The Cheap-Horse Corn Planter & The Economist Plow Company


Cheap Horse Corn Planter

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The Economist Plow Company emerged from an idea of Leighton Pine and two other men, E.D. Meager and J. M. Chapman, who envisioned building the greatest plow company in all of North America. The Economist Plow Company first began when the three men bought fifteen acres of land for the new factory site. In the beginning phase of the company, in order to generate money, the men decided to sell stock in their company to eager buyers to establish a source of income in which the company could prosper from and be built. The main contributions of wealth were from Leighton Pine himself, J. D. Chapman, and E.D. Meager, along with other prestigious buyers of stock involving prominent and well-respected citizens in the community who assisted in the beginning of their business.

Already prospering from the new abundance of wealth, the three industrialists' next priority was to build the largest and best equipped plow factory in the world with South Bend as the center of this amazing novelty factory. The site chosen was just west of the city located next to the Malleable Iron Works which a year prior to establishing the Economist Plow Company, Mr. Pine, Mr. Meager, and Mr. Chapman invested their money and bought the entire business as a source to produce the best iron for their plows.

The zealous trio were confident to begin their endeavor of the Economist Plow Company, with the plot of land already purchased, sufficient funding to build their company, and the Malleable Iron Works to provide the best machinery and appliances for making a sturdy inexpensive plow that would allow the company to flourish and grow into its greatest potential. On November 8, 1882 the Economist Plow Company was established in South Bend, Indiana, with Mr. Pine as the president, Mr. Meager the secretary, and Mr. Chapman as the treasurer.

Soon thereafter the first 'Economist Plow' was introduced as being so efficient when compared to an ordinary plow, it will continue to work and last longer than the other plows. The strength of the plow is so impressive that it is designed to resist the shock and strains of the ordinary plow so it can plow the rockiest hills of the North to the alluvium soils of the South and Midwest. After the 'Economist Plow' the company branched out into sulky plows and invented the 'Solid Comfort' sulky plow that revolutionized the plowing industry. Instead of walking along with the plow, this plow enabled farmers, their wives, and children to use the plow since the only work was driving the horse.

The work of the corn planter seemed so burdensome that Economist Plow Company developed a better method of corn planting in a letter of patent advertisement. A letter of patent is granted by the government giving the inventor all rights for a limited time, from anyone copying, using, or selling their invention, and that is what the Economist Plow Company did. The letter of patent was produced in a document very similar to the format of the Bible, which in those days was a book frequently read by many people. With the patent written in a familiar format and use of the picture depicting the Corn Planter procedure, this jocund advertisement would prove unforgettable. The humorous picture shows a man walking along with a cheap horse bound in constraining equipment to plant corn, and has everything from an equipped tail whipper to frighten the crows away from the fields to a set of wheels attached to the hind legs of the horse that prevents it from kicking the farmer.

The advertised picture represented how ridiculous the corn planter was for continuing to use older methods of planting, known as the 'Cheap Horse Corn Planter.' This comical advertisement would give farmers a good hearty laugh at the end of a hard working day.

Essentially what the Economist Plow Company did was incorporate the methods of a corn planter and a 'sulky plow' to improve the working conditions of the planter for a more comfortable day's working the field. Thus the Economist Plow letter of patent was used to enhance the quality of farming and yield more produce for the farmer.

This article was written by Sarah Woolf, student at Purdue University. While at Purdue Sarah has been pursuing a degree in magazine journalism, and upon completion hopes to continue writing for the magazine industry. This article came from materials in the Sharon D.Austed-William Library-a branch of the Deseret Museum of Science and Industry, Beethoven A. Williams, curator.