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 (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, 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. View the complete patent drawings for Beard’s inventions.