John Deere’s Legacy: A Detailed Biography

John Deere portrait.

A Quick Biography of John Deere
Key Points and Facts
Life Lessons
Questions and Answers
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John Deere: The Man Who Revolutionized Farming

Early Beginnings

John Deere’s story began on February 7, 1804, in the small town of Rutland, Vermont. He was the third son of William and Sarah (Yates) Deere.

Young John’s life was marked by his father’s mysterious disappearance in 1808, which left him to be raised solely by his mother. This early hardship shaped his resilient character.

Blacksmith to Inventor

At 17, Deere started his journey as a blacksmith’s apprentice, quickly establishing his smithy trade.

His skills and ingenuity were soon put to the test. In 1837, at age 33, Deere moved to Grand Detour, Illinois, setting up a new blacksmith shop. Here, he noticed a problem defining his career: the local wood and cast-iron plows were ineffective in the tough prairie soil.

Innovation: The Steel Plow

John Deere’s eureka moment came in 1837 when he invented a steel plow suitable for the Midwest prairie soil. This invention was a game-changer, making plowing faster and more efficient.

The steel plow’s success was immediate, with production increasing from 10 plows in 1839 to about 1,000 by 1846.

Expansion and Relocation

1847, Deere moved to Moline, Illinois, seeking better transportation and resources.

John began using high-quality English steel and later collaborated with Pittsburgh manufacturers for steel plate development. By 1857, his company was producing 10,000 plows annually.

Business Growth and Family Involvement

John Deere’s business acumen was evident as he involved his family in the company’s affairs.

In 1858, he brought his son Charles into the partnership, and by 1868, Deere & Company was officially incorporated, with Deere serving as its president until his death.

Personal Life and Community Service

John’s personal life was marked by his marriage to Demarius Lamb, with whom he had nine children. After Demarius’s death, he married her sister, Lucinda Lamb.

Deere was also active in Moline’s community life, serving as its mayor and contributing to various civic duties.

Legacy and Impact

John Deere passed away on May 17, 1886, at age 82. His legacy, however, lives on through Deere & Company, which has grown into a multinational corporation.

Deere’s inventions revolutionized agriculture and significantly impacted America’s economic growth.

In Summary

John Deere’s life was a remarkable journey from a humble blacksmith to a pioneering inventor and successful businessman.

Deere’s steel plow invention transformed American agriculture, and his business acumen led to the establishing a company that continues to impact global agriculture.

John’s story is one of innovation, resilience, and commitment to quality, making him a true American icon.


Key Points and Facts: John Deere

Biographical Details

  • Born: February 7, 1804, in Rutland, Vermont, U.S.
  • Died: May 17, 1886, in Moline, Illinois, at age 82.

Early Life

  • Father left for England in 1808 and disappeared, raised by his mother.
  • Attended public school; education was average for the time period.
  • Apprenticed as a blacksmith at age 17 with Captain Benjamin Lawrence in Middlebury, Vermont.

Career Beginnings

  • Set up his first smithy trade at age 21, working in various towns in Vermont.
  • Married Demarius Lamb in 1827 and later, her sister, Lucinda Lamb, in 1867 after Demarius’s death.

Relocation and Invention

  • Moved to Grand Detour, Illinois, in 1837.
  • Developed and sold the first commercially successful cast-steel plow in 1837.

Company Formation and Expansion

  • Formed a partnership with Leonard Andrus in 1838.
  • Moved to Moline, Illinois, in 1847 for better business opportunities.
  • By 1857, annual plow production reached 10,000 units.
  • Incorporated Deere & Company in 1868, with Deere as president and his son Charles as a partner.

Personal Life and Community Involvement

  • Fathered nine children.
  • Active in Moline’s community; served as the city’s mayor for two years.

Legacy and Impact

  • Known for founding Deere & Company and inventing the steel plow.
  • Contributed significantly to the transformation of America’s agriculture.
  • The company’s worth reached over $40 billion by 2012.


  • 1804: Birth in Rutland, Vermont.
  • 1821: Begins blacksmith career.
  • 1837: Opens shop in Grand Detour and invents the steel plow.
  • 1847: Moves to Moline, Illinois.
  • 1858: Charles Deere becomes a partner in the company.
  • 1868: Deere & Company is incorporated.
  • 1886: John Deere’s death in Moline, Illinois.

John Deere’s life story is a testament to his ingenuity, resilience, and lasting impact on agriculture and American history.


John Deere


  • Birth: John Deere was born on February 7, in Rutland, Vermont, U.S.


  • Start of Blacksmith Career: At 17, he began his apprenticeship as a blacksmith with Captain Benjamin Lawrence in Middlebury, Vermont.


  • Independent Blacksmith: Deere started his own smithy trade, working in different towns in Vermont.


  • Marriage: He married Demarius Lamb.


  • Move to Illinois: At 33, Deere moved to Grand Detour, Illinois, and established a new blacksmith shop.
  • Invention of the Steel Plow: Invented a steel plow that worked better on the Midwest prairie soil.


  • First Steel Plow Sale: Sold the first steel plow to Lewis Crandall.
  • Partnership Formed: Formed a partnership with Leonard Andrus.

1839 – 1840

  • Increasing Plow Sales: Made and sold 10 plows by 1839 and 40 by 1840.


  • Production Increase: Produced 75–100 plows per year.


  • Partnership with Leonard Andrus: To increase production.


  • Plow Production Reaches 1,000: Annually produced about 1,000 plows.


  • Relocation to Moline, Illinois: Moved for better transportation and resource access.


  • Dissolved Partnership: Moved business operations solely under his control.


  • Over 10,000 Plows Sold: Signifying significant business growth.


  • 10,000 Plows Annually: Reached a major production milestone.


  • Charles Deere Joins the Business: His son became a partner in the company.


  • Son-in-Law Joins: Stephen H. Velie, his son-in-law, also became involved in the business.


  • Demarius Lamb’s Death: John Deere’s first wife passed away.


  • Second Marriage: Married Lucinda Lamb, Demarius’s sister.


  • Deere & Company Incorporation: John Deere remained president.


  • Acquisition of John Deere House: Expanded his assets.


  • Death: John Deere passed away on May 17 in Moline, Illinois, leaving a lasting legacy in agriculture.

Throughout his life, John Deere demonstrated remarkable ingenuity and determination, significantly contributing to the advancement of agricultural practices.

His story is about inventing the steel plow and building a business that withstood the test of time.


Lessons from John Deere’s Life

Embrace Change and Innovation

John Deere’s life shows us the power of embracing change and innovation. In 1837, he noticed that the traditional wood and cast-iron plows weren’t effective on the tough prairie soils of the Midwest.

Instead of just accepting this problem, Deere invented a steel plow that worked much better. This invention didn’t just improve his life; it revolutionized farming across America.

The lesson here is to look at challenges as opportunities. When something doesn’t work, think about how you can change it for the better.

Hard Work and Perseverance Pay Off

Deere’s journey from an apprentice blacksmith to the founder of Deere & Company is a classic tale of hard work and perseverance.

He started his apprenticeship at 17 and set up his smithy trade four years later. His road to success wasn’t easy. He moved his family to a new state, partnered with others, and constantly worked to improve his products.

His dedication paid off, with his company eventually producing 10,000 plows annually by 1857. This teaches us that success often comes from persistence and hard work, even when the path is difficult.

Family and Community Involvement Are Important

John Deere’s story isn’t just about his business achievements; it’s also about family and community. He involved his son Charles and son-in-law Stephen H. Velie in his business, ensuring its growth and continuity.

Beyond his company, Deere served as Moline’s mayor and was active in local affairs. This shows the importance of family and community in one’s life.

Success isn’t just about individual achievements but also about how we contribute to and involve those around us.

John Deere’s life offers valuable lessons on innovation, hard work, and the importance of family and community.

These lessons can inspire and guide us in our lives, no matter our challenges.


Frequently Asked Questions about John Deere

When and Where Was John Deere Born?

  • John Deere was born on February 7, 1804, in Rutland, Vermont, U.S.

What Did John Deere Do for a Living?

  • He was a blacksmith by trade and later became an inventor. He’s best known for founding Deere & Company and inventing the steel plow.

Why Did John Deere Invent the Steel Plow?

  • In 1837, Deere noticed that wood and cast-iron plows were ineffective for Illinois’s prairie soils. This led him to invent a steel plow more suitable for the Midwest prairie soil.

How Did John Deere’s Business Grow?

  • His business started with making 10 plows in 1839 and 40 in 1840. By 1846, he was producing about 1,000 plows a year. After moving to Moline, Illinois, for better transportation and resources, his annual plow production reached 10,000 units by 1857.

Did John Deere Have Any Children?

  • Yes, John Deere fathered nine children.

What Roles Did John Deere Take Up in His Community?

  • He was active in his community, serving as the mayor of Moline, Illinois, and as a trustee of the First Congregational Church. He also served as president of the National Bank of Moline.

When Did John Deere Die?

  • John Deere passed away on May 17, 1886, in Moline, Illinois, at age 82.

What Happened to Deere & Company After His Death?

  • After his death, the company continued to grow and expand, producing plows and other farm machinery. It became an international agricultural equipment manufacturer.

These questions cover the key aspects of John Deere’s life, his invention, business growth, family life, and contributions to his community, offering a glimpse into the life of the man who revolutionized agriculture.

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Featured Video


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