| February/March 1995

A Brief Word Somewhere in our reading we came across the obituary for Joseph Reid, extracts of which follow: Joseph Reid was born on November 11, 1843 in Maybole, Ayrshire, Scotland, where he attended public schools until his eleventh year. He then was apprenticed by his father to learn the joiner's trade, at which he worked for four years. Later he became a machinist in the railroad shops of the Glasgow & Southwestern Railroad Company, Kilmarnock, Scotland.

In 1863 Mr. Reid located in Montreal, Canada, where he worked for a short time as a machinist, after which he followed his trade in the United States, and was for some years connected with the Baldwin Locomotive Works in Philadelphia. In 1876 he entered the service of the Atlantic & Great Western Railroad, now the Erie Railroad, at Meadville, Pennsylvania.

In the following year he went to Oil City, where he worked with the W. J. Innis & Co. and also with the firm of Malcomson &. Patterson. When the latter firm failed in business, he bought their shop and started a small business of his own. In addition to general shop work, he made a specialty of refinery supplies. The opening of the Lima, Ohio, oil fields found the refiners unable to take care of the grade of oil produced in that field. The oil, however, could be used as a fuel, and after careful experiment Mr. Reid designed, patented, and manufactured a line of oil burners which were very successful. Thus, in 1885 he formed the Reid Burner Company.

As a result of extensive experiments, Mr. Reid brought out in 1894 what is believed to have been the first practical natural-gas engine, and by 1899 had made many improvements to it. The small repair shop became a large factory, and the Joseph Reid Gas Engine Company was organized with Mr. Reid as president. He also assisted in organizing the Frick-Reid Supply Company, a large oil concern in the West, and was vice-president and director of the latter firm. He was also president of the Reid Land Development Co. which operated fruit ranches in the West.


Manufactured by the Keystone Iron Works at Fort Madison, Iowa.