The son of Irish immigrants, Henry Ford was born on July 30, 1863, in the area of Dearborn, Michigan, to a prosperous farming family headed by William and Mary (Litogot) Ford. He was the eldest of six surviving children. Taught to read by his mother before attending a one-room school, Henry grew up reconstructing and repairing mechanical devices and, as a teenager, instantly fascinated by steam-driven engines. That instant stretched to a lifetime of engineering involvement and business success.
Unsuited to farming life, he later observed "my earliest recollection is that, considering the results, there was too much work on the place." Ford, then sixteen years old, walked the eight miles to Detroit and found work and learning opportunities at the Michigan Car Company Works. He moved on to a machinist apprenticeship, then to work in the shipbuilding industry, and then, in 1882, came back to the farm to operate and repair steam engines made by the Westinghouse Company.
Ford met Clara Bryant, daughter of a farmer, in the social circle of the neighborhood and on April 11, 1888, they were married and settled in a new home on the Ford farmstead. Their only child, Edsel Bryant Ford, was born in 1893.