The Sherman Traps Tradition
How it all started
THE TRADITION BEGINS
— Carol Lou Sherman Phillips, Daughter of Dr. H.B. Sherman
THE TRADITION BEGINS
Photo of Dr. H.B. Sherman, inventor of Sherman live capture animal trap– Carol Lou Sherman Phillips, Daughter of Dr. H.B. Sherman
It was 1942 and we were at war. I was twelve years old, a “Junior Commando” collecting scrap metal in a wagon with my friends for my “war effort.”
There were only two children in the Sherman family in Gainesville, Florida, and my sister, Pat, was away in Tallahassee at Florida State College for Women. Gas was rationed and good tires were scarce. Daddy saved all his gas coupons so we could drive to Tallahassee to visit but we had a blowout along the way and had to turn back… We never did visit her until she was in her senior year.
Mother had a Victory Garden and Daddy did a lot of walking to and from the University of Florida where, in addition to his usual pre-med courses, he was teaching Calculus to A.S.T.P. students, a course he’d never even taken in his studies at the University of Michigan. Professors had a “Refresher Course” in Calculus taught by the Physics Department but he still got up at five in the morning to prepare for this class just “to stay ahead of my students,” as he used to say.
The Department of Navy called one day and said they needed live animal traps for experimental purposes to study diseases transmitted by rodents in the South Pacific Islands. They’d heard about Sherman traps, even though he’d never made them commercially… his graduate students were those benefiting from them.
Daddy wanted to serve his country, having served in the Marine Corps in World War I, and he told the Department of Navy he would construct the traps in the limited time frame imposed.
My father designed the machinery for making traps with help from my grand-father in the 20’s, and made his own machines to build them. They were kept in our garage, a very orderly place with a lathe, a drill press, power saw, and many other tools. In addition to my two pet squirrels and one opossum. There was never room for a car. This was kept in the carport which he constructed for this purpose.
The “garage” was where the traps for the Navy were made. Each piece made by hand using the notching machines and the hinger. Springs were wound by hand using a roll of spring wire of the proper gauge and I became quite proficient in the art of trap making. Daddy was as ever the teacher and I his pupil.
The traps were ready in neatly stenciled boxes the day the officers from the Department of Navy arrived at our house in Gainesville to pick up their traps. They were in their white summer dress uniforms and asked to see the “factory” where they had been assembled. They were astonished to find it was only our small garage and that it was only my father and one very inexperienced assistant who made them.
The Navy had need for many more traps, but Daddy was not able to produce them in the quantity and continue his heavy teaching load. Many of the professors who had been on staff were away fighting in the way at that time. A manufacturing firm in town asked if they could reproduce them and Daddy gave consent as long as the Sherman name was used.
That was our “war effort” back in the 40’s
Excerpt from February 16, 1966 letter from Dr. Harley B. Sherman to members of Nature 4, a photography club:
“…By way of biography, I was born in 1894, went thru first grade twice, but eventually received some degrees from the University of Michigan and taught at NYU 1921 to 1925. At a St. Patrick’s Day party in Allentown, Pa. I met my wife, Helene, married in 1924 but came to Florida to raise our two daughters. I taught at the U. of F. from 1925 to 1955 and now our two daughters are raising our 8 grandchildren, 2-17 years old. My research was on mammals and with the aid of my mechanically-minded father we invented what I call the world’s best mouse trap. It keeps them alive and happy. When I retired I published a note in the Journal of Mammalogy stating the Sherman traps are available and orders have come in so continuously ever since that they interfere with fishing, which retired people are supposed to do, or taking pictures, which I enjoy more…”
Originally invented in the 1920’s, the Sherman Trap has evolved from a garage hobby creation to the world’s best known and greatest quality live animal trap for small mammals. Over time the design hasn’t changed much by way of function, however there are now many sizes available and our factory is capable of producing virtually any custom application necessary for your trapping needs.
The company has been built on a tradition of helping researchers discover as a first priority over profits. For Dr. Sherman, this was his way of contributing something to the world, and for Sherman Traps, Inc. we continue that tradition along with offering the absolute best customer service and customization abilities. Our state of the art production facility can handle any size order and our staff is a historic wealth of knowledge about live animal trapping.
Thank you for visiting, and of course if you have read this far, we would like to welcome you as the newest part of the Sherman Traps Tradition!