Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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KNOWLES, Lucius James, inventor, born in Hardwick, Massachusetts, 2 July, 1819; died in Washington, D. C., 25 February, 1884. He spent his early life on his father's farm, until he attained the age of fourteen, when for a time he studied in a high school. Three years later he became a clerk in a store in Shrewsbury. He had already begun to invent and construct machinery, and now part of the store was transformed into a machine-shop. Here he spent much of his time in the investigation of new discoveries, and in testing them by experiments. Many of the improvements in reed-instruments that have since come into general use were invented in this way. In 1840 he put into operation several working models of steam-engines, and during his experiments invented the Knowles safety steam-boiler feed-regulator. He also turned his attention to magnetism and electricity, studying these subjects with special reference to motive power, and for a time the discovery of photography occupied his attention. He then proceeded to the manufacture of a variety of machinery and materials used in that art, continuing so for two years. His next invention was a machine for spooling thread, which he began to manufacture in New Worcester. Later he turned his attention to the production of fine numbers of thread, composed of six cords, and, after two years of experimenting, he was successful in producing six-cord spool-cotton equal to the English. In 1847 he began the manufacture of cotton warps at Spencer under the firm-name of Knowles and Sibley, and two years later the business was transferred to Warren, Massachusetts he began to produce woollen goods in 1853, but in 1859 disposed of his interests, he thenceforth devoted his attention chiefly to the development of his inventions. The manufacture of his patent safety steam-boiler feeder was then begun, and in 1858 he began to construct his patent steam-pump. Soon afterward he procured patents for steam pumping-engines, an automatic boiler-feeder, and a fancy loom for producing all kinds of narrow textile fabrics. In 1860 he disposed of one half of the steam-pump business, and since that time, with gradual increase of plant, the Knowles pinup-works have become the most extensive of their kind in the United States, but ultimately were disposed of to the George F. Blake manufacturing company of Boston. In 1861 he began the manufacture of the tape-binding loom under the different patents that had been secured by him in preceding years, and under his management this business grew very rapidly. Mr. Knowles was elected a member of the Massachusetts legislature in 1.862 and 1865, of the senate in 1869, and received the degree of A.M. from Williams in 1865.
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