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Henry Blair was born in Glen Ross, Maryland, in 1807. While little is known about Blair’s personal life or family background, as an adult Blair was a farmer who invented new devices to assist in the planting and harvesting of crops.

Though he lived well before the Emancipation Proclamation would be signed in 1865, Blair was apparently not enslaved and operated an independent business.

A successful farmer, Blair patented two inventions that helped him to boost his productivity. He received his first patent — for a corn planter — on October 14, 1834. The planter resembled a wheelbarrow, with a compartment to hold the seed and rakes dragging behind to cover them.

This device would allow farmers to plant their crops more efficiently and as a result, a greater total yield. Blair signed the patent with an “X,” indicating that he was illiterate.



Hailing from Charlotte North Carolina, born litterateur Ezekiel J. Walker earned a B.A. in Psychology at Winston Salem State University. Walker later published his first creative nonfiction book and has...

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