Andrew Beard

Andrew Beard (1849-1921)

Andrew Beard was born a slave on a plantation in Woodland, Alabama shortly before slavery ended. Beard was a farmer, carpenter, blacksmith, a railroad worker, a businessman and finally an inventor

In 1881, he patented his first invention, a plow, and sold the patent rights in 1884 for $4,000. In 1887, Andrew Beard patented a second plow and sold it for $5,200. Beard invested the money he made from his plow inventions into a profitable real-estate business

In 1892, he patented a rotary engine. In 1897, Andrew Beard patented an improvement to railroad car couplers commonly called the Jenny Coupler (not to be mistaken for the Janney coupler). It did the dangerous job of hooking railroad cars together; Beard himself had lost a leg in a car coupling accident. As an ex-railroad worker, he had the bright idea that probably saved countless lives and limbs. Andrew Beard received $50,000 for the patent rights to his Jenny coupler.

Andrew Beard’s Jenny Coupler Design.