Howe, Elias

BORN 9 Jul 1819, Spencer, Massachusetts - DIED 3 Oct 1867, New York City, New York: Brooklyn
GRAVE LOCATION New York City, New York: Greenwood Cemetery, Brooklyn (Section H, Lot 19967/70)

Elias Howe grew up in Massachusetts, where he worked for a textile factory and for a master mechanic. Several people before him worked on a sewing machine, but he was the one who managed to pull it together and construct a functional sewing machine. He received a patent for his sewing machine with a lockstitch on 10 Sep 1846.

His invention didn't arouse interest in the USA and in 1847 he moved to England, where he sold his patent to a corset maker named William Thomas. Thomas patented it himself and made a fortune. From 1847 until 1849 Howe worked for Thomas. But when he visited the USA in 1854 he observed that Isaac Singer was selling sewing machines with a lockstitch that was patented by Howe. Howe took legal action, won and was entitled to royalties until his patent expired in 1867.

During the Civil War Howe donated a large part of financial means to the Union Army. He served in the army himself from 14 Aug 1862 until 19 Jul 1865. In 1865 he started the Howe Machine Company in Bridgeport, Connecticut. He won a gold medal for his sewing machine at the Exhibition in Paris in 1867. When he died in October of that year he was very rich man.


The grave of Elias Howe at Greenwood Cemetery, Brooklyn, New York City.
Picture by Androom (14 Apr 2008)


Elias Howe. [Source: Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division].


Winkler Prins Encyclopedie (editie 1909), 1909
Elias Howe - Wikipedia

Huber, Kurt

Published: 30 Apr 2008
Last update: 14 Feb 2022