John Deere

John Deere

Rutland, Rutland County, Vermont, USA
Death 17 May 1886 (aged 82)
Moline, Rock Island County, Illinois, USA
Burial Moline, Rock Island County, Illinois, USA
Plot OEC Section Location: Lot 838-840: Grave # 11
Memorial ID 9576 · View Source
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Inventor, Industrialist. He is best known for founding the yard, farm and earthmoving equipment company that bears his name. John Deere was born in Rutland, Vermont, on February 7, 1804, the third son of William Rinold Deere, a merchant tailor. In 1808, William sailed for England, in hopes of claiming an inheritance, but he was never heard from again, and is presumed lost at sea. Raised by his widowed mother on a meager income, John's education was limited to the primary schools of Vermont. He apprenticed himself to a blacksmith, and entered the trade in 1825. On January 28, 1827, he married Demarius Lamb. By 1836 the couple had four children, Demarius was pregnant with the fifth, and John was faced with bankruptcy. Deere sold his blacksmith shop to his father-in-law, left the proceeds of the sale with Demarius, and headed for Illinois frontier. He continued on to the newly settled village of Grand Detour, Illinois, on the edge of the frontier. There were no blacksmiths for forty miles, so Deere had work at once. On the Illinois frontier, the sticky, heavy prairie soil was proving difficult to work. Cast iron plows which worked fine in the light, sandy soils of the Northeast were ineffective. Plowing to break up the tough prairie sod was slow, hard work requiring the constant use of paddles to scrape the sticky soil off. Farmers came to Deere hoping that he could help them. John Deere was convinced that a steel plow that was highly polished and had a properly shaped moldboard could scour itself as it cut furrows. The first steel plow, made from a broken steel saw blade, was originated by John Lane of Joliet Illinois in 1833. In 1837, Deere added further improvements to Lane’s idea when he fashioned his first moldboard plow, also made from broken steel saw blade. It was an immediate success. Deere's first plows used the saw blade steel for the share and smoothly ground wrought iron for the moldboard. Deere's first plow, finished in 1837, worked better than any previous plow. In 1838 he built two more plows, one of which was sold to Joseph Brieton, who farmed just south of Grand Detour. That very implement was later discovered and purchased by Charles Deere and is on display at the Smithsonian Institution. By 1841, Deere was producing 100 of his plows annually. In 1843, he entered a partnership with Leonard Andrus to produce more plows to meet increasing demand. By 1848, Deere dissolved his partnership with Andrus and moved the business to Moline, which offered advantages of water power, coal and rail transportation. In 1850, approximately 1600 plows were made, and the John Deere Company was soon producing other tools to complement its steel plow. In 1858, Deere transferred leadership of the company to his son, Charles, who served as its vice president. John Deere retained the title of president of the company, but now turned his attention to civic and political activities. John Deere was active in public life throughout his career in Moline. Among other roles, he was the second president of the National Bank of Moline, served as a director of the Moline Free Public Library, was an active member of the First Congregational Church and served as the city's mayor for two years. John Deere died on May 17, 1886, at his home in Moline. Today Deere and Co. is a leading maker of yard, farm and earthmoving equipment, with a market capitalization of nearly $17 billion on the New York Stock Exchange.

Bio by: Edward Parsons

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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Added: 29 May 2000
  • Find a Grave Memorial 9576
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for John Deere (7 Feb 1804–17 May 1886), Find a Grave Memorial no. 9576, citing Riverside Cemetery, Moline, Rock Island County, Illinois, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .