John Robert Lenfestey of Chicago

An account of former lawyer, member of State Legislature and successful Chicago businessman, John Robert Lenfestey who's lineage can be traced through Judge Hiram Brownlee, Judge John Brownlee and the Brownlee Lairds of Torfoot.


John Robert Lenfestey was descended from John Brownlee (1665-1747) who was the third Laird of Torfoot through his second or third son, John (1699-aft 1769).

John Robert Lenfestey.  Two of the oldest and best known names in Grant County are those of Lenfestey and Brownlee.  A successful Chicago business man, president of Advertising Electrotyping Company, John Robert Lenfestey was born at Marion in Grant County in 1874, and is a son of Capt. Edward S. and Laura (Brownlee) Lenfestey.  His parents were both born in Marion.  She was a daughter of Judge John Brownlee, the first resident judge in Grant County, and a sister of Judge Hiram Brownlee.  Both were at one time judges of the United States Court in Indiana.  The old Judge Brownlee home at Marion was a scene of old time hospitality and entertainment.  Most of the notable characters in the public life of Indiana during the middle period of the last century were at various times guests under the Brownlee roof.

The late Capt. Edward S. Lenfestey served his country gallantly and with distinction though the Civil War, attaining to the rank of captain and commanding his company in many battles.  In civil life he became likewise prominent, beginning his career as a lawyer, and serving at one time as a member of the State Legislature.  On account of a throat infection he engaged in the real estate business at Marion.  His ability was chiefly pronounced in promoting and carrying out large business projects.  Several years were spent in the West in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, and he was a factor in the upbuilding of a number of new western cities.  He built the first street car line at Trinidad, Colorado, also the first gas works and the first large hotel in that town, and his enterprise extended in similar manner to other important undertakings in Colorado.

John Robert Lenfestey was with his father in the West for several years.  He attended school both at Topeka, Kansas and Trinidad, Colorado.  He acquired his early business experience in the West, but since 1901 has been a resident of Chicago.  He was for a time with the Santa Fe Railway and later was traveling freight and passenger agent for the Frisco System, with headquarters both in Chicago and San Antonio, Texas.  From that he became interested in the electrotyping business and established the Advertising Electrotyping Company, of which he is president and owner.  This is one of the important adjuncts of the great advertising business of America and Mr. Lenfestey has built up an industry that is one of the most complete in facilities and service in the Middle West. 

Through many years he has been identified with the big commercial and social life of Chicago.  He is a member of the Forty Club, the Indiana Society of Chicago, the Chicago Athletic Club, the South Shore Country Club, the Exmoor Country Club, the Association of Commerce, the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association and the Chicago Advertising Association.  Mr. Lenfestey is vice president of the International Electrotypers’ Association.  He married Miss Carrie Jungblut of Chicago, who was born and reared in that city.  They have a son, John Robert Jr.

Indiana and Indianans, Chicago, American Historical Society, 1919


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