Inventors and Patents From the City of Johnston
Johnston, SC, is a bustling city with more than 21,500 residents. The community is recognized for strong neighborhoods, thriving organizations, and exceptional schools. In July, the City of Johnston formed a Steering Committee to plan a year-long celebration, celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2019. The 50th anniversary celebration will feature a combination of events to commemorate this historic milestone.
Inventors born into slavery
In the early nineteenth century, the City of Johnston had a small population, and many of those residents went into the military, with more than 1,000 men and women being drafted into service. While this resulted in the loss of many local citizens, it also fueled the local economy as it boosted the prices of tobacco and cotton. As the region became increasingly prosperous, it also inspired a progressive spirit, resulting in revolutions in transportation and education.
Johnston was born to a blue-eyed family and eventually married a black man. Though Johnston claimed to be self-taught, his background and lack of education prevented him from reaching his full potential. Although he had little formal training, his artistic abilities eventually led him to paint a portrait of his benefactor, Sarah Ogden Gustin, a white woman in Berkeley Springs, West Virginia. During the years before the Civil War, Johnston made a modest living by painting furniture and selling art to supplement his family’s food and clothing.
Johnston County’s economy changed dramatically after the arrival of Eli Whitney’s gin in the mid-nineteenth century. Soon, cotton became the county’s largest money crop. The county also produced corn for the market, but the profits were negligible in comparison to cotton. The lack of good roads to distant markets discouraged commercial farming. However, the construction of the 223-mile North Carolina Railroad, which connected Johnston to the rest of the state, helped change the county from subsistence farming to market-driven agriculture.
Johnston County was created in 1746 from Craven County. Johnston County was named after Gabriel Johnston, the royal governor of North Carolina. Initially, it included most of Wake County, Greene County, Lenoir County, and part of Wilson County.
In the 17th century, European settlers forced Africans into slavery. They often robbed their enslaved people of more than just their freedom. They also tried to take credit for their inventions. In this way, the black inventors from Johnston did not get the benefit of a patent.
James Johnston Pettigrew, an attorney, scholar, and Confederate general, was born into slavery in Tyrrell County and later graduated from the University of North Carolina. He was the eighth child of Ebenezer Pettigrew. Pettigrew received an education at Bingham’s Academy in Hillsborough and entered the University of North Carolina as a teenager. At only fourteen, he was already well regarded academically. He made excellent grades in every subject he studied over the four years he spent at UNC. During his time at UNC, Pettigrew was crowned valedictorian of his class.
Johnston County was historically an agricultural county. The county’s total farm income is among the highest in the state, but today, agri-business has replaced many family farms. Although agri-business has dominated Johnston County’s agricultural sector, many farmers still depended on tobacco, which remained relatively cheap throughout the 1930s. During the 20th century, Democratic parties dominated the political scene in the City of Johnston. However, in the mid to late-19th century, Republicans briefly gained control of the Board of County Commissioners.
The Civil War interrupted George Washington Carver’s early education. He was born to a slave woman named Mary. His parents were enslaved in Johnston, Missouri. When the Civil War broke out, the plantation was raided and George was taken to Arkansas. His master eventually found him and traced him back to his farm, but he was unable to find his mother. At the age of ten or twelve, George Carver left his plantation and pursued his education.
In 1873, Boon Hill Town was renamed Princeton. Then, Clayton, Selma, and Micro Towns were chartered. In 1905, the Town of Jerome is renamed Micro. By the 1950s, Johnston County schools desegregation begins and high schools consolidate. As the area becomes more suburbanized, land-use zoning is instituted.
Inventors born into free black people
The contribution of Black people to the Industrial Revolution has been largely undervalued. This era is considered the most innovative in human history, with significant breakthroughs in agriculture, transportation, manufacturing, and electricity, all of which propelled rapid economic growth. Yet, despite the significant impact of Black inventions on society, only a small number of Black inventors are recognized annually, even during Black History Month. This neglect not only whitewashes history, but also biases our understanding of the role of inventors today.
One notable example of a Black inventor was Garrett Morgan. This inventive and resourceful individual produced numerous patents. Born in Kentucky in 1877, Garrett Morgan began repairing sewing machines in Cleveland, Ohio. He invented a belt fastener for sewing machines. Later, he added a garment shop to his business and eventually a newspaper.
Another example of an African American inventor is Benjamin Montgomery, born into slavery in 1819. In the 1850s, Montgomery invented a steamboat propeller that could navigate shallow waters. Steamboats carried life-sustaining supplies through shallow waterways, but they would often become stuck. Montgomery’s owners tried to claim the patent as their own, but the patent office rejected it on the grounds that he was a slave. His owners attempted to take credit for the propeller but were also denied.
Many of the most famous inventions of the past century were developed by Black people. From traffic lights to pacemakers, African Americans have left their mark on American society and inventions. Their inventions made life easier for us all. The contributions of these creative individuals are worth celebrating.
The end of slavery brought about a new golden age of invention in the United States. In the late nineteenth century, black people in the North contributed significantly to the country’s economic and technological growth. The United States became the most inventive nation in history during this time.
There is a significant regional variation in the rate of patents and inventions among Blacks and whites. This regional disparity is important in understanding the causes of different rates of invention. Some states provide more educational and practice opportunities for Blacks than do others, while others are more welcoming of highly skilled immigrants.
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