Simon INGERSOLL

Simon INGERSOLL

Male 1818 - 1894  (75 years)

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  • Name Simon INGERSOLL  [2, 3
    • For more than a century, millions of people around the world working in the back-breaking construction industry have been deeply indebted to a man whose invention of the rock drill made their work faster, more efficient, and less stressful.

      What made the rock drill possible was the invention of the percussion drill in 1871 by Simon Ingersoll (1818 ? 1894), considered a genius in mechanical engineering. The drill has played an important role in excavation, mining, tunneling, and highway construction ever since.

      Ingersoll was born in 1818 in Stanwich, CT, where he received an informal grade school education. Throughout his life, he received patents for several inventions, including a steam engine shaft in 1858. Over the following decade, he developed other small implements including a scale, a friction clutch, and a gate latch. Despite these inventions, Ingersoll, far from wealthy, continued to work as a farmer to support his family.

      His percussion drill replaced hand drilling, making mining and tunneling much faster and cheaper. Before Ingersoll's drills, underground drilling was done by striking a length of steel rod repeatedly with a sledgehammer. Ingersoll's invention surpassed earlier drills because it rotated the drill after each strike, automatically advancing the steel. His design also featured an innovative tripod, and was significantly lighter than other drills. His first design was powered by steam but later operated on compressed air.

      Simon Ingersoll - Construction & Building
      Ingersoll rock drill.

      The Ingersoll drills provided the basis for the Ingersoll Rand Corporation, founded in 1871. Although Ingersoll Rand no longer manufactures drills, its products range from biometric security readers to refrigeration technologies.

      Ironically, the Ingersoll Rock Drill was his only successful invention and brought him no financial reward. However, the lasting fame it generated came at a critical juncture in mining history.

      Ingersoll was a dreamer, a creator, and an ingenious mechanic. His first important invention was a wedge and plug-cutting machine. Prior to his device, shipbuilders and caulkers had cut their wooden plugs and wedges by hand. Ingersoll's machine did the job mechanically. Alas, wooden ships were soon displaced by iron steamships.

      He invented an early steam-powered car, a friction clutch, a gate latch, and a spring scale. All these patents were assigned to others.

      Finally, a contractor friend suggested Ingersoll design a rock drill. The man had a contract for excavating rock in New York City, and if he had a mechanical drill, he reasoned, he could do the job faster and make some money. Ingersoll responded.

      On March 7, 1871 Ingersoll received his basic rock drill patent. There had been earlier drills, designed for mining and tunneling and mounted on carriages. Ingersoll mounted his drill on a tripod equipped with leg weights to hold it steady.

      In all 27 patents were issued to him, 13 pertaining to rock drills or their accessories. One covered the rifle bar for rotating the drilling element; another covered a coupling for hose used in rock drilling.

      Though Ingersoll was never rewarded with the life of a successful inventor, his drill was a significant development. The new tripod-mounted drill used less manpower, was faster, and had a longer life?it led to the increased productivity of excavation applications where workers were previously only able to dig eight- to ten-foot holes per day. It was regarded as one of the most useful appliances in railroad building applications.

      Ingersoll's Little Giant tappet drill and the Rand Slugger drill are recognized pioneering the rock drill market. Derivatives of his drill have been useful in excavation, mining, tunneling, and highway construction. Modern versions of Ingersoll's design are commonly used on practically every construction and excavation site worldwide.

      Ingersoll's invention, paving the way for Ingersoll Rock Drill Company, eventually led to the establishment of Ingersoll Rand Co. Today, IR is a successful machinery and industrial equipment company in the markets of climate control, industrial solutions, infrastructure, and security and safety.

      Ingersoll, who was forced to sell most of his patents and work halfheartedly at farming to feed his family, died nearly destitute in 1894 at age 76.

      Arshad Mahmud is an independent writer.

      [1]
    Born 26 Oct 1818  Stanwich, Fairfield Co., Connecticut Find all individuals with events at this location  [3, 4
    Gender Male 
    Census 1850  Living in New York, New York Find all individuals with events at this location  [5
    Census 1860  Living with mother in Stamford, Fairfield Co., Connecticut Find all individuals with events at this location  [6
    Census 1880  Living in Stamford, Fairfield Co., Connecticut Find all individuals with events at this location  [7
    Died 24 Jul 1894  [4, 8
    Buried Leeds Graveyard, Darien, Fairfield Co., Connecticut Find all individuals with events at this location  [4
    Notes 
    • " A Genealogy of the Ingersoll Family" - Simon Ingersoll was a noted inventor. His son Samuel C. writes: "I helped him build the first automobile ever made. It was in 1857 or 1858. We ran it by steam. We rode into Stamford with it one day and the Warden looked it over and said, "It is very dangerous and you must get it away at once. The boiler will burst or you will run over somebody, sure, yes, sure."
      "Gentlemen, I am going to stay just long enough to say, some of you standing here will see the day they will be just as common as horses and wagons are."
      "The Steam Rock Drill, of course, is known the world over, capitalized for ten millions many years ago, but he was robbed out of everything and July, 1894 was penniless. Had he lived two or three months longer he would have had the first flying. He had an anti-friction arrangement and the steamer "City of Chicago" was to be laid on dock to have it applied just a short time before he died. In fact he got his death cold by being in the water to apply it to a little boat. It would have saved from $300 to $500 a trip across the lake and back." [9]
    Person ID I31789  Main Tree
    Last Modified 27 Jun 2018 

    Father Alexander F. INGERSOLL,   b. 19 Mar 1791,   d. 25 Jan 1857  (Age 65 years) 
    Relationship Birth 
    Mother Caroline CARL,   b. Abt 1797, New York Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Bef 1870  (Age ~ 72 years) 
    Relationship Birth 
    Family ID F26032  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family 1 Sarah B. SMITH,   b. 27 Feb 1820,   d. 02 Mar 1859  (Age 39 years) 
    Married 3 Nov 1839  Christs Church, Rye, Westchester, New York Find all individuals with events at this location  [10
    Children 
     1. Alvah INGERSOLL,   b. Abt 1840, New York Find all individuals with events at this location  [Birth]
     2. Oliver S. INGERSOLL,   b. 28 Oct 1841  [Birth]
     3. Samuel Carl INGERSOLL,   b. 3 Dec 1843  [Birth]
     4. Hannah Sarah INGERSOLL,   b. Abt 1845, New York Find all individuals with events at this location  [Birth]
     5. Caroline INGERSOLL,   b. Abt 1847, New York Find all individuals with events at this location  [Birth]
     6. George INGERSOLL,   b. 1850  [Birth]
     7. Alexander INGERSOLL,   b. Abt 1854, New York Find all individuals with events at this location  [Birth]
    Last Modified 28 Jun 2018 
    Family ID F26031  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family 2 Ellen Frances HOYT,   b. 20 Jul 1842, New York, USA Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 18 Jan 1921, Stamford, Fairfield, Connecticut, USA Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 78 years) 
    Children 
     1. Emma A. INGERSOLL,   b. 1863,   d. 25 Jun 1863  (Age 0 years)  [Birth]
     2. Charles W. INGERSOLL,   b. 6 Apr 1864,   d. 25 Apr 1864  (Age 0 years)  [Birth]
    Last Modified 27 Jun 2018 
    Family ID F23398  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Event Map
    Link to Google MapsBorn - 26 Oct 1818 - Stanwich, Fairfield Co., Connecticut Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsMarried - 3 Nov 1839 - Christs Church, Rye, Westchester, New York Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsCensus - 1850 - Living in New York, New York Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsCensus - 1880 - Living in Stamford, Fairfield Co., Connecticut Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsBuried - - Leeds Graveyard, Darien, Fairfield Co., Connecticut Link to Google Earth
     = Link to Google Earth 

  • Photos
    Simon Ingersoll
    Simon Ingersoll
    Simon Ingersoll invented the percussion drill in 1871.

    Photo added by: Conner

  • Sources 
    1. [S9759] Biography of Simon Ingersoll by Arshad Mahmud.

    2. [S00001] "A Genealogical History of the Hoyt, Haight, and Hight Families", David W. Hoyt, (Name: Name: Providence: Printed for the Author by the Providence Press Co. Boston: Henry Hoyt - 1871;;).

    3. [S04335] A Genealogy of The Ingersoll Family in America 1629-1925 by Lillian Drake Avery.
      Comprising Descendants of Richard Ingersoll of Salem, Mass, John Ingersoll of Westfield, Mass., and John Ingersoll of Huntington, Long Island.

    4. [S02329] Find A Grave Website.

    5. [S9757] 1850 Census New York, New York County, New York.

    6. [S00368] 1860 Census Stamford, Fairfield County, Connecticut.

    7. [S00733] 1880 Census Stamford, Fairfield County, Connecticut.

    8. [S6901] Ancestry.com: Connecticut, Hale Cemetery Inscriptions and Newspaper Notices, 1629-1934.

    9. [S04335] A Genealogy of The Ingersoll Family in America 1629-1925 by Lillian Drake Avery.

    10. [S5568] FamilySearch.org: New York, Marriages, 1686-1980.