This article comes from a January 1928 edition of the local Clearfield newspaper, and marks the passing of Joseph E. Gearhart, inventor of the Gearhart Knitting Machine.


Joseph E. Gearhart, Prominent Clearfield Citizen and Business Man, Whose Death Occured Recently in Florida, Was Descendant of One of the Early Settlers in Philipsburg Region. – Was Inventor of Knitting Machine, and Operated Large Factory Which Manufactured the Machines. – Was Active in Religious Work.

The passing of Joseph Emory Gearhart, of Clearfield, whose death at St. Petersburg, Florida, on Thursday afternoon, January 5th, 1928, was noted in or columns, brought exceptionally keen sorrow to a large circle of friends throughout this section of the state where he was so well and favorable known. Following is usual custom, he went to Florida in Decempber with a view to spending the winter. Soon after his arrival there an affection of the bladder, with which he had more or less suffered for several years, developed a more serious condition and he underwent a minor operation for the prostrate gland. He failed to rally, as anticipated, and his demise which followed at the time indicated, came as a great shock to his many friends.

The deceased was born in Boggs township, Clearfield county, on April 22, 1848, making his age 78 years, 8 months and 14 days. He was the fourth son to the first marriage of John S. Gearhart, who later married Miss Elizabeth Ann Smith, to which union seven sons and one daughter were born.

Joseph E. Gearhart’s mother, whose maiden name was Miss Lydia Showwalter, died July 2, 1851, when he was only a little more than two years of age. Afer his mother’s death he was cared for, and reared by his Grandmother Showalter, until ten years of age, when the later went to Illinois to make her home with her children. He was then taken to the home of his father. He was raised a farmer boy, and although receiving only a meager school education, applied himself to study and developed a remarkably keen intellictual mind. From boyhood he shows a mechancial genius and made numerous contrivances. At 21 years of age he engaged in lumbering with Hoover, Hughes & Co., who had operations in Philipsburg and vicinity, with whom he worked for nine years, acting part of the time as a foreman for the company. Later he invented a knitting machine. From time to time he added improvements to the machine until it became known all over the world. When first patented it was produced in small quantities at Blue Ball. In 1890 he uilt a factory at Clearfield, which developed into an industry employing several hundred hands.

Of an inventive turn of mind as suggested, Mr. Gearhart during is long life had patents issued to him on almost forty different inventions, aside from the Gearhart knitting machine. When he died he was working on a toy, which when wound up would run a certain distance and return from whence it started in a straight line. He also aided very materially in developing the real estate interest of Clearfield, and contributed in various ways to the prosperity and moral uplift of the town. He was a valuable citizen to the community, and his passing is a distinct loss – one that will be felt most kindly.

Joseph E. Gearhart was married July 6, 1871, in Philipsburg, to Mary E. Middleton, a daughter of John Middleton, of Decatur township, Clearfield county, well-known gunsmith. Her grandfather followed the same trade, and made guns for the Colonial army during the revolutionary war. Mr. Gearhart’s ancestors were among the early and most worthy settlers of the section ajoining Philipsburg.

To this very happy marriage Mr. and Mrs. Gearhart had eight children, all of whom are living except Jessie Pearly Cardon, who died in 1921. The other children are Mrs. Sophia Gleason, DuBois; Leonard A., Clearfield; Mrs. Ada B., wife of Dr. George Irwin, Bridgeport, Pa.; John R., Clearfield; Edna, wife of Burton R. Freer, Evanston Ill; Lydia May, wife of J. Emmott Harder, Clearfield, and Emory Joseph, Clearfield. Mrs. Gearhart died June 7, 1921.

Mr. Gearhart was married a second time, November 2, 1922, to Mrs. Ella Stephens Gearhart, widow to a cousin. She died less than a year ago.

Besides his sons and daughters above named, he is survived by his half brother, J. Wesley and A. Clark,

[note: rest of article is missing]