Robert T. Rhode

Robert T. Rhode
Robert T. Rhode

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Patents of Pine Village, Rainsville, and Independence, Indiana 4

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.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Patents of Pine Village, Rainsville, and Independence, Indiana 3

Job X. Mills (1847 or 1848–1918), the subject of the previous blog, was the most prolific patent holder in Pine Village, Indiana. A farmer, Mills invented several improvements of devices used in farming. On the 6th of May in 1890, he received a patent for an enhanced feeder for livestock (described in the third paragraph below).

Patent for Livestock Feeder
With Enclosure for Piglets
By Job X. Mills of Pine Village, Indiana (1890)

From last week’s blog, readers may remember that Mills recommended a V-shaped feeder that could hold such loose material as hay for taller animals (cows) while having a box lower down that could hold liquid or semi-liquid feed for shorter animals (sheep). Mills’ feeder was mounted on skids and could be pulled by horses to any pasture where both tall and short animals could feed simultaneously.

In 1890, he patented another feeder—this one equipped with a large box at the bottom. Doors in the box could be swung open or closed, making the box useful as an enclosure for small animals (piglets). “By closing all of the doors a tight pen is formed, in which small animals of any kind may be kept,” Mills wrote. “By means of the construction here shown and described, a very cheap, simple, and durable combined rack and pig-pen is formed,” Mills continued.

I admire Mills’ ingenuity: his invention was as simple as he claimed it was.

S. C. Fenton and Jacob Short witnessed Mill’s feeder patent. As I mentioned last week, the former was Dr. Samuel C. Fenton (1844–1918), a highly respected medical doctor who succumbed to the flu during the epidemic.

Patent for Harrow
By Job X. Mills of Pine Village, Indiana (1909)

On the 20th of April in 1909, Mills received a third patent—this one for a harrow. Mills wrote, “This invention relates to an improved construction of harrow designed for general harrowing and also adapted for use in breaking and cutting corn-stalks, cutting sod, clod crushing, ground leveling and other similar operations.”

The operator, who drove one or two horses to pull the implement, sat toward the harrow’s back, which was a board or plate “for crushing and smoothing purposes.” Toward the front, Mills’ harrow featured ten blades shaped like a solid letter D with the curved portion pointing downward. The curved edge was not consistent, as in a D, but had a concave section at the midpoint. By inclining his body backward, the operator tilted the front board or plate in such a way that the blades were similarly tilted so as to cut through large clods. A clod coming into contact with the front of a blade might be shunted to one side, but the concave portion at the center of the blade might grab the clod and hold it long enough to cut through it. To understand this function at a glance, compare Figure 2 (no tilt) to Figure 4 (tilted) in the patent drawings.

Again, the genius of Mills was in the simplicity of his design.

John L. Ogborn, who ran a grocery business in Pine Village, and John A. Bryant witnessed Mills’ harrow patent.