Camden Daily Courier – October 24, 1898
The Camden Shipbuilder Succumbs to Heart Disease
Stretch of a Long and Busy Life Closely Allied With the Interests of the City
John H. Dialogue the ship builder of worldwide renown, whose serious illness was first made known by the Courier last Tuesday, died yesterday afternoon at his residence, northeast corner of Broadway and Pine Street. Heart disease was the cause of death. Since early last September Mr. Dialogue had been complain ing of feeling unwell. He was then at Atlantic City, but the ocean ozone failing to restore his health, he closed his cottage and returned to his Camden home. Up to ten days ago he was able to be about, when he was compelled to take to his bed. He grew gradually worse and his sudden death yesterday came with a shock to on the community that knew him so well.
The deceased shipbuilder was born in Philadelphia in May 1828, of French-German ancestry. Adam Dialogue, his father, was the inventor and manufacturer of leather riveted fire hose. Young Dialogue attended the central High School, Philadelphia, and graduated in 1846. He learned the trade of machinist with his uncle and during his spare hours educated himself as a draughtsman. In 1850, when but 22 years old, he moved to Camden and began business at Second and Bridge Avenue. He first engaged in doing general repair work of locomotives for the Camden & Amboy Railroad Company, and the steamers of the Camden & Philadelphia and West Jersey Ferry Companies. In 1834 he moved to the southwest corner of Second and Stevens Streets, having bought the foundry of Elias Kaighn. In 1858 he began the erection of the extensive works at Kaighn’s Point, which were completed a year later. With enlarged facilities he manufactured Corliss engines under a special license for the inventor. In 1878 the name of the establishment was changed to the River iron Works, Dialogue and Wood, Proprietors. The firm engaged in the shipbuilding business in 1871.
In 1871, the United States Steamship Colfax, one of the first iron vessels ordered by the Revenue Marine department, was built at the works. The firm also built the United States survey steamer Hassler, and the Philadelphia Ice Boat No. 3. In 1878 the firm began the building of compound engine tugs, the first, the George M. Childs. In 1876 the firm was awarded the contract for reconstructing the United States frigate Constitution, famous in American history. Eight years ago the United States lighthouse tender America was launched at the works, and during the recent war with Spain the gunboat Princeton was completed and hurried off to patrol duty in Cuban waters. The New York fireboat Van Wyck was also a recent specimen of the firm’s skillful work. The present title of the firm is Dialogue & Son. The name and the build of the ships are familiar in every port of the civilized world.
During his residence in Camden of nearly half a century, Mr. Dialogue always manifested a deep and abiding interest in the development of the city and in return was elected to fill numerous offices by his appreciative fellow townsmen. In 1875 he was elected a member of the Board of Education from the Sixth Ward and was twice re-elected, serving three consecutive terms of two years each. He was the chairman of a committee superintending the erection of three school buildings. In 1878 he was elected to City Council, was re-elected in 1881 and 1884, and in 1883 was president of that body. In 1880 he was chosen by the Democrat Party on of the electors at-large on the Hancock and English Presidential ticket, and at the meeting in Trenton was chosen as the president of the Electoral College of the State. In 1881 he was nominated as the Democratic candidate for State Senate, but was defeated. In 1892 he was appointed by Mayor Westcott a member of the Board of Public Works, and continued as a member until the commission was abolished by legislative enactment.
Mr. Dialogue was of a plain, unassuming disposition and very popular socially. He is survived by his widow, his second wife, one son and two daughters. The funeral will take place on Wednesday afternoon.