History of Aultman & Taylor, Part VI

This installment of a serialized history of the Aultman-Taylor farm equipment company recounts the origins of its starved rooster emblem and describes fires that broke out at company facilities in 1896, 1903, and 1914.

| September/October 2001

This is the sixth installment of the late Dr. Bixler's history of the Aultman & Taylor Company, edited by Dr. Robert T. Rhode. During his lifetime, Dr. Bixler, a professor at Muskingum College in New Concord, Ohio, published a few of his chapters as separate articles in Iron Men Album magazine and others, but the bulk of his book remained unpublished until now. Dr. Bixler's considerable story-telling skills prompted Dr. Rhode to compare the discovery of his manuscript to finding a lost city of gold.

Click here for part I of the history of Aultman & Taylor.
Click here for part II of the history of Aultman & Taylor.
Click here for part III of the history of Aultman & Taylor.
Click here for part IV of the history of Aultman & Taylor.
Click here for part V of the history of Aultman & Taylor. 

The Starved Rooster Emblem

The role of the trademark [of the starved rooster] was to epitomize graphically the admirable qualities ... of the manufactured products [of the Aultman & Taylor Company]. It is a plain fact that companies and their products have often been known primarily by their trademarks. ...

The origin of ... the starved rooster as a trademark was one of those ... innocent experiences that occur only [rarely]. The writer is indebted to Lyle Hoffmaster, who shared with him a fragment of the story of the "starved rooster." As he suggests, the story may perhaps be legendary, yet it seems to possess sufficient authenticity to warrant the belief that the incident may ... be more factual than legendary. It had its origin in the vicinity of Benedict, Nebraska. But whether legendary or factual, let Hoffmaster relate the story as his father told [it] to him on several occasions:

"A thresherman and a proponent of Aultman & Taylor machinery was threshing one day and noticed this emaciated rooster picking up grain around the separator. ... [A] practical joker, he caught the old fellow, put him in a crate, and shipped him to Aultman & Taylor with the caption 'Fattened on an Aultman & Taylor straw stack.' The factory people got quite a kick out of it and kept the old [rooster]. Shortly, they conceived the idea of using him for a trademark. The old rooster lived for some time, a sort of mascot around the plant and, upon his death, was buried on the hill where the old office stood. Both the building and hill are now gone."1 

... It was the brilliant and imaginative Michael D. Harter, ... treasurer and general manager of the company, who conceived the idea of using the starved rooster for a trademark. This was during the latter part of 1875 and the early part of 1876. It is quite possible that the inspiration for this trademark came to him upon the arrival of the rooster at the factory. At any rate an application was made for registration of this trademark in the United States Patent Office on February 11, 1876, and was completed on March 7th of that year.