OK, I’ll admit that this photo sequence is only interesting to me, but it does contribute to the overall knowledge about the Gearhart Knitting Machine Company, which operated from 1888 through 1925, and was therefore under the guidance of Joseph E. Gearhart throughout the last half of his life.

Joseph E. Gearhart (1849-1928) was the inventor of the Gearhart Knitting Machine and the founder of the Gearhart Knitting Machine Company. I’ve focused on him throughout several of my posts, but I really haven’t tried to put together a time-lapse sequence of what he looked like throughout life, until now.

This is probably the first time anyone, including the other Gearhart descendants, has seen him throughout his lifespan. Fortunately, I uncovered some very old childhood photos in the archives which were his private property and which were passed down to his son Emory, and therefore eventually to me.

The dates I’ve assigned to the photos are reasonable, except for the first photo, which is completely accurate because his age written on it. I am pretty sure the dates are good to within a year or so because I’ve matched these photos to other references in the archives.

I have one other very old glass-plate photo of a middle-aged man, taken about the same time as Joseph’s age-9 photo. This photo is contained within a 2×2 inch locket and would likely be my great-great grandfather, John S. Gearhart (1818-1903). I have not included this photo.


1858. Age 9. This glass-plate photo has Joseph’s age written on it. It would be hard to image that a photo earlier than this could ever exist. The American Civil War (1861-1865) was still 4 years in the future.


1865. Age 16. This glass-plate photo is one photo in a collection of several photos of various people. It was taken about the same time one of his brothers died as a prisoner of war.


1890. Age 41. This photo was taken in front of his house on Nichols Street in Clearfield. The Gearhart Knitting Machine Factory was established by this time, and his youngest son Emory (1888-1969) was two years old. Emory was my grandfather.


1910. Age 61. This photo was taken during a trip to Chicago with his son Emory. This particular photo has been widely reproduced and circulated.


1920. Age 71. This photo was likely taken in either Pennsylvania or Florida. By this time, Joseph was very successful, semi-retired, and accustomed to wintering in St. Petersburg, Florida.


jegbiplane_500px1928. Age 79. This is probably the last photo ever taken of Joseph Gearhart. He died in St. Petersburg, Florida, and this photo may have been taken there. And why is this man happy right now? Because, he’s standing in front of a very nice WW-I Sopwith Camel fighter plane.