When you think of famous inventors, who do you think of? Do you think of someone like Thomas Edison, or do you think of someone, arguably more interesting, like Elijah McCoy? Did you know that McCoy was issued over 57 patents in his lifetime? In this paper I’ll be informing you of some of McCoy’s inventions as well as telling you about his life along the way. Elijah J. McCoy was born in 1844 in Colchester, Ontario in Canada to parents George and Mildred McCoy. His parents were fugitive slaves who escaped from Kentucky to Canada using the Underground Railroad. McCoy was not their only child though. He was one of twelve children. His family didn’t always live in Canada either. In 1847, the entire family returned to the US to Ypsilanti, Michigan and in 1859 at the age of 15 McCoy traveled to Edinburgh, Scotland for study. After a few years there he rejoined his family in Michigan again but now he was a certified mechanical engineer in Scotland. After coming back to Michigan McCoy could only find work as a fireman or oiler at the Michigan Central Railroad, but he did a bit of his own work in a home-based machine shop in Ypsilanti. At said machine shop he developed improvements and inventions. One of the best inventions to come from that being an automatic lubricator, for oiling steam engines of locomotives and ships. McCoy was always tweaking his devices and designing new ones, and actually 50 of his patents dealt with lubricating systems. Around 1909 Elijah was recognized in Story of the Negro by Booker T. Washington for having produced more patents than any other African-American inventor at that time. This gave him an honored status in the black community that persists to this day. Even into his late life McCoy was still getting patents. Most of them had to do with lubrication though, the others included things like a folding ironing board and a lawn sprinkler. Since McCoy lacked the capital to actually produce the lubricators in large amounts to...
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