5 Fun Facts About A.H. Patch All Clarksville Residents Should Know!

A.H. Patch, from the Customs House Museum & Cultural Center Archives

Written by Meghan Gattignolo, Visitor Services Manager

Asahel Huntington “A.H.” Patch is a historical figure every Clarksville resident should know. Patch was an inventor and businessman who never gave up on success, despite a life full of false starts and financial struggles. His Black Hawk Corn Sheller gained worldwide recognition as a brand long before social media ads or television. Here are five facts about Patch and his famous invention to share with your out-of-town friends.   

Black Hawk Corn Sheller located in Becoming Clarksville

He dreamed up his most famous invention – as a kid!

A.H. Patch accomplished many things throughout his life, but didn’t gain lasting success until much later when he patented and started producing the Black Hawk Corn Sheller. He grew up on his family’s farm, and like many kids, he dreamed up ways to make his chores easier. Shelling corn by hand is a laborious task for anyone, but especially for a kid.   

A.H. Patch went broke several times.

Before he invented the Black Hawk Corn Sheller, Patch went into business with a few different partners in the farm equipment industry. He was instrumental in developing the Kentucky Harvester, a forerunner of the combine, and also sold plows to southern farmers. Patch found success with all his business ventures, but later struggled due to a series of bad investments and the socio-economic climate in the South following the Civil War. His financial troubles led him to come out of retirement and invent the Black Hawk Corn Sheller at age 60. He is remembered by his family for his philosophy of “Persevere, persevere, persevere!” 

Black Hawk Corn Sheller located in Becoming Clarksville

He’s not from Clarksville.

Patch was born in Hamilton, Massachusetts in 1825, but he moved around a few times as a younger man. He even retired in his hometown before moving to Clarksville. Clarksville claims him because not only did he eventually settle his family here, Patch invented his Black Hawk Corn Sheller and manufactured it in Downtown Clarksville at the Patch Foundry. Clarksville is also Patch’s final resting place, buried in Greenwood Cemetery. 

A.H. Patch and his Black Hawk Corn Sheller became a household name.

Patch’s Black Hawk Corn Sheller gained fame for many reasons. The invention won awards at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893, and again at the St. Louis World’s Fair in 1904. At a time when small family farms were abundant and most everyone grew corn, the Black Hawk Corn Sheller became a household staple. It was smaller than previous corn sheller designs, easy-to-use and convenient, as it could be mounted on a box and placed anywhere. Patch’s product quickly became the go-to tool for the job. Starting in 1898, the corn sheller was produced at Patch’s Foundry in Clarksville and he used the Cumberland River to ship his product around the world.  

Patch Foundry marker located on Austin Peay State University’s campus
Photo from the Leaf-Chronicle

His descendants still live in Clarksville.

As recently as 2020, Patch’s family is still in Clarksville and advocating for his story to be known. Rubye Patch, who passed away in 2019, was a huge proponent for Clarksville history and worked to establish a historical marker on Austin Peay State University’s campus to memorialize the location of Patch Foundry, which produced the Black Hawk Corn Sheller until 1955. Her daughter, and direct descendant of A.H. Patch, Elisabeth Patch Lyman still lives in the area with her family and was interviewed by the Leaf-Chronicle when the historical marker was installed in 2020. 

A.H. Patch’s lasting legacy is the success of his invention – get a look at it inside the most famous building in Clarksville! An original Black Hawk Corn Sheller is on permanent display in the Becoming Clarksville exhibit inside the Customs House Museum & Cultural Center’s Heritage Hall. Come visit Tuesday –Saturday 10 am – 5 pm and Sundays 1 – 5 pm and check it out!   


Patch family historical marker installed on APSU campus (theleafchronicle.com) 

Asahel Huntington Patch / Patch Foundry Historical Marker (hmdb.org) 

Hist-BlackhawkCornsheller (mchsociety.org) 

Montgomery County Family Histories (tngenweb.org)  

Meghan Gattignolo

Meghan Gattignolo is the Customs House Museum & Cultural Center’s Visitor Services Manager and regularly contributes articles to the Museum’s blog. From a military family, Meghan has spent most of her life in Clarksville. She loves learning about Clarksville’s history and writing. Meghan holds a B.A. in History from Austin Peay State University, with minors in German and Political Science. She lives in Clarksville with her husband and two daughters.  

Becky Wood, Technical Writer, edits each blog post. Maegan Collins, Marketing Communications Manager, prepares photographs and visual images as well as prepares the blog posts for the web. 

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