Henry Ford Early History

Henry Ford became something of an archetypical American folk hero during his lifetime. One of eight children of William and Mary Ford, he was born on the family farm near Dearborn, Michigan on July 30, 1863, With only eight years of schooling, he went to Detroit at the age of 16 to work in the machine shops there. Three years later he returned to Dearborn, working part-time for Westinghouse Engine Company and spending the rest of his time in his own machine shop. After marrying Clara Bryant, in 1888, the couple moved back to Detroit. On November 6, 1893 their only child Edsel Bryant was born.

A month later Ford was made chief engineer at the main Detroit Edison Company plant. With no regular schedule as he was on call, he spent much of his time experimenting with gasoline-powered vehicles. His first vehicle was completed in 1896, and in a move that was to set him apart from other automotive inventors, he sold the "Quadricycle" to finance work on his second vehicle.

Over the next seven years Ford continued his experiments, selling the results, until some of his backers formed the Detroit Automobile Company in 1899, which was subsequently renamed the Henry Ford Company in 1901. However, all his backers eventually deserted him because they wanted to put a car on the market while Ford wanted to perfect a vehicle before marketing it. In 1902 Ford left the company, which subsequently became the Cadillac Motor Car Company.