Motorcycles and Side Cars in WWI

The following information came from a book published in 1919, “First Deficiency Appropriation Bill, 1919, Hearings Before Subcommittee of House Committee on Appropriations” and pertains only to machines being requested by the U.S. Army.  It does not include those used by other branches of service.


Motorcycles and side cars were work-horses in the army, and by researching the First Deficiency Appropriation Bill, 1919, Hearings Before Subcommittee of House Committee on Appropriations we find some interesting statistics. Let’s look at those statistics as they pertain to motorcycles and motorcycle side car outfits.


In 1919, the estimate submitted by the Army for purchasing motorcycles was $40,558,662.60. The Committee Chairman of the Appropriations Committee asked what was the number of motorcycles estimated for an army of 30 divisions. The answer was 30,424. There were 28,172 motorcycles with side cars and 2,252 solos without side cars.

When asked for a break-down of how the motorcycles were used, Col. Noble explained that there were some organizations known as motorcycle companies, so many were assigned to the different headquarters and various organizations, such as regimental brigades and division headquarters. “They are used mostly for messenger service and also for machine-gun organizations”.

The unit cost for a solo motorcycle was $175 and the motorcycle side car fit for such hard service was $400. “The solos, I think, are Indians, and the others are Harley-Davidson cars. The solos have one cylinder and have a smaller horsepower than the ones that carry the side cars. But the Indian motorcycle does carry a side car.”

Capt. Smith said there was no problem with availability in purchasing the requested number of motorcycles and side cars, but there was a bit of difficulty in obtaining enough tubing for the frames used to attach the side cars. “There seems to be a very great demand for tubing in this country for war purposes, and the only hold up at all has been on the question of the tubing”.

The number of bikes and the number of soldiers they would supply was broken down further. The number of motorcycles requested with those in existence were expected to serve three armies of 30 divisions each with 3,780,000 men for the three armies on the basis given of 90 divisions of 42,000 men each. Capt. Smith agreed with the Chairman this was a motorcycle for every 41 men.

The Chairman then asked, “Will you have left anybody to walk or ride on anything else?”  Apparently he thought the Army was requesting an awful lot of machines.

Maintenance estimates were figured at the same for a motorcycle as an automobile or truck – 60 per cent for the first army, 15 per cent for the second army, and 5 per cent for the third.

That made 80 percent for one army. Expressed in motorcycles it would be an addition of 24,339 for the three armies. Of the 91,272 motorcycles 84,526 would have side cars. That number was expected to carry 175,000 men on motorcycles counting the side cars.

The request for transportation didn’t end with motorcycles and side cars. It also included 19,393 Army issued bicycles. It would be interesting to know if most of those motorcycles ended up as army surplus purchased back home, the number that were damaged beyond repair, and whether any of them were put into service again for WWII.

Early Female Riders: Anke-Eve Goldmann©


The earliest women riders and racers are notoriously difficult to document and Anke Eve Goldmann is no exception.  I found lots of photos but little first-hand information on her.  There was one piece that has been quoted on countless Pinterest posts and in Wikipedia and a few stray tidbits here and there which have all been combined in an effort to highlight this lady rider, however, she certainly bears more research than this author has time for at present.


“Anke Eve Golman was a journalist for Cycle World, Das Motorrad in Germany, & Moto Revue in France. She was a friend of author André Pieyre de Mandiargues and the inspiration for the main character, ‘Rebecca’, in his book The Motorcycle (1963). The book was adapted for the 1968 film The Girl on a Motorcycle starring Marianne Faithful. She was the first woman to ride a motorcycle with a one-piece leather racing suit. In 1958, she helped found the Women’s Int’l Motorcycle Assoc. in Europe.”

Aside from the preceding paragraph I read that she taught German to airmen’s children at a U.S. Air Force base in Germany.  Her one-piece leather racing suit, for which she seems to have created a bit of sensationalism, was made by Harro, a German manufacturer.  She rode BMW’s and eventually became a spokesperson for them.

The imagination behind the Women’s Intl. Motorcycle Assoc. [WIMA] seems to have been Louise Scherbyn, assistant editor for “Motorcycle” magazine.  Women in different locations pitched in to help with the formation of the association, Goldmann providing assistance from Germany along with Ellen Pfeiffer.   Assistance was provided by women in France, Switzerland, Czechoslovakia, and Australia and WIMA was then truly international.  Theresa Wallach was the first president.

On April 21, 1961 Anke-Eve sent a letter to Gerald West , a motorcycle journalist in Ohio.  It was purchased from the West estate and is found online, however, I could find no information on who purchased the letter and posted it online to ask for permission to use it here.  Rather than risk copyright infringement by posting a copy here, I will quote passages of interest.  She had written to numerous Americans involved in motorcycling asking for photos of American female riders but found very few willing to help her.  The letter discusses her failed attempts to obtain the photos and her reply regarding American riders/racers.

“One of them published rather foolishly a letter from me, and I was flooded by a deluge of letters from men who proposed to marry me, but neither could tell me a word of what I was interested in:  female motorcyclists in the US.  At last I managed to get in touch with the Motor Maids [chartered in 1941].  Some of them wrote to me, and also sent some photographs which, to be frank, I disliked heartily.  The ladies were shown in a type of circus parade, in fancy uniforms, something between firemen and tambourette majors, and the whole MMA organization very much looked like a social entertainment club but not like a motorcycle club.  I was told that some of the girls do real sport on their bikes, but I never managed to get one on the line.  I had a very nice letter or two from Dot Robinson, and I understand that she must be an expert rider of highest qualities.  But she is quite occupied with various jobs and barely has the time to enter a correspondence on private terms. . . You ask if the German press is covering US motorcycle events.  In general, no, as the style of motorcycling here is quite different from US practice.  Every show is loathed, and a guy with crossbones on his leather jacket or chromium gadgets on his motorcycle will be simply laughed at and not taken for full.  You see, we have some GIs here, who have sort of milkbar cowboy manners with them, riding open exhaust motorcycles with ultra high handle bars, mustang panniers, and death skulls on their helmets.  That’s why.  And US racing is made under AMA rules, not FIM [The Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme] rules, and there is not too much interest in events like Daytona here.

For more see:  “Motorrad” 2-6-1996; “Cycle World”, Vol. 13, CBS Pub, 1974; “Piston Poppin, American Motorcyclist” Nov. 1959; “The Women’s Guide to Motorcycling”, Lynda Lahman (online).

The Life of Oscar Hedstrom©

Hedstrom marker

Oscar Hedstrom and his parents immigrated to America from Sweden in 1880.  The Hedstroms could be considered part of a major immigration pattern from Sweden to Connecticut, however, they lived in Brooklyn, NY before moving on to Connecticut.  Connecticut was ranked third in the U.S. for the highest percentage of foreign-born residents in 1930 with Swedes following the Italians, Irish, Poles, Canadians, Germans, English, and Russians in number.  The bulk of that immigration occurred between 1880 and 1914.

Oscar (born March 12, 1871 in Sweden and died of pneumonia and influenza on August 29, 1960 in Glastonbury, Conn.) and his parents, Anders Pettar (Americanized to Andrew, 1840-1919) and Carolina Danielsdotter Hedstrom (1843-1915), are buried in the Swedish Cemetery in Portland, Connecticut along with other members of the Hedstrom family.

Oscar seems to have been an amiable chap despite amassing wealth over the years.  “Outwardly reserved and of a retiring disposition, Mr. Hedstrom is a most companionable, whole-souled man”.  His home in Portland was described as one of the most beautiful country estates in Portland.  – “The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography”.

Portland, where the Hedstroms lived in later years, was called the “Brownstone Town” because of the many brownstone quarries where large numbers of Swedes found employment.

Unlike some other ethnic groups, the Swedes sought to assimilate themselves into the American culture including learning to speak English.  They availed themselves of informal education through neighbors and co-workers as well as evening schools that taught the language and local history.

“The evening schools have taken great care to instruct the foreign born in the local history of Hartford and have sought to arise [sic] in them an appreciation of the fine art of being good citizens and to develop in them a love for the priceless heritage of American ancestry, and all that such a heritage stands for.”  – O’Connor, David E.  “The Swedish Element in Connecticut”.  Oct. 1985.

Oscar Hedstrom married Julia Andersson, herself and her parents Swedish immigrants.  Julia had siblings who were also in the area so while the two of them were not American born they enjoyed the closeness and support of relatives from both sides of their family.

Julia Hedstrom

The 1900 census is a little skewed, but as a genealogist I know that in those days census takers took what information was relayed to them at each house without questioning it.  The census taker might not have entirely understood, when Caroline or Andrew Hedstrom told him they had a son named Oscar, that Oscar wasn’t actually living in their household.  Oscar, age 29 is listed in the household of Andrew Hedstrom, but is also listed with his wife, Julia, as a resident in the household of Julia’s father, Alfred Anderson.

In 1900 Oscar’s occupation was mechanic.

By 1910, he was listed as a Vice President in the motorcycle industry.

By 1930, Oscar and Julia owned their own home valued at $25,000, in Portland, Connecticut.  Oscar was a naturalized citizen.

When the next census was taken in 1940, Oscar was retired. He had an 8th grade education, and their home was valued at $45,000.

Oscar and Julia had a daughter, Helen, born May 10, 1901, and died March 6, 1990, and a son, Howard, born January 1, 1904 and died September 25, 1910, age six, of infantile paralysis, better known as polio.  – Keating, R. K.  “Wheel Man:  Robert M. Keating, Pioneer of Bicycles, Motorcycles, and Automobiles”.  2014.

Helen Hedstrom

Sidenotes:  Oscar’s corncrib from his farm now sits on the grounds of the Ruth Callander House, built in 1715, donated by the Mattabeseck Audubon Society who had it moved to the museum grounds.

One of the properties owned by Oscar and Julia is at 400 William St., Portland.  The home has 1,352 square feet and sits on 11 acres, with a 17-stall barn and a 50×70 arena.  Another Hedstrom property is a 4,000 square feet structure pictured below, left lower corner.

home of Oscar Hedstrom

Oscar Hedstrom, the Man Behind the Machine©



“A man in the street once remarked:  ‘When I think, or hear, or see motorcycles I always think of the Indian.’  This psychology might be applied further in the sense that to think of the Indian is to think of Oscar Hedstrom, its creator, for the two are inseparably linked.  In the vocabulary of the day, Hedstrom was the man who put the ‘mote’ in motorcycles, ‘way back in 1901, and the Indian has been ‘moting’ pretty steadily ever since.

Sweden has a reputation for turning out some pretty good inventors, and the standard was not lowered any by the production of Oscar Hedstrom.  Rather it was enhanced measurably.  America, the land of opportunity, looked pretty good to Hedstrom’s parents about the time he was nine years old, and they ‘obeyed that impulse.’  Brooklyn school-marms were entrusted with grounding the lad from the Land of the Midnight Sun, in the three ‘R’s.’  Their lot was an unenviable one, for although an apt pupil, young Hedstrom much preferred teaching’s of Peck’s ‘Bad Boy.’

When the grammar institution finished with Hedstrom, his shop career commenced.  He entered a watch case factory, and when he came out he was a crackajack toolmaker.  Before graduating from the shop classroom, he took up bicycle racing, which was the proper thing in those days, 1894.

At first he raced outside of shop hours, and gradually made the sport his profession.  Hedstrom was more than an ordinary rider, for he won the one-half-mile indoor championship at Madison Square Garden in 1899, with Eddie Bald, Arthur Gardiner, Nat Butler, Harry Caldwell and other stars in the final.  Before he had been racing long, Hedstrom was conceited enough to think that he could build better racing wheels than a lot of other people were building.

He went ahead and built a few, and the men who rode them won so easily with them that the builder became well known almost overnight. . .

[Soon Hedstrom’s wheels bore the nameplates for major companies.  Hedstrom next tackled the DeDion motors and was quite successful.]

Hedstrom knew more about motors in those days than any of the other racing men, and when they wanted their machines ‘dinged’ they asked him to do it.  [For $10 Hedstrom would completely overhaul a motor.]

Middletown, Conn., 40 miles below Springfield, on the Connecticut River, was the birthplace of the Indian motorcycle in the spring of 1901.  Here, in the plant of the Worcester Cycle Manufacturing Company, where earlier he had built racing bicycles and motor tandems, Hedstrom secluded himself from the world, put on his apron and went to work, and in four months the Indian was born.  He made all his drawings, and some of the patterns for that first machine.

Now Hedstrom had the utmost confidence that his machine would run, and he insisted on having every part nickeled or enameled and completely finished before he took it out for trial.  There were some who had serious doubts that the machine would run, and they couldn’t understand why Hedstrom insisted on wasting time, as they thought finishing a machine which had never been tried.

Hedstrom wasn’t saying anything, but the first time he took the machine out, he gave a demonstration that made the skeptics feel like a flat tire.  Although the engine was only 1 ¾ horsepower, Hedstrom picked out a 9 percent hill and towed a 180-pound rider on a bicycle up it, to utter astonishment of his audience, including George M. Hendee.  This was President Hendee’s first demonstration of the capabilities of the machine, on the manufacture of which he staked his fortunes.

Then Hedstrom came back to motor racing, not with a tandem, but with the Indian, to which he now gave himself over entirely.  Early in the twentieth century threw was a bicycle track circuit in New England, and Hedstrom used to go to these meets and give exhibitions.  This was along in 1902 and 1903. . .

At the first big automobile race meet on the beach at Daytona, Fla., in 1903, Hedstrom was on hand and made some of the big cars look like canal boats for speed.  For the next few years he was on hand at all the big motorcycle events.  In 1907 he stopped racing and settled down to develop the Indian.

[Hedstrom not only developed the machine, he developed riders who became winners including all the top names of the day.  He put them on Indians and taught them to win races.]

Of late years Hedstrom has played a new role.  After starring as an inventor, designer, and rider, he went into the architectural field and planned all the new buildings of the Indian plant, since it first was moved to the present site.  He also keeps tabs on the experimental work, and is a sort of advisory board all in himself.  When something in the shop gets snarled up they come to him.

Hedstrom doesn’t live in Springfield anymore; that is, legally.  He has a beautiful country place at Portland, 40 miles down the river, and travels back and forth in his car.  His present hobby is motor boating, and he has won the motor boat championship of the Connecticut two years in succession, with Indian I and Indian II.  His clubs are the Royal Automobile Club of Great Britain, Springfield Yacht, and Nyasset.”

Source:  “Motorcycle Illustrated”.  1913.

1913 Indian Sidecar


In the early days of motorcycling sidecars were extremely popular.  Illustrations show both male and female passengers.  There were sidecars made to fit certain makes and models and universal sidecars said to fit on just about any bike.  Below is an ad from 1913 about a sidecar built by Hendee specifically for Indians.

Of Hendee manufacture throughout is the Indian sidecar with underslung chassis and all-metal body of the side-entrance type.  The framing is of staunch tubing and double trussed with three connections to the motorcycle.  The sidecar wheel is not sprung but, as fitted to an Indian motorcycle, the outfit is in fine balance, enabling the rider to run “hands off” and rendering steering of the outfit remarkably easy.  The body has a side door and is most comfortable, having ample leg room and seat space for the passenger.  It is upholstered in black leather and the general color is Indian red with this exception.  The mudguard is five inches wide and is provided with a cowl at the side and front, being attached to the body instead of the frame.  The equipment includes storm aprons and a foot mat, and a tool-box is fitted in the body under the removable seat.


Source:  “Motorcycle Illustrated”.  1913.

The Coosa Riders IMRG Enjoy Events


Chapter meeting Oct. 15, 2017, at Indian Motorcycle of Birmingham, aka Big Number One Powersports.  This is a great bunch of riders who really enjoy the ride. Look at that lineup of Indians!!!  After a meeting to elect officers, Wayne Nero led the group on a scenic ride through old town Helena and on to lunch in Pelham.



(Wayne says, “It only took this much!” to be able to change from one back rest to another according to what their needs are on any particular day”.)

Blake Howard describes the affliction of owning a new Indian and still feeling an overpowering urge to inspect spit-polished showroom models or fellow riders’ bikes for any customization as “shineyitis”, pronounced Shiney-I-tis, and I believe the chapter members are severely afflicted.


(Blake, left, explaining to Dobbie the malady of shineyitis and how it can be controlled by regularly adding shiney custom details to our bikes.)

The Coosa Riders Chapter of IMRG (Indian Motorcycle Riders Group) displayed their bikes at the Polaris factory in Huntsville, AL during the Trail of Tears Ride in September.

New models of Polaris products are displayed in the showroom and everyone present made at least two complete laps through the showroom to take it all in.   Polaris is making a new military vehicle which really caught my eye.  If I were rolling in cash and couldn’t find a way to spend it, I believe I’d have a blast out in the field with one of these.



Ride safe and above all, HAVE FUN!

A Motorcycle Compared to a Car


Ner-A-Car was designed by Carl Neracher (thus the name) in 1918 and was manufactured in the U.S. and England.  It had a friction drive transmission and a low perimeter frame chassis.  Its features, including hub-center steering and a longer wheel-base, combined to produce a very stable vehicle which was considered ideal for women.  It was marketed towards both sexes but because the weight was at foot level instead of seat level it  required less body strength to balance while not in motion.  Its attributes were said to be closer to those of an automobile than a motorcycle.

I am a nostalgic nut.  I love vintage bikes, cars, clothing, shoes, I love it all.  I am fascinated with the various designs of early bikes and the whole transition from horse-drawn to motorized vehicles era.  I can’t resist an article or photo about a non-motorized conveyance that was converted to a motor-driven one.  I was naturally drawn to this vintage machine.  They’re fairly easily found and provided one can afford the $20,000 or so for the bike and a small fortune for restoration it could follow one home.  Maybe I should run out and buy lottery tickets.


Because the motor and tank were low to the ground the Ner-A-Car allowed the rider to step through the frame rather than over the tank and allowed women to ride wearing skirts and dresses while mounting and riding.  Photos show ladies wearing heels as well.



Anyone looking for an interesting ride should check out the Ner-A-Car Museum at 478 N. Salina St., Syracuse, NY.


[The website did not come up when I googled it.  If anyone objects to the use of the image I will remove it.]

Motorcycles Outings©


, ,

Charlie Mihalik of the Yorkville Motorcycle Co., Ace dealer, New York and friends P. J. Bailey of the Ace Factory and Walter D. Batterson, Harley-Davidson dealer of Corning, N.Y. used their machines to get them to and from their fishing and hunting excursions.  They were reported as having, “returned from a week’s outing and hunting trip in the woods”, their conveyances consisting of three sidecar outfits, guns, ammo, camping equipment, clothing, and camera supplies.  Batterson and Fish were successful hunting partridges while Charlie set out for pelts coming back with three he planed to have made into a luxurious set of fur gauntlets for his winter riding.  “All three pelts came off the kind of little black Kitties that have white stripes down their faces, and when Charlie brought them in the rest of the bunch knew of his success long before they saw him”.  – “Motorcycle Illustrated”.  Nov. 30, 1922.


The following month Mahalik, Batterson, Ed Fish, and Bailey set off for their hunting lodge in their motorcycle side car rigs.  The side cars were packed with duffle-bags in which were packed hunting equipment, extra clothing, guns, boots, ammo, camera supplies and other gear.  The day before they set out, Fish and Batterson rode to Long Island for some duck hunting and on the way were struck by an automobile.  “The violence of the impact caused the motorcycle and sidecar to turn two complete somersaults, throwing both Batterson and Fish many feet from the machine and causing many painful bruises…”.  The car in question did not stop to see if the men were injured or offer any assistance.

They drove the motorcycle back to Yorkville and had the spokes of the sidecar wheel (the point of contact with the automobile) repaired and some dents straightened out and set off in search of deer.  The men were the guests of Sheriff Schoonover and for a week packed into every day “exercise and satisfaction”.  Mahalik bagged himself a deer after which he walked back to the lodge to get his motorcycle.  The deer was put into the sidecar and driven back to their lodgings, hung, skinned, and dressed.  “Motorcycle Illustrated”.  Dec. 1922.

The October 19, 1922 issue of the same magazine contained a photo of William S. Harley and William Davidson, you guessed it, as they returned from a fishing excursion.  “The two Bills left the factory after working hours and rode out twenty-five miles to a lake that has the reputation of being well fished out.  With a full moon in their favor, they got in about five hours of fishing and when they called it quits, had 39 pounds of pike and bass to their credit.  The big pike that shows so prominently in the pucture weighed 8 ¼ pounds”.




One can find numerous stories of camping excursions with motorcycles in the old magazines.  One in particular seems to have been a great trip for all.  A group of people, men and women, left with several riders and a sidecar outfit carrying pup tents, blankets, rubber blankets, mess kit and cups.  The author extolled the pleasures of supper by the campfire followed by breakfast of piles of bacon and hot coffee.  The accompanying photo showed a dozen or more people in their tents.

“Recreation”, May 1916, carried an article by W. H. Wallace of his camping excursions from his bike and a detailed list of what he carried with him.  His food, toilet articles, and camping equipment (tent, poncho, blankets, water bucket, wash basin, candle lantern, camp stove, rubber match box, fry pan, cooking pot, tin cup, tin plate, bread pan, knife and fork, tablespoon, dessert spoon, camp axe, trenching tool, canteen, sweater, change of underwear, cheesecloth, and a ball of cord) fit into cardboard carrying cases.  The pot, skillet, mess kit, etc. nested so tightly together that it took little space to pack and did not rattle while riding.




Outdoor excursions were so popular that in November that year the magazine advised dealers on how to successfully stage a seasonal window display.  The photo had a mock-up cabin in the background with a deer head and antlers hanging from the front, lots of tree branches to simulate the look of being in the woods, two hungers with rifles, and a motorcycle parked underneath some of the branches.  It was an ingenious sales tactic.

Scenic rides have been part of riding since the first bike fired up, some were just a little more out of the ordinary than others.  The Nov. 30, 1922 issue carried a photo and a caption on a trip made by a young woman.  “Mrs. Maud M. Randall, of Atlanta, Ga., recently drove her motorcycle and sidecar outfit from Atlanta to Providence, R. I., where she is a guest of her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Albert A. Watson.  Mrs. Randall is an all-around sportswoman, an equestrienne of note, and the owner of several prize-winning dogs.  Two of them, valued at $1,000 each are taking a ride in the sidecar”. The magazine neither indicated she made the trip alone or accompanied by her husband.

© Vickie (Rumble) Brady,

The Unions and Indian Motorcycles©



It will be seen from this piece that George M. Hendee and probably his executives made quite a nice living cranking out Indian motorcycles, and I should point out that the articles this piece came from were published just prior to Mr. Hendee selling out his interest in the company and retiring to his farm in Suffield, CT.

In July 1914, a trade magazine called “Plasterer” published a letter documenting the strike at the Indian Motorcycle Company after workers’ reportedly already modest wages were cut by $1.10 per day.  Today we would never notice that amount, a cup of coffee costs more than $1.10, but in 1914 that was a significant amount.  A host of other trade magazines published similar accounts in support of the striking workers.

The company had cut their work force from 3,000 men to a mere 500 and union workers called a strike.  On January 5th, 1914 the original 125 strikers walked out and in July were still standing out, “steadfastly, loyally, sternly, honestly…” and according to the letter many Eastern tracks had barred Indians from their races in support of the strikers.

Once the story broke and all union workers were encouraged to support the striking workers other comments began to circulate.  Switchmen reported in their journal that the company had also refused to use union labor when constructing their buildings.

At a time when the eight-hour work day, the 40-hour week, nor any other fair labor practice was the norm, the union men obviously supported one another when conditions warranted.  Some journals went so far as to advise their union employees, “Don’t ride an Indian!”  A reduction in sales or the fear of one coupled with at least some tracks banning Indians in races more than likely prompted the company to reach an agreement with the workers.

Union men supporting other Union men is a little easier to understand than tracks harshly banning Indian motorcycles in races for fellows who saved to buy their dream machine only to be turned away from the races.

“The metal polishers have demanded nothing unreasonable of the Hendee Company; the workers on strike have been subsisting carefully, economically, living, indeed, from hand to mouth—but they are living hopefully, buoyantly, and filled with the belief that, as progress indicates, in the end the Hendee Company will be compelled to treat fairly with organized labor—they will have much to charge up to “experience”…These men do not ask alms.  Far from it; but they do ask that every loyal unionist remember that the Hendee Indian Motorcycle is produced in a shop that once hired 3,000 men.  Remember that this factory, with its millions of capital, now employs 500 men. “

A journal for shoe workers said in July 1914 that the Massachusetts State Board of Arbitration had ruled the wage reduction was a violation of the company’s agreement with its employees and that the Hendee Company was responsible for the continuation of the strike.  They recommended that the company take the men back under the same conditions that existed prior to the salary cut.  Spokesmen for the company replied in the negative and the strike continued.

Workers’ wages were cut while the company was valued at $12,000,000.  In 2016 dollars, that equates to $291,172,966.49.  No one would have known in 1914 the full impact WWI would soon have on sales, or even that there would be a war in Europe, but by 1918 sales would increase to the point that the company couldn’t crank out the bikes fast enough.  Was this a case of a company already enjoying economic prosperity while poised on the brink of unprecedented sales increases cutting wages?

Per “Our Journal:  Official Organ of the M.P.B.P.”, a settlement was reached on July 21, 1914, or as the editor put it, “The Indian Motorcycle Company and their striking polishers and buffers have smoked the “pipe of peace” in the big wigwam at Springfield, Mass., and peace reigns.”  The company also made peace with the Building Trades Council.

One can tell from the list of publications below that once the men began the strike their Union brethren from all trades supported them wholeheartedly, and when an equitable settlement was reached they were as quick to forgive and publicize that as well.  Unfortunately, that wasn’t the end of the company’s Union troubles, but by then George Hendee had left the company and was concentrating on raising cows and chickens on his farm. [See previous post]


“The Plasterer”.  July 1914.

“The Carpenter”.   July, 1914.

“The Shoe Workers’ Journal”.  July 1914.

“The Journal of the Switchmen’s Union of North America”.  Sept. 1914.

“International Stereotypers’ and Electrotypers’ Union Journal”.  March 1914.

“Stove Mounters’ & Range Workers’ Journal”.  March 1914.

“Our Journal”.  Aug. 1914.

“Machinists’ Monthly Journal”.   Dec. 1917.

“Glassworker:  Official Organ of the Amalgamated Glassworker”.  Sept. 1914.

“The Boilermakers’ Journal”.  Sept. 1914.

“Railway Carmen’s Journal”.  July 1914.

“The Tobacco Worker”.  July 1914.

“The Stone Cutters’ Journal”.  March 1914.

“Plumbers, Gas, and Steam Fitters Journal”.   Sept. 1914.

“The Painter and Decorator”.  March 1914.

“Sheet Metal Workers’ Journal”.  March 15, 1914.