The man who invented the power loom for carpet manufacture and one of the founders of Massachusetts Institute of Technology was born today in 1814. Now WE know em


Erastus Brigham Bigelow was April 2, 1814 in West Boylston, Massachusetts as the son of a cotton weaver.

His parents wish was for Bigelow was for him to become a physician, however his father’s business struggled and he was forced to discontinue his studies.

Bigelow showed an inventive genius by the age of 14, when he invented a machine to manufacture piping cord, for which he earned $100. This enabled him to purchase books and continue his own education.

While Bigelow helped his father by working in a dry-goods store, he turned his attention to other inventions and even began to teach penmanship.

By the time he turned 18, he had devised a handloom for suspender webbing.

Bigelow also worked on Stenography, writing and publishing a short manual on shorthand around 1832.

In 1838, he invented a power loom for weaving knotted counterpanes, and later a power loom to weave coach lace.

Bigelow also married Susan King in October of 1838.



In 1839, Bigelow turned his attention to the weaving of carpets. He, at first, was contracted to produce a power-loom capable of weaving two-ply ingrain carpets, such as had been hitherto woven exclusively by the handloom, which only produced eight yards a day.

With his first carpet loom he succeeded in obtaining ten or twelve yards daily, which he increased by improvements until a product of twenty-five yards was regularly obtained.

Bigelow and his brother Horatio started the Bigelow Carpet Company and are credited with founding the town of Clinton, Massachusetts which was originally part of the town of Lancaster.

Of the 50 patents taken out by Bigelow, the larger portion were directly or indirectly connected with the textile art. The first successful power loom for weaving coach lace, wire cloth, ingrain, tapestry, Brussels and Wilton carpets and silk brocatel, were all his inventions.

His wife Susan died in 1841, and married his second wife Eliza Means on May 16, of 1843.

Clinton, Massachusetts was officially incorporated as a separate town on March 14, 1850, and named after the DeWitt Clinton Hotel in New York, a favorite place of the town’s founders, Erastus Brigham Bigelow and his brother Horatio.

The town of Clinton owed its growth and manufacturing importance to him, as it contained the coach-lace works, the Lancaster Quilt Company, and the Bigelow Carpet Company, all of which were direct results of his inventive ability.

The Bigelow carpet loom made his name widely known.

Bigelow founded the Bigelow Mechanics Institute in 1846, which is today known as the Bigelow Free Public Library located in Clinton, Massachusetts.

Then, Bigelow invented a power loom for weaving “Brussels” and velvet tapestry carpets, his most important invention, which attracted much attention at the World’s Fair in London in 1851.

In 1861, Bigelow was also an original incorporator of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

In 1862, Bigelow formulated a scheme of uniform taxation for the United States by means of stamps, and he published The Tariff Question, considered in regard to the Policy of England and the Interests of the United States (Boston, 1863).

Bigelow was then elected a member of the Boston Historical Society in April 1864.

In 1866, Bigelow was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Then in 1869, he presented to the Boston Historical Society six large volumes entitled Inventions of Erastus Brigham Bigelow patented in England from 1837 to 1868 in which were gathered the printed specifications of eighteen patents granted to him in England.

Erastus Brigham Bigelow died on December 6, 1879 at Boston, MA.

 Now WE know em



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