Case, Jerome Increase

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b. 1819 Williamstown, Oswego County, New York, USA
d. 1891 USA
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American manufacturer and founder of the Case company of agricultural engineers.
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J.I.Case was the son of a former and began his working life operating the family's Groundhog threshing machine. He moved into contract threshing, and used the money he earned to pay his way through a business academy. He became the agent for the Groundhog thresher in his area and at the age of 23 decided to move west, taking six machines with him. He sold five of these to obtain working capital, and in 1842 moved from Williamstown, New York, to Rochester, Wisconsin, where he established his manufacturing company. He produced the first combined thresher-winnower in the US in 1843. Two years later he moved to Racine, on the shores of Lake Michigan in the same state. Within four years the Case company became Racine's biggest company and largest employer, a position it was to retain into the twentieth century. As early as 1860 Case was shipping threshing machines around the Horn to California.
Apart from having practical expertise Case was also a skilled demonstrator, and it was this combination which resulted in the sure growth of his company. In 1869 he produced his first portable steam engine and in 1876 his first traction engine. By the mid 1870s he was selling a significant proportion of the machines in use in America. By 1878 Case threshing machines had penetrated the European market, and in 1885 sales to South America began. Case also became the world's largest manufacturer of steam engines.
J.I.Case himself, whilst still actively involved with the company, also became involved in politics. He was Mayor of Racine for three terms and State Senator for two. He was also President of the Manufacturers' National Bank of Racine and Founder of the First National Bank of Burlington. He founded the Wisconsin Academy of Science, Arts and Letters and was President of the Racine County Agricultural Society. He had time for sport and was owner of the world's all-time champion trotter-pacer.
Continued expansion of the company after J.I. Case's death led eventually to its acquisition by Tenneco in 1967, and in 1985 the company took over International Harvester. As Case I.H. it continues to produce a full range of agricultural, earth-moving and heavy-transport equipment.
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Further Reading
Despite the size and importance of the company he created, very little has been written about Case. On particular anniversaries the company has produced celebratory publications, and surprisingly these still seem to be the main source of information about him.
R.B.Gray, 1975, The Agricultural Tractor 1855–1950, American Society of Agricultural Engineers (traces the history of power on the farm, in which Case and his machines played such an important role).
AP

Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

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