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One of the rarest artifacts in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, the Elder Wand was sought after for centuries by those who craved power. It's one of three magical objects that make up the Deathly Hallows, alongside the Resurrection Stone and the Cloak of Invisibility. Because of the power it holds, more people have owned the Elder Wand than the other Deathly Hallows items.
As the legend goes -- according to The Tale of the Three Brothers -- Death created the Elder Wand, and it was meant to even outsmart Death himself. It was made up of elder wood, was 15 inches and had a Thestral tail hair core that only people who accepted Death could master. Due to its powerful nature, it was extremely difficult to master but those who did were able to perform magic beyond that of a normal wizard or witch. The only way people could become an owner of the Elder Wand is if a wizard or witch disarmed the previous master, whether by killing them, simply grabbing it from their hand or using a spell to retrieve it. Throughout centuries, many people successfully gained the Elder Wand's loyalty.
Antioch Peverell and Other Owners in Ancient History
Although legend says that Death created the Elder Wand for Antioch Peverell, Albus Dumbledore believed that Antioch made it himself. No matter the case, Antioch lost the wand after he was murdered in his sleep by an unnamed killer who was jealous of the wand's power. It's unclear what happened to Antioch's killer, but Emeric the Evil was next in line to own the wand. He used the wand to terrorize the south of England in the Middle Ages but lost it in a duel against Egbert the Egregious.
A century later, a wizard named Godelot came into possession of the Elder Wand, who used it to gain knowledge rather than kill people like some of its previous owners. However, it still wasn't used entirely for good. Using the wand's powers, he wrote a Dark magic book titled Magick Moste Evile. His son, Hereward, inherited the wand after locking his father in his cellar to die.
The next known owner of the Elder Wand was Barnabas Deverill in the early 18th century. Barnabas had a reputation of being a fearsome warlock thanks to the wand, but lost it to Loxias when he was murdered. Loxias used the Elder Wand as a form of revenge against people he disliked until he was dispossessed of it. History is unclear about who defeated/killed him, but it was likely either Arcus or Livius.
Mykew Gregorovitch and Gellert Grindelwald
It's at this point in history that the names of Elder Wand owners become familiar. In the late 19th or 20th century, wand maker Mykew Gregorovitch obtained it. Fascinated by its power, Gregorovitch tried to duplicate the wand to try to improve his business. However, the rumor of his possession of the Elder Wand invited a notoriously unwanted thief: Gellert Grindelwald.
Grindelwald stole the Elder wand using a Stunning Spell against Gregorovitch between 1899 and 1926. Grindelwald became obsessed with the Deathly Hallows thanks to his and Albus Dumbledore's plan to use the fabled objects against Muggles for their own "greater good." But Grindelwald and Dumbledore had a falling out, leading Grindelwald to go about the journey alone.
Grindelwald used the wand to reign terror on the Wizarding and Muggle worlds. Because of the army he built and the Dark power he possessed, it took years for someone to attempt to disarm him. On November 2, 1945, in what was considered to be one of the most legendary duels of all time, Dumbledore defeated Grindelwald and obtained the wand for himself.
Albus Dumbledore and Draco Malfoy
Dumbledore was likely the longest-lasting owner of the Elder Wand and mainly used it for good. No one attempted to disarm it from him -- not because they feared him, but because they knew it was nearly impossible. Dumbledore was considered one of the greatest and most intelligent wizards of all time, and he gained much respect from the Wizarding community.
After Lord Voldemort was resurrected, Dumbledore and Severus Snape concocted a plan to end the Elder Wand's power. Dumbledore asked Snape to kill him, so he technically wasn't "defeated," but there was a flaw in his plan. He didn't expect for Draco Malfoy to disarm him soon before his death, unintentionally making Draco the next owner. However, Draco was unaware of his status as the master of the Elder Wand, so the wand was buried with Dumbledore.
Lord Voldemort and Harry Potter
Voldemort stole the Elder Wand from Dumbledore's grave in the hopes that he would be the next owner. While Harry Potter, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger were taken captive at Malfoy Manor, Harry disarmed Draco of his personal wand. Although it wasn't the Elder Wand, Harry still overpowered Draco. Harry was the true master of the Elder Wand at this point.
Voldemort began to realize that the Elder Wand wasn't obeying him as it should. He believed that Snape was the true owner since he killed Dumbledore and had Nagini kill him. Because Harry had come to accept death, Voldemort's Killing Curse during the Battle of Hogwarts worked -- but instead, it destroyed the Horcrux inside Harry. The boy was still alive and well, and finally realized that he was the master of the Elder Wand.
Since Voldemort failed to disarm, kill or defeat Harry, the Elder Wand disobeyed Voldemort. The Dark Lord's final Killing Curse against Harry backfired, killing Voldermort instead. The books and the films portray a different ending for the Elder Wand: In the books, Harry placed the Elder Wand back in Dumbledore's tomb, so when he dies a natural death, the wand's power will disappear. In The Deathly Hallows Part 2, Harry broke the wand in half and threw away the pieces. No matter the ending, Harry was the final master of the Elder Wand and of Death itself.