Burson, William Worth
born in: Venango County, Pennsylvania on Saturday, September 22, 1832;
came to Illinois 1842;
lived on farm until 1858;
married; Mrs. William Worth Burson
Since 1858 engaged in mechanical study and manufacturing;
1st patent was dated Tuesday, November 2, 1858;
about 50 have followed.
Made the 1st grain binder to tie the present binder know, 1860;
the 1st 1,000 grain binders, 1863;
several important features of grain harvesters;
a universal automatic knitting machine in which every stitch of the fabric is controlled by a pattern, removable, 1878;
also numerous other improvements.
Founder and President Burson Manufacturing Company;
vice-president Burson Knitting Company
Member: Franklin Institute.
Club: Hamilton Club
Office: Rockford, Illinois.
Book of the North Shore
Biography from RockfordReminisce.com - People of Interest
In his business interests, William Worth Burson has in substantial measure contributed to the welfare of Rockford along the lines of industrial activity, and his fame as an inventor has spread overseas. He invented and constructed a self-rake reaper in 1858, which was the first machine to regulate the size of the gavel by weight and was a pioneer in the invention of grain binders and obtained a patent on a twine binder in 1860. These machines were attached to the reaper and operated by hand. These were first brought into prominence by being operated at the great reaper trial at Dixon, Illinois, in the harvest of 1862. Emerson & Company contracted to make one thousand machines for Burson for the harvest of 1863, the first one thousand grain binders ever made. He came to Rockford for the purpose of carrying out this contract where he resided until 1881, when he moved to Chicago. On account of imperfect workmanship, lack of field experts, and other adverse circumstances, these machines were a failure financially and the venture disastrous, leaving a heavy debt on Burson, which was not entirely liquidated until 1901.
In 1866, William Worth Burson along with John Nelson, under the firm name of Burson & Nelson, the invention of a family knitting machines was jointly undertaken. Mr. Nelson was obliged to give his attention largely to his sash, door, and blind factory for some time, but Mr. Burson applied himself to the business and in hand and after much tedious labor by both, a power machine was perfected. On these machines patents were issued to Burson and Nelson in 1868. In 1869, the part now known as the "presser hook" was developed. In July 1870, the first sock was knit by an automatic machine in Rockford. The socks came from the machine joined together and were separated by hand, and the toes closed. This was the first practical automatic knitting machine. In 1872-3, the parallel row machine was developed. This was the beginning of Rockford's great knitting industry. These machines were automatic and closed to toe and heel, producing a stocking ready to wear, without hand work. "Rockford Seamless Socks" were pioneers on seamless hosiery, driving the old line of goods out of the market.
In 1878, William Worth Burson, having withdrawn from participation with the Burson & Nelson business, built an automatic grain binding harvester, and a knitting machine with a mitten pattern having a double wrist.
During 1879 to 1891, William Worth Burson developed a number of important harvesting inventions which were purchased by Whitely, Deering, McCormick Company, Walter A. Wood Company, and Milwaukee and Plano Harvesting Company. In 1891, he applied himself to the perfection of knitting machinery, and in 1892, brought one of his machines to Rockford. These machines were modeled after those of 1878, and they were shipped from Rockford to all parts of the U.S. Burson obtained 50 U.S. and foreign patents on grain binders, harvesters, automatic knitting machines, knit fabrics, and other lines upon which he worked. He died in 1913.
Find A Grave.com
Birth: Saturday, September 22, 1832
Death: Thursday, April 10, 1913
Rockford, Winnebago County, Illinois
Children: Wilson Worth Burson (1865 - 1933)
Note: Originally interred in Forest View Abbey Mausoleum. Moved to Greenwood.
Burial: Greenwood Cemetery
William Worth Burson
Past and Present of the City of Rockford & Winnebago County, IL, C.A. Church. Chicago: Clarke, 1905, pages 166-167
William Worth Burson, inventor and manufacturer, has attained a position of distinction among those whose genius has given to the world products that have advanced the material welfare and prosperity of the nation.
In his business interests Mr. Burson has in substantial measure contributed to the welfare of Rockford, Illinois along the lines of industrial activity, and his fame as an inventor has spread abroad. Mr. Burson is a native of Venango County, Pennsylvania and in 1842 was taken by his parents to McDonough County, Illinois, and the following year to Fulton, Illinois, where his boyhood and early manhood were passed, thus sharing the experience of pioneer life.
Reared to the occupation of farming, he was always interested and much used to the work of the fields and soon brought to bear his natural mechanical ingenuity upon the improvement of farm machinery. His first work in this direction of any note was the invention and construction of a self-rake reaper in 1858, this being the first machine to regulate the size of favel by weight. Continued experimenting, study and investigation made him a pioneer in the invention of grain binders and he obtained a patent on a twine binder in 1860. These machines were attached to the reaper and operated by hand, being first brought into prominence by being operated in the great reaper trial at Dixon, Illinois, held during the harvest season of 1863, these being the first thousand grain binders ever manufactured.
Mr. Burson came to Rockford for the purpose of carrying out the contract and resided in this city until 1881, when he removed to Chicago. On account of imperfect workmanship, lack of field experts and other adverse circumstances the business of manufacturing and placing upon the market the grain binders proved a disastrous venture financially and left him with a large indebtedness, which was not entirely liquidated until 1901. In the meantime his thoughts and efforts were concentrated along other lines of invention and mechanical improvement, and in 1866, associated with the late John Nelson, under the firm name of Burson & Nelson, the invention of the family knitting machine was undertaken. Mr. Nelson was obliged to give his attention largely to the operation of a sash, door and blind factory for some time, but Mr. Burson applied himself closely to the work which he had undertaken and after much tedious labor on the part of both gentlemen a power machine was perfected. Upon these machines patents were issued to Burson & Nelson in 1868, 1870, and 1875, and in 1874 they also secured a patent on hose. On 25 Dec 1869, a part now known as the presser hook was developed and on Saturday, July 23, 1870, the first sock was knit by an automatic machine at Rockford. The socks came from the machine joined together and were separated by hand and the toes were also thus closed. This was the first practical automatic knitting machine. In 1872-3 the parallel row machine was developed, this being the beginning of Rockford's great knitting industry. Those machines were automatic and closed both toe and heel, producing a stocking ready to wear without hand work.
Rockford seamless socks were pioneers in seamless hosiery and superseded the old line of goods which before has held the market. Mr. Burson continued as a member of the firm of Burson & NELSON until 1898, when he withdrew from that business and independently continued the work of experiment and invention. He has continuously studied our new devices, which, put to the practical test, have resulted in the building up of an automatic grain-binding harvester; a knitting machine with a mitten pattern, having a double wrist, with the letters "patented" knit therein, also a patent office model, knitting a stocking with a narrow ankle and fancy top, containing the letter "B," a ribbed scarf with letters at each end, and a shirt sleeve with fancy cuff and widening to the body, all of these articles knit with change of yarn and on a single pattern upon the same needles. Between 1879 and 1892 Mr. Burson developed a number of important harvesting inventions which were purchased by Whitely, Deering, McCormick Company, Walter A. Wood Company and the Milwaukee and Plano Harvesting Company. In 1891 he undertook the perfection of knitting machinery and in 1892 brought one of these machines to Rockford. These machines were modeled after the invention of 1878, and their product is now being shipped from Rockford to all parts of the U.S., an extensive factory being kept in constant operation.
Mr. Burson has been allowed more than 50 U.S. and foreign patents on grain binders, harvesters, automatic knitting machines, knit fabrics and other lines upon which he has worked, and on which he is still actively engaged. "There is nothing extemporaneous," said one of Chicago's eminent divines. "Everything results from some previous condition of labor." This truth is especially manifest in the life of the inventor, who may perfect in a few weeks or perhaps days an invention which is the outcome of years of thought, study and experiment, and all that Mr. Burson has given to the world in the way of improved machinery represents yeas of close application, earnest investigation and untiring effort. He is a man of enterprise, positive character, indomitable energy, strong integrity and liberal views, and has been fully identified with the growth and prosperity of the cit of his adoption. He has, moreover, concentrated his efforts in pursuit of a persistent purpose until he has gained a most satisfactory reward.
Submitted by: Cathy Kubly.