The Henderson's Inventors

Did you know that in addition to being farmers, horse breeders, husbands, fathers, landlords, oilmen, musicians, postmasters, statesmen, the Henderson men were also inventors?

Jock Lee Henderson, the son of Jock Bedell and Anna Rosalie invented, applied for and received a U.S. patent for an invention he described as a "hair and scalp cleaner."

The intent of the machine, which resembles a small handheld vacuum cleaner "was to provide a device that can be applied to the head and moved thereover in various directions without the danger of the hair becoming tangled in the device while being moved or stationary. This patent was filed in 1928.

Lee's patent application stated: the device was constructed so that it "can be easily and conveniently connected with a suction pump or other device in order to remove the dust and dandruff from the scalp and hair without the danger of hair becoming tangled in the device when in use."

Lee noted the device would be simple to build, efficient in operation and "one which can be manufactured at a very small cost."

The gentleman farmer also noted "while the device is primarily designed for cleaning the hair and scalp of persons, it can, however, be used with equal success for cleaning the hair and hide of livestock."

Lee and his father Jock teamed up on another invention - a station-indicator for street cars.

This device received patents both in the U.S. and Canada which were filed in 1903.

"Our invention relates to improvements in station-indicators, and pertains more particularly to that class used on street and railway cars and which are operated by hand by the conductor. The object of our invention is to provide an indicator which will indicate the different streets or stations and after the car has traveled to the end of the route will start and indicate in their proper order the streets or stations over the line on the return trip of the car," according to the patent.

The Hendersons said the aim was to "produce a more simple, cheap, and effective indicator than has heretofore been produced."

Streetcars were the mainstay for transportation for many years, with one running regularly by the Henderson home.

This complicated machine had a variety of working elements including drums, belts, casings, coil-springs, flanges, levers, gears, including something called a "wormgear."

"The casing is adapted to be placed in the forward end of the car, where it can be readily seen by all in the car," according to the patent records.

Rosalie, in letters to her sister Lorna, who lived in California often related tales of her streetcar adventures - it was usually not just a ride into town, but often a social occasion for passengers, affording them the opportunity to greet, and chat with neighbors and friends they might not have seen for awhile, and get comments on the latest dress or hair style.

- Pam Brust, Henderson Hall historian/research assistant