Deere, John

Deere, John
b. 7 February 1804 Rutland, Vermont, USA
d. 17 May 1886 USA
American inventor and manufacturer of agricultural equipment.
John Deere was the son of a tailor, and first worked as a tanner before becoming apprenticed to a blacksmith. He married Demarius Lamb in 1827, but it appears that competition for blacksmiths was fierce, and the Deere family moved frequently. Two attempts to establish forges ended in fires, and changing partnerships and arguments over debts were to be a feature of Deere's working life. In 1836 John Deere moved west on his own, in an attempt to establish himself. He settled in Grand Detour, Illinois. In this new frontier a blacksmith's skills were sought after, and the blacksmith, with no ready supply of raw materials, had to be able to operate both a furnace for melting metal and a forge for working it. Deere was sufficiently successful for his family to be able to join him. A chance visit to a sawmill and the acquisition of a broken saw blade led to the making of a plough that was to establish John Deere in manufacturing. There were two distinctive features associated with the plough: the soil in the area failed to stick to the steel blade, with obvious benefits to the draught of the implement; and second, the shape of the working mouldboard was square. The reputation that developed with his first three ploughs established that Deere had made the transition from blacksmith to manufacturer.
Over the next decade he had a number of partnerships and eventually set up a factory in Moline, Illinois, in 1848. The following year he sold 2,136 ploughs, and by early 1850 he was producing 350 ploughs per month. Deere was devastated by the loss of his eldest son in the year that the company moved to Moline. However, his second son, Charles, joined him in 1851 and was to be a major influence on the way in which the company developed over the next half-century. The company branched out into the production of cultivators, harrows, drills and wagons. John Deere himself played an active part in the company, but also played an increasing role in public life, with a particular interest in education. The company was incorporated in 1868.
Further Reading
The following both provide biographical details of John Deere, but are mainly concerned with the company and the equipment it produced: W.G.Broehl, 1984, John Deere's Company: A History of Deere and Company and its
Times, American Society of Agricultural Engineers.
D.Macmillan, 1988, John Deere Tractors and Equipment, American Society of Agricultural Engineers.

Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

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