Abbeville Alabama 1910

Abbeville Alabama 1910

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

My Uncle Henry, The famous inventor that you've never heard about.


Henry O Crippen


Henry was my Grandpop Herbert's brother.  Henry O. Crippen was born on Jan 11, 1914 in Princess Anne, Maryland to George and Laura(Corbin) Crippen.  He was the fifth of eight children.  Henry wasn't the type of person that stood out from a crowd,  not physically anyway, he was average height, weight and complexion.  Looking at Uncle Henry you wouldn't think he was an inventor,  and a great one at that.  You would think he was the average person except he wore sunglasses all the time (I think he had Photophobia: his eyes may have been sensitive to light, not really sure).  

Pictured from l-r 3 siblings  Henry, Herbert and Louise Crippen

Henry always dressed with suit, a tie and a hat but that wasn't unusual. My grandfather and all of his brothers dressed that way most of the time.  Henry may have looked average but his mind  and entrepreneurial skills were anything but average. Henry O. Crippen should be entered into the Encyclopedia of Black History for his most successful invention

  Henry O Crippen invented The Hot Pipe Bending machine which he said would basically revolutionize the industry.  The Hot pipe bending machine did revolutionize the industry, but then the story takes a turn.


Henry Crippen completed the invention and started his own business. His business began to boom even though he had to endure some racial barriers. Henry was the only African-American in that industry at that time.  The story below basically explains how successful his business had become, at one point he went from 6 employees to 31.  He gained clients like Exxon, GE, Dupont, Amoco, Mobil and the list goes on. Even though his invention proved successful, he had to bid on the low end of jobs because "It is almost impossible to crack the large profitable jobs for which the plant is designed." Most often Henry was asked to bid on the low-volume, low profit jobs that other firms could not or would not do.
Page from Black Enterprise Magazine December 1978
The actual link -    http://books.google.com/books?id=dA4VzDQqOcsC&lpg=PA21&dq=henry%20crippen%20pipe%20bending&pg=PA21#v=onepage&q=henry%20crippen%20pipe%20bending&f=false

I don't even know all of this legal mumbo jumbo, but basically Uncle Henry told us that they copied his invention process but he wasn't rich enough to fight back. Henry said  "they would rather pay more money than to pay a black man  in that industry to do the job."   In the end my uncle was comfortable but not rich.  He ended up bankrupt dealing with these large firms in an industry where at the time I reiterate he was the only African-American.

Henry Crippen was an inventor, innovator and visionary and way ahead of his time but I'm sure he has opened doors for other African Americans in that field and if I don't tell his story they will never know who actually came before them and on whose shoulders they stand.



His story finally gets a chance to be heard.




16 comments:

  1. Uncle Henry was a very smart, forward thinking man. I am really impressed. That is a piece of history that needs to be told. Great job!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much, I'm glad I was chosen to tell it.

      Delete
  2. alright story teller!!!! I love this story and glad that your uncle's story is being told:)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thank you!!! Yes, finally told, I'm glad I could tell it

    ReplyDelete
  4. I tell you I am IMPRESSED with Uncle Henry -- yes I am!!! But I also know the frustration and hardship this caused him too! Excellent story and I love all the documentation that you provide us too. EXCELLENT first post indeed!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Liv!!! Yes he went through alot and still seems like he wasn't justified, but at least now his story is being heard.. I took you advice to, to try to reply to all my comments... Thanks again!!

      Delete
  5. Glad to learn about your Uncle and his invention.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Black history moment!!!
    Stephani Juleeana Miller

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I never thought of it that way. Thank you for reading!

      Delete
  7. what you posted is an excellent example of why we need to get our research, stories, and histories out there! thank you for sharing about your Uncle Henry!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for reading!!! Yes I'm glad I could share his story with yall and you are right this is one of those reasons. To know that African Americans have invented, accomplished and we can do whatever we set our minds to.

      Delete
  8. You just did your uncle justice with this post. We need to always reclaim that which was lost in the annals of history. You just put your uncle back on the map. I know he is proud of you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Teresa!! I hope sorry, that was a story lost, I'm glad I could share it.

      Delete