William N. Whiteley

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Champion Reaper.jpg
The Champion reaper, such as the one pictured here, measuring 4' 5" by 6' 7" by 5' 3" (134.62 by 200.66 by 160.02 cm), formed the foundation of an agricultural empire. In the early 1850s, William N. Whiteley invented the first prototype of what would become the Champion Combined Reaper and Mower with Sweep Rake.

William Needham Whiteley was an important Ohio industrialist during the nineteenth century.

Whiteley was born in 1835, in Springfield, Ohio. In 1852, his father opened the Whiteley and Fassler Company, a manufacturing establishment for farm implements in Springfield. William Whiteley also joined the business. William eventually assumed control of the company and renamed it the Champion Machine Company.

Under William Whiteley, the Champion Machine Company flourished. Whiteley received forty-two patents for his farming inventions. In 1882, Whiteley opened a new plant in Springfield. It was the largest factory of its kind in the entire world. It was eight hundred by twelve hundred feet. The Champion Machine Company actually owned fifty-four acres of land in Springfield, and by the mid 1870s, employed more than two thousand workers.

The Champion Machine Company was the largest producer of farming implements in the world by the 1880s. The firm manufactured more than twelve thousand reapers each year during this time. Whiteley eventually sold the Champion Machine Company to Warder, Bushnell & Glessner. In 1902, Whiteley's former business became part of the International Harvester Company.

Whiteley died in 1911.

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