Inventors & Innovators of Harrisonburg and Rockingham: November 28, 2018 – March 30, 2019

Patents explain the story of an idea, but also the stories of inventor’s challenges, aspirations, expectations, and imagination.

During the 19th and 20th centuries, residents of Rockingham County earned 380 patents from the United States Patent office. Their inventions were surprisingly diverse—from butter churns and poultry brooders to a “mechanical nurse” and a solar heater—and they came from every corner of the county. The exhibition, curated by Dr. Kevin Borg, James Madison University, presented the artwork of patent applications and explored the stories, people, and places behind the inventions.

Henrietta H. Dangerfield Foot Rest, 1885. Dangerfield’s adjustable and reversible foot rest innovation grew out of her frustration with railroad seating that was not comfortable for women and children.
John J. Fahrney Wrench, 1900. Fahrney was an innovative rural blacksmith and wheelwright at the dawn of the automobile age.
P. S. Martin et. al., Wood-Burning Brooder Stove, 1940. Perry S. Martin (1890-1969) patented inventions his entire adult life. He received his first patent at the age of 19, two years younger than Thomas Edison.