Henry Boyd, a skilled carpenter, was born into slavery in Kentucky in 1802. Young Henry wanted to be a carpenter. He learned early that many Black carpenters used their skills to buy their freedom. In 1826, after purchasing his freedom, 24 year old Henry Boyd moved to Cincinnati.
Initially he worked as a labourer and later teamed with a Caucasian carpenter to build houses. By the age of 31 he had earned and saved enough money to purchase the freedom of his brother and sister. At the age of 34 Henry opened his own company in which he sold the product of his invention, “The Boyd Bedstead”.
The Boyd Bedstead was a bed constructed with wooden rails that connected the headboard and footboard giving the bed a firm structure compared to other beds in the early 19th century. This durable and sturdy construction is common in bedding styles today.
In spite of the arson attempts at his plant by angry Caucasians , Henry Boyd ran a successful company with about 25 to 50 employees and went on to become one of Cincinnati’s famous furniture makers. To insure customers received a genuine product, Henry Boyd stamped his name on every bed frame he made. African Americans weren’t allowed to patent their products so Boyd attempted to patent his invention by having a Caucasian apply for the patent. However, Henry Boyd like other Black inventors before and after him never received a patent for his invention.
Henry Boyd died in 1866 at the age of 64.