Nauset and vicinity

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  • ID: I6335
  • Name: Luther Childs Crowell
  • Sex: M
  • Birth: 7 Sep 1840 in Harwich, Massachusetts
  • Death: 11 Sep 1903 in Wellfleet, Massachusetts of instial stenosis
  • Burial: Oak Dale Cemetery, Wellfleet 1
  • Note:
    On 2/20/1872 Luther Crowell received patent #123-811 for a machine for manufacturing paper bags with two longitudinal inward folds.
    He held 280 patents, making him the 3rd most prolific American inventor of the 19th century. Among his other inventions were a "double supplement printing press" and a bottle-labeling machine.

    Luther was a long-time and prominent resident of Wellfleet.
    Sources are conflicting on whether he was born in Harwich or West Dennis.
    Luther Childs Crowell


    Birth: September 7, 1840 in Massachusetts, United States
    Death: September 16, 1903 [check Wellfleet records]
    Occupation: Inventor
    Source: Dictionary of American Biography Base Set. American Council of Learned Societies, 1928-1936.

    Crowell, Luther Childs (Sept. 7, 1840 - Sept. 16, 1903), inventor, was descended from Yelverton Crowell, who with his brother Thomas settled on Cape Cod in 1638. Luther was the son of Francis Baker Crowell, a ship's captain, and Mehitable Hall Crowell. Though both parents were of the same surname, they were not related. Both were born on Cape Cod, the father in South Yarmouth and the mother in West Dennis, and it was in the latter place that Luther was born. By the time he was seventeen he had not only completed the courses of the local schools but had also attended an academy and spent a year studying medicine privately with a physician. Following his adventures in higher education he entered the merchant marine
    service and at the end of four years was offered a captain's commission, which he declined. The reason for this, apparently, was his intense interest in aeronautics, for within a year he had moved to Boston and on June 3, 1862, obtained a patent for an aerial machine. He immediately proceeded to develop the mechanism, but the business failure of his chief backer put a stop to the work. He then turned his attention to the development of another idea which had been suggested in the course of his work on the aerial machine; namely, a machine to make paper bags. For this he received a patent in 1867. Five years later he devised the square-bottomed paper bag universally used today and also the machine for making it; and while legal proceedings arising out of infringement of this patent were still in progress, he invented the side-seam paper bag and then sold partial rights in all his bag patents to the infringing company. Improvements in printing machinery next attracted Crowell and by 1873 he had
    devised and patented a sheet-delivery and folding mechanism. This invention marked a distinct forward step in the development of printing machinery and was quite ahead of its time, so that the first opportunity to introduce it did not come until two years later when it was combined wih a new press purchased by the Boston Herald. The combination machine was the first rotary folding machine whereby newspaper sheets, singly or collectively, were delivered folded as complete products. For the next few years Crowell devoted his time wholly to improving his mechanism, being unable financially to enter into the general manufacture of it. Meanwhile R. Hoe & Company, in their various printing-press experiments, found that some of their devices encroached upon Crowell's inventions, and offered him not only a substantial sum of money for partial rights in his paper-bag improvements and sheet-delivery mechanism but also a liberal salary to join them. He accepted and in 1879 entered the employ of this firm where he
    remained until his death. He could now work to his heart's content and during the following ten years he perfected the double supplement press, and followed this with double and quadruple presses and the combined pamphlet-printing and wire-binding machines. He obtained over 280 United States patents for printing machinery alone, including those for the printing of both sides of a web of paper from one cylinder, a rotary printing mechanism, a positive cutting and folding mechanism without tapes, the first sheet-piling mechanism, and many others. One of his last inventions was a machine for pasting labels on bottles, and at the time of his death he was working on a wrapping and mailing machine. Crowell gloried in being a "Cape Codder." He despised shams and expressed himself freely and fearlessly in all matters. He was a member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, and of the Franklin Institute. On Aug. 18, 1863, he married Mrs. Margaret D. Howard of Boston. Although a resident of New York City [?] he died at his old home in West Dennis [This is an error. He died in Wellfleet.].
    -- Carl W. Mitman

    [A Short Hist. of the Printing Press (1902), printed and published for Robt. Hoe; Stephen D. Tucker, "Hist. of R. Hoe & Co., N.Y.," transcript (M.S.) in Lib. of Cong.; W. B. Kaempffert, A Popular Hist. of Am. Invention (1924); Records of U. S. Patent Office and of the Franklin Institute; family correspondence.]

    "Luther Childs Crowell."Dictionary of American Biography Base Set. American Council of Learned Societies, 1928-1936.
  • Note:
    (Medical):age 63-0-9
    2 3

    Father: Francis Baker Crowell b: est 1810 in South Yarmouth, Massachusetts
    Mother: Mehitable Hall Crowell b: est 1810 in West Dennis, Massachusetts

    Marriage 1 Margaret Doane Atwood b: 3 Nov 1827 in Wellfleet, Massachusetts
    • Married: 18 Aug 1863
    1. Has No Children Edgar Doane Crowell b: 14 Dec 1871
    2. Has Children Luther Francis Crowell b: 1 Aug 1864 in Charlestown, Massachusetts

    1. Title: Wellfleet, Truro & Cape Cod Cemetery Transcriptions, section 9. Pleasant Hill and Oakdale Cemeteries, Wellfleet, Massachusetts
      Author: Wellfleet Historical Society and Rich Family Association
      Publication: 1986. Wellfleet, Massachusetts. Wellfleet Historical Society and Rich Family Association
      Page: Lot 18. Luther C. Crowell & Margaret Atwood family
    2. Title: Wellfleet, Massachusetts Annual Reports
      Author: Wellfleet Town Officers
      Publication: Wellfleet MA
      Page: 1903 deaths
    3. Title: Town records of Wellfleet, Massachusetts. Deaths 1859-1907
      Publication: Wellfleet, Massachusetts.
      Page: 48. 1903 #20
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