John A. Bensel

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John Anderson Bensel
John A. Bensel crop.png
Bensel circa 1910-1915
New York State Engineer and Surveyor
In office
Preceded by Frank Martin Williams
Succeeded by Frank Martin Williams
Personal details
Born (1863-08-16)August 16, 1863
New York City
Died June 19, 1922(1922-06-19) (aged 58)
Bernardsville, New Jersey
Spouse(s) Ella Louise Day (m. 1896–1922)
Parents Brownlee Bensel
Mary Maclay Hogg
Education Stevens Institute of Technology (1884)
Alma mater Stevens Institute of Technology (1884)

John Anderson Bensel (August 16, 1863 – June 19, 1922) was an American civil engineer and politician from New York. He was President of the American Society of Civil Engineers in 1910. He was New York State Engineer and Surveyor from 1911 to 1914.[1][2]


He was born on August 16, 1863, in New York City to Brownlee Bensel and Mary Maclay Hogg. He graduated from Stevens Institute of Technology in 1884, and became an assistant engineer with the Aqueduct Commission. Then he worked for the Pennsylvania Railroad, and from 1889 to 1895 was in charge of constructions on New York City's North River waterfront.

In 1896, he married Ella Louise Day. The same year he became Consulting Engineer of the Philadelphia Water Department. In 1898, he became Chief Engineer of the New York City Dock Department, and in 1906 was appointed a Dock Commissioner.

From 1908 to 1910, he was President of the New York City Board of Water Supply. He was New York State Engineer and Surveyor from 1911 to 1914, elected on the Democratic ticket in 1910 and 1912, but defeated for re-election in 1914.

In 1914, he was investigated during Charles S. Whitman's graft investigation, but was cleared of all suspicions by his successor Frank M. Williams after the latter inspected the department's accounts in 1915.

As a major, he commanded the 125th Battalion of Engineers of the U.S. Army during World War I.[2]

He died of myelitis on June 19, 1922, in Bernardsville, New Jersey at age 58.[2] He was buried in Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York.[1]


Bensel's New Jersey mansion, which was built in 1905 and was named "Queen Anne Farm", is now part of the Morristown National Historic Park. The surrounding grounds are open to visitors and contain a five-story stone water tower and a large Silver Maple tree planted by Bensel in 1906.


  1. ^ a b "John Anderson Bensel". Political Graveyard. Retrieved 2012-10-18. Bensel, John Anderson (1863-1922) — also known as John A. Bensel — of Manhattan, New York County, N.Y.; Bernardsville, Somerset County, N.J. Born in New York, New York County, N.Y., 1863. Son of Brownlee Bensel and Mary Maclay (Hogg) Bensel. Democrat. Engineer; worked for the Pennsylvania Railroad; in charge of construction on New York City's North River waterfront, 1889-95; New York state engineer and surveyor, 1911-14; major in the U.S. Army during World War I. Died, of myelitis, in Bernardsville, Somerset County, N.J., June 19, 1922 (age about 58 years). Interment at Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, N.Y. 
  2. ^ a b c "Major J. A. Bensel Of 125th Engineers Dies. Ex-State Engineer Had Directed Many Big Municipal Engineering Projects". New York Times. June 20, 1922. Retrieved 2010-09-29. Major John A. Bensel, who commanded the 125th Battalion of Engineers in the war, and for many years had done important engineering work for the city and State, died yesterday morning at his home in Bernardsville, ... 

External links[edit]

  • [1] Appointed Pres. of the Water Supply Board, in NYT on January 31, 1908, with short bio
  • [2] The water supply labor contracts, in NYT on November 3, 1910
  • [3] Whitman's graft hunt, in NYT on January 26, 1914
  • [4] Bensel refuses to waive immunity and does not testify, in NYT on February 18, 1914
  • [5] The Sullivan Committee's graft hunt, in NYT on March 5, 1914
  • [6] Bensel refuese to waive immunity, the garft hunt continues, in NYT on April 3, 1914
  • [7] Bensel's administration under scrutiny, in NYT on January 5, 1915
  • [8] Bensel vindicated by Williams, in NYT on January 25, 1915
  • [9] Am. Soc. of Civil Eng., Presidents
  • Works by John Anderson Bensel at Project Gutenberg
Political offices
Preceded by
Frank M. Williams
New York State Engineer and Surveyor
Succeeded by
Frank M. Williams