History of Aultman & Taylor, Part II

Dr. Bixler continues the history of Aultman & Taylor

| January/February 2001

Woodworking room of the Aultman & Taylor separator department

Woodworking room of the Aultman & Taylor separator department.

This issue of the Album contains the second installment of the late Dr. Bixler's history of the Aultman & Taylor Company, edited by Dr. Robert T. Rhode. (Click here to read the first installment from the November/December 2000 issue) The Album is serializing Dr. Bixler's book. During his lifetime, Dr. Bixler, a professor at Muskingum College in New Concord, Ohio, published a few of his chapters as separate articles in this magazine and others, but the bulk of his book remained unpublished until now. Dr. Bixler's thoroughly documented manuscript offers rare insights into a major manufacturing firm and the people who made it famous.

Chapter 2 The Founding of the Aultman & Taylor Company

... [M]en of similar tastes and interests often associate themselves with each other to achieve common goals. So ... an appropriate inquiry arises as to what were the basic ... reasons which impelled ... two men [Cornelius Aultman and Henry Taylor] to join in the founding of [a] new company. Even though there is a dearth of information upon which to base a firm and altogether satisfactory answer to such an inquiry, yet on the basis of the evidence that is available several apparently plausible inferences may be drawn. To begin with, there are those who claim that Aultman persuaded Taylor to join him in that venture, while others assert that Taylor did the persuading. Be that as it may, for the purposes at hand the question [of] who did the persuading is immaterial. What is significant is that there were common interests held by [the] two men that led them to undertake the [enterprise].

As already observed, the two men had been [well] acquainted through business associations extending over a period of many years, and so it is not surprising that they became partners in the founding of the company. Moreover, [they] were closely associated with John Nichols and David Shepard and company. At the time of his death Cornelius Aultman was president of [Nichols & Shepard] ... Taylor accumulated an enormous reservoir of invaluable information, and he became one of the most experienced, competent, and knowledgeable salesmen in the field.

... As closely associated as were ... Aultman, Taylor, Nichols, and Shepard, it is not unreasonable to surmise that they shared many of their ideas and problems with each other ... The history of inventions shows that they usually [do] not occur overnight, but rather ... a prolonged period of time [is] required for the testing of a machine followed by modifications and trials prior to the time when an application [is] made for a patent. Like most innovations, the fulfillment of the need [is] not met by one man but by many usually working independently of each other. Available evidence indicates that this was in truth the situation with respect to the vibrator thresher.

A recital of the issuance of patents by the United States Patent Office makes this point crystal clear, and it has special relevance to the particular events that [culminated] in the founding of the Aultman & Taylor Manufacturing Company. The Pitts brothers, Hiram and John of Winthrop, Maine, built the first practical thresher in 1834 and had it patented in 1837. It was the original of a long line of "endless apron" threshers. One of the most popular of those threshers was the "Sweepstakes" manufactured by C. Aultman & Co. of Canton, Ohio.1 At about the same time Jacob W. A. Temple built a combined bull-thresher with a fanning device and secured a patent on it. He then went into partnership with George Westinghouse for the purpose of building those machines.

During 1848 John Cox and Cyrus Roberts founded a company and began building "groundhog" threshers. It was during the period from 1850 to 1856 that they experimented with, developed, and built a vibrator thresher. Roberts was granted patent #9140 dated July 20, 1852 ...