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John Deere /d͡ʒɒn dɪə/ (February 7, 1804 – May 17, 1886) was an American
blacksmith A blacksmith is a metalsmith A metalsmith or simply smith is a craftsperson fashioning useful items (for example, tools, kitchenware, tableware, jewellery, and weapons) out of various metal A metal (from Ancient Greek, Greek μέτ ...

blacksmith
and
manufacturer Manufacturing is the creation or Production (economics), production of goods with the help of equipment, Work (human activity), labor, machines, tools, and chemical or biological processing or formulation. It is the essence of secondary sector ...

manufacturer
who founded
Deere & Company John Deere is the brand name of Deere & Company, an American corporation that manufactures agricultural, construction, and forestry machinery, diesel engines, drivetrains (axles, transmissions, gearboxes) used in heavy equipment, and lawn care eq ...

Deere & Company
, one of the largest and leading agricultural and construction equipment manufacturers in the world. Born in Rutland, Vermont, Deere moved to
Illinois Illinois ( ) is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspape ...

Illinois
and invented the first commercially successful
steel plow A plough or plow (Differences between American and British spellings, US; both ) is a farm tool for loosening or turning the soil before sowing seed or planting. Ploughs were traditionally drawn by oxen and horses, but in modern farms are drawn ...
in 1837.


Early life

John Deere was born on February 7, 1804, in Rutland, Vermont. After a brief educational period at
Middlebury College Middlebury College is a private Private or privates may refer to: Music * "In Private "In Private" was the third single in a row to be a charting success for United Kingdom, British singer Dusty Springfield, after an absence of nearly two de ...
, at age 17 in 1821 he began an apprenticeship with Captain Benjamin Lawrence, a successful Middlebury blacksmith, and entered the trade for himself in 1826.John Deere: A Biography
," ''Deere & Company'', official website. Retrieved May 22, 2007.
Leffingwell, Randy.
John Deere: A History of the Tractor
" (
Google Books Google Books (previously known as Google Book Search and Google Print and by its code-name Project Ocean) is a service from Google Inc. Google LLC is an American multinational technology company that specializes in Internet ...
), motor books/MBI Publishing Company, 2004, pg. 10, (). Retrieved May 21, 2007.
He married Demarius Lamb in 1827 and fathered nine children. Deere worked in before opening his own shops, first in Vergennes, and then in
Leicester Leicester is a city A city is a large human settlement.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (1996) ''The Social Science Encyclopedia''. 2nd edition. London: Routled ...
.


Steel plow

John Deere settled in
Grand Detour, Illinois Grand Detour is an unincorporated census-designated place in Ogle County, Illinois, United States. As of the United States Census, 2010, 2010 census, its population was 429. The village is named after an odd turn in the Rock River (Mississippi River ...
. At the time, Deere had no difficulty finding work due to a lack of blacksmiths working in the area.170 Years of John Deere
" ''The Toy Tractor Times'', January 2007. Retrieved May 22, 2007.
Deere found that cast-iron plows were not working very well in the tough
prairie Wheatfield intersection in the Southern Saskatchewan prairies, Canada. Prairies are ecosystem An ecosystem is a community (ecology), community of living organisms in conjunction with the nonliving components of their environment, interact ...
soil of Illinois and remembered the needles he had previously polished by running them through sand as he grew up in his father's tailor shop in Rutland, Vermont. 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 steel plow. In one version, he recalled the way the polished steel
pitchfork A pitchfork (also a hay fork) is an agricultural tool A tool is an object that can extend an individual's ability to modify features of the surrounding environment. Although many animals use tool use by animals, simple tools, only human be ...

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. This made it ideal for the tough soil of the
Midwest The Midwestern United States, also referred to as the Midwest or the American Midwest, is one of four Census Bureau Region, census regions of the United States Census Bureau (also known as "Region 2"). It occupies the northern central part of ...
and worked better than other plows. By early 1838, Deere completed his first
steel plow A plough or plow (Differences between American and British spellings, US; both ) is a farm tool for loosening or turning the soil before sowing seed or planting. Ploughs were traditionally drawn by oxen and horses, but in modern farms are drawn ...
and sold it to a local farmer, Lewis Crandall, who quickly spread word of his success with Deere's plow. Subsequently, two neighbors soon placed orders with Deere. 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 Moline ( ) is a city located in Rock Island County, Illinois Rock Island County is a County (United States), county located in the U.S. state of Illinois, bounded on the west by the Mississippi River. According to the 2010 United States Censu ...
, because the city was a transportation hub on the
Mississippi River The Mississippi River is the second-longest river and chief river A river is a natural flowing watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, sea, lake or another river. In some cases, a river flows into the ground and b ...

Mississippi River
. By 1855, Deere's factory sold more than 10,000 such plows. It became known as "The Plow that Broke the Plains" and is commemorated as such in a historic place marker in Vermont. 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."Magee, David. ''The John Deere Way: Performance that Endures''
Google Books
, John Wiley and Sons, 2005, p. 36, (), accessed October 21, 2008.
Following the
Panic of 1857 The Panic of 1857 was a financial panic in the United States caused by the declining international economy and over-expansion of the domestic economy. Because of the invention of the telegraph by Samuel F. Morse in 1844, the Panic of 1857 was ...
, as business improved, Deere left the day-to-day operations to his son
Charles Charles is a masculine given name A given name (also known as a first name or forename) is the part of a personal name A personal name, or full name, in onomastic Onomastics or onomatology is the study of the etymology, histor ...
.Haycraft, William R. ''Yellow Steel: The Story of the Earthmoving Equipment Industry'',
Google Books
, University of Illinois Press, 2002, p. 86, (), accessed October 21, 2008.
In 1868, Deere incorporated his business as
Deere & Company John Deere is the brand name of Deere & Company, an American corporation that manufactures agricultural, construction, and forestry machinery, diesel engines, drivetrains (axles, transmissions, gearboxes) used in heavy equipment, and lawn care eq ...
.


Later 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.John Deere: Founder and President 1837–1886
," ''Deere & Company'', official website. Retrieved May 22, 2007.
Deere also served as Moline's mayor for two years but due to chest pains and
dysentery Dysentery () is a type of gastroenteritis Gastroenteritis, also known as infectious diarrhea and gastro, is inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract The gastrointestinal tract, (GI tract, GIT, digestive tract, digestion tract, aliment ...
Deere refused to run for a second term.Dahlstrom, Neil and Dahlstrom, Jeremy.''The John Deere Story: A Biography of Plowmakers John & Charles Deere.'' Northern Illinois University Press, 2005, pgs. 101–104 He died at home (known as Red Cliff) on May 17, 1886 at the age of 82.John Deere Mansion Moline Il
," ''John Deere Mansion'', official website.


References


Further reading

* Wayne G. Broehl, Jr. ''John Deere's Company'' (1984) * Neil Dahlstrom and Jeremy Dahlstrom. ''The John Deere Story: A Biography of Plowmakers John and Charles Deere'' (Northern Illinois University Press, 2005). 204pp. * Leslie J. Stegh. "Deere, John"

* {{DEFAULTSORT:Deere, John John Deere 1804 births 1886 deaths American blacksmiths American chief executives of manufacturing companies
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People from Middlebury, Vermont People from Moline, Illinois 19th-century American inventors People from Rutland (town), Vermont Businesspeople from Illinois Mayors of places in Illinois 19th-century American businesspeople