Black History Month – DAY 3

Moments in Black History – Day 3 – Elijah McCoy


(5/2/1844 – 10/10/29)

Elijah McCoy was born a free black in Colchester, Ontario, Canada. His parents had been slaves in Kentucky but escaped to the northern country via the Underground Railroad. In 1847, his family moved to Ypsilanti, MI! #michigannative

He was a fireman and oiler at the Michigan Central Railroad; he also owned a home-based machine shop in Ypsi. It was there were he invented devices, consistently revising and re-designing them. 50 of his patents involved lubricating systems. His most notable invention was an automatic lubricator for oiling the steam engines in locomotives. (US Patent 129,843).

He is, essentially, behind the term “The Real McCoy.” (Although it has Scottish beginnings as the real McKay.) This was in referenced to his oil-drip cup invention.

He is buried in Detroit Memorial Park East in Warren, Michigan. In 1974, Michigan put a historical marker (P25170) at his former home on 5720 Lincoln Avenue and his gravesite. In 1975, Detroit celebrated Elijah McCoy day by placing a marker at the site of his home and named a nearby street after him. In 1994, Michigan installed  ahistorical marker (S0642) at his first workshop in Ypsilanti. In 2001, he was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame. In 2011, Sen. Debbie Stabenow offered an amendment to the Patent Reform Act of 2011 to name the first satellite office of the US Patent & Trademark Office (which opened in Detroit on 7/13/12) as the “Elijah J. McCoy United States Patent and Trademark Office.”

And now you know who and/or what the real McCoy is/was.


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