Total Pageviews

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Hudson Erastus Bridge, the First Stove Founder in the Trans-Mississippi West

This will be the shortest of these biographical postings, largely because the man it's about was a pioneer and an innovator, but not an inventor.  Hudson Bridge invented neither the goods he made and sold nor the business format and production technologies that he adopted.  What he achieved depended instead on the early and successful transplantation of the practices of the New York State stove industry to the western frontier. 

A difference between a blog post and a book is the way in which you do cross-references.  When I did the previous piece, about Giles Filley and the Charter Oak, I realized that it didn't really make much sense, or at least not as much as it was supposed to, if you hadn't read previous bits of the book it was taken from.  Conventionally, we are supposed to read a book from front to back, especially a work of history that's structured in a pretty straightforward chronological way and is set out as an evolutionary story -- so, in the book (or perhaps "book," given that it has not made the leap from laptop to printed paper, and looks unlikely to), I could rely on presumed readers' memories, and just give them a bit of a jolt with a cross-reference.  As I move pieces of the book into this blog, I need to do things a bit differently.  It's not too convenient for people to have to go to a whole chapter, which they'll need to download, open, and scroll through.  Much better to get individual sections here, even if they're not really free-standing.

The most important part of the context for Giles Filley's career was that he followed closely in the footsteps of another Yankee merchant who had migrated to St Louis, Hudson Bridge, and also of Darius Buck.  So it makes sense for me to lift the material on Bridge from pp. 43-45 of Chapter 5 of my book, on the rise of the stove foundry in the 1830s and 1840s, and set it down here.  This also gives me a chance to illustrate it with a picture of probably the finest beard to grace the chin of ANY American stove maker.

* * * 

Figure 5.#: Hudson Erastus Bridge. (Howard L. Conard, ed., Encyclopaedia of the History of St. Louis: A Compendium of History and Biography for Ready Reference [New York: Southern Pub'g Co., 1899], Vol. 1, opp. p. 363.)

In 1837 Hudson E. Bridge (b. 1810), brought up on the family farm in Bennington County, Vermont, arrived in St. Louis, the emerging distribution center for the Mississippi Valley and the overland trade west. It had taken him six years to get there since leaving home with $6 in his pocket, via several intermediate steps -- working in a store in Troy, New York; teaching school in Columbus, Ohio; working as a salesman for a local firm with customers scattered between Detroit and Nashville, which gave him a fine education in what midwestern consumers wanted to buy and how to sell it to them; and finally moving to Springfield, Illinois, where he joined a patent plow-making firm. As his partners would not relocate the business to St. Louis a hundred miles further west, but with much better transport connections and, he thought, growth prospects, he soon moved there himself. He found new partners and began to sell plows from his old firm and the tin plate, copper, sheet iron, and other raw materials that country tinsmiths required, buying them from New York wholesalers or directly from a far cheaper source, Liverpool in England. He also sold Cincinnati and Louisville stoves like the city's other tin and hardware merchants, but soon started manufacturing them himself with plates bought from Tennessee blast furnaces, which was an innovation in St. Louis but simply replicated common practice further east.

Published accounts vary about what exactly happened next, or when. One version says that in 1838, building on his brief experience in plow making, he set up a small foundry, and “soon found that by, careful economy the cost of manufacture was less than the cost of bringing from the East.” Another earlier and more detailed report is that in 1841-1842 he and his brother Harrison, by then his partner, acquired a bankrupt foundry, bought some stove patterns, hired skilled men, and started making their own castings. These may be different versions of the same story, or alternatively successive steps along Bridge's road from merchant to manufacturer.1 His surviving business records do not entirely resolve the confusion, but they give more support to the later date, making clear that, though the plow and tinners' supplies trades were still his main preoccupations, by 1841 Bridge was also doing a substantial business in stoves and stove plate and had started to reduce his dependence on Tennessee furnaces as his main source of supply. His market territory soon extended as far east as Pittsburgh, but was concentrated in the upper Mississippi valley. His business was essentially that of an east coast firm transplanted. His Empire Stove Works imported most of its raw materials (including Lehigh coal and Scotch pig iron), in the beginning probably most of its skilled men too, and bought its patterns and patents in Albany and Troy so that it could offer midwestern customers the most up-to-date goods and live up to the promise of its name, with its obvious reference to New York (the Empire State), the center of innovation and quality production.2

By 1850 his firm had grown enough to justify the investment of $30,000 in a new foundry with a capacity of ten tons (about 80-100 stoves) per day, “which will, for the future, always ensure us a full supply on hand.” The following year they advertised themselves as “MANUFACTURERS of Pierce [Samuel Pierce, of Troy]'s Patent 'American Air-Tight,' 'Empire' and 'Victory' Premium Cooking Stoves, and every variety of Wood and Coal heating Stoves,” as well as being “dealers in Tin Plate, Copper, Sheet Iron, Iron Wire, Tinners' tools, machines, also, manufacturers of Jewett's improved Patent Cary Ploughs.” Eventually, in 1853, they sold their plow business and focused single-mindedly on stoves, as that part of their business “had increased to such an extent that they could not give it the attention it required.”3

Advertisements like Bridge's are usually the only sources we have (apart from surviving artefacts) for knowing what even the leading members of the first generation of stove makers actually sold. What they tell us is that, just as the transition from merchant to manufacturer was sometimes quite protracted, it was also usually incomplete. They therefore demonstrate that we would probably be wrong to over-emphasize the extent of their specialization in stove making; this too was more often the result of a process rather than a clear decision. ... 

The Bridge & Beach Empire Stove Works in 1870 -- office, wareroom (showroom, sales floor), and warehouse on S. Levee, mounting (assembly) shops on Almond St., foundry behind backing onto S. Main
[reference needed].

The Bridge & Beach Empire Stove Works in 1887, showing the company's expansion on all sides of its site except, of course, the river front -- Stoves & Hardware Reporter # (# 1887): #.

1 Biographical accounts of Bridge are, in chronological order, "The First Manufacturer of Stoves in St. Louis," The Metal Worker 3:11 (13 Mar. 1875): 3, giving the early 1840s as when he embarked on the stove foundry business; Sherman S. Jewett, “President’s Address” [Bridge obituary], The Metal Worker 3:24 (12 June 1875): 3; “Semi-Centennial of the Bridge & Beach Manufacturing Company,” Stoves and Hardware 9:15 (15 Jan. 1887): 14-15. J. Thomas Scharf, A History of St. Louis City and County (Philadelphia: L.H. Everts & Co., 1883), vol. 2, p. 1261 [quote], seems to be the origin of the 1838 story, reproduced thereafter in Howard L. Conard, ed., Encyclopaedia of the History of St. Louis: A Compendium of History and Biography for Ready Reference (New York: Southern Publishing Co., 1901), vol. 1, pp. 363-5; Walter B. Stevens, Centennial History of Missouri (St Louis, 1921), Vol. 2, p. 53; Vicki Johnston, “Hudson Erastus Bridge,” in Lawrence O Christensen, et al., eds., Dictionary of Missouri Biography (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1999), p. 114; and even in the introduction to the finding aid for the Hudson E. Bridge Papers, Missouri Historical Society, whose own evidence undermines it. Bridge joined a very Yankee business elite -- Jeffrey S. Adler, Yankee Merchants and the Making of the Urban West: The Rise and Fall of Antebellum St. Louis (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1991), pp. 67-70, 92 – and served an increasingly immigrant German clientèle who did not need to be converted to stove use, as it was already part of their culture: Charles Van Ravensway, The Arts and Architecture of German Settlement in Missouri: A Survey of a Vanishing Culture (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1977), p. 124.

2 Jewett & Hitchcock [Springfield, Illinois] to Bridge, Rayburn & Co., April 1841-March 1842, Box 1, Folder 10, Bridge Papers, shows the importance of stoves in the ongoing trade between Bridge and his old partners; letters of 20 Feb. 1842, Box 1, Folder 12 and 21 Aug. and 11 Dec. 1842, Box 2, Folders 4 and 7, refer to the transition from Tennessee furnace-made stoves to the products of Bridge's own foundry; John Morrison (Troy, NY) to Bridge & Hale, 10 July 1843, Box 2, Folder 9, on supplying stoves via New York – Bridge was buying one each of a number of different styles, possibly for the purpose of copying, or alternatively as samples for market testing; Harrison Bridge (Bennington, VT) to “Brother Hudson,” 8 June 1844, Box 3, Folder 4, on purchasing patterns in Troy, and the reluctance of Rathbone & Co. to sell to him because Troy-made and St. Louis-made versions of the same stoves were already competing in the same midwestern markets.

3 James Green, Green's Saint Louis Directory (No. 1) for 1845 (St. Louis: Author, 1844), p. 26, and The Saint Louis Business Directory, for the Year of Our Lord 1850 (St. Louis: M'Kee, 1850), p. 130 [quote], trace the development of Bridge's business; advertisement, The Western Journal of Agriculture, Manufactures, Mechanic Arts, Internal Improvement, Commerce, and General Literature [St. Louis] 6:1 (April 1851): 71 [quote] -- Samuel Pierce (b. 1812) of New York, Peekskill, and eventually Troy was one of the most important cooking-stove inventors of the 1840s and 1850s; see Chapter 6, p. ##; Jacob N. Taylor and M.O. Crooks, Sketch Book of St. Louis (St. Louis: George Knapp & Co., 1858), p. 326 [quote].

Giles Filley, 'Inventor' of the Charter Oak, Victorian America's Favorite Cooking Stove

This is the final part of my draft of the first half of Chapter 6, on the development of the mature US cooking stove and range (the shorter second half would be about heating stoves), which I decided to tell as a story of invention and "invention," with a focus on a few leading figures in order to impose some necessary order on an industry and a technological community giving more attention to this subject between the mid-1830s and mid-1850s than ever before or since.  

Figure 6.#: Giles Franklin Filley. (J. Thomas Scharf, A History of St. Louis City and County (Philadelphia: L.H. Everts & Co., 1883), Vol. 1, opp. p. 600.)

Giles Filley, 'Inventor' of America's Favorite Cooking Stove

Giles Franklin Filley was born in 1815, the son of a Bloomfield, Connecticut, tinsmith. His father and his brothers ran a family firm with branches in Philadelphia and Troy, and networks of peddlers selling the essential household goods they made to rural consumers right across the United States.1 In 1829 Giles's older brothers Oliver and Marcus went to seek their fortune and represent the firm in St. Louis, whose population had increased by 62 percent in the 1820s and would rise by 149 percent in the 1830s and then 347 percent in the 1840s, turning it from a town of about 7,000 to a city with almost 75,000 people while the Filleys were building their careers there. Oliver soon became a tinsmith and tinware dealer in his own right; Marcus trained as a lawyer before returning to practice in Troy in 1833; and in 1834 Giles took his place, joining Oliver in his growing business. His first journey to St. Louis was even more of an adventure than P.P. Stewart's arduous but peaceful trips to the Choctaw Mission, and reminds us of the difficulties to be overcome in building and sustaining business networks in the heroic age of frontier enterprise. He traveled by steamer from Hartford to New York, then by riverboat to Albany, railroad to Schenectady, canal to Buffalo, and ship to Cleveland, surviving a storm that claimed several vessels. After crossing Ohio by stage and on foot, he boarded a riverboat in Cincinnati that, delayed en route by low water and sandbars, eventually exploded twelve miles from Cairo, Illinois, killing all passengers except Giles and his brother Oliver, who had joined him for the voyage home.2

His life in St. Louis after that was comparatively unexciting but financially quite rewarding. He served an apprenticeship with his brother, then became his partner, and by 1838 was able to report to their father that they had survived the Panic almost unscathed and “all live like piggs in clover here a right Yankey sett.” The Filley brothers were founding and then leading members of the city's mercantile elite, supplying tinware and tinners' supplies to a dynamic region where “every place that has a name in the country has also a Tin Shop” and new settlements were growing almost overnight. They imported their raw materials, their skilled workmen, and some finished items (notably Connecticut clocks) from the East Coast, as well as manufacturing locally.3

By 1844 Giles wanted to branch out into his own business (he had married and was starting a family), as well as to diversify the brothers' interests, so he decided to move into a related trade, first of all selling imported crockery from a store next door but one to his brother's and then, like other merchants, moving into manufacturing too.4 St. Louis had good clay deposits nearby, so Giles planned to exploit them and undercut imports of earthenware pottery (“queensware”). He traveled to England to learn the trade and recruit skilled workers, but abandoned it within a few years because of the difficulty of disciplining and retaining them, selling his shop to cousins who reverted to the simpler business of buying their stock across the Atlantic and shipping it upriver. Giles had decided to pursue a more promising opportunity instead, stove manufacture, where Hudson Bridge and Buck & Wright had already demonstrated the potential of the local market and showed how to make money satisfying it. As the St. Louis historians Dacus and Buel explained, “The progress of our factories has been made in the path of the pioneers; after rearing their rude habitations as a mere protection from the most unkind elements, the sturdy yeoman (sic) then turn their thoughts to the more accessible comforts, and among their first wants is a cooking stove.”5

The earliest picture of Filley's factory, across the street from his store --
Green's St. Louis Business Directory, for the Year of Our Lord 1850 (1850), p. iv.  For his pre-Charter Oak product line, see also advertisement,
The Western Journal of Agriculture 6:1 (April 1851): 72.

When he set up the Excelsior Stove Works in 1849, Filley did not need to invent a business format, simply to copy one, so the Excelsior was purely a stove foundry from its beginnings, and thanks to his and his family's capital resources it was also quite big, starting out with twenty-five molders (recruited from the East) and twenty other employees, and rapidly building up to a capacity of seven tons (about sixty stoves) a day. Filley, like Bridge, bought his patterns from Troy rather than having to attempt at the outset to master the most difficult aspect of the business, product design.  Also like Bridge, he gave his firm a name suggesting a New York pedigree, an implicit promise of quality and innovation at a time when New York State made almost 40 percent of the nation's stoves and dominated interstate trade. (An alternative or perhaps complementary explanation is that, rather than “Excelsior” referencing the Empire State's motto, which can be roughly translated as “Onward and Upward,” a good sentiment for an ambitious entrepreneur to tie to his firm, it was inspired by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's 1841 poem, the start of whose third verse was also appropriate for a stove works -- “In happy homes he saw the light / Of household fires gleam warm and bright.” There were eventually three stove makers in the United States all called Excelsior, but whether the other two, in Quincy, Illinois and Philadelphia, were also inspired by Longfellow, or were instead attempting to make consumers think their goods were from Filley's by then famous company, is impossible to know.)6

Filley's timing was good – the city was recovering from the disasters of fire, flood, and cholera that had beset it in the late 1840s, and the discovery of gold in California meant that an enormous emigrant trade was flowing past his door. Excelsior grew quickly, making about 6,000 stoves in its first full year of business (1850), struggling to keep up with demand, and reinvesting to expand capacity by four to five times over the next few years until the Panic of 1857 temporarily slowed its growth.  By then Filley employed well over 300 molders, pattern makers, carpenters, stove mounters, and laborers.7

The Excelsior Works in the late 1850s -- note the importance of its river-front location; this is a pre-railroad firm.  This picture was engraved from a drawing by Filley's pattern-maker, and when enlarged shows every detail of the works -- the steam engine for the mounting (finishing and assembly) shop facing the levee; three molding rooms (roof monitor vents, walls mostly window, to provide the light required for fine work) either side of two cupola furnaces (iron smokestacks with conical tops); material storage yards, and blacksmiths' shops (five small chimneys) across the street behind.  Taylor & Crook, Sketch Book of St. Louis (1858), opp. p. 391.  An earlier version of this was used in a trade card -- basically the same, but before its expansion across the street to the west.

Nicholas Vedder's original patent "Charter Oak" design --
note the oak leaf motif on the panels and feet.

Key to his success was the invention of what became the largest-selling cooking stove in the United States, the Charter Oak, designed in 1851, placed on the market in 1852, registering 2,619 sales in its first year, and patented in June 1853 (Patent 9788 -- Reissue 873 in 1859, then extended for a further seven years in 1867, testifying to its importance). The patent bears Filley's name, and some of the ideas may have been his, but his pattern maker Nicholas Vedder of Troy, the most influential in the United States (see below, Chapter##, p. ##), made them work and gave the stove its distinctive appearance with his Design Patent 519 (November 1852). 

The patentable improvement was simple but effective -- tapering the flues in a standard three-flue stove rather than leaving them straight-sided, which resulted in a stronger draft and better heat-distribution around the oven.  (The innovation was partly anticipated by Jonathan Hathaway in his original 1837 large-oven patent -- see Figure 7 -- but it was not a key feature of it, nor was it imitated in other three-flue stoves that followed, so perhaps Filley's or Vedder's idea was new to them even if not entirely original.)  It also, perhaps unwisely, incorporated an insulating air chamber between the oven and the fire-box, like several previous inventors including Buck – something that would make Filley vulnerable to Buck's widow's and son's lawsuits, in due course; but when he took out the patent he may have anticipated that Buck's was about to expire

The stove had an attractive design, with a naturalistic oak-leaf motif, and a name communicating its Yankee virtue to a market originally consisting mostly of Northern settlers and German migrants, who regarded cooking stoves as “'a blessing to the poor housewife'.” The Charter Oak, the ancient tree then still standing in Filley's home city, Hartford, in which Connecticut colonists had hidden their colony's charter from King James II's forces, was an icon of American liberties, something about which the Free Soiler Filley had been very sensitive ever since the return of the slavery-extension controversy to plague American politics after the Mexican War. (Filley maintained the patriotic theme in naming his leading cook stoves: by 1857, he was also offering the public a Valley Forge).8

Kennedy's St. Louis City Directory for the Year 1857 (1857), advertising section p. 44.  Cf. the similar ads for his major local competitors Bridge & Beach (p. 18) and Buck & Wright (p. 58).

Giles was aggressive in defense of his own Charter Oak patents, and equally aggressive in attacking Buck's, which threatened it. He was prepared to fund a lawsuit which he had “no doubt but that it will be a long and tedious one,” and was assisted in this endeavor by his brother Marcus, well placed in Troy to gather documents, testimony, and artefacts undermining Buck's claims, and providing most of the basis for the account of the development of the large-oven stove presented earlier in this chapter and in Chapter Two. The progress of the contest between these two determined antagonists is not clear from the surviving records – not even whether it came to court at all; no case was ever reported. But the outcome was plain enough: before Buck's extended patent expired in 1860, Filley had successfully defended his own against violators, and was able to secure a reissue of it in 1859 that clarified his own claim in precisely the area that Buck had contested.9 

* * * * 

Why did I give up at this point?

(1) A book, particularly a work of academic history (and that's what I was supposed to be -- and all that I was capable of -- producing), needs an argument, and what I had instead was lots of content and stories.  Had I carried on with Chapter 6, it would have continued in this vein, with three more biographical sections on (a) Isaac Orr, "inventor" of the airtight heating stove; (b) Dennis Littlefield, "father" of the base-burner heating stove and (c) Gardner Chilson, who probably did more than anybody else to perfect the warm-air furnace.  I have begun the first and last sections, and will complete them; but only as blog posts.  Littlefield will get the same treatment, partly because he also had a wonderful beard that I want to use as an illustration somewhere.  I might then assemble the pieces to complete Chapter 6, and I'd have achieved my objective of providing a reasonably comprehensive, but still manageable, account of the evolution of all of the principal types of cooking and heating appliance that the mature American stove industry produced by the time of the Civil War, for a market that was by then also mature, diverse, and nationwide. But I'd still be left with the problem of how to wrap up my six very meaty chapters in such a way that they looked enough like a book to be worth showing to a publisher.

(2) As I wrote all of this I reached the conclusion that my research for these stories of invention was incomplete.  To be really satisfactory, it would need more on-the-ground research in the archives of the US Patent and Trademark Office, and probably also in US Circuit and District courts.  In the PTO I might be able to find evidence about the innovation process from the correspondence (including any challenges from competitors) surrounding the original patent filing and any subsequent disclaimers or reissues; about the success of marketing from the case made at the time of extension application; and in the assignment registers there should be information about the sale of patent rights, a vital part of Hathaway's and Buck's business model, though not of Stewart's or Filley's.  In Circuit and District courts there might be trial papers, enabling me to get below the surface of the few reported cases.

(3) But I was not sure that I wanted to do this kind of research.  I'm still not sure.  I'm retired now, so this has turned from work into a hobby.  Nor can I get financial support for the costs of research, which would certainly entail quite a bit of time and travel.  However, my reservations go further than that.  This is not just supposed to be a study of stove invention; I don't want the tail to wag the dog. Other historians of business and technology -- Carolyn C. Cooper on Thomas Blanchard, Ross Thomson on shoe machinery and more generally -- have done this sort of immensely detailed study of the invention process and inventors' business practices.  I don't want to repeat it.  But I'm not sure that I can complete this chapter, even to my own satisfaction, unless I do.

* * * 

There is, in any event, an awful lot more to write about Giles Filley, some of it touched on in Donald Southerton's family history and Randy Baehr's biography -- his leading role among Missouri Unionists and anti-slavery men, in politics in the 1850s and in supporting the Union war effort after 1861; the thing that earned him national and even international celebrity, the way that he traded his way out of bankruptcy after the Civil War and managed to clear all of his epic debts; his trenchant anti-labor attitudes and behaviour, which made him one of the industry's most important strategists in its battles against the Iron Molders' Union from the 1860s through the 1880s; and his vital contribution to organizing the industry into an effective trade association through the 1870s and 1880s.  I have dealt with these aspects of his business career in my last proper publication about the stove industry, "Coping With Competition: Cooperation and Collusion in the US Stove Industry, c. 1870-1930," Business History Review 86:4 (Winter 2012): 657-692. [Free Version]. There's not really enough about Filley to be worth a proper biography, but too much to squeeze into the narrow compass of just part of an article or a chapter, which is all that I have ever been able to devote to him.

Excelsior after another 30 years' growth, during which it became the largest stove manufacturer in the country.  The plant had grown upwards and spread across the streets to the north, west, and south.  It had even reclaimed land from the Mississippi as it turned from a riverboat- to a railroad-dependent business.  George W. Orear, Commercial and Architectural St. Louis (St. Louis: Jones & Orear, 1888), opp. p. 272.


1 Richard Edwards and Menra Hopewell, Edwards's Great West and Her Commercial Metropolis (St. Louis: Office of Edwards's Monthly, 1860), p. 516; Shirley DeVoe, The Tinsmiths of Connecticut (Middletown: Wesleyan University Press, 1968), pp. 11, 16-21; David Meyer, The Roots of American Industrialization (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, 2003), p. 81; Gina Martin and Lois Tucker, American Painted Tinware: A Guide to Its Identification, Vol. 3 (Cooperstown, NY: Historical Society of Early American Decoration, 2007). For peddlers, including tinners like the Filleys, see esp. David Jaffee, “Peddlers of Progress and the Transformation of the Rural North, 1760-1860,” Journal of American History 78:2 (Sept. 1991): 511-35.

2 “Old-Time Journey. Thirty Days Occupied Between Hartford and St. Louis in 1834,” The Weekly Times [Hartford, CT] 18 Sept. 1899, p. 4, citing a family letter, supplemented from Randy Baehr, "Giles F. Filley--A Brief Biography: A Presentation [1995]," and Donald G. Southerton, The Filleys: 350 Years of American Entrepreneurial Spirit (Lincoln, Neb., 2005), p. 70, sources for what follows unless stated otherwise.

3 Giles to John Filley [brother], 12 June 1838, and Sylvanus Wing [relative and partner] to O.D. Filley Sr., 10 April 1836, both Box 1, Filley Family Papers, Accession 487, Missouri Historical Society, St. Louis. For the Yankee elite, see Adler, Yankee Merchants and the Making of the Urban West – not wholly reliable about the Filleys, p. 67.

4 James Green, Green's St. Louis Directory (No. 1) for 1845 (St. Louis: Author, 1844), p. 62.

5 Joseph A. Dacus and James W. Buel, A Tour of St. Louis; or, the Inside Life of a Great City (St. Louis: Western Publishing Co., 1878), pp. 231-3 -- including nice pictures of Excelsior's office and showroom, and of the 1878 model Charter Oak.

6 Capacity from Southerton, The Filleys, p. 84, and Jacob N. Taylor and M.O. Crooks, Sketch Book of St. Louis (St. Louis: George Knapp & Co., 1858), p. 391. Excelsior later used the Longfellow poem in its advertising [e.g. “Charter Oak Ranges – Charter Oak Stoves,” The Stove and Hardware Reporter 7:15 (15 Jan. 1885): 2-3], but this is not definitive proof about which came first in Filley's mind, the poem or the company name. Filley's contemporary Richard S. Elliott complained “I never knew … why any concern should be called 'Excelsior,' merely because a fellow with a flag went up a mountain and perished; doing no good to anybody, unless a foolhardy climb is a pattern to be imitated instead of an example to deter” -- Notes Taken in Sixty Years (St. Louis: R.P. Studley & Co., 1883), pp. 11-12.

7 “The Excelsior Manufacturing Co.,” The Stove and Hardware Reporter 6:6 (1 Sept. 1883): 1, 7; Baehr, “Giles F. Filley”; Logan U. Reavis, St. Louis: The Future Great City of the World (St. Louis: C.R. Barnes Pub'g Co., 1876), Appendix, p. 12, and Taylor and Crooks, Sketch Book of St. Louis, p. 391. Giles F. Filley's surviving correspondence with his brothers provides snapshots of his company's growth – e.g. 24 September 1849, to Jay Filley (Hartford) [foundry in full operation, traveling East in winter for patterns], Filley Family Papers, MHS, Box 1; to “Bro. Lucius” (Marcus), 23 December 1854, Filley Papers, RPI, Box 7, Folder 7 [extending foundry, acquiring more patterns in Troy] – but is too incomplete to support a continuous narrative.

8 1851 origins: “Improved Stove,” Scientific American 7:12 (6 Dec. 1851): 93; 1852 sales: Dacus and Buel, A Tour of St. Louis, p. 232; Vedder patterns: "Supreme Court of Missouri. Giles F. Filley, Respondent, v. A.D. Fassett et al., Appellants [Filley v. Fassett]," American Law Register 17:7 (July 1869): 402-11 at 402-3 and “Cook Stove,” Design Patent 519 (1852) – taken out by Vedder, later assigned to Filley; German migrant demand: Charles Van Ravensway, The Arts and Architecture of German Settlement in Missouri: A Survey of a Vanishing Culture (Columbia, MO: Univ. of Missouri Press, 1977), p. 124. For the Charter Oak, see Missouri History Museum, “American Visions of Liberty and Freedom: No. 10 Charter Oak Hotel Cooking Stove,” [viewed 3 August 2012] and Gayle B. Samuels, Enduring Roots: Encounters with Trees, History, and the American Landscape (New Brunswick: Rutgers Univ. Press, 1999), pp. 3-21. The Charter Oak had become a symbol of the imperilled Union – see e.g. J. Deane Alden, ed., Proceedings at the Dedication of Charter Oak Hall Upon the South Meadow Grounds of Col. Samuel Colt. With the Addresses on the Occasion by Messrs. Hamersley, Stuart, and Deming (Hartford: Case, Tiffany & Co., 1856), p. 12, and "The Old Charter Oak," United States Magazine 3:4 (Oct. 1856): 338-42 at pp. 341-2. Valley Forge: Excelsior Stove Works advertisement in Kennedy, Kennedy's St. Louis City Directory for the Year 1857, advertising department, p. 44.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Jonathan Hathaway, Darius Buck, and the “Invention” of the Large-Oven Stove

This is the second chunk of the incomplete Chapter 6 of my book MS that I've decided to include as a separate posting, rather than just leaving it more or less buried in a shared document file only accessible through a link from a skeletal post.  Translating the section on Philo Stewart into blog form was easy and not even very time-consuming, and certainly "value-adding," both for me as author and, I hope, for anybody who stumbles across this.  Being able to include hypertext links to so many original documents (notably patents) and texts is the real plus of doing things this way rather than relying upon cold print.  I have also embellished this with illustrations, of actual products rather than just the patent drawings; the latter are in any case all very accessible.

To explain the purpose of Chapter 6 and its several component parts, it will help to start with the Introduction:

Chapter 6. Completing the Range

[Draft “completed” or at least abandoned by summer 2012, then updated 26 June 2014.  Yellow highlights = things I thought might need attention later.  I have not resisted the temptation to edit it a bit more while doing this blog post, and have marked up my 2015 changes in pink, so that I can find them if/when I revise the chapter.]

The inventors and entrepreneurs we met in Chapters One through Four introduced most of the principal stove types on which the industry's early growth, between the late teens and the 1830s, depended, and upon which other manufacturers and designers made minor modifications and major improvements that increased their functionality. Daniel Pettibone and his furnace; Charles Postley, James Wilson, and their improved Franklins, cabooses, cookstoves, and portable ranges, so important for opening up the New York market even before the coming of anthracite; William James, James Conant, Thomas Woolson, and their simple, robust wood-fired cookstoves that brought the stove habit to upcountry New England; Henry Stanley and his much-imitated rotary cookstove, the market-leading product from Massachusetts to Michigan through the early 1840s; Eliphalet Nott, Jordan Mott, James Atwater, and Denison Olmsted, designers of anthracite-fueled heating stoves for the middle-class parlor – these men and hundreds of others less original and influential had laid solid foundations. They had succeeded in producing appliances that satisfied many of the cooking and heating needs of households large and small, rich and poor, urban and rural, and living in regions that remained firewood-dependent as well as those that were adopting anthracite as their fuel of choice. But there were still plenty of opportunities for significant innovation between the 1830s and the 1860s, and the purpose of this chapter is to explain the contributions of the men who made them, rounding out the range of different kinds of stoves available to consumers by mid-century.

In the 1820s and 1830s there was still no single, standard cookstove design. People bought and cooked on Nine and Ten-Plate Stoves, Oven Franklins, and Step Stoves, with or without “elevated ovens,” as well as on the many varieties of Rotaries. But between the late 1830s and the 1860s most of them were displaced by a single type, the “square stove” with four boiler holes and a large oven, which by the 1860s had begun to lengthen into an oblong, making room for a second warming oven, a water-boiler attachment, and eventually six holes. This layout, and its “portable range” variant, would become the universal American stove type from then until the end of the industry, and would even influence what American consumers expected a stove to do and to look like after solid-fuel appliances had been replaced by gas and electric. Between the 1830s and the 1850s inventors and designers also developed the efficient, convenient, and attractive parlor stoves, and the powerful basement furnaces, on which most Americans' domestic comfort would continue to depend until the changeover to oil- and gas-fuelled central heating, which began before the end of the nineteenth century but would not be complete until the middle of the twentieth.

Jonathan Hathaway, Darius Buck and the “Invention” of the Large-Oven Stove

P.P. Stewart and Samuel Pierce had plenty of company among the stove builders of New York's Capital District in the period from the 1830s through the 1860s. About 170 men living in Albany, Schenectady, Troy, and nearby villages took out at least one stove patent in these years, and many of them made a habit and a business of it. But one of them left a larger imprint on the historical record, of one particular kind, than any other: Darius Buck, born in New York in 1801, dead before he turned fifty, with just two patents to his name, and few other biographical facts readily discoverable about him.  
One key indicator of a stove inventor or designer's importance at the time, and to his peers, was his contribution to the development of American patent law through federal cases that mattered enough, and set sufficiently influential precedents, to be reported and to enter into the official records of significant litigation. Other leading stove makers – particularly Henry Stanley and Isaac Orr (see below) – were also active and successful serial litigants, but none made a bigger impact than Darius Buck.1

Buck was not the inventor of the large-oven stove, but he and his assignees were the most determined and, for a while, successful exploiters of the intellectual property in his patents that, they argued, gave them the potential to control and profit by the development of the market for it. Other manufacturers wanting to build the kind of stove that most consumers demanded by the 1850s had to pay them for the privilege, or (like Stewart and Pierce) design their way around Buck's patents (1157, taken out in 1839, reissued in 1850, and then extended until 1860 in 1853; and 5967 [1848]) with genuine innovations of their own, or risk having to meet them in court.

* * * 

The search for a good large-oven stove seems to have begun in the early 1830s, shortly after the death of Christopher Hoxie removed a litigious obstacle (even after he stopped making and selling his own patent stoves in the early 1820s he had licensed other furnaces to use his designs, and pursued infringers through the courts).  It accelerated after the Patent Office Fire in 1836 consumed most of the evidence about his and others' earlier work,  and while most inventors were still working on improvements, or at least variations, of Conant's step stove and Stanley's rotary. 

The first and most important of the several resulting designs was the work of Jonathan Gaylor Hathaway (b. 1793), an itinerant stove maker temporarily resident in Painesville, Ohio (a lakeside town about thirty miles east of Cleveland, and fifteen west of Samuel Wilkeson's stove furnace in Madison township), who essentially reinvented Hoxie's expired and conveniently destroyed patent. Hathaway's stove as originally registered in 1837 had four boiler holes in a large and convenient top surface above the fire, and a wide shelf in front of the firebox which could also be used for cooking on. There were either two small ovens or a single larger one, heated via downdraft flues using Hoxie's three-flue system and wrapping four of their six sides in the products of combustion.  A single damper controlled the air flow into the firebox and thus the heat of the fire

When he reissued his patent nine years later, Hathaway kept the same basic arrangement, but only offered a single large oven with a convenient drop-down door, probably because by then a large oven was what the market had been taught to demand. His device's claimed advantages were its capacity, controllability, convenience, and economy. “[A] great quantity of baking, roasting, &c., may be done in a stove occupying comparatively a small space; ... the ovens may be more or less heated without augmenting or diminishing the quantity of fire; [and] when heated to the required temperature, the heat may be for a long time retained in the flues, rendering only a small quantity of fuel necessary for heating a room and doing the cooking.”2 

Hathaway had, by his own account, been in the business since about 1820, “giv[ing] my attention almost entirely to the construction of stoves and to experimenting upon their construction.”  He made and testedmany hundred patterns and plans of stoves of different kinds with the view of improving upon the mode of producing an equal diffusion of the heat about all parts of the oven and ascertaining the best and most economical means of producing that result.” He travelled from furnace to furnace, contracting with their owners to make stoves to his patterns and selling them in the local market before moving on – a good way of diffusing the new technology across the northern states.  He also sold other entrepreneurs the right to manufacture his stoves and sell them in particular districts, and extended his market that way too. His territory reached from western New York State around the Erie lakeshore communities, across into Canada, and eventually down into Pennsylvania and east as far as Massachusetts.3

In 1832, while resident in Hamilton, Canada West (now Ontario), he took out a Canadian patent (No. 145, "the first in Upper Canada for a mechanical invention") for a  “Hot Air Cooking Stove” which already contained most of his later features (an oven below the fire, boiler holes in the top plate, damper control) but had a single "sheet" flue like Charles Postley's almost twenty years previously, which survived as an option into his 1837 patent.  By 1835 he was in Toronto and at war in the press (The Patriot, 17 Nov. 1835, p. 4) with local furnace operators J. & B. Van Norman, who had recently patented their own version of the Hoxie stove, No. 153, suspiciously soon after making castings of Hathaway's for his local agents to sell.  Hathaway threatened to "immediately take the proper legal steps to punish the temerity of the self-styled 'INVENTOR'," only to be answered very robustly by the Van Normans on the same page:

Mr. Hathaway's only object was to retard the rapid sale of our Stoves, and to excite curiosity to his own.  As to the infringement he knew well to the contrary, and he also knew the little inducement there was for us to imitate his Stoves if the character given by those acquainted with them may be relied upon; nor need he expect to frighten us or to make any person acquainted with their principles believe there was any similarity in their construction.

Mr. Hathaway's spleen may be accounted for in the total eclipse of his far famed "HOT AIR" by our new invention, which has given such universal satisfaction.

We would advise Mr. H. to call on Mechanics, examine the original drawings and specifications of his Patent; compare them with his present Stove, and get their opinion how far his Patent will protect the Stove he is now offering for sale as a patent article, before he talks about any invasions.  We would also ask him to whom he was indebted for the present arrangement of flues, and in his research for infringements, to 'cast his mind's eye' to the old diving Stove of Massachusetts [actually the New York/Connecticut/Massachusetts border, the Hoxie stove], which took its last dive some 15 years ago, and see if any similarity exist.

Hathaway's and the Van Normans' patents had to coexist in Canada -- at least, there is no public record of any suit -- where the "reinvention" of earlier American patents was quite legal, something that remained a grievance for American stove makers for the next several decades.  As was his habit, Hathaway moved on. In 1836 he was in Detroit and Cleveland, where he later claimed to have made stoves almost identical to those he patented in Painesville in 1837; and in 1838 he moved again, from Painesville to Lockport and Rochester, New York.

The earliest Hathaway illustrated stove advertisement that I have found -- in Walker's Buffalo City Directory (1842), unpaginated front matter.  Dudley was his assignee, i.e. he had bought a portion of Hathaway's patent -- Disclaimer, 21 Sept. 1844, with US Patent 505. 

Hathaway's peripatetic manner of doing business required local partners, and in the summer of 1838 he gave Darius Buck, then a wagon maker, his start in the stove trade. Buck worked for Hathaway in Palmyra, New York, twenty miles east of Rochester along the Erie Canal, supervising a local pattern maker, James Seelye, who was crafting an improvement to his stove that extended the oven under the shelf in front of the firebox. After that job was finished, Hathaway contracted with a local founder to make stoves to his pattern, and financed Buck and a partner to sell them across the Burned-Over District.4

All we really know about what went on in the Palmyra stove trade in 1838 comes from partial, contested, and sometimes contradictory testimony ten to almost twenty years after the event. We can have little more certainty about it than about the conversations and dealings said to have taken place between Joseph Smith and the Angel Moroni in the same town a decade earlier. But the version of the truth that eventually undermined Buck's patent is that in October of that year he met in a local tavern with John M. French, an Albany stove merchant who had recently moved to Rochester, Hathaway's agent in the sale to an Albany foundry of his iron patterns, which he must have carted from place to place, and the right to use them. Together they went to visit Seelye's workshop. Seelye was by that time working for Solomon Crowell, Jr., a local stove and tinware dealer who was also planning to make an improvement on the original Hathaway stove. Buck inspected the patterns and a mahogany model made to enable Crowell to meet the patent-filing requirement, and accompanied him to Albany to get the patent specifications drawn up and filed. He “declared it to be a very good stove and expressed a wish to make money out of it.” They “were going to break down the Hathaway patent, and get an improvement on the said model, and ... if they could get the improvement patented, it would use up the Hathaway stove.”5

This advertisement shows the sort of small-oven stoves with which Hathaway, Buck, Hermance, and others competed, and which they quickly replaced -- Daily American Directory of the City of Rochester, for 1847-8 (Rochester, NY: Jerome & Bro., 1847), advertising section p. 15.  See also the very similar Bush & Co. ad on p. 58.

But then Crowell's father and partner in business went broke “by reason of endorsements” – a common experience in the aftermath of the Panic of 1837, when the collapse of trading partners' credit brought many firms down with them – and Crowell himself became “depressed in spirits.” So no patent was filed, and the rumor spread that Crowell had died.  Buck therefore filed a patent on his own behalf instead – something that depended on appropriating Crowell's investment in imitating Hathaway's ideas, i.e. a sort of double deception, which had relied in the first place on the ability of Seelye to make a near-copy of Hathaway's plans.  
An alternative but not incompatible account of Buck's route to sole ownership of the patent was given by the man who actually drew up the specification, Benjamin Nott, Eliphalet's son and a partner in the company that made Nott's stoves, which had recently gone bankrupt – that Buck and Crowell were partners, and Crowell had paid the filing fee, but that they had disagreed between themselves about whose idea it really was and “Mr. Crowell's habits of dissipation were such at that time that I think they unfitted him for business,” which is what enabled Buck to get away with his theft.6

It did not take Hathaway long to find out what his former business associate had done. As his recent Canadian experience helps explain, he was already accustomed to seeing his inventions (or reinventions) copied, and knew how to respond.  He saw stoves that Buck had had made for him on sale in Albany, one of Hathaway's most important markets, at the end of 1838 or early in 1839, i.e. while Buck's patent application was pending, and told him that they were an infringement on his rights. Buck admitted as much, and volunteered to pay Hathaway a royalty “for the privilege of manufacturing” and to move to another territory where he would “not interfere with the sale of my stoves.” Hathaway refused, but Buck moved anyway, first of all to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, where Hathaway was also developing his market, and then to Cincinnati by 1841, where he was again pursued by Hathaway's lawyers. His strategy was to promise to stop making stoves when threatened with a lawsuit, or to offer to pay for the privilege in the usual, legal way, then start over somewhere else when Hathaway repeated his refusal. In the end he wound up in St. Louis, the market and emerging manufacturing center as far away as possible from his former boss and mentor, now his cheated rival.7

The story of how Buck stole Hathaway's ideas (if indeed they were Hathaway's, rather than mostly Hoxie's) and then helped spread them around the country is almost more interesting than the patent he filed to claim them for himself. It was well drafted, which may have reflected the advice of the Albany stove makers -- Nott, and Amos T. De Groff -- with whom he collaborated, given his own limited experience in the technical side of the business.  It expressed very clearly the problems it was addressing – making a stove that could bake and boil at the same time without using too much fuel, and with an evenly heated oven, “so as to do away with the occasional use of the brick oven, even in large families.” It was basically just a Hathaway stove with the oven extended under the hearth – a feature Hathaway had already offered in stoves he had made and sold, and which he had been working to perfect in Palmyra – and a modification to the flues claiming to guarantee that the front and bottom of the enlarged oven would heat up evenly.8

Probably more crucial to Buck's success in business than “his” (or somebody's) small but significant design improvements was his chutzpah. Buck did not have the capital or the skill to do his own manufacturing, but he was an effective salesman. He had his stoves made in Cincinnati foundries and then transported to St. Louis, where he advertised their many advantages. He was not modest in his claims. By 1844 his “celebrated Stove st[ood] unrivalled before the world.” They were “the most perfect article in the Western country.” They “possessed all the advantages of any other Stove now in use” -- unsurprisingly, as Buck had incorporated other people's ideas -- “with at least one-third more oven, which is heated with perfect uniformity in every part. There are flues in the oven so constructed as to carry off the steam arising from the cooking of various kinds of meats, into the pipe, thereby preventing the mixture of flavors” -- a common objection to the baking of meat in a sealed iron box rather than roasting it in open air before the fire. It also consumed “a very small amount of fuel,” so that “The economy, convenience and despatch in all the operations of cooking, render this Stove decidedly the most preferable to any other ever offered.”9

Green's St. Louis Directory (1844), p. 212.  Note the manufacturer's name on the hearthplate -- Andrews, Haven & Co., Cincinnati, for which see Charles Cist, The Cincinnati Miscellany, or Antiquities of the West (Cincinnati: Robinson & Jones, 1846), Vol. 2, pp. 148-9.    

Buck went into partnership with Wiley Wright, a local tinsmith, and over the next five years they began to make their own stoves in St. Louis and continued to enlarge and improve his stove and broaden their product range until it included a full spectrum of the common types -- “Improved Premium Air-tight, Parlor, and other stoves; box coal, 6, 7, and 10 plates” -- all on offer “wholesale or retail, at the lowest market prices.” But the Buck Stove, both the original model and an even bigger two-oven variant introduced in 1848-49, remained at the center of their business. By this time Buck had also established himself as a serial litigant, and this astute copyist now complained of treatment by his competitors that was not unlike his own past, and indeed continuing, practice. “[S]tove inventers (sic) now find it necessary, in order to sell their wares, to copy as nearly as possible the form, and then, by diligent efforts, attempt to palm off their productions upon the public as an improvement on Buck's Patent.” 

In Buck's case this was deeply ironic, partly because the double oven had been a part of the original Hathaway patent too, but also because it had already been reinvented again by John C. Hermance of Schenectady in 1844 (“Cooking Stove,” Patent 3628). Hermance had been a sales agent for Buck's and Hathaway's stoves. He rejected Hathaway's offer of a joint venture (“I told him with his capital and tallents [sic] the business could be extended to any amount”) and decided that he could do better than his suppliers, becoming a manufacturer himself in about 1840. By 1848 he had “Thousands of delighted purchasers” for a product whose manufacturing rights he had licensed to two local firms and also Warnick & Leibrandt, the leading Philadelphia stove foundry.10

Like Jordan Mott, P.P. Stewart, Samuel Pierce, and others before and after him, Buck tried to turn to his advantage the fact of being important enough to attract copyists, as the strongest proof that “Buck's stoves have a reputation beyond anything else in the shape of a cooking apparatus.” The firm used essentially the same advertising pitch through the mid-1850s, by which time Darius Buck had died, his son Charles had replaced him, and the firm had begun to make its own stoves, building a small foundry that opened in the spring of 1850 and grew rapidly until it occupied a whole city block. This upstart firm, still on the run from Jonathan Hathaway a decade earlier, had joined the St. Louis business establishment and was emerging as one of the most important players in the national industry. As they boasted, “During the time Buck's stoves have been before the public, there have been issued from the Patent office a very large number of new patents of various of Cooking Stoves. These Stoves have each in turn been the nine days wonder of their season, and have then died away, to give place to some new thing, equally unsatisfactory and equally ephemeral.” Meanwhile, Buck's firm had left its shady origins far behind. Its stoves – like many others in their makers' eyes and advertising copy, of course -- were “Decidedly the Best ... Yet Invented.”11

* * *

How had Darius Buck turned in less than a decade from a patent violator and fugitive from Hathaway and the center of the stove industry in New York State, into a successful Missouri entrepreneur with the funds to establish a St. Louis business dynasty, and an effective defender of the intellectual property he had somehow acquired? Luck and good judgment. 

His first patent, though it eventually needed to be rewritten and reissued to strengthen it, even after its validity had been established in successive lawsuits, was better drafted than Hathaway's. Hathaway's had to be radically narrowed when it was reissued in 1846 because, as he admitted, “by inadvertence and mistake, and without any fraudulent or deceptive intention” he had made so many claims that he had confounded his own case, rendering it “inoperative and invalid.” 

Buck's key strategic decision, after moving to St. Louis and, thanks to Hathaway's problems, eventually escaping his clutches, was to sell the rights to his patent in all states save two (Missouri and Ohio) to the splendidly named Shibboleth McCoy (b. 1812), one of the leading players in the Albany stove industry between 1837, when he became partner in a new stove foundry, and 1888, when he retired. In 1848 John Hermance, by then one of McCoy's principal competitors, railed against him and his partners and their licensees as “the vast moneyed monopoly ... engaged in its (the Buck stove's) manufacture and sale”; he had already endured three lawsuits at their hands, because each time he won they simply shifted the venue to try to find a more sympathetic judge or jury, and came back at him again.12

Buck and, after his death, his widow Desire participated in the lawsuits and the management of the patent that gave McCoy's purchase its continuing value, but the principal role in its defense was taken by McCoy and his partners, his brother William and Stephen Clark, from their base in the heart of the industry. Within his own western territory Buck defended his rights by himself – one of the targets of his many lawsuits described him as a “drunken vagabond” whose technique was to give people enough trouble that they would pay him off in order to settle.  The McCoys and Clark were well placed to levy charges on Capital District competitors for the privilege of making large-oven stoves using Buck's patents, and to police violations. 

McCoy & Co.'s success in selling stoves and manufacturing rights also meant that they could afford the services of America's most expensive and effective patent lawyer, William Henry Seward, who found “mechanical science ... a study for which his keen perception and logical habit of mind gave him a peculiar aptitude.” Seward, a former student and later a friend of Eliphalet Nott, was filling the gap in his political career between occupying New York State's governor's mansion and winning one of its Senate seats, and mending a hole in his own finances, by returning to the practice of law. He served as the advocate for some of the most determined litigants in the American manufacturing community and the investors who had bought their intellectual property, including the Woodworth planer, the McCormick reaper, and the Buck stove. By 1849 four years of work had brought him thousands of dollars in fees, relieving him from his “sea of debts,” and “the golden tide continued to flow” -- both for him and his clients.13

In the end, it did not and does not matter how much of his patented inventions was properly Darius Buck's. Together with his principal competitors Hathaway and Hermance, and their licensed manufacturers, unlicensed rivals, not too blatant imitators, and the local sales agents for all of the many makers in the 1840s producing large-oven stoves claiming to be convenient, durable, economical, and efficient, Buck helped to develop the standard cooking stove type of mid-century America. This became the hottest-selling item in most makers' product range and something on which other designers and inventors who came after him would do their best to improve.

To do so, however, there was the small problem of Buck's controlling patent to dispose of first. Desire Buck had secured the reissue of her late husband's original patent in 1850, and then, the day before it was due to expire in May 1853, extended it for another seven years. The prospect of having to keep paying tribute to a patent troll was evidently too much for one of Buck's son Charles's St. Louis neighbors and competitors, and he determined to break it.

Kennedy's St. Louis City Directory for the Year 1857 (1857), advertising section p. 57, showing the increasing amount of surface decoration even on cooking stoves by mid-century.  Cf. the very similar ads for their major local competitors Bridge & Beach (p. 18) and Excelsior (p. 44).

[Rereading the Patents of Canada, from 1824 to 1849 (1860) while revising this for posting and inserting hyperlinks into the notes, I came across a detail that says a bit more about the complicated Hathaway/Buck relationship.  In 1848 Reuben Colton, a Brockville, Ontario founder, took out a patent for "an improvement on 'BUCK AND HATHAWAY'S PATENT COOK STOVE, CALLED 'THE CANADIAN HOT AIR STOVE.'"  Colton's improvements were largely cosmetic, but his patent suggests that Buck had settled his conflicts with Hathaway as he would eventually with Hermance, and that they were now cooperating, at least in the Canadian market.  So maybe the phrase "escaping his clutches" above needs a rethink -- maybe Hathaway and Hermance both reached agreements with Buck and his assignees to let one another be,  perhaps by market sharing, leaving Buck and the McCoys free to harass other makers?  Probably we will never know for sure.]

Buck's in 1910, by which time it was embroiled in the huge lawsuit against the American Federation of Labor for which it is best remembered.  The 1846 date must be for the partnership with Wright, or the beginning of manufacturing, or both.


1 For Stanley, see “Decision of the Circuit Court of the United States, for the Eastern District of New York, in a patent case involving some important principles. To which is appended some remarks by the Editor. United States Circuit Court. Before Judge Thompson. Henry Stanley vs. Henry Hewitt,” Journal of the Franklin Institute 17:3 (March 1836): 165-71 and Robb, comp., A Collection of Patent Cases, Vol. 2, pp. 1-10 for Stanley v. Whipple (1839) and pp. 323-34 for “Matilda K. Orr, Administratrix of Isaac Orr v. James Littlefield and others” (1845) and “Matilda K. Orr, Administratrix of Isaac Orr, in equity v. William Merill” (1846), and reference to Orr v. Badger; for Buck, Robb reported Buck et al. v. Gill et al. (1846), pp. 510-513; Buck et al. v. Cobb et al. (1847) is in Peleg W. Chandler, ed., The Law Reporter (Boston: Bradbury & Guild, 1847), Vol. 9, pp. 546-7; and Samuel Blatchford, Reports of Cases Argued and Decided in the Circuit Court of the United States for the Second Circuit (Auburn: Derby & Miller, 1852), Vol. 1, pp. 322-25 and 398-407, includes Darius Buck and others v. John C. Hermance (1847 and 1849). According to William P. Preble's authoritative Patent Case Index: Containing Lists of all the Cases Involving Patents for Inventions as Reported in the State and Federal Reports, Robb's and Fisher's Patent Cases, and the Patent Office Gazette, up to the Present Time (Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1880), pp. 41-2, 55, 98, 102, 133, only one other antebellum stove patentee (Elisha Foote of Seneca Falls, NY, inventor of a temperature regulator for parlor stoves; see below, pp. ##) had a similar pattern of multiple, precedent-setting litigation, and there were just four other individual cases reported – Hathaway v. Roach, Rathbone v. Orr & Hollister, Wilson (n.b. not James Wilson) v. Janes, and Root v. Ball – none of which established similarly important points. Other significant stove patent cases, e.g. Eliphalet Nott v. James Wilson, or Johnson & Cox v. Low & Hicks, were not eligible to be reported – the first because it was settled by private arbitration, the other because, as noted above, the defense collapsed before a jury verdict could be delivered or a judge make a ruling on an injunction request.

2 “Mode of Applying Heat to Cooking-Stoves,” Patent 505 (1837) [quote] and “Cooking Stove,” Reissue 90 (1846), by which time he had moved back east as far as Buffalo.

3 Hathaway deposition, n.d. (1854-55) in Box 7, Folder 7, Marcus Filley Papers, RPI, and transcript of testimony in the case of Filley v. Buck, Lansingburgh, NY, 4 Aug. 1855, Box 1, Folder 11, Marcus Filley Papers, NYSL. Hathaway's market expansion can be traced via The Second Exhibition of the Massachusetts Charitable Mechanic Association, at Quincy Hall, in the City of Boston, September 23, 1839 (Boston: Isaac R. Butts, for the Association, 1839), p. 30, where his stoves won a Diploma, and Henry W. Miller's hardware store advertisement in The Worcester Almanac, Directory, and Business Advertiser, for 1845 (Worcester, MA: Henry J. Howland, 1845), p. 145, listing the Hathaway alongside other leading stoves including Stewart's and Orr's [below, p. ##]; "List of Awards at the Fifth Annual Fair of the [New York] Mechanics' Institute," The American Repertory of Arts, Sciences, and Manufactures 1:6 (July 1840): 467-72 at p. 472, where he also won a Diploma; “Hathaway's Patent Hot Air Cooking Stove,” Broome County Republican [Binghamton, NY] Sept. 1840, frame #603 – the local firm Pratt & Sampson had bought the “exclusive right of making and vending” them within the county, advertised four sizes costing from $20 to $100, capable of baking from four to sixteen loaves at a time, and offered them on a sale or return basis if they were not at least 75 percent better than any other; John B. Linn, Annals of Buffalo Valley, Pennsylvania, 1755-1855 (Harrisburg: Lane S. Hart, 1877), p. 539 [manufacture begins at Lewisburg Foundry, 1841] and Commemorative Biographical Record of Central Pennsylvania, including the Counties of Centre, Clinton, Union and Snyder (Chicago: J.H. Beers & Co., 1898), p. 291 [production and sale in Central Pennsylvania from c. 1843]; Horatio N. Walker, 1842. Walker's Buffalo City Directory (Buffalo: Steele's Press, 1842), unpaginated front matter – the first item in the book was an illustrated advertisement for Hathaway's stove by the local manufacturer-wholesaler T.J. Dudley, whose similar advertisements in Walker's 1844 Directory (Buffalo: Lee & Thorp, 1844), p. 248, in 1853. The Commercial Advertiser Directory for the City of Buffalo (Buffalo: Jewett, Thomas & Co., 1853), p. 70, and in The Buffalo Business Directory, Vol. I (Buffalo: Hunter & Ostrander, 1855), unpaginated advertising, detail the stove's development in its main production center. Dudley came to specialize in big stoves for the hotel trade, claiming that his size 20 was “THE LARGEST CAST IRON STOVE IN THE UNITED STATES.”

4 Government of Canada, Bureau of Agriculture and Statistics, Patents of Canada, from 1824 to 1849 (Toronto: Lovell & Gibson. 1860), p. 141; Hathaway deposition and testimony.

5 John M. French deposition, February 1855, Box 1, Folder 11, Filley Papers, NYSL.

6 Crowell deposition, n.d. (1854-55), and Nott deposition, Troy, NY, 14 Aug. 1855, Box 7, Folder 7, Filley Papers, RPI.

7 Hathaway testimony. By 1848 the same local firm had bought the right to manufacture and sell both Buck's and Hathaway's stoves in Lancaster County, suggesting that the patentees must have made their peace with one another by then -- “Conestoga Foundry. Stoves! Stoves!! Stoves!!!,” Lancaster Intelligencer 1 Jan. 1850, p. 4.

8 Buck, “Cooking Stove,” Patent 1157 (1839).

9 D. Buck & Co. advertisement in James Green, Green's St. Louis Directory (No. 1) for 1845 (St. Louis: Author, 1844), p. 212.

10 Buck & Wright advertisement in James Green, The St. Louis Business Directory for the Year of Our Lord 1850 (St. Louis: M'Kee, 1850), p. 2; John C. Hermance, John C. Hermance's Dispatch Air-Tight Cooking Stove, Patented June 13, 1844 (Albany: The Firm, 1848), p. 4; Hathaway deposition; Hermance deposition, Box 7, Folder 7, Filley Papers, RPI.

11 Buck & Wright advertisement, “Buck's Improved Patent Cooking Stove,” The Valley Farmer 7:4 (April 1855): 195; J. Thomas Scharf, A History of St. Louis City and County (Philadelphia: L.H. Everts & Co., 1883), Vol. 2, p. 1262; Buck & Wright advertisement, “Cooking Stoves,” in Robert V. Kennedy, compiler, Kennedy's St. Louis City Directory for the Year 1857 (St. Louis: R.V. Kennedy, 1857), Advertising Department p. 57. Successive years' advertisements show the development of the product, its increasing surface decoration, and the disappearance of the original Cincinnati makers' names from the hearthplate of the stove after Buck & Wright opened their own foundry.

12 Hathaway, “Cooking Stove,” Reissue 90 (1846); the McCoy brothers and Clark were named as co-plaintiffs with Buck and Wright in Buck et al. v. Cobb et al. (1846); Cuyler Reynolds, ed., Hudson-Mohawk Genealogical and Family Memoirs (New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Company, 1911), Vol. 2, pp. 895-6, for McCoy's career; Hermance, John C. Hermance's Dispatch Air-Tight Cooking Stove, p. 7. Hermance eventually settled with Buck, the McCoys, and Clark, they dropping their claims against him for costs and damages, he agreeing to stop violating one particular part of the Buck patent, and in return being given $350 and the right to collect up to $2,000 in damages for the infringement of the patent by other stove makers in a territory assigned to him. Hermance's winning move had been to discover a surviving example of a Hoxie stove and bring it into court to prove that neither of them had any claim to originality -- Articles of agreement between Darius Buck and Stephen Clark of the first part, and John C. Hermance of the second part, 1 Sept. 1849 in Box 13, Folder 22, Marcus Filley Papers, New York State Library; Hermance deposition.

13 Giles F. Filley to “Bro. Lucius,” 8 March 1854, Box 1, Folder 10, Filley Papers, NYSL; Frederick Seward, Autobiography of William H. Seward, from 1801 to 1834, with a Memoir of his Life, and Selections from his Letters from 1831 to 1846 (New York: D. Appleton & Co., 1877), Vol. 1, pp. 670-71 [quotations p. 671]; Glyndon G. Van Deusen, William Henry Seward (New York: Oxford U.P., 1967), p. 98. There does not seem to be any trace of the stove cases in Seward's law-practice records at the University of Rochester, but there are examples of his courtroom eloquence in two other Albany patent cases, James G. Wilson v. Louis Rousseau and Charles Easton, 1845 in Blatchford, Reports of Cases Argued and Decided in the Circuit Court of the United States for the Second Circuit, Vol. 1, esp. pp. 4 through 74 [planing machines], and Many v. Treadwell, 1849 [railroad car wheels], excerpted as “Invention” in George E. Baker, ed., The Works of William H. Seward (New York: Redfield, 1853), Vol. 1, pp. 516-22. The best account of Seward's legal career, including his patent work, is in Robert T. Swaine's classic The Cravath Firm and Its Predecessors, 1819-1947 (New York: Privately Printed, 1946), Vol. 1, Chapter 3.