Esterly, George 1809 - 1893 | Wisconsin Historical Society

Historical Essay

Esterly, George 1809 - 1893

Esterly, George 1809 - 1893 | Wisconsin Historical Society

inventor, manufacturer, b. Plattekill, N.Y. He moved to Detroit, Mich., in 1832, where he engaged in the dairy and provision business, extending his operations into Wisconsin. In 1843 he settled near Janesville and took up farming, and in 1844 invented the first successful American harvesting machine, which he exhibited at the second annual fair of the Chicago Mechanics Institute in 1848, winning a gold medal for "best harvester." Between 1854 and 1856 he invented a mowing machine, plow, hand-rake reaper, and the first sulky cultivator, and later invented a seeder (1865) and a self-rake reaper (1870). In 1858 he built his own implement factory at Whitewater, took his son into the business in 1872, and incorporated the firm in 1884. Concentrating on the manufacture of twine binders and mowers, the firm developed a considerable export business. In 1892 he moved the business to Minneapolis, Minn., but was ruined by a financial panic. Esterly was also deeply interested in the currency problems of the era, and in the 1870's wrote several pamphlets on the subject. Dict. Amer. Biog.; P. Cravath, Early Annals of Whitewater ([Whitewater, Wis.] 1906); WPA field notes.

The Wisconsin Historical Society has manuscripts related to this topic. See the catalog description of the George Esterly Papers for details.

View newspaper clippings at Wisconsin Local History and Biography Articles.

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[Source: Dictionary of Wisconsin biography]