How do you save people caught in an upper floor of a building during a fire? For many years that was the role of a device invented by Thomas F. Browder.

Mr. Browder was a soldier of the civil war. He was born in Greene County, Ohio on June 14, 1847 in a family with six girls and four boys. After finishing normal schooling and one college course and at age 17 he enlisted in Company C, Sixtieth Regiment of the Ohio volunteer infantry to fight in the Civil War. While in that unit, he took part in the Wilderness battles between troops of General Grant and General Lee. At Spottsylvania County, VA, he was shot through the hip, hospitalized and eventually discharged. After returning home to Ohio, he continued his studies and became a school teacher for nine years.

In 1873 he married Laura O’Dell, a daughter of a prominent farmer in Washington County, OH. They had three children, who all became teachers.

In 1876 Thomas Browder moved to Greenfield, OH. In 1894 he opened a steam laundry, made it a thriving business and sold it in 1899.

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