John Deere, born February 7, 1804, was an inventor, blacksmith, and manufacturer who, in the 19th century, founded Deere & Company. Deere was a legendary entrepreneur who found a solution to a problem and turned this solution into a company. As a pioneer American inventor, Deere focused on creating agricultural tools and implements which alleviated an efficiency problem. This led to his invention of the cast-steel plow. Deere was a founder, a risk-taker, and an entrepreneur, and he’s worth remembering and celebrating on his special day.
John Deere is a widely revered name in the agricultural and manufacturing sectors. His innovative mind and hard work laid the foundation of the Fortune 500 Company, Deere & Company. However, Deere didn’t always have it figured out. On February 7, 1804, in Rutland, Vermont, John Deere was born. He was an Aquarius of White ethnicity and was born into a middle-class family. A few years after his birth, Deere’s father left for England, and by 1808, no one had heard from him again. Distraught, Deere’s mother raised him and enrolled him at Middlebury College for a short while.
When Deere turned 17 in 1821, he became an apprentice for a successful Middlebury blacksmith called Captain Benjamin. After five years of cohesive training, Deere started trading as a blacksmith in 1826. He worked in Burlington, Vermont, before setting up a shop in Vergennes and later in Leicester. Due to the frequent repairs that he made in his line of work, Deere realized that the wood and cast-iron plows were ineffective in fully penetrating the tough, sticky, and clayey soils of Illinois prairies. He then started experimenting and soon concluded that polished steel plows of a different shape would handle the prairie soil better. By 1837, Deere had created America’s first cast-steel plow with a wrought-iron frame that was commercially successful.
Deere sold this first creation to a farmer, and word quickly spread of its effectiveness. His orders peaked at 100 plows a year by 1841, and two years later, at 33, he partnered with Leonard Andrus to keep up with demand. The partnership dissolved in 1848 due to differences. Deere then moved to the transportation hub, Moline, Illinois, with his wife, Demarius Lamb, and nine children. His success only increased from here, and by 1855, he had sold over 10,000 plows. Deere entered into a partnership with his son, Charles, in 1858. Soon after this, other family members followed suit. 10 years later, Deere’s business had become incorporated as the ‘Deere & Company’ we know today. His wife passed in 1865, and he married Lucinda, her sister, in 1867. Deere passed on in his home on May 17, 1886, leaving the care of his enterprise to his family.
After a brief period at college, Deere becomes an apprentice to the town’s blacksmith.
After gathering skill and knowledge, Deere enters the blacksmith trade for himself.
After experimenting with different designs and materials, Deere manufactures a fully operational cast-steel plow that can penetrate the Illinois soil.
Deere enters a partnership with Leonard Andrus and later sells off his interest in the shop to Andrus and moves to Moline, Illinois.
Deere incorporates the business and leaves the daily operations to his son.
Why We Love John Deere
He created an $84 billion company
Deere may not have known it then, but the business he started is now a top Fortune 500 company. He created wealth that exponentially increased centuries later.
He was a hardworker
At some point, Deere left his family and set up shop in another city before sending for them once his shop took off. He was very hardworking and innovative.
He created a legacy
Deere has a monument in Vermont which acknowledges him for creating ‘The Plow that Broke the Plains.’ This title is part of his legacy.
5 Surprising Facts
He served as Mayor
In his later life, Deere served as Mayor of Moline for two years.
National Bank of Moline President
Deere served in this capacity and oversaw the affairs of Moline’s National Bank.
The business manufactured bicycles too
After his demise, the John Deere company started manufacturing bicycles in 1894.
He never saw a gas tractor
Deere might have created tractors, but he never lived to see one that ran on gas.
His father was a tailor
Deere’s father was a professional merchant tailor.
John Deere FAQs
Is Deere & Company still family-owned?
Possibly. Deere & Company has had five generations of family leadership since its inception.
Is the John Deere company still in Illinois?
Yes. Deere & Company still has its headquarters in Moline, Illinois.
Are the company tractors made in China?
As of 2016, Deere & Company tractors were Chinese-made.
John Deere’s birthday dates