The Dodge Brothers
John (1864-1920) and Horace (1868-1920) Dodge grew up in Niles, Michigan. During the late nineteenth century they worked as machinists at the Murphy Boiler Works in Detroit and at the Dominion Typograph Company in Windsor, Ontario. The brothers built the Evans and Dodge Bicycle in Windsor, then founded their own shop in Detroit in 1900. There they built transmissions and engines for Ransom Olds in 1901-1902. The Dodges were Henry Ford's leading parts supplier from 1903 to 1914. That year they built the first Dodge Brothers car. Dodge production ranked fourth among the 108 American car companies of the late 1910s. The brothers caught influenza at the New York Auto Show in 1920. Both died from the pandemic disease that year: John on January 14, and Horace on December 10.
After operating two factories in Detroit's Greektown between 1900 and 1910, John and Horace Dodge bought a thirty-acre parcel on the east side of Joseph Campau Avenue, one-half mile south of here. In 1910 they opened a factory on the site to make parts for the Ford Motor Company. The Dodges began to make their own cars in 1914, and by 1920 employed some 17,000 people. By 1925 the sprawling plant was called "Dodge Main." When Walter Chrysler acquired Dodge in 1928, Dodge Main had 30,000 workers who made 230,000 cars annually. During the 1950s Dodge Main became exclusively an assembly plant with a smaller work force that turned out 600,000 cars each year. Fewer than 5,000 people worked at Dodge Main when the Chrysler Corporation closed it in 1980.