Samuel Leeds Allen
And The Planet Jr. Name

Dateline: 11 February 2015
(A Repost From 2011)

Samuel Leeds Allen
1841-1918
Founder of the Planet Jr. Company

At my Planet Whizbang wheel hoe web site I have a Story About Samuel Leeds Allen, the man who made the Planet Jr. wheel hoe, and so many other agricultural implements, back in the 1800s. In my story about Allen, I say that I would like to know more about him, and I'd really like to know how in the world he came up with the "Planet Jr." name.

Well, a couple weeks ago I got an e-mail from Leslie McManus, the editor of Farm Collector magazine, with the following information.

A Planet drill was developed by S.L. Allen from two washtubs riveted together, rim to rim, with a wooden tire and handles added in subsequent iterations. Allen, an amateur stargazer, noticed the device’s resemblance to the planet Saturn, hence the name of the implement. Later he developed a smaller version of that seed drill, and called it the “Planet Junior.” 
For those who may not know, a “drill” is a tool for planting seeds, in the ground, in a row. Mr. McManus also told me the following...
Allen’s daughter, Elizabeth R. Allen, wrote a book about her father; the book (“Samuel L. Allen — Intimate Recollections and Letters”) was published by Franklin Printing Co., Philadelphia, in 1920. Obviously small run and out of print, but perhaps an eBay search will prove fruitful.


All of that was great to know but the story gets even better because four hours later, I got an e-mail from S.L. Allen’s great granddaughter:

Great grandfather invented a fertilizer drill for spreading guano.  He named it the "Planet Drill" because of its resemblance to the planet Saturn and its rings.  The seed drill that immediately followed was called "Planet Jr". These were the first of the Planet Jr. family.  This occurred in 1866.  Hope this helps your desire for information concerning the naming of the farm implement line.
Isn’t the internet just an amazing thing! I asked Mr. Allen’s great granddaughter a couple questions and she wrote back...

Great Grandfather had the first mail order company in the US.  The Brandywine Museum in Delaware has an exhibit which is interesting.  At one point, the farm implements were being pulled by water buffalo and camels as well as horses and mules--in other words--all over the world.

Elizabeth was never married.  Charles Jackson, the son, was my Gramp.  The book, which is on line amazingly, is a collection of letters and Elizabeth's recollections as well as others who knew him.  Hope you enjoy it.  I didn't know that copies were still available as it was a private printing by Franklin Press.  The book ends with tributes offered after Samuel's death.  I particularly like the Goethe quote at the end.  I also carry it with me.

So the book was online? I went looking for it, and FOUND IT HERE.

I have not read far into the book yet, but right in the beginning I discovered.... 




Precepts of Samuel L. Allen 
(found among his earliest papers)
[slightly edited]


Acquire the Habits of : 
Punctuality in everything. Attention. Observation. Patience. Doing things systematically. Finishing everything undertaken. Untiring industry.


Cultivate the Habits of : 
Thoroughness in every study. Doing everything well. Learning something from everyone. Thinking deeply, powerfully, and comprehensively. Reviewing — remembering that next to perseverance it is the great secret of success as a student.


Cultivate the Habits of a Gentleman: 
Politeness. Cheerfulness. Good humor. The memory, by observation, reading, conversation and  reflection. Command over my temper. The conscience.


Cultivate the Habits of: 
Daily prayer. Self-control of the tongue. Self-control of the feelings. Self-control of the thoughts. Self-control of the heart. Soundness of judgment. Humility and liberality of heart.


Beware of: Temptations: 
Light reading (which enfeebles the mind and corrupts the heart). Silly speeches. Silly acting. Fault finding. Bad company. The first step in sin. Secret sins. Bad books. Indulging in reveries of imagination. Contracting the habit of procrastination. Levity upon sacred subjects.


Do not refuse to walk in a difficult path of duty.  Never neglect any opportunity of self-improvement. Strive to improve thoughts when alone. Have a plan laid beforehand for every day. Have regard to the position of the body. Be simple and neat in personal habits. Treat properly my parents, friends and companions. Seek to " know thyself." Form fixed principles on which to think and act. Faithfully review my conduct at stated intervals. LiveNever neglect any opportunity of self-improvement. Strive to improve thoughts when alone. Have a plan laid beforehand for every day. Have regard to the position of the body. Be simple and neat in personal habits. Treat properly my parents, friends and companions. Seek to " know thyself." Form fixed principles on which to think and act. Faithfully review my conduct at stated intervals. Live to do good and make this my aim in company and conversation. Do not waste the company's time or my own by talking trifles. Do not endeavor to be a wit or punster. Do not view words in an unnatural light for the sake of smart sayings. Beware of severe speaking. Be careful in introducing topics of conversation. Say as little as possible about myself, friends, deeds, etc.
==========



Those precepts remind me of George Washington’s Rules of Civility & Decent Behavior In Company and Conversation, which he transcribed when he was a teenager. I’m thinking it may have once been popular for young men to put into writing some personal guidelines for how to best conduct themselves in life. What a fine idea. 



5 comments:

Herrick Kimball said...

Well, this post is actually a repost of something I wrote on this blog awhile back. It was not supposed to show up here at the top of the blog. I wanted it to be buried in my archives. But I'm leaving it here and the reason I have posted it will be evident tomorrow or the next day.

WhatIfWeAllCared? said...

Very wise words. Thinking I may have my son follow suit.

Everett R Littlefield said...

Hi Herrick, Well I am intrigued! How does the seed drill work? Do you fill the washtub device and roll it along on the wooden tire? Does the "tire" have holes drilled in it? how do you fill the washtubs with seed? And where would you put the handles and make it roll? One person operation or two? Gotten so old I just can't envision things anymore LOL Everett

Robert said...

Great example for my generation. We have lost so much masculinity in our quest to become politically correct and divers. Simple doesn't equal Provençal. We can be cosmopolitan without being urban. And a man living closet to the land and improving not only his life but the lives of others is a great example for us all. Thanks

Herrick Kimball said...

Everett—
I have no idea how it worked, or exactly what it looked like. It was a prototype and I don't think the final Planer Jr. seed drills looked like the prototype. I actually have an old Planet Jr. seeder. Blogged about it somewhere int he past. There are pictures on Google images. Maybe the original prototype is in the Brandywine museum in Delaware. Aren't you kind of close to Delaware? Do you get to the mainland very much?

Robert—
I like what you wrote!

I think Samuel L. Allen's "Precepts" give us important insights into a man who pursued "deliberate integrity," which is a great example of masculinity at its best.

Thanks for the comment.