The year was 1882. The Ohio Farmer printed a review on United States Patent Office patent number 10,048 for a newly-invented pump that could change the safety of Americans everywhere.
It read in part, “It had a gauge on showing the pump was strong enough to stand a pressure of 250 pounds to the square inch: with a hose to the spout, water can be forced 75 feet making it valuable in case of fire, for washing buggies, windows or sprinkling lawns. Preparations are being made for their manufacture on a large scale, and farmers in need of a pump should examine this one, addressing the inventor, Philip A. Myers, Ashland, Ohio, for information.”
First factory. F.E. Myers and his brother did not let this opportunity pass. After exhibiting their pumps at the Ohio State Fair and winning the highest award there, the pumps went in to full production.
Their first factory was a crowded workshop in the basement of a building in Ashland, and as they made and sold these new force pumps, their competitors were “left to ponder how this team of brothers had achieved what others were seeking,” according to the book Living the American Dream, by Howard E. Covington, Jr.
With growth and success imminent, F. E. made the decision to leave his position of general agent with Bucher and Gibbs in 1884, for he saw the need to devote his full attention to his own business.
About this time, P.A. Myers shared a patent with John S. Grabill for a hay lift. The design of this mechanism allowed farmers to lift hay from the wagon in to the barn.
Personal remembrance. I remember my own father describing this invention to me, saying it changed the way farmers worked with loose hay, which was a labor-intensive headache, requiring pitching of hay from a wagon on to the barn floor.
Dad’s great-grandfather purchased one of these hay lifts for his large new barn, and neighbors rode their horses in from all around to watch it work. Operating on hooks and pulleys, the hay carrier was considered a big step forward in agriculture. And to think, it was invented by local farm boys, Grabill and Myers.
The Myers company began construction of larger production facilities for their growing customer base. In the fall of 1884, a pump and hay tool works was opened on land adjacent to the New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio railroad tracks cutting across the north side of Ashland. This was on land that F.E. Myers had purchased three years earlier, sold at auction for $2,985 to pay back taxes and interest owed by the former owner.
A proud pair. It has been said the Myers brothers were a complementary pair, as F.E. was the gregarious promoter, a superb salesman in every way.
P.A. was the inventor who was happier at home, working late in to the night to continue bettering their farm products. Both were handsome men and impressive dressers, with P.A. known for his bow ties, his proud stature and his bushy mustache.
On the last day of 1879, the same year he had perfected his first pump, the 26-year-old P.A. married Samantha Chase, 25, of an Ashland County farm family. Two years later, they welcomed twins, named Grace and Guy Chase.
Just three years before P.A.’s marriage, the Myers brothers had welcomed a new little sister, born to their 49-year-old mother back on the Rowsburg family farm.
(Next week: International growth, personal tragedy.)
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