Henry Boyd (1802-1886)

The concept of an integrated workplace was rather strange to employees in the mid-1800s in Cincinnati – unless you worked for Henry Boyd (1802-1886). Boyd owned a four-building complex at Broadway and Eighth Street. He hired 50 employees of any race to work side-by-side in his bed-making factory. Some were so opposed to his hiring practices that his factory was burned to the ground three times. But Boyd kept rebuilding. In 1862, after the third fire, however, Boyd could not get insurance.

Boyd canopy beds are now coveted antiques. There is one on display at the Golden Lamb Inn in Lebanon, which has been dubbed one of Ohio’s 100 most valued antiques. But during his lifetime, Boyd’s expertise expanded beyond the bed-making business.

In 1832, he also offered a solution to the cholera epidemic, warning that the source of cholera was waterborne and preventable by boiling all drinking water. His views were shared in a local newspaper but went ignored. Boyd is buried in an unmarked grave at Spring Grove Cemetery.

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