CWRU Links
Encyclopedia of Cleveland History



BRUSH, CHARLES FRANCIS (17 Mar. 1849-15 June 1929), one of America's most distinguished inventors, was born in Euclid Township to Isaac Elbert and Delia Williams Phillips Brush. He received his mining engineering degree from the University of Michigan in 1869. He worked 4 years in Cleveland as a chemist, then formed an iron dealing partnership with Chas. E. Bingham. In 1875, Brush married Mary Ellen Morris, and had 3 children, EDNA BRUSH PERKINS, Helene, and Charles.

In 1876, Brush received one of his 50 career patents, for the "perfect" open coil-type dynamo, a predecessor of the modern generator. His arc light (1878), demonstrated in Cleveland's PUBLIC SQUARE in 1879, made Brush world-famous, and by 1882 "Brush Lights" were used throughout the world. In 1880 Brush formed the Brush Electric Co. which was bought by Thomson Houston Electric Co. in 1889, merging with Edison General Electric Co. in 1891 to form General Electric Co. Brush spent the rest of his life pursuing interests in gravitation and heat, writing articles published by the American Philosophical Society and the Royal Society.

Brush maintain various business interests. He was founder and president of the Linde Air Prods. Co., helped form the Sandusky Portland Cement Co. (later Medusa), and was president of the Cleveland Arcade Co., the Euclid Natl. Bank, and the Cleveland Chamber of Commerce. He was a trustee of Adelbert College, the Cleveland School of Art, and LAKE VIEW CEMETERY. Brush received many honorary degrees; was made a chevalier of the Legion of Honor of France (1881); and received medals from the American Academy of Arts & Sciences (1899), the American Institute of Electrical Engineers (1913), and the Franklin Institute (1928). He founded the BRUSH FOUNDATION following the deaths of his son and 6-year old grandson in 1927. Brush died in Cleveland was was buried in LAKE VIEW CEMETERY.

Charles F. Brush Papers, Special Collections Department, Kelvin Smith Library, Case Western Reserve University.

Perkins, Charles Brush. Ancestors of Charles Brush Perkins and Maurice Perkins (1976).

A Concise Genealogy of Isaac Elbert Brush & Delia Williams Brush, His Wife, and Their Descendants (1932).