John Hays Hammond : biography
John Hays Hammond (31 March 1855 – 8 June 1936) was a mining engineer, diplomat, and philanthropist. Known as the man with the Midas touch, he amassed a sizable fortune before the age of 40. An early advocate of deep mining, Hammond was given complete charge of Cecil Rhodes' mines in South Africa and made each undertaking a financial success. But after the dismal failure of the Jameson Raid, Hammond, along with the other leaders of the Johannesburg Reform Committee, was arrested and subsequently sentenced to death. The Reform Committee leaders were released after paying large fines, but like many of the leaders, Hammond left Africa for good. He returned to the United States, became a close friend of President William Howard Taft, and was appointed a special United States Ambassador. At the same time, he continued to develop mines in Mexico and California and, in 1923, he made another fortune while drilling for oil with the Burnham Exploration Company. His son, John Hays Hammond, Jr., patented over 400 inventions, and is widely regarded as the father of radio control.
John Hays Hammond Jr. & Sr., c. 1922 He married Natalie Harris, of Harrisville, Mississippi (40 miles SSW south of the state capital, Jackson) on January 1, 1881, in Hancock, Maryland. Together they had three sons and one daughter. John Hays Hammond, Jr. (1888 - February 12, 1965) was born in San Francisco, California. In 1893 he moved with his family to South Africa, and five years later the family moved to England. The family returned to the United States in 1900, and Hammond attended Lawrenceville School, started inventing, and went on to study at the Sheffield School of Yale University, graduating in 1910. He established the Hammond Radio Research Corporation in 1911 and eventually developed a radio controlled torpedo system for the navy, which he successfully demonstrated in 1918. Between 1926 and 1929, he built a medieval-style castle in Gloucester, Massachusetts.
Natalie Hays Hammond (1904–1985) was born in Lakewood, New Jersey. Her estate in North Salem, New York was converted into the Hammond Museum & Japanese Stroll Garden in 1957.
Harris Hays Hammond, a financier, became president of Dominguez Oil Fields Company, which earned him $2 million in 1936, and president of Laughlin Filter Corporation, a small New Jersey company which manufactures centrifuges. In 1928, he and Anthony "Tony" Joseph Drexel Biddle Jr. were among the directors of Acoustic Products Co., which later became Sonora Products Corp. of America.
Nathaniel Harris Hammond, died 1906, and Richard Pindle Hammond, born in London, England, were the two other children.
John Hays Hammond died in 1936 at the age of 81 in an easy chair in his showplace at Gloucester, Massachusetts. He left an estate estimated at $2.5 million, mostly to his four surviving children: inventor John Hays Hammond Jr.; artist Natalie Hays Hammond; composer Richard Pindle Hammond; and financier Harris Hays Hammond.
Hammond took his first mining job as a special expert for the US Geological Survey 1879-1880 in Washington, DC. He returned to California in 1881 to work for Senator Hearst, the mining magnate and father of William Randolph Hearst. In 1882, he was sent to hostile country in Mexico, near Sonora, to become superintendent of Minas Neuvas. When a revolution broken out, Hammond barricaded his family in a small house and fought off the attacking guerrillas.
From 1884-1893, Hammond worked in San Francisco as a consulting engineer for Union Iron Works, Central Pacific Railway and Southern Pacific Railway. In 1893, Hammond left for South Africa to investigate the gold mines in Transvaal for the Barnato Brothers. In 1894, he joined the British South Africa Company to work with Cecil Rhodes and opened mines in the Rand, in Mashonaland (territory which became Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). In 1895, he was managing Rhodes' property in Transvaal, with headquarters at Johannesburg, South Africa. An early advocate of deep-level mining, Hammond was given complete charge of Rhodes' gold and diamond mines and made each undertaking a financial success. While working for Rhodes, he made his world-wide reputation as an engineer. He continued to work for Rhodes until 1899, but events in Africa would go on to change Hammond's life forever.
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