William S. Harley

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William S. Harley
William S Harley The North Shore Bulletin Dec 1920.jpg
William Harley, The North Shore Bulletin, Dec 1920
Born William Sylvester Harley
December 29, 1880
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Died September 18, 1943(1943-09-18) (aged 62)
Occupation Mechanical engineer
Known for Co-founder of Harley-Davidson Motor Company
Parent(s) William Harley Sr and Mary Smith

William Sylvester Harley (December 29, 1880 – September 18, 1943) was a co-founder of the Harley-Davidson Motor Company.[1]

Early life[edit]

He was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1880, and received a degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 1907.[2][3] He co-founded Harley-Davidson with Arthur Davidson in 1903 and served as chief engineer until his death in 1943.[2][4]

Harley was the son of William Harley Sr. and Mary Smith from Littleport, Cambridgeshire, England who emigrated to the United States in 1860.[5][6]

In 1910 he married Anna Jachthuber, with whom he had two sons and a daughter.

He is buried at the Holy Cross Cemetery and Mausoleum in Milwaukee,[1] and was inducted into the Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 1998.[2]

In 2003, a Harley-Davidson statue was unveiled in Littleport, Cambridgeshire, to commemorate the centenary of the famous motorcycle company. William Harley, the father of the company's co-founder William Sylvester Harley, had been born in Victoria Street, Littleport, in 1835, before emigrating to the United States in 1859.[7]

Labor Hall of Fame[edit]

Because Harley, Arthur Davidson, William A. Davidson, and Walter Davidson "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.[8]


  1. ^ a b "William Sylvester Harley". Find A Grave. Retrieved 2008-01-06. 
  2. ^ a b c William S. Harley at the Motorcycle Hall of Fame
  3. ^ "2005 Annual Report: Engineering Professional Development". UW–Madison College of Engineering. 2005. Retrieved 2007-12-02. 
  4. ^ "Company history". Harley-Davidson Corp. Retrieved 2007-12-02. 
  5. ^ Jean Davidson - Harley-Davidson.
  6. ^ Goulden, Glenda (2008), "2", Foul deeds and suspicious deaths in & around The Fens, Barnsley, Yorks: Wharncliffe Books, p. 35, ISBN 978-1-84563-072-0 
  7. ^ "Littleport Harley Davidson statue". 
  8. ^ http://www.dol.gov/oasam/programs/laborhall/2004_davidson.htm

External links[edit]