The Cheap-Horse Corn Planter & The Economist Plow Company

By Staff
article image

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

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

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

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.

Gas Engine Magazine
Gas Engine Magazine
Preserving the History of Internal Combustion Engines