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Frank Cheney Sr.
Frank Cheney Sr.
American, 1817 - 1904
Frank Cheney
Biography: Frank Cheney was the eighth son of George (1771-1829) and Electa Woodbridge Cheney (1781-1853). He married Susan Jarvis Cushing of Providence, Rhode Island in 1853 and had five children: Katharine Sedgwick Cheney (1854-1933); Mary Cheney (1855-1934) (known as Miss Mary" or "Cousin Polly" who was the grand dame of Manchester); Alice Barrett Cheney (1858 - 1908); and Paul Howard Cheney (1867-1949). Frank's many inventions were to a large degree responsible for the technical success of Cheney Bros. His invention of a power spining machine, patented in 1847, created a stonger, more uniform thread which could be used in the newly invented Singer Sewing machine. The most important invention was a machine patented in 1855 that could utilize waste silk. Since silk cocoons were so fragile, breakage during shipment had always been a major hazard. The quality of the silk goods produced from waste silks was just as good as from perfect cocoons and enabled the Cheneys to expand their operation from thread to ribbon to dress goods at popular prices. It gave them a head start over all their competitors in the United States.