|Amanda Theodosia Jones (1835-1914)|
Amanda was also into spiritualism, as were many in her time during the 1850s. She began hearing a spirit voice at the age of eight, and through dreams, visions and voices, the spirits guided her throughout her life. As a spiritualist, she believed that spirits of the dead could communicate with the living....usually through a medium, and Amanda was considered a medium. Guided by a prophetic dream, she decided to move to Chicago in 1869, where she became a magazine editor, including one for children, and began writing poetry. By 1870 she had published two books of poetry.
Also interested in inventions, one day she awoke from a nap with an amazing idea for one, only this idea, she wrote in her autobiography, was hers alone. Whether the idea came from her spirit muse has been debated, since Amanda did after all credit so many events in her life with guidance from the spirits. One source claims she was advised by the spirit of her dead brother that a better way to preserve fruit existed. Nevertheless, the idea was valid and Amanda asked the help of a college professor (Leroy C. Cooley) to test her idea. In her book she wrote, "I see how fruit can be canned without cooking it. The air must be exhausted from the cells and fluid made to take its place. The fluid must be airless also--a light syrup of sugar and water--that, or the juice of fruit." This was different from the canning method of Nicolas-Francois Appert (1810), which required the food be well cooked, and resulted in loss of flavor.
|Antique Canning Jars|
After some experimentation, they managed to seal the canning jars by raising the internal temperature to 120 degrees F. The fruit expanded (but was still uncooked) and air was forced out of the jar. Amanda applied for a patent, seven total in 1873, and to Professor Cooley's credit, he left the honor entirely to Amanda. His name was not on the patent. They called the vacuum canning process the Jones process, and also the Pure Food Vacuum Preserving Process. It became the standard method used in the United States.
|Diagram of the fruit jar in patent 1873|
Eventually, Amanda turned her fruit jar patent into a profitable business. She founded the Woman's Canning and Preserving Company and only employed women. Although unmarried, Amanda did not consider herself a feminist. She merely wanted to give women the opportunity to earn their way with dignity, when widowed or unmarried without male protection. Women were the stockholders and held all executive positions.
The company was a whopping success, receiving orders for 24,000 cases in the first three months. Greed took over, however, and the company president and stockholders wanted more. Jones hesitantly agreed with the president to accept a group of male investors into the company. They invested $80,000, and in return, the agreement went, they would manage the business and receive half the profits. Three months later, Amanda was forced out of the company, and the company went on to become a multimillion dollar industry.
Amanda has been listed in "Who’s Who in America" twice, once in 1912-1913, and second in the 1914-1915 women’s division of "Who’s Who in America."
born inot book-loving family.
Copyright 2015 © Sharon Marie Himsl