Sunday, September 17, 2017

Omer K. Hibbets & the Farmer's Friend

I've been working on scripts for next Sunday's Chariton Cemetery Heritage Tour, spending more time than usual with my nose --- digitally --- buried in back issues of Chariton newspapers. The illustration at left, considerably larger and centered on the front page of The Leader of Aug. 1, 1907, caught my eye.

Omer H. Hibbets, a Chariton carpenter, was about 37 when he designed this innovation in farm technology of the day, useful in three forms --- as a grain wagon, a stock wagon and as a hay rack.

He did indeed patent it and apparently traveled to a variety of fairs later in 1907 --- including the Iowa State Fair --- in an effort to market it. But I can find no indication that it ever was manufactured or sold.

Not long after this, Omer married Miss Clara Butcher --- but during the fall of 1912 he was diagnosed with diabetes. His condition deteriorated and on March 27, 1913, he died at age 43. Clara, two brothers, two sisters and a stepmother were his immediate survivors.

Clara survived until 1933, becoming something of a recluse as she grew older and feigning extreme poverty. As it turned out, she was actually well endowed financially and a search had to be launched for her only heir, Otho Butcher, a nephew who eventually turned up.

Omer and Clara are buried in the Chariton Cemetery with her parents and other members of the Butcher family. His patent, still on record, and his tombstone seem to be all that's left to remember him by.

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