Charles S. L. Baker (1859-1926)
was the black inventor,who patented the friction heater.
Charles S. Lewis Baker was born on August 3rd, 1859, in Savannah, Missouri. His mother, Betsy Mackay, died when he was three months old, leaving him to be brought up by the wife of his "owner", Sallie Mackay, and his father, Abraham Baker. He was the youngest of five children, Susie, Peter, Annie, and Ellen, all of whom were freed after the Civil War. Baker later received an education at Franklin College. His father was employed as an express agent, and once Baker turned fifteen, he became his assistant. Baker worked with wagons and linchpins, which sparked an interest in mechanical sciences.
Black and white photograph showing inventor Charles S.L Baker and another man demonstrating heating/radiator system.
Baker worked over the span of decades on his product, attempting several different forms of friction, including rubbing two bricks together mechanically, as well as using various types of metals. After twenty-three years, the invention was perfected in the form of two metal cylinders, one inside of the other, with a spinning core in the center made of wood, that produced the friction. Baker started a business with several other men to manufacture the heater. The Friction Heat & Boiler Company was established in 1904, in St. Joseph, with Baker on the board of directors. The company worked up to 136,000 dollars in capital, equal to nearly 4 million dollars in 2018.
Mr. Baker claims that the particular mode of power used in creating the friction is not essential. It may be wind, water, gasoline, or any other source of energy. The most difficult part of the inventor's assertions to prove is that his system will light or heat a house at about half the cost of methods now in use.
At 21, Baker married the 19-year old Carrie Carriger on the 12th of December, 1880, in Adams County, Iowa.They had one child, born on the 3rd of January, 1882, named Lulu Belle Baker.Baker died of pneumonia 5 May 1926, in St. Joseph, MO.