Today, August 15, 1899: Henry Ford Leaves Edison to Start Car Company

On July 30, 1863, William and Mary Ford welcomed their son, Henry into the world. William worked a family farm, located near Dearborn, Michigan.

In December 1879, Ford left the family farm and became an apprentice at Flowers Brothers Machine Shop in Detroit. For a salary of $2.50 a week, Ford learned to shape brass valves on a milling machine.

On April 11, 1888, Henry Ford married Clara Bryant, who grew up on a farm a few miles northeast of the Ford farm.

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In 1893, Ford became the chief engineer for the Edison Illuminating Company in Detroit. He is on call 24 hours, 7 days a week with lots of time in between to allow him to pursue his desire to build a motorized vehicle.

On November 6, 1893, Henry and Clara welcome their son, Edsel Bryant Ford.

On June 4, 1896, Ford completes his first motorized vehicle, the Quadricycle, and drives it through the streets of Detroit.

On August 5, 1899, Ford launches the Detroit Automobile Company after securing $150,000 from various investors.

On this day, August 15, 1899, Ford resigns from the Edison Illuminating Company to devote his attention full time to his new auto company. The Edison Illuminating Company offered Ford $1900 a year (about $54,280 in 2015) to stay, but he turned it down and accepted a salary of $150 a month (about $4,280 in 2015) or $1,800 a year (about $51,400 in 2015) to serve as the mechanical superintendent of the Detroit Automobile Company.

In November 1900, Ford’s Detroit Automobile Company closed its doors as they were not able to compete with the many other new automobile companies including Packard of Ohio and Olds Motor Works of Lansing.

In 1901, Several of Ford’s financial backers supported him one more time as long as he was the chief engineer of the Detroit Automobile Company and once again Ford’s auto company failed.

On October 10, 1901, he enters a car in a 10-mile car race and wins. He built a second newer race car that set a new American speed record of 5 minutes 28 seconds over a 5 mile course.

In June 1903, Ford launched the Ford Motor Company.

In July 1903, the first Ford Model A rolled out of the plant and became an instant hit.

In October 1908, the Ford Model T, known as the ‘Tin Lizzie’ was rolled off the assembly line and soon helped the Ford Motor Company become number 1 in the US.

In 1913, Ford Motor Company unveils the first moving assembly line and by the end of the year employs 13,000.

On January 5, 1914, Ford rocks the automotive industry by announcing a pay increase for his automotive factory workers. They had been working 9 hour days for $2.24 a day (about $70 in 2015). Ford’s new pay scale was $5 per day (about $119 in 2015) for an 8 hour day. The following day, his factory was flooded with thousands of men wanting jobs.

After several beginning failures, Henry Ford developed the right car for the time and ended up becoming one of the wealthiest men in the world at his time.

On April 7, 1947, Henry Ford died at his home at the age of 83.


Sources for the above includes: Henry Ford Leaves Edison to Start Automobile Company; Timeline: The Life of Henry Ford; Henry Ford Leaves Edison to Start Automobile Company; The Life of Henry Ford; Henry Ford

Dave Jolly

R.L. David Jolly holds a B.S. in Wildlife Biology and an M.S. in Biology – Population Genetics. He has worked in a number of fields, giving him a broad perspective on life, business, economics and politics. He is a very conservative Christian, husband, father and grandfather who cares deeply for his Savior, family and the future of our troubled nation.

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