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Archive for April 6th, 2013

The Jefferson County Historical Society recently sent out a newsletter featuring patents awarded to Jefferson County inventors. It is a pretty impressive list and I encourage you to check it out.

However, one inventor was missing. Estell (or Estelle) M. Black. Since I own a gallery in Harper’s Ferry’s lower town, I found it quite interesting that a woman who designed a commemorative spoon depicting Jefferson Rock was not included on the list. It was worth investigating.

Estelle May Peach Koonce Black filed for a patent on August 30, 1892. The patent was awarded on October 25, 1892 (remarkable!). The term  for her patent was 3.5 years, which is an unusual length of time.

What was also interesting was that her patent was awarded the same year the Columbian Exhibition started in Chicago. John Brown’s Fort, as readers of this blog will know, was dismantled and brought to the Fair in 1892. It was a big year for Harper’s Ferry and I don’t doubt that Estell Black wanted to take advantage of the attention being paid toward Harper’s Ferry that year.

“To all whom it may concern Be it known that I Estell M Black a citizen of the United States residing at Harper’s Ferry in the county of Jefferson and 5 State of West Virginia have invented certain new and useful Improvements in Designs for Spoons of which the following is a specification…”

 Estell Black spoon
According to the Women Inventors Index, 1790 – 1895, nine  West Virginia women were granted patents, only one of whom was from Jefferson County.
Her full name was Estelle May Peach Koonce Black. She was born in Harper’s Ferry on March 27, 1867 (the year Storer College was opened) and died on January 12, 1942 in Halltown.
Estelle Black death certificate
She is bured at Fairview Lutheran Cemetery.
Steam at Harper’s Ferry sells vintage newspapers, including Scientific American, which have illustrations from the late 1890s. Please come by!

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