Teaching Cleveland

Lesson 29

Handout 1 - Fact Sheet

Charles F. Brush

Charles F. Brush was born in 1849 in Euclid, Ohio. Educated in the public schools of Cleveland, he went on to receive a degree in mining engineering from the University of Michigan. After his graduation, he returned to Cleveland and worked as a chemist for 4 years. He became an iron dealer in partnership with Charles E. Bingham and continued to pursue a life-long interest in inventions. In 1876 he patented the open coil-type dynamo, a forerunner of the modern generator. He developed an arc light, which utilized the electricity produced by the dynamo, in 1878. In 1879 he demonstrated the arc light in a ceremony on Cleveland's Public Square. Soon these lights spread across America and into Europe, replacing the gas lights which had become standard street illumination in most large cities.

By 1889, the Brush Electric Company was purchased by the Thompson-Houston Electric Company. In 1891, this company merged with the Edison General Electric Company to form what is today known as General Electric.

Brush held a variety of positions during his career ranging from the president of Air Linde Products Co., to co-founder of the Sandusky Portland Cement Company (later Medusa Cement). Brush served as president of the Cleveland Arcade, Inc., Euclid National Bank, and the Cleveland Chamber of Commerce. He was an incorporator of the Case School of Applied Science, which later became the Case Institute of Technology and eventually merged with Western Reserve University to form Case Western Reserve University.

Brush was honored numerous times during his lifetime, including being named a chevalier of the French Legion of Honor. He established the Brush Foundation, "to fund research in the field of eugenics and in the regulation of the increase in population." Brush believed that better health standards and improved medical care were necessary to combat a dangerous population explosion. He continued to be devoted to finding a solution for this problem during the remaining years of his life.

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