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Quiz #376 Results
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Answer to Quiz #376 - November 25, 2012
1.  What is the invention?
2.  The inventor was the only _____ who was granted a patent.  Who was he?
3.  Where can you find the scale model in Figure 2?
Figure 1.
Figure 2.
Tin Eye Alert!
You can find this photograph on TinEye,
but you will have more fun if you solve the puzzle on your own.
Submitted by Quizmaster Emeritus Mike Dalton.
Presidents, especially the US ones, always attract a lot
of attention. But there are some facts that aren’t
commonly known. Well, that Barak Obama is the first
African-American US-president and that he received the
Nobel Peace Prize 2009 doesn´t sound new. But did you
know that John F. Kennedy was so far the only Catholic
American president and that he won a Purlitzer Prize.

And Abraham Lincoln? Do you know that he was the
only United States President to hold a patent?

On May 22, 1849, Abraham Lincoln received Patent No.
6469 for a device to lift boats over shoals, an invention
which was never manufactured. However, it did make
him the only U.S. president to hold a patent. Shown
here is his scale model at the Smithsonian Institution in
Washington, D.C.  
Congratulations to Our Winners!

Christine Walker                Arthur Hartwell
Carol Farrant                Donna Jolley
Angel Esparza                Gary Rice
Margaret Paxton                Gus Marsh
John Pero                Shay Nelson
Rebecca Bare                Collier Smith
Janice M. Sellers                Joshua Kreitzer
Peter Norton                Frank Nollette
Sally Garrison                Dennis Brann
Marcelle Comeau                Tony Knapp
Skip Murray                Judy Pfaff
Daniel Jolley                Shay Nelson
Comments from Our Readers
1.  A 1849 patent for an inflatable device
to lift riverboats over shoals in shallow water.
2.  Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of the United States.
3.  Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC.
I have to admit the second question gave the answer away for me. I knew that
Abraham Lincoln was the only president to be granded a patent.  I just did not know
what it was.  I typed "Abraham Lincoln invention" into Google and "patent" came up as
well.  I found the answers here:
Rebecca Bare
Dave and I had gone to see the film
Lincoln  I sat down to tackle the quiz on my 7 inch
tablet.  I recognized it was a boating device.  Before doing a seach, I asked Dave what
he thought.  He said try President and patent.  It came up at once.  That was a whole
lot of typing for a tablet, so I waited until I could sit at my computer.

As I was going through my email for this week, I happened on the same thing with a
Michigan connection  The Michigan Archives sends out an email of interest each week.

A little bit different story on the origins of Lincoln's idea.  Everyone wants to claim a
Lincoln connection including us Michiganders.  By the way, the Lincoln movie is
extraordinary and well worth a trip to the movie theatre.
Judy Pfaff
Googled images of patent models.  Found a picture which was on Business insider
webpage.  It gave patent number and location of model.  Then googled patents using
"Abraham Lincoln Patent" to get description.
Tony Knapp
How I solved it:

I could see it was a ship model so I did a search on "ship patents".  A number of
interesting articles came up.  The seventh one which popped up was the patent by
Abraham Lincoln showing a different view of the model at the Smithsonian.  I then did
a search on "Lincoln ship patent" and the Wikipedia article popped, showing the
  Marcelle Comeau
Tineye was unnecessary for solving this puzzle.  All I did was search for "boat patent".
Margaret Paxton
The new movie about Lincoln is really very good. Not sure if I want to be related to
someone famous. With my luck it would be someone infamous. LOL All answers
found at
Sally Garrison
I guess I should have put this in the other email. I solved it by googling ''presidents
invention''. I actually thought it was probably a Mark Twain invention, since he hung
out with those types and he did river stuff, but I wrote ''Presidents invention'' instead.
Just a lucky hit, as I had no clue.
Christine Walker
This one was a hard one for me.  I spent a long time (over an hour) searching for ships
and boats with adjustable decks, decks that would elecate, and the like.  No luck, and I
never thought of adjusting the height of the boat itself!  It wasn'tt until I happened to
add the search term "patent" to "boat" that Google Images turned up a picture of your
device.  From there I was led to which says it all in a
couple of sentences.
Collier Smith
N.B.  That's odd that you would find the quiz so hard this week.  Most people got it
in a snap - as you say, by Googling "patent" and "boat".  You went about it too
analytically. - Q. Gen.

I've been told that before. :-D  When the photo turned up, my reaction was "Well, duh!"

I flatter myself that I can trave my roots back accurately enough to show I'm a second
cousin (six times removed) of both James Madison and Zacharty Taylor, and a first
cousin (seven times removed) of Geo. Washington.  I look forward to the day that
DNA can show that kind of detail.

We are planning to see the Lincoln movie soon.
Collier Smith
Well sometimes you get onto the wrong track but it serendipitously shunts you back to
the right one.  I started by looking for "double deck boat" , got nowhere.  Tried "slave
boat patent", because that's what the look of the vessel suggested to me.  The
combination of "slave" and "patent" led to Abe Lincoln.
Peter Norton
Started searching boat outrigger and pontoon patents and then decided to think which
category of person might be small enough that out of so few only one held a patent.
John Pero
Easy.  I searched "only * granted a patent" and got all but the location of the model on
the first page I looked at.  I found the location of the model on the second page I
looked at.
Carol Gene Farrant
Of all the historical figures that have ever lived that I would like to have met, Abraham
Lincoln is at the top of the list.
Daniel E. Jolley
N.B. I agree with you. If I ever had a chance to meet an historical figure, Abraham
Lincoln would be the one.

Just a FYI, I have been involved in the Abraham Lincoln DNA project for over a
year now. For this, I've become acquainted with much historical info about him that
you might not read just browsing.  It's been interesting.  Everything about the man is
fascinating, and his genome is no exception.

Stay tuned for developments.

In the meantime, I'd recommend Bill Reilly's book on Abraham Lincoln. I've also
heard the movie is great too. - Q. Gen

I've read Bill O'Reilly's book and enjoyed it immensely.  If you remember the first part
of the book concerning the capture of Lee's rations on a train near Appomattox, I've
learned that my great great grandfather, James Martin Chadwick, was part of the
cavalry unit, the 2nd New York Cavalry (Harris Light), that prevented Lee's troops
from reaching those rations.  If you are interested, I can send you an 1881 article from
the New York Times describing the event.  Good quiz.
Daniel E. Jolley
I am anxious to see the movie and I am now anxious to see the results of your
Dennis Brann
My DNA says I am related to Amelia Earhart and I made a poster of my Uncle William
Marsh and Amelia. She died in 1938 and my uncle died in 1945 while flying for the US
Gus Marsh
N.B. By coincidence, I have figured out the DNA of her navigator, Fred Noonan. I
have the DNA from Fred's extended family member in my freezer. If they ever find
their remains that they think are either Amelia's or Fred's - if the remains don't
match Amelia's they have to test them for Fred. HAHA.  The solution to the Amelia
Earhart mystery might be in my freezer!- Q. Gen.
Searching google images for "patent model" produced a picture of Fig. 2 and the
Lincoln Home National Historic Site. Searching google images for "patent models"
produced many pictures, but not Fig. 2. Googling "patent 6469" produced Fig1 and the
Smithsonian location plus more information.
Arthur Hartwell
Abraham Lincoln's Patent
Comment from Skip Murray
The Quiz Makes a Difference!
OMG OMG OMG!!!! I'm so excited I'm gonna fall out of my chair!
You did a quiz I know the answer to without doing research! Yee

It wasn't too long ago, my young nephew was asking me about the
family tree. We sat at the computer and I was showing him info on
his ancestors and ways to find some of that info online. At first he
was interested, then he got bored. He wanted to know if we had
anybody famous, like a king or president or even Jesse James. Then
he thought it would be cool if we had an inventor. None that I know
of, but he really wanted to know.

So, I gave him key surnames from his tree and he searched for
inventors. Which lead him to searching patents. Science is his
favorite subject, so the patent thing was pretty interesting to him.
This lead to his normal behavior, which is 10,000 questions. Usually
asked so fast you can't answer them! He wanted to know if he
invented something, could he get a patent. Then he wanted to know
who else could get one. Being as it's an election year, there were lots
of political ads on the TV, and when he saw one for Obama, he asked
if Mr. Obama had a patent. So, we searched it, and he doesn't. That
lead to him asking if any presidents had one.

And that is why I know that the invention is a thing to lift boats so
they don't get stuck in low water and it was invented by President
Lincoln and the model is at a museum, I think it's the Smithsonian if I
remember right.

Who would have ever thought that showing the family tree to a child
would lead a person to gain enough knowledge to know the answer
to a weekly quiz?? That is just so cool. I'm going to have to call my
nephew when he gets home from school and tell him about this.

Skip Murray
Click on thumbnail
to read Abe's patent.
As a young man he took a boatload of merchandise down the Mississippi River. At one
point the boat slid onto a dam and was set free only after heroic efforts. In later years,
while traveling on the Great Lakes, Lincoln’s ship ran afoul of a sandbar.

These two similar experiences led him to conceive his invention. In 1849 Abraham
Lincoln received a patent for “A Device for Buoying Vessels Over Shoals”. Abraham
Lincoln whittled the model for his patent application with his own hands out of wood.
It is on display at the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of American History.  
According to Paul Johnston, curator of maritime history at the National Museum of
American History (NMAH), Lincoln's eminence and the historical rarity of his patent
make the wooden model he submitted to the Patent Office "one of the half dozen or so
most valuable things in our collection."

Lincoln and River Navigation

Lincoln learned river navigation early in life and took a flatboat down the Ohio and
Mississippi Rivers as a teenager. As he explained in his 1860 autobiography, "When he
was nineteen, still residing in Indiana, he made his first trip upon a flatboat to New
Orleans. He was a hired hand merely, and he and a son of the owner, without other
assistance, made the trip."

A few years later, Lincoln moved to Illinois and made a second flatboat trip to New
Orleans. He recalled, "Abraham, together with his stepmother's son, John D. Johnston,
and John Hanks, yet residing in Macon
County, hired themselves to Denton
Offutt to take a flatboat from Beardstown,
Illinois, to New Orleans; and for that
purpose were to join him -- Offutt -- at
Springfield, Illinois, so soon as the snow
should go off. When it did go off, which
was about the first of March, 1831, the
county was so flooded as to make
traveling by land impracticable; to obviate
which difficulty they purchased a large
canoe, and came down the Sangamon
River in it. This is the time and the manner of Abraham's first entrance into Sangamon
County. They found Offutt at Springfield, but learned from him that he had failed in
getting a boat at Beardstown. This led to their hiring themselves to him for twelve
dollars per month each, and getting the timber out of the trees and building a boat at Old
Sangamon town on the Sangamon River, seven miles northwest of Springfield, which
boat they took to New Orleans, substantially upon the old contract."

What Lincoln omitted from this account was a story of his ingenuity. Before the
flatboat could get to the Illinois River, it became stranded on a milldam at New Salem, a
small pioneer settlement along the Sangamon. As the boat took on water, Lincoln
sprang to action. He had part of the cargo unloaded to right the boat, then secured an
auger from the village cooper shop. After drilling a hole in the bow, he let the water run
out. Then he plugged the hole, helped move the boat over the dam, and proceeded to
New Orleans.

In 1832, as a candidate for the Illinois General Assembly from Sangamon County,
Lincoln published his first political announcement, in which he stressed, not
surprisingly, the improvement of navigation on the Sangamon River.

Lincoln's Patent Idea

Lincoln started work on his invention between sessions of Congress in 1848. On his
way home to Illinois his boat became stranded on a sandbar. As Herndon told the story,
"The captain ordered the hands to collect all the loose planks, empty barrels and boxes
and force them under the sides of the boat. These empty casks were used to buoy it
up. After forcing enough of them under the vessel she lifted gradually and at last swung
clear of the opposing sand bar."

Herndon observed, "Lincoln had watched this operation very intently. It no doubt
carried him back to the days of his navigation on the turbulent Sangamon, when he and
John Hanks had rendered similar service
at New Salem dam to their employer the
volatile Offut. Continual thinking on the
subject of lifting vessels over sand bars
and other obstructions in the water
suggested to him the idea of inventing an
apparatus for this purpose."

Lincoln took the scale model with him to
Washington and hired attorney Z. C.
Robbins to apply for the patent. Part of
his application read, "Be it known that I,
Abraham Lincoln, of Springfield, in the county of Sangamon, in the state of Illinois,
have invented a new and improved manner of combining adjustable buoyant air
chambers with a steam boat or other vessel for the purpose of enabling their draught of
water to be readily lessened to enable them to pass over bars, or through shallow water,
without discharging their cargoes..."

The precise source of the model of the flotation device is unclear, though there's no
doubt that the ingenuity behind it was Lincoln's. Herndon wrote about Lincoln bringing
the wooden boat model into the law office, "and while whittling on it would descant on
its merits and the revolution it was destined to work in steamboat navigation." A
Springfield mechanic, Walter Davis, was said to have helped with the model, which
was just over two feet long. But Johnston thinks it's possible that the detailed miniature
Lincoln submitted may have been made by a model maker in Washington who
specialized in aiding inventors. "The name engraved on top of the piece is 'Abram
Lincoln,'" Johnston says. "It doesn't seem likely that if Lincoln had actually made this
model, he'd have misspelled his own first name." Johnston says that the answer—yet
undetermined—may lie in whether the misspelled name is also engraved under the
original varnish, indicating the model to be a commission.

The patent application for the device has a similar mystery. Part of the U.S. Patent
Office collection, the document describes in detail how "by turning the main shaft or
shafts in one direction, the buoyant chambers will be forced downwards into the water
and at the same time expanded and filled with air." But it is missing the inventor's
signature. Someone, probably in the early 20th century, cut Abe's signature out of the
document—the autograph collector as vandal.

Since no one ever tried to put the invention to use, we can't know for sure if it would
have led to the revolution in steamboat navigation that Lincoln predicted. But "it likely
would not have been practical," says Johnston, "because you need a lot of force to get
the buoyant chambers even two feet
the buoyant Chamgers even two feet
down into the water. My gut feeling is
that it might have been made to work,
but Lincoln's considerable talents lay