My Town Monday: A Useful Tool from Dayton

You probably have one in your home, and think nothing of it. I know I don’t, and being a short person, I probably use them more than most people! This ordinary, everyday object I’m talking about is the folding stepladder.


Original patent application

Similar devices existed before Dayton carpenter John H. Balsley developed his folding stepladder in January, 1862, but his had a couple of new twists. One of these was his use of flat boards for the ladder slats, as opposed to rounded pieces, hence the “step” in stepladder. His other innovation was hinging the ladder at the top, making it easy to fold and store.

He applied for a renewal patent in 1865, and patented an improved version in 1870, although I wasn’t able to determine what was different about the latter, as I couldn’t find any pictures of that model specifically. Over the next fifteen years, Mr. Balsley went on to develop and patent an adjustable table leg, a tobacco drying machine, and a paper bag machine. His inventions made him a wealthy businessman, and he sold his stepladder company in 1882 to go into real estate investment.

Newspaper ad from 1861 via Dayton Metro Library

Newspaper ad from 1861 via Dayton Metro Library

This is one example of those “huh, that’s cool” things I run across while doing research. I don’t see using it in my books, but you never know, and it’s fun anyway.

So there’s your little bit of My Town Monday. A shout-out to Karen McFarland for letting me know that people besides my family read and enjoyed these posts – thanks, Karen! Knowing that, I’ll probably bring one in to my regular ROW80 update once a month or so.

As for my goals and writing progress, I got a good bit of outlining done this week, and that will continue. ROW80 resumes on October 7, so if you’re a writer and want some camaraderie and motivation, why not check it out and join us?

Have you encountered any fun facts lately? In either case, what have you been up to this week? Please share – I’d love to hear from you!

Jennette Marie Powell writes stories about ordinary people in ordinary places, who do extraordinary things and learn that those ordinary places are anything but. In her Saturn Society novels, unwilling time travelers do what they must to make things right... and change more than they expect. You can find her books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Kobo, iTunes, and more.

6 Responses to \