Mothers of Invention: Eldorado Jones (Airplane Muffler)

EldoradoJonesEldorado Jones (1860-1932) never married – in fact she didn’t have much use for men at all, something that would play a role in her business model later.  Her first career was as a teacher in Moline, Illinois, but later discovered she could make more money selling insurance.  She liked to tinker with iron and began inventing, which turned out to be more lucrative than either teaching or selling insurance.

Her most successful products were marketed to women – small lightweight irons, a traveling ironing board (with a compartment for a flatiron), and a collapsible hat rack.  Eldorado employed only women over 40 years old — in fact, men were banished from any participation in her company, so adamantly opposed to the opposite gender was she.  Her company, Eldorado Inventions, Inc., was highly successful and businessmen offered to buy her business but, predictably, she refused to sell out to a man.

Her business philosophy was summed up:

The only way to get along is to seek the difficult job, always do it well, and see that you get paid for it properly.  Oh yes, and don’t forget to exploit men all you can.  Because if you don’t, they will exploit you.

She thought of men as “mean” and “low” and quite despicable – unfortunately, her attitude toward men likely led to her downfall and financial ruin later.

She moved to New York to begin the search for financial backing for her latest invention, an airplane muffler.  The concept was similar to an automobile muffler, and when she tested the muffler at New York’s Roosevelt Field, the New York Times reported that her device could “have a bearing on the future of American aeronautics.”  She applied for a patent in 1919 and it was granted in 1923.

AirplaceMufflerWhat might have been her greatest invention yet was rebuffed, however, most likely due to her brusque business dealings with men.  Finding no backers, Eldorado was quickly depleting her funds.  According to Feminine Ingenuity: How Women Inventors Changed America by Anne Macdonald, she began applying for welfare aid.  One evening a neighbor called to invite Eldorado to dinner and received no answer.  The neighbor crawled through a window and found Eldorado dead in her bed.

Before her money ran out she had lived at the American Woman’s Association on 57th Street in New York.  That organization claimed her body, provided a funeral and had her body cremated and shipped to relatives in Missouri.  She had apparently made few friends with her business dealings in Moline years earlier – her obituary in the Moline newspaper was captioned:

WOMEN INVENTOR KNOWN AS MAN HATER; PRODUCTS INCLUDED IRON, MUFFLER

One might think that she would have been a feminist heroine, but according to Anne Macdonald that wasn’t the case since feminists knew for their cause to be advanced they had to win men over to their side.  It was part of their strategy to woo state legislatures to ratify the proposed amendment to the Constitution allowing women to vote and gain freedom to participate more fully in society – and legislatures were filled with men.  Apparently, Eldorado Jones’ disdain for the opposite gender contributed to her financial ruin and ultimately, her death.  Curiously, Modern Mechanics Magazine published an article in 1931 about her invention, implying that her invention was “welcomed with open arms by the aviation industry.”

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Have a GREAT day . . . someday it will be HISTORY!

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© Sharon Hall (Digging History), 2014.

3 Comments

    • Thanks… I’ll check it out.

      Reply
  1. I’m not sure why that’s happening. I’ll check it out and get back to you. Are the emails you’re receiving actual comments or “junk stuff” — I have to keep an eye on those because they are more or less spam postings.

    Reply

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