McCoy, Elijah

McCoy, Elijah

(1843–1929) inventor, manufacturer; born in Canada. His African-American parents had fled from Kentucky to escape slavery. He showed an early talent for mechanical innovations, and in 1870, in Ypsilanti, Mich., he devloped lubricators for steam engines. In 1882 he moved to Detroit where he perfected his lubricating cup, still widely used to provide a steady supply of oil to machinery. He opened the Elijah McCoy Manufacturing Company in 1920 and patented an improved airbrake lubricator, one of the some 50 patents he obtained during his lifetime.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.