John Deere

John Deere

[deer]
Deere, John, 1804-86, American industrialist, manufacturer of agricultural implements, b. Rutland, Vt. He was one of the pioneers of the steel plow industry. A blacksmith by trade, he established (1837) a shop at Grand Detour, Ill. There he was associated with Leonard Andrus in making (1837) the first Grand Detour steel plow. In 1843, Deere and Andrus formed a partnership for the manufacture of plows. The partnership was terminated in 1847, when Deere moved to Moline, Ill. There he established a factory that in time made other farm implements as well as plows and became known throughout the world. The firm was incorporated in 1868 as Deere and Company.

(born Feb. 7, 1804, Rutland, Vt., U.S.—died May 17, 1886, Moline, Ill.) U.S. inventor and manufacturer of agricultural implements. He was apprenticed to a blacksmith and later set up his own smithy and moved to Illinois. There he found, through the frequent repairs he had to make, that wood and cast-iron plows, used in the eastern U.S. from the 1820s, were unsuited to the heavy, sticky prairie soils. By 1838 he had sold three steel plows of his own design; by 1846 he had sold about 1,000, and by 1857 10,000. In 1868 Deere & Co. was incorporated, and it went on to become the largest U.S. manufacturer of farm machinery.

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John Deere (February 7, 1804May 17, 1886) was an American blacksmith and manufacturer who founded Deere & Company— the largest agricultural and construction equipment manufacturers in the world.

Deere was born in Rutland, Vermont on February 7, 1804, the son of William Rinold Deere, a tailor, and Sarah Yates (1780-1826). William Deere disappeared on the way to England in 1808 when a young John Deere was only four, where he was seeking a possible inheritance. John Deere received a basic education from the local common school and briefly attended Middlebury College before dropping out. With no inheritance and a meager education, he was apprenticed in 1821, at age 17, by his mother. He served four years as apprentice to Captain Benjamin Lawrence, a prosperous Middlebury blacksmith, and entered the trade for himself in 1825.

He married Demarius Lamb, and by 1836 the couple had four children, with a fifth child on the way. The business was not doing very well, and Deere was having trouble with his creditors. Facing bankruptcy, Deere sold the shop to his father-in-law and departed for Illinois. He left his wife and family, who were to join him later.

Steel plow

Deere settled in Grand Detour, Illinois. As there were no other blacksmiths in the area, he had no difficulty finding work. Growing up in his father’s Rutland, Vermont, tailor shop, Deere had polished and sharpened needles by running them through sand. This polishing helped the needles sew through tough leather. Deere found that cast-iron plows were not working very well in the tough prairie soil of Illinois and remembered the polished needles. Deere came to the conclusion that a plow made out of highly polished steel and a correctly shaped moldboard (the self-scouring steel plow) would be better able to handle the soil conditions of the prairie, especially its sticky clay.

There are varying versions of the inspiration for Deere's famous invention, the steel plow. In another version he recalled the way the polished steel pitchfork tines moved through hay and soil and thought that same effect could be obtained for a plow.

In 1837, Deere developed and manufactured the first commercially successful cast-steel plow. The wrought-iron framed plow had a polished steel share, which made it ideal for the tough soil of the Midwest and worked better than other plows. By early 1838, Deere completed his first steel plow and sold it to a local farmer, Lewis Crandall, who quickly spread word of his success with Deere's plow. So two neighbors soon placed orders with Deere. Confident that he had some stability, Deere moved his family to Grand Detour later that year.

By 1841, Deere was manufacturing 75-100 plows per year.

In 1843, Deere partnered with Leonard Andrus to produce more plows to keep up with demand. However, the partnership became strained due to the two men's stubbornness - while Deere wished to sell to customers outside Grand Detour, Andrus opposed a proposed railroad through Grand Detour - and Deere's distrust of Andrus' accounting practices. In 1848, Deere dissolved the partnership with Andrus and moved to Moline, Illinois, because of the city's location on the Mississippi River, which helped make it a transportation hub. By 1855, Deere's factory sold more than 10,000 such plows.

From the beginning, Deere insisted on making high-quality equipment. He once said, "I will never put my name on a product that does not have in it the best that is in me." As the business improved, Deere left the day-to-day operations to his son Charles. In 1868, Deere incorporated his business as Deere & Company.

Late life

Later in life Deere focused most of his attention on civil and political affairs. He served as President of the National Bank of Moline, a director of the Moline Free Public Library, and was a trustee of the First Congregational Church. Deere also served as Moline's second mayor for a two year term, where despite his disastrous handling of liquor licensing, Deere improved the city's infrastructure by having streetlights, sewage and water piping (including fire hydrants) installed and sidewalks repaired, and bought eighty-three acres for $15,000 for the creation of a city park. Due to chest pains and dysentery Deere refused to run for a second term. Deere died at home on May 17, 1886.

The company Deere founded lived on after his death and has become the world's leading provider of advanced products and services for agriculture and forestry and a major provider of advanced products and services for construction, lawn and turf care, landscaping and irrigation.

See also

References

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