Edward Felix Russell

Ed Russell invented a compressed air generator that ran by itself and would not quit. He demonstrated it publicly and offered it for sale for $25 million. This was 1904, a big year for compressed air exotica; see also Louis Kiser and others. A professional engineer, Luke Henry Hancock, had made similar claims in nearby Fargo, North Dakota a few years before Ed Russell announced his invention.

E. F. Russell and Mary Haaven, Larimore, North Dakota, wedding photo 1902, photo by E. F. Russell

Invention Summary

What the Inventor Claimed

Air goes from chamber to chamber in an air compressor which runs itself and never stops till it wears out.

What the Publicity Stated

The machine was publicly displayed and everyone said it worked. Then it was disassembled to keep its secret from being discovered.

Inventor Biographical


None known.

Work Experience

photographer, 1st Sergeant in the National Guard, chicken rancher, school janitor, custodian of tools at a toy factory

Family Background

Ed Russell was born May 16, 1882 in Wolcott, North Dakota and died March 29, 1949 in Hammond, Indiana where he'd been working as a tool attendant in a toy factory. He was a National Guard veteran, serving as a 1st Sergeant at the Mexican border from 1916 to 1919. Ed's father, a French Canadian, had changed his name from Pierre Rouillard to Peter Russell when he migrated to the Dakota Territory.

Peter Russell was an energetic and well-known early pioneer of the Pembina/Red River area of the Dakota Territory at the border of present-day North Dakota and Minnesota, near the Canadian border. Among other things, he provided the equivalent of a pony express service, delivering the mail while having to travel through hostile Indian territory. He also ran a store, a sawmill, and served as Justice of the Peace. At the end of his life, he abandoned his wife, claiming their marriage was invalid since they'd been married on a boat.

Ed's mother was Sarah from Canada, who might have been a Metis.

Ed Russell started out with entrepreneurial spirit as the very young owner of a photography studio with his Norwegian wife Mary Haaven. She had trouble bearing children and died young. Ed continued to care for his children, serving in the National Guard, selling eggs and painting houses, appearing from time to time at the family homestead when he needed a place to live. He worked as a school janitor for some time. His second wife was Roye L. Bratton, who died before him. Ed spent some time in a veteran's hospital near the end of his military tour.

For more articles and photos, see the .pdf at the bottom link.



Legal Problems?

None known.

Articles & Graphics

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