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 Harleigh Randall “Harl” Holmes

Harleigh Randall “Harl” Holmes

Birth
Newton, Harvey County, Kansas, USA
Death 26 Jul 1963 (aged 82)
Carbondale, Garfield County, Colorado, USA
Burial Glenwood Springs, Garfield County, Colorado, USA
Memorial ID 40909907 · View Source
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Husband of (1) Elizabeth A. CROCKER (circa 1885-?); (2) Mildred Gertrude HARLAN (1883-1918); (3) Clare A. SILL (1886-1916); and (4) Katherine M. SIEVERS (1895-1975)

Harleigh Randall HOLMES was born 04 Feb 1881 in Newton, Harvey, KS, the son of James Hanan HOLMES (1844-1926) and Emma Jane BOHRER (1857-1943).

Harleigh married his first wife, Elizabeth A. CROCKER on 30 Jan 1902 in Denver, but this marriage lasted not quite a full year. Harleigh married his second wife, Mildred Gertrude HARLAN on 2 Dec 1903; and his third wife, Clara A. SILL on 9 Mar 1912, also in Denver, but she later died in child birth in 1916.

On 2 Dec 1917, Harleigh married his fourth wife, Katherine M. SIEVERS 1895-1975), daughter of George SIEVERS (1855-1924) and Johanna C. SAHS (1872-1956) of Carbondale, Garfield, CO.

While working for the Carbondale Reservoir & Irrigation Company which was building a reservoir on Missouri Heights, near Carbondale, Colorado, "Harl" began to devise plans for providing power to the front wheel(s) of vehicles, which evolved into a very innovative and durable 4-wheel drive system for which he applied for a patent in 1916 (granted in 1918 - US RE14808 E). In that same year, he formed the Holmes Front Drive Company (HFD), and he also styled himself as the "President of the Holmes Truck Company." His WW-I draft registration shows his residence as Carbondale, but they actually spent their summers in Carbondale and their winters at his parent's home at 350 Acoma Street, Denver, and then eventually Littleton. When he actually assembled his fist pilot model 4x4 truck in the fall of 1919, he took it to his wife's family Sievers Ranch in Carbondale for testing and additional redesigns, fabricating parts as needed at a local blacksmith shop. By 1920, he had moved to Littleton, and by 1921, his Holmes Truck Company plant was fully open for production, with $50,000 worth of equipment, (10) employees, and producing (5) "Holmes Trucks" by the end of the year. In 1922, he attracted the Plains Iron Works at Larimer & Eighth streets in Denver as a major investor and his truck became soon known as the "Plains Truck." In 1924, wealthy zinc miners Alfred Elliot COLEMAN (1854-1930) and younger brother George Levi COLEMAN (1858-1945) bought 51% interest in Plains Motor Company, and by early 1924, production had returned to Littleton at their new plant on South Nevada Street. The "Holmes Truck" was officially re-branded the "Coleman Truck" in 1924 and Coleman Motors Company operations continued until 1948 when it merged with American Road Equipment Company to become "American Coleman," the name it retained until operations ceased in 1987. Even with the various changes of investors, Harleigh stayed on as the principal inventor and design engineer, a perfect fit for his very rare and innovative talents. By the time he died in 1963, he had filed approximately (16) patents for his very innovative and durable 4-wheel drive and 4-wheel steering designs, as well as rotary snow plows and other designs that were suitable to his Colorado Rocky Mountains sensibilities. Inventor, entrepreneur, and marketing genius, Harleigh Randall HOLMES made a valuable contribution to the growing economy of Littleton, Colorado and rapidly developing innovations in big, rugged, special-duty four-wheel drive trucks.

Harleigh's motto when he was starting out in the early 1920's said it all: Holmes Trucks -- "We Challenge the World!", and his sales strategy was don't say what it can do, show what it can do!

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Obituary:

Inventor Holmes Dies

NEWTON - Harleigh R. Holmes, a native of Newton and the man who invented front-wheel drive for trucks 45 years ago, died at his ranch home in Carbondale, Colo. Wednesday. Funeral was Friday.

Holmes, 82 at the time of his death, got the idea for front wheel drive when a motorcycle he was riding skidded in mud in 1911. He began manufacturing trucks in Denver in 1918 and later established Coleman Motor Co., in Littleton, Colo., with the investment of Oklahoma millionaire A. E. Coleman.

Other inventions credited to Holmes were the rotary snow plow for clearing mountain highways, a tractor used to tow bombers while on the ground and a steerable front axle used on six-wheel trucks. He also made overhead lift garage doors.

Holmes came to Colorado as a child when his father helped found the town of Lamar.
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Gravesite Details Note the early Coleman Truck on his tombstone
  • Maintained by: Craig H. Trout
  • Originally Created by: Kelly G
  • Added: 20 Aug 2009
  • Find A Grave Memorial 40909907
  • Craig H. Trout
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Harleigh Randall “Harl” Holmes (4 Feb 1881–26 Jul 1963), Find A Grave Memorial no. 40909907, citing Rosebud Cemetery, Glenwood Springs, Garfield County, Colorado, USA ; Maintained by Craig H. Trout (contributor 46822921) .