Elijah McCoy (1844-1929), was born in Colchester, Ontario, on May 2, 1844. His mother and father were George and Emillia McCoy. They were slaves from Kentucky who escaped through the Underground Railroad.
Elijah liked taking things apart and putting them back together as a child. He attended school in Edin-burgh, Scotland, where he studied mechanical engineering. After he completed his education, he returned to the United States and moved to Michigan. He could not find work as an engineer so he worked as a fire-man and oilman on the Michigan Central Railroad. He frequently walked around a locomotive and oiled its moving parts using only an oil can, yet went on to invent the automatic oiling machine and received a patent!
Elijah invented the portable ironing board, rubber shoe heels, tire tread, and lawn sprinkler, to name a few. Many inventors tried to sell imitations of the devices that Elijah invented, but companies wanted the real items, thus the term, "the real McCoy."
Did you know that Sarah Boone, an African-American, was the first person to receive a patent for an ironing board in 1892.
Did you iron your clothes this morning?
Elijah McCoy invented the portable ironing board, tire tread, and the lawn sprinkler.