Garrett A. Morgan

Garrett A. Morgan

Born: Paris, Kentucky  March 4, 1877

Invention: First Traffic Light System

Morgan had witnessed a serious accident at an intersection, and he invented a traffic control device and applied for a patent on it in 1922. His invention was a hand-cranked mechanical sign system using signs that could be switched relatively easily by a traffic control officer. His device was relatively simple, yet had key additional safety features that many others at the time did not have. In addition to having "stop" and "go" indicators, it had an "all stop" signal that could be used to clear the intersection to allow pedestrians to cross or to stop cross-traffic before signaling a different direction to proceed.

Personal Bio
Garrett A. Morgan was born on March 4, 1877 in Paris, Kentucky to former slaves Sydney Morgan and Elizabeth (Reed) Morgan.[2] The seventh of eleven children, he spent his childhood attending school and working with his brothers and sisters on the family farm. When he was fourteen, he moved north to Cincinnati, Ohio, in search of employment.[2] Morgan spent most of his teenage years working as a handyman for a wealthy Cincinnati landowner. Like many African-Americans of his day, Morgan had to quit school at a young age, in order to work. However, the teen-aged Morgan hired his own tutor, and continued his studies while living in Cincinnati. In 1895, Morgan moved to Cleveland, Ohio, where he worked as a sewing machine repairman for a clothing manufacturer. He married Madge Nelson in 1896, but the marriage ended in divorce. News of his skill at fixing things and experimenting spread quickly throughout Cleveland. In 1907, Morgan opened his own sewing machine and repair shop. It was the first of several businesses he would own. In 1909, he expanded his business to include a tailoring shop. The company made coats, suits, dresses, etc. - all sewn with equipment that Morgan himself had made. Morgan experimented with a liquid that gave sewing machine needles a high polish and prevented the needle from scorching fabric, as it sewed. Accidentally, Morgan discovered that this liquid not only straightened fabric but also hair. He made the liquid into a cream and began the G.A. Morgan Hair Refining Company. Morgan also made a black hair oil dye and a curved-tooth Iron comb in 1910, to straighten hair.

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