Jerome Increase Case
Founder / J.I. Case Machinery Company / 1819 - 1891 / Inducted 2008
Jerome Increase Case founded the J.I. Case Machinery Company in 1842 and became a leader in both construction equipment and agricultural machinery. In 1869 his "Eclipse" thresher made significant advances by combining a variety of new attachments, boosting capacity and requiring one less person to operate. In 1878 he introduced self-propelled steam-powered tractors, which found new applications in construction, on steam rollers and graders. As a founder of the Racine (WI) Manufacturers' National Bank and the First National Bank of Burlington (WI), Case contributed to the industry through his work in providing financing for customers to buy equipment, which helped to stimulate industry growth. He was also a leader in pushing the global frontiers of the off-road equipment industry, expanding into Russia and Western Europe in the 1850s. He greatly enhanced steam engine safety by adding a spark arrester to engine smoke stacks. To reduce boiler explosions, Case added a "Judson's patent" governor to prevent the engine from racing and a "fusible plug" as a safety valve when the water level dropped too low.
Case served three terms in the Wisconsin State Senate, two terms as mayor of Racine and as president of both the Racine County and Wisconsin State Agricultural Societies. In 1870 he helped found the Wisconsin Academy of Science, Arts and Letters.