Josephine (Garis) Cochran
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Josephine M. (Garis) Cochran (1839 - 1913)

Josephine M. Cochran formerly Garis
Born in Ashtabula, Ohio, United Statesmap
Ancestors ancestors
[sibling(s) unknown]
Wife of — married 13 Oct 1858 in Shelbyville, Shelby County, Illinoismap
[children unknown]
Died at age 74 in Chicago, Cook, Illinois, United Statesmap
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Profile last modified | Created 31 Mar 2009
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Josephine (Garis) Cochran is Notable.
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Josephine (Garis) Cochran has English ancestors.

Inventor of the automatic dishwasher.

SOURCE: Denise Hight, Historical Photos of Women’s Stories:

"Josephine Garis Cochran (sometimes spelled Cochrane) (1839-1913) is largely unknown now, but she should be declared the patron saint of the modern busy family. For in 1886, she patented the first commercial dishwasher.

Josephine Cochrane was born Josephine Garis in Ashtabula County, Ohio, on 8 March 1839, and raised in Valparaiso, Indiana. She was the daughter of John Garis widely known throughout Illinois as a surveyor, bridge builder and swamp land engineer before the great Chicago fire. Her mother was a Fitch direct descendant of John Fitch inventor of the steamboat.

After moving to her sister's home in Shelbyville, Illinois, she married William Cochrane on 13 October 1858. William had returned the year before from a disappointing try at the California Gold Rush, but had gone on to become a prosperous dry goods merchant and Democratic Party politician. Josephine and William were the parents of 2 children, a son Hallie, and an adopted daughter, Katharine.

In 1870 the family moved into a mansion and she joined Chicago society. After one dinner party, some of the heirloom dishes got chipped while washing up, prompting her to search for a better alternative to handwashing the china.

She wanted a machine that would save time washing dishes, and would prevent broken crockery. She was convinced that there had to be a mechanical solution to the tedium of dishwashing. Josephine grew up in a family of engineers, but finding no one that could or would invent such a machine, she vowed, “If nobody else is going to invent a dishwashing machine, I’ll do it myself.”

So she invented a contraption of gears, belts, and pulleys that could take a cage filled with over 200 dirty dishes, and would re-appear a few minutes later with the dishes as clean as if they had been hand-washed. Her machine, unlike others that had been attempted, was the first to use water pressure rather than scrubbers to clean the dishes. It also had fitted racks to hold the dishes and cutlery in place.

Once her patent application, under the name of “J.G. Cochran” was approved, the next challenge was production.

I couldn’t get men to do the things I wanted in my way until they had tried and failed in their own, Josephine later explained.

And that was costly for me. They knew I knew nothing, academically, about mechanics, and they insisted on having their own way with my invention until they convinced themselves my way was the better, no matter how I had arrived at it.”

In 1886, with the aid of a young mechanic named George Butters, she set to work in a woodshed behind her home bringing the first prototype to life.

Once she had the patent and a machine, she had to sell the dishwashers. Although she wanted to sell directly to women, as they would appreciate how much drudgery the machine eliminated, because very few households in the 19th century could afford to pay over $100 for an appliance, her main customers were large hotels and restaurants.

She was successful at sales, but it was very difficult to challenge the mores of the 19th century, to enter these establishments on her own. When discussing selling to a large hotel, she described it as

“...almost the hardest thing I ever did, I think, crossing the great lobby of the Sherman House alone. You cannot imagine what it was like in those days…for a woman to cross a hotel lobby alone. I had never been anywhere without my husband or father—the lobby seemed a mile wide. I thought I should faint at every step, but I didn’t—and I got an $800 order as my reward."

In 1893, she exhibited her dishwashers at the Columbian Exhibition World’s Fair in Chicago, and the orders came pouring in from schools, colleges, hospitals and other large institutions. Her product, the Garis-Cochran Dishwasher was a success.

With the assistance of her business partner, George Butters, they opened a factory in 1898, Cochran’s Crescent Washing Machine Company. At first the dishwashing machines were used primarily by large businesses and institutions, but decades later, Cochran’s invention eventually evolved into the appliance considered essential by millions of householders today.

Josephine Garis Cochran died of a stroke in 1913, a very successful businesswoman. Her company was bought out in 1926 by the Hobart Corporation which produced appliances under the KitchenAid brand. In 1986, KitchenAid was acquired by Whirlpool She is still listed as one of the founders.

Josephine Garis Cochran was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2006. In 2013, on the 100 year anniversary of her death, the country of Romania (a country with which Cochran had no connection) issued a postage stamp in her honor, an indication of just how widespread her influence was." SOURCE: Denise Hight, Historical Photos of Women’s Stories[1]



1860 Census , FamilySearch, database with images, (18 February 2021), Josephene Cochran in entry for Wm Cochran, 1860.

1870 Census; Josephine and William living in Shelbyville, Illinois, provided a home for Josephine's young sister, Minnie; Wm Cochran 38 Illinois Cochran (Josephine) 28 Ohio; Minie Cochran 12 Indiana; (

1880 Census; Josephine and family were living in Shelbyville, Shelby County, Illinois. William worked as a Circuit Clerk; William A Cochran Self 49 Illinois; Josephene M Cochran Wife 40 Ohio; Katherine Cochran Daughter 10 Illinois; Minnie M Garis Other 23 Indiana; Mary Hoffman Other 19 Ohio;(

1900 Census: Chicago, Cook, Illinois; Josephine's Occupation was Manufacturer of washing machines. Her sister Minnie taught music; Josephine Cochrane, Widow, Head of Household 59 Ohio/Pennsylvania/Pennsylvania; Minnie M Garris Sister 45 Indiana/Pennsylvania/Pennsylvania; Anna F Colt Boarder 43 New York Charles M Colt Boarder 36 New York;(

1910 Census: Chicago, Cook, Illinois; Josephine Cockran, Widow,Head of Household 60 Ohio Annie F Colt Boarder 53 New York Minnie Garis Boarder 55 Indiana Emma F Putzier Servant 23 Illinois; (

"Indiana Marriages, 1811-2019," database with images, FamilySearch ( : 3 August 2022), William A Cochran and Josephine N Garris, 12 Oct 1858; citing Porter, Indiana, United States, Marriage License, Indiana Commission on Public Records, Indianapolis; FHL microfilm 005014493.

Find A Grave: Memorial #10185360

"Illinois, Cook County Deaths, 1871-1998," database, FamilySearch ( : 8 March 2018), Josephine G. Cochrane, 3 August 1913; citing , Cook, Illinois, United States, source reference cn 3142, record number 81, Cook County Courthouse, Chicago; FHL microfilm 1,287,678

"Wikipedia: Josephine Cochrane," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia,

"Top 10 Inventions by Women That Changed the World." MsMojo. 14 June 2016. YouTube (Web) 15 June 2016

This WikiTree profile is referenced from Wikidata: Item Q21901, en:Wikipedia help.gif

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Garis-20 and Garis-1 appear to represent the same person because: Matching name, bio, etc. Birthdate will need to be changed to 1839 (not 1841) because a Google search of her name displays her birth year to be 1839. Bio will need to be carefully edited using both profiles.
posted by Jennifer Fulk

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