Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Birth Dates of Notable Kentuckians: December 27, 1860 - Nathan Stubblefield

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From The Kentucky Encyclopedia -
Nathan Beverly Stubblefield, inventor, was born to William Jefferson and Victoria Frances (Bowman) Stubblefield on December 27, 1860, in Murray, Kentucky. He attended the public schools of Calloway County beginning in the fall of 1866, but he did poorly and dropped out by age fifteen. Stubblefield educated himself in science by reading books and periodicals. By 1887 he had made various improvements in the relatively new invention of the telephone. He patented these improvements, as well as a lamp lighter, an electric battery, and a mobile radio transmitter-receiver. In a demonstration of the radio transmitter-receiver in Murray on January 1, 1902, before a crowd of about 1,000, Stubblefield transmitted his son's voice from the family home to a shed and then to a receiver approximately one mile distant. A description of the demonstration by a reporter from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch aroused national interest in the invention. Stubblefield was asked to demonstrate his discovery to a group of congressmen and public officials in Washington, D.C., on March 20, 1902.

Stubblefield refused large sums of money for the invention and instead attempted to develop it through the Wireless Telephone Company of America, incorporated on May 22, 1902, in which he held stock. The company failed, and only one Stubblefield wireless telephone system was sold. Though he was the first to transmit and receive radio airwaves, many argue that Stubblefield did not invent radio because his system had a range of only eight miles.

At age twenty-one, Stubblefield married Ada May Buchanan; they had ten children, six of whom lived past adolescence: Victoria, Patty, Nathan, Helen, Oliver, and Bernard. When their youngest child left home, he and his wife separated. Stubblefield died on March 28, 1928, and was buried near Murray.

Selected Sources from UK Libraries:

Buchanan, Tracey D. To Be Greater than Marconi : The Nathan B. Stubblefield Story. 2013. Print. Kentucky Hero Ser.
Special Collections Research Center

[Stubblefield, Nathan B.]. [NATHAN B. STUBBLEFIELD PAPERS]. Print.
M-476, Special Collections Research Center - Microfilm Collection

Lochte, Robert H. Kentucky Farmer Invents Wireless Telephone! : But Was It Radio? : Facts and Folklore about Nathan Stubblefield. Murray, Ky.: All About Wireless, 2001. Print.
TK6545.S83 L63 2001, Special Collections Research Center

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