John I. Legro
John Irving Legro (Jr.) was born in Rochester, Strafford County, New Hampshire in December 1842, the son of an old colonial family (the name is French, originally "LeGros"). His parents were Lucy J. Jones and John Irving Legro, Sr., a brick mason (1850) and later an Internal Revenue agent (1870's), High Sheriff of Strafford County (1861-1865), and prominent local manufacturer. John Jr. attended the prestigious Phillips Academy Prep School in Andover, Massachusetts, graduating in 1860, and went to work for his father's business. By 1870 he had married a woman named Clara W. and was living in Rochester with his parents.
At some time prior to 1874 Legro moved to New Britain, Connecticut to join the Russell & Erwin Manufacturing Company, makers of compressed bronze hardware. His son John (III) was born in Connecticut in June of 1873. By 1880 John's company had purchased the Aiken Screw Company of Franklin Falls, New Hampshire, and he was transferred there to manage the screw factory until it was moved to New Britin. For a few years he was also in charge of the company's screw factory in Montreal, Canada.
In 1887 the couple was living in New Britain, Connecticut, by which time John was well-established as a naturalist and mineral collector: In that year the Smithsonian Institution acquired from "John I. Legro, New Britain, Connecticut" a specimen of "damourite pseudomorph after chiastolite from Rochester, New Hampshire," his home town. He appears in the New Britain Directory for 1888-1890, working for the Russell & Erwin Manufacturing Company.
In 1897 John Legro (Jr.), having lost his wife Clara, married a woman name Hattie who was 36 years his junior, and started a new family. Together they had four children between 1898 and 1910. The Legro family appears in the Rochester, New Hampshire Directory for 1900 as "John Irving Legro, retired" living with "Lucy J. (Mrs. John) Legro" and a John Legro who was employed by the B & M Railroad out of Portland, Maine. The 1900 census (his name erroneously transcribed as "Lazos") shows that this was John Jr. (a "hardware manufacturer") with his widowed mother, his son John (III), his new wife Hattie, and his daughter Dorothy. In 1905 John I. Legro (Jr.) served as Treasurer for the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer in Rochester. By the time of the 1910 census, he ("John I. LeGrow") had moved with his growing family to East Bridgewater, Massachusetts, and they were still there in 1920 (when he listed himself, "John I. Le Gros," at age 77, as a "machinist, cotton gin"). His first son had enlisted to fight in the Spanish-American War and had died in the Philippines.
John Legro was a genial and likable man, who had many friends. Just before his death in Elmwood, Massachusetts on December 26, 1923, he left his entire mineral collection of over 1,000 specimens to the Rochester, New Hampshire Public Library, and at least seven large, oak-framed glass cases were constructed for its display. His widow traveled to Rochester especially to see to the installation of the collection, which remained on display there for 66 years until it was sold to New York mineral dealer Lawrence H. Conklin in March of 1988. Conklin advertised an 8-page list of 193 specimens in the Legro collection (reproduced here in its entirety), but the collection was originally much larger--the highest of the Legro catalog numbers among those 193 specimens is #1280. Conklin acquired more specimens than the 193 he advertised, but far fewer than 1,200; apparently many specimens had disappeared from the library long before the remainder was sold to Conklin.
CONKLIN, L.H. (1988) The Legro Collection. Privately printed sales list, 9 p.
ANONYMOUS (1923) Made fine gift to our public library. Late John I. Legro gave valuable collection of minerals to the city. Rochester Courier, December 28, 1923.
ANONYMOUS (1924) John Irving Legro. Death in Elmwood, Mass., of a native of Rochester, at the age of 82 years. Rochester Courier, January 4, 1924.
Report of the National Museum 1887ólist of accessions (Washington, 1889).
Rochester, NH Directory 1900
Rochester, NH Directory 1905
New Britain, Connecticut Directory 1888-1890
1884 Rochester City Directory
1859 Catalog of the Phillips Academy, Andover, Mass.
U.S. Federal Census, 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880, 1900, 1910, 1920
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WILSON, Wendell E. (2018)
Biographical Archive, at www.mineralogicalrecord.com.]
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