John Warren Sackett
By B. F. Johnson, 1909
In many walks of life in this commercial age the measure of success is the accumulation of material wealth and while the gaining of a fortune is success, it is not the only success that man may achieve and find therein satisfaction. The man who fills an important station in life, renders long and valuable service in a professional capacity, contributing to the progress of industry by inventions which are the creation of his brain and on occasion renders honorable service to his country by patriotically enlisting in her cause and assisting to fight her battles and though barely past the meridian of life yet can feel that his years have been full of usefulness to his country and his people, is himself the builder of a success which may well be envied and emulated. Such a man regards with satisfaction the record which he has made and finds the greatest pleasure in his daily occupation which arouses to the fullest degree his mental activity and engrosses his time and attention.
Eminent in his profession, highly honored by all who know him, of high standing in the military service of his State in which he has a splendid record, veteran of the Spanish-American War in which he rendered notable and distinguished service, and was breveted for bravery under fire, personally popular and honored with office by numerous of the secret fraternities of which he is a member, John Warren Sackett, of Jacksonville, has attained a success in life that may well be envied by every man who has an honorable ambition to advance his own interests and so live as to command the respect of the public at large.
General Sackett is a native of Illinois, but he is descended from pioneer settlers in the Colonies. His father's family settled in Massachusetts in the early days and were among those who accompanied Roger Williams to Rhode Island. Succeeding generations assisted in the settling of Long Island, Manhattan Island and Eastern Pennsylvania. His mother's people were among the earliest settlers in Virginia, and in later years crossed the Alleghanies and participated in the "winning of the west," locating first in Kentucky and moving from there to Illinois.
Mr. Sackett was born at Rantoul, Ill., December 13, 1860, his parents being Frank B. and Ann E. Perry Sackett. His father, who was an architect and builder, appreciated the advantages of education and encouraged his son in every effort toward acquiring learning. After he had passed through the high school at Rantoul, he entered the University of Illinois at Urbana, which he attended for a period of two years, before he left the University to come to Florida with his family.
They settled at Titusville, in Brevard county, and there he resided for several years pursuing his studies which he had taken up while attending the University, and thoroughly equipping himself as a civil engineer. So well did he succeed in preparing himself for his life's work that he was in 1881 successful in winning an appointment as assistant engineer in the United States Engineer Service. He has had official connection with this important branch of the government for over twenty-seven years excepting during the period of the Spanish-American War. He made steady progress in increasing his usefulness to the government, and has since 1888 held the position of Chief Assistant Engineer in the Florida district.
He has made a number of important inventions in the line of perfecting and improving the hydraulic dredge. One of these has been patented and the application for a patent on another is pending. While he has written a number of papers on scientific subjects for technical journals he modestly declares that none of them were of any impotance. One of his inventions which has greatly decreased the expense, delays and inefficient service so long experienced in the use of the suction dredges is a flexible connection between the rigid portions of the suction pipe and the hull of the dredge. The rubber hose which had up to that time been used cost about $500 without any fittings, and while they sometimes lasted for several months, they more frequently failed, and had to be replaced within a few weeks.
General Sackett designed a device which does away absolutely with the rubber hose, and completely obviates all of its disadvantages. Even the first test of the device proved eminently satisfactory, and during the time between the installation of the first connection, and that of the second, four sections of rubber hose were worn out and discarded. The device has been adopted by the Federal government and is being installed on its dredges throughout the country.
General Sackett was for a great many years connected with the Florida State troops, and was only recently retired at his own request at a time when he held the high office of Brigadier-General. He is recognized as one of the most efficient military officers in the State, possessing all the soldierly qualities and being a most thorough disciplinarian and in every way fitted to command. He was always and is held in the highest esteem by every one in any way connected or having to do with the military service.
His career in the Florida State troops began in 1895 when he was elected Captain of the St. Augustine rifles. On the outbreak of the Spanish-American War, he was commissioned Major of the Third Battalion of the First Regiment of Florida State Infantry, and enjoyed the distinction of being the only officer in that regiment, who saw service at the front, as he was detached from his regiment and given command of a provisional engineer's battalion, which he took to Santiago, Cuba, and to Porto Rico. He was in command of those troops who were the first to land and engage the enemy at Guanica, Porto Rico. He was recommended for brevet Lieutenant-Colonel for bravery under fire and efficient and meritorious services during the war.
After the war he again became connected with the Florida State Troops upon their reorganization, and was rapidly promoted. In 1899 he was appointed Major of Infantry and assigned to command the First Battalion of the First Regiment. He was appointed Lieutenant-Colonel on August 17, 1899, and Colonel on May 20, 1903. On February 28, 1906, he was appointed Brigadier-General and assigned to command a brigade. In August, 1907, he was, at his own request, placed upon the retired list. He consented, however, to retain his position on the State Armory Board and the State will, therefore, have the benefit of his ability, learning and experience in the work of laying out and putting into execution the plans for the permanent camp site and national target range at Philbrofen.
General Sackett is a Democrat in politics, and a consistent member of the Presbyterian Church, belonging to the Presbyterian Brotherhood. He is a member of the Free and Accepted Masons, being Past Master of his lodge and having passed through the rites conferred by the Chapter, The Commandry and the Mystic Shrine. He is also a member of the Knights of Pythias, in which he has held the honor of Past Grand Representative. He is also Past Commander of the Knights of Modern Maccabees, and is at this time the Exalted Ruler of Jacksonville Lodge No. 321 of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks. In addition to social and fraternal societies he is a member of scientific bodies such as the American Society of Civil Engineers, the National Geographic Society and the Permanent International Association of Navigation Congresses. He is noted for his geniality and uniform courtesy and professionally as well as socially is one of the most popular men in the metropolis.
General Sackett was married April 21, 1883, to Louise Hamilton Johnson, a daughter of John and Ruth White Houston Johnson, of Fort George, Fla. They have had three children, two of whom are now living as follows, Arthur Johnson and Guy Woodford Sackett.
September 2, 1907 his son, Arthur Johnson married Miss Ethel Lee Claney. His other son Guy has been sometime married. His wife was Miss Edith Mildred Wilson. On November 15, 1908, his first grandchild was born to this couple, Evelyn Claire Sackett, so that the genial General can now feel that he is both a descendant and founder. It is to be hoped that there will be much increase in the family of so good a citizen.
- Johnson, B.F.
- 1909 John Warren Sackett. In Caldwell, A.B. (ed.) Makers of America: An Historical and Biographical Work by an Able Corps of Writers. Florida Edition. Volume III. The Florida Historical Society, Atlanta, Georgia.
- Download a copy of the 1893 patent awarded to the Florida's designer J.W. Sackett for his "Hydraulic Dredging Machine"
- Return to Wreck of the Dredge Florida
- Return to People Associated with the Florida and Isis Shipwrecks
All text and images, unless otherwise noted, are copyright Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program, Inc. We extend permission to scholars, students, and other interested members of the public to use images and to quote from text for non-commercial educational or research purposes, provided LAMP is acknowledged and credited. If there are any questions regarding the use of LAMP’s work, please inquire at LAMP@staugustinelighthouse.org.