TRACKING DOWN JACOB PRICE

Content Tools

Who was Jacob Price? In the May-June 1981 IMA we showed a picture of an engine which had been made for him by the J I Case Threshing Machine Co., and we asked for information on him.

He was really a pioneer in farm machinery production, and we now know more about him because of a letter from Paul Reno, of Oakland, Calif., plus study of the Encyclopedia of American Steam Traction Engines, by Jack Norbeck.

Reno wrote us:

'I have always wondered and wanted to know more about Jacob Price, as I have been around machinery all my life and heard of Daniel Best, Ben Holt and Jake Price.

'Probably what Jacob Price was best noted for was his invention, The Petaluma Hay Press. There is still one here in the Oakland City Museum and a much larger one at the Mendicino County Fair Grounds in Boonville, Calif. They are all wood and blacksmith forged iron . . .

'I live about 5 miles of where his shop was, which is still today doing business as the Caterpillar Tractor Co., San Leandro.

'I am a retired truck and tractor mechanic by trade. Now my main hobby is working at the Oakland City Museum. I have helped with the restoration of their Daniel Best #185 steam tractor.'

Reno sent some literature which shows that Price came to San Leandro by 1870. He had been born in 1838, in Michigan. He was a member of the town board of trustees in 1874. He was at one time an owner or part owner of the San Leandro Plow Works, which Best bought.

Price patented his 'field Locomotive' on Jan. 14, 1890, Norbeck says in his Encyclopedia. By this time, he had moved to Racine, Wis., and was having Case make the engines he called 'locomotives.' So that brings us around the circle to Price's connection with Case. Any further information will be welcomed.