Elijah McCoy
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Elijah J. McCoy (1843 - 1929)

Elijah J. McCoy
Born in Colchester, Ontario, Canadamap
Husband of — married 7 Feb 1868 (to 1872) in Washtenaw, Michigan, United Statesmap
Husband of — married 25 Dec 1872 in Ypsilanti, Washtenaw, Michigan, United Statesmap
Died in Nankin, Wayne, Michigan, United Statesmap
Profile last modified | Created 27 Apr 2009
This page has been accessed 7,191 times.
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Notables Project
Elijah McCoy is Notable.

Elijah McCoy was born on March 27, 1843 in Canada. His parents were George McCoy and Mildred Gains. [1] [2]

In 1851, Elijah was living with his parents in Colchester, Essex County, Canada West (Ontario). [3]

He married Ann Elizabeth Stewart on February 07, 1868, and by 1870, they had one child. [4] [5] Four years later, he married Mary E. Delany on 25 Dec 1872, in Ypsilanti, Washtenaw County, Michigan. [6]

In 1872, Elijah applied for and received his first patent. [7]

Elijah and Kitty (his daughter) were living in Ionia, Ionia County, Michigan, in 1880, [8] most likely a site of Elijah's inventions-in-use. [9]

On 2 Nov 1895, Elijah was in a newspaper article, in The Afro-American, which reported that he lived in Detroit (Wayne County, Michigan). [10]

Elijah and Mary are found on the census for 1900, in Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan. [11] By 1910, Elijah reported he was married twice, once for 3 years and the next for the past 7 years. [12] His last census was 1920. [13]

He died on October 10, 1929 in Nankin, Wayne County, Michigan, with his usual residence in Detroit (also in Wayne County). He is remembered in the Detroit Memorial Park East, Warren, Macomb County, Michigan, USA. [1] [14] [15]


  1. Kittie McCoy [8]


"McCoy, Elijah J."
"(born: 1843 - died: 1929)"
"Though it has been written otherwise, Elijah McCoy was not from Kentucky. He was born in Ontario, Canada. McCoy was the son of Mildred and George McCoy, escaped slaves from Louisville, KY. Elijah was a mechanical engineer known as the "Father of Lubrication." In 1872 he first patented an invention for self-oiling machines; automatic lubrication became known as "the real McCoy." He also invented an ironing table and lawn sprinkler. For more see World of Invention. History's most significant inventions and the people behind them, 2nd ed." [16] [17]

Narrative Summary

Elijah McCoy was from Canada. His parents were former slaves in the South (USA).

Elijah was known for his development of 57 patents, including a cup that fed lubricating oil to machine bearings through a small bore tube. It was known as an ‘automatic oil cup’ and would become standard equipment on all trains.

While working as a locomotive fireman and oiler for the Michigan Central Railroad he saw a need. A fireman on a train was responsible for fueling the steam engine and the oiler lubricated the engine's moving parts as well as the train's axles and bearings. Because of his training, Elijah was able to identify and solve the problems of engine lubrication and overheating. He developed a lubricator for steam engines that did not require the train to stop. His lubricator used steam pressure to pump oil wherever it was needed. Elijah’s first patent was official on July 12, 1872 with additional improvements coming over the years.

Years later Elijah opened his own company named, Elijah McCoy Manufacturing Company in Detroit, Michigan in 1920. They manufactured and sold his advanced graphite lubricators for air brakes. [5] [18] [19] [20]

Two pictures of Elijah [21]

Research Notes

-- Not on father's 1870 census, find and add [22]
-- US Patent Search: US Patent and Trademark Office, Opening the Detroit Location: Remarks using Elijah McCoy as an example, naming the site: The Elijah J. McCoy Satellite Office.


  1. 1.0 1.1 * 1843 birth, parents, * 1929 death: Elijah McCoy death certificate, #282 2335, 10 Oct 1929 Wayne County, Michigan; normal residence 606 Hendrik, Detroit, Michigan; place of burial Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan; born 27 Mar 1843; Engineer and Inventor; parents: George born Kentucky and Mildred Gains (or Garns) born Kentucky; Widowed; informant: staff member of Eloise Infirmary unreadable. Michigan History Center, on-line records Michiganology.org.
  2. * 1843 birth: He may have been born in Colchester, Ontario, Canada.
  3. * 1851 census: "Canada Census, 1851," FamilySearch, Elijah Mccoy, age 8, Colchester, Essex County, Canada West (Ontario), Canada; citing p. 9, line 40; Library and Archives Canada film number C_11720, Public Archives, Ontario. Year: 1851; Census Place: Colchester, Essex County, Canada West (Ontario)
    Also: * 1851 census: Census Place: Colchester, Essex County, Canada West (Ontario); Schedule: A; Roll: C_11720; Page: 9; Line: 40, Ancestry.
    George McCoy 33/m, U States, W Methodist
    Emillia McCoy 34/f, farmer, U States,
    Aford McCoy 12/m, Upper Canada, Colchester
    Eloner McCoy 10/f, Upper Canada, Colchester
    Elijah McCoy 8/m, Upper Canada, Colchester
    Milton McCoy 5/f, Upper Canada, Colchester
    Peockay McCoy 3/f, Upper Canada, Colchester
  4. * 1870 census: "United States Census, 1870", FamilySearch, Rettie L McCoy in entry for Elijah McCoy, 1870, Ypsilanti, ward 5, Washtenaw County, Michigan, United States, indexed 19 March 2020.
    Elijah McCoy Male 26 Canada
    Anna McCoy Female 21 Canada
    Rettie L McCoy Female 1 Michigan
  5. 5.0 5.1 Editors, Biography, "Elijah McCoy, (1844–1929)." A&E Television Networks, The Biography.com website, 2014, update 2020. Note: Second source of inaccurate birth date apparently from Find A Grave. Correction requested.
  6. * 1872 marriage: "Michigan Marriages, 1868-1925," FamilySearch, Elijah Mccoy and Mary E. Delany, 25 Dec 1872; citing Marriage, Ypsilanti, Washtenaw, Michigan, , Citing Secretary of State, Department of Vital Records, Lansing; FHL microfilm 4207572.
    Also: Michigan, Marriage Records, 1867-1952, Ancestry.
    Name: Elijah Mc Coy
    Gender: Male
    Race: White see note below
    Age: 28
    Birth Year: abt 1845
    Birth Place: Canada West
    Occupation: Engineer
    Marriage Date: 25 Dec 1872
    Marriage Place: Ypsilanti, Washtenaw, Michigan, USA
    Residence Place: Ypsilanti
    Spouse: Mary E Delany age 26 b. Indiana
  7. "The not-so-real McCoy." Archive.org, on-line, linked from Wikipedia.
  8. 8.0 8.1 * 1880 census: "United States Census, 1880," FamilySearch, Kitty L Mccoy in household of Elijah Mccoy, Ionia, Ionia, Michigan, United States; citing enumeration district ED 95, sheet 131D, NARA microfilm publication T9 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.), FHL microfilm 1,254,583, accessed 14 August 2017.
    Also: Ionia, Ionia, Michigan; Roll: 583; Page: 131D; Enumeration District: 095 Ancestry.
    Elijah Mccoy head, 36/m, md, engineer, Can/KY/KY
    Kitty L. Mccoy dau, 11/f, school, MI/Can/MI
    Ella Gardner (roomer, dress maker) Female 22 Michigan/NY,NY
  9. * michiganrailroads.com, "Ionia was a crossing of two railroads, the Pere Marquette line... and the Grand Trunk Western..... The Pere Marquette line through town was originally their main route from Detroit northwest....."
  10. * 1895 newspaper: U.S., "African American Newspapers, 1829-1947," Elijah McCoy, Ancestry.
    Name: Elijah McCoy
    Residence: Detroit
    Event Type: Other
    Publication Title: The Afro-American
    Publication Date: 2 Nov 1895
    Publication Location: Baltimore
    Column Number: 1
    Note: at the bottom of column 1, paragraph w/ the big ink splot.
  11. * 1900 census: "United States Census, 1900," FamilySearch, Mary E Mc Coy in household of Elijah Mc Coy, Detroit city Ward 6, Wayne, Michigan, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 67, sheet 8B, family 156, NARA microfilm publication T623 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1972.); FHL microfilm 1,240,749.
    Also: Page: 8; Enumeration District: 0067 Ancestry.
    Elijah Mc Coy head, 56/m, Mar 1844, md 28yrs, Can/KY/KY, im1863na, engineer
    Mary E Mc Coy wife, 54/f, Jan 1846, md 28yrs, 1birth/0living, IN/WV/WV
    Andrew O Young nephew, 19/m, May 1881, MO/IN/MO, student
  12. * 1910 census: "United States Census, 1910," FamilySearch, Elijah Mccoy, Detroit Ward 17, Wayne, Michigan, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) ED 262, sheet 8B, family 170, NARA microfilm publication T624 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1982), roll 680; FHL microfilm 1,374,693.
    Also: Roll: T624_680; Page: 8B; Enumeration District: 0262; FHL microfilm: 1374693 Ancestry.
    Elijah Mccoy head, 65/m, md2, md 37yrs, Can/KY/KY, im1858na engineer, inventor
  13. * 1920 census; Detroit Ward 3, Wayne, Michigan; Roll: T625_804; Page: 13A; Enumeration District: 100, Ancestry.
    Elizah Mccay head, 75/m, Can/KY/KY, manufacturer, lubricator
    Mary E Mccay wife, 73/f, IN/VA/VA
    living next to Clifford Gaines family
  14. * 1929 death: * "Michigan Death Certificates, 1921-1952," FamilySearch, Elijah Mccoy, 10 Oct 1929; citing Nankin, Wayne, Michigan, United States, Division for Vital Records and Health Statistics, Lansing; FHL microfilm 1,973,146
    Also: Michigan, Death Records, 1867-1950 Ancestry.
    Name: Elijah McCoy
    Gender: Male
    Race: Black
    Marital Status: Widowed
    Death Age: 86
    Birth Date: 27 Mar 1843
    Birth Place: Canada
    Occupation: Engineer
    Death Date: 10 Oct 1929
    Death Place: Nankin, Wayne, Michigan, USA
    File Number: 002335
    Father: George McCoy b. KY
    Mother: Mildred Ganis b. KY (looks like Gains)
    NOTE: inventor is crossed out and engineer written in.
  15. * 2002 findagrave: Elijah McCoy (2 May 1844–10 Oct 1929), Find A Grave: Memorial #6807620, citing Detroit Memorial Park East, Warren, Macomb County, Michigan, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave. Note: Source of inaccurate birth date, correction requested.
  16. “McCoy, Elijah J.", Notable Kentucky African Americans Database; citing NKAA Source: McGrath, Kimberley A. and Bridget Travers. World of invention: history's most significant inventions and the people behind them. n.d., accessed August 18, 2020.
  17. "McCoy, George and Mildred", Notable Kentucky African Americans Database; citing Detroit Free Press (newspaper), from "Subscription Database - Access World News (1982-present), n.d., accessed August 18, 2020."
  18. Memorial Plaque; photograph posted to findagrave, n.d.
  19. Wikipedia link to Elijah McCoy.
  20. "The Real McCoy,"
    Reference (4), Wikipedia contributors: "The not-so-real McCoy". Brinkster. Archived from the original on May 17, 2011. Retrieved February 3, 2011. disputes "Real McCoy" story.
    "Elijah McCoy, Inventor of the Week". Lemelson-MIT Program. May 1996. Archived from the original on 2003-08-23. Retrieved August 18, 2011.
    Reference (8), Wikipedia contributors: "Elijah McCoy, inventor profile". National Inventors Hall of Fame. Archived from the original on 2008-12-28.
  21. Elijah McCoy
    (1) "Elijah McCoy Picture". Argot Language Center. Archived from the original on 2013-05-19. (WikiTree contributors).
  22. 1870 US Census Instructions.

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Comments: 1

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This ancestor is on the Unconnected Notables page (https://www.wikitree.com/index.php?title=Space:Unconnected_Notables&public=1#). In the table, click on the symbol after "Last name at birth."

I will be applying <ref> footnotes </ref> as in "A footnote needs to start with <ref> and end with </ref>," from this page (https://www.wikitree.com/g2g/1086929/challenge-of-the-week-correct-simple-errors-reference-tags).

To the PM: Just to let you know there is nothing personal about this edit. Thank you for your meticulous work. When the profile is ready for review by the Profile Improvement Project, I will add my category to above the Biography.

Thank you, again.

Sincerely, B.

posted by B. Britain