Gibbs, James Ethan Allen

Gibbs, James Ethan Allen

(1829–1902) inventor; born in Rockbridge County, Va. (great-grandnephew of Ethan Allen). He worked in the machine-carding and the wool-carding businesses before he experimented with sewing machines. He patented the chain-stitch single-thread sewing machine (1857). In partnership with James Wilcox (1858–60, 1865–90) he concentrated on improving his device. He made gunpowder for the Confederate army (1861–65) and retired to his farm (1890), which was eventually named "Raphine" ("to sew" in Greek).
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.