Chloe Edwards, MDAH Electronic Records archivist, brings us this post in an ongoing series 

Before there were refrigerators there were icemen delivering blocks of ice on mule-drawn wagons or trucks to homes and businesses across the United States. It wasn’t until 1851 that John Gorrie of Florida patented the mechanical refrigeration device and 1868 that the world’s first commercial ice plant opened in New Orleans, Louisiana.

From Street scene, delivery man. Sysid 100880. Scanned as tiff in 2009/12/10 by MDAH. Credit: Courtesy of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History

Ice delivery man, photo by Luther M. Hamilton, Sr., from the Hamilton Photograph Collection, Call Number: PI/1994.0004

The story of man-made ice in Mississippi begins in the 1870s in Natchez, where the state’s first ice plant opened. To learn more about the fascinating history of ice-making in Mississippi, visit the Mississippi History Now webpage.