First Reaping Machine Made In Carroll County

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The first reaping machine in America was built in 1809 and tested on a farm between New Windsor and Union Bridge, on Route 75 in 1811 by Jacob R. Thomas during the late summer, but because it did not work quite right on the first trial the project was abandoned by the inventor.

The idea was later picked up by Obed R. Hussey, a cousin of Thomas, who was an early pioneer in the manufacture of reaping machines, and later incorporated by Cyrus McCormack, who was credited by history with inventing the first reaping machine.

Information supplied By the Historical Society of Carroll County shows that Thomas had invented an attachment to gather the cut grain into sheaves and that when it was tested it had to be pushed through the field by men.

Three men who helped with the test, William Shephard, Randolph Stem and Thomas Shephard, stated the machine would cut grain well, but its delivery was not operating properly and it did not make a very good sheaf.

Thomas was a sensitive man and as the people of the area laugh-! ed and kidded him about his invention he gave it up and began a flax business in Union Bridge that failed; He later moved to Point el-Rocks, Frederick County, and was working on the invention of a steam canal boat at the time of his death.