Publish date:
Updated on
Year
1920

Dodge co-founder dies

John Dodge, who with his brother Horace co-founded the Dodge Brothers Company, which was once America’s third-largest automaker and later became part of Chrysler, dies at the age of 55.

John Francis Dodge was born on October 25, 1864, while his brother Horace Elgin Dodge arrived four years later, on May 17, 1868. The brothers grew up in Michigan and began their careers as machinists. In 1897, they co-founded a bicycle company; however, by 1900, they had sold the business and opened a machine shop in Detroit to make parts for the fledgling auto industry. In 1901, Ransom Olds hired the Dodges to produce engines for his new curved-dash Oldsmobile vehicles. Next, Henry Ford contracted with the brothers to build engines, transmissions and axles. Ford was unable to pay the Dodges fully in cash, so he gave them stock in his company. (In 1919, the brothers sold their Ford Motor Company stock back to Henry Ford for $25 million.)

After supplying parts to Ford for a decade, the Dodge brothers decided to start their own company. Dodge Brothers Motor Company was founded in 1913 and debuted its first automobile, a four-cylinder touring car, in 1914. The company sold almost 250 of these vehicles during its first year and 45,000 the next year, according to Chrysler.com. Three years later, Dodge added trucks to its repertoire. During World War I, the company supplied vehicles and parts to the U.S. military.

In January 1920, while in New York City to attend an auto expo, the brothers both became sick with the flu and pneumonia. John Dodge died that month, while Horace passed away later that same year, on December 10. In 1925, the brothers’ widows sold the Dodge Brothers Company to an investment bank for $146 million. In 1928, Walter Chrysler, founder of the Chrysler Corporation, purchased the Dodge company for $170 million. The purchase made Chrysler the world’s third-largest automaker overnight.

FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us!

ALSO ON THIS DAY

The first colonial constitution

In Hartford, Connecticut, the first constitution in the American colonies, the “Fundamental Orders,” is adopted by representatives of Wethersfield, Windsor, and Hartford. The Dutch discovered the Connecticut River in 1614, but English Puritans from Massachusetts largely ...read more

Gold prices soar

After being released from government control, gold reaches a new record price on January 14, 1980, exceeding $800 an ounce. Gold is scattered sparsely throughout the earth’s crust and since ancient times has been treasured for both its scarcity and metallurgic properties. Before ...read more

Albert Schweitzer born

The theologian, musician, philosopher and Nobel Prize-winning physician Albert Schweitzer is born on this day in 1875 in Upper-Alsace, Germany (now Haut-Rhin, France). The son and grandson of ministers, Schweitzer studied theology and philosophy at the universities of Strasbourg, ...read more

Marilyn Monroe marries Joe DiMaggio

It was the ultimate All-American romance: the tall, handsome hero of the country’s national pastime captures the heart of the beautiful, glamorous Hollywood star. But the brief, volatile marriage of Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio–the couple wed on this day in 1954–barely got ...read more

Explosion rocks USS Enterprise

An explosion aboard the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise kills 27 people in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on this day in 1969. A rocket accidentally detonated, destroying 15 planes and injuring more than 300 people. The Enterprise was the first-ever nuclear-powered aircraft carrier when ...read more