Garrett A. Morgan
1900s -- Garrett August Morgan was born in Paris, Kentucky in 1878. The son of ex-slaves, Morgan quit school as a youngster but kept his studies up through personal tutoring as a teenager. In 1985 he began work in the sewing machine industry and is known for various inventions in the early and mid-19th century.
In 1905 Morgan discovered an additional use for a liquid used on sewing machine needles, by turning the liquid into a cream to straighten hair. He later launched the Garrett A. Morgan Hair Refining Company, and in 1912 filed a patten for a smoke protection hood (gas mask). The product was marketed through Morgan's National Safety Device Company beginning in 1914.