you go online and do a search of “The Industrial Revolution,” you will be inundated
with more information than any normal human being is prepared to digest. An old
newspaper article that I came across recently prompted me to give it a try and
my head is still spinning as a result.
The article is titled “A Wonderful
Invention” and it appeared in the Hallettsville Herald on October 18, 1900.
The story is about an inventor named Emil Kreklau, a resident of Hallettsville.
The paper praised Kreklau for his invention of a “self-propelling fan” and predicted
that he would go down in history as one of America’s greatest inventors.
I will have to admit that I have never heard of the man or his invention. Evidently
Kreklau was a modest individual as he went about his daily affairs as an employee
for the firm Kahn & Stanzel. According to the paper, he worked as a tinner and
plumber for the company. Kahn & Stanzel owned several types of businesses, including
a saloon. If my memory is correct, they also operated a store and were involved
in real estate.
However, the big story was about Kreklau’s invention.
The paper said it was a self-propelling and self-contained fan that had ran for
months without cost. It was claimed that the machine would continue to run indefinitely
without the aid of steam, electricity, or any other force.
The motor was
described as being in a cylindrical form; five inches in length and two inches
in diameter with a small brass fan in the head of the cylinder. “It runs continuously
in a most mysterious manner,” the article acknowledged. Kreklau said the power
for his fan motor came from a combination of compressed air and water. When asked
how long it had been running, Kreklau replied, “About three months but it will
continue to run on for years.”
It seemed that the person who wrote this
piece was amazed over Kreklau’s refusal to go after any monetary reward for his
invention. The writer said the inventor could lay claim to $100,000 that had been
offered to anyone who discovered perpetual motion. “Here is discovered for the
first time a motor which runs itself without cost – the ages can promise nothing
more desirable,” the reporter affirmed.
The article went on to state that
Kreklau had been offered various sums of money for his invention or an interest
in it. The inventor modestly declined all offers. “I do not want anybody to lose
a cent on it,” he said. “When I get a few made on a large scale and their commercial
value is proven, then I expect to make arrangements for putting them upon the
market as cheaply as possible. All I want is to have the fans placed on the market
at a price which will enable the poor to enjoy the luxury which is now denied
Kreklau had a vision that the principle that powered his fan could
also be used to develop a pump that would work for irrigation purposes. He figured
it could automatically raise water to a height of 30 feet without cost for fuel
and without attention.
It seems to me that Emil Kreklau was a good man
who was more concerned with helping others than enjoying the riches that he might
have obtained from his invention.
Did he ever receive anything for his
work or does his little self-propelled fan still exist, covered with cobwebs,
waiting to be discovered in someone’s barn or attic? Chances are we may never
know the rest of the story – but in October of 1900, Emil Kreklau was a celebrated
man in Lavaca County and he was being compared to some very famous people. The
old newspaper article concluded, “Mr. Kreklau has a fortune within his grasp and
mankind will benefit by his genius more than by that of any other man of this
century with the possible exception of Edison.”
© Murray Montgomery
Star Diary November
1, 2008 Column
Topics: Hallettsville, Texas
| Texas Towns | People