Garrett Augustus Morgan was born on March 4, 1877 in Paris, Kentucky to Sydney Morgan and to Elizabeth Reed Morgan. His parents were both slaves who were freed by the Emancipation Proclamation. Garrett was born as the 7th child.
He had 10 other siblings. At a young age Garrett had to quit school, so at the age of 14 he packed his bags to head up North to Ohio in hopes of getting a job and an education. He found a job and spent most of his teenage years working as a handyman for a wealthy Cincinnati owner. His owner had hired a tutor to help him study so Garrett continued his studies while working for Cincinnati. In 1895, at the age of 18, Garrett moved to Cleveland, Ohio.
There he found a job repairing sewing machines for a clothing manufacturer. One year later in 1896, at the age of 19, Garrett got married, but sadly that marriage didn’t last long and they ended up getting a divorce. Garrett opened his own sewing machine and shoe repair shop in 1907.In the year 1908 he help to create the Cleveland Association of Colored Men. In the same year he had done that he had gotten married again to a lady by the name of Mary Anne Hassek, and they had 3 sons.
Then in 1909 he started to expand his business of the shop. While liked to experiment different things, so Garrett experimented with a liquid that gave sewing machine needles a high polish and prevented the needle from scorching fabric as it sewed. But, accidentally Garrett discovered something knew. He discovered that his newly created liquid not only straightened fabric, but also the hair! That is when his life of inventing really started. Garrett began a company called to ‘G.
A Morgan Hair Refining Company.’ He also was the one, in 1910, who created black hair oil dye and a curved-tooth iron comb which can be used to straighten hair. In 1916 Garrett had invented something that could be used to help firefighters, who help us. He made a safety hood and a smoke protector after seeing many firefighters suffer from smoke. Basically what this invention is that it is a wet sponge that can filter out smoke and cool air.
Whenever he needed to advertise his products, which were selling tremendously well, he would disguise himself as “Big Chief Master”. His invention became known nationally when Garrett and 3 others had used those new inventions to save people that were in the tunnel explosion under Lake Erie. After that whole scene had happened, Garrett had been awarded a gold Medal of Bravery by prominent citizens of Cleveland and a gold medal for bravery from the International Association of Fire Chiefs.Then in 1923 Garrett invented the hand cranked, manually operated mechanical semaphore signal, like traffic light except more olden day like. Then in August of 1963 at the Emancipation Centennial Celebration in Chicago, Illinois Garrett was nationally recognized.
By that date he was ill in health and nearly blind, but he still worked on his inventions. One of his final and last inventions was the self-extinguishing cigarette. Garrett was a Prince Hall Freemason and an honorary member of the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, or a group of people sharing a common profession or interests. He also made his way up to become one of the people on the list of 100 Greatest African – Americans. Garrett Morgan died on August 27, 1963, at the age of 86.
He was buried at the Lake View Cemetery in Cleveland, Ohio. Garrett Augusta Morgan lived to be one of the greatest African – American inventors of his time.