Inventors are inspirational. Mary Dixon Kies was an inventor and businesswoman. She is remembered as the first woman to receive a patent from the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Prior to the Patent Act of 1790 only men could hold patents. President James Madison signed her patent on May 5, 1809. Mary Dixon Kies’ patent was for a new technique for weaving straw with silk and thread to make hats.
Mary Dixon was born on March 21, 1752 in Killingly, Connecticut. Following her childhood, she married Isaac Pike I in 1770. They had a son. Isaac Pike I died. After Isaac Pike I died, Mary married John Kies. They had a son.
The United States embargoed trade with France and Great Britain due to the Napoleonic Wars. Hats were needed to work in the fields, so the straw-weaving industry in America filled the need. Betsy Metcalf first invented a method for braiding straw in 1798. She never held a patent however. When Mary Kies applied for and received her patent Dolly Madison congratulated and praised her with a personal letter. Her hat making technique was successful and bolstered the economy after it had faltered due to the Embargo Act of 1807.
After her second husbands death, Mary moved to Brooklyn, New York to live with her second son. She lived there until dying in 1837. Her original patent file was destroyed in a fire at the United States Patent Office in 1836. Due to fashion changing, Mary did not become a monetary success with her invention, but she did make history. Be inspired! Have a bright day!