Family-Made Implements: Cornelius Aultman and Lewis Miller
Lets Talk Rusty Iron: Sam Moore begins unraveling the history of the Aultman reaper, mower and thresher companies. Part 1 of 3.
The front cover of the 1893 C. Aultman & Co. catalog
Editor's note: In his next three 'Let's Talk Rusty Iron' columns, Sam Moore will tell the story of the 19th-century Aultman companies. Read part 2 here and part 3 here.
Sorting out the Aultmans
During my years of looking at antique farm machinery and reading about the history of the companies that built the stuff, the name Aultman kept coming up. Sometimes, it was C. Aultman & Co. of Canton, Ohio. Sometimes, it was Aultman, Miller & Co. of Akron, Ohio, and at other times, Aultman & Taylor Machinery Co. of Mansfield, Ohio. Then there's The Aultman Co. and the Aultman Engine and Thresher Co., both of Canton. All of these towns are in north central Ohio; Akron is about 25 miles north of Canton and Mansfield is about 60 miles west of the other two.
The first three firms did have a common denominator: a man named Cornelius Aultman. Along with his step-brother Lewis Miller, Cornelius Aultman contributed many new inventions to the field of farm machinery during the last half of the 19th century. I'll try to tell the story of these two extraordinary men, and in the process clear up the confusion about all the Aultman companies, the last two of which were reincarnations of one of the original three.
On March 10, 1827, Cornelius Aultman was born on a farm two miles east of Canton. His parents, Jacob and Elizabeth, were of German stock and had moved to Ohio from Pennsylvania. Shortly after Cornelius was born, the Aultmans moved to Uniontown, a small village about 9 miles north of Canton. Here, Jacob Aultman died when his son was two years old, leaving Elizabeth with the baby and an older daughter, Lydia.
Meanwhile, John Miller, a cabinet maker and farmer, lived at nearby Greentown with his young wife, also named Elizabeth. The Millers, who were of German parentage as well, had three sons: Abraham, born in 1824; Jacob, born in 1827; and Lewis, born July 24, 1829. Not long after Lewis' birth, 22-year-old Elizabeth Miller died, leaving her 43-year-old husband to care for their three young sons.
In December 1830, Elizabeth Aultman and John Miller combined their young families, and the couple subsequently had six more children of their own. According to all accounts, the family was happy although life wasn't easy. The children all worked hard on the farm and were expected to be pious and to fear the Lord.
During his teenage years, Cornelius learned the wheelwright trade, and how to make spinning wheels and grain cradles. When he was 17 or 18, he went to work in a Greentown machine shop where he learned to be a mechanic and make plows, cultivators and other light farm tools.
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