Arthur Davidson (motorcycling)
|Born||February 11, 1881|
|Died||December 30, 1950
Wisconsin Highway 59 near Waukesha, Wisconsin
Cause of death
|Forest Home Cemetery|
|Occupation||Secretary and Sales Manager of Harley-Davidson|
|Known for||Co-founder of Harley-Davidson|
|Home town||Milwaukee, Wisconsin|
|Relatives||William A. Davidson, Walter Davidson, Sr.|
Arthur Davidson, Sr. (c. 1881–1950, Milwaukee, Wisconsin) was one of the four original founders of Harley-Davidson. His father William C Davidson, son of a blacksmith who owned a smithy in Netherton, Scotland, had emigrated to the United States around the year 1857 where he became a cabinet maker and married Margaret McFarlane in 1867.
One of Davidson's favorite pastimes was fishing in the Wisconsin wilderness, which inspired him to create a motorcycle that would, "take the hard work out of pedaling a bicycle". He was a story teller, salesman, and United States patriot. During World Wars I and II, Arthur and company diverted motorcycle production to support US troops. This act was rewarded with returning troops ready, trained and willing to buy Harley-Davidson branded motorcycles.
The "Honey Uncle" story is one of the family stories told about Davidson and a pivotal moment for the fate of Harley-Davidson company. One day shortly after Davidson's cleaning lady visited, he discovered the seed money he had stashed between his mattress to start Harley-Davidson was missing. Fortunately, Davidson was able to borrow the $500 in venture capital needed for Harley-Davidson from an uncle who owned a bee farm in Madison, Wisconsin. From then on, the uncle was known as the "Honey Uncle" for helping the business get off the ground. The bee farm on Lake Mendota was later sold to the University of Wisconsin–Madison, and is now known as Picnic Point in the Lakeshore Nature Preserve.
Arthur Davidson, Sr., was killed at the age of 69 in a two car collision 3 miles (4.8 km) south of Davidson's home, a dairy farm, on Wisconsin Highway 59 near Waukesha, Wisconsin on December 30, 1950. Also killed in the accident were Davidson's wife, Clara, as well as Dorothy and Donald Jeffery. Davidson was survived by his three children, Margaret, Arthur and James Davidson.
Labor Hall of Fame
Because Arthur Davidson, William S. Harley, William A. Davidson and Walter Davidson, "both used and believed in its products and relied on the dedication of its employees to produce quality motorcycles", the four men were inducted into the Labor Hall of Fame.
- [better source needed]Arthur Davidson at Find a Grave
- Dow, Sheila; Noce, Jaime E. (eds.), Arthur Davidson, "Gale Biography In Context.", Business Leader Profiles for Students (Detroit: Gale (publisher)) 1
- "Motorcycle Expert, 3 Others Die In Crash", New York Times (ProQuest Historical Newspapers, The New York Times (1851-2007)), December 31, 1950: 45
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