In 1871—just three days after his birthday—David B. Eberly of Pine Village, Indiana, received a patent for an improvement in cultivators. Born in Pennsylvania on the 7th of October in 1815, Eberly worked as a blacksmith in Boswell, Indiana, for a time (as indicated in the census of 1880). According to Eberly’s description, his invention had at least two significant features: “First, … a double-pointed shovel provided with a spring-cap secured at one side by rivets and at the other by a screw-bolt to the back of the double-pointed shovel in such a manner that the shovel may be adjusted on the shank, set, and secured at any desired angle. Secondly, … a curved angular shank provided with a slot in its upper end, secured to the plow-frame by two screw-bolts, one near the vertex of the angle of the shank, the other in the slot aforesaid, the whole being so arranged that the shank will keep the shovel in position when used in arable soil, but will permit it to yield when it meets an obstruction.”
Patent for Improvement in Cultivators
By David B. Eberly of Pine Village, Indiana (1871)
Essentially, everything about Eberly’s cultivator was adjustable from the spacing of the shovels, through their angle, to the position of the shank. His was a so-called “walking cultivator.” By looping the lines around one shoulder, he could twist his torso to signal the team of horses while he held onto the handles of the cultivator.
Abraham Haun and Alonzo P. Rowen served as witnesses to Eberly’s patent.
As Eberly’s patent was granted prior to 1880, a scale model of his invention had to accompany his application. This fact suggests that his cultivator was substantially more than a dream on paper. The evidence that Eberly was a blacksmith leads to the conclusion that he built at least one full-size cultivator.
My review of books depicting and describing farm implements revealed no cultivators quite like Eberly’s invention. I wonder if any company availed itself of the opportunity to copy his ideas or if he sold any cultivators himself.
Eberly died on the 18th of February in 1901. He is buried in Pine Village Cemetery.