Thomas Crane

Date in History: 1843-1870

Thomas Crane was born in Massachusetts in 1822 and came to Fort Atkinson in 1843 to live with his sister and brother-in-law, Milo Jones. Crane was a trained mechanic with a creative mind who would receive over 20 patents during his lifetime. In fact, his 1867 knitting machine led to the creation of the industrial Crane Knitting Machine Works here in Fort, which by 1870 was turning out three machines a day and employing 16 men.

The Crane knitter was designed to be used at home but it wasn’t cheap. The cabinet version sold for $60 and the portable version for 45. However, on the up side, it was advertised that it could knit a pair of socks in 25 minutes and so easy to use that a child ten years old could learn to operate it in a short time.

This historic document aired on the radio as an Historic Minute on 09/22/2003.

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