Inventors and Patents From the City of Farmington
Inventors and patents from the City of Farmington can be found in the county’s history. Chester Greenwood patented ear muffs in 1873, and his grandmother sewn tufts of fur between loops of wire. This patent was for an improved ear protector, and he marketed them in the area for the next sixty years. Greenwood also patented a tea kettle, steel tooth rake, and machine to produce wooden spools. Unfortunately, he didn’t patent an umbrella holder for mail carriers.
A collection of more than 100 patents by Chester Greenwood honors the inventor’s accomplishments. He was one of America’s most prolific inventors and was named by the Smithsonian Institution as one of the most significant innovators of the twentieth century. The earmuff he invented is still revered in Farmington. In 1977, the Maine legislature declared Dec. 21 Chester Greenwood Day, and the city holds an annual parade to honor his work.
A well-known citizen of Farmington, Chester Greenwood was born in 1832 and was the son of Emily and Zina Greenwood. He married Isabel Whittier and had four children. He was a businessman and active in the community. His wife was a supporter of women’s suffrage, and he was an active member of the Unitarian Church. He was also a prominent member of the community, and his family included many pioneers in the field. The Greenwood family also included a well-known artist and painter, and the boys were creative in their own way.
In the late nineteenth century, Chester was already involved in the telephone business. He owned Franklin Telephone & Telegraph, which expanded north and east towards the Phillips area. Chester sold the company to a competitor. He continued to invent and patent, creating a special type of tea kettle and a matchbox for advertising. He also built and patented a boring machine for the wood turning industry. Chester’s business produced 400,000 pairs of ear protection per year by the time he died in 1937.
Chester Greenwood Day celebrates the earmuff he invented in 1873. In addition to the earmuff, Chester Greenwood’s family included his wife, Isabel, a noted women’s suffrage activist. The day’s festivities included a parade down Main Street, a craft fair, a gingerbread house contest, and a flag-raising ceremony. At one point, the deputy fire chief played an impersonation of Chester Greenwood, while Gov. Janet Mills was also in attendance. She wore cheetah-print earmuffs.
A list of earmuffs he invented and patented in Farmington, Connecticut, is impressive. At only fifteen years old, Chester Greenwood was already inventing more than half a dozen products. His most famous invention, the v-shaved swivel hinge, was a revolutionary development. It put Farmington on the map. In 1936, his earmuff factory employed locals and manufactured more than 400,000 pairs. During his lifetime, he acquired more than 100 patents.
Chester Greenwood Day is a special day for the town and its inventors. The first Saturday in December, Farmington celebrates Chester Greenwood, who invented the earmuffs. At 15 years old, he fashioned his first pair of earmuffs from wire and beaver fur. He then had his patent issued and started selling them worldwide. The company prospered well into the 20th century.
Inventing has been an integral part of the history of the City of Farmington and Connecticut, and the first woman to receive a patent in the United States was Mary Dixon Kies. She received a patent for a method of weaving straw with thread or silk in 1809. Her invention became so popular that it influenced the hat-making industry in New England. Mary Dixon Kies was born in South Killingly, Connecticut, but little else is known about her life. Until the Patent Act of 1790, women were not legally able to own property or enter into contracts.
After the American Revolution, the country was thrown into a difficult political position. The Embargo Act restricted American ships from trading in foreign ports, which damaged American commerce and created a demand for locally produced goods. Kies took advantage of this new law and petitioned for a patent for her straw hats. This patent was the first granted to a woman, and she became the first American woman to own one.
Kies’ hats were so successful that Dolly Madison praised her for her invention. It made New England’s straw hat industry flourish, and even President James Madison signed the patent. Her hats were a hit, and Kies’ patent, unfortunately, was destroyed in a fire at the Patent Office in 1836. It was one of only 20 female patents granted prior to 1840.
During the Embargo, the American fashion industry had to turn inwards. New England had to start making goods instead of importing them from other countries. This is why Mary Kies’ straw hat invention became so successful. The hats that she produced became a popular item for rural women. With this new industry, women in the area were able to get work done and earn income.
Martha J Coston
The Coston flare was invented by Martha J. Coston, a businesswoman and inventor who died in 1904. Her wife and two children had lost their father and mother, leaving her in a weakened emotional and financial state. In an effort to find out what had happened to her husband, she searched through his papers and found incomplete work on night signaling at the Navy Yard.