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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HYATT, John Wesley, inventor, born in Starkey, New York, 28 November, 1837. He received a common school education in Yates county, and then spent one year in the Eddytown seminary. At the age of sixteen he removed to Illinois, where he became a printer. Subsequently he devoted his attention almost exclusively to inventing, and his first patent, received in February, 1861, was for a knife grinder or sharpener. His next important invention was a composition billiard ball, the patent being issued in October, 1865. The Albany company controlling this invention with subsequent improvements has from that date led the market in the manufacture and sale of artificial billiard and pool balls. Large quantities of them are used all over the world, supplying the deficiency caused by the scarcity of ivory. In 1869 Mr. Hyatt obtained patents on a new style of domino, which, with subsequent improvements, formed the basis of the Embossing company, of Albany, which is still in profitable existence. During the same year he first discovered the method of dissolving pyroxyline under pressure, and formed the nucleus to the celluloid business, which, owing to his genius and skill in producing ways and means for manufacturing and manipulating the so-called celluloid, has become a large and profitable industry. Mr. Hyatt's experiments with pyroxyline were begun in Albany; but, unable to interest capital to develop the invention in that city, he went to New York, where he obtained the requisite support, and established works in Newark, New Jersey, which rapidly grew into a very large business. In 1875 he turned his attention to the production of a school slate, and succeeded in producing the finest slate ever put upon the market, together with special machinery for making it. This he disposed of to the Embossing company, and afterward to another concern, which now manufactures the goods. Mr. Hyatt discovered in 1878 a new compound, consisting chiefly of bone and silica, which he called "bonsilate." Subsequently, by means of patents, he perfected the manufacture of that substance, which is made in Albany, and is used in the manufacture of billiard balls, knife handles, buttons, and similar articles. This material is useful for the production of many articles that are now made of celluloid, and, as it is also both fireproof and waterproof, it is capable of being employed in cases where celluloid would not answer. In 1881 Mr. Hyatt's attention was called to the necessity of an efficient method of purifying water. This he found a very large field, there being no reliable system in vogue capable of accomplishing good results. His investigations in this direction led to the completion of a pure-water system, in which the methods arrived at are said to be in advance of all other scientific and practical researches on the subject. By it the foulest river, canal, and lake waters are rendered perfectly bright, pure, and sparkling. This system is in operation in more than a thousand places in the United States, and in 1887 he went to Europe for the purpose of introducing it there. He has received nearly 200 patents.
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