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Vintage Views: Ingenuous thoughts from Concord

For the Monitor
Published: 10/23/2021 5:00:15 PM

There was a time when life was very difficult and people worked exceptionally hard. Labor was intense, as the farmer plotted the removal of a large boulder from his field he speculated on the easiest method. When a barn was raised or a home constructed the people did gather to help one and all. Colonial America was a period when team effort was very well known and utilized on a routine basis.

These early Americans that constantly sought ways to improve upon their work held some fascinating names too. The names assigned to newborn colonial boys were at times challenging to say, and remember too. There were names such as Micajah, Zophar Cuddy, Dobbin, Fate, Hiley and Quill. Some names inspired good fortune, I like to think names such as Prosperity and Increase provided good fortune for the colonial boy that was trying to make the world a better place. As I travel and visit numerous cemeteries around the country, in particular New England, I see these names and they give me reason to pause and reflect about each life lived.

There was a young man born here in Concord on Oct. 26, 1777. He was born during a most patriotic period when our nation was very new and opportunities were available to those that chose to pursue them. This little colonial boy born in Concord was also given one of those unique colonial names, his name was Increase Kimball.

Young Increase knew the hardships of living a colonial life, constant threats and challenges that sometimes called a life very short. Increase was faced with the many often fatal diseases, the cold New Hampshire winters, predatory animals and a keen desire to both survive and prosper. Increase Kimball was a known “thinker” and his thoughts did wander as he acquired his basic education and set course for a trade that would provide and support his interests in life.

Increase was a typical young boy, seeking entertainment in the little community that he did reside. His boyhood antics would have included farming, hunting, fishing and games. Marbles was a favorite pastime as well as swimming in the Merrimack River during the summer months followed by sledding the great hills in the winter. Increase enjoyed his childhood and developed a love for his religion as he grew and studied in preparation for adulthood.

Increase completed his apprenticeship in the Tinsman trade and continued to think about the many ways to make life a little easier for his family and friends. There were many new inventions in Concord when Increase lived here; Concord boasted several firsts. The Concord Coach was designed and built here; the Mount Washington Railroad was planned here too. The First American Alarm Clock was invented in Concord as well as the Rumford Fireplace, double boiler, drip coffee pot and the modern kitchen stove. People were adventurous and daring when it came to these new concepts, sometimes it worked out while other times it simply did not. Increase lived in Concord on the heels of another Concord inventor named Benjamin Thompson, later known as Count Rumford, who arrived in Concord in 1772 and married Sarah Rolfe. Thompson was a prolific inventor, perhaps inspiring to young Increase Kimball.

As the years progressed and Increase Kimball became quite skilled with his tinsmith trade, he ventured the road of the unknown, eventually finding his way to inventing items that did in fact make life easier. It was during the year 1804 that Increase Kimball is said to have invented the cut nail. He also invented a mechanical machine that made the new cut nails, opening the way for mass production on a colonial scale. People were impressed and purchased the many cut nails that Increase produced while living in Hanover. Eventually an offer was made to Increase requesting he sell his patent rights, which he refused to do. A great concept without a patent during a period when everyone wished to be an inventor became a problem for Increase. Not only did Increase not profit from his invention of the cut nail and machine to manufacture cut nails, but others viewed his invention and made improvements upon them. The end result being that people took his ideas and filed their own patents with improvements to the cut nail concept.

Increase lived a good life passing away in Hanover on Sept. 16, 1856. Though he did not profit from his ideas he is said to have derived great pleasure by making life a little easier for his fellow mankind.




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