Reducing Friction

Today, we will be telling a story about some folks that became part of the Gesellschaft for just a short time.  One of them ended up as the founder of a multinational company which still exists today.  That company is the Timken Company, a business that manufactures and sells bearings around the world.

Jacob Timken, a farmer from Tarmstedt, Hannover, Germany, brought his family to America right before the ships of the Gesellschaft made their journey.  The Timken family arrived in New Orleans aboard the Sophie on November 12, 1838.  The first of the Gesellschaft ships arrived on December 31 of that year.  One interesting fact though is that the Timkens did not arrive in St. Louis until March of 1839 for some reason. All of the members of the Gesellschaft had arrived in St. Louis by the end of February.  I have no idea why it took longer for the Timkens to travel up the Mississippi River.

It was in St. Louis that Jacob Timken found out about the Stephanites, and he joined the Gesellschaft.  He put a considerable amount of money into the society’s treasury.  Evidently, it did not take long before Jacob realized that he had made a bad investment.  He became very disenchanted with Rev. Martin Stephan and his immigration society, and it is likely that he never did make it to Perry County.

The Klaus Boeschen family had a similar beginning in America.  They, too, joined the Gesellschaft and are listed in Zion on the Mississippi as being part of the “Additions in St. Louis”.  Both the Boeschen and Timken families ended up in the same place.  That place was in Benton County, Missouri in a town that would become known as Cole Camp, Missouri.  Cole Camp was another very early Lutheran settlement in Missouri that made important contributions to the Lutheran church in America.

One of Jacob Timken’s sons who was 8 years old when he arrived in the United States, was Henry Timken.  Henry would eventually go back to St. Louis, get married, and go to work for a carriage company.  Henry became quite the entrepreneur.  He was granted several patents, most importantly one which was for tapered roller bearings.  Toward the end of his life, he founded the Timken Roller Bearing Axle Company in 1899.  That company would go on to become the giant corporation that it is today.

Henry Timken

Timken roller bearings would be important in the development of the automobile.  Here is a photo of some employees of the Timken Roller Bearing Axle Company when it was still in St. Louis.


My guess is that Henry is sitting in the front row, four people from the right.

The life of Henry Timken was one which began with his family experiencing lots of friction with the Stephanite immigration.  However, he ended up becoming  well known for his company that continues to help reduce friction to this day.



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