International Harvester History 1919
The year 1919 witnessed many changes in the International line, one of the most important being its completion by the addition of the P & O and Chattanooga products. International dealers now have the exclusive distinction of offering their customers a complete line of the more important machines and implements needed on their farms, all made by one manufacturer, all of uniform quality, and all backed by the same superior service.
Andrew Jackson was President of the United States; the Blackhawk Indian War was brewing; the abolition movement was getting under way. These are matters of history that loomed up big in our national life in 1831.
But there was one event, at least, that occurred in 1831 of which history makes but little mention although it has had a broader and more pronounced bearing upon human life, industry and prosperity than almost any other occurrence in modern history. That event was the demonstration in a Virginia oat field of the world’s first practical reaper – the invention of Cyrus Hall McCormick.
It was a crude and clumsy machine as we judge farm equipment today. Its operating mechanism, hand wrought in a backwoods blacksmith shop at Steele’s Tavern, VA, did not work with the smooth precision and more-than-human efficiency of the farm machines now in use. Of course, the reaper was crude, but it represented a wonderful idea! The idea was not crude. It was a diamond-in-the-rough – a diamond that has been ground, polished, reground and polished until it represents today the greatest help ever given the farmer in his winning fight to match civilization’s constant demand for food.
McCormick’s reaper was the first concrete expression of a practical idea for reducing the labor of the farmer and multiplying his capacity for agricultural production. It performed as much work as six hand laborers in the harvest fields. The reaper opened the door to an era of fast-working time-and-labor-saving equipment – an era which is now in full swing, represented by the grain binder, the mower, harvester-thresher, kerosene tractor, automatic-lift, multiple-bottomed tractor plow, power thresher, tractor grain drill, leverless disk harrow and so on almost without end. Without these machines the world would starve today and industry would perish.
From that day in 1831 when the ambitious young inventor of the reaper braved the derision of unimaginative, visionless skeptics to demonstrate an idea – from that day to this a process of continual development has been going on in the building of farm machinery.
Mr. McCormick worked tirelessly on his reaper to make it perfect, and did not sell his first machine until almost ten years after his first demonstration in a Virginia oat field. Then he sold two reapers for $100. The following year he disposed of seven and in 1843 his reaper sales totaled twenty-nine machines. In 1844 the sales reached the fifty mark. Mr. McCormick had founded a new industry!
Although his sales volume was growing rapidly and orders were beginning to come in from such distant points as Cincinnati, Ohio, which at that time was considered as being in the far West, the young inventor and manufacturer was not content. He knew that he could undoubtedly sell a large number of reapers of the type he was making but at the same time he realized that his machine was far from perfect. The reaper must be improved – made more efficient and more convenient to operate. It must be built up to his ideal – not down to a price. And this policy has been followed since the very beginning – is being followed today in the manufacture of all International Harvester machines and implements.
In 1845 Mr. McCormick secured a patent covering important changes in the cutting mechanism of his reaper. In 1847 he patented another feature – a seat for carrying the raker which had been added two years before.
Meanwhile, the young inventor-manufacturer was branching out. In 1845 he left the Virginia blacksmith shop at Steele’s Tavern and went to Brockport, N.Y., where he entered into a manufacturing contract with D.S. Morgan and W.H. Seymour, which resulted in the manufacture and sale of 240 reapers during the ensuing two years.
In 1847 McCormick once more saw the necessity for branching out and came to Chicago – at that time hardly more than a village – but, the gateway to a great agricultural empire of which he had learned. Here he established a reaper factory that has since developed into the largest plant of its kind in the world – a factory that employs more than 7,000 workmen and produces 375,000 machines and 60,000 tons of binder twine annually.
The new factory justified Mr. McCormick’s hopes. By 1851 he was making 1,000 reapers a year – and this volume increased rapidly. Up until 1857 a total of 23,000 reapers had been sold and by the close of 1859 there were 50,000 of these machines in use in the United States, doing the work of 350,000 men.
In 1858 Mr. McCormick made a number of further improvements on his reaper, one of which consisted in substituting an automatic rake for the man on the machine.
In 1871 the prospering reaper factory was destroyed by the Chicago fire and a new factory was built without delay on a new site, permitting expansion later on into the great McCormick Works of today. The first great work adopted in the new plant was the building of the McCormick wire binder, invented by Charles B. Withington. This machine was the most successful wire binder of its day, other types being the Osborne, invented by John and James Gordon, and the Walter A. Wood, invented by Sylvanus D. Locke.
William Deering was another leading builder of the great International Harvester industrial edifice of today. He entered the farm implement field about 1870 – during the laborious post-war days of reconstruction of the Southland. A once more united republic was fighting the battles of peace and industry, and the reaper was advancing westward with the tide of agriculture across the fertile prairies of Illinois and Wisconsin and beyond the Mississippi. The world was calling for bread – and the farmers were calling for reapers and harvesters. Factories must build them! Deering soon became numbered among the leaders in the industry and it was Deering who sponsored the first twine “self-binders.” He discovered the inventor, John P. Appleby.
Back in 1869 Appleby took out his first patent for an attachment which would bind the grain. It was a wire binder like some others that had already been invented. But when the wire binder proved unpopular, he it was who conceived and made the first practical twine binding attachment which he perfected in 1878. When Deering saw this attachment at work he immediately contracted with Appleby for manufacturing rights, and unhesitatingly invested all his available funds in building the first 3,000 binders.
In 1881 McCormick also began building twine binders – and from that day to the present time Deering and McCormick twine binders have become known to farmers in the far corners of the earth. Today the Deering plant in Chicago is second only to the McCormick Works.
Paralleling the marvelous development of the McCormick and Deering lines from the pioneer stage to their present high place and broad sphere we find the achievements of Wm. Parlin.
In 1842 – just two years before the establishment of the first electric telegraph – Wm. Parlin, a hardy mechanic from New England, migrated to Canton, IL, and began the manufacture of steel plows. They were good plows – exceptionally good. And they were improved and developed until the present unsurpassed line of P & O implements was achieved. So from the small beginning in the Illinois village in 1842 the business founded by Wm. Parlin has been going on, serving thousands of farmers and always reaching into broader fields.
The P & O line of plows, beet tools and tillage implements has always maintained a position in the front ranks of the implement industry, and today is on the point of fulfilling Wm. Parlin’s dream of world-service. This is being brought about by the merging of the P & O line with the International through the purchase of the P & O interests by the Harvester Co. on July 1, 1919. As an integral part of the International lines these implements are now reaching their proper sphere and level in agriculture.
At about the same time that Deering began building binders another implement pioneer, Newell Sanders, laid the foundation for a new unit in the implement industry – the Chattanooga Co., Chattanooga, TN. Mr. Sanders began with the manufacture of high-quality chilled steel plows from which beginning has sprung the famous Chattanooga line of chilled steel plows, cane mills, evaporators, syrup furnaces, syrup kettles, etc., which became a part of the International Harvester line in 1919.
McCormick, Deering, Parlin and Sanders – each laid a corner-stone for what is now the most varied and comprehensive, most efficient and economical line of farm operating equipment in the world.