Continuing on with this week’s open thread theme, I am going to highlight two more black innovators.
Joseph Winters (1859–1934) was an African-American abolitionist and inventor who patented a wagon-mounted fire escape ladder for the city of Chambersburg, PA. in 1878. It is often falsely cited that Winters was the original inventor of the wagon mounted fire escape. Winters’ version was patented 29 years after George Huttman and George Kornelio initially introduced the idea in 1849.
He was born in Virginia to an African-American brickmaker and a Shawnee Indian mother. He later relocated to Chambersburg, Pennsylvania in 1830. During the time Winters lived in Chambersburg, he was active in the Underground Railroad.
An improved refrigerator design was patented by African American inventor John Standard of Newark, New Jersey on June 14 1891 (U.S. patent #455,891). John Standard was also received U.S. patent #413,689 on October 29 1889 for an improved oil stove.
In his patent for the refrigerator John Standard declared, “this invention relates to improvements in refrigerators; and it consists of certain novel arrangements and combinations of parts.” John Standard was saying that he had found a way to improve the design of refrigerators. A non-electrical and unpowered design, Standard’s refrigerator made in 1891 used a manually-filled ice chamber for chilling.