It was 1769, when a 16 years old boy left his families home in Saxony East Germany, for the long sea journey to the New World America. He was Adam Riesinger, whose father was a Jew and his Mother was a Protestant. They gave him their blessing and the boat fare to America.

When he arrived in New York he did any job that came his way, cleaning boots and shoes, selling news sheets, until he dropped the "Rie" from his name and then he became Adam Singer and his prospects improved. He learned the trade of a Millwright and a Cooper. Adam met and later married Ruth, whose parents were Quakers from Holland. When they were married they settled in Pittstown in the State of New York, and there their seventh child was born, a son, who was christened Isaac Merritt Singer.

Isaac and his brothers and sisters had very little education attending school only in the winter time. During the summer they would do odd jobs to make a few dimes. Isaac was ten when his Father divorced Ruth and married again. When they went to live on the shore of Lake Ontario, Isaac went to live with his eldest brother in Rochester until he was capable of taking care of himself.

When he was 12 he was working as an apprentice Lathe-Operator. This was the start of the many trades he learned, he was never frightened of hard work. He worked as a Joiner and a Carpenter, before moving into the Printing trade, where he carved the wooden type that was used in Printing. While working there he invented a wooden machine with metal strips, to carve the type, but lost his machine when the building it was in went up in flames. He did invent a second machine later but machines were now made of iron, so though it went on show at exhibitions, he made no money.

Still a Joiner, Isaac joined the Baltimore Strolling Players, in charge of the scenery. Not only did he build and erect it, but if they were short of a player, he was asked to go on stage and play a part.

Isaac loved tile life and he was very happy, but the Strolling Players, short of money, closed down when they were in a town called lllinoise. Isaac was penniless, so he went to work with a gang of labourers digging out the bed of the lllinoise to Michigan Canal. While he was labouring his mind was working on an idea for a machine that would do all the tedious, back breaking work. He invented the first mechanical excavator and rock drill but he was unable to interest the men with money to invest in his machine and sold it for $2000 dollars.

© copyright Dorothy Atkinson

Return to: [Isaac M. Singer And The Wigwam Chapter 1] details