52 Ancestors · Paternal · Prompts

#36 Timken-Detroit Axle Company

My grandfather Edward Lee Wells (1905-1955) worked in various capacities for Timken-Detroit Axle Company from the 1920s until his death on June 19, 1955. The company started on Clark and Fort Streets in Detroit in 1909.

Detroit Publishing Co. [Between 1910 and 1920]. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/2016815614/

Edward, his mother Nannie, and his siblings Willis, Mary, William, and Jesse came to Detroit from Virginia in about 1923. He married my grandmother Velma Belknap on November 23, 1932. On the marriage license, his occupation was factory work.


In 1933, Edward and Velma were living in Lincoln Park, Michigan and he was a truck operator at Timken-Detroit Axle Company. In the 1940 U.S. Federal Census, Edward, Velma and their four children were living in Allen Park and his job was as a stock chaser at the axle company. His income was $1600 and he had worked 50 weeks out of the year. In 1947, now with seven children, the family was living in Melvindale and Edward was a press operator at Timken Axle. In 1953, with eight children, Edward was listed in the city directory as a mechanic at Timken. In 1954, the last directory before his death, Edward was a service representative for Timken.

Advertisement from the July 7, 1917 Saturday Evening Post for Timken-Detroit Axles

In the 1950s, my grandfather had to travel a lot to Chicago and back for his job.There is a family story that my grandmother once visited him there and that is where my youngest uncle was conceived (he was born March 31, 1953). Edward died ten days shy of his 50th birthday of a heart attack.

52 Ancestors #36 – Working for a living

6 thoughts on “#36 Timken-Detroit Axle Company

  1. I enjoyed your blog and something in it really intrigued me! You wrote your grandfather moved from Virginia to Detroit about 1923. My grandfather and all his family including his brother and sister with their families and a cousin all moved together from Virginia to Detroit in 1923 also. Now I wonder why they all moved at once. What part of VA were your grandparents from? Do you know why they moved? What was going on in VA that people moved out in that time? My grandparents were from Sugar Grove, Smyth, VA. This sounds like more research! If you have any ideas, please share them! My email: mmdjpawlak@outlook.com

    1. They were from near Danville in Henry County. I know my great-grandfather died of typhoid in 1919. So my g-grandmother was a widow with 5 children and an aged mother. Her mother died in 1923. Then I think the family came to Michigan but I don’t know why they came specifically here. Thanks for reading!

    2. People from all over the midwest to Detroit for one reason only. JOBS. They were running from a bleak life on a farm to a steady income.

  2. My grandfather worked there also. I’m not sure when he started there, but he was always going out of town to organize the movement of large machinery. He retired in about 1966. His name was Irvin Haverty

  3. I just found out my husbands grandfather worked there but I’m not sure what years. His name was Hubert Frances Klenow. If anyone has any info on him, it would be apprecieated.
    Thank you
    Lynn Klenow

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