The two daughters of John B. Corliss, born almost on the same day two years apart, ended up marrying two automotive engineering and automotive parts manufacturer brothers, George M. and Earl Holley. It is quite odd to find two families so bonded in this way—the brothers marrying the sisters. Also, the elder Holley married the younger Corliss and vice versa. It's not yet known if they were married on the same day — in a double wedding — but if so, that would be a real kicker.
George Malvin Holley was born April 11, 1878, in Port Jervis, New York. At some point prior to his teen years, the family moved to Bradford, Pennsylvania.1 The Holley brothers moved to Detroit in 1907.2 George Holley married Margery Corliss. He died June 27, 1963 and is buried with his wife in Detroit's Woodlawn Cemetery.
George M. Holley designed a gasoline-powered bicycle in 1899. Called a "motorcycle," it was essentially a safety bicycle with a small internal combustion engine as the power plant. It had a top speed of thirty miles-per-hour with two forward gears (and no reverse). In 1899, he and his brother Earl founded the Holley Motor Company to manufacture the motorcycle. George followed the path of Henry Ford — entering the motorcycle in races, winning, setting speed records, and gathering publicity. In 1902, he won the first Motorcycle Endurance Contest in the U.S. The following year he entered his motorcycle at the Buffalo Pan American Exposition and set a number of motorcycle speed records there. In 1902, the brothers began producing a four-wheeled "Holley Motorette" and sold about 600 of them before discontinuing it in 1906.
Holley got out of car manufacturing altogether in 1906 largely because of the success of the Holley carburetor. In 1903, the brothers started the Holley Carburetor Company? to manufacture their design. So successful was the design that it was used widely by many automobile companies (including Oldsmobile, Ford, Buick, Pierce-Arrow, and Winton) and other manufacturers of machines with internal combustion power plants. Because of his contributions to automotive engineering, George M. Holley was inducted (with his brother) into the Automotive Hall of Fame. Also the George M. Holley Award for vehicle restoration is presented by the Antique Automobile Club of America.
In 1944, Holley created the Holley Foundation "to support educational and family initiatives for youth, mainly in Southeastern Michigan, through innovative, well-structured programs that demonstrate positive outcomes." (The Holley Foundation Mission)
Earl B. Holley was born January 13, 1881, in Port Jervis, New York, and was George M. Holley's younger brother. At some point prior to his teen years, the family moved to Bradford, Pennsylvania. There also, Earl, for a time worked as a bank teller.3 The Holley brothers moved to Detroit in 1907.4 He married Elisabeth B. Corliss. He died on December 5, 1958, in Grosse Pointe Farms which was probably their home. He is interred with his wife in Detroit's Woodlawn Cemetery.
He along with his brother incorporated the Holley Motor Company (1899-1906), producing about 600 early automobiles, and the very successful Holley Carburetor Company (1903- ), which was used widely by many automobile companies and other manufacturers of machines with internal combustion power plants. Earl was the president of the company and handled the finances.5
The company founded by the brothers still exists.
Margery Corliss Holley was the third child of John B. Corliss and Elizabeth N. Danforth. She was born November 2, 1883, in Detroit, two years and a day after her elder sister. She married George M. Holley. She died February 11, 1973, and was buried with her husband in Detroit's Woodlawn Cemetery.
Elisabeth B. Holley was the second child of John B. Corliss and Elizabeth N. Danforth. She was born November 1, 1881, in Detroit. She married Earl Holley. She died July 20, 1973, in Grosse Pointe Farms which was probably her home. She was buried with her husband in Detroit's Woodlawn Cemetery.
Automotive Hall of Fame, s.v. "George M. Holley Sr."
Automotive Hall of Fame, s.v. "Earl Holley."
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Page last modified on January 02, 2020, at 08:30 PM EST