BY: Gregory Lamont Rodgers Jr
Elijah J. McCoy (May 2, 1844 – October 10, 1929) was a black Canadian-American inventor and engineer, who was notable for his 57 U.S. patents, most to do with lubrication of steam engines. Born free in Canada, he returned as a five-year-old child with his family to the United States in 1847, where he lived for the rest of his life and became a US citizen.Elijah J. McCoy was born free in 1844 in Colchester, Ontario, Canada to George and Mildred (Goings) McCoy, who were black. They were fugitive slaves who had escaped from Kentucky to Canada via helpers through theUnderground Railroad. In 1847, the family returned to the US, settling in Ypsilanti, Michigan. He had eleven siblings.
At age 15, McCoy traveled to Edinburgh, Scotland for an apprenticeship and study. After some years, he was certified in Scotland as a mechanical engineer. After his return, he rejoined his family.In Michigan, McCoy could find work only as a fireman and oiler at the Michigan Central Railroad. In a home-based machine shop in Ypsilanti, Michigan McCoy also did more highly skilled work, such as developing improvements and inventions. He invented an automatic lubricator for oiling the steam engines of locomotives and ships, "Improvement in Lubricators for Steam-Engines" (U.S. Patent 129,843).
Similar automatic oilers had been patented previously; one is the displacement lubricator, which had already attained widespread use and
ical descendants continued to be widely used into the 20th century. Lubricators were a boon for railroads, as they enabled trains to run faster and more profitably with less need to stop for lubrication and maintenance.McCoy married Ann Elizabeth Stewart in 1868; she died four years later.
He married for the second time in 1873, to Mary Eleanor Delaney. They moved to Detroit when he found work there. Mary McCoy (b. - d. 1922) was one of the founders of the Phillis Wheatley Home for Aged Colored Men in 1898.
Elijah McCoy died in the Eloise Infirmary (Poorhouse) in Nankin Township now Westland, Michigan October 10, 1929 at the age of 86. He had continued to suffer from injuries from a car accident seven years earlier in which his wife Mary died. He was buried at Detroit Memorial Park East in Warren, Michigan.