Grand Detour, Illinois — John Deere demonstrated a wood-frame plow that he equipped with a steel plow share fashioned from a discarded saw blade.

By spring in 1839, John Deere had built six such plows. By the end of that year, the count was up to ten. In 1840, Deere produced 40 plows; in 1841, 75 plows. In 1842, production rose to 100 plows, and it swelled to 400 in 1843.

According to Hiram M. Drache, Historical Research and Narrative with IPO (Illinois Periodicals Online Project), “Deere had to establish a reputation as a manufacturer of superior plows,” because of the general shortage of farmer’s funds, and initial skepticism about the durability and useability of the plow. Historian Wayne G. Broehl Jr., author of John Deere’s Company, noted that, “It was largely his [Deere’s] ability to dramatize these products and get them into the hands of his customer that made him a success.”

There are a lot of things we don’t know about John Deere and those early years in Grand Detour. For example, do we even know if John Deere had a middle name? And there as been speculation from time to time that somebody else had the steel plow idea first. If so, it apparently didn’t work out well for them. The “somebody else” clearly didn’t give to the World the Steel Plow. Anyway, that was 175 years ago. Look at the company now!



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