Before the founders knew the advantages of using a bank, their stored their sales proceeds in a canning jar and hid it in the Davidson’s family pantry. Unfortunately, the maid that was hired by Margaret Davidson to clean up the boys’ dirt and grease, discovered the stash and stole it. They quickly learned their lesson and Sister Bessie kept the books and the loot was in the bank! The boys’ re-payed her with a college education…
Their “Honey Uncle”, Bill Harley gave the Davidson brothers some money and they purchased the land on Chestnut Street in Milwaukee. In 1906, the REAL factory was built.It was 28 x 80 feet but allowed them so much more production room. Unfortunately, they built part of the building on railroad-owned land. So, to remedy the problem, all of the employees gathered outside to lift the building and move it over about a foot! Soon after this, it was renamed Juneau Avenue…this is where corporate resides today.
In 1903, Bill and Walter’s Mother, Margaret Davidson finally had emough of three boys tracking dirt and grease throughout her house and constant noise in the basement! And their father William C. wanted his wood-working shop back.
Dad went and got some lumber (after Margaret let him “have it”) and started building a 10 x 15 foot shed in the backyard. That shed was the first Haley-Davidson “factory”.
The first Harley was sold to the ffounders’ friend Henry Meyer in 1903. In 1913, a company researcher was tasked with tracking down that 1st motorcycle and looking at its maintenance and history. There had been 4 owners and there was 83,000 miles on that bike and no one had EVER had to replace the engine bearings. There was actually a 1913 advertisement where the company bragged of this accomplishment, and here it is!
Serial Number One, it is called and it is still on display at the Harley-Davidson Museum.
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Arthur Davidson and Bill Harley grew up as neighbors in Milwaukee and spent most of their spare time in Arthur’s father’s workshop building and thinking.
They were HUGE fishermen and often rode their bicycles to the lake (sometimes all while skipping school). Always thinking, their first “BIG IDEA” was to install motors on the bikes to get to the fishing hole faster (and have some fun on the way).
They both worked at Barth Manufacturing and sought advice there. They also enlisted the help of Henry Melk so that they could use his lathe to machine parts.
Fun fact…friends and business partners, Arthur and Ole Evinrude made a pact before even getting started. Evinrude would not make motorcycle engines and Harley would not create water products. That pact still exists to this day!
So here comes Walter! THE MECHANIC! He puts together the parts that the boys had crafted. He then took that VERY first ride on a Harley Davidson®.
Up next, the building of the factory…stay tuned.