The following advertisement is from American Agriculturist, Volume 25, 1866
PACKER’S PATENT STUMP PULLER AND WALL BUILDER
This Machine differs from all other machines for these purposes in its convenience for transporting Stumps, Stones, Cannon, Shafts, Castings, or any heavy weights. After having lifted them with its immense purchase, and strongly trussed frame. The combination of the arched reach with the truss, gives ample room for the load, while the wheel may be of common size. The load being on 4 wheels, is easy on the team, and the machine may be worked by either oxen or horses. The superiority of this Machine as a wall builder, makes It deserving of especial notice. The stone, after being lifted out of the ground, can be drawn alongside the wall to the end and the machine turned so as to bring the load directly across the wall in which position the heaviest stone can be deposited with ease, either at the bottom or top of the wall, and the machine may then be turned back, leaving the stone in place. For particulars, Address PACKER & FISH, Mystic River, Conn.
This article appeared in the same publication.
Wall Builder and Stump Puller. Mr. Packer, of Mystic Conn., in working among the rocks of New London County found the necessity for a machine to lift heavy rocks transport them and deposit them in walls or wherever needed. So he invented one with a pair of shears on strong wheels held apart by two powerful curved reaches giving room for a stone to be swung high between them. For a wall layer, when large stones, say from 1 to 10 tons are to be moved, it is doubtless an excellent thing and has done first rate work in New London County. As a stump puller, it must demonstrate its own excellence.
After finding the advertisement and article above I was hooked and did a little research and found that it was developed and patented in 1865 by George Washington Packer of Connecticut. I have not been able to find the patent information but I did find the image below, at connecticuthistory.org, of the device being demonstrated.
Note the huge boulder lifted out of the ground.
Finally, I found that just last October the Mystic River Historical Society posted an article by Lou Allyn siting a pamphlet with a description of the devices use. According to the article the author and date of the pamphlet are unknown but I think it gives a great insight to its use and a bit of the times. An excerpt from the pamphlet is below.
It may be mentioned here, that the land in this vicinity and for miles in all directions is covered with boulders – boulders large and boulders small, sometimes ledges, but boulders in all shapes, boulders in all positions, boulders on boulders—everywhere. The first settlers simply removed or cleared the smaller rocks, such as a horse could easily drag out of the way, leaving hundreds of heavier ones half embedded in the soil in all directions. Thus thousands upon thousands of acres of splendid soil have been fit for naught but cattle runs of natural pasturage. To clear such land of everything to obstruct the free running of a plow, is a herculean task and it is this wrestling with the stern face of nature, that I found to be the delight of my host. A forenoon spent in watching and assisting in the operations, found me deeply interested. A device called a “Stone-puller” was quite fetching, and was the invention of a near-by resident whom I was disappointed to learn had never realized much out of it, for without it, such operations as are here going forward,
would be prohibited by the question of cost. Mr. H— has 428 acres of just such land as described; skirting the shores of L. I. Sound with deep coves running up on either side of his property; forming between them, Long Point, which is all included in the Haley Farm,
with the exception of a tract on the extreme point, which is owned by parties who started to boom it for Summer cottage purposes, but came to a dead-lock with the town authorities regarding approaches, and who should bear their cost. A description of the boulder-wall building may be interesting. A lot having been chosen for clearance, and direction of proposed walls staked out, all rocks within its area, are first drilled to admit the hooks of
the hoisting apparatus. This work is done in Winter by Messrs. Latham and Slater, two neighbors employed by Mr. H—, who also run the stone-puller. The cost of drilling last
Winter was $72. In the Spring, frost being out and ground settled, the stone-puller (drawn by an immense pair of oxen raised on the place) and looking like the semi-circular truss of a bridge over a country creek—on wheels, proceeds to lift every stone out of its bed by means of time hoisting tackle, which hangs from the centre of the truss just mentioned, behind, being a winch, to winch the rope is led for hoisting. Every stone is dropped alongside the hole it came out of, awaiting its turn to be selected when the work of
building the wall commences in earnest. Sometimes a rock proves to be larger underground than it appeared on the surface and proves too heavy for removal. In
this case, blasting is resorted to; powder being used in preference to dynamite, as not being liable to splinter, but merely to crack the stone under treatment. These preparatory arrangements being complete, the line of the proposed wall is trenched 3 feet deep and 4 feet wide, the soil so excavated being utilized to fill in the great gaping holes in the ground from which the boulders have been hoisted. The trench is then filled in with smaller rocks and broken pieces, and large ones, for that matter, so, however, that they do not come above the level of the ground; thus forming a good foundation and drain at the same time. Fine stone is laid over all, causing the site of the proposed wall to appear like a newly
macadamized road, and easy for the oxen to walk over, which they have to do with every stone laid. The stone-puller is now again brought into use and the foreman of the work selects the first rock, which is hoisted just clear of the ground and hauled to the commencement of the wall, where it is deposited on the prepared foundation. This is called a “bottom,” and the “bottoms” are usually from 1 to 3 tons each. When a second bottom has been laid, the stone-puller fetches lighter stones, from 1/2 ton to 2 tons each, for the top of wall. The machine is laid at right-angles to the wall, the stone hoisted as high as the pulley admits, the oxen swerved in a couple of steps, and the stone swings into its position and is lowered to its bearings more handily, and with less fuss and talk, than I have ever seen anything of the same weight moved and placed before. I found that my host was quite at home in directing a gang of men and a past grand in the art of boulder-wall construction. The “bottoms” are always a couple in advance of the top part and no
more, all through otherwise the work of getting on the heavy top stones would be up-hill indeed. Hands follow the stone-puller to chock the wall before the great stones settle, that is, to fill tip all crevices, great or small, with suitable stones. Quite considerable judgment and forethought are requisite in the selection and placing of the rocks, both in building and chocking, to make a neat piece of work.
I hope you found this as interesting as I did!
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