John Deere was born on February 7, 1804, in Rutland Vermont, to William Rinold Deere and Sarah Yates Deere, he an emigrant merchant tailor from England, she the daughter of a British soldier who had stayed after fighting the Yankees in the Revolutionary War.
John was eight when he lost his father. He grew up in Middlebury, near Rutland, where his mother carried on her husband's tailoring business. Starting work with a local tanner, John attended Middlebury College briefly, but was always a practical rather than a theoretical man. He soon decided to apprentice himself to Captain Benjamin Lawrence to learn the blacksmith trade.
In the early half of the nineteenth century the blacksmith was manufacturer as well as mechanic, creating many of life's necessities. Everything made of iron was within his scope, and young Deere was fortunate to have in Capt. Lawrence a strict master, but the kind for a boy to have. Skilled workmanship was his master's creed, and soon it became his own delight.
Completing his apprenticeship in 1825, he hired himself out as a journeyman to two blacksmiths in Middlebury, and in 1827 married Demarius lamb. His mother had died the previous year.
He earned quite a reputation for himself making hayforks, polishing the tines "until they slipped in and out of the hay like needles." and his shovels and hoes were "like no others that could be bought... scoured themselves of soil by reason of their smooth, satiny surface"... an augury for the future indeed.
"John Deere Tractors and Equipment, Vol. One",
Don MacMillan and Russell Jones
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