Shaw’s Story Galesburg innovator’s legacy lives on in Southeast Kansas – and across the country
Everyone who knew him says Stanley Wilbur Shaw was an inventor by nature.
At age 8, in the late 1880s, he assembled his first bicycle, using the wheels from his dad’s cultivator (come corn plowing time, he later wrote, he had to return those wheels). By 10, he had made a crude clock and was repairing farm equipment and guns. A few years later, as a young teenager, he built his first engine.
It’s no surprise, then, that Stanley would go on to make inventing his life’s work, finding success making small engines that converted bicycles to motorbikes in the early 1900s. He would later make automobiles and vastly popular small tractors and garden equipment, like the Shaw Du-All and Peppy Pal tractors. Stanley’s company, Shaw Manufacturing, was located in Galesburg, bringing national recognition to his small Neosho County hometown.
In 1962, 59 years after it was established, Shaw Manufacturing was sold to Bush Hog. But Stanley’s ingenuity lives on at the Galesburg Historical Museum, where several pieces of his equipment are always on display. This summer, the SEK Old Time Gas Engine & Tractor Club will feature Shaw equipment at its annual show in Pittsburg, with a corresponding Shaw display at the Crawford County Historical Museum.
These exhibits honor the work of a hometown innovator who, according to an old Galesburg pamphlet, was “a rare combination of good common sense, good business judgment and high-class mechanical skill, which is seldom found in one man…”
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