Who Was Frederick Jones?
After a challenging childhood, Frederick Jones taught himself mechanical and electrical engineering, inventing a range of devices relating to refrigeration, sound, and automobiles. Portable refrigeration units developed by Jones helped the United States military carry food and blood during World War II.
Frederick McKinley Jones was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, on May 17, 1893, to a white father and black mother. His mother deserted him when he was a young child. His father struggled to raise him on his own, but by the time Frederick was 7 years old, he sent young Jones to live with a priest in Kentucky. Two years later, his father died. This living situation lasted for two years. At the age of 11, with minimal education under his belt, Jones ran away to fend for himself. He returned to Cincinnati and found work doing odd jobs, including as a janitor in a garage where he developed a knack for automobile mechanics. He was so good, he became foreman of the shop. He later moved on, again taking odd jobs where he could. In 1912, he landed in Hallock, Minnesota, where he obtained a job doing mechanical work on a farm.