Elijah McCoy

Elijah J. McCoy (1844 - 1929)

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Elijah J. McCoy
Born in Colchester, Ontario, Canadamap
[sibling(s) unknown]
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 Detroit, Wayne, Michigan, United Statesmap
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Profile last modified 10 Jan 2019 | Created 27 Apr 2009
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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.

Year: 1851; Census Place: Colchester, Essex County, Canada West (Ontario)[1]

  • 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, Colcheste
  • Elijah McCoy 8/m, Upper Canada, Colcheste
  • Milton McCoy 5/f, Upper Canada, Colcheste
  • Peockay McCoy 3/f, Upper Canada, Colcheste

Michigan, Marriage Records, 1867-1952[2]

  • 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

Year: 1880; Census Place: Ionia, Ionia, Michigan;[3]

  • Elijah Mccoy head, 36/m, md, engineer, Can/KY/KY
  • Kitty L. Mccoy dau, 11/f, school, MI/Can/MI

1895 U.S., African American Newspapers, 1829-1947[4]

  • 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.

Year: 1900; Census Place: Detroit Ward 6, Wayne, Michigan[5]

  • 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

Year: 1910; Census Place: Detroit Ward 17, Wayne, Michigan[6]

  • Elijah Mccoy head, 65/m, md2, md 37yrs, Can/KY/KY, im1858na engineer, inventor

Year: 1920; Census Place: Detroit Ward 3, Wayne, Michigan[7]

  • 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

Michigan, Death Records, 1867-1950[8]

  • 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 to me)
  • NOTE: inventor is crossed out and engineer written in

U.S., Find A Grave Index, 1600s-Current [9]


  1. Year: 1851; Census Place: Colchester, Essex County, Canada West (Ontario); Schedule: A; Roll: C_11720; Page: 9; Line: 40[1]
  2. Michigan, Marriage Records, 1867-1952[2]
  3. Year: 1880; Census Place: Ionia, Ionia, Michigan; Roll: 583; Page: 131D; Enumeration District: 095[3]
  4. U.S., African American Newspapers, 1829-1947[4]
  5. Year: 1900; Census Place: Detroit Ward 6, Wayne, Michigan; Page: 8; Enumeration District: 0067 [5]
  6. Year: 1910; Census Place: Detroit Ward 17, Wayne, Michigan; Roll: T624_680; Page: 8B; Enumeration District: 0262; FHL microfilm: 1374693[6]
  7. Year: 1920; Census Place: Detroit Ward 3, Wayne, Michigan; Roll: T625_804; Page: 13A; Enumeration District: 100[7]
  8. Michigan, Death Records, 1867-1950[8]
  • "Michigan Death Certificates, 1921-1952," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:KF7Y-YR8 : 12 December 2014), Elijah Mccoy, 10 Oct 1929; citing Nankin, Wayne, Michigan, United States, Division for Vital Records and Health Statistics, Lansing; FHL microfilm 1,973,146

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Images: 2
McCoy Oil - Invention
McCoy Oil - Invention

Elijah J McCoy
Elijah J McCoy


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