Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
and Company, 1887-1889 and 1999. Virtualology.com warns that these 19th Century
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LYALL, James, inventor, born in Perthshire, Scotland, 13 September, 1836. He came to the United States when he was three years old, and, after a school education, worked in his father's shop, making and mounting Jacquard machines for weaving. At the beginning of the civil war he served with the 12th New York infantry in the defences of Washington. In 1863 he invented a simple mixture for enamelling cloth, which was approved by the United States government, and led to his receiving large contracts for the manufacture of knapsacks and haversacks. He and his brother William employed upward of 4,000 men in filling the orders that they received. In 1868 he invented the Lyall positive-motion loom, which has since been adopted by the largest mills in the United States, and also in Europe, China, and Japan. Its advantages are the abolition of the picking sticks; a positive motion to the shuttle from any point in its course; the great width of the fabric that may be woven; the variety of fabrics that may be produced, from the finest silk to the heaviest carpet; the almost total absence of wear, and the very small amount of power required to operate the looms. There has been no corresponding advance in weaving since the application of power to the loom, and it is claimed that no invention in any field has exceeded this in importance and value to humanity. Mr. Lyall received the gold medal of honor in 1869 from the American institute of New York, which was the first award of this prize. He founded with his brother William in 1861 the firm of J. and W. Lyall, which still carries on the manufacture of looms and machines. Later he established the Brighton mills to weave figured cotton goods, and the Chelsea mills for jute goods. These enterprises are in New York city, and are now (1887) under his direct management.
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