still in the bank Lufkin bought an interest in the foundry and machine shop of James Edgar & Co., and, with J. H. Lyday and James Dutot, continued the business under the name of Newton Machine Works.[16]  In 1873, Rev. D. H. Rogan, minister of the Newton Congregational Church, came to Lufkin with a sewing machine he had invented, and at Lufkin’s “little shop adjoining his residence” the first sewing machine manufactured west of the Mississippi was built and the first ever run with thread (No. 100 Coates’ spool cotton) for a belt.  It was later sold to the Singer Sewing Machine Co.[17]  Lufkin traveled extensively, having visited all the states but four, and Canada repeatedly, also once in old Mexico.[18]  He was a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science for twenty years.[19]  Lufkin was married twice:  to Catharine Griffin (1832-1880), of Freeport, Maine, in 1855, and to Fannie E. Derbyshire (1844-1922), of Kenosha, Wisconsin, in 1881.[20]  The family consisted of three children:  Mary, Arthur K., and Herman.[21]  Lufkin died in Newton, June 27, 1907.[22]  He is buried with his wives in Newton Union Cemetery.[23]

-Larry Ray Hurto


[1] 1896-1957 Library Trustees, Newton Public Library History.

[2] Gen. James B. Weaver, ed., Past and Present of Jasper County, Iowa, Vol. I (Indianapolis, IN:  B. F. Bowen & Company, 1912), p. 647.

[3] Ibid.

[4] “In addition to the common branches taught, he began the study of algebra and while yet at home he took up the study of geometry and trigonometry without a teacher, using an old work on navigation, published in 1758.  He learned the use of logarithms and commenced the study of navigation from this book.”  It was stated that he completed this course in Bowditch’s Navigation “unaided.”  Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Ibid.  The 1878 Directory of Jasper County lists A. Lufkin as a farmer in Section 7 of Poweshiek Township.  The History of Jasper County, Iowa (Chicago:  Western Historical Company, 1878), p. 628.

[13] Lucy E. Hall, A History of the Schools of Jasper County, Iowa [1959], pp. 7, 11.  “During his term of office he succeeded in having built many better school buildings.  He held the office two terms and made many friends among the people, teachers and pupils.”  Past and Present of Jasper County, Iowa, pp. 647-648.

[14] Past and Present of Jasper County, Iowa, p. 648.

[15] Larry Ray Hurto, ed., A History of Newton, Iowa (Dallas, TX:  Curtis Media Corporation, 1992), pp. 273-274.

[16] Past and Present of Jasper County, Iowa, p. 648.  He later became sole proprietor.

[17] Newton Free Press, April 2, 1873; Past and Present of Jasper County, Iowa, p. 648.

[18] Past and Present of Jasper County, Iowa, p. 648.

[19] Ibid.

[20] Ibid., pp. 647, 648.

[21] Ibid., p. 648.  Arthur K. Lufkin was a member of the library board from 1914 to 1922.  1896-1957 Library Trustees, Newton Public Library History.

[22] The Newton Herald, June 28, 1907 and July 5, 1907; The Newton Daily News, June 29, 1907; The Newton Journal, July 3, 1907.

[23] Jasper County Genealogical Society, comp., Jasper County, Iowa, Cemeteries:  Newton Union Cemetery, Blocks 4, 5, 6, and 7 (Des Moines:  Iowa Genealogical Society, 1994), p. 422.