May 7 - BlackFacts.com Black History Minute

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By BlackFacts.com, Nicole Franklin, and Bryant Monteilh. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

BlackFacts.com presents the black fact of the day for May 7.

J. R. Winters received a patent for the fire escape ladder.

He was born in Leesburg, Virginia to an African-American brickmaker and a Shawnee Indian mother, who was the daughter of a noted herbalist and medical practitioner.

In 1830, at the age of 14, he relocated to Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. During this time that Winters lived in Chambersburg, a city known for Quaker abolitionist activity, he was active in the Underground Railroad.

In the 1870s as buildings became taller, Winters noticed that firemen had to take ladders off of their horse-drawn wagons to climb to windows, rescue people, and spray water on fires.

The ladders had to be foldable or collapsible so that fire wagons could turn corners in narrow streets and alleys. He built a fire wagon made with a mounted ladder that could be folded and received a patent for it on May 7, 1878.

Three years later in 1882 Winters received a patent for a fire escape ladder that could be attached to buildings. While all of his inventions saved lives and made firefighting and building escape easier, Winters reportedly received much praise but little money for his inventions.

In 2005, the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission erected a historical marker honoring Winters at 130 North Second Street.

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