John Thomas Underwood

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John Thomas Underwood (April 12, 1857 in London, England – July 2, 1937 in Osterville, Massachusetts) was an American entrepreneur and inventor who founded the Underwood Typewriter Company.


He was the elder brother of missionary Horace Grant Underwood, and helped finance Horace's missionary work.

John and his two sisters, Hannah Underwood Stephens and Helen Underwood Conard, and his brother, the Rev. Dr. Horace Grant Underwood, were all born in London. Their father, Thomas Underwood, operated an ink business in England and then moved to New Jersey. John met the typewriter inventor, bought the business from him, and founded the Underwood Typewriter Co. He set the office up in Manhattan and moved to Brooklyn where he and his wife, Grace, and their daughter, Gladys, lived at 336 Washington Avenue. He supported his brother Horace, who was one of the early missionaries to Korea, starting in 1887. John was active in Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church in Brooklyn. This was where the Rev. Dr. Frank L. Gosnell was assigned for student ministry while attending Union Theological Seminary in NY and met Helen Evelyn Conard.

Underwood became a successful entrepreneur. His typewriters were even used at the Imperial Court in Vienna. He was made an official Purveyor to the Imperial and Royal Court by emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria.

Underwood died in "Blink Bonnie", his summer home in Wianno, MA, on Cape Cod,[1] and was buried in Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn.[2] The site of Underwood's mansion in Clinton Hill was donated by his widow and daughter to the borough of Brooklyn as a public park, named in his honour.


  1. ^ Osterville, p. 124, at Google Books
  2. ^ "File:John Thomas Underwood grave Brooklyn.JPG".

External links[edit]

Media related to John Thomas Underwood at Wikimedia Commons