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Eben Moody Boynton, Sawmaker and Inventor - New York, N.Y.


History Overview

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In 1884 the W. W. Munsell & CO. published the "Civil, Political, Professional and Ecclesiastic History and Industrial record of the County of Kings and the City of Brooklyn", edited by Henry R. Stiles, A.M., M.D.

Mr. Boynton was born in the township of Harrisville, Medina County, Ohio on July 23, 1840.

His father and mother were natives of Newburyport, Mass., his mother Abigail Moody, being a descendant of Rev. William Moody, one of the first settlers of Newbury, who landed there in 1635.  The Moody family has been famous for learning, patriotism, intellectual force and public influence. 

There were many distinguished clergymen of the name, one of whom was made President of Harvard College, which position he resigned for the more agreeable one of pastor of the old South Church, Boston, where he maintained the rights of the colonies, and laid the foundation of British hatred that afterward decreased that sacred temple of civil and religious freedom by stabling therein the horses of the British soldiery. 

A century previous, Caleb Moody, an ancestor of the subject of this sketch, greatly distinguished himself in the legislature of Massachusetts Bay by opposing the surrender of the charter of New England to Sir Edmund Andros, urging revolution rather than submission.  For this course, he was imprisoned by Sir Edmund, but subsequently released through an uprising of the people, who confined Andros in Mr. Moody’s place, and reimbursed the latter for the sufferings he had endured in behalf of the people’s chartered rights and liberties.

Alfred Boynton, father of Eben Moody Boynton, was descended from a son of Sir Matthew Boynton, who came to Newbury Byfield in 1636, and took up a large grant in company with the family of Lieutenant-Governor Dummer, the founder of Dummer Academy.  The famous deacon of that church, for fifty years, was Joshua Boynton, a son of the first settler of the name. 

This worthy man, who was also chairman of the Board of Control of Dummer Academy, died at the age of ninety-seven.  Another member of the family was associate teacher at Rowley with Rev. John Phillips, the ancestor of the founder of Phillips’ Academy, who was educated at Dummer, the oldest founded academy of Massachusetts.  The last surviving pupil of Master Moody, the great uncle of the subject of this article - Enoch Boynton - was famous for having introduced the silk culture into New England, and for his inventive abilities.  He died about twenty-eight years ago, at the age of ninety.

Eben Moody Boynton came, at the age of thirteen, from his birthplace on the Western Reserve, in Ohio, to the home of his ancestors, in Newbury, and was, for a short time, an inmate of Enoch Boynton’s family, and a great favorite with the old gentleman, who predicted a bright future for the young log-cabin boy.  Educated in the schools of Newbury, and Phillips’ Academy, Andover, Mass., he subsequently taught a high school in Amesbury, where he became acquainted with John G. Whittier, the poet.

Requiring a more active life, he went into the shipment of black walnut lumber from southern Michigan, where he first perceived the need of improvement in saw teeth.  He first suggested the “M”-cutting teeth to his brother, Alfred Boynton, (See patent 59,851) who was in his employ, and whose hook and gauge-tooth Lightning saw was supposed to be the principal element in the first invention, though it afterward proved too complicated for the low state of skill among those using saws.  Yet it was the first practical cutting saw ever known in the history of saw manufacture for cross-cutting. 

Subsequently Eben Moody Boynton obtained patents on the several improvements now in use for simple “M”-shaped teeth, slightly retreating, which have been found greatly superior to the former projecting plough-shaped teeth. 

These saws have proved a great success, and Mr. Boynton has manufactured several million of them, which have been sold throughout the world.  They are the first practical and scientific gain ever made in the cutting points of saw-teeth, providing, as they do, the front cut of a hand-saw, cutting both ways by means of a two-pointed “M”-tooth, perforating the wood in opposite directions as drawn back and forth, the two points of the “M” dressed and set to cut in line, and occupying the same space as the old pyramidical single tooth, the cutting being thrown upon the outer surface of the “M”, the two parts of which cut and clean simultaneously with unexampled speed and simplicity.

The difficulty of introducing any new mechanical invention or improvement without capital, experience and skilled labor, is well known, and the intense opposition of the manufacturers of saws, the numerous infringements of the Boynton patents, and the protracted suits at law to maintain them, are matters of historic interest.

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