John Martin Wolfskill, W3QKT

Engineer, Inventor, Ham Radio Enthusiast, Farmer, Friend, Husband and Father

This is a wonderful selection of photos from the life of John Martin Wolfskill provided by his daughters, Sallie Wolfskill Smith and Pat Wolfskill Mays. These photos are a complement to his online biography written by Sallie and are sequenced in approximate chronological order.

Below the photo are the file name, data size and image size in pixels. Click on the photos for an enlargement. All photos are Copyright 2002, by Sallie Wolfskill Smith, unless marked with "BEC Archives".


(13K) 156 x 223
A.An early photo of John as a child. He is standing in the tobacco field on his family's farm near Lebanon, Pennsylvania.  


(97K) 1137 x 622
B.Family, circa 1913, in front of the barn on the Wolfskill farm. John is the small boy, front center, in dark suit

C.Wolfskill family in front of their stone farmhouse, circa 1913. John is the young boy in front with the double-breasted jacket and white buttons.


(174K) 1209 x 668

D.In the 1960's, a Lebanon area newspaper ran a 1913 class photo of the Person School, Millbach Springs. John, the youngest class member at 5 years old, is in front row, far left.

(127K) 882 x 622

(157K) 1176 x 850
E.Person's school photo, circa 1915, shows John in the rear row, far right. His older sister Lucy, at the far left, is the school teacher, and John's brother Bill stands in rear row, third from right.


(41K) 355 x 552
F.John in riding attire, Erie, circa late 1930's. Many dates with his future wife Jean were spent horseback riding.

G.Life in New York City left a mark of sophistication on the young man from the farm. This portrait was taken in Lebanon, Pennsylvania, most likely after John left Bell Labs, circa 1933.

(9K) 217 x 322

H.One half of the new batch of engineers hired by Bell Laboratories in New York City in September of 1929. John sits on the far right of the middle row.

(122K) 968 x 743


(23K) 456 x 302
I.College homework calculations at Penn State were completed using the then state-of-the-art slide rule, circa late 1920's.


(61K) 591 x 774
J.Letter inviting John to a job interview at the young Bliley Electric Company, in Erie, Pennsylvania.

K.1935 employment and invention agreement for John's employment with Bliley Electric.

No; this photo is not poorly cropped; it was typed right to the top and left hand edges of the paper.


(102K) 605 x 789

L.John joined a company that produced frequency control products for radio amateurs. Most of the top administration and engineering staff were radio hams. Work and play were often difficult to differentiate.


(42K) 591 x 381


(98K) 356 x 244

M.The U.S. Coast Guard identification card was issued during WW 2, upon request, to boat owners, fishermen and other people who had reason to be on the beaches or on the waterfront. The purpose was to provide personal identification in the event that the carrier was challenged as a foreign spy. John may have volunteered his services to the USCG for various programs. The actual service is unknown.

One old timer suggested the Coast Guard ID was for volunteers. But, what kind of services did volunteers provide. Considering, John was a ham and a radio-electronics engineer, it would hardly seem likely that he was helping out with patrol on Lake Erie, but that is not impossible. The only organization of volunteers for radio communications was the War Emergency Radio Corp (WERC).


(83K) 527 x 257
N.The FCC required registration of every transmitter held by anyone, licensed or not. There were two orders: No. 99 applied to anyone who did not hold a station license; No. 101 covered station licensees. Even station licensees who no longer had equipment were to report that fact. Even XMTRs that were not in working condition were to be registered. Portable and mobile gear was included. Each rig required a separate registration form, and the FCC's resulting certificates were to be affixed to the equipment. On home-built gear the FCC wanted a block diagram with tube lineup and currents and a word description. Commercial gear didn't require such detail. If the rig was transferred, sold, stolen, etc., the FCC was to be notified within five days. This registration is for the VHF transmitter shown below that John built around 1936.

O.A multi-band VHF voice transmitter covering the 2-1/4, 5 and 10 meter amateur radio bands. After this transmitter outlived it usefulness by the 1960s, it was moved to the barn on the family homestead where is was left to rust.

John must have been proud of this project. He kept it in his barn long after it outlived its usefulness, where it was left to rust.


(38K) 437 x 649

P.John testing the transmitter at Bliley Electric. Many of the senior members of the staff built transmitters or antennas of their own design in the plant during the 1930s.


(44K) 650 x 431


(65K) 434 x 647
Q.Rear view of the transmitter. High voltage DC power supply on the bottom, above it the intermediate voltage DC supply. Third up from the bottom is the modulator, and at the top is the oscillator and power amplifier stages.


(59K) 425 x 631
R.Oscillator and Power Amplifier (Upper Chassis) Modulator (Lower Chassis)

S.Top view of the oscillator (right) and the RK48 power amplifier stage. 100 Watt output and crystal controlled (top right).


(50K) 611 x 360

T.John relaxing at family home on Grubb Road in Millcreek Township, Erie County PA. Circa 1948. The barn is in the background a short distance from the house.


(71K) 406 x 404


(52K) 275 x 345
W.Formal portrait of John Wolfskill for the 25th anniversary brochure of the Bliley Electric Company in 1955. Age: 47.

Larger View

 X.John's "idea box", in which he kept various notes relating to his engineering and ham radio interests. Topics included antenna design, oscillator circuits, famous quotations, business contacts, engineering topics.

(BEC Archives)

| Wolfskill Online Biorgaphy |


Please mail any comments, corrections or additons to the author, Sallie Wolfskill Smith at I am sure she would like to hear from you.