Robert T. Rhode

Robert T. Rhode
Robert T. Rhode

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Patents of Pine Village, Rainsville, and Independence, Indiana 2

Job X. Mills, who was born in 1847, farmed in Pine Township just west of my hometown of Pine Village, Indiana, in Adams Township. His wife was named Sarah Matilda Metsker, and she was related to the Metskers that were one of the founding families of the town. Many of Mills’ siblings are buried in Quaker Cemetery, but Job, who died on the 5th of October in 1918, is buried in Pine Village Cemetery. Job and Sarah Matilda had a daughter with the charming name of Leafy Dell and a son named John W. The census in 1900 lists the family in Adams Township. Job was fortunate enough to hold three patents, the first of which is featured in this blog.

Patent for Portable Feed Racks
By Job X. Mills
Pine Village, Indiana (1874)

On the 15th of December in 1874, Job X. Mills received a patent for portable feed racks. William C. Mills (one of Job’s brothers) and John W. Freeman served as witnesses to Job’s patent.

Essentially, Mills’ 1874 patent addresses the desire to feed short animals, such as sheep, and tall animals, such as cows (or horses), from the same feeder. Mills places his device on runners, making it portable, as horses can pull it from pasture to pasture. At a low level is a sturdy flat box that can hold “liquid or semi-liquid food,” presumably for the sheep. Above are two facing racks that can be pinned in a V shape convenient for holding dry or relatively dry food, such as hay. While cattle are eating, any bits that happen to fall from the racks will land in the box and can be consumed by the sheep. When the farmer wants to empty the racks, he can release the pins and swing the racks outward, so as to dump whatever might still be jammed in between.

I admire the simplicity of Mills’ portable feeder. Any enterprising farmer could easily build one. As with all such early patents, I wonder if Mills sold such feeders to his fellow farmers. Although my father had no sheep, I think he would have appreciated Mills’ feeders for the cows my father raised.

As I am on the topic of feeders, I can hardly resist sharing an anecdote from my father’s past. When my father was a lad, his agriculture teacher called on my father to answer this question in class: “Joe, how would you introduce a pig to a feeder?” With a straight face, my father answered, “Mr. Pig, this is Mr. Feeder. Mr. Feeder, this is Mr. Pig.”

Was Mills aware of his future fellow patent holder in Pine Township, Anson L. Massey? On the 12th of July in 1887, Massey, who gave his residence as Rainsville, received a patent for a hame-tug loop, useful with bridles of horses. Massey wrote, “The object of my invention is to provide a hame-tug loop which is strong and durable, easily and readily made, secured and inseparable when finished, and cheaply manufactured.” The uppermost patent drawing offers a deconstructed view of the strap and loop. A hame is a metal rod encircling a horse collar. It ends in a ball at the top. There are two hames, one on either side of the collar. Tugs, or traces, attach to the hames and are the principal straps that pull whatever the horse is pulling, such as one of Mills’ feeders. Massey’s loop made a firm connection for each tug.

Patent for Hame-Tug Loop
By Anson L. Massey
Rainsville, Indiana (1887)

S. C. Fenton and J. W. McMullen served as witnesses to Massey’s patent. The former was Dr. Samuel C. Fenton (1844–1918), an esteemed medical doctor who became a victim of the flu epidemic.

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