The Bel Air native who patented the Ouija Board

Elijah Bond and his remarkable gravestone in Baltimore’s Green Mount Cemetery

Elijah Bond and his remarkable gravestone in Baltimore’s Green Mount Cemetery

Elijah Jefferson Bond is best known for patenting the Ouija Board in the United States and Canada. The Ouija Board was a 19th century novelty game that was reputed to help players communicate with the dead. 

Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1687537

Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1687537

Bond was born in 1847 in Bel Air, Maryland. Elijah and his brothers, Frank and Arthur, served in the Confederate Army during the Civil War.

He later studied at the University of Maryland School of Law, forming a lasting friendship with Harry Welles Rusk, who went on to become president of Kennard Novelty Company in 1890. Kennard was the first company in the United States to manufacture Ouija talking boards. 

A photo of Elijah Bond. He has a beard and is dressed in a black suit

After graduation, Elijah opened a Baltimore law practice. Presumably due to his ongoing personal and professional relationship with Rusk, Bond registered and assigned the original Ouija patent (No. 446,054) in the United States, granted February 10, 1891. 

ouija-patent2.jpg

The Kennard Novelty Company produced the Ouija board for about two years. Due to the popularity of the game, Kennard had two Baltimore locations, neither of which survives. One was at 909 East Pratt Street, which was lost in a factory fire on February 1, 1893. The former location at 220 South Charles Street was destroyed in the Great Baltimore Fire of 1904.

Bond moved from Baltimore to Charleston, West Virginia and patented another version of a talking board known as a Nirvana Board. It never achieved the popularity of the original. He later returned to Baltimore.

Elijah Bond died on April 14, 1921 at the home of his son, William B. Bond, in the 3300 block of Clifton Avenue. The obituary stated the cause of death was a "stroke of paralysis." He was buried in an unmarked grave in Green Mount Cemetery.

In 2007, Ouija Board historian and expert Robert Murch located the grave and worked with the cemetery to install an appropriate marker. After obtaining permission from surviving family members, Baltimore’s W.S. Tegeler Monument Company designed a monument reminiscent of a Ouija Board.

Now, fans of the game can visit Green Mount Cemetery and pay proper respects to the man who first patented a favorite piece of Americana. 

Sources:

WilliamFuld.com, accessed January 17, 2018

Robertmurch.com, accessed January 17, 2018

ElijahBond.com, accessed January 17, 2018