By Mary Bellis
Chester Greenwood was born in Farmington, Maine in 1858. A grammar school dropout, he invented earmuffs at the age of 15 (1873). While testing a new pair of ice skates, he grew frustrated at trying to protect his ears from the bitter cold. After wrapping his head in a scarf, which was too bulky and itchy, he made two ear-shaped loops from wire and asked his grandmother to sew fur on them. He patented an improved model with a steel band which held them in place and with Greenwood's Champion Ear Protectors, he established Greenwood's Ear Protector Factory. He made a fortune supplying Ear Protectors to U.S. soldiers during World War I. He went on to patent more many other inventions. In 1977, Maine's legislature declared December 21 "Chester Greenwood Day" to honor a native son and his contribution to cold weather protection.
Farmington Maine is now the Earmuff Capital of the World. There is a parade that celebrates Chester's birthday the first Saturday in December, with local police cruisers in the parade decorated as giant earmuffs.
Another of Chester's inventions was the steel-tooth rake - U.S. patent #2066036, issued on December 29, 1936. Chester Greenwood accumulated over 100 patents in his lifetime.
image provided by David A. Greenwood (yes a direct descendent)