William Beatley

Beatley's US patent Nr.272626
William Beatley’s US patent Nr.272626

The American William Henry Beatley (1847-1934), a millwright of Humansville, a small town in Polk County, Missouri, was a holder of two patents for calculating devices (adding machines) from 1883 and 1884. Interestingly, the witness of first patent of Beatley was John Briggs Barnett (1843-1922), a founder and president of the first bank in Humansville, The Farmers and Merchants Bank, organized in 1881, so we can easily guess that namely Barnett ordered these devices to be made by town’s mechanic Beatley.

The first adding machine of Beatley (US patent Nr.272626 dated 20 Feb 1883, see the nearby patent drawing) was a counting machine with finger keys denoting the addition to be made, in which a spirally-grooved and numbered cylinder is rotated and caused to actuate a device provided with a sight-hole for exposing the sum totals on the cylinder of the additions as they are made.

The machine is designed to stand on a table or desk in front of the operator, and when being worked the direction of rotation of the adding cylinder on its upper surface is away from the operator. Said cylinder is actuated by a rocking ratchet beam or lever, loose upon a shaft, and having an attached spring-pawl, which engages with the wheel on the said cylinder shaft.

To actuate the adding cylinder, the horizontal lever is moved away from it against the pressure of the spring, and this is done by pressing down on the forward or horizontal arm of any one of nine bell-crank keys or levers, arranged to work on pivots, and having upper arms which bear against the back of the lever to draw it forward, and thereby give motion to the cylinder.

The second patent of William Beatley described a simple calculating instrument, similar to the earlier device of his compatriot John Nystrom from 1849 (see US patent Nr.297342 dated 22 April 1884).

Biography of William Beatley

Little is known about the inventor of these two adding machines. William Henry Beatley was born on 12 August 1849, in Winchester, the county seat of Frederick County, Virginia, United States. He was the son of John L. Beatley (1818-1857) and Jane (Brill) Beatley (1826-1856), who married in Aug 1846. Besides William, John and Jane Beatley had two other sons: James Sewell (1855-1907), and Charles Edward (1856-1856). It seems the birth of Charles Edward in 1856 was fatal for both the newborn and his mother, and most probably for the father also (John died in March next year), so William Henry was left a complete orphan only seven years old.

William Beatley married Mary Brown McLin (1852-1907) from Broylesville, TN, on 27 February 1879 in Humansville. They had three children: Jennie Elizabeth (Beatley) Miller (1883-1933), John Clark Beatley (1885-1969), and Charles Lewis Beatley (1888-1973). In the US Census 1900 card his occupation is specified as a millwright. In the 1920s he lived in Long Beach, LA.

William Henry Beatley died on 29 April 1934 at age 86 and was buried in Humansville Cemetery, Missouri.