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Hardenbrook and Rice

Discovering the engine builders of Jasper, Missouri, Frank Hardenbrook and William Rice, and the Gade connection.

| October/November 2018

  • Grand Avenue, Jasper, Mo.
    Photo courtesy of Charles Wise.
  • Frank Hardenbrook and William Rice’s 1904 engine patent shows their chain-driven exhaust valve. Gade used a simple cam and pushrod design.
    Photo courtesy of Charles Wise.
  • An early Gade “Hawkeye,” serial No. 8. Early Hawkeye engines did not have an identification tag, only a serial number stamped on the head.
    Photo courtesy of Travis Benner, from the 2014 Gade Reunion
  • Another early Hawkeye showing the ported exhaust.
    Photo courtesy of Travis Benner, from the 2014 Gade Reunion
  • A December 1904 ad for a Hawkeye engine in Gas Power magazine.
    Photo courtesy of Charles Wise
  • Perhaps the earliest example known, this Gade Hawkeye has serial No. “A” stamped on top of the cylinder head.
    Photo courtesy Steve Barr

Having a degree in history, my interest in the gas engine hobby goes beyond the mechanical to an interest in the history behind the engines we collect, and being born and raised in the “Show-Me” state gives me a particular interest in Missouri-built engines.

One day while indulging these combined interests, I was researching historic Missouri newspapers online for engine-related articles when I found a reference in The Jasper News to the Hardenbrook-Rice engine. Jasper is a small town between Lamar and Carthage, Missouri, in the southwestern part of the state. The town’s population in 1900 was only 627 people, and had only grown to 931 by 2010.

Hardenbrook and Rice

At the turn of the 20th century, Frank Hardenbrook and William Rice were well-known inventors in Jasper. In April 1901, The Jasper News  reported Hardenbrook and Rice had patented a gasoline engine “and will manufacture and place them on the market.” The May 9, 1901, issue of the paper mentioned their engine was “on exhibition at Cozatt’s store,” followed on May 22 by an article boasting of a horseless wagon built by the duo, which was powered by one of their engines. “It made its first appearance on the streets last Saturday and as it wound in and out through the town the people gazed on it with opened mouth amazement.”

Hardenbrook and Rice applied for a patent on their engine Aug. 28, 1902, which was granted May 17, 1904 (No. 760,333), covering a “valve-gear for explosive-engines.” The patent documents illustrate an air-cooled engine with a belt- or chain-driven mechanism that acts upon the exhaust valve with a latch-out mechanism operated by a governor weight in the flywheel, and a ported exhaust on top of the cylinder.

Hardenbrook and Rice wasted no time putting their engine into production, most likely on a very small scale. It is unknown who did the foundry work for their engines, but it is assumed they did the machine work and assembly. The May 15 and May 22, 1902, issues of The Jasper News carry brief accounts of local farmers in Jasper and nearby Carthage using Hardenbrook-Rice engines on their farms. By Jan. 8, 1903, the paper carried an article titled “Will Move To Iowa,” which reported on a new partnership between Hardenbrook, Rice, and Carl Gade, and the move of the enterprise from Jasper to Iowa Falls, Iowa.

According to the article, Gade had an interest in a mining operation southwest of Jasper known as the L.G. & P. Mining Plant. A Jan. 28 article tells how Jasper residents Dave and William Lowe found zinc ore on the farm of Jasper Rice in 1900, and soon brought George and Frank Peisen, and Carl, William and Frank Gade in as partners. Jasper Rice was a brother of William Rice. George Peisen owned a shoe store in Jasper, while his brother Frank lived in Iowa near the Gade brothers. By the April 2 issue of the paper, the Hardenbrook-Rice Engine Co. was said to be “Turning Out Engines” in Iowa, with the first order being for six engines from one man. Frank Hardenbrook commented in the Jan. 8 article that he would have preferred to stay in Jasper, but he “could not get men of means” interested in building a new foundry.


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