"...it was greatly through his instrumentality that the Richmond Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals was organized."
-From George Watt's obituary in the 27 December 1884 Richmond Daily Dispatch
George Watt is buried in Hollywood Cemetery, Richmond VA

Among men of agricultural vision, this website celebrates the life and achievements of George Watt the farmer, father, inventor, businessman and humanitarian. Watt's ingenious inventions and improvements of agricultural implements, as well as his caring for the "beasts of burden" whose strength made these devices useful, make him a forefather of American farming.

Plows and agriculture...
...agriculture and plows.

Since man first dragged a stick through the dirt in an effort to primitively till the soil, he has striven to master this basic, yet all-important function of agriculture.

The simple definition of agriculture is farming. Farming refers to raising livestock and growing crops, without which a civilized society is impossible to maintain. The development of agriculture, and the understandable desire to make it easier, have been the priority of the farmer since the beginning.

Of the many implements created for agricultural use, the plough (or modernly-termed "plow") is among the simplest...and perhaps the most timeless. Comparing a modern multi-row, tractor-drawn plow to some of the earliest iron plow patents, one is struck by the basic similarities of form and function: Most plow patents are simply improvements of earlier plows.

Plowing evolved from the simple dragging of a stick through dirt for the cultivation thereof, to the scratch plow, with which a frame holding a vertical wooden stick was dragged through the soil. Sharpened, forked sticks were then introduced, then the covering of a wooden blade with early metals, to reduce wear on the plow.

The first modern plows were cast in iron which, though a definite improvement over wood, were still relatively soft and wore out fairly quickly with regular use. Manufacturers soon learned to produce and sell interchangeable plow parts, which could be easily switched out by farmers as workload demanded. Finally came the chilled steel plows that are still used today.


  • Standard or Frog The main structure of the plow, to which the mould board, ground slide/side, point, beam and handles are attached
  • Mould board The piece that turns or throws the soil over as it is cut up from a furrow
  • Ground Side or Slide The piece on which the Plow and Standard rides as it cuts through the soil
  • Point or Plowshare The frontmost piece that physically cuts into the soil, allowing it to be rolled up and over the mould board
  • Beam Made of wood or iron, the piece to which the beasts of burden are attached to pull the plow

The inventors and manufacturers featured on this website are, with a few exceptions, native Virginians who invented, patented and manufactured agricultural implements, primarily plows. Some of them are:

  • George Watt: born and raised in Hanover County, Virginia, company in Richmond, Virginia: Was instrumental in the founding of the Richmond SPCA
  • Manfred Call: born and raised in Newcastle, Maine. Moved to Richmond, Virginia in 1869, partnership in 1870 with father-in-law George Watt as Watt - Call
  • Patrick Henry (P.H) Starke: born in Hanover County, raised in Richmond, company in Richmond, Virginia
  • Cealy Billups: born in Matthews County, company in Norfolk, Virginia
  • Silas R. White: born in Matthews County, company in Norfolk, Virginia
  • Seth March: born Virginia, company in Norfolk, Virginia
  • Caldwell: born in Connecticut, company/foundry in Aylett, King William, Virginia

The Virginia Implement Exhibit will be on display at a variety of Central Virginia fairs and events in 2020, as the present circumstances allow. Please check back here, as the dates of those events will be listed when they're available!

If you have any questions, please reach out to me through the Contact page!

Richard Lee Wallace, an Agricultural Research Historian (Agricultural Implements) is credited for all of his research of patents, companies, patentees, etc. He also procured many of the plows and the straw cutter displayed in the Virginia Implement Exhibit. Thank you Richard, without your initial research and early displays, none of this would exist!