Thomas Elkins: Abolitionist, Innovator & Revolutionary | History Matters

Born in New York State in 1818, Thomas Elkins was a man of many talents. He started his career in the medical field studying surgery and dentistry and eventually he opened his own pharmacy and ran it for several decades, he would offer dental services there as well.

In 1840, he became a member of the Albany Vigilance which was an organization that was a key part of the underground railroad. They provided food, legal-aid, and medical attention to those seeking freedom. His experience in the medical field also secured him a job in the Civil War working as a medical examiner for the famous 54th and 55th Massachusetts regiments.

In the 1870s, he filled a series of successful patents. He invented a table that could be used for multiple things at once (Dinner table, Ironing Board & Quilting frame). He created two more inventions that improved upon items that were already available. He patented a design for a chamber-commode” which combined several pieces of furniture into one and he created an apparatus aimed at improving the refrigeration system people were using at the time. Overall, his innovative ideas and commitment to helping people allowed him to make the world a better place.















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