| September 2004

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    Calvin WhitakerThe front and back covers of an undated Empire sales catalog

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In 1861, John Frederick Seiberling, along with several others, started the Excelsior Mower & Reaper Co. in Doylestown, Ohio, to build a new mower and reaper that Seiberling had invented.

The machine, with a dropper to leave the gavels of grain so they could be easily tied into sheaves, was a success and the company prospered.

Despite that success, Seiberling soon withdrew from the firm and developed a new-and-improved mower-reaper that he called the 'Empire,' which he produced on a small scale.

Meanwhile, the old Excelsior company fell upon hard times. In 1880, its assets, including a factory in Akron, Ohio, were liquidated. Seiberling bought the old Akron Excelsior plant where, by 1890, he employeed 300 men and turned out nearly 3,500 Empire mowers and reapers and a similar number of Empire grain binders each year.

During the financial panic of 1896-1897, the Empire Works went under, and Seiberling was forced to make an assignment of everything he owned in probate court. Seiberling died on Sept. 3, 1903.

J.F. Seiberling's two sons, Frank and Charles, later started the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., which incorporated on Aug. 29, 1898.


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