John Deere Company
1804 Today is the birthday of the inventer and manufacturer John Deere.
John was born in Rutland, Vermont.
When he was four years old, his father returned to England to claim his inheritance. His father disappeared during that trip, and so John was raised by a single mother. As a little boy, John went to school, and at the age of 17, he became an apprentice to a blacksmith. Four years later, John set up his own shop and worked as a blacksmith for a dozen years.
But in 1837, times had changed, there were many blacksmiths in the east, and John was struggling to get business. Ultimately, John was facing bankruptcy when he headed west with just $73 in his pocket. After three weeks of traveling, John made it to Grand Detour, Illinois. After settling in, he opened another blacksmith shop in Grand Detour, and seeing that his prospects for business were good, he sent word back to his wife, Demaryius Lamb, to bring their five children and join him at their new home.
During his first year in Illinois, John was constantly making the same repair over and over again to the wood and cast-iron plow. The plow had worked well in the eastern part of the United States, where the soil is light and sandy. But, heavy and thick Midwestern farmland broke wooden plows. The farmers of the prairie desperately needed something more heavy-duty.
So, in 1838, when he was 34 years old, John Deere developed the first steel plow and the rest, as they say, is history.
Fast forward 20 years to 1858, and John Deere was building and selling more than 13,000 plows per year. Almost thirty years later, when John Deere died at the age of 82 in 1886, John's son Charles took over the business.
A little over a hundred years later, in 1993, the John Deere Lawn and Garden division alone topped two billion dollars in sales.
Today, the John Deere company is worth more than 53 billion dollars.