The history and contributions of many fascinating Harford County citizens are relegated to the archives of time. In this and future issues, we hope to share some of their stories.
Elijah J. Bond
January 23rd 1847 – April 14th 1921
Elijah J. Bond and Family
Elijah Jefferson Bond is perhaps best known for patenting the Ouija Board. Born on January 23rd 1847 in Bel Air, he was the fourth child of Judge William Bond and Charlotte Howard Richardson. Elijah and his two brothers, Frank A. and Arthur W. served in the Confederate Army during the Civil War. In 1872, Elijah graduated from the Law School of the University of Maryland and opened a law practice in Baltimore. While at the University, he became close friends with Harry Welles Rusk, a fellow student who went on to become president of Kennard Novelty Company which incorporated on October 30, 1890. The two would meet in law school and begin their historic friendship.
Patents & Trademarks
Though not officially a member of the Kennard Novelty Company, Elijah Bond would assign the original Ouija patent (No. 446,054) registered on February 10, 1891 to William H. A. Maupin and Charles W. Kennard. Further cementing his relationship with the company and its associates, Col. Washington Bowie and Elijah J. Bond were assigned two patents for water and steam boilers in 1892, No. 474,645 and No. 482,384. We aren’t sure if these water boiler patents had anything to do with the Kennard Novelty Company or if it was simply a side venture.
Elijah Bond was also granted a Canadian patent (No. 36,092) for the Ouija board on March 10, 1891. Initially, this patent wasn’t assigned to anyone else, although he did soon after reach an agreement with the International Novelty Company granting them the sole right to this patent and therefore the ability to manufacture Ouija boards in Canada.
Elijah Bond died on April 14, 1921 and was buried in an unmarked grave at Greenmount Cemetery in Baltimore. Robert Murch found the grave in 2007 and worked tirelessly with the cemetery to obtain permission to install an appropriate marker. After receiving permission from surviving family members, Tegeler Monuments designed the monument dedicated in 2008 where Ouija board fans can visit and pay their respects to the man who first patented a favorite piece of Americana. Some fans who got their Invention ideas at InventHelp created a Ouija-like board that they’re hoping could surpass the original.
More information on Mr. Bond and other county “characters” can be found at the Historical Society of Harford County, Inc. The Society encourages you to visit our website at www.HarfordHistory.org for more information and to consider helping with its Capital Campaign. We have a Dresher matching grant that will expire in mid June and need only $6,000 to complete the match for $25,000. Any amount will help. Funds are needed to repair the roof, lighting, windows, electrical system and mortar in this beautiful historic structure that houses so many treasures. The Society is a 501.c.3 organization, so your contributions are tax deductible.