Throwback Thursday: Innovation continues in Ripon, a city that thinks different since 1848 | News

Ripon has long been known for thinking and acting differently since its founding in the 1800s.

This is the first article in a series documenting innovation and invention as Riponites designed inventions that were approved by the US Patent Office in Washington, DC

Did you know?

  • The US Government and Congress grants four different types of patents to secure inventor rights to design, use and sell products, enhance processes, or register new species of plants.

  • 110 US patent applications were filed from individuals in Ripon in the 1800s.

  • 66 US patent applications were filed from Ripon in the 1960s.

  • The majority of patents may be granted to anyone who initiates or discovers any new and useful process, machine, item for manufacture or any new useful improvement thereof.

  • Patent applications include a need for professional drawings of inventions, written details about their attributes and functions for US Patent and Trademark Office consideration and approval.

  • Today, it takes an average of 24 months to have an invention or innovation for a patent to be drawn, submitted and approved by the US Patent and Trademark Office in Washington, DC

Details about patents granted.

  • The patents granted to the citizens and inventors in Ripon all have professional drawings, descriptions and the dates approved by the US Patent and Trademark Office

  • Professional artists who drew the inventions in order to be considered for patent vary, and all of the applications are signed by the inventors, plus have the signatures of two local Ripon “witnesses” of the inventions on patent applications.

  • For most of the applications from Ripon, the inventors and their witnesses who co-signed these documents can be traced within the Pedrick Genealogy Notebooks at the Ripon Historical Society, the Ripon Public Library and by researching the US Federal Census by individual name and date via

  • Originally, the length of time that a patent was held and protected for use was determined on a case-by-case basis, so there were no set expiration dates. Over the years, in modern times, this has changed to become an average of 20 years from date filed until individual patents expired.

  • Many early US patent records were lost in a fire. However, most that were granted from the year 1836 on are available for viewing online at by going to guide, fed-records, groups.

An early example of a Riponite applying for a Patent.

Riponites who have applied for patents weren’t just inventors.

Most owned and operated businesses for their everyday income. Some were farmers seeking to improve farm equipment and related parts.

This is sort of like the Wright Brothers who invented the airplane as their day job was operating a bicycle shop.

William Pearson (1848-1893) was born in England and came to live in Ripon in 1851. He was the manufacturer of beer for many years near the site on the Silver Creek that was eventually used by the Haas Brewery. He was married in England and brought his family with him, including nine children.

In 1870, Pearson partnered with Peter Hogoboom (1820-1880), who was born in New York and arrived in Ripon as a grain dealer and local farmer. Hogoboom must have held multiple business interests. In addition to being a grain dealer and farmer, he was listed in a Fond du Lac County Ripon Directory as a partner at “Hogoboom and Akin, cabinet makers and furniture dealers, office and warehouse located at the old City Hall.”

This would have been where Hamilton’s Ladies’ Apparel currently is located.

Together, Pearson and Hogoboom invented and produced a new and original design for trademarks, which became a “double universal joint. It was used in coupling shafts for machinery to be used with “Universal Boiling Fluid” to clean steam-boilers.” The patent was granted March 15, 1870.

While the historical society does not know more about their machinery equipment and their sales or profits, it does know that Pearson and his family remained in Ripon and are buried at Hillside Cemetery off of Congress Street.

The Hogobooms remained in Ripon 10 years, before relocating to Juneau, Wis., and then moving to California, where they are buried.

Universal Joints today

“Universal joints” inside operating machinery as connectors to drive shafts and other mechanical parts that allow them to function. Today, modern universal joints can operate at many (internal machinery) angles and are also built of various shapes, sizes, and materials.

Universal joints are manufactured by multiple industries since the above concept was patented by the inventor in Ripon.

The Ripon Historical Society is the oldest continually operating historical society in Wisconsin. It is open Fridays and Saturdays 10 am to 1 pm

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