Orphaned in Kentucky and out on his own at age 11, Frederick McKinley ("Casey") Jones found his way to Kittson County, Minnesota, arriving in a snowstorm on Christmas Day in 1912. He was a self-taught engineer and inventor and was the first African American to become a member of the American Society of Refrigeration Engineers. While in Kittson County he built radios and a portable x-ray machine, and improved surgical instruments for the Hallock doctors. Casey built a powerful radio transmitter used by the newspaper editor to broadcast news for many years. He built a hook-up for the Grand Theatre in Hallock to give movies sound by photographing the vibrations of sound on the side of a film. He served in WWI as an electrician.
In 1929 Joseph Numero of Cinema Supplies, Inc., of Minneapolis persuaded Casey to work for him. From this association Thermo King Co. was born. Using Fred's ideas and designs, that company became the world leader in transport refrigeration production. This paved the way for the frozen food industry. Casey also worked for the U.S. Defense Department designing cooling units for field hospitals in WWII. He died in 1961 and was buried at Fort Snelling National Cemetery.
His work and ingenuity were important not only to the local rural people in Kittson County but he went on to a company that became a worldwide leader in transport refrigeration because of his ideas.
~Cindy Adams and Karen Backlund, Lake Bronson, MN