By Kevin Leland
For: Leland Industrial Artists
“The story of what is to me by far the most interesting period of my life remains to be written. This embraces an account of my labour for many years in introducing Industrial Art as a branch of education in schools.”
He was involved in a series of books on industrial arts and crafts, including a title he co-authored in 1876 with Thomas Bolas, entitled “Pyrography or burnt-wood etching” (revised by Frank H Ball and G J Fowler in 1900). He was, more significantly, the founder and first director of the Public School of Industrial Art in Philadelphia. This originated as a school to teach crafts to disadvantaged children and became widely known when it was praised by Oscar Wilde, who predicted his friend would be “recognised and honoured as one of the great pioneers and leaders of the art of the future.” The Home Arts and Industries Association was founded in imitation of this initiative.
If your last name is “Leland” it is very likely that you are a relative of Charles. He and his wife, Bella, had no children. So, you are not a direct decedent. It is more likely that like myself, you are a cousin. I am CGL’s third cousin, four times removed. Almost all Leland’s in the United States descend from Henry Leland (1625 – 1680), who was the son of Hopestill Leland (1580 – 1655).
I have found quite a number of Lelands who are very accomplished industrial artists in the fields of construction, home building, manufacturing and even web design, which I think can be considered an industrial art. Our cousin Charles would be proud of us!
My goal in creating this post is to assemble those of us relatives of Charles Godfrey Leland who have made contributions to the industrial arts that would impress this really cool cousin of ours. I encourage you to read the Wikipedia post about his life and see that the claim I make about his “coolness” is founded in quite an interesting biography. Charles was certainly much more than a “shop teacher.” Although what I find very interesting about him, is that this seems to be his proudest achievement among many great accomplishments.
If you would like to see how you are related to C. G. Leland, and would like me to post a short Bio about yourself and your work in the industrial arts, please contact me in comments, or email me at: email@example.com. I’ll include a link to your site and will give you a nice chunk of family tree info.
Here is another accomplished Industrial artist bearing the Leland surname that you may not have heard of, although everyone around the world is familiar with the brands he pioneered:
Leland created the Cadillac automobile, later bought out by General Motors. In 1902, William Murphy and his partners at the Henry Ford Company hired Leland to appraise the company’s factory and tooling prior to liquidation. Leland completed the appraisal, but he advised Murphy and his partners that they were making a mistake to liquidate, and suggested they instead reorganize, building a new car powered by a single-cylinder engine Leland had originally developed for Oldsmobile. The directors lost no time in renaming the company Cadillac. At Cadillac, Leland applied many modern manufacturing principles to the fledgling automotive industry, including the use of interchangeable parts. Alfred P. Sloan, longtime president and chair of General Motors, considered Leland to be “one of those mainly responsible for bringing the technique of interchangeable parts into automobile manufacturing.”
Leland sold Cadillac to General Motors on July 29, 1909 for $4.5 million, but remained as an executive until 1917. With Charles Kettering, he developed a self-starter for the Cadillac, which won its second Dewar Trophy in 1913 as a result. He prodded Kettering to design a workable electric starter after a Cadillac engineer was hit in the head and killed by a starting crank when the engine backfired.
He left General Motors in a dispute with company founder William C. Durant over producing materiel during World War I. Cadillac had been asked to build Liberty aircraft engines but Durant was a pacifist. He then founded Lincoln and secured a 10,000,000 contract to build the V12 Liberty engine.
It seems that Henry Leland didn’t exactly rub elbows with Henry Ford. It would be more accurate to say he butted heads with him. It turns out that when Lincoln became insolvent in 1922, Henry Ford “low-balled” his offer for the company as revenge for Henry Leland’s role in creating Cadillac. It didn’t take Ford long to show Henry and his son and co-manager, Wilfred the door, ousting the Father and son automobile manufacturing team from the company they built.
Henry Martyn Leland developed his skills in precision machining and engineering at a famous, Rhode Island Machine shop that is still around to this day: Browne and Sharpe. He later worked at Colt firearms. He was born in Vermont, the son of Leander Leland. He died and was buried in the Motor City: Detroit, MI.
I am Henry Leland’s fifth cousin, four times removed. Henry Martyn Leland and Charles Godfrey Leland were fourth cousins, once removed. A quick lesson for those who don’t understand the cousins thing, especially the “removed” part:
Siblings have the same parents. First cousins have the same grandparents. Second cousins have the same great-grandparents. Third cousins share common great-great grandparents. Now the “removed” thing comes into play when my grandparent is your great grandparent. For example, my first cousin’s child is NOT a second cousin, instead, this person would also be my first cousin also, but once removed.
I have the means to determine relatives of Charles Godfrey Leland and Henry Martyn Leland who may not have the “Leland” surname. However, most of the relatives I’m trying to assemble and reach out to first are Lelands. Any help with this endeavor will be greatly appreciated. Just contact me in comments (below) or send me an email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here are some present day Leland “Industrial Artists” I’ve found online, with links to their sites: