Brush was a devout Christian and walked to the Episcopal Trinity Cathedral every Sunday for morning services. He was very generous with financial support to the church and served as a Junior Warden.
The dynamo provided an economic and efficient source of electricity for the arc light and this was a key factor in developing a commercially viable system of lighting. With a functional dynamo in hand, Brush turned next to developing an arc lamp while simultaneously continuing with development of the dynamo.
The reaction of the crowd must have been pleasing to Brush and confirmed his vision of the utility of the arc light. Soon cities across America would place orders for the Brush arc lights, and his name became known to many. Before the end of 1881 Brush arc light systems were illuminating the streets of New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Montreal, Buffalo, San Francisco and other cities.2
The San Francisco system was the first case of a utility selling electricity from a central plant to multiple customers via transmission lines. The California Electric Light Company (now PG&E) purchased two generators from Charles Brush’s company in 1879 and soon opened a second plant with four additional generators. Service charges for light from sundown to midnight was $10 per lamp per six day week. Brush’s system was lighting Broadway two years before Edison’s Pearl Street Station began lighting New York. By 1893 there were 1500 arc lights illuminating New York streets.
2. Rose, William Ganson. 1990. Cleveland: The Making of a City. Kent State University Press.
In 1879, the Anglo-American Brush Electric Light Corporation, using Brush’s inventions, was formed in Lambeth, London, England. This company eventually moved to Loughborough England and became Brush Electrical Engineering Co. Ltd.
Brush cherished his family and in turn they had great respect for him. The name of Charles Francis Brush lives on today, a name given to his grandson, Charles Francis Brush III and his great grandson, Charles Francis Brush IV.
Thousands of people gathered to witness the scene and as the light shot around and through the Park a shout was raised. Presently the Grays Band struck up in the Pavilion and soon afterward a section of artillery on the lake shore began firing a salute in honor of the occasion.
1. Eisenman, Harry J III. 1967. Charles F. Brush: Pioneer Innovator in Electrical Technology. Ph.D. dissertation. Case Institute of Technology, Cleveland, Ohio.
The happy family life at the Brush mansion was rocked in the summer of 1902 with the death of Charles’ wife. Brush was deeply devoted to his wife of twenty-seven years and lived the remaining twenty-seven years of his life as a widower. With his wife gone and his daughters approaching an age of independence, Brush’s family life would never be the same.
Medallion of Charles F. Brush that hangs outside the Cleveland Arcade on Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio
Scientific career Influences Humphry Davy; Zénobe Gramme; Antonio Pacinotti Signature
At five minutes before eight o’clock there was a flicker in the lamp nearest the Telegraph Supply Company’s headquarters and immediately the twelve lights beamed forth from their various stations. The lamp posts are much higher than the gas posts, making the electric lamps like beacon lights.
During the winter of 1929 Brush contracted bronchitis. For a while it appeared that he would recover but later in the spring his condition worsened. He died from pneumonia on June 15, 1929 at the age of 80 years. In his will he stipulated that the mansion must be demolished when it was no longer occupied by a family member. He did not want his home degenerating into a boarding house, like others on “Millionaires Row”, a section of Euclid Avenue that was considered by many to be “the most beautiful residential street in the world” at the turn of the century. The house was demolished within a year of his death.
While Brush was a busy man, he did find time for relaxation, especially after his children were grown. He enjoyed golf, playing 3 or 4 days a week at one point in his life. Duck hunting was another sport he enjoyed at the Winous Point Shooting Club. After his son went to college, Brush spent most of his weekday afternoons at Cleveland’s exclusive Union Club. Here he would play his favorite card game, bridge, and catch up on personal correspondence. He also enjoyed good music and had a season’s box ticket to the Orchestra.
Between 1910 and 1929 he wrote several papers on his version of a kinetic theory of gravitation, based on some sort of electromagnetic waves.
In order to keep pace with the rapidly increasing demand for Brush lighting systems, the Telegraph Supply Company of Cleveland underwent significant restructuring, giving birth to the Brush Electric Company in the summer of 1880. The new company constructed a 200,000 square foot factory located between Belden and McHenry streets at their intersection with Mason St. This new facility would thrive for a short time in the 1880’s before it was closed due to the merging of Brush Electric with competitor Thompson-Houston Electric Company in 1889 and in turn with the Edison General Electric Company in 1891 to form the General Electric Company still known by the same name today.
1 Biography 2 Legacy 3 Honors 4 Patents 5 References 6 External links
Helene Brush never married. She spent the latter years of her life in a sanitarium in Warrensville, Ohio.
The initial work on the dynamo was done by Brush on a part-time basis, working after hours while continuing with his sales activity in iron ore. In 1877 Brush quit the iron ore business and devoted his full attention to the dynamo. He assembled his first dynamo in the summer of 1876 while “vacationing” at his old home, Walnut Hills Farm. Brush used a horse-drawn treadmill to power the dynamo and was able to generate electricity with his new machine. He returned to the Telegraph Supply Company later that summer to continue development work. These early efforts resulted in U.S. Patent No. 189 997, “Improvement in Magneto-Electric Machines”, issued April 24, 1877.
Charles Brush, Jr. served as a first Lieutenant in the Ordinance Officers’ Reserve Corp of the Army from 1917 to 1919. He then returned to Cleveland where his father helped him establish the Brush Research Laboratory on the family property. This business was run by Charles Jr. and a college friend, Charles Baldwin Sawyer. One area of specialization for the research company was investigations into the commercialization of the metal beryllium. The company eventually developed into the only mine-to-finished-product beryllium producer in the free world, known as Brush Wellman, with facilities in England.
Edna Brush had become a very independent young woman with interests in writing, painting and woman’s suffrage. Brush supported her in all but the latter interest. He was a Victorian at heart and believed that a woman’s place was in the home. Nevertheless, Edna continued to be active in the suffragette movement. She also wrote two novels that were based on her travels around the world, The White Heart of the Mohave and A Red Carpet on the Sahara. Edna married Dr. Roger Perkins on November 14, 1905 and they had four sons.
Brush was active to the end of his life. His daily routine included walking to his office at the Arcade, 30 blocks from his home. He would spend about half of his working day at the office and half in his basement laboratory. He was known to favor late evening and early morning hours for the exacting work done in the laboratory. At other times the heavy street car traffic on Euclid Avenue would shake the ground and distrurb some of his more sensitive experiments. It was not uncommon for him to return from a concert at 11:00 PM and then work into the early hours of the morning. During these hours he could expect fewer interruptions when he needed to concentrate on sensitive experiments.
Charles Francis Brush (March 17, 1849 – June 15, 1929) was an American engineer, inventor, entrepreneur, and philanthropist.
Brush graduated from the University of Michigan in June, 1869 at the age of twenty. He had worked hard to finish his course of study in a short time, working through the summer months to accelerate his rate of progress. Repayment of the debt to his uncle was part of the motivation for his fast track approach, reasoning that an early graduation would mean earlier employment and resolution of the debt.
The light varied some in intensity at intervals, when shining brightest being so dazzling as to be painful to the eyes to look long at a lamp. In color it is of a purplish hue, not unlike moonlight, and by contrast making the gaslights in the store windows look a reddish yellow. Some people had raised their expectations too high and were disappointed because it was not as light as day but most people seemed struck with admiration, both by the novelty and brilliancy of the scene.
Brush was born on his parents’ farm March 17, 1849. His early years were spent on the Walnut Hills Farm, about 10 miles east of Cleveland. He was not a typical farm boy and developed an interest in science and electricity at an early age. “He spent as much time in a small workshop in the house as he did at the chores of the farm. As a boy, he was more excited about Humphrey Davy’s experiments with the arc light than he was about the success of the farm at Walnut Hill.”1 At the age of 12, Brush built his first static electric machine. Utilizing materials at hand on the farm, Brush experimented with electricity and constructed a number of electrical devices.
Charles F. Brush High School in Lyndhurst, Ohio is named after Brush, whose sports teams and other groups are named the “Arcs,” after Brush’s lamp. Metro Parks, Serving Summit County’s Furnace Run Metro Park in Richfield, Ohio, received a donation of land from the Family of Charles F.
Brush. The donated tract is known as Brushwood. USS Brush (DD-745) 1943-1969 (then Taiwan’s Hsiang Yang until scrapped in 1993) was named after Brush, sponsored by his great-granddaughter. Honors Rumford Prize of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1899) French Legion of Honor (1881) Edison Medal (1913) Franklin Medal Fellow of the North British Academy of Arts Patents Generator (Magneto Electric Machine) 1877 U.
S. Patent 189,997 Arc light (automatic control of spark gap) 1878 U.S. Patent 203,411 Arc light (double-carbon lamp regulation system) 1879 U.S. Patent 219,208 Arc light (Automatic shut off for Electric Lights or Motors) 1880 U.
S. Patent 234,456 Arc light (improved regulator for the carbon arc) 1885 U.S. Patent 312,184 Patents granted to Charles F. Brush relating to electric machinery and apparatus, 1878-1894 available via Internet Archive References External links Wikimedia Commons has media related to Charles F.
In 1884, Brush built a mansion on Euclid Avenue in Cleveland that showcased many of his inventions. There he raised his family and lived the remainder of his life. The basement housed Brush’s private laboratory. In 1888, he powered the mansion with the world’s first automatically operated wind turbine generator which charged the home’s 12 batteries. It was the first home in Cleveland to have electricity. Over its 20-year life, the turbine never failed to keep the home continuously powered. In 1926, Brush pioneered the first piezo-electric featherweight stylus.
Brush installed his first commercial arc lamp on the balcony of a doctor’s residence in Cincinnati in 1878. A number of indoor installations soon followed. He was keen to develop further outdoor lighting, an application eminently suited to the power of the arc light. These would be public lighting systems that would replace the gas lamp. At the time the average citizen knew very little about electricity and had no appreciation for its potential as a power source. Brush needed some way to demonstrate the power of his arc lamp to the public. This he did on Cleveland’s Public Square, then known as Monumental Park, on April 29, 1879. Twelve arc lamps were positioned around the park and they were powered in series by a dynamo housed in the Telegraph Supply Company nearby. A news article in the Plain Dealer described the occasion:
In 1898, Brush claimed to have discovered a new gas, which he named “etherion”. This gas had remarkable properties, being 10,000 times lighter than hydrogen and conducting heat 20 times faster than it. In 1900, Marian Smoluchowski identified the gas as water vapor.
Categories: 1849 births1929 deathsAmerican inventorsAmerican electrical engineersAmerican manufacturing businesspeopleAppleton familyBusinesspeople from ClevelandCase Western Reserve University alumniDudley–Winthrop familyPhillips family (New England)Woolsey familyIEEE Edison Medal recipientsBurials at Lake View Cemetery, ClevelandPeople from Euclid, OhioUniversity of Michigan alumniNational Inventors Hall of Fame inductees
Charles Francis Brush Born (1849-03-17)March 17, 1849 Euclid, Ohio Died June 15, 1929(1929-06-15) (aged 80) Cleveland, Ohio Resting place Lake View Cemetery, Cleveland, Ohio 41°30′37″N 81°35′21″W / 41.
510306°N 81.589194°W / 41.510306; -81.589194 Alma mater
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The world’s first automatically operated wind turbine was built in 1888 by Charles F. Brush. It had a 12kW dynamo.
The text above is based on information gained primarily from the following sources:
Isaac Brush did not have the financial means to support a college education for his son. An uncle of Charles’ from his mother’s side of the family provided a loan which enabled him to continue his education and he enrolled at the University of Michigan in the fall of 1867. At the time, the University of Michigan did not have a course of study in electricity and Brush chose mining engineering as his major, a field he felt would give him practical training for a career. It also developed his knowledge in science, which would prove valuable for his experimentation with electricity which would soon follow.
Edison Medal (1913) Rumford Prize French Legion of Honor Franklin Medal
Charles Brush, Jr. was only eight when his mother passed away and Brush started to devote more of his family time to the task of raising his only son. In his professional life Brush worked essentially alone in the laboratory, not wanting to leave any details of his work to an assistant. But he did share his time in the basement laboratory with his son and it was there that Charles Jr. started to learn about chemistry and electricity. Later Charles Brush, Jr. attended Harvard University where he majored in chemistry and physics. He also attended Massachusetts Institute of Technology for graduate study. Charles Brush, Jr. married Dorothy Adams Hamilton.
New York central power plant dynamos powered arc lamps for public lighting. Beginning operation in December 1880 at 133 West Twenty-Fifth Street, it powered a two-mile long circuit.
Near the end of his life Brush suffered another family tragedy. In 1927 he lost his son and granddaughter, Jane. Charles Jr. gave a blood transfusion in an attempt to save his daughter, who was very ill. She did not survive and he died from complications brought on by the transfusion.
Brush was born in Euclid Township, Ohio to Isaac Elbert Brush and Delia Williams Phillips. Isaac Brush was a distant cousin of Delia on the Phillips side. Through Delia he was a descendant of the Rev. George Phillips, who settled Watertown, Massachusetts in 1630, and Samuel Appleton.  Delia was also a descendant of Henry Wisner, member of the First and Second Continental Congresses during the American Revolution, as well as Thomas Cornell (settler) and the Winthrop family.
Brush produced additional patents refining the design of his arc lights in the coming years and sold systems to several cities for public lighting, and even equipped Philadelphia’s Wanamaker’s Grand Depot with a system. His lights were easier to maintain, had automatic functions and burned twice as long as Yablochkov candles. His generators were reliable and automatically increased voltage with greater load while keeping current constant. By 1881, New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Montreal, Buffalo, San Francisco, Cleveland, and other cities had Brush arc light systems, producing public light well into the 20th century.
The arc light made Brush a wealthy man. In 1884 he moved to his famous mansion, located on Euclid Ave. at East 37th Street. The new home included a laboratory in the basement and a large windmill in the backyard used to generate electricity for the house. His was a story of a self-made man, who elevated himself from humble beginnings on a farm near Wickliffe, Ohio, to a prominent citizen of the Cleveland community.
Brush developed an arc light that was regulated by a combination of electrical and mechanical means. The elegant design, as often is the case, was simple and easy to maintain. An electromagnet was used via a mechanical linkage to move the upper carbon electrode. However, the movement was modulated and limited by a “ring clutch”. In hindsight one might think a simple design solution could be conceived quickly; but simple designs are not always obvious until the inventor is successful. Brush’s clever design was perfected after a considerable amount of time in the laboratory.
There were other arc lamps before Brush’s that utilized electromagnets as part of a regulation system but it was the combination of the electromagnet with the ring clutch that made Brush’s design superior in regulating the arc. Brush’s lamps featured other design improvements including copper plated electrodes, regulators for operation of multiple lamps connected in series to one dynamo, and double carbon arc lamps for extended operation.
These pages on Charles F. Brush were authored by Jeffrey La Favre [email protected]
Brush was raised on a farm about ten miles from downtown Cleveland. He had a great interest in science, particularly with Humphry Davy’s experiments with the arc light; he tinkered with and built simple electrical devices such as a static electricity machine at age 12, experimenting in a workshop on his parents’ farm. Brush attended Central High School in Cleveland where he built his first arc light, and graduated there with honors in 1867. His high school commencement oration was on the “Conservation of Force”. He received his college undergraduate education from the University of Michigan, where he studied mining engineering, graduating in 1869 (there were no majors—as there are today—in electrical engineering). At Michigan, Brush was a member of Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity (Omicron chapter). Brush earned his PhD at Western Reserve (now Case Western Reserve University), graduating in 1880.
Today the Brush name lives on in the United Kingdom as Brush Turbogenerator Division. Check this link for more on the history of Brush in the UK.
In 1880, Brush established the Brush Electric Company in the U.S. and, though successful, faced stiff competition from Thomson-Houston Electric Company, whose arc lights could be independently turned off, and by Edison, whose incandescent lights had a softer warm glow, didn’t flicker and were less costly to maintain than arc lights. In 1882, the Brush Electric Company supplied generating equipment for a hydroelectric power plant at St. Anthony Falls in Minneapolis, among the first to generate electricity from water power in the United States. Thomson-Houston bought out Brush in 1889 and eventually merged to become part of General Electric in 1891. After selling his interests in Brush Electric, Brush never returned to the electric industry.
These mergers marked Brush’s exit from the emerging electrical industry. He sold his interest in Brush Electric and moved on to other fields of endeavor, never to return to the electric industry. Nevertheless, his innovations were an essential part of the development of electricity for commercial use.
2. Perkins, Charles Brush. 1976. Ancestors of Charles Brush Perkins and Maurice Perkins. Gateway Press, Baltimore.
The arc light was not a new idea but those in existence at the time were not very practical. The chief drawback in lamps was the lack of a good regulating system for the carbon electrodes. As an arc light operates, the electrodes are consumed at their tips, where the electric arc occurs. Extended operation of the lamp requires the maintenance of a specific gap between the electrodes, which can be effected by moving the electrodes during operation with a regulating device. The poor regulation of existing arc lamps resulted in variable light output and unreliable operation.
Brush related some of his early experimentation with electricity to Stockly and discussed his vision for the development of arc lighting. The lighting system would need an efficient means of generating electricity, which Brush proposed to do by using a dynamo. Stockly was very impressed with Brush and his ideas and agreed to financially support his effort to construct a small dynamo. The Telegraph Supply Company provided material and facilities needed for preliminary development work.
After graduation Brush returned to Cleveland where he established himself as an analytical and consulting chemist. This endeavor did not prove to be very profitable and in 1873 he joined forces with a boyhood friend, Charles Bingham, to market Lake Superior pig iron and iron ore. It was during this time that he became reacquainted with another boyhood friend, George Stockly, vice president and general manager of the Telegraph Supply Company of Cleveland.
Work was an essential part of Brush’s life. He derived great pleasure from working in his basement laboratory and believed that retiring to a life of leisure was a sure formula for loss of vitality. Brush’s final illness was the only thing that prevented him from working in his laboratory.
In 1876 he secured the backing of the Wetting Supply Company in Cleveland to design his “dynamo” (an electrical generator) for powering arc lights. Brush began with the dynamo design of Zénobe Gramme but his final design was a marked divergence, retaining the ring armature idea that originated with Antonio Pacinotti. Brush remarked on his motivation for improving the generator in his U.S. Patent 189,997: “The best forms of magneto-electric apparatus at present before the public are unnecessarily bulky, heavy, and expensive, and are more or less wasteful of mechanical power.” After comparing it to the Gramme dynamo and other European entrants, the Franklin Institute of Philadelphia judged Brush’s dynamo superior due to its simpler design and maintainability after completing tests in 1878.
Brush’s parents realized that Charles would benefit greatly from a good education and they made the financial sacrifice to send him to Cleveland’s Central High School. It was there that Brush fulfilled his boyhood dream of constructing an arc light. He graduated from Central High in 1867 with honors.