John Thoreau (1787-1859)

John Thoreau, Pencil Manufacturer, of Concord, Massachusetts

Associated Houses

Thoreau Farm


Yellow House

255 Main Street, Concord

He was the son of Jean Thoreau who was born on the English Island of Jersey just off the coast of France to a wine merchant and emigrated to America in 1773. In 1812, at Concord, John married Cynthia Dunbar and in the following year they moved into the Thoreau Farm that had been her childhood home. By 1820, having moved back into Concord itself, John inherited a graphite mine from his wife's brother, Charles, and immediately went into business as a pencil manufacturer. His firm quickly won a reputation for the superior quality of their pencils and though never rich, the Thoreaus became comfortably well-off. In 1850, John moved his family into the Yellow House on Main Street. John and Cynthia were the parents of four children who all died unmarried.    
Contributed by Mark Meredith on 02/03/2020 and last updated on 03/03/2020.