John and Horace Dodge.Auto barons John (1864-1920) and Horace (1868-1920) Dodge were born and raised in Niles. During the 1830s, their grandfather, Ezekiel, had migrated from Massachusetts to Niles, where he ran a steam engine shop. John and Horace's father, Daniel, operated the business during their youth. The Dodges lived in a small house that stood on this site. John once recalled they "were the most destitute kids in town, often going without shoes in cold weather." The boys spent their free time in the machine shop, developing an interest in mechanics at a young age. In Niles they built their first vehicle—a high wheel bicycle. Upon John's high school graduation in 1882, the family left Niles. However, in 1919, the brothers formed a building and loan association here that built homes of Michigan Central Railroad workers.
The Dodge Brothers.John and Horace Dodge moved to Detroit with their family in 1886. Already experienced machinists, they worked for several shops in Detroit and Windsor Canada, until 1901 when they began producing automobile parts. Their first major order came from Ransom Olds of the Olds Motors Company, who ordered three thousand transmissions. In 1903, the Dodge Brothers contracted with Henry Ford for 650 chassis and acquired fifty shares of Ford stock, worth ten thousand dollars. They sold it back to Ford in 1919 for $25 million. In 1913 they established the Dodge Brothers Motors Car Company. Based on the Dodges reputations, twenty-two thousand people applied for dealerships before the first car rolled off the assembly line of the Hamtramck plant on November 14, 1914. Both brothers died of influenza in 1920; their widows sold the company for $146 million.