John Bauer died

11/07/1908 |


John L. Bauer, Henry Green’s former business partner in Green & Bauer, died in Brooklyn at a German hospital.

Neat little tidbit

Bauer was 35 at his death. He was survived by his mother, with whom he'd come to Brooklyn around 1875.

Trust but verify

There’s really very little question that Bauer died in November 1908:  the Courant ran his obituary in its November 12, 1908 edition.  There, are however, questions about this.  In their 1914 obituaries of Henry Green, both the Courant and the New York Times gave 1906 as the year that John Bauer died, and it’s not at all clear why.  There is some sense to Bauer dying in 1906:  he left Green & Bauer in 1905, and presumably he would have entered treatment promptly.  Eighteen months before November 1906 would have been May 1905, which corresponds with the record of his treatment.  If, on the other hand, he died in 1908, then he didn’t begin surgery until May 1907.  Unfortunately, Bauer was not as well covered as Green was, and so it’s been harder to pin down additional reference points in his life that would let me verify this one way or the other.  Add to this that I’m only mostly sure that Bauer’s obituary says he left Green & Bauer in 1905 – it really could be 1906 ….

Put into context

Bauer’s death was caused by prolonged exposure to x-rays, and the Courant's obituary described six surgeries taking place during the 18 months prior to his death, the last of which took place in late September 1908.  The Courant reported that he had accumulated a great fortune in business but that he was thought to have spent much of it on his medical treatments. 

Interestingly, the Courant's obituary noted a growing awareness of some "unknown agency" of x-rays that led to far greater injuries than the burns apparent on most roentgenologists' skin. While the Courant reported that scientists were still baffled by this agency -- hence the name, "x ray" -- they had figured out that lead shields helped to prevent some of the harmful effects of x-rays.

It's also interesting to note that the Courant was somewhat dismissive of the whole idea of “x-ray burns,” describing them as “so called” and “popularly called” burns.  In 1904, the Courant was much more comfortable referring to Bauer’s and Green’s injuries as burns, but here it seems the general understanding of x-rays had reached a point at which they knew these injuries were not superficial, i.e., burns.

Questions to pose

Did Bauer’s name appear on any patent applications?  So far, Green filed all of the applications for patents that I have found, and Bauer’s name doesn’t even appear in them as a witness.

Speculation without facts

The Courant gave John Bauer joint credit for both the vacuum tube and the regulator that made Green & Bauer possible – this despite Green’s claims for himself in 1904 – and by 1914, in Green’s obituary, Bauer would be mentioned only as dying of the same cause as Green.  Did Bauer inadvertently write himself out of the history of x-ray research in Hartford by moving back to Brooklyn?  The difficulty I’m having as I look for information on him seems to indicate that he did.


Unattributed, "Death by Inches Caused by X-rays: Inventor Bauer of the X-ray Tube Cut to Pieces as Disease Progressed," November 12, 1908, page 1.

Henry Green


Share this: