Harris, Alanson

b. 1816 Ingersoll, Ontario, Canada
d. 1894 Canada
Canadian manufacturer of agricultural machinery and co-founder of the Massey Harris Company (later Massey Ferguson).
Alanson Harris was the first often children born to the wife of a circuit rider and preacher. His father's wanderings left Alanson at an early age in charge of the running of the family farm on the Grand River in Canada; also, his father's preference was for tinkering with machines rather than for farming. However, when he was 13 Alanson had to go out to work in order to bring badly needed cash to augment the family income. He worked at a sawmill in the small village of Boston, becoming Boss Sawyer and then Foreman after ten years. In 1839 the family moved to Mount Pleasant, and the following year Alanson married Mary Morgan, the daughter of a well-to-do pioneer Welsh farmer. He entered into a brief partnership with his father to build a sawmill at Whiteman's Creek, but within a few months his father returned to preaching and Alanson became the sole proprietor. After a successful early period Alanson recognized the signs of decline in the timber market, and in 1857 he sold the mill, moved to Beamsville, Niagara, and bought a small factory from which he produced the flop-over hay rake invented by his father. In 1863 he took his eldest son into partnership; the latter returned from a visit to the United States with the sole rights to produce the Kirby mower and reaper. The Crimean War created a market for corn, which gave a great boost to North American farming and, in its turn, to machinery production. This was reinforced by the tariff agreements between the United States and Canada. By the 1880s Harris and Massey between them accounted for two thirds of the harvesting machines sold in Canada, and they also supplied machines abroad. By the end of the decade the mutual benefits of joining forces were apparent and by 1891 an agreement was reached, with Alanson Harris and A.H.Massey on the first board.
Further Reading
G.Quick and W.Buchele, 1978, The Grain Harvesters, American Society of Agricultural Engineers (refers to Harris and Massey Harris Company in its account of the development of harvest machinery).
M.Denison, 1949, Harvest Triumphant: The Story of Massey Harris, London (gives a more detailed account of Massey Harris Company).

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

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