William P. Shattuck Concocted Machine as Defense From Indians.
Machine in Early
Nineties Called “
By Beverly White
Many persons will recall that the Frank Reade stories of nearly two generations ago, while fiction, no doubt had much to do with stimulating the inventive minds of Americans, and played an important part in the development of the automobile. However, credit for the invention of the British “tank” is due to an American, whose father was killed by Indians.
That seems to be a flat
statement, but when one is backed up by indisputable facts, he is well
calculated to make his claim valid. Who
is the man that invented the tank? What
facts establish his claim? He is William
First, he has in his possession
a letter from Straub, the administrator, or secretary for King Leopold, of
Second, the file of the Minneapolis Tribune of
Third, the signature of Henry M. Stanley, the great explorer, whose
Mr. Shattuck was born near
The elder Shattuck was murdered
by Little Six and Medicine Bottle, two chiefs of the tribe, who were later
hanged for murder at
March 31, 1888, or just two years before Mr. Shattuck’s invention was announced in The Minneapolis Tribune, the inventor wrote the King of Belgium. Mr. Shattuck received a reply. The missive, which is interesting is as follows:
“Mr. William Pitt Shattuck,
“The king has your letter
“We have made no use of them, whatsoever, nor have we kept any trace of them in our archives, except, Sir, the assurance of our distinguished consideration.
Mr. Shattuck’s name for his invention was “mobile fort.”
Being interested in trail
finding, which art he learned as a boy, he read everything he could about the
Treachery, which he learned the meaning of so early in life, led him to his inventing the caterpillar “Mobile fort”, which could travel on both land and water, and would insure safety to explorers. They could hide within the Mobile Fort or make it their sleeping quarters. He also wanted to make it a thing of such power, that when fitted with scythes it could cut its way through a jungle or a forest.
Wood was the intended fuel for the “Mobile Fort.” When there was no timber around the grass and rushes cut by the scythe could be used as fuel.
Travelers through the jungle can cart only an outfit of 150 pounds, per capita. Mr. Shattuck planned to make the carrying capacity of supplies 1,000 or more pounds per man.
When Henry M. Stanley came to this country early in the last decade of the nineteenth century he talked with Mr. Shattuck. He went carefully over the mechanical drawings with the inventor. Then he said:
“Marvelous, Mr. Shattuck; could I have had you with me your presence and invention would have been of unlimited value.”
Many wars, among them the
Japo-Chinese, the Spanish-American, the Philippine, the Boer war, the
Greco-Turkish, the Russian-Japanese wars, along with countless revolutions in
Yet, not until the world’s
war of today did any nation adopt the “
When The Minneapolis Tribune in March, 1890, published the pictures of the “Mobile Fort,” the present art of making pictures for the public print was either not in use, or at best, in its infancy. The pictures of the tank here shown were made with the old “chalk plate” system, but they show most clearly the principle now employed in operating the “tanks” in Europe. The mechanical principle is the same.
The “tank” is only one of Mr. Shattuck’s inventions. He is the man who invented the automobile trailer, enabling a light machine to haul weights in tow that would crush the vehicle if carried on the automobile body. This is now used at the front for ambulance service, and throughout the world for transportation purposes. It bears the inventor’s name.
Probably recollections of
childhood in wild
The result of Mr. Shattuck’s work was a toy that sold for 25 cents. If you have never seen his “climbing monkey on the string,” you are one of the few who have not.
His next invention of value to the commercial world was the machine for making picket fences. Wire and pailing were fed in one end and the finished fence came out at the other.
He has just completed a machine for making berry boxes. This mechanical production will make 50 berry boxes a minute, or approximately 200,000 a working day. In this machine he feeds in the log of timber and it comes out at the other end in boxes that can be telescoped one into the other.
Mr. Shattuck also invented a transmission gear whereby power was saved and uniformity of power was gained. Thomas Edison pronounced this machine wonderful. He is now working on an automatic envelop making machine with the aid of which the dumb and crippled can turn a roll of paper into gummed envelopes by merely applying power and directing the gauges on the machine. There are countless other things he is working on now, but these he does not care to disclose at this time. It may be said, however, that he is trying to devise useful machines that will provide work for the crippled and maimed in this war.
Comments by Nancy A. Shattuck, granddaughter of W.P. Shattuck:
There are some errors within
this article. William Pitt Shattuck (II)
was born in