Remembering the H.P. Deuscher Co.

The H.P. Deuscher Co. was a well-diversified operation that manufactured farm machinery, school desks and more.

| June 2015

From my “Forgotten Farm Machinery Manufacturers” file is the H.P. Deuscher Co., Hamilton, Ohio. Henry P. Deuscher was born May 24, 1829, in Wettingen, Baden, Germany, and came to southwestern Ohio when he was 7.

He grew up on a farm, worked for a while as a butcher in Trenton, Ohio, and in 1857 bought a 481-acre farm. During the Civil War, Deuscher served as captain of Company G, 83rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry and saw service in Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama.

After the war he returned to farming, built a Victorian Italianate brick home (which is still standing) and was involved with a couple of stores in Trenton. From 1882 to 1889, Deuscher owned Eagle Brewery in Hamilton and had interests in other breweries as well. In about 1874, he and partner Israel Williams took over an empty brewery in Hamilton, Ohio, remodeled the place and equipped it for malting grain, with a capacity of 50,000 bushels.

Malted grain is used in breweries and distilleries and in certain foods. The malting process consists of several steps. The grain is first soaked in water until it begins to sprout. Then it must be dried and roasted. In a pneumatic malt house such as Deuscher’s, that was accomplished by large fans that first dried the sprouted grain and then blew hot air through it to roast the kernels to the required color.

Beating the odds

It seems that whatever experience Henry Deuscher had with farm machinery he gained on his own farm. However, he was a businessman, and Variety Iron Works, a 5-acre foundry in Hamilton, was available. So in 1879, “the Captain” (or “Cap,” as he was called after the war) consulted his banker about buying the foundry as a base for manufacture of farm machinery.

The banker declared the venture too much of a risk and refused to give Deuscher any money. Deuscher, however, found financing elsewhere and proceeded with his plans. Although details are sketchy, the banker apparently knew what he was talking about and the firm was soon in trouble. But Deuscher persevered, producing the then-popular Barbour corn drills as well as castings for Norris Implement Works.