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Elijah J. Bond | Charles W. Kennard | Harry Welles Rusk | Washington Bowie | Washington Bowie, Jr. | William H. A. Maupin | John F. Green | E. C. Reiche

William H. A. Maupin
November 2nd 1859 - December 17th 1900
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William H. A. Maupin's family - click to launch popup
William H. A. Maupin's family

William Henry Ashton Maupin was born Opowatime or Osowatona Maupin in Portsmouth, Virginia on November 2nd 1859. For reasons unknown, his name was changed shortly thereafter to William Henry Ashton. It is believed the William Henry came from his uncle on his mother’s side while the Ashton came from the last name of their neighbors at the time. In any event, he was the fifth child of George Washington Opie Maupin and Ann Augusta Cocke. William's father and brother were both physicians and this prominent family traveled in educated circles. In the late 1800s many people living in Virginia were connected to businesses in Baltimore, Maryland. Portsmouth directories show that William was associated with The Old Dominion Steamboat Company which traveled between Portsmouth, Virginia and Baltimore as well as Chestertown, Maryland. It's possible this is where William and Col. Washington Bowie met as Bowie was the Acting Surveyor for the Port of Baltimore at the time. It is also likely he met Charles Kennard and E. C. Reiche in Chestertown when his steamboat docked there. Somewhere in his travels he met and befriended Elijah J. Bond who would later file the first patent (No. 446,054) on the Ouija board registered in 1891.

Forming a bond beyond friendship, William H. A. Maupin married Elijah Bond's niece, Harriet Virginia Bond on February 25th 1885 at Trinity Church in Howard County, Maryland. After their wedding in Maryland they returned to William's home in Portsmouth, Virginia. Harriet Virginia was the daughter of Elijah's brother General Frank A. Bond. William would father two children with Virginia; Frank Bond Maupin and Augusta Winifred Maupin. William and Harriet Virginia would later separate and divorce over William's alcoholism. Eventually William married Adelaide Keene. His first wife’s descendants believe he fathered two more children with Adelaide, though to date this has not been confirmed.

Ouija Patent No. 446,054 - click to launch popup
Ouija Patent

Harriet Virginia Bond Maupin was a woman of great accomplishment in her own right. After divorcing William she returned to Maryland with her two children. She was the first woman in Maryland to be appointed as a Notary Public for Baltimore by the Governor of Maryland and the first woman to be reappointed to that post. She was a popular stenographer and opened a stenographer business in Baltimore employing a large staff of women. She was also the first and only woman at the time to report in the United States District Court for referees. After William died in 1900 Harriet Virginia was determined to give her children a good life with all the opportunities she could afford. Both their children Frank Bond Maupin and Augusta Winifred Bond Maupin would receive excellent educations and travel abroad.

On October 20th 1890, William H. A. Maupin along with Charles W. Kennard, Harry Welles Rusk, Col. Washington Bowie, and John F. Green appeared in a Baltimore Court to sign and register the incorporation papers of the Kennard Novelty Company which were certified on October 30th 1890. Elijah J. Bond would also assign fifty percent of his 1891 Ouija patent No. 446,054 to William H. A. Maupin and Charles W. Kennard, in that order. On February 28th 1891 Maupin and Kennard sold their rights and interest in the Bond Ouija patent to the Kennard Novelty Company.

William's association with the Ouija board and the company would not endure. By 1892 Col. Washington Bowie had reorganized the Kennard Novelty Company and changed its name to the Ouija Novelty Company severing all business ties with William Maupin and Charles Kennard.

William H. A. Maupin's Grave - click to launch popup
William H. A. Maupin's Grave

William H. A. Maupin, known as "Ossie" to his friends, died of Mitral Stenosis at the young age of 41 at his home in Baltimore, Maryland on December 17th 1900. Contributing to his death and listed as “Second Immediate” was Opium Poison. Upon his death his remains were returned to his native city on an Old Bay Line steamer. William is buried in the Maupin family plot along with his parents and siblings at Cedar Grove Cemetery in Portsmouth, Virginia. William's first wife, Harriet Virginia, her son Frank, and daughter Augusta Winifred remained in Maryland and lived out the remainder of their lives in close contact with their Bond relatives.

(Special thanks to Donna Bluemink for providing us with a picture of William H. A. Maupin's grave and her tireless work preserving Portsmouth and Norfolk, Virginia's history.)