Question of the Week: Do you have any inventors in your tree?

+8 votes

imageHas anyone in your family invented something?

Tell us about them with an answer below! You could also use the question image to share your answer with friends and family on social media.

in The Tree House by Eowyn Walker G2G Astronaut (1.7m points)

11 Answers

+9 votes
I have previously posted about my father, J. B. (Iain) Gunn-900 (, who discovered the Gunn Effect  (when you put low voltage DC through Gallium Arsenide with specific impurities you get out very high frequency AC, otherwise known as Microwaves) and invented the Gunn diode ( ) which, among other things, led to the miniturization (sp?)  of both police radar, and radar detectors.

But this time I will post about a more distant relative (my 4th cousin once removed), Horace Thomas Pentecost-153 (1909 - 1983) who invented one of the first (single person) "backpack helicopters" (There was a German version invented about the same time, the early 1940s).  It was called the Hoppi Coptor (see and ).  It flew well once airborne, but was a bit tricky to control, especially on takeoff and landing.  Both the US and UK Military expressed interest, but did not adopt it.

His father, Horace Charles Pentecost, was born (in 1875) in Kent, England, where HIS father, Stephen Horace Pentecost,  was a boiler engineer.  The family emigrated to the US in 1882, arriving at Baltimore, and settling first in Minnesota where they (father and brothers) worked in the locomotive industry.  In the 1901 census they had moved to Chautauqua, NY, and Horace C Pentecost is shown as "draftsman loco man" while his father and brothers are shown as "iron worker loco man".

Horace Thomas Pentecost went to University (possibly Purdue) and became an aeronautical engineer, working in the Seattle area in the 1940s.  He was married 3 times and apparently had 4 children: Mike, Chuck, Judy, and Katie, born in the 1950s (but I cannot find formal sources).  

It seems that he lost control of his Hoppi Copter company as a consequence of his divorce settlement with his first wife, Charlotte Winkler.
by Janet Gunn G2G6 Mach 9 (97.7k points)
+6 votes

My great great grandmother's brother, Amasa St. Onge held several US patents regarding the cotton industry.

Patent Numbers:

(And my name is on a couple[1][2] now too)

by Brian Lamothe G2G6 Mach 2 (29.7k points)
edited by Brian Lamothe
Brian, I had to look every one of those patents up. It's in my blood, so to speak, me being a fourth generation linthead. Very cool!
+7 votes

My grandfather's cousin John Edgar Keyston held patents for an electron multiplier and a signaling system. They both seem to be related to cathode ray tubes.



by Samantha Thomson G2G6 Pilot (101k points)
edited by Samantha Thomson
+7 votes

My maternal grandfather has a few patents to his name, having been an engineer, but since all my answers to the posts of the week have been about my great-grandfather Koehnline & his siblings, I think I'll stick with that branch of the family.

My great-grandfather, Irvin John Koehnline, served in the US Army during WWI, serving in France & Germany, & after the war ended, remained in Paris for another couple years to study at the University of Paris. While there, he studied the French language & their standard course, in addition to his primary courses: aerodynamics & metallurgy. I've told the story of his unrealized desire to become a pilot elsewhere, so this focuses more on his career in metallurgy. By the time of my grandfather's childhood, I.J. was doing sales for the Wheeling Steel Corporation (Wheeling, WV), & remained in that career for the rest of his life, making up the vast majority of his professional career, but prior to working at Wheeling Steel, & to my grandfather's birth, for a period of about two years, he was working as a lab assistant to a research metallurgist in Wheeling, a "Dr. Peacock." In that stretch, at least a couple patents were filed in his name, one for a more efficient & effective process of annealing steel, & the other for a process of coating iron or steel articles, which I can actually say I have the original documentation for:

Unfortunately, only a couple years into their work, Dr. Peacock died a quite sudden death (I've never been able to figure out the specific details there), & the lab was shut down, but my grandfather said it was probably the most fun his father had ever had in his professional career (though he enjoyed sales too; there are accounts of how he would excitedly tell prospective customers at length about "the process" at Wheeling Steel, which was the hallmark of his sales pitch)

by Thomas Koehnline G2G6 Mach 2 (27.7k points)
+8 votes

My 3x gt grandfather's claim to fame cheeky:

To John Snelson Shenton, of Husbands Bosworth, in the County of Leicester, Plumber and Glazier, for his having Invented or found out certain Improvements in the Mechanism of Water Closets.

by Gill Whitehouse G2G6 Mach 1 (10.6k points)
Certainly a very important invention! Thank you for sharing Gil.
+8 votes

My inventor story is really about a relative who turned out to not be an inventor (and how easy it can be to get carried away with an exciting find without gathering proper attribution). I knew my great grandfather, [[Corcoran-1301|Timothy A Corcoran (1859-1929)]] worked in the shoe industry in Brockton, Massachusetts. I was thrilled to find that a shoemaker in Brockton named Timothy Corcoran had been granted a patent for an early design of a specialized sprinting shoe. I found the diagram of the new shoe, the write-up in the patent gazette and a shoe trade journal mentioning the patent, and added the information to my ancestor’s tree. When I created Timothy’s profile in WikiTree, I included this information in his bio and listed the patent announcement as a source. Alas, I have recently discovered that there was another Timothy Corcoran, also a shoemaker living in Brockton at the same time, who was the inventor of the innovative shoe (his work with runners to improve athletic shoes was mentioned in the other Timothy’s obituary; it was this death record—too early for our Timothy—that first alerted me that there were multiple Timothy Corcorans working in the shoe industry in Brockton in the early 1900s). So I am editing “my” Timothy’s bio and sources to remove the erroneous information. I never met TA, and have no first-hand knowledge of whether he was an inventive sort of person; but I am certain now that he was not awarded US patent numbers 888473 and 910505 in 1908 and 1909.

by Kathy Carroll G2G6 (6.3k points)
+3 votes

Screen Protector Patents


A screen protector shield is set forth removably securable in association with a viewing screen, such as LCR screens, as found in fish finders and the like, which are typically exposed to adverse weather conditions.


Patent RE35318

“A viewing screen protective shield is set forth removably securable in association with a viewing screen, such as LCR screens, as found in fish finders and the like, which are typically exposed to adverse weather conditions. The protective shield is readily removable and replaceable and include convex peripheral edges to conform the shield to the convex screen with an outwardly extending tab formed outwardly of a single corner of the shield to enhance manual grasping thereof. To enhance securement of the shield to the associated screen, a plurality of transparent adhesive strips may be secured to an interior surface of the shield to enhance securement of the transparent shield to the associated screen”

by William Warman G2G Crew (820 points)
+4 votes

My Grandfather, Ernst Wüstling, was granted 10 Patents. One of them was for the invention of the anechoic chamber.

by Ronnie Grindle G2G6 Mach 1 (16.4k points)
+3 votes
The Wright Brothers are my 7th cousins twice removed….I never can understand that removed thing
by Teresa Langford G2G6 (6.7k points)
+2 votes
My grandfather was NOT an inventor, not in the formal way, but he could MacGyver things that needed fixing, sometimes making things work better than in their original forms.
by Pip Sheppard G2G Astronaut (2.1m points)
edited by Mags Gaulden
What was edited?
Mags add "MacGyver." True that!
Mags add "MacGyver." True that!



+3 votes
A cousin of my 3rd great grandfather invented or discovered quaternions. He was a mathematician. His name: william Rowan Hamilton(1805-1865). Hamilton-26483
by John Tyner G2G4 (4.5k points)

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