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 Adam Exton

Adam Exton

Death 17 Aug 1887 (aged 64)
Trenton, Mercer County, New Jersey, USA
Burial Trenton, Mercer County, New Jersey, USA
Memorial ID 9372571 · View Source
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Adam Exton was the inventor of the oyster cracker and an improved machinery system that rolled and docked cracker dough, which eliminated the sanitation problems of hand systems. He was also instrumental in the development of Trenton, New Jersey.

Adam Exton was the son of William and Mary (Turner) Exton. On 17 Feb 1845 he married Elizabeth Aspden in Trenton, Mercer Co., New Jersey. A lengthy biography of Adam Exton appeared in "Genealogical and Personal Memoirs of Mercer Co., N.J., F. B. Lee (1907), 1:224. There are also numerous obituaries and references in books and newspapers.

He was born in Euxton, Lancashire, England and in his youth worked at a cotton mill; but he and his brother followed their dreams to come to America. They ran away from home and sailed from Liverpool, England on 4 Apr. 1842 and arrived in New York 16 May. They walked towards Philadelphia, but when they reached New Jersey, they found work on a farm. Another job was found with a printing business and then at a cotton mill. In 1846, he and brother-in-law Richard Aspden opened a cake and bakery factory in Trenton.

Richard died a year later, and Adam Exton began obtaining patents for his dough machine. Son-in-law William H. Brokaw joined him in partnership. Adam Exton & Company won an award at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia.

Exton became an important part of Trenton's commercial life. He became a citizen of the United States on 20 Sept. 1847 and was very patriotic. He organized reenactments of George Washington's crossing of the Delaware River, and played the part of the great General, organizing up to 400 persons at a time to play the part of his personal army.

Trenton Evening Times (Trenton, NJ), Jan. 1, 1911, p. 19 (excerpt):  
"An immense crowd filled the streets this morning. They came from near and far to review the sham battle between the Hessians and the Continentals. The air was early in the day resonant of music, while military figures, mounted and dismounted, armed cap-a-pie, flitted about in squads of greater or less proportions. The Hessians under command of Dr. Mackenzie, with John Farrell and J. E. Walsh as subaltern, were emcamped in South Trenton, when word was received that the Continental army under the command of Adam Exton (Washington), had effected a crossing up the river and was rapidly moving toward the City Hall…"

He organized the city Railway Company. He was a central force on the City Council and the Board of Trade. He ran for mayor of Trenton but was defeated, and he was a staunch republican.

Adam Exton invented the Exton Cracker in 1847. At the time, the saying "An oyster a day will keep the doctor away" was popular and the cracker was designed to be used in oyster stews. The oyster cracker became immensely popular, but since he had not patented the recipe, it was stolen and copied by others.

This was a tough lesson, but he did go on to patent his other inventions, which included:

1861 Improved Rolling-Pin and Docker - #33033

1861 Machine for Molding Crackers, Biscuits, &c - #33136

1866 Apparatus for Making Scroll-Biscuit - #52036

1866 Scroll Biscuit (Bread machine) - #52278

1874 Improvement in Cracker Machines - #164157

1875 Improvement in Cracker-Machines - #164282

1875 Improvement in Cracker-Machines - #164283

When he died, all of the trolleys in Trenton were draped, and those that came within a block of his house were slowed to a walk.

The Trenton Times, Trenton, NJ Jan. 20, 1890 reported, "A $5,000 monument is being erected over the grave of the late Adam Exton at Greenwood Cemetery. A bas relief likeness of the deceased is carved upon the shaft."

Family Members



JULY 5, 1823
AUGUST 17, 1887

  • Created by: Mary Harrell-Sesniak
  • Added: 27 Aug 2004
  • Find A Grave Memorial 9372571
  • Mary Harrell-Sesniak
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Adam Exton (5 Jul 1823–17 Aug 1887), Find A Grave Memorial no. 9372571, citing Greenwood Cemetery, Trenton, Mercer County, New Jersey, USA ; Maintained by Mary Harrell-Sesniak (contributor 46488639) .