Dorset Vermont Historical Society Bley House Museum
Welcome to Historic Dorset, Vermont
Bley House
Welcome to Bley House Museum
The Dorset Historical Society was incorporated as a non-profit organization in 1963. The Society's purposes are: to discover and collect materials that will help establish or illustrate the history of Dorset, Vermont; to provide for the preservation of relevant collections; to exhibit archival materials and disseminate historical information; and to educate members of the Society and the public. Toward these ends, DHS collects and maintains artifacts, art, photographs, documents, books, manuscripts, and genealogical records pertinent to Dorset and its environs from the time the town was chartered in 1761 to the present.
The Society's home is the Bley House Museum, located on Route 30 at Kent Hill Road. Among the museum's featured exhibits are Fenton stoneware, paintings by Dorset artists, and in the Marble Gallery, a large display that showcases 130 years of quarrying, hauling, and finishing marble in Dorset and East Dorset—all part of the town's most historically significant industry. Two historic buildings using marble from Dorset quarries are the Old Customs House in Erie, Pennsylvania—the first major building in the U.S. to use marble (1839)—and the New York Public Library (1910).
Dorset Quarry
Norcross-West Marble Quarry, earliest (1785) commercial marble quarry

Dorset Patents
1836 – 1989

From a double charge pistol to a snow-making gun, this exhibit explores the patents received by 19 Dorseters over the years.

The inventions all show the needs of their times.  Marcus Manly provided a saw for cutting tapered marble as the marble industry was growing.  Augustus Armstrong and Hartwell Kendall improved on cheese making methods as dairying took hold in Vermont.  Walter Rath and Roger Rumney received patents for skiing related inventions.  More recent inventions by Dorseters have to do with computer mouse design, computer screen resolution, and bar-code reading.  Patents issued after 1989 can be viewed in a notebook which is part of the exhibit.

The inventors came from all parts of Dorset. Some were native born, some were immigrants from Ireland, Netherlands and Germany.  Some left Dorset soon after they received their patent: for instance, Marcus Manly became an iron fence magnate in Philadelphia, earning many more patents over his lifetime (and even one posthumously). 
Some, like Jacobus Rinse, retired to Dorset.

Dorset’s innovators continue to invent and patent their creations. 
Here are some of the innovators who received patents for their efforts.

Johnson Marsh
(1784-c. 1872)
Double Shot Gun, 1836

This may have been the first patent granted to a Dorseter.  The U.S. Patent office burned on December 15, 1836, destroying many of the patent papers and models from the preceding three decades.  This meant that all information on many U.S. patents was lost.  Over the years, some reconstruction of the lost paperwork has been completed, which is how we know about Johnson Marsh’s 1836 patent.  Other Dorseters may have been granted before this, but those records have been lost, probably forever.

Johnson Marsh was a successful farmer in East Dorset, who inherited his land from his father, William Marsh.  Through the course of the Revolutionary War, William Marsh was both a founding Green Mountain Boy, and a Tory who fled to Canada.  He returned to Dorset, and opened the Marsh Tavern in Manchester.   Johnson was a surveyor, East Dorset’s first Postmaster, and Dorset’s state representative.

In 1836, he received this patent for a double charge pistol.  It is not known if any of these pistols were ever made.

Laurens Kent
(1797 – 1880)
Bedstead Fastening, 1838
Dye Extraction, 1838

Laurens Kent, son of Alexander and Mercy Gray Kent, was born in the Kent Neighborhood Historic District of Dorset.  He married Emily Thompson (1802-1854), and they lived in East Rupert until 1834 or 1835, when they moved back to Dorset.  In 1843, they moved to Chicago, where Laurens worked as a cabinet-maker.

During that brief return to Dorset, Laurens secured two patents.  One was for a “bed-fastening” device: “the forming a bed-stead-post in two parts connected by a wooden or iron screw or bolt through the frame or rails of the bedstead.”

To understand the accompanying drawing, picture the horizontal section as the corner of a bed frame, and the vertical piece as the bed-post.

His second patent, also granted in 1838, was for a method of extracting dyes from woodsteam and distillation.

Hartwell Kendall
(1809 – 1895)
Cheese Press, 1843, 1858
Blacksmith’s Striker, 1857


In 1843, blacksmith Harwell Kendall of Danby patented a cheese press.  Fifteen years later, Kendall, then living in East Dorset, patented another, which he called the “Universal Antifriction Press.”  The device displayed here was made in East Dorset.  It was constructed of metal parts forged at the Moseley & Stoddard foundry in Poultney, Vermont.

Kendall continued as the village blacksmith until the 1890s.  Late in his career, he advertised himself as specializing in making cutting and punching machines.

Kendall Patent Cheese Press donated by Terry Tyler, 1994.862.00


 

 

Christopher Webber Fenton
(1806 – 1865)
Fire Brick, 1838
Applying Color to Glazes, 1849

Christopher Fenton, son of Jonathan Fenton, grew up around his father’s potteries in Dorset Hollow and East Dorset.  With his brother Richard L., and brother-in-law Seth Curtis, he took over those kilns in 1827.  In 1832, he married Louisa Norton, daughter of the owner of the Bennington Pottery.  Fenton then began working for his in-laws, and in 1845 entered into a formal partnership with his brother-in-law Julius Norton.  The resulting firm became the United States Pottery Company in 1849.
 
Christopher Fenton was celebrated for his artistic sensibilities in what was a utilitarian enterprise. His creative sense led to his earning two patents.  The first was for a sturdy, fire-resistant building brick.  The second covered a process for applying color to pottery glazes, which Fenton called “flint enamel.”

Flint enamel bedpan donated by Arthur Goldberg, 2008.091.00
Fenton fire brick donated by Tom Glavin, 2001.018.00


Augustin B. Armstrong
(1817 – 1890)
Cheese Vat, 1871, 1875

A.B. Armstrong was the tenth son of Cyrus and Laura Booth Armstrong, who had a farm on Upper Hollow Road.  He married Emily Mason (1817-1877) in Ira, Vermont, in 1841, and they had four children.  In 1882, he married Susan Canton.

He ran the family farm in Dorset for many decades.  In 1871, he received a patent for a cheese vat, which would heat large amounts of treated milk at a constant temperature, essential in the creation of standardized curds.  Four years later, he improved the vat.

Armstrong used the new style of cheese vat to establish the Dorset Cheese Association, which used milk from area farmers to make cheese for the distant urban markets.  The cheese factory was at the juncture of the Hollow and Lower Hollow roads.  His son had purchased, and was running, a general store in Dorset village.

Augustin B. Armstrong Patent Cheese vat model donated by David Gilbert, 1974.292.00

John Curtis
(1819 – 1899)
Steam Engine, 1885, 1889

John Curtis grew up in the North Dorset tavern his family opened in 1794.  He graduated from the University of Vermont in 1847, returned to North Dorset, and was a marble mill machine operator in the 1850s.  He married Nancy Marshall in 1865, took over proprietorship of the family hotel, and became the postmaster in North Dorset in 1876.  During that period, he was also the superintendent of schools.

John Curtis was 66 years old in 1885 when he received his first patent - for a steam engine.  The improvements, as Curtis explains: “By reason of the slides GG’ and cross-heads HH’ on opposite sides of the disk C the motion of the latter will be balanced, and the action known as “pounding,” that would otherwise accrue, thus avoided….By increasing the thickness of the partitions d(superscript 1) d (superscript 2) of the steam-box, or by setting them to one side…the engine can be made to cut off or begin to exhaust the steam at any desired part of the stroke.”

He would improve upon the design in 1889.

 

William Virgil Wallace
(1838 – 1901)
Piano Caster, 1879
Whiffletree, 1879
Air Fountain, 1881

W.V. Wallace remains an enigma.  His mother, Rhoda Cable, was a Kent descendant, and mother and son are buried together in Maple Hill Cemetery.  William shows up only once in the census: in 1850, he was the twelve-year-old son of Hiram and Rhoda Wallace of Bennington. Handwritten genealogical records from the early 1900s mention that he married an actress, Maggie Mitchell, and died in Boston. Other than his tombstone and patent records, there is no evidence that William Wallace ever lived in Dorset.

He did claim Dorset residency, however, on three patent applications in 1879 and 1881.  His improved piano-caster had a buoyant and supporting inner layer of cork that dispersed physical vibrations, while not dispersing, or spreading, musical vibrations.  Later in 1879, he received a patent for improvements in whiffletrees--the pivoted swinging bar that connects harness to vehicle, forming an elastic connection between the horse and what the horse is pulling.

Wallace’s third patent was for an “air fountain and air cooling apparatus.”  He explains, “the object of my invention is to provide a cheap and portable device for making, cooling, disinfecting, and medicating of the air in rooms and apartments; and to this end the invention consists of a fan-bellows or other air-agitating device, located and confined within stationary walls of linen or other suitable water-conducting material.”  The linen strips were what made Wallace’s device distinctive.

Thomas F. Condon
(1863 –1930)


Mop-Wringer, 1901, 1910
Clothes Stick, 1903


Thomas Condon was born in Ireland, and found his way to East Dorset by 1901.

 

His mop-wringer patent sought to make a durable wringer usable on buckets of any size. His clothes stick could both stir laundry and lift it easily out of boiling water.  His second mop-wringer patent replaced a sliding part with a hinged part.

 

 

 

 

 

William F. McDevitt
(1864 – 1959)


Bar Coal, 1923

The son of Irish immigrants, William McDevitt grew up in Dorset, probably on the West Road.  He was a marble cutter when he married Margaret Molloy in 1889.  They had two sons and two daughters.

He and his father sold marble in the 1890s.  In 1901, William reopened the Tunnel (or Imperial) Quarry in Danby.  In 1905, he and his three partners in the Danby Marble Company sold their business to the Vermont Marble Company.  He continued producing core samples for Vermont Marble for several years.  In 1911, he began quarrying 50 rods southeast of his home in South Dorset, under the aegis of the Dorset Valley Marble Company.  He continued quarrying until 1914, creating an opening 40’ x 50’, and 12’ deep.  The hole is still known as the McDevitt Quarry. Throughout this period, he continued to run the family retail marble and monument mill in South Dorset. 

In 1923, he earned a patent for a machine which turned coal scraps into bars of coal.

Margaret McDevitt died of pneumonia in Bennington in 1950.  William McDevitt lived in Rutland for a few years before he died.

 

 

Marcus Marcellus (Mark) Manly
(1820 – 1881)


Machine for Sawing Marble in Taper Form, 1856

Born in Dorset, Mark Manly married Almira Cochrane of East Dorset in 1845.  They had two daughters, and she died. In 1853, he married Marcia Patterson, of Northfield, Vermont. They had a son, Robert (1855-1936), and a daughter who died in infancy.

In 1856, Mark Manly of South Dorset was granted a patent for a “machine for sawing marble in taper form.”

During the Civil War, Mark would serve as Assistant Surgeon for the First Regiment, U.S. Colored Calvary with his brothers, Ralza Manly (Regiment Chaplain) and Bradford Manly (Regiment Surgeon).  Later, Mark served as Surgeon to the Second Regiment.

After the war, he settled in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and cofounded the Manly & Cooper Iron Works.  While there, he received many more patents, mainly for improvements to iron fences.

His son, Robert Manly, sold the company in 1887, moved to Dalton, Georgia in 1888, and opened the Manly Manufacturing Company.  That business is still active, under the name Manly Steel.


Frank Maynard
(1823 – 1896)


Improvement in Screw Propellers, 1876

Frank Maynard was born in Ireland or Canada, and by the 1850s, was living in North Dorset.   At first, he lived in the Daniel Curtis hotel, then purchased a mill pond on the road leading west.  He operated a sawmill, had a wood-turning business, and made bobbins there for the rest of his life.

In 1876, Maynard received a patent related to canal-boat propellers.  Although he was a wood turner, one might wonder why he developed this invention so far from any canals. Perhaps he tested this invention on nearby Emerald Lake.  Like his nation of birth, this question will most likely remain a mystery.


Walter Mott Parris
(1811 – 1882)


Rotary Steam Engine, 1855

Walter Mott Parris was born in Danby, worked for a while as an attorney in Dorset, moved back to Danby, died of stomach cancer, and is buried in Pawlet.

With his brother, Hervey Parris (1799-1884) of Pawlet, and brother-in-law Elias Matteson of Dayton, New York, he patented a Rotary Steam Engine in 1855, which had an improved method of shutting off and turning on valves, and had a steadier, more even motion.

Silas Jennison Harwood
(1850 – 1925)


Process of Making Cloth Waterproof, 1899


Silas Harwood grew up on a Rupert farm, now part of Merck Forest and Farmland Center.  At some point in his 30s or 40s, he moved from Rupert to Dorset, and continued farming.  He later sold nursery stock for a living, and in the last years of his life, he was living with two sons in Shaftsbury, Vermont, where they all worked in the brush-handle factory.

In 1899, while he was farming, he received this waterproofing patent.  Part of the patent was shared with George L. Woodcock, a Manchester hardware dealer, possibly due to financial assistance in developing the patent.

 

 

 

 

 

Andrew Longacre
(1904 – 1978)


Hydrometer, 1941

Andrew Longacre never lived in Dorset, but one of his patents was conceived here.

Longacre graduated with a PhD in Physics from Princeton in 1932.  Soon after, he began teaching at Phillips Exeter Academy, and vacationed in Dorset.  One night, he met his future wife, Marion Sykes, at the Dorset Field Club. He learned from his new in-laws, who were farmers, that sugar-making would by easier if their densometers also had a thermometer component.  As it was, they had to refer to conversion charts.  Longacre then created a hydrometer, for which he received a patent in 1941.

Longacre would go on to receive five patents for radar improvements during World War II, and another in the 1960s.  After he died, his widow retired to Dorset, in the house where his son, also Andrew Longacre, now lives. 

Incidentally, Andrew Longacre’s father, Frederick Van Duzer Longacre also received seven patents for valves, pumps and compressors during his work as an engineer on the Panama Canal.  Andrew, Jr., meanwhile, has received 75 patents, mostly for bar codes and bar code readers, from the early 1970s, when he was a graduate student, to, most recently, a patent issued on January 14, 2014, for a “System and method to manipulate an image.”

Densometer on loan from Andrew Longacre, Jr.
“Hydro-therm,” based on Longacre’s patent, on loan from Deb and Donald Hazelton of Londonderry.  They’ll need it back for next year’s sugaring season.

Walter Rath
(   –   )


Automatic Timing Device, 1951
Swimming Race Timer, 1952

Walter Rath was the co-owner and manager of the Snow Valley ski resort in Manchester, Vermont.  He and his brother, Rudolph “Dolf” Rath were German immigrants in 1939, who settled in Greenwich, Connecticut.  They opened Snow Valley together in 1941.  In 1942, Walter invented a device which would measure the time it took for a skier to race down a trail. The skier would enter the fenced trail, deposit a coin in a slot, and ski down the trail.  At the bottom of the trail, the skier would receive a piece of paper from another machine, with the time it took from depositing the coin to retrieving the receipt.  He applied for a patent for the device in 1949, and received it in 1951.  The following year, he received a patent for a similar device, applied to swimming.

The Snow Valley ski trails opened in 1941, and after a succession of owners, closed in 1984.

 

 

 

Malcolm E. Cooper Sr.
(1910 – 2005)


Kitchen Chopping Block, 1954
Portable Shoe Shine Box, 1959

Malcolm Cooper Sr., a native of Paterson, New Jersey, became the first in the family to attend college, receiving an industrial engineering degree from Lehigh in 1933. In the depths of the depression he felt fortunate to find a job working on Wall Street while studying for his law degree at night.  After serving in World War II, he looked for new opportunities, and in 1949 bought half of the newly formed J.K. Adams woodworking company in Dorset, Vermont.
With his wife, Marian, and their newborn son, Malcolm Jr., Cooper moved to a house in Dorset Hollow.  In 1959, he bought the other half of the company.  When he retired in 1994, his son Malcolm took over the company.

While the magnet and the cutout for the knife handle might seem to be the patented innovation, this patent was actually for the ornamental design of the chopping block.  The J.K. Adams Company produced and sold these “Ver-Magic” chopping blocks in a variety of sizes until the early 1990s.  In 1955 prices ranged from $5.00 to $20.00.  The block on display here is marked “patent pending” on the bottom, which suggests that it was produced between April, 1953, and November, 1954.

Cooper patented the shoe shine box for the Kiwi Polish Company of Australia.

Ver-Magic Chopping Block donated by the J.K. Adams Company, 2010.008.06
Kiwi Shoe Shine box donated by  Terry Tyler, 2009.046.00

 

 

Jacobus Rinse
(1900 – 1993)


Condensed Oligomeric Organo Metallic Resinous Acylates Containing Ligands of Monobasic Carboxylic Acid of at Least 7 Carbon Atoms and Bridging Radicals of Divalent Carboxylic Acids of at Least 6 Carbon Atoms and Processes for Producing Such Resins, 1977

Jacobus Rinse was a Dutch research chemist who came to this country in 1949.  At first, he settled in Bernardstown, New Jersey, and later in East Dorset.  Over the years, he received at least nine patents for chemical processes.  However, he is most remembered for the Rinse Formula dietary supplement, which is still produced.

In 1951, Rinse suffered a mild heart attack, and his doctor told him he had, at most, 10 years left to live.  Soon after, he developed a mixture of oil and seeds which he took every day, and which he attributed his long survival.  Specifically, the Rinse Formula included a mix of lecithin, nutritional yeast, bone meal, wheat germ, vegetable oil, vitamin C, vitamin E, and vitamin B-complex.

He died on July 10, 1993, while trying to save a drowning neighbor in a pond on Mad Tom Road.  Both he and the neighbor perished.

Roger Rumney
(1943 -       )


Snow Hydrant, 1987
Snow Gun, 1989

For 30 years, from 1980-2010, Roger Rumney produced his patented snow making apparati in the barn just north of his family’s business, Williams Department Store.

Ski trails have pipelines which deliver water to the snow-making machines.  Roger’s Hydrants (as are called) tap into the pipelines to deliver the water to the various snow making machines.  His patent was for the flow controller.  The hydrants, which are now made in Colorado Springs, Colorado, were Roger’s main source of income during the years he made them in Dorset.

The snow guns, which are displayed here, would run at colder temperatures than other snow guns.  Rumney says there was more competition in the snow gun market, so they never sold as much as the hydrants.

After selling his business, Rumney retired to Utah.  One of his hydrants can still be seen in the field just south of William’s Department Store.

Snow guns on loan from Roger Rumney.  Also, thanks to Martin Grover for pulling them out of “storage.


Since 1989

More patents have been received by Dorseters since 1989 than before.  These include patents for fly reels, scanning technology, furnace seals, and computer mouse and remote control design.

 


Dorset Historical Society
Member of Vermont Historical Society and
The New England Museum Association


PO Box 52 · Route 30 at Kent Hill Road
Dorset, VT 05251 USA · 802-867-0331
E-mail: info@dorsetvthistory.org

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Saturday, 10-2 p.m.

Other days and times by appointment

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