The Buchanans of Clark County, OH:Information about James Leffel
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James Leffel (b. April 19, 1806, d. June 11, 1866)James Leffel (son of John Leffel and Elizabeth Obenshain)242, 243 was born April 19, 1806 in Botetourt County, VA244, and died June 11, 1866 in Springfield, OH.He married Mary A. Croft on July 04, 1830245.
Notes for James Leffel:
Founder of Leffel Company.Inventor of the turbine water wheel.
Moved to Ohio with his parents when he was 9 months old.
He was a "perfectionist" who was determined to build a better waterwheel.In the 1840s sought to expand the family's milling operations by adding a foundry and machine shop.He most famous for his invention of the "double turbine water wheel".
Leffel first made practical use of his knowledge learned in his father's gristmil and sawmill when in the 1820s he built a sawmill in which he installed a wheel of his own design and construction.The mill was "the most efficient mill in the country."HIs revolutionary wheel design drew the attettion of mill owners from all over the country.He found himself beset on all sides by requests from millowners to re-model their wheels.He analyzed each and detected the errors in design and construction and transformed underpowered wheels and mills into more efficient and powerful ones.
For about 15 years Leffel worked as a millwright.He acquired skill in metal working and saw the popuation of Springfield and Clark County grow from 13,114 in 1830 to 16,882 in 1840 to 22,178 in 1950.He saw the corresponding market need for more sickles, knives, and other small iron implements grow and in the late 1830's erected his first foundry and machine shop near the National Road west of Springfield near Buck Creek.Completed in 1840, the foundry was the first such facility in the Spfld. area and was the site of much of his inventive and innovative labors.Patronage became so great by 1843 he decided to enlarge his productive capacity and diversify his output.He added production of mill gearing and stoves to his line of small implements.Stove castings soon accounted for much of the firms production.The "Queen of the West", a typical brand name of the day, became the first important stove in the firm's line.
Leffel became one of the acknowledge industrial leaders of Spfld. and proposed to skeptical Spfld. manufacturers in the early 1840s that a "race" for the effective utilization of water power could be brought from the outlying Buck Creek to a main thoroughfare in the community.He envisioned the establishment of a complex of mills along the race that would bring trade to the very doorsteps of merchants and manufacturers.
He and partners cut a 1.5 mile race from county to town.They erected a "Water Power and Flouring Mill".Leffel located his cotton mill and machine shop by the race.Several othe mills were soon located along the conduit, which at its lowest water stage provided enough water power to operate "twenty run of stone".
His enterprises in 1850 were the second largest employer in Clark County.His stoves, Buckeye, Double Oven, and the "Red Cook Stove", were best sellers.
Though busily engaged in foundry work, Leffel was more concerned with water wheel development.Finally in 1862 his inventive energies bore fruit and he patented his revolutionary "Double turbine water wheel".Sales of this "American Double Turbine" took off nationally.He built a new plant "The James Leffel Double Turbine Water Wheel Works"just to manufacture this at the corner of S. Limestone and Washington St.Orders grew from 47 in 1862 to 62 in 1863 and 153 in 1864.Customers were flour mill operators, woolen goods manufacturers, paper producers, and farm equipment makers to name a few.By 1864 demand and sales were not only national but international.
He died in 1866, but "The James Leffel & Co." still exists in Spfld. and continues to manufacture hydraulic turbines as well as scotch boilers and stockers.
More About James Leffel and Mary A. Croft:
Marriage: July 04, 1830245
Children of James Leffel and Mary A. Croft are:
- Warren Leffel, b. March 25, 1851, d. date unknown.
- Ed C. Leffel, b. July 04, 1857, d. date unknown.
- Eliza Leffel, d. date unknown.