Thanks to Jarret Hulse and
Joe Roark's Iron History website:
In July, 1860, I commenced lifting by means of a padded rope over my shoulders, -- my body, during the act of lifting, being steadied and partly supported by my hands grasping a stout frame at each side. After a few unsuccessful preliminary trials, I quickly advanced to 1400 pounds.
The stretching of the rope now proved so great an annoyance that I substituted for it a stout leather band of double thickness, about two inches and a half wide and which had been subjected to a process which was calculated to render it proof against stretching more than half an inch under any weight it was capable of sustaining. But on trial, I found, almost to my despair, that it was of a far more yielding nature than the rope, and consequently the rope was again brought into requisition.
A few weeks of unsatisfactory practice followed, when it occurred to me that an iron chain, inasmuch as it could not stretch, might be advantageously used, provided it could be so padded as not to chafe my shoulders. After many experiments I succeeded in this substitution; but the chain had yet one objection in common with the rope and the strap, arising from the difficulty of getting it properly adjusted. I contented myself with its use, however, until the spring of 1861, when I hit upon a contrivance which has proved a complete success. It consists of a wooden yoke fitting across my shoulders, and having two chains with it is such a manner as to enable me to lift on every occasion to the most advantage. With this contrivance my lilting-power has advanced with mathematical certainty, slowly, but surely, to two thousand and seven pounds, up to this twenty-third day of November, 1861.
In my public experiments in lifting, when I have not used the iron weights cast for the purpose, I have, as a convenient substitute, used kegs of nails. It recently occurred to me, that, if, instead of these kegs, I could employ a number of men selected from the audience, the spectacle would be still more satisfactory to the skeptical. Accordingly, I contrived my apparatus my means of which I have been able to present this convincing proof of the actual weight lifted. I introduced it after my lecture at the Town-Hall in Brighton, Massachusetts, on the 9th of October, 1861; and the following account of the result appeared in one of the city papers: --
"Standing upon a staging at an elevation of about eight or ten feet from the floor, the Doctor lifted and sustained, for a considerable time and without apparent difficulty a platform suspended beneath him on which stood twelve gentlemen, all heavier individually than the Doctor himself, and weighing, inclusive of the entire apparatus lifted with them, nearly nineteen hundred pounds avoirdupois. In the performance of this tremendous feat, Dr. W employed neither straps, bands, nor girdle, -- nothing in short but a stout oaken stick fitting across his shoulders, and having attached to it a couple of formidable-looking chains. At his request, a committee, appointed by the audience, and furnished with one of Fairbank's scales, superintended all the experiments."
The exact weight lifted on this occasion was eighteen hundred and sixty; in Brookline, eighteen hundred and ninety; in Medford, nineteen hundred and thirty-four; in Malden, nineteen hundred and two; and in Charlestown, nineteen hundred and forty.
As my strength is still increasing in an undiminished ratio, I am fairly beginning to wonder where the limit will be; and the old adage of the camel's back and the last feather occasionally suggests itself.
I have fixed three thousand pounds as my ne plus ultra.
Enjoy Your Lifting!