Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Henck, John Benjamin

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HENCK, John Benjamin, civil engineer, b. in Philadelphia, Pa., in October, 1816. He was graduated at Harvard in 1840, and became professor of Latin and Greek in Baltimore college. In 1842 he was called to a similar chair in the Germantown academy, Philadelphia, where he remained until 1847. He then turned his attention to civil engineering, studying in the office of Felton and Parker, Charlestown, Mass., and in 1848-'9 had charge of the building of a railroad from Charlestown, N. H., to Windsor, Vt. In 1849 he was in charge of the construction of the Harvard branch railroad near Boston, after which he established an office in Boston, and was frequently called upon as an expert to decide on the work of others. Later he had charge of the laying out and filling up of new lands of the state of Massachusetts and Boston water-power company, now known as the Back-bay district in Boston. In 1865 he became professor of civil engineering in the Massachusetts institute of technology, where he remained until 1881. But meanwhile he continued his oversight of the laying out of streets and lots in the back bay. He wrote numerous poems, mathematical papers, and a “Field-Book for Railway Engineers” (New York, 1860).