Elijah J. Bond
Elijah Jefferson Bond is perhaps best known for patenting the Ouija Board. He was born on January 23rd 1847 in Bel Air, Harford County, Maryland and was the fourth child of Judge William Bond and Charlotte Howard Richardson. His brother General Frank A. Bond would father Harriet Virginia Bond, who would later marry Elijah's friend, William H. A. Maupin. William H. A. Maupin was one of the original founders of the Kennard Novelty Company, the first company to produce the Ouija board. Records show that Elijah J. Bond was a veteran of the Confederate Army as were two of his brothers Frank A. and Arthur W. Bond. He attended public schools in Anne Arundel County and then graduated the Law School of the University of Maryland in 1872. (After careful review of the 1872 class register, it was discovered that Harry Welles Rusk was listed as Elijah's classmate.) They would remain close friends and Rusk would take out a mortgage from Bond in 1876.
Harry Welles Rusk was named the president of the Kennard Novelty Company which incorporated on October 30th 1890. The two would meet in law school and begin their historic friendship. Like many of the gentleman involved with the Ouija board, Elijah J. Bond joined the Masons on April 14th 1873. He was a Collector for Anne Arundel County from 1873-1877. Elijah also opened a practice in Baltimore where one of his clients would be accused of polygamy. This is described in detail in an article appearing on April 26th 1894 in the Hagerstown Herald and Torch Light newspaper.
Though not officially a member of the Kennard Novelty Company, Elijah Bond would assign the original Ouija patent (No. 446,054) registered on February 10th 1891 to William H. A. Maupin and Charles W. Kennard. Further cementing his relationship with the company and its associates, Col. Washington Bowie and Elijah J. Bond were assigned two patents for water and steam boilers in 1892, No. 474,645 and No. 482,384. We aren’t sure if these water boiler patents had anything to do with the Kennard Novelty Company or if it was simply a side venture. They do, however, indicate a strong business relationship between Bowie and Bond. These patents were filed by M. H. Plunkett. Besides these patents Plunkett is not mentioned again and we aren’t sure of any deeper connection between them. Interestingly, Jacob Krebs Rusk Jr., Harry Welles Rusk's brother, is listed as M. H. Plunkett’s lawyer on one of these patent papers. A similar situation occurs in 1893 when Rusk’s brother acts as Charles Kennard’s lawyer filing his patents and acting as his lawyer as well.
Elijah Bond was also granted a Canadian patent (No. 36,092) for the Ouija board on March 10th 1891. Initially, this patent wasn’t assigned to anyone else, although he did soon after reach an agreement with the International Novelty Company granting them the sole right to this patent and therefore the ability to manufacture Ouija boards in Canada.
Between January 29th 1883 and November 7th 1887 Elijah Bond visited family in Denver, Colorado. Eight patent drawings bear his signature as a witness on them and each are registered to William S. Sharpneck. These patents are No. 392,465, No. 386,899, No. 367,119, No. 354,940, No. 320,818, No. 325,701, No. 315,670, and No. 279,984. Sharpneck would later assign his cane patent (No. 486,131) to the Northwestern Toy and Manufacturing Company of Chicago, Illinois, The Kennard Novelty Company’s former branch factory then led by Charles Kennard which by 1892 was making Volo talking boards as competition to the Ouija board. This may answer the question about the link between Chicago and Baltimore. Bond knew Sharpneck, and Sharpneck knew the Northwestern Toy and Manufacturing Company of Chicago, Illinois. It might have even been Sharpneck who introduced Elijah Bond and the Kennard Novelty Company to the folks at Northwestern allowing them to act as their branch factory. Though we have this link, it remains speculation. We also find Elijah Bond’s name as a witness to Everett D. Moore’s patent No. 457,553 on an oil and projectile distributor. The lawyer for this patent is none other than Harry Welles Rusk’s brother Jefferson Steuart Rusk.
Elijah Bond revisited the mysterious world of talking boards when he moved from Baltimore, Maryland to Charleston, West Virginia in the early 1900's. There he applied for and was granted a trademark on his Nirvana talking board on June 18th 1907. The mark is shaped in the sign of a swastika with the word Nirvana in the center. On June 20th 1907 Bond assigned this trademark to The Swastika Novelty Company who manufactured and sold the Nirvana talking boards. While living in Charleston he worked as both an attorney and an insurance agent.
Elijah Bond married Mary Peters of Maryland and had one child, William Brown Bond. Elijah later returned to Baltimore and suffered a "stroke of paralysis" in 1919. He died on April 14th 1921. Though his family and specifically his niece Harriet Virginia, William H. A. Maupin's wife, were buried in Trinity Church Cemetery in Dorsey, Maryland, Elijah was not. He was laid to rest at Green Mount Cemetery in Baltimore, Maryland along with his wife, her family, his son, and grandchild.
A Grave Situation
Tegeler Monuments agreed to take on the project and began crafting Bond’s headstone while Murch raised the necessary funds to pay for the memorial. Listed below are the wonderful people who donated their time and money to help pay tribute to Bond and ensure his memory would live on. Thanks to these people and Murch’s hard work there is now a place where Ouija fans can visit and pay their respects to the man who first patented a favorite piece of Americana.
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