William Beardsley – Complete Biography, History, and Inventions

William H. Beardsley

William Beardsley – Complete Biography, History, and Inventions

Who Was William Beardsley?

Born on Nov 13, 1850, in Hamilton, Ohio, William Henry Beardsley was a holder of multiple US patents, including the patent for Keyboard Adding Machine and adjustable chairs.

William was the 8th generation heir of the early settler William Beardsley (1605-1661), a mason, and one of the first settlers of Stratford, Connecticut. He brought his family, wife and three children along. After arriving in America on the ship “Planter,” that landed in Massachusetts in April 1635, Beardsley and his wife had six additional children between 1636-1646 .

Quick Facts

Full Name
Williams Beardsley
February 6, 2022
Net Worth
One, Robert Oglesby Beardsley.
Place of Birth
Hamilton, Ohio
Fields of Expertise
Hamilton Public School, Miami University, Oxford.
Adjustable Chair, Keyboard Adding Machine.
Williams Beardsley, Contributor, The Dyer Diversion Dam

Williams Beardsley, Contributor, The Dyer Diversion Dam, and the Beardsley Canal

Early Life

William Beardsley was born to the family of Henry Beardsley (April 1812–Oct. 30 1888) and his second wife Laura O’Connor (died 1856).

William had two sisters: Emma (1848-1885) and Abby Jane (1852-1916), and two half-brothers from the third marriage of his father: Edward Moore (1858-1888), who became a physician in San Francisco, and George (1863-1895), a civil engineer.

The multiple US patents holder attended the public schools in Hamilton before proceeding to the Miami University, Oxford, Ohio, in 1867.


Phase 1

After completing his education at Miami University, Oxford, Ohio, William Beardsley started working at Niles Tool Works at Hamilton before venturing into publishing.

Phase 2

William quit his publishing business in the early 1880s and ventured into the furniture business, partnering with James Edwin Campbell, an Ohio lawyer, who later served as the 38th Governor of Ohio. He also ventured into the blackboard business during this period, where he recorded remarkable success.

Phase 3

Around 1890, his brother George, a civil engineer, moved from Hamilton to Phoenix, Arizona, and was there called upon to investigate the practicability of irrigating sixty thousand acres of arid land in Maricopa County. The survey demonstrated the feasibility of the undertaking.

Not long after, George formed the Agua Fria Construction Company, with the financial help of his brother William and other Ohioans, to carry on the projected irrigation work.

In 1892, William Beardsley readily joined his brother in Arizona. Unfortunately, George died soon, only 32 years old on Apr. 21, 1895, and William had to continue the project alone as general manager.

In 1892-1895, the company built Dyer Diversion Dam (initially known as Beardsley Dam). Later, they also built a canal, named the Beardsley Canal, from Lake Pleasant to ranches as far as 33 miles away.

It was a mammoth undertaking, and the work was progressing slowly but satisfactorily. When completed in the 1920s, it rendered all of this vast tract of now arid land marketable and a monument to Beardsley’s energy and ability.

William Beardsley standing atop the Dyer Diversion Dam and the Beardsley Canal

William managed to sustain the project through bankruptcy, federal restrictions, and legal challenges while remaining seemingly untrammeled throughout the many years of frustration.

What Is William Beardsley Known For?

Invention 1 – Keyboard Adding Machine

William Beardsley and Lewis Hosea patented the Keyboard Adding Machine invention in March 1891.

The Keyboard Adding Machine consists of multiple thumb-and-fingers-arranged keys of consecutive numbers, primarily arranged to act selectively via an engaging and transmitting mechanism.

This apparatus was designed as a compact and simple hand instrument for use by cashiers, bookkeepers, etc.

Apart from the Keyboard Adding Machine, William also held a patent for adjustable chairs.

William Beardsley: Marriage, Divorce, Children, and Personal Life


William Beardsley married Ida R. Oglesby in December 1888. Born on Apr. 10, 1859, Ida, from Middleton, was the daughter of the former treasurer of Butler County, William B. Oglesby.


William Beardsley and Ida R. Oglesby had one child together, Robert Oglesby Beardsley. Born in 1889, a year after their marriage, Robert assisted his father in the Arizona project after graduating from Sheffield Scientific School of Yale College in New Haven, Connecticut, in 1919, studying engineering.

William Beardsley standing with his son Robert


William Beardsley battled with a terminal illness for four months before meeting his death on Dec 15, 1925. The patent holder for adjustable chairs and keyboard adding machines died in Los Angeles, California, buried in Woodside Cemetery, Middleton, Ohio.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Who Is William Henry Beardsley?

    Born on Nov. 13, 1850, William Henry Beardsley was a holder of multiple US patents, including the patent for Keyboard Adding Machine and for adjustable chairs.

    What Did William Beardsley Invent?

    William Beardsley held several US patents, including for the Keyboard Adding Machine and Adjustable Chairs.

    Where Did William Beardsley Go to School?

    William schooled at Hamilton Public Schools and Miami University, Oxford.

    Where Did William Beardsley Live?

    Los Angeles, California.

    When Did William Beardsley Die?

    William died on Dec. 15, 1925, and was buried in Woodside Cemetery, Middleton, Ohio.

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