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Famous Freemason - Richard Jordon Gatling

“It occurred to me that if I could invent a machine - a gun - which could by its rapidity of fire, enable one man to do as much battle duty as a hundred, that it would, to a large extent supersede the necessity of large armies, and consequently, exposure to battle and disease [would] be greatly diminished.”

Richard Jordon Gatling was born in Hertford County, North Carolina in 1818 and raised Methodist. At the age of 21, Gatling created a screw propeller for steamboats, without realizing that one had been patented just months beforehand by John Ericsson. While living in North Carolina, he worked in the county clerk’s office, taught school briefly, and became a merchant. At the age of 36, Gatling moved to St. Louis, Missouri, where he worked in a dry goods store and invented a rice-sowing machine and a wheat drill (a machine to aid planting wheat). The introduction of these machines did much to revolutionize the agricultural system in the country. After an attack of smallpox, Gatling became interested in medicine. He graduated from the Ohio Medical College in 1850 with an MD.

At the outbreak of the Civil War, Gatling was living in Indianapolis, Indiana. There he devoted himself to the perfection of firearms. In 1861, the same year the war started, he invented the Gatling gun. A year later, he founded the Gatling Gun Company.

By the early 1850s, Gatling was successful enough in business to offer marriage to Jemima Sanders, 19 years younger than Gatling and the daughter of a prominent Indianapolis physician. They married on October 25, 1854.

Later in his life, Gatling patented inventions to improve toilets, bicycles, steam-cleaning of raw wool, pneumatic power, and many other fields. He was elected as the first president of the American Association of Inventors and Manufacturers in 1891, serving for six years. Although still quite wealthy at the time of his death, he made and lost several fortunes by his investments.

In his final years, Gatling moved back to St. Louis, to form a new company for manufacturing his steam plows, or tractors.

While in New York City to visit his daughter and to talk with his patent agency, Gatling died at his daughter's home on February 26, 1903.He is interred at the Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis, Indiana.

His contributions were commemorated by the U.S. Navy during World War II when the Fletcher Class Destroyer DD-671 was christened the USS Gatling.

Bro. Gatling was a member of Centre Lodge No. 23 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

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