Oliver J. Bollinger brought Manufacturing Experience to the York Manufacturing Company in addition to contributing his patent on a Turbine Water Wheel
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:
- S. Morgan Smith’s Success Washing Machine; Origins of the York Manufacturing Company
- S. Morgan Smith, patentee Success Washing Machine, at 436 West Market Street in York
- S. Morgan Smith learns a valuable lesson about patents; at the hands of McGinnes & Carter
- Jacob Loucks; Family History of a Founder of the York Manufacturing Company
- Jacob Loucks learned the Paper Making Trade near Hunt Valley, Maryland; P. H. Glatfelter followed in his footsteps
- Jacob Loucks affiliations with Four Paper Mills make him Relatively Wealthy; prior to providing Start-up Cash for York Manufacturing Company
- Oliver J. Bollinger and his initial Patented Bollinger Turbine Water Wheel
- O. J. Bollinger & Co. plus S. Morgan Smith and Jacob Loucks form the York Manufacturing Company in 1874
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.
This is the first in a series of three posts on Oliver J. Bollinger and his group of three investors; George H. Buck, Robert L. Shetter and Henry H. LaMotte. Oliver J. Bollinger is pictured at the beginning of this post; it is a portrait from about 1884, when he was 57 years old.
Oliver J. Bollinger brought manufacturing experience to the York Manufacturing Company in addition to contributing his patent on a Turbine Water Wheel. Pages 8 and 9 of the Biographical Sketches of John Gibson’s 1886 History of York County, PA, contain a good article showcasing Bollinger’s many years of manufacturing and design expertise that he possessed prior to the establishment of the York Manufacturing Compnay.
Oliver J. Bollinger whose portrait appears in this work, is a well-known inventor and manufacturer of turbine water-wheels and mill machinery. He was born in Adams County, Penn., April 13, 1827, and is the only child of Matthias and Elizabeth (Eckert) Bollinger, and of German lineage. His father was a native of Carroll County, Md., born in 1801. He became a resident of York County in 1838, settling in Codorus Township, where he resided until his death, in 1879. He was a millwright by trade, and was actively engaged in that branch of industry for over forty years.
Our subject’s early life was passed upon a farm, receiving his education in the common schools, the White Hall Academy and the Pennsylvania Commercial Institute. His father being a millwright, at the age of eighteen he left the farm and apprenticed himself to the millwright trade, under his father, where he remained several years, acquiring a thorough knowledge of the business, and finally succeeded his father, who, retiring, left the entire control to the son. Mr. Bollinger has continued the business successfully since then, a period of forty years, and is today probably the oldest and best known, as he is certainly the best qualified. It is but natural to one who dates his knowledge of mills and machinery from infancy, and his attempts at mill construction from the jack-knife, the shingle and the country stream or roadside brook, where his childish ambition reveled in its fancied great accomplishment of his efforts.
In 1860 he took up the manufacture of the Jonval turbine water-wheel, but an experience of several years demonstrated clearly to him that improvements were not only desirable, but necessary, and after a long period of experiments and attempts at different constructions, he, in June, 1870, patented and gave to the trade the old Bollinger turbine water-wheel, sometimes styled the “Success.” Though he afterward disposed of the right and title to manufacture that wheel, it was destined for him to perfect another, styled “Bollinger’s new turbine water-wheel,” June 1, 1875, and to this new wheel he is devoting his time and attention, offering the same to the public with elaborate explanation by catalog and circular. To his manufacture of water-wheels he adds mill machinery, and we particularly call the attention of those interested, to his inventions of mill-stone supports and driving devices, which reflect much credit upon the inventor and give the trade articles of sterling value.
In 1874 Mr. Bollinger became one of the members of the York Manufacturing Company, then just started, and took position in the firm as mechanical engineer and foreman of the shops. He remained there for two years, when, realizing the value of his new wheel, he began devoting all his time to it, and so he continues today.
It can be said, in brief, that the new Bollinger turbine water-wheel, patented June 1, 1875, is the result and embodiment of the inventor’s valuable experience of about thirty-five years in the designing and construction of water-wheels and mill machinery, and that in this turbine, good and well-tried features have been preserved, while register gates, pivot or claptrap gates, cams, eccentrics, racks and pinions under water, worm-gears, windlasses, and all such trappy and complicated devices which have heretofore rendered turbine wheels troublesome, impracticable and worthless, have been dispensed with, and substituted by new and substantial improvements, protected by letters patent. All wheels and machinery are built under the immediate supervision of the inventor, who invites the special attention of wheel builders and wheel buyers.
Mr. Bollinger has for sixteen years been a resident of York, and has added much to its progressive business interests. He belongs to that class of men who, active and fertile in mechanical and inventive resources, have done much to give life and reality to the ideas which emanate only from men of natural inborn mechanical attributes. In 1856 he was united in marriage with Susan C. Fife, a native of York County and daughter of John and Elizabeth Fife. To this marriage were born three children. Mrs. Bollinger died in 1883, at forty-five years of age. For twenty-five years Mr. Bollinger has been a member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. Politically he is a Republican, and has served as a member of the borough council. Affable and of a kindly nature, warm in his friendships and sincere in his attachments, he is regarded as a good citizen, alive to all matters pertaining to his city’s welfare, a reliable, straightforward business and moral man.
This article notes that in 1860 Oliver Bollinger took up the manufacture of the Jonval turbine water wheel. This was at a time when virtually all water wheels were mounted on a horizontal shaft and water was allowed to flow over or under, onto the water wheel, i.e. the type of water wheel that can be seen in virtually any old Grist Mill photo.
The Jonval turbine water-wheel design was new; it was invented in France during 1843. The Jonval invention had a vertical shaft in which water descends through fixed curved guide vanes, directing the flow sideways onto curved vanes on a turbine water wheel. The Jonval design took some time to be accepted because of operational and reliability issues.
In 1860 Oliver Bollinger would have been at the forefront of manufacturing this type of turbine water wheel in the United States. As the article noted, his “experience of several years demonstrated clearly to him that improvements were not only desirable, but necessary.”Reading the Headlines: A Quick Index to All YorksPast Posts