Allen County native Eugene A. Porter (1841-1922) was a farmer and entrepreneur who, together with his three brothers, developed the “corn cob crusher,” a machine that processed corn into livestock feed. According to a manual at the Filson Historical Society, by 1891 E. A. Porter & Bros. corn crushers were manufactured and sold throughout the South and Midwest for prices ranging from $125 to $165.
Available at WKU’s Special Collections Library is a collection of correspondence dating from 1892 to 1895 documenting Porter’s manufacture, marketing and sale of the corn cob crusher. In letters to Ohio, Illinois, Kansas, Nebraska and elsewhere, he relays orders to local manufacturers and shippers, licenses dealers, settles accounts and handles complaints. Porter’s correspondence is also interesting because it is preserved in two letter press books containing about 1,000 sheets each of tissue-thin, linen-fiber paper. Porter had written each original letter using special ink, which was then transferred to the moistened tissue paper by the use of a press. The absorbency and transparency of the paper allowed the script to be read from the front side, thus preserving a copy of the letter for Porter’s records.
A finding aid for the Eugene A. Porter collection can be downloaded here.