1041. Jonathan LEONARD1221 was born on 2 November 1763 in Stoughton, Norfolk Co., MA. He died on 25 October 1839 at the age of 75 in Biloxi, Mississippi. He was the son of Eliphalet Leonard and learned the iron foundry business from him. From ECL: Jonathan wrote in a letter February 23, 1826 (see NEHGS Register Vol. XI, pp.289-90), "as to the making of steel, the first attempt made in this country, so far as my knowledge goes, was made by my father Eliphalet about the year 1775/6. He led to the attempt by the extreme scarcity of steel and the difficulty of procuring it for the manufacture of arms, then in great demand for the defense of the country. He constructed several furnaces and so far succeeded as to supply himself and some of his neighbors. In 1787 I obtained further insight into the business and erected at Easton a furnace capable of making 3 tons at a batch. This continued until 1808, in consequence of commercial restrictions, I erected another in the same place capable of making 10 tons at a batch. In 1813 I erected another furnace in Canton where I now live (1826) and where I made about 100 tons of steel per year."
As to the manner in which he obtained insight into the business, it is told that Jonathan, hearing that steel was being manufactured by an improved process in Pennsylvania, went there where it was made. When he came to the place he assumed the ways of a simpleton, gradually arousing the sympathies and humorous interest of the workmen. He received menial employment about the furnace, meanwhile keeping his eyes open and profiting by the knowledge he gained. This Jonathan, who became known as "Quaker Leonard," was eccentric and bright enough to have done all this. He paid a poll tax in Easton from 1785 to 1792; after that his name disappears, but he was taxed as a nonresident as he continued the business.
From the history of Canton on their web site: "Around 1760 the dam near what is today the center of town had a blacksmith shop and forge set up by Mr. Leonard Kinsley and by 1787 Mr. Adam Kinsley and Jonathan Leonard were producing farm implements, saw blades, and tools for general use. As the business prospered and grew, a slitting mill, designed for cutting and rolling iron was built in 1793. By 1797 they had produced one thousand tons of rolled iron and were producing steel for the first time. Leonard and Kinsley secured government contracts to produce guns during the War of 1812, and the company continued to grow and prosper. Around 1821 Mr. Leonard established his own forge on the easterly side of the privilege. It is not clear why the partnership broke up, but it seems that Mr. Leonard had been convinced that his land in Easton, MA, was the site of large deposits of lead and lost most of his money looking for it. His forge remained in operation at this location until 1833 or 1835 when he moved from the area and died in New Orleans sometime later."
He, his wife, and his son Charles went to New Orleans at the invitation of their eldest daughter, Elizabeth, who was married to Daniel Dana, the mayor of that city. He moved 40 miles from the city to avoid a cholera epidemic, but then died from it. (Source: Katherine Guild, wife of Josiah Snell Copeland)
There may be confusion about whether Jonathan was the son of Eliphalet, son of James (William Reed Deane, NEHGS Register 1851, p. 414) or son of Eliphalet, Jr. (above). It is also said that Jonathan died at an advanced age in New Orleans and that he had a son who lived in Meriden, CT.
Jonathan and Elizabeth's children are listed in Stoughton VR's, p. 195.
Jonathan LEONARD and Elizabeth BLACKMAN were married on 4 March 1782 in Easton, Bristol Co., MA.142 Elizabeth BLACKMAN was born in Stoughton, Norfolk Co., MA.
Jonathan LEONARD and Elizabeth BLACKMAN had the following children: