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John Deere built company one plow at a time
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A single steel plow forged by John Deere launched the beginning of a company that is now a world leader in agricultural equipment.

According to Deere & Co.'s website, johndeere.com, Mr. Deere was born Feb. 7, 1804, in Rutland, Vt. At age 17, he left home and began a four-year apprenticeship as a blacksmith.

In 1825, he began working as a journeyman. He met his wife, Demarius Lamb, and they married in 1827. For the next nine years he looked for steady work. He even built his own blacksmith shop, only to have it destroyed by fire -- twice.

At the time, many Easterners were moving west to the prairies. In 1836, Mr. Deere sought new opportunities and left his pregnant wife and four children in Vermont and headed to Grand Detour, Ill.

Once there, he set up a shop and began working. He soon learned that farmers were having trouble plowing the prairie sod. In 1837, he developed his first steel plow. A year later, he was able to send for his wife and children.

In 1841, he made 41 plows, and seven years later, he moved the company to Moline to take advantage of the river. By 1949, Mr. Deere's work force had grown to 16, and they built 2,136 plows.

John's son, Charles, who had been formally educated, joined the company as a bookkeeper in 1853. Within five years, Charles Deere was running the company.

This gave his father more time to get involved in the community. In 1854, he served as chairman of the Whig party. He also helped bring a fire engine to Moline, became president of First National Bank and was a trustee of First Congregational Church.

In 1864, Mr. Deere secured his first patent, and in 1868, Deere & Co. was incorporated.

His wife, Demarius, died in 1865. The next year he married her younger sister, Lucenia.

In 1873, Mr. Deere's level of community involvement propelled him to be elected the second mayor of Moline. He served a two-year term and was credited with repairing sidewalks and streets and installing sewers.

He died on May 17, 1886, at the age of 82, in his home, Red Cliff, in Moline.








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