Elijah McCoy: Bio, Inventor, Engineer, Firefighter & Net Worth

Elijah McCoy, a nineteenth-century African American innovator most popular for concocting grease gadgets used to make train travel more effective.

Who Was Elijah McCoy?

Elijah McCoy was born in Canada, to guardians who had escaped subjugation. McCoy prepared as a specialist in Scotland as a teen.

He was unable to discover a designing situation in the United States so he accepted a position working for a railroad and developed a more productive way as a grease gadget to make railroad activities.

Quick Facts of Elijah McCoy

Full Name

Elijah McCoy

Nick Name

The Real McCoy

Birth Date

May 2, 1844

Age of Death

85 years old



Birth Place

Colchester, Ontario, Canada

Father’s Name

George McCoy

Mother’s Name

Mildred McCoy




An automatic lubricator










Freedom Award, National Inventors Hall of Fame


The Real McCoy


The University of Edinburgh


Inventor, Engineer and Firefighter

Marital Status



Mary Eleanor Delaney (m. 1873–1922), Ann Elizabeth Stewart (m. 1868–1872)

Net Worth

$10 Million

Social Media


Early Life of Elijah McCoy

McCoy born on May 2, 1844, in Colchester, Ontario, Canada, to George and Mildred Goins McCoy had been oppressed from birth and became opportunity searchers leaving Kentucky for Canada on the Underground Railroad.

George McCoy enrolled in the British powers, and consequently, he was granted 160 sections of land for his administration. At the point when Elijah was 3, his family moved back to the U.S. what’s more, get comfortable in Detroit, Michigan.

Elijah McCoy
Elijah McCoy

They later moved to Ypsilanti, Michigan, where George opened a tobacco business. Elijah had 11 siblings and sisters. Indeed, even as a little youngster, he delighted in playing with apparatuses and machines and exploring different avenues regarding various approaches to fix and improve them.

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Specialist and Inventor

Starting at a youthful age, McCoy showed a solid interest in mechanics. His folks orchestrated him to venture out to Scotland at 15 years old for an apprenticeship in mechanical designing.

He got back to Michigan working as a mechanical designer.

Notwithstanding his capabilities, McCoy couldn’t look for some kind of employment as an architect in the United States because of racial boundaries; talented expert positions were not accessible for African Americans at that point, paying little heed to their preparation or foundation.

A fire fighter and Oiler

McCoy acknowledged a situation as a firefighter and oiler for the Michigan Central Railroad. It was in this profession that he built up his first significant developments.

In the wake of contemplating the failures characteristic in the current arrangement of oiling axles, McCoy concocted a greasing up cup that dispersed oil uniformly over the motor’s moving parts.

Grass Sprinkler

McCoy kept on refining his gadgets, accepting almost 60 licenses throughout the span of his life. While most of his creations identified with oil frameworks, he additionally created plans for a pressing board, a grass sprinkler, and different machines.

McCoy kept on enhancing his programmed lubricator plan and make plans for new gadgets. Railroad and transportation lines started utilizing McCoy’s new lubricators and the Michigan Central Railroad elevated him to a teacher in the utilization of his new developments.

Invention of Elijah McCoy
Invention of Elijah McCoy

Afterward, McCoy turned into a specialist in the railroad business on patent issues. McCoy additionally acquired licenses for a portion of his different innovations, including a pressing board and a yard sprinkler, which he had intended to lessen the work engaged with his family unit assignments.

Coming up short on the capital with which to make his lubricators in huge numbers, he commonly allotted his patent rights to his managers or offered them to financial backers.

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In 1920, around the finish of his life, McCoy shaped the Elijah McCoy Manufacturing Company to create lubricators bearing his name.

“The Real McCoy”

The articulation “the genuine article”— signifying “the genuine article” (not a phony or mediocre duplicate)— is a famous maxim among English-speakers. Its definite derivation is obscure.

A few researchers trust it comes from the Scottish “the genuine McKay,” which initially showed up in a sonnet in 1856. Others accept the articulation was first utilized by railroad engineers searching for “the genuine article framework,” the lubricator furnished with McCoy’s programmed dribble cup instead of a helpless knockoff.

Whatever the historical underpinnings, the articulation has been related to McCoy for quite a while. In 2006, Andrew Moodie built up a play dependent on the designer’s life called “The Real McCoy.”

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In looking into the existence of this innovator, scholars and writers frequently note that railroad buying specialists generally demanded purchasing “the genuine article.” Other designers were offering lubricators that rivaled those of McCoy, yet these specialists would acknowledge no substitutes.

The life of The Real McCoy

A large number of these writers declare that the expression “genuine article” dropped off the specific universe of railroad designing and entered general use, where it came to signify “the real deal.”

While McCoy’s innovations made a great many dollars, little of this cash arrived at his pockets. Coming up short on the capital with which to construct his lubricators in huge numbers, he offered a considerable lot of his patent rights to all around obeyed financial backers.

The Real McCoy
The Real McCoy

Consequently, he was given just the unobtrusive aggregates that permitted him to proceed with his work. McCoy got in any event 72 licenses during his lifetime, the majority of which managed to grease up gadgets, yet held responsible for a couple of them.

Marriage of Elijah McCoy

McCoy wedded Ann Elizabeth Stewart in 1868. She kicked the bucket four years after their marriage. In 1873, McCoy wedded Mary Eleanor Delaney. This marriage endured 50 years, however didn’t create kids.

The McCoys had a car crash in 1922. Mary passed on, while Elijah supported basic wounds from which he never completely recuperated.

In 1920, at 77 years old, McCoy got together with financial backers and established the Elijah McCoy Manufacturing Company in Detroit, filling in as VP. The firm produced and sold his graphite lubricators, including a high-level form that additionally greased up a train’s compressed air brakes.

Accident costing Life

Before long subsequently, he and his better half, Mary, were associated with a car crash. Mary got wounds from which she never completely recuperated, and which rushed her passing. She passed on in 1923.

For McCoy, the end presently drew nearer too. His wellbeing crumbled and, in 1928, he entered a hospital. Experiencing hypertension and decrepit dementia, McCoy passed on October 10, 1929, in Eloise, Michigan.

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McCoy was recollected in Detroit long after his passing. In 1975, the city observed Elijah McCoy Day, as authorities put a notable marker at the site of his home. The city additionally named a road for him

These post mortem praises were unassuming, yet they came a century after his creation of the greasing up cup and exhibited his suffering heritage.

Death of Elijah McCoy

McCoy died in the Eloise Infirmary in Detroit, Michigan, on October 10, 1929. He was 85 years old and buried at Detroit Memorial Park East in Warren, Michigan.


He was broadly respected for his creativity and achievements, particularly in the Black people group. Booker T. Washington referred to McCoy for his Story of the Negro as the Black innovator with the best number of U.S. licenses.

McCoy was accepted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2001. An authentic marker remains outside his old workshop in Ypsilanti, Michigan and his spouse the Elijah J. McCoy Midwest Regional U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in Detroit is named in his honor.


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