Francis Allen “F.A.” Cearmour, Jr. (1844-1918) was an American soldier, inventor and pioneer. At 17, Cearmour, a resident of Windsor Mill, Maryland was recruited and proudly served in the Union Army under Henry Halleck and Ulysses S. Grant. Cearmour, a decorated soldier was present in both the battles of Vicksburg (1863) and The March to the Sea (1864) before leaving his post and returning to civilian life.
Upon his return to Windsor Mill, Cearmour joined his father in the family cobbling business. He specialized in “old, leather repairs” and proudly boasted a following from Gettysburg to Chancellorsville. During that time he became the brand standard in Windsor Mill and surrounding Baltimore County.
Unusual for the time, Cearmour never married. He was dedicated to his cobbling craft, spent hours volunteering at his church and enjoyed fishing and crabbing on the Chesapeake Bay. He was joined and eventually sold his stake in the company to his nephew Samuel Cearmour prior to his 1910 retirement.
Although retired, F.A. Cearmour frequently visited the family business, before returning briefly during the first world war and the Spanish Influenza pandemic of 1918. Cearmour, in his early 70’s at the time wanted to help stop the spread. He developed a civilian grade face covering prototype that he believed would help protect against “the Wrestler’s Fever”.
Unfortunately, local government rushed to reopen the economy during the spring of 1918. At a time before the practice of “social distancing” and combined with societal pressures and embarrassment to those who fell ill when the public was urged to support the war effort, Cearmour continued to work on his prototype, sharing it with his many friends in the community.
By the time “The F.A. Cearmour prototype” was complete, F.A. had fallen ill with the flu. He turned the finalized prototype over to his nephew Samuel. F.A. succumbed to the illness a week later. Samuel was distraught and could not continue with the project. He filed the work away in the company archives with a note to “save for the future pandemics”.
For the past 102 years, four generations have crossed paths with F.A.’s prototype and Samuel’s note. It wasn’t until March 11, 2020, the day the WHO officially declared COVID-19 a pandemic that F.A. Cearmour’s great, great, great nephew opened the notes, designs and production concepts from a century ago.
Aside from modernizing the material (all that existed in those days was denim and burlap), the majority of Uncle F.A’s design remain intact from the original 1918 sketches. Thanks in advance for taking a leap of faith and trying our civilian grade face covering solution. We appreciate the opportunity to keep you safe!
The Cearmour Family