Elijah McCoy Picture
The picture below shows Elijah McCoy, or the
man behind the expression "the real McCoy." Elijah McCoy was the son of
former slaves, George and Mildred McCoy who fled the States for Canada
on the underground railroad.
|Elijah McCoy was born in 1843, in
Colchester, Ontario, Canada. At 15 Elijah was sent to Scotland
to study engineering. After graduation he moved to Michigan
where his family had settled earlier. Despite his education,
because he was black, the only job he could get in the States
was a fireman. While working as a fireman on the Michigan
Central Railroad, McCoy invented an automatic lubricator for
oiling the steam engines of locomotives, boats, and so on.
|According to some sources, the
saying the real McCoy, meaning the real thing,
derives from Elijah: many of his inventions were the basis of
inferior copies. Railroad engineers would enquire if a
locomotive was fitted with "the real McCoy"; if so they knew it
could be driven with confidence. Others dispute this account of
the origin of the phrase.
Here's another Elijah McCoy picture: