Harvey Samuel Firestone (December 20, 1868 – February 7, 1938) was an American businessman, and the founder of the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company, one of the first global makers of automobile tires.
Firestone was born on the Columbiana, Ohio farm built by his paternal grandfather. He was the second of Benjamin and Catherine (née Flickinger) Firestone’s three sons; Benjamin had a son and a daughter by his first wife.
Firestone’s paternal great-great-great-grandfather, (Hans) Nicholas Feuerstein, immigrated from Berg/Alsace/France, in 1753, and settled in Pennsylvania. Three of Nicholas’s sons – including Harvey’s great-great-grandfather, Johan Nicholas – changed their surname to “Firestone”, the English translation of the family’s German name “Feuerstein”. Firestone’s birthplace was moved years later to Greenfield Village, a 90-acre (360,000 m2) historical site founded by Henry Ford.
On November 20, 1895, Firestone married Idabelle Smith. They eventually had seven children. Notable great-grandchildren include: Andrew Firestone, Nick Firestone, and William Clay Ford, Jr. (the son of Henry Ford‘s grandson and Harvey and Idabelle’s granddaughter Martha).
Education and Career
After graduating from Columbiana High School, Firestone worked for the Columbus Buggy Company in Columbus, Ohio before starting his own company in 1890, making rubber tires for carriages. In 1900 he soon saw the huge potential for marketing tires for automobiles and then founded the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company, a pioneer in the mass production of tires. In 1926 he published a book, Men and Rubber: The Story of Business, which was written in collaboration with Samuel Crowther.
In 1938, Firestone died of coronary thrombosis.
The Millionaires’ Club
Firestone, Henry Ford, and Thomas Edison were generally considered the three leaders in American industry at the time, and often worked and vacationed together. All three were part of a very exclusive group titled “The Millionaires’ Club.”