In 1901, eight-year-old Edsel Ford—son of Henry, future head of the Ford Motor Company, and heir to the Ford fortune—was feeling forlorn. “Dear Santa Claus,” he wrote in a letter preserved at The Henry Ford’s archives, “I Haven’t Had Any Christmas Tree in 4 years And I Have Broken All My Trimmings And I Want Some More.”
The letter was written during tough times for the Ford family. In 1901, Henry’s obsession with automobiles hadn’t yet borne fruit. That Christmas, the Ford family was living with relatives to save money.
Henry had left a stable job at Edison Illuminating Company a few years earlier to work as an engineer at the Detroit Automobile Company, but had failed to deliver a car that worked to the stockholders’ satisfaction. Earlier that year, Henry had secured funding to form his own company, but the arrival of true wealth was still a few years in the future.
Edsel waited until December 24 to write his letter, indicating that he may have left it under the tree for Santa to read. Hopefully Saint Nick had “a Pair of Roller Skates And A Book” in his sack, as well as some creative trinket for the boy, who couldn’t “Think Of Any Thing more I Want you To Think of something more.”