Young Henry Ford
A Picture History of the First Forty Years
Publication Year: 1963
Published by: Wayne State University Press
Series: Great Lakes Books Series
Title Page, Copyright
Sidney Olson's Young Henry Ford: A Picture History of the First Forty Years was a labor of love, which helps explain why it was so meticulously researched and beautifully written. Before becoming a student of Ford's early life, Olson was a Washington Post and Time-Life Fortune editor. In 1950 he joined Ford's institutional advertising agency, Kenyon & Eckhardt. Three years later...
This is the story in pictures of the first forty years of an American farm boy who became one of the greatest manufacturers of modern times, and who was, also, a profound radical all his life. He was a great man, and Americans know most of their great men rather well. He made mistakes, sensational, international, even classic mistakes, and perhaps...
For about a dozen years the Ford Archives at Dearborn has been carefully documenting the things that Henry Ford did. The list is still incomplete. Each one of the hundreds of items might represent a lifetime achievement for an ordinary man; for example, "Bought a railroad." The range of Henry Ford...
1. The Land Without Stones
The Irish were always leaving Ireland. In the nineteenth century whole generatIOns of them streamed out of the tired green island, moved by oppression, hy famine, or by their own light feet. One of them, a good man with tools, was William Ford, born on an estate called "Madame" near Ballinascarthy, in County Cork, on December 10, 1826. At the...
2. The Homestead
Dearbornville had been named for General Henry Dearborn, hero in both the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812 and later Secretary of War; the Arsenal was a main military depot of the government from 1833 until 1878, when it was abandoned because the United States became self-conscious at having a military installation so near its best neighbor. The Arsenal...
3. Mother and McGuffey
Reading the Ford handwriting is tricky enough even when he wrote things out carefully. But hundreds of the entries in his little "jotbooks" were written while he was jogging around the countryside in a Model T, and they simply defy deciphering. The notes consist of cryptic zig-zag reminders, some of them hilarious, sawed-off epigrams...
4. The Engine That Ran on the Road
In any biography there are certain key points of interest. One is always: What made him that way? How did it all start? What was the decisive experience? Men are complex, experiences are lost or buried, biographers grapple with their jigsaw puzzles-but in Henry Ford's case it is quite simple. It is all here in this picture. It did more work than men's...
5. The Apprentice
When Henry left the farm the first time, late in 1879, he no doubt had a sense of high adventure. Actually he was safe as in church. He had a place to live with a favorite aunt, Mrs. Rebecca Ford Flaherty; he had a job that paid well; and behind him, should he become discouraged or hungry, stood the security of the farm, with a loving father ready to set him up on acres of his own. For years there were...
6. Old No. 345
Remember that Michigan was wood country: wood was the available fuel, and coal was a costly import by rail from southern Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Kentucky. And the wonderful ancient forests of Michigan were going down at a great rate. Little portable steam-engines were beginning to go about the country threshing and sawing timber. "The men in charge...
7. Love and Gasoline
As 1883 and '84 went by, Henry was the repairman for Westinghouse road engines; and then on December 1, 1884, he took another step in his own program of education. He entered a business school, Goldsmith's Bryant & Stratton Business University, located in Mechanics Hall (a name, no doubt, of notable attraction for him) at 143-153 Griswold Street...
8. The Believer Takes a Test
In 1886 Henry began to clear the trees off the woodland of the nearby Moir farm. He did not farm a lick. He had no horses, no cows, no chickens, no crops, no farm tools. There is not a grain of evidence that he ever did intend to farm the land. Henry said only: "Cutting the timber gave me a chance to get married." As always, he made a date with another machine. For $250...
9. Gas and Light
If you look at the pictures a little, you will see why it is impossible to make a movie that recaptures another time. No matter how accurate the research, how careful the costumes, how honest the intent, there is something missing, and it is not a matter of clothes or geography. We are different because we do not think the thoughts they did, nor know the things they did, nor move the way they did. So it is...
10. The Backyard at 58 Bagley
Henry came home from the Fair-he must have seen the Ferris wheel there, first of its kind-and bicycled to and fro. And Clara-we know little of Clara in all those months of 1893, nor of that vanished home on Forest Avenue; in all their reminiscing they never talked about that time, perhaps because no one thought to ask. One day in 1892 Dr. David H. O'Donnell, a young doctor fresh...
11. The Break-Through
For Henry Ford, 1895 was an arduous year. By choice, he was on double duty. As chief engineer he had to maintain electric-light service twentyfour hours a day, and plant maintenance in those days was no push-button affair. Metals then were more fragile; little was known of such things as tensile strength, fatigue points, and alloys; no one had yet broken metals down to their molecular...
12. The Man at Manhattan Beach
Dow was a straight-thinking, no-nonsense businessman, full of the general righteousness of electricity. He was a firm friend to Henry, but he took a dim view of any gas-engine experiments that Ford conducted within the Edison plant. "Out," said Dow. The impression we get-and this sounds very much like Henry...
William Ford told a neighbor a year or so earlier: "John and William are all right but Henry worries me. He doesn't seem to settle down and I don't know what's going to become of him." When Dearborn farmers-William's neighbors -went to town they often dropped in to the Edison Main Station to see the worrisome son, where he worked and tinkered. He, like as not, was nowhere to be found in the steam plant but was outside in the street...
14. The Detroit Automobile Company
Notice the newspaper's date: July 29, 1899. Henry's timetable worked like this: On July 24 the Detroit Automobile Company was organized, capitalized at $150,000, with only $15,000 actual cash paid in. On July 29 this news story appeared, rousing interest in Ford's movements-and yet this story is on a car that is at least a year old and in which he had been driving...
15. The Great Race
The century has turned. This is 1900. Ahead of mankind, say the editorials, lie such vistas of peace and progress and prosperity as have never been dreamed. Science, they say, has become the handmaiden of the arts of living. War, at last, will be abolished; although it must be admitted the Chinese are being more than troublesome, the Russians and Japanese are looking hard at each other in Korea, President Roosevelt has...
16. Old 999
After the race, Henry had criticized his own steering, but Alexander Winton criticized Henry's steering gear. Winton wrote him: I will soon send one of our steering posts and attachments, as I think from what I remember of your steering apparatus that there was something wrong with it, and I noticed that you had to wind the wheel around once or twice in making turns...
17. Sunny Jim and the Coal Man
To today's teen-agers, restricted by nervous elders, police, traffic laws, safety regulations and the actual perils of the highway, this is hard to believe. But there was less trick to learning to drive a Model A than there was to learning to ride a bicycle. Henry Ford taught many a child in later years to drive a Model T before they were ten years old...
18. A Doctor Buys a Car
It is late in 1902. In a few months Carrie Nation will take up her little broad-bladed hatchet and begin smiting sin, which to her took the form of plate-glass windows in saloons. The homes of the land are swathed in portieres; parlor furniture has buttoned upholstery, but most people never use their tomb-like parlors. Good weather is spent on the porches...