NEWSLETTER OF THE NORTH MANCHESTER HISTORICAL SOCIETY, INC.
Volume XXVIII, No. 4, November 2011
Automobiles – Part 2, by Robert A. Weimer
Note: The first part of Robert Weimer’s recollections of automobiles was printed in the previous issue of the Newsletter (August 2011).
Front fenders were bolted to the sides of the motor compartment, extending out to cover the front wheels. Rear fenders were attached on each side of the body to cover the rear wheels. Running boards stretched between the front and rear fenders on each side of the car. It was common practice in the summer, when the side windows were rolled down and you wanted to go only a short distance down the street, to step up onto the running board and hold onto the door frame rather than open a door and get into the car.
There were many other car models then in town that have since disappeared. Schoolmate Scott Schmedel’s family drove a Packard. There were several Nash cars in town, one of which I later owned. One of the workers at Grandpa’s canning factory drove a 1937 La Salle. But perhaps the strangest car was the Crosley driven by my high school science teacher, Liegh B. Freed, who was popular with all of us because of his great sense of humor.
Steam Pleasure Carriages. For a number of years the idea has been in the air of substituting for horse power steam in road wagons. It has been argued that if the model steam country wagon could be invented, then all farm produce could be conveyed to market cheaply and more quickly than by horse power. Horses must be fed whether they are used or not; the steam wagon could rest securely in its shed when not in use, with no danger of its eating its own head off. In America the idea would not be at all practicable, owing to our wretched roads, but in France where the roads are firm and smooth as a city pavement the year around, the plan could be safely tried.
Source: North Manchester Journal, June 12, 1902:
The First Automobile. Olinger & Warvel, the bicycle men of the city, are the first to tackle the automobile proposition here. Last week they purchased a three-wheeled runabout made by the Crescent Bicycle company and have been putting the machine to good use ever since. It is propelled by a gasoline motor and is essentially the same as the larger automobiles run by the same force as far as the motor power is concerned. We are informed that the boys have purchased this rig for the purpose of familiarizing themselves with the mechanism and operation of automobile engines for repair work. It is a neat little outfit and will no doubt give the boys considerable satisfaction and pleasure. One thing seems sure and that is the boys deserve the credit for having the “sand” to tackle a proposition of this kind.
Source: North Manchester Journal, July 13, 1905:
An automobile shod with iron tires passed through town Friday. It had one advantage over the rubber tire kind, for it did not need a horn or “tooter.” It made more noise than a traction engine, and seemed to ride about as easily.
Source: North Manchester Journal, July 27, 1905:
There were more strange automobiles in town Monday than had been here in a week before. There were all kinds from a little dinky red one about six feet long to a big grayhound as long as a locomotive and nearly as heavy.
Some Early Automobile Dealerships
in North Manchester
Source: R. Ned Brooks and Donald L. Jefferson, Remembering North Manchester Indiana in the 1930s and 1940s (2009), pp. 84-87
Ford. Charles Olinger and Jonas W. Warvel had the first Ford dealership in town early in the twentieth century. They started as bicycle dealers on Main Street and then opened their Ford dealership in a 50-car capacity garage at 205-207 North Walnut Street. They sold to F.O. Weber, who operated Weber Auto Company selling Ford automobiles in about 1920. Ward Motor Co., owned by Fred Ward and James Hudson, was listed at the Walnut Street address in the 1924 phone book. Then Ward became the sole owner, later taking Kenton Priser as a partner. Ward sold to Art W. Pottenger, who operated Pottenger Ford and advertised in the Manchester College annual in 1929 through 1932. An October 20, 1932 News Journal article reported that Pottenger Ford was liquidating. Russell C. Kreamer advertised his new Ford dealership at 205 East Second Street in October 1933. In January of 1937, Minear Brothers Ford advertised as the new Ford Dealer. They advertised as Charles Minear & Son in 1946, but later it was Charles Minear. On March 29, 1948, Clifford Snyder bought the Ford dealership.
Chevrolet. In 1919, Knull Motor Company of Pierceton and South Whitley, owned by brothers Karl Knull and Franz Knull, built a new two-story garage with a ramp to the second floor. It was the biggest garage in Wabash County, measuring 78 by 156 feet. They sold Chevrolet trucks and cars. Harry E. Leedy purchased the dealership sometime before 1930 and continued to sell Chevrolets. In 1942, automobiles were no longer being manufactured and so Leedy Motor Company was closed on November 1, 1943. We don’t have the date that Jack Pinney started his dealership, but the first ad we found was on August 19, 1946. 1946 was the year that cars became available again after the war. Jack was still at his Second Street location in 1950, so he hadn’t moved to the suburbs yet. Jack Pinney Chevrolet, Inc. was a Chevrolet dealership for many years.
Buick. Hayes Motor Co. advertised Buick and Marquette in 1930 at 213 East Main Street. Then Hayes moved to 101-103 West Main Street in May of 1931, continuing to sell Buicks. They then moved to 201-203 East Second Street in the latter part of June 1934. Hayes continued to be the Buick dealer in town moving to a suburban location identified later in this section under their Pontiac dealership. We found a December 28, 1950, News Journal article that reported James Labas purchased Hayes Motor Company and would continue to sell Buicks and Pontiacs at the same location, which he did into the 1950s.
Oldsmobile. Jacob L. Bower sold Oldsmobiles in the west end of town as early as 1930. In April of 1935, Priser Auto Sales advertised New Oldsmobile at both the Walnut Street location and at their new address, 801 West Main Street. Elmer Fultz advertised Oldsmobile at his residence address of 505 East Third Street in May 1936. The next month, Fultz advertised his showroom at 111 North Walnut Street. Russell C. Kreamer advertised as a new Oldsmobile dealer in October of 1937. On March 3, 1941 Stukey Brothers advertised as the new Oldsmobile dealer, continuing to sell Willys. The Stukeys continued to run their dealership into the 1950s.
Dodge-Plymouth. Fultz Motor Sales had been advertising as Oldsmobile, then as Dodge-Plymouth in January 1937.
Plymouth-Desoto. In February of 1934, Kenton Priser leased the old Ford garage on Walnut Street to sell Plymouth-Desoto. He had been at 101 West Main Street for a short time while Hayes Motor Co. was also there. By April of 1937, Kenton Priser and Fred War were partners selling Plymouth-Desoto from their dealership at 801 West Main Street.
Pontiac. Brown Motor Company advertised the Pontiac “6” in early 1930. In April of 1931 Hathaway and Kreamer were appointed Pontiac Dealers. In January of 1932 Russell C. Kreamer advertised his Pontiac Dealership. Kreamer continued to advertise Pontiacs as late as September of 1933. In April 1938 Hayes Motor Company, Inc. advertised Pontiac, in addition to Buick, and they continued to sell Pontiacs until 1950. Their dealership was on Second Street across from the post office for a number of years but in December of 1947 they moved to the corner of Beckley and Fifth Streets. The 1953 City Directory gives an address of 413 North Beckley St. Jim Labas Motors purchased Hayes Motor Company, Inc. and continued to sell Buicks and Pontiacs well into the 1950s.
Studebaker. Lawrence Jefferson advertised Studebaker sales from his building at 101 West Main Street in December of 1935. In October of 1939 Glenn Rager advertised Studebaker sales at his residence, 508 North Walnut Street. Rager then opened a show room at 207 East Second Street.
Crosley. Bolinger Farm Equipment advertised the Crosley for the first time in November of 1949, in addition to his Hudson line.
Essex. Cecil Eiler advertised Essex in his building on West Main Street in June 1931.
Hudson. Cecil Eiler advertised Hudson sales at his West Main Street building in June of 1931. No further ads were found for Hudson until August 19, 1946 when Bolinger Farm Equipment advertised them and continued to do so into the 1950s.
Kaiser-Frazer. Arden Carter advertised his dealership on August 19, 1946 which would have been about the time that the first 1947 Kaisers and Frazers were available. He ran his dealership into the 1950s, selling only the Kaiser after the Frazer was dropped from the line.
Nash. Earll Motor Sales advertised Nash on May 5, 1940.
Oakland. In 1927, Paul Hathaway and Joe Urschel had an Oakland dealership. Brown Motor Company advertised the Oakland “8” as early as 1930. In April of 1931, Hathaway and Kramer were appointed Oakland Dealers. The Oakland Division of General Motors, which produced the first Pontiac car in 1926, was replaced by the Pontiac Division in 1932. The Oakland name disappeared in the early 1930s.
Terraplane. Cecil Eiler advertised Terraplane, in addition to his Hudson sales, for the first time in April of 1935. We found no further mention of the car, which is not surprising since it is one of the many car names that did not survive.
Willys. Stukey Brothers advertised as a new Willys Dealer in May of 1936 at 213 East Main Street and continued to sell them until World War II. In the December 26, 1949 News Journal, Arden Carter advertised Willys, in addition to his Hudson line.
FRAZIER HUNT RETURNS TO NORTH MANCHESTER IN 1947
Editor: The February and May issues (2011) of the Newsletter included articles about A.F. Hunt and his memories of North Manchester. Charles Boebel recalled an Oak Leaves article that covered Hunt’s presentation at Manchester College in March 1947 (“Former Manchesterite Speaks in Final Lyceum Series Event”). Alan White also pointed out that the News-Journal then gave interesting details of Hunt’s first visit to our community since he departed after graduating in 1903 from the local high school. Excerpts from both articles are included here.
Oak Leaves, February 27, 1947: On Monday, March 3, Frazier Hunt, who formerly lived here in North Manchester, and who is now a noted war correspondent, author, and radio commentator, will speak in Manchester’s auditorium. This program will be the fourth and last of this year’s lyceum series. [Hunt’s lecture title was, “Must We Fight Russia?”]
Mr. Hunt, who has been war correspondent for two world wars, once penetrated Russia’s iron curtain just after the Russian revolution, at a time when no other correspondent had been able to report from Russia for six months. He not only managed to get into Russia, but he also did what was then considered to be impossible—he interviewed Lenin. For this and other unbelievable feats, Hunt has been called the world’s greatest interviewer. His word-photography has printed pictures of such people as Hitler, Mussolini, Gandhi, both Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt, Lenin, and Chiang Kai-Shek.
During his colorful career, journalist Hunt has worked on the various staffs of the New York Sun, the Chicago Tribune, and the Cosmopolitan magazine, and he was once the European editor of Hearst’s International magazine. Hunt has written several books, and, as a personal friend of General Douglas MacArthur, he wrote “MacArthur and the War Against Japan,” which was published recently. Success has crowned Hunt during his many careers as a reporter, rancher, author, lecturer and popular radio commentator. His news broadcast and commentary may be heard regularly.
Some time before World War II, six-foot-four Frazier Hunt was visiting in Japan. The comparatively small Japanese has never seen so large a man, and many stopped in the streets to stare at him, muttering unintelligible native phrases. Finally Hunt stopped and asked his Japanese guide what the people were saying about him. The reply was, “You’re so big that the people are saying that you are a one-and-a-half man.”
Although Frazier was born in Rock Island, Illinois, he might well be called a Hoosier, for he spent his boyhood here in North Manchester. He lived at what is now 508 North Mill Street, in the house which still stands at that place, with his uncle, “Posey Mathews.” He attended the local high school and graduated from there with the class of 1903. He then entered Michigan Military Academy and later received his A.B. degree from the University of Illinois.
Upon graduation, Hunt went to Chicago, where he spent two years in newspaper and magazine work. One day, however, he read a magazine article called “Barbarous Mexico,” which interested him so he deserted the life of a copy editor and journeyed, with his bride, to Southern Mexico, where he leased 400 acres and became a sugar planter.
After three years in Mexico the Hunts migrated back to Illinois, where Mr. Hunt bought a small weekly newspaper. While he edited his newspaper, he wrote stories and articles on the side, and when Colliers magazine bought two of his articles, he immediately embarked for New York, got a job on the New York Sun, was sent to Europe as a war correspondent, and began the adventurous career which has earned for him the title of the “world’s greatest interviewer.”
News-Journal, March 6, 1947, “Frazier Hunt a Charming Visitor To Boyhood Town. Found Many Friends and Familiar Haunts Left 44 Years Ago”:
Frazier Hunt’s visit to North Manchester was more than just another lecture on his schedule of lyceum appearances. It represented also his first return in 44 years to the town where he spent ten boyhood years. He came to North Manchester when he was seven to live with an aunt and uncle and remained until he graduated from high school. He left to go to college and subsequent events took him entirely away from this part of the country so that for many years he had no occasion to return. As he explained it Monday evening, the ten happiest years of his life were spent as a boy in North Manchester and he had come to think of it as in a dream. As the years lengthened in number he even began to grow reluctant to return for fear the changes might spoil his pleasant memories.
However, he was met by two boyhood friends, Gorman Grossnickle and Mel Swank, and the three spent Monday afternoon looking over the town, visiting old haunts and recalling boyhood pranks. Mr. Hunt confesses that North Manchester still retains the beauty and charm of the small town of his dreams. Stopping at the home where he had lived, he found the barn still standing, and inside on one wall, painted with the irregular letters of a small boy, he discovered a sign, “Hunt Brothers, Painters.” The brother, Jasper, was two years older than Frazier, and is now dead.
Monday evening at the Sheller hotel a group of old friends and a few new ones gathered at a dinner for Mr. Hunt....Mr. Hunt was seated between two members of his high school class of ’03, Miss Strickler and Mrs. Sam Grossnickle, formerly Minnie John. …
The lecture Mr. Hunt gave at Manchester College was entirely informal and his statements were simply and plainly put in conversational tones. His subject was “Russia,” but it was necessary to give a full explanation of the present situation in Germany to understand the possibilities of Russia’s future plans for Europe. It has been only two weeks since Mr. Hunt returned from a tour of Germany, and his listeners were given first hand information about actual conditions. He concurred completely with Ex-President Hoover’s recommendations for the feeding and rehabilitation of Germany by the United States. The building of friendships in Europe is America’s best insurance for peace in the future. Failures on our part will throw more areas under Russian domination. The average Russian, declared Mr. Hunt, is bewildered by the anti-American propaganda coming from the ambition-minded men of the Kremlin. There are millions still in the Russian army and other millions who served and know that most of their equipment bore the “Made in America” label. It is hard for a Russian to believe the stories of American inefficiency when a Studebaker truck is pulling his load through the mud.
Following the talk Mr. Hunt answered all questions from the audience and would have continued as long as the audience wanted. His manner was gracious and pleasant to all whom he met. A group of old time friends returned with Mr. Hunt to the hotel and remained until 4:00 o’clock in the morning reminiscing.
Tuesday morning Mr. Hunt with Mr. Swank and Mr. Grossnickle again visited around town and among other places came to The News-Journal office which he expressed a desire to see because he had at one time published a small weekly in Illinois before he became well known for his writings. He was especially interested in the equipment and would have remained longer had there been more time before his train was due at Fort Wayne. He did take time to look at the 1903 files, that being the year he graduated from the local high school. There he found the graduation story, and the titles of the graduation addresses. And there he came across his own name on the program, “A.F. Hunt, ‘How to Deal with the Trusts’.” …
Mr. Hunt and his wife are now living at Newton, Buck County, Pennsylvania. He owns a 300 acre farm there on which his son, daughter-in-law and two grandsons are living. Most of his time is engaged in writing, and among other things he and his son are collaborating on a book.
North Manchester Historical Society
Highlights of 2011
Celebrated 10 years on Main Street
Burned mortgage, we own building completely
Established facilities management committee
New track lights in front windows
New furnace/air conditioner on first floor
New air conditioning unit in office area
Cleaned out two back rooms for exhibit space
Removed wire and pipes for scrap sale
Painted back middle room, removed wallpaper and structures
Painted exterior back and side doors and interior bathroom doors
Water cooler and toilet leaks repaired
Installed light in garage stairway
Held 3 work days to clean and paint – M College students, board, First Brethren Church
Exhibits and Collection
Developed and displayed exhibit on family photographs
Developed and displayed exhibit on Oppenheim family and store
Hosted 3 traveling exhibits: family photos, maps and mapmakers, WWII photographer
Window displays on Peabody construction and fair grounds, Oppenheim family artifacts,
local maps, NMHS photographs and cameras, veterans, Christmas
Constructed four display modules
Constructed additional free-standing display walls
Re-painted and reinforced shabby divider screens
Constructed 16 gender-neutral mannequins for use in exhibits and displays
Constructed carts for tables and folding chairs
Recorded 98 accessions (960 individual items)
Have 550 additional items not yet processed
Installed movie screen
Constructed case for tree ring display
In process of restoring rare opera curtain
Improved labeling on some permanent exhibits
Thomas Marshall House
NM Rotary painted exterior
America in Bloom installed landscaping and fence
Installed water service
Updated furniture acquisition list, applied for grant to purchase furniture
Community Foundation/Wabash County grant awarded for construction of display cubicles
CFWC grant received for restoration of opera curtain
Grant and loan received for furnace and air conditioning upgrades
Grant application for furnace replacement in process
Final reports turned in for CFWC grants on fire extinguishers & exhibit display cubicles
Collection Assessment Program grant application in process
Indiana Humanities Council grant application for opera curtain programs in process
Functioned well during about 6 months of staff absences due to health concerns
Obtained new copier with lower overall costs
Participated in Indiana Historical Society (IHS) pilot museum assessment program
Participated in Funfest and Fall Harvest Festival
Reviewed dinner reservation procedures
Loaned items and traveling exhibit to Peabody Home for anniversary celebration
Attended IHS graphics design workshop
Attended regional IHS meetings for local historical organizations
Visited sister organizations in Columbia City, Warsaw, Rochester, Huntington,
Anderson, Delphi, Shelbyville (pioneer days) and James Whitcomb Riley house
New volunteers have been cultivated for projects such as programs and exhibits
Presentations made to Peabody for anniversary celebration, and to Rotary, Kiwanis and Shepherd’s Center
Met with Wabash County Museum staff to foster collaborative ventures
Hosted fabric conservator, reviewed collection management with her
Hosted meetings for Community Foundation of Wabash County (twice) and Rotary
Conducted tours for family and reunion groups
Another year of outstanding and varied dinner programs
Programs were well attended, with range of 82 to 150 attendees each month
Presented first annual Historic Preservation Month program with tours
Created “Behind the Scenes” Tour of Center for History
Developed program for visiting 2nd graders with MC elementary ed students
In process of revamping programs for visiting 3rd and 4th graders
In process of developing 10 to 12 programs in conjunction with opera curtain restoration
1938 film reviewed to increase identification of participants; in process of updating
Preliminary opera curtain work of conservator opened to public, HS and college students
Two more outstanding trips, to Mississippi River and Detroit
Trips full, feedback excellent
Newsletter and Website
4 attractive newsletters mailed on time
About 20,000 hits averaged to web site each month
Web activity recorded virtually every hour from all over the world
All newsletters to date are posted at web site (nmanchesterhistory.org)
Initiated Facebook and Twitter presence
Increased publicity in newspapers significantly this year
Revived weekly photo identification program in News Journal
Press releases for all dinner meetings, and posters for most
Press releases for special activities such as traveling exhibits and other programs
Developing a MC student internship in public relations for Center for History
Increased membership contributions by $2,675, added about 30 new members
Initiated reciprocal benefits program with local history museums
Joined national Time Travelers program
Meeting last year’s annual fund amount as of this date
Collected $548 at dinners from collection basket and meal surcharge to cover
complimentary speaker dinners and stipends/mileage
Bake sale ($724) a little less than last year, but with fewer hours and baked items
Toy DeWitt car being created for purchase in gift shop
NMHS Newsletter Editor--John Knarr, assisted by Bea Knarr