Throwback Thursday: Birth of the bit company


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An undated photo of the “Irwin Auger Bit Works, Wilmington, O.” which had been restored by the late Bob Murdock of Clarksville. This was published in an article written for the Village Voice, a small local newsletter that ran in the Midland-Westboro Area for nine years.

An undated photo of the “Irwin Auger Bit Works, Wilmington, O.” which had been restored by the late Bob Murdock of Clarksville. This was published in an article written for the Village Voice, a small local newsletter that ran in the Midland-Westboro Area for nine years.


Courtesy photo

This special Throwback Thursday (with undated photo that at one time appeared in the News Journal) is provided by Melinda Danenbergs.

She said the below article — as told to Bob Bowman, News Journal reporter, by Mr. Burritt M. Hiatt — states it was the 69th in a series. The column is called “Then and Now: Birth of the Auger Bit Company”:

“The Irwin Auger Bit was a Wilmington based company that had its roots in Martinsville and originally in Westboro. It goes a bit like this”:

“Back in 1883, a Martinsville druggist named Charles H. Irwin had as one of his customers, a highly skilled blacksmith, W. M. Dimmitt. On October 21st, 1884, Dimmitt was granted a patent on a solid-center auger bit but it gained him little as he sold the rights to Irwin for the cancellation of a debt and some cash. (Kind of like losing a winning lottery ticket). In 1885, Irwin became the sole owner of this new drilling apparatus and a new industry was born.

One thing led to another and Irwin gained some backers providing funding to start production. Those parties were Wilmington Citizens, J.W. Denver, Peter Clevenger and A. I. Bailey. In October of 1885, Irwin Auger Bit was formed. Irwin secured an agreement that he receive one cent for every bit sold during the life of the patent.

Former Clinton County historian, Bernie Quigley relayed additional information about Irwin Auger Bit. He tied the loose ends of the story together as to what happened to the participants.

In 1893, Irwin due to health issues divided the administrative duties among company executives and offered to sell shares at the doors of the Clinton County Courthouse. He had moved to Texas to escape the Ohio winters. In August, General Denver passed away, just as Irwin, bachelor, had returned to settle his business affairs and was again planning to move out of state to Ashville, N.C. at the recommendation of his doctors. However he succumbed before he could do so and is buried near where his mother lived in Greenfield. Some may wonder about Dimmitt the inventor of the auger bit.”

In another Wilmington News Journal Article in 1918, we find what happened to the unfortunate Dimmitt. The article is entitled “Patentee of Irwin Auger Bit Dies in Obscurity Last Week In Westboro.”:

“In a humble home on a side street in the little village of Westboro, Saturday, Rev. William G. Andrew preached the funeral sermon of Mack Dimmitt, the original patentee of the Irwin Auger Bit.” Dimmitt was known as a clever workman and an experienced blacksmith. He had lived in the village for more than a quarter century and few people knew the story of his connection with the invention of the auger that was to mean to Wilmington the foundation of a large factory and to so many of the people of this city a means of livelihood.”

The Irwin Auger Bit finally factory finally left Wilmington also and moved to North Carolina according to Melinda Danenbergs.

In August of 2013, the News Journal’s Gary Huffenberger took a picture of the historical auger bit factory building being torn down after 100 years of existence in Wilmington. “A new 30,000 square-foot warehouse to be used by Custom Molded Products LLC will be built there.” The new facility is/was owned at that time by Norm Allen. The company will employ 100 people and plans to add more positions.

W. M. “Mack” Dimmitt was buried in the Flag Circle of the Westboro IOOF Cemetery.

I have a page from an Irwin Auger Bit Company Advertisement from the Williams State Directory for 1890-91 that lists J.W. Denver as President, A.I. Bailey, Vice President and C. H. Irwin, secretary & General Manager . it shows a picture of the auger named: ” W. H. Dimmitt Auger Bit” No. 306,907 Patented October 21, 1884. No. 361,522 Patented April 10. 1884.

An undated photo of the “Irwin Auger Bit Works, Wilmington, O.” which had been restored by the late Bob Murdock of Clarksville. This was published in an article written for the Village Voice, a small local newsletter that ran in the Midland-Westboro Area for nine years.
https://www.wnewsj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2020/03/web1_Irwin-with-a-horse.jpgAn undated photo of the “Irwin Auger Bit Works, Wilmington, O.” which had been restored by the late Bob Murdock of Clarksville. This was published in an article written for the Village Voice, a small local newsletter that ran in the Midland-Westboro Area for nine years. Courtesy photo

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