December 18, 2011

Chester Greenwood Day

Chester Greenwood was born in 1858 in Farmington, Maine. An ambitious young lad, when he was 12 years old he dropped out of grammar school to sell eggs from his parents' farm. Rain or shine, summer or winter, he walked about eight miles a day selling eggs.

Chester didn't like how cold his ears got as he walked his route in the winter, so he showed a little Yankee ingenuity. Rather than wrap his head in a scarf like most people did, he created two wire loops that fit over his ears and covered them with beaver fur and velvet.

He called his invention the ear muffler.

At first people laughed at Chester, but they soon saw the value in this new fashion accessory, and he began selling ear mufflers to his Farmington neighbors.

In 1877, the U.S. government issued Chester patent number 188,292 for his invention. Shortly afterward he opened factories in West Farmington and Farmington Village. By 1883 Chester's company was making 30,000 pairs of ear mufflers a year. By 1936, one year before his death, that number had increased to an astounding 400,000.

Copy of patent from Wired.

In 1977 the Maine legislature declared December 21 Chester Greenwood Day:

Chester Greenwood Day shall commemorate and honor Chester Greenwod, whose inventive genius and native ability, which contributed much to the enjoyment of Maine's winter season, marked him as one of Maine's outstanding citizens.

The people of Farmington still celebrate their native son's legacy, but on the first Saturday of December every year. Chester Greenwood Day 2011 took place on December 3. It featured a parade, horse and buggy rides and, of course, an earmuff fashion show.

I found this information about Chester Greenwood in Amy Whorf McGuiggan's Christmas in New England.

1 comment:

Rich Clabaugh said...

Thanks for the post, Peter! Yet another testament to Yankee ingenuity!