Patented by Pullman in 1901 and Made in York
I promoted putting more historical pieces in family history books while attending the 4-day National Genealogical Society 2013 Family History Conference in Las Vegas. I told attendees to checkout YorksPast for a series on how to research the place of business where an ancestor worked. This is part 3, the other posts in this series include:
- The First PULLMAN Company in York made Ventilators; Part 1
- The First PULLMAN Company in York made Ventilators; Part 2
- Made in YORK, Pullman Automatic Ventilators; How they Worked
- YORK Pullman’s at The White House
- York made 1901 Pullman Ventilators installed in White House
I selected Pullman Ventilators because of local interest. The Pullman identity ties into my post on Albert P. Broomell, he was responsible for the fabrication of the first motorcar in York, Pennsylvania. The 1903 six-wheel Pullman Motor Car however was not the first Pullman named product in York; those honors go to products of The Pullman Automatic Ventilator Company. Every now-and-then one uncovers surprises during research; this ventilator company in York was started by a man named Pullman, with direct ties to the originator of the Pullman name for railroad cars.
The nameplate photo is courtesy of Patrick Spinks, a reader of this Blog. He has two early Pullman Automatic Ventilators. I’m continuing to do research to date his ventilators and may have something to report in my next post of this series.
In part 1, I discovered that the trade publication The Iron Age, issue of April 20, 1922, noted that (my distant relative) Walter B. Gilbert & Co., York, Pa. took title to the plant and business of the Pullman Automatic Ventilator & Mfg. Co. The construction buyers-guide National Builder, issue of December 1922, lists the address of this company as 201 Roosevelt Ave., York, Pa.
In part 2, I used another trade publication, The Metal Worker, issue of January 10, 1903. An article in that issue provided evidence that The Pullman Automatic Ventilator Company in York was a well-established company by January 10, 1903; making it easy to conclude, at the very least, they were in business during 1902 in York, PA.
In this Part 3, I’ll reveal how the Pullman name of the company leads to a man named Pullman with connections to the originator of the Pullman name for railroad cars. This tale also contains an interesting fight for the rights to the initial idea for these ventilators.
This is the July 9th 1901 patent referenced in the Nameplate shown at the beginning of this post. This patent was issued to Charles Lewis Pullman, assignor to The Pullman Automatic Ventilator Company of Washington, D.C. Charles was the younger brother of George M. Pullman, principal developer of the Pullman Palace Railroad Cars. Charles spent 35 years associated with his brother in the Pullman Palace Car business.
The history of the initial idea for these ventilators has an interesting tale. The Atlanta Cotton States Exposition of 1895 featured an invention by Humphrey H. Reynolds. Reynolds was a black railroad porter from Minneapolis, Minnesota who had obtained a patent in 1883 for a window-ventilator for railway-cars. In 1895, the Baltimore Afro-American reported on Reynold’s ventilator when it was displayed at the Atlanta Exposition:
The H. H. Reynolds ventilator in the Pullman cars is perhaps the most widely used of those exhibited at Atlanta. Reynolds was a porter on one of the Pullman cars. Opening and shutting the windows as he did so often for his passengers, he devised a screen to keep the cinders out. Pullman heard of it and Reynolds was sent for. He explained his invention to the car magnate, and the interview resulted shortly after ward in the adoption of this ventilator on all the Pullman cars. Reynolds claimed the invention, but Pullman did not recognize the claim. He got out of the service of the Pullmans, sued them, and got a verdict for ten thousand dollars.
Patent No. 275,271 was issued to Humphrey H. Reynolds on April 3, 1883. In the time period between the 1883 patent issuance and the 1895 newspaper article, it appears this window ventilator was adopted on all Pullman railway cars. Sometime before 1895, Pullman Palace Car magnate George M. Pullman had to pay Humphrey H. Reynolds $10,000 for violating the patent and/or acquiring patent rights, which in today’s terms, would be equivalent to millions of dollars.
George M. Pullman died during 1897. At first I thought that his brother Charles L. Pullman might have only improved Reynolds’ ventilator design for his 1901 patent. However after reading the patents and looking at the comparison patent drawings that follow, it does appear that Charles L. Pullman devised a unique novel invention and thus received a clear patent.
Check back next week as I continue my research into The Pullman Automatic Ventilator Company and explore the move of the company from Washington, D. C. to establish their factory and headquarters in York, PA.
Links to a few posts featuring United States Patents:Reading the Headlines: A Quick Index to All YorksPast Posts