by Jean Gump, 2000

    Alexander Gump, born 17 Jun 1849, Miami Co., Ohio, died 16 Jan 1923, near Fletcher, Miami Co., Ohio, son of Elias Gump and Mary Studebaker. Alexander married on 28 Jan 1879 in Miami Co., Ohio, to Sarah "Sadie" Orr Angle, born 19 Aug 18578 near West Rushville, Fairfield Co., Ohio, and died 24 Jul 1935 Brown Twp., Miami Co., Ohio. She was a daughter of John Paul Angle and Sarah Garity Orr.

    In 1883 Alexander invented and patented a combine harvester thresher. The 85th US Patent Report, page 2036 under the date of 27 Dec 1898 lists Alexander as patentee. The original eight pages of drawings, describing his machine, and a picture of the trial machine can be seen in the Museum on North Main Street, Piqua, Ohio. Alexander was a draftsman and completed all eight pages of these drawings himself.

    On 02 Jan 1902 Alexander Gump, John H. Sayers, W. R. Sayers, Edgar G. Banta, F. E. Campbell, George P. Steinlage and Ira T. Swartz signed articles for the purpose of incorporation of a company, known as The Combine Harvester & Thresher Company. It was capitalized at $1,000,000 for prompting interest of the new machine. Early, in the spring of 1901, these gentlemen formed a combination for the building of the trial harvester, placing the completed machine in the field belonging to Verbin Garbry located on St. Rte. 36 just east of Piqua Ohio during the harvest season on 16 Jul 1902. It was very successful. Tradition has it that the chief money incorporator died and no more machines were made. It was thirty years before grain harvesting combines began to be used in Miami County Ohio.

    Click here for photo of the first combine

    Alexander owned half interest in the company. The construction of the machine was done by the Taylor Hallock Novelty Company of Chestnut Street in Springfield, OH. Piqua had wanted the factory but Springfield, at that time, was a center for the manufacture of farm machinery so that were a more logical location. The patent expired about 1918 and the Allis Chalmers Mfg. Company of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, patented a very similar combine, the principle difference being that it's machine was powered by a motor and pulled by a tractor.

    Alexander's machine was 15 ft. long and about the size of a binder. It was pulled by three horses and could cut grain high or low and threw the straw out the rear end. Grain went into a 20 bushel bin and then into two bushel sacks. Chaff was eliminated by a blower. Mechanically it was the same as today's combines. It wasn't until 1920 that about five percent of the wheat and oats in the United States was harvested by combines. These were all large machines with wide iron or solid tires. The small combine was introduced in 1935. Alexander also was issued a patent for a cultivator.

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