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Charles S. Lewis Baker
*Charles Lewis Baker was born on this date in 1859. He was a Black inventor and business owner.
Charles S. Lewis Baker was born into slavery in Savannah, Missouri. His mother, Betsy Mackay, died when he was three months old, leaving him to be brought up by the wife of his owner, Sallie Mackay, and his father, Abraham Baker. He was the youngest of five children, Susie, Peter, Annie, and Ellen, all of whom were freed after the American Civil War.
Baker later received an education at Franklin College. His father was an express agent; once Baker turned fifteen, he became his assistant. Baker worked with wagons and linchpins, which sparked an interest in mechanical sciences. At 21, Baker married 19-year-old Carrie Carriger on December 12, 1880, in Adams County, Iowa. They had one child named Lulu Belle Baker.
Baker worked for decades on his product, attempting several different forms of friction, including rubbing two bricks together mechanically and using various types of metals. After twenty-three years, the friction heater was perfected. It had two metal cylinders, one inside the other, with a spinning core in the center made of wood that produced friction. His invention #718071 was patented on January 13, 1903. Baker started a business with several other men to manufacture the heater.
The Friction Heat & Boiler Company was established in 1904, in St. Joseph, with Baker on the board of directors. The company worked up to $136,000 in capital, nearly $4 million in 2018. Baker claimed that the mode of power used in creating friction is not essential. It may be wind, water, gasoline, or other energy sources. The most difficult part of the inventor's assertions is that his system would light or heat a house at about half the cost of methods now in use. Charles Lewis Baker died of pneumonia in St. Joseph, Missouri, on May 5, 1926.