S. Morgan Smith’s Success Washing Machine; Origins of the York Manufacturing Company

Success Washing Machine at the Agricultural and Industrial Museum in York, PA (2013 Photo, S. H. Smith)

Success Washing Machine at the Agricultural and Industrial Museum in York, PA (2013 Photo, S. H. Smith)

The company lineage of today’s Johnson Controls’ Building Efficiency operations in York goes back through the following business names:

  • York International Corporation (1986-2005)
  • York Division of Borg-Warner Corporation (1956-1986)
  • York Corporation (1942-1956)
  • York Ice Machinery Corporation (1927-1942)
  • York Manufacturing Company (1874-1927)

It all started with the establishment of the York Manufacturing Company in 1874.  Other posts in this series on The Origins of the York Manufacturing Company include:

In 1874 six men in York, Pennsylvania, contributed resources to jointly form the York Manufacturing Company.  Stephen Morgan Smith contributed two washing machine patents valued at $20,000; since it was an already established product.  Oliver J. Bollinger held a patent on a turbine water wheel.  Bollinger shared the rights to his invention with three investors; George H. Buck, Robert L. Shetter and Henry H. LaMotte.  As a group, Bollinger, Buck, Shetter and LaMotte contributed the Bollinger Turbine Water Wheel patent for a $4,500 stake.  Jacob Loucks invested $10,000 in cash.  Henry H. LaMotte also gave the new company the use of a machine shop he owned on North Penn Street in York for an additional $7,000 stake in the company.

Smith’s Success Washing Machine was the first product sold by the York Manufacturing Company.  In this post I’m examining the origins of the washing machine patents contributed by Stephen Morgan Smith.  After leaving the York Manufacturing Company, Smith establishes another prominent York, Pennsylvania, business, the S. Morgan Smith Company; which grew to become a world renowned hydraulic turbine manufacturer.

 

 

Stephen Morgan Smith was born February 1, 1839 in Smith Grove, Davie County, North Carolina.  His Smith lineage went back several generations in that county.  Stephen M. Smith is the son of John Wesley Smith and Sarah Purden (Beauchamp) Smith.

Stephen M. Smith decided to study for the ministry of the Moravian Church; a denomination of which his mother was a member.  He attended the Moravian College in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania and graduated from the theological department in 1861.

When Smith graduated, the Civil War had already begun.  In his home state of North Carolina, two of his brothers had enlisted in the Confederate Army.  Stephen M. Smith believed in the republican cause and opposed slavery, so he was pleased when assigned, as pastor, to a northern Moravian congregation in York, Pennsylvania.  Almost a year later, on April 9, 1862, Smith married the church organist and York native, Emma Rebecca Fahs.  Stephen and Emma Smith had six children:

  • Charles Elmer Smith was born January 16, 1863
  • Stephen Fahs Smith was born September 10, 1864
  • Beauchamp Harvey Smith was born September 21, 1869
  • Sarah Elizabeth Purdon Smith was born September 12, 1872
  • Susan Ellen Smith was born September 14, 1876
  • Mary Delia Smith was born November 18, 1878

As the Civil War raged on, Stephen M. Smith was content to live the life of a minister of the gospel.  It makes one wonder if he knew any of the thousands of Confederates that invaded the City of York in the days before the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863.

The Confederate raid into Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, and their torching of 500 buildings in the summer of 1864 likely had an effect on Smith.  Although a southern native, Stephen M. Smith enlisted shortly thereafter as a volunteer in the Union cause.  He served as a chaplain with the 200th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry until the end of war.

In 1866 Pastor Stephen M. Smith was assigned to a Moravian congregation in Canal Dover, within Tuscarawas County, Ohio.  A few years later, Smith developed a serious throat ailment, making it nearly impossible for him to preach; he grudgingly resigned as pastor until he could regain his voice.

It was during this period of convalescence that Stephen M. Smith started to explore ways to ease the housekeeping burden of his wife.  He tinkered with an improved device to mechanically wash clothes.  He applied for a United States Patent on this Improvement In Washing-Machines and was granted Patent No. 108,646 on October 25, 1870.  Stephen M. Smith began to build and sell this washing machine, which he named the Success; as he started to earn a living as a manufacturer.

Markings on the side of a Success Washing Machine at the Agricultural and Industrial Museum in York, PA (2013 Photo, S. H. Smith)

Markings on the side of a Success Washing Machine at the Agricultural and Industrial Museum in York, PA (2013 Photo, S. H. Smith)

This is a photo of the markings on the side of a Success Washing Machine at the Agricultural and Industrial Museum in York, Pennsylvania.  The next post in this series will examine Stephen M. Smith’s United States Patent No. 108,646 is greater detail.

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About Stephen H. Smith

Stephen H. Smith is a design engineer who worked at York International Corp. for 33 years before retiring several years ago to research and write books full time; his second career. The initial emphasis was on family history when he won a national award during 2002 for his first book “Barshingers in America." Positive feedback and that award were influential in his decision to retire early from engineering and start a retirement career.
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2 Responses to S. Morgan Smith’s Success Washing Machine; Origins of the York Manufacturing Company

  1. Jon Baker says:

    Hi Mr. Smith

    I write a column on local history for The Times-Reporter in New Philadelphia, Ohio. I am writing a story about Stephen Morgan Smith and his Success washing machine. I saw that you had a photo of the washing machine in the Agricultural and Industrial Museum in York. If possible, I would like to use that photo with my column, giving you a photo credit. Would that be possible?
    Thanks.

    Jon Baker

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