View Full Version : Happy 100th Anniversary
Few will note it, but the 23rd of April, 2003 is the 100 Year Anniversary of the wedding between William A. Davidson and Mary Bauer.
This was the key event that brought Walter Davidson home to Milwaukee where he joined the budding motor-bicycle building enterprise of his younger brother Art and William S. Harley. As they say, the rest is history...
They still had a long way to go at that point, however, as the motor-bicycle was still largely in the blueprint stage and Walter had to help build it before he could get his "glorious" promised ride. Then to their dismay they discovered that the little motor-bicycle wasn't good enough, and they had to start all over again with a totally new design.
It was this second model loop-frame real motorcycle with its "big bore" engine completed in 1904 that was finally worthy of the Harley-Davidson name. The prototype machine appeared at a Milwaukee race track that September with a slightly improved version placed on the market in 1905. That year of 1905 saw the first bonafide Harley-Davidson dealer, Carl Herman Lang, and this new offering from Milwaukee met with instant approval and success.
We wish the Truth may be told, on this small but significant anniversary in the creation of the Harley-Davidson motorcycle: the Davidson-Bauer wedding one hundred years ago, April 23, 1903.
This is a fact. Not fiction. Not myth. Not legend.
05-05-2003, 12:36 PM
Nice of you to remember that stuff Earl! I haven't noticed that HDI has mentioned that Anniversary and yet it was a BIG EVENT in the advance of the motorized bicycle enterprise and without doubt the most important thing that actually happened in that now mythical year of 1903!
Most if not all of the H-D origin accounts that I've read tells of the Davidson-Bauer wedding as a key event, like you said, and the one that brought Walter Davidson home to Milwaukee on the promise of a "glorious" ride. If Walter hadn't jumped into the project to lend a hand, it may never have gotten done. He was the skilled machinist of the bunch, not Harley or Arthur.
What gets overlooked in all these accounts is what machine it was that Walter found "scarcely in the blueprint stage" when he arrived home in April, and that starts getting really messy when you begin asking the tough questions, because it looks like it was still the little motorized bicycle project he saw, with the loop frame job with "huge uncouth" motor was still A YEAR AWAY FROM COMPLETION IN 1904!
So what is HDI celebrating this August?
The completion of the little bicycle-motor placed in a regular bicycle frame?
Because that's what it looks they finished that year in 1903...and only that.
That's not a bad thing. On the contrary. They had to learn through experience with their first, unsuccessful design. But why hide from that fact now?
And what comes next in the list of events that we really know happened? Not the other kind that didn't happen in 1903 as now claimed and that actually occured in 1904 or 1905.
What actually happened next after Walter came home in April of 1903? What evidence is there???
Everybody help me out....
Is the next piece of hard evidence of a Harley-Davidson motorcycle, the newspaper report of a Harley-Davidson machine in a race, in the month of SEPTEMBER, in the year of 1904?
You mean that there are still NO pictures of ANY 1903 machine?
If that is true, then we would still have to wait over a whole more year before we celebrate the 100th anniversary of THAT event.
05-29-2003, 12:18 PM
Above is a cool link to the Library of Congress Harley 100th tribute.
06-01-2003, 01:40 PM
That was a good find. I notice the site also makes the claim that C.H. Lang was a Harley-Davidson dealer in 1903 and was already selling bikes that year.
But how can that be when Lang himself said under sworn oath in a court of law that he didn't hear of the Harley-Davidson motorcycle until the fall of 1904 and didn't start selling Harley-Davidsons until 1905?
And if they were already selling bikes in 1903, how does the predessesor motorized bicycle fit into the picture? How could they have designed, fabricated, and assembled 2 completely different machines in a mere 24 months time? (1901-1903), unless time travel was involved or, like Earl said, they were supermen!
Looks like the error-laden origin history of Harley-Davidson goes right to the top!
It would be an interesting story to hear how the TRUE FACTS became corrupted in the first place until H-D's true origin got messed up by a couple years. Hopefully that mess will all be explained (plus lots more) in the new detailed volume on H-D's beginnings that has been mentioned on the Willie G. book thread and will be available in August from the Wisconsin Historical Society.
06-01-2003, 02:28 PM
After my previous post I got to thinking.
A book that only reveals that mistakes have been made in Harley-Davidson's origin story wouldn't be enough -- no matter how persuasive the evidence: even sworn courtroom testimony. That would simply leave matters hanging and NOT be satisfactory.
No, such a work would have to offer a plausible account of events that they most probably actually occured based on the best evidence available, specifically original documents of the day -- or as close to original as possible. Just like hunting down original parts for a vintage bike instead of forcing cheap poorly-made modern after-market parts to fit! (Which seems to be the equivalent to what most authors do).
But not only that, such a work would have to go on and show in step-by-step fashion how the truth became corrupted in the first place. How a factual accounting became distorted into something quite different. When and how did this happen? In what publications is that evidence found? Nail it down by giving names, dates, and places. Who were the most likely culprits responsible for making these unfortunate changes to H-D's real origin history? Is there anything in H-D's own traditions that points to knowledge of such monkey-shines taking place way back when?
On top of all that, such a work should place that "myth-making" stuff in the context of the times. What was going on in the motorcycle industry back then? When did the motorcycle first come to Milwaukee? What motorcycles pre-dated the Harley-Davidson in beer city? Whose machine was best and why in those pioneer days? What inspired the excellent design of the first "marketable" Harley-Davidson motorcycle? What were the earliest races and competition events that Harley-Davidson took part in? Who were the first racers for H-D? Why did Harley-Davidson come to challenge the Indian motorcycle so early in the game? What about the various early factory buildings from the backyard shed to when they made their move up to Chestnut Street (Juneau Avenue)? What went inside those places? How were the early Harley-Davidson's made? Who was their first customer and how did he come to buy that machine?
I don't see how after so many years and so many guys writing about Harley-Davidson over the years this sort of detailed NEW information could come out at this late date nearly a century later. Stuff that even the current Harley-Davidson, Inc. or Library of Congress today doesn't seem to have a clue about...
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