Andrew Beard (1849-1921)
Andrew Beard was born a slave on a plantation in Woodland, Alabama, shortly before slavery ended. Andrew 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 for $4,000 in 1884. In 1887, Andrew Beard patented a second plaw 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 . 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, Andrew Beard had the right idea that probably saved countless lives and limbs. Andrew Beard received $50,000 for the patent rights to his Jenny coupler.