Sunday, March 24, 2013

Inventors Extraordinaire

While doing your own family history research, have you stumbled upon any particular family members with fascinating careers...or even inventions?

When I am in need of research inspiration, I enjoy picking a few relatives' names off of the "tree" and searching for any mention of them in historic newspaper articles.  Today's find...a family of inventors.

A little background on my engineering relatives:

Who?

Jacob B. Luden (1824-1864) married Sarah Ann Musser (1822-1896) in Reading, Berks County, Pennsylvania in 1858.  Jacob and Sarah had the following children*:

  • Caroline Mary Luden (1853 - ?)
  • Edward Musser Luden (1854-1920) -- my grandmother's grandfather
  • Alburtis Musser Luden (1857-1864)
  • William Henry Luden (1859-1949)
  • Sally Ann Luden (1861-?)
  • Jacob Charles Luden (1864-1926)
*SO...notice the fuzzy familial math?  I did, too.  Without going into too much detail here, I'll just note that until a couple of months before her marriage to Jacob B. Luden in 1858, she was legally married to first husband Amos Baum Yeager.  With Mr. Yeager, she also had two children: Frederick Musser Yeager (1840)  and Susan Elizabeth Yeager (1843; wife of Reading, PA hotelier Evan Mishler). 

Family drama aside (!), Jacob B. Luden - a fairly successful jeweler - passed 100% of his estate and property holdings to his wife and children upon his death in 1864.  Son William Henry became famously known for his hard candies - later lozenges - produced first in his parents' kitchen in their home above late father Jacob's jewelery store.  Growing up, I always had a difficult time believing that Luden's Cough Drops were actually medicine!  Were they not just cherry candies?  Sigh.  Anyway, I always wondered how exactly I was related to the Luden Cough Drop King...and now I know that he is a great-great-great uncle.

Youngest son Jacob Charles Luden operated the jewelery store for several years until closing shop in 1898 and opening a repair shop of sorts upstairs (Reading Eagle, August 30, 1898).  Between the years 1900 and 1917, Jacob C. Luden was busy patenting several items of note, including the following: a vacuum cleaner suction nozzle, a dust-removing cleaner used by jewelers, gold plating solution, a vacuum for domestic use, garden hose sprayer nozzle, and the following "sash lock" apparatus for windows:






Not to be outdone, big brother and candy manufacturer William Henry Luden's name is attached to a handful of patents...mostly pertaining to the manufacturing industry.  One in particular, a counting and packing mechanism for hard candies, was patented in 1917, with rights shared 25% with another co-inventor:


William H. Luden - Counting and Packing Mechanism 1917



Thought my engineering family members would appreciate this peek into the minds of previous generations!  I'm eternally grateful for the ability to locate such fascinating records online...from the comfort of my living room :).  Now, we will have a permanent memory of how their dreams became reality!


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