Lewis Hosea and William Beardsley

Lewis Hosea and William Beardsley
Lewis Hosea (1842-1924) (left image) and William Beardsley (1850-1925)

In December 1889, Lewis Hosea, a lawyer and amateur mechanic, and William Beardsley, a businessman, both from Cincinnati, Ohio, applied for a patent for one-column keyboard adding machine (suitable for adding of one-digit numbers). The patent was granted on 3 March 1891 (US patent Nr. 447457). Besides the patent application, nothing is known about the device, so obviously it remained only on paper and had not been implemented in practice.

Let’s examine the adding machine of Hosea and Beardsley, using the patent drawing (see the drawing below).

The invention relates to registers or adding machines, its object being to produce a simple and compact hand instrument adapted to the use of book-keepers, cashiers, etc., for ascertaining the footings of columns of figures without incurring the uncertainty and labor attending the mental operations of addition.

The keyboard adding machine of Lewis Hosea and William Beardsley (the patent drawing)
The keyboard adding machine of Lewis Hosea and William Beardsley (the patent drawing)

The invention consists in the apparatus, embodying, substantially, a bank of keys, placed in convenient relation to the thumb and digital fingers of a single hand, arranged to act selectively through transmitting and engaging mechanism upon a ribbon-drum, whereon is displayed a column of consecutive numbers, each of which in due rotation is brought into view, registering with a sight-aperture provided in the casing.

The action of the device is as follows:
The operator having the machine on the desk before him with the ribbon indicating 0, traces up the units column of figures with the eye in successive order from top to bottom, or vice versa, striking the appropriate key for each figure. The action of each key brings down the ribbon its appropriate number of increments, and the final reading will be the aggregated result. Suppose this to be 195. He writes down the 5 and proceeds to “carry” 19 as follows: Upon pressing the lever g and releasing the clutch F the reel tends to rotate the drum D and the ribbon back again to 0; but the present object being to stop the rotation at 19 (the carrying number) the operator controls the rotation by the lever k, in which a little practice insures facility to stop at the desired point and set the clutch F. Should the ribbon slip past the desired point, say to 10, the reading is brought up to 19 by striking the 9-key or by applying a thumb-nut m to the projecting squared end of the shaft C, as indicated in Fig. 2, and rotating the shaft and drum to the desired point. The machine being thus set to the carried number, the addition of the tens-column is proceeded with in the same manner, carrying to the hundreds, and so on to the last column. The figures thus put down with the result of the last column constitutes the footing.

Biography of Lewis Hosea

Lewis Montgomery Hosea (1842-1924)
Lewis Montgomery Hosea (1842-1924)

Lewis Montgomery Hosea was born on 16 December 1842, in Montgomery, Alabama, to Robert Hosea (1811-1906), a Cincinnati businessman (a steamboat owner, Bank of Cincinnati director, and wholesale produce merchant), and Harriett (Moore) Hosea (1820-1875), a young painter. The couple had ten children: Harriett (b. 1838), Harrison (b. 1840), Lewis (b. 1842), Ella (b. 1845), Lucy (b. 1847), William (b. 1848), Hattie (b. 1851), Rupert (b. 1851), Raphael (b. 1856), and Joseph (b. 1859).

Hosea family belonged to the premier families in Cincinnati. They are of French Huguenot extraction, as their ancestors settled in the New World around the middle of 17th century, when Louis XIV gradually increased persecution of Huguenots and many of them emigrated. The first Robert (Abraham) Hosea (1675-1742), born in Virginia, established a family in North Carolina around 1700. Shortly prior to the American Revolution they removed to Boston, Massachusetts, where Robert Hosea (fifth) was born on 15 February 1811.

In 1816 Robert moved with his family to Chillicothe, Ohio. In 1826 he moved to Cincinnati, became involved in mercantile pursuits, but eventually joined his father here in a steamboat supply business. In 1835 he began working the steamboats in the Mississippi and Ohio River valleys until 1844, when he came back to Cincinnati. Starting as a steamboat clerk, he soon became a captain, then an owner, then a operator and manufacturer of steamboats. He built a substantial wholesale trade in Ohio and Mississippi River commerce, and was by 1860 a man of substantial wealth, highly respected for his political acumen. A man of a variety of interests, Robert Hosea is elected to the State Legislature in 1857. In 1871 he became Mayor of Clifton, a town which he helped build. He died on 20 February 1906.

In December 1836, Robert Hosea married to Harriett Newell Moore (then only 16 years old), of English ancestry, descended collaterally from Sir William Blackstone (1723-1780). Harriett was born in Chillicothe, Ohio, on 29 February, 1820, as the eldest child of Joseph Thoits Moore (1796-1854), a portrait painter, and his fist wife, Eleanor. Harriett became an artist and miniaturist, active in Cincinnati from 1837 to 1860, and she continued to take an active part in the art life of the city until her death there on 14 June, 1875. In 1876, after the death of Harriett, Robert Hosea married to Lucy Klinck Rice, a forty-one years younger (b. 8 Nov. 1852) woman, later the author of the novel Eastward, Or, A Buddhist Lover.

Lewis Montgomery Hosea
Lewis Montgomery Hosea

Lewis Hosea returned with his family to Clifton, Cincinnati, Ohio, when he was six months old and was raised there. He was educated in the public schools of Cincinnati—Hughes High School, Brooks Classical School, and entered Antioch College at Yellow Springs, Ohio, in 1858.

Lewis was still a student in the spring of 1861, when the American Civil War began. He left school in April 1861, to join the 6th Ohio Volunteer Regiment known as the Guthrie Grays. Hosea saw action in some of the most famous and terrible battles of the Western Theater, including Shiloh, Stone’s River, Chickamauga, and Chattanooga. In April 1865, he was brevetted Major, U.S. Regular Army, for “gallant and meritorious services at the Battle of Selma and during the Atlanta Campaign.”

Hosea resigned from the military service in December, 1865, and returned to Cincinnati. There he attended law school at the University of Cincinnati, which he graduated from in 1868. He was admitted to the bar in Ohio the same year and commenced to practice as an attorney in Cincinnati. In 1870 Hosea was assistant prosecuting attorney of Hamilton county. Then he founded a law firm in Cincinnati, served as a Superior Court Judge 1903-1909, and was a member of the Ohio Senate in the 75th General Assembly. He was a Director of the Ohio Mechanical Institute there and was a founder of the School of Technology, which became the School of Engineering at University of Cincinnati. He was also a trustee of Antioch College (1913-1924).

Lewis Hosea was a good mechanic and prolific inventor, and served as consulting counsel for manufacturing firms and corporations. He was a holder of many US patents for various devices besides the adding machine: velocipede (US patent Nr. 228996 from 1880), molecular pivot balance (US352753 from 1886), friction brake for cable railway cars (US379015 from 1888), hydraulic valve (US423255 from 1890), elevator valve controlling mechanism (US430125), elevator (US479943 from 1892), railway joint (US517829 from 1894), screw press (US694861 from 1902), universal joint (US960327 from 1910), and others.

Hosea's house in Cincinnati
Hosea’s house in Cincinnati

Lewis Hosea was a very active man and was involved in a wide range of organizations like the Cincinnati Society of Natural History, Ohio Mechanics Institute, American Association for the Advancement of Science, Literary Club and the Symphony Club. He was a secretary of the treasury at the Miami Medical College and Commissioner of the Cincinnati Industrial Exposition. In 1870s he was editor of the short-lived the Cincinnati Quarterly Journal of Science, in which in July, 1875, he published a paper, “Atlantis: A Statement of the Atlantic Theory Respecting Aboriginal Civilization”, where he argued that Mayan and other early civilizations were derived from Atlantis.

In 1865 Lewis Hosea married to Fanny Polk Smith (b. 13 Oct. 1840–d. 1 Jan. 1923) at Columbia, Tennessee. Fanny was a daughter of Rev. Franklin Gillette Smith (1797-1866), rector of an Episcopal School for Young Ladies, and Sarah Ann Davis Smith (1811-1871). They have had three daughters: Fanny Louise (b. 1866), Sara Davis (b. 1868), and Lida Cecilia (b. 1875).

Lewis Montgomery Hosea died 82 years old of bronchial pneumonia at his residence, 2430 Brookline avenue, Clifton, on 27 January 1924, and was buried in Spring Grove Cemetery, Cincinnati. His house in Clifton, on the corner of Brookline and Hosea Avenues, is still preserved (see the upper photo).

Biography of William Beardsley

William Beardsley standing with his son Robert (c. early 1920s)
William Beardsley standing with his son Robert (c. early 1920s)

William Henry Beardsley was born on 13 November 1850, in Hamilton, Ohio. He was 8th generation heir of the early settler William Beardsley (1605-1661), a mason, one of the first settlers of Stratford, Connecticut, who brought his family (wife and three children, as after arriving in America, from 1636-1646 Beardsley and his wife had six more children) to America on the ship “Planter”, landing at Massachusetts in April, 1635.

William was the son of Henry Beardsley (born on 17 April 1812 in Danbury, Fairfield County, Connecticut–died 30 Oct. 1888, in Hamilton, Ohio) and his second wife Laura O’Connor (died 1856). William had two sisters: Emma (1848-1885) and Abby Jane (1852-1916), and two half-brothers (from the third marriage of his father): Edward Moore (1858-1888), who became a physician in San Francisco, and George (1863-1895), a civil engineer.

Henry Beardsley learned the trade of a hatter, and came out to Ohio, settling there in Hamilton, in June, 1836. He has followed manufacturing and dealing in hats, clothing and straw goods. He married three times: first, in 1840 to Isabella Gibson, who died in 1846; second, in 1847 to Laura O’Connor, who died in 1856, and the last time in 1857 to Sarah C. Moore (1836–1899), a daughter of John Byers Moore, of Batavia, Clermont County, Ohio.

Henry Beardsley standing in front of his store in Hamilton, Ohio (a photo from 1887)
Henry Beardsley standing in front of his store in Hamilton, Ohio (a photo from 1887)

William Beardsley was educated in the public schools of his home town Hamilton, which was supplemented by attendance from 1867 at the Miami University, in Oxford, Ohio. Upon completion of his studies, he entered the employ of the Niles Tool Works at Hamilton, but subsequently engaged in the publishing business. Disposing of his interest in the printing business, in early 1880s he engaged in the school furniture (in furniture business he worked together with James Edwin Campbell, an Ohio lawyer, who later served as the 38th Governor of Ohio) and real slate blackboard business, in which he was quite successful.

Around 1890, his brother George, a civil engineer, removed from Hamilton to Phoenix, Arizona, and was there called upon to investigate the practicability of irrigating sixty thousand acres of arid land in the Maricopa county. The survey demonstrated the feasibility of the undertaking, and George formed the Agua Fria Construction Company, with financial help of his brother William and other Ohioans, to carry on the projected work of irrigation. In 1892, William Beardsley readily joined his brother in Arizona (unfortunately George died soon only 32 years old on 21 April 1895, and William continued the project alone as general manager). In 1892-1895 the company built Dyer Diversion Dam (initially known as Beardsley Dam), later they also built a canal, named the Beardsley Canal, from Lake Pleasant to ranches as far as 33 miles away (ironically the number of years William Beardsley devoted to the project). It was a mammoth undertaking, and the work was progressing slowly, but satisfactorily and, when completed in 1920s, it rendered all of this vast tract of now arid land marketable, and a monument to Beardsleys energy and ability. William managed to sustain the project through bankruptcy, federal restrictions, and legal challenges while remaining seemingly untrammeled throughout the many years of frustration.

William Beardsley standing atop Diversion Dam (a photo from 1903)
William Beardsley standing atop Diversion Dam (a photo from 1903)

William Beardsley was a holder of several US patents: besides the abovementioned adding machine, he patented adjustable chair (US patent Nr. 294433 from 1884), and plaster (US639340 from 1899) .

On 11 December 1888, William Beardsley married to Ida R. Oglesby (10 April 1859–30 April 1901) from Middleton, Ohio, daughter of William B. Oglesby (1815-1885), a banker and formerly treasurer of Butler County, and Catherine Gingsick Oglesby (1830-1909). They had one child: Robert Oglesby Beardsley (born at Middletown, Ohio, in 1889). Robert studied engineering at Sheffield Scientific School of Yale College in New Haven, Connecticut, graduated in 1910, assisted his father in the Arizona project since 1911, and took direction of the project after the death of his father in 1925.

William Henry Beardsley died after a four month illness in Los Angeles, California, on 15 December 1925, and was buried in Woodside Cemetery, Middleton, Ohio.