Signal Flares, Made From The Hard Work Of A Woman

The Colored Flare System (CFS) is a communication device or emergency signal that ships use at night. Who would have thought, despite this remarkable discovery, was the hard work of a United States woman named Martha Coston.


As a result of her marriage to a scientist named Benjamin Coston, they were blessed with four children. However, in 1847 at the age of 21, she had to live as a widow with her four children after her husband's death.

Living as a widow coupled with many children is not an easy task, especially when her husband dies leaving behind a small estate.

One day, not knowing what to do, she scrutinized her husband's notes and discovered a plan for communication at sea.


Coston spent 10 years researching, refining and perfecting her husband's design ideas. She consulted with scientists and the army but could not find the right answer.

Until one night as she brought her kids to see the fireworks, she had an idea that could be applied to her creation. Then the signal flares are created.

In those days, to signal when sailing, sailors only used colored flags or shouted their best. In 1859 it was patented and Coston was named administrator while her husband was credited as creator.


Coston's long and fervent effort to help the United States military during the Civil War that cost her 1,200.00 made her miserable. She was trapped in debt up to USD 120,000. Worse yet, the US Navy doesn't want to pay for it on the grounds that Coston is a woman.


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