Ringness, Ole (1843–1872)

By: Mrs. S. M. Ringness

Type: Biography

Published: 1976

Updated: June 1, 1995

Ole Ringness, inventor of the disc plow and disc harrow, was born in Løiten, Norway, on October 14, 1843, to Jens Olsen and Kari Jensdatter (Halstenhav) Ringness, early Norwegian settlers in Texas. The family emigrated from Norway in the fall of 1851 and arrived in 1852 at Johan Reinert Reiersen's settlement of Prairieville, where the youngest of the four Ringness children and Ole's widowed grandmother died of typhoid fever. Continuing typhoid fever and drought forced the family and a number of other Norwegian immigrants to settle in Bosque County, west of Clifton on Neils Creek, in 1854. Ole was the first mail carrier in the community and made a four-day round trip between Norman Hills, seven miles west of Clifton, and Fort Worth. He purchased land at Kimball Bend, where his mail route crossed the Brazos River. In his work on the family farm, he observed a wheel of his wagon cup on the axle. As the wheel became more cupped, it moved larger amounts of mud. Thus he conceived the idea of a disc plow and disc harrow and made models of them in his father's blacksmith shop. In 1872 he journeyed to Washington, D.C., to present his case for a patent on his inventions. He carried a large amount of money with him since he planned to travel to Norway after receiving a patent. His father received word from a Masonic lodge in New York City that Ole had died there en route to Washington under mysterious circumstances. It was assumed that his death was connected with the money he was carrying. Ringness never married; he died on July 26, 1872, and his place of burial is unknown. The family never pursued a patent for his inventions, and similar farm equipment was patented by a plow company. A model of one of Ringness's three original disc plows is in the Texas Memorial Museum in Austin.

Axel Arneson, "Norwegian Settlements in Texas," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 45 (October 1941). Bosquerama, 1854–1954: Centennial Celebration of Bosque County, Texas (Meridian, Texas: Bosque County Centennial Association, 1954).


  • Peoples
  • Norwegians
  • Science
  • Inventors
  • Scientists and Researchers

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Mrs. S. M. Ringness, “Ringness, Ole,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed October 18, 2021, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/ringness-ole.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

June 1, 1995