From Humble Beginnings
Henry Ford was born on July 30, 1863. He was the first of William and Mary Ford's six children and grew up on a prosperous family farm in what is today Dearborn, Michigan. Henrys childhood was the same as that of most rural nineteenth century children, with the days spent doing farm chores and attending lessons in one-room schoolhouses. At an early age, he showed a consuming interest in mechanical things and a dislike for farm work, although he was always willing to attempt repairs to his father's equipment.
In 1879, sixteen-year-old Henry left home for the nearby city of Detroit to work as an apprentice machinist and remained there for three years. He returned to Dearborn and divided his time between operating or repairing steam engines, finding occasional work in a Detroit factory, and overhauling his father's farm implements, teaching himself the principles of mechanical engineering.
Henry married Clara Bryant in 1888 and supported himself and his wife by running a local sawmill. In 1891, Ford took a job as an engineer with the Edison Illuminating Company in Detroit. He took easily to industrial engineering concepts and was promoted to Chief Engineer in 1893. The additional income allowed him to pursue his fascination with internal combustion engines and he spent most of his free time experimenting.
Within three years Ford managed to complete work on his own self-propelled vehicle; the Quadricycle. The Quadricycle had four wire wheels that were essentially heavy bicycle wheels, was steered with a tiller and had only two forward speeds with no reverse. He wasn't the first to create such a vehicle (Daimler and Benz had already started producing a few of their own design in Germany) but the knowledge he gained paved the way for him to join the ranks of automotive pioneers. He decided to commit himself to the business of building and selling gasoline-powered automobiles. He never realized at the time that history would credit him as the person who most helped this country become a nation of motorists.