On this day in 1897, Andrew J. Beard, and African American inventor was awarded Patent # 594,059. Despite having no formal education in engineering or metalwork, Beard had invented an automtic railroad car coupling device called the Jenny Coupler. Prior to the Jenny Coupler train cars were joined together manually, causing thousands of railroad workers to lose their hands,arms, and even their lives. Born in Eastlake, Alabama, in 1850, Beard labored for years in railroad yards where he personally witnessed horrific accidents when workers tried to execute the rapid procedure of manually coupling train cars with a pin. Beard sold his lifesaving invention to a New York company for $50,000. It’s still being used today.