A TALE OF TWO BROTHERS
The Legacies of Marshall and Milton Reeves
The Reeves Model 40 shown was made in 1913. Note the size of the rear wheels compared to the man, as well as how this is obviously not a farmer shot, but rather one taken at the factory, as the men are wearing suits.
If there was a more unusual pair of brothers in the
tractor-manufacturing world than Marshall T. and Milton O. Reeves,
they have been well hidden. Between them, the Columbus, Ind., pair
invented a six-wheeled and an eight-wheeled automobile, wrote a
booklet of directions on how to play the game of roque, founded and
pastored a church, included sermons in Reeves & Co.
agricultural products catalogs, donated half a million dollars to
church missions, invented the variable transmission, had a
well-known writer dedicate a work to the Reeves auto, worked
side-by-side with factory hands, and, oh yes, manufactured Reeves
steam traction engines, cars, buses, tractors and gas engines.
Youth No Hindrance
Marshall Reeves was still in his teens, plowing corn on his
father's farm with the old conventional double shovel plow in 1869,
when he was struck with an idea. As The Evening Republican
newspaper of Columbus, Ind., reported, "The day being hot and the
task not a pleasant one, the youth began thinking in terms of
labor-saving machinery with the result that he devised a plow on
which two double shovels were fastened, one a right-hand and the
other a left. He was then able to plow a row of corn at one
operation instead of merely a half row as he had done in the
Thus, the inventive genius of Marshall Reeves was unleashed. His
father helped improve the device and in 1874 Marshall, his father
and uncle Alfred B. Reeves formed Hoosier Boy Cultivator Co. They
began manufacturing that childhood invention, the "Hoosier Boy
Tongueless Corn Plow." In 1879 the name Reeves & Co. was taken,
as Marshall had been busy inventing other Reeves items as well:
threshers, straw stackers, separators, corn shellers and clover
hullers - all under the Reeves name. During his lifetime, Marshall
was credited for more than 50 patents.
In the same year, the other half of the dynamic duo, Milton
Reeves (13 years younger than Marshall) worked in a sawmill in
Columbus. There he saw that workers could not control the speed of
the pulleys used to power woodcutting saws. The high speeds caused
wood to split and resulted in a great deal of profit-cutting waste.
After some months of study and experimentation, he in-vented a
variable-speed transmission to control how fast the saws cut.
During his lifetime, Milton patented more than 100 different items.
In September 1888, Milton, along with Marshall, M.M. Reeves and
A.B. Reeves bought Edinburg Pulley Co., moved it to Columbus, and
renamed it Reeves Pulley Co.
"The day being hot and the task not a pleasant one, the
youth began thinking in terms of labor-saving machinery." - The
Evening Republican newspaper of Columbus, Ind.
Reeves Gas Engines
Though it is unclear when Reeves Pulley Co. began manufacturing
gas engines, it appears it might have been about 1911. In 1913, 1
HP and 2 HP engines were introduced "to replace the 1-1/2 HP size
announced in 1911," according to C.H. Wendel in American Gasoline
Engines Since 1872. Other sizes built included 3, 4, 6, 12 and 15
Page: 1 | 2
| Next >>