A recent Museum acquisition peaked my interest as I walked by a table full of historical goodies destined for our collection. It’s an example of “The Delusion” Mouse Trap patented by John Best Cuzner of Bridgeport. The trap alone is interesting by its very look and an example of the over 4,000(!) that have been patented in the U.S. since the mid 19th century. (Including 13 here in Connecticut) But the real interesting part is the inventor himself….
John Cuzner enlisted as a “Mechanic” in the 16th Connecticut Infantry in 1862. Only 18 years old he fought in battles including Antietam and Fredricksburg and was taken as a prisoner in 1864. Cuzner was sent to Andersonville prison, one of the largest Confederate prisons of the Civil War. One of the deadliest too. Nearly 13,000 prisoners kept here died due to the deplorable conditions of the prison. Fortunately for him, Cuzner was paroled and released from Andersonville later in the year, weighing only 84 pounds.
Cuzner went on to live a long life after the war ended, passing away in 1926. He was granted patents for two other inventions besides this trap. A “Toy Horse and Carriage” in 1871 and an “Automatic Toy” in 1874.