This past week I found some really interesting and amazing stories about my ancestors, and the first one I’d like to tell you about is my paternal grandfather. My grandfather, Elmer Aloysius Robbins, was one of ten children born to John and Frances (Kuhn) Robbins of Fort Recovery, Ohio. He was born on February 19, 1921 and passed away at the age of 65 on December 1, 1986. I don’t remember him because I was 2.5 years old when he died, but my grandmother has often told us stories and memories about him so much that it feels like I almost could have known him.
Back in 1898 in Iowa, the first gasoline dispensing pump and underground storage tank were invented by John J. Tokheim. He then closed up shop at his hardware store and well pump company and created a manufacturing company that made gasoline pumps. In 1901, the company was incorporated as Tokheim Company and Mr. Tokheim received a patent for the first visible measuring pump. Fast forward to 1918, and a consortium of investors led by Ralph F. Diserens purchased the company and relocated operations to Fort Wayne, Indiana where it was incorporated under the name Tokheim Oil Tank and Pump Company. In the 1950’s-1970’s, my grandfather worked for Tokheim and was listed as an inventor on 13 patents that were assigned to Tokheim Corporation.
- On September 19, 1955, patent 2844164 for a Flow Line Poppet Type Check Valve was filed with inventor Elmer A. Robbins. It was patented on July 22, 1958.
- On December 12, 1955, patent 2845085 for a Separable, Yielding Mounting for Valves was filed with inventor Elmer A Robbins. It was patented on July 29, 1958.
- On May 25, 1956, patent 2846119 for a Presettable Predeterminer and Hydraulic Cut-Off Valve Mechanism was filed with inventor Elmer A Robbins. It was patented on August 5, 1958.
- On December 12, 1958, patent 2930528 for a Register Resetting Mechanism was filed with inventor Elmer A Robbins. It was patented on March 29, 1960.
- On July 30, 1962, patent 3188005 for a Power Reset Mechanism for Registers was filed with inventors George W. Wright, Elmer A. Robbins, and Melvin C. Hankel. It was patented on June 8, 1965.
- On December 21, 1964, patent 3285381 for a Currency Controlled Gasoline Dispenser was filed with inventor Elmer A. Robbins. It was patented on November 15, 1966.
- On March 1, 1968, patent 3498501 for a Dispensing Control System was filed with inventors Elmer A. Robbins and Roger C. Bruot. It was patented on March 3, 1970.
- On March 28, 1969, patent 3593883 for an Automatic Dispensing Apparatus was filed with inventor Elmer A Robbins. It was patented on July 20, 1971.
- On February 15, 1972, patent 3845848 for a Bill Accepting Motor Fuel Dispensing Apparatus was filed with inventor Elmer A. Robbins. It was patented on November 5, 1974.
- On May 21, 1973, patent D237101 for a Swing-Arm Fuel Dispenser for Service Stations was filed with inventors John S. Loy, Elmer A. Robbins, and Melvin C. Hankel for a term of 14 years. It was patented on October 7, 1975.
- On September 19, 1974, patent 4009800 A was filed for a Fluid Dispenser with inventors Melvin C. Hankel, John S. Loy, and Elmer A. Robbins. It was patented on March 1, 1977.
- On September 4, 1975, patent 3982664 A was filed for a Batch Controller for Gasoline Having Dribble Feed with inventors William D. Key and Elmer A. Robbins. It was patented on September 28, 1976.
- On November 10, 1975, patent S251270 was filed for a Swing-Arm Fuel Dispenser for Service Stations with inventors Melvin C. Hankel, John S. Loy, and Elmer A. Robbins. It was patented on March 6, 1979.
If you click on any of those links, you’ll be taken to a page on Google Patents where you can print most of them. Some of the links do not have printable copies. The most amazing part, to me, was that I could see the drawings of the inventions of which my grandfather conceived and even his signature. For me, although it feels like I’ve known him because of the way my grandmother breathes life into the stories and memories that she tells me, seeing his drawings and signature and the work that he has done makes him seem even more like a real person.
Other than the fact that I was searching for his name and I found the patents, you would not see Elmer Robbins in the history of the gasoline pump. But he certainly took the advice of Benjamin Franklin and wrote things worth reading. I wonder if we aren’t suffering from the technological advancements that we have now. I certainly would not be able to come up with the ideas that my grandfather had, although I know there are some people who could. In fact, it’s a little hard to even read his technical specs in the patents. I had to ask for help to even understand patents, and I still don’t think I really do! But at least now, when my children ask about our family, I can point to physical evidence and tell them that computers and calculators really ARE unnecessary because my grandfather was able to invent these amazing parts without having either.
Have you researched your family? Have you made any amazing discoveries?