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Joseph Benjamin Henderson is a native son, born in San Bernardino County, in 1856, and is the son of David Henderson, who emigrated with his family from Scotland and settled in San Bernardino County, in 1853, where he and his wife, also a native of Scotland, still reside. He learned the trade of stonemason in early life, and has divided his time between that and mining and farming as his chief occupations. Joseph served three years apprenticeship at the tinner’s trade, and worked at it as a journeyman in San Bernardino, San Diego, Los Angeles and San Francisco over thirteen years; most of his time he was in the employ of John Ruffen & Co. in this city, March 1, 1884, he, in partnership with B. F. Bell, a fellow employee of the above firm, started a small tin shop in San Bernardino. In July of that year he bought Mr. Bell’s interest and has conducted the business alone ever since. Starting with one apprentice he has increased his force from time to time as the rapid growth of his business demanded. He made a specialty of the manufacture of water tanks and pipes. He made galvanized iron tanks in great numbers for water storage, some of them with a capacity of 5,000 gallons each. He contracts for iron water pipes, ranged as high as from two to three miles, embracing $5,000 to $7,000 in a single job, giving employment to twelve pipe makers.
The shop is fully equipped with machinery, and having as much as he could attend to in this department he sold his tinner’s tools and outfit in 1886 to John Schuyler, of Oceanside, and in 1888 sold his pipe business to J. G. Burt. In 1887 Mr. Henderson bought four acres of land between C and D streets on First and erected a three-story brick building 60 x 65 feet for a machine shop, and a building for a foundry 26 x 50 feet in area. These he fitted up with modern improved machinery and appliances necessary to manufacture anything that may be ordered in the way of machine or foundry work, including a number of lathes for working iron and wood, drill presses, saws, emery-wheels, etc. This machinery is all propelled by water, Warm creek and artesian wells furnishing the motive power. He has had a series of artesian wells bored on his premises ranging in depth from eighty-nine to 112 feet and has developed twenty-five horsepower by this system of wells alone. An important item of expense in operating the machinery is thus saved in the cost of fuel. During the busiest season twenty-five to thirty men have been employed to carry on the business, which is still prosperous and satisfactory notwithstanding the depression in business generally.
Mr. Henderson has genius for invention as well as manufacturing, and has invented and makes a new kind of mill-crusher and grinder for pulverizing mineral-bearing rock, which is highly recommended by old miners and is coming into use rapidly. He is a joint owner in some valuable mines, and is giving some attention to mining. He values his plant in San Bernardino at $50,000, which together with his thriving manufactory is the result solely of his indomitable energy and rare business sagacity, a gratifying result indeed.