Freedmen's Bureau Digital Collection, 1865–1872, is a product of and owned by the National Museum of African American History and Culture, Smithsonian Institution. Copyright for digital images is retained by the donor, FamilySearch International; permission for commercial use of the digital images may be requested from FamilySearch International, Intellectual Property Office, at: email@example.com.
Courtesy of the U. S. National Archives and Records Administration, FamilySearch International, and the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.
Photographs, publications and correspondence related to D. Ward King's invention the King Road Drag, or the Split-Oak drag, which improved rural travel in the early 20th century by introducing a simple design and low-effort system for grading poor-quality roads. The King Road Drag was promoted heavily across the United States and Canada via the "Good Roads Campaign" originally sponsored by the railroad companies in the early decades of the twentieth century.
Scope and Contents:
This collection contains photographs, correspondence and articles documenting the road drag that D. Ward King invented to grade, drain water from, and improve the condition of rural roads in the early 20th century. Included are photographs of King, his family, the road drag, and the conditions of roads before and after treatment; a scrapbook containing letters and photographs; a blueprint of the road drag; as well as articles and reprints from various publications praising King's invention.
This collection would be of interest to researchers of the Good Roads movement, rural life and development in the early 20th century, and agricultural invention.
This collection is arranged into three (3) series.
Series 1: Correspondence, 1907; 1909
Series 2: Publications, 1903; 1907-1917; 1999
Series 3: Photographs, circa 1905-1915; 1908-1910; 1919-1920
Biographical / Historical:
Born and educated in Springfield Ohio, David Ward King (1857-1920), who was known as D. Ward King, moved to rural Maitland, Missouri after his marriage in 1881 and began life as a farmer. In 1896, he demonstrated the use of his simple invention, dubbed the "King Road Drag" or the split-oak drag, which consisted of two split logs attached by crossbeams and hitched with a loop of chain to horses, to be dragged along a stretch of rutted muddy road until it was smooth. His rudimentary road grader had the effect not only of flattening and compacting muddy soil, but creating a crest in the center of the road, sloping down at each side, so that the next rain would run off the packed surface into the ditch. This basic scheme had a revolutionary effect on rural life--farmers were often mired in mud on the roads to their fields or into town, their most powerful draft horses unable to contend with wagon wheels sunken into deep ruts after heavy rains. Use of King's drag soon made their roads not only passable, but faster and safer to travel, which saved time and money for all in the community.
In 1903, King was employed by the Chicago and North Western Transportation Co. to promote his product across the country as part of their "Good Roads Campaign," giving lectures and demonstrations. King patented the King Road Drag (US Patent 884,497 and US Patent 1,102,671) in 1908 and later improved it in 1914. The United States Patent Office called his invention a "Road Grader," but King referred to it as a "split log drag," the "King Road Drag,"
Although King patented his invention, the simple design made it difficult to enforce patent rights, so farmers were encouraged to build and make use of their own versions of the road drag. Even after the railroads withdrew their support (the road drag's success had the effect of sending more potential passengers on the roads with their bicycles and cars, rather than riding the train), King made a decent living for years on the lecture circuit, presenting in 46 of the 48 then- existing states and Canada. His midwestern education made him an eloquent, dynamic speaker, and his talks were often sold out. The invention of the road drag and its almost evangelical use across the country has been credited for increased automobile use in the early part of the century, as well as the advent of parcel post delivery and mail-order catalogue supply to rural areas.
Collection donated by Helene W. King and Amy Burbank King in 2014.
Collection is open for research.
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
This finding aid was digitized with funds generously provided by the Smithsonian Institution Women’s Committee.
The Doris Holmes Blake papers consist of correspondence, diaries, photographs and related materials documenting in great detail Blake's personal life and, to a lesser
degree, her professional career.
The heavy correspondence she maintained with her mother and daughter, her essays and children's books, and the 70 years' worth of daily journals all attest to her infatuation
with the written word and preoccupation with her inner life. Blake's diaries and family papers stunningly illuminate the contrasts in the daily lives of herself, her mother,
and her daughter.
The papers relating to her professional life are less complete. Although she spent almost 60 years (1919-1978) in association with the entomological staffs of the U. S.
Department of Agriculture and the Smithsonian Institution, published numerous professional papers, produced all of her own illustrations, and illustrated many of her husband's
botanical works as well, this collection contains only a very limited amount of material documenting those activities. The papers do, however, include her extensive correspondence
with fellow entomologists, both in the United States and abroad.
In the course of transferring her husband's papers to the University of Texas, some of Blake's own papers were included as well. They are presently in the collection of
the Humanities Research Center of the University of Texas at Austin and include letters to her parents, 1906-1950; school and college notebooks, papers, essays and drawings;
and clippings, genealogical notes, and miscellaneous family letters and papers.
Doris Holmes (1892-1978) was born in Stoughton, Massachusetts, to a middle-class grocer and his wife. Essentially an only child (two siblings died in early childhood
and infancy), her natural intelligence, stubbornness, and extremely competitive nature were well fostered by her parents, who steadily encouraged and supported her determination
Holmes left Stoughton for Boston University's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences in 1909, where she pursued studies in business and the classics, earning her A.B. in
1913. Her business skills led to her association with the Boston Psychopathic Hospital in 1913, initially as a clerk, and later as aide to Dr. Herman Adler. Her interests
in science and psychology led her to an A.M. from Radcliffe College in zoology and psychology in 1917.
After a short time as a researcher at Bedford Hills Reformatory for Women, Holmes married her childhood sweetheart, botanist Sidney Fay Blake. Early in 1919, Doris Blake
found work as a clerk for the Department of Agriculture's Bureau of Entomology under Frank H. Chittenden, and began the entomological studies that would continue for the rest
of her life.
Blake worked her way up to junior entomologist and, when Chittenden retired, continued her work under Eugene A. Schwarz at the United States National Museum. The birth
in 1928 of daughter Doris Sidney (an infant son had died shortly after birth in 1927) was not a sign for her to slow down -- Blake hired a nurse to watch the baby while she
continued to watch beetles. In 1933 her official employment came to an end with the institution of regulations prohibiting more than one member of a family from holding a
government position (Sidney Blake was then working for the Department of Agriculture).
Although no longer on the payroll, Blake continued her taxonomic work on the family Chrysomelides for almost 45 more years, first as a collaborator and then as a research
associate of the Smithsonian Institution. Shortly after her husband's death, Blake traveled to Europe in 1960 on a National Science Foundation grant to revise the genus Neobrotica
Jacoby. She ultimately published 97 papers in various journals (see "Doris Holmes Blake," Froeschner, Froeschner and Cartwright, Proc. Entomol. Soc. Wash., 83(3), 1981, for
a complete bibliography) and continued her active research until shortly before her death on December 3, 1978.
Illust. catalog of shingle and heading machinery ; woods saws ; road scrapers ; etc. Dealers in stationary and portable engines ; rubber and leather belting ; shafting and pulleys ; shingle and heading saws ; stave machinery.