The Legacy of George Easterly

© Photographed May 7, 2017
Whitewater, Jefferson County, Wisconsin
42°49'54.4"N 88°43'59.2"W
42.831773, -88.733119

THE LEGACY OF
GEORGE EASTERLY
In the 19th century, George Esterly's agricultural inventions and entrepreneurial spirit was [sic] important in [sic] the growth of Whitewater. Soon after his arrival in Walworth County in 1837, Esterly began developing a wheat harvesting machine to improve efficiency and profit. His first reaper, patented in 1844, won awards while competing with the designs of Cyrus McCormick, who is credited as [sic] the inventor of the mechanical reaper.

Esterly began making his reapers on the farm, and then built a factory in Whitewater in 1856. His shops manufactured reapers and other agricultural equipment; [sic] seeders, binders, mowers, harvesters, and cultivators, most based on his patented improvements. An ancillary factory produced furniture, sleighs and coffins. He employed hundreds of workers, many of whom loved in close proximity to the factory in an area that would come to be known as "Reaperville." At the height of production in the 1880s, Esterly's investment in the community brought renown and prosperity to Whitewater.
BROADCAST SEEDER AND
CULTIVATOR
On display is an 1870s seeder and cultivator
manufactured in Whitewater by the
Esterly Machine Company.
Prior to the invention of machines to broadcast seed, grains were sown by hand and then covered with a plow or harrow. Esterly combined the function of a seeder and a cultivator in this machine, acquired by the Whitewater Historical Society in 1957. It incorporates patents awarded to Esterly in 1868 and 1872.
The marker is located inside the Whitewater Depot Museum / Whitewater Historical Society, and is accessible from eastbound West Whitewater Street, at its intersection with South Fremont Street, at or near 301 West Whitewater Street, Whitewater, Wisconsin 53190.


ESTERLY'S BROADCAST SEEDER AND CULTIVATOR, 1870s
Detail from Geo. Easterly & Sons Reapers and Seeders advertising poster, 1870s
In this combination machine, seed is conveyed through tubes to the bottom of furrows made by attachments, which also cover the seed. Note how one grain-tube is shown riding over a rock in the field, visually refuting claims that the machine worked well only on level land and in well-pulverized soil.
THE EASTERLY FACTORY, WHITEWATER, WIS., 1870s
Detail from Geo. Easterly & Sons Reapers and Seeders advertising poster, 1870s 
Easterly's sprawling factory complex was built starting in 1856 near the intersection of present-day Milwaukee and Newcomb Streets.
GEORGE EASTERLY (1809-1893)
George Easterly was an inventive Yankee farmer from New York State who settled in the Town of LaGrange in 1837. He obtained his first patent for a reaper in 1844 and won a gold medal at the Chicago Mechanics Institute in 1848.



See also, Whitewater Landmark: G. W. Esterly House 1876,
at a nearby location.

The marker is located in Whitewater, Wisconsin.

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