The Life of Oscar Hedstrom©

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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

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Oscar Hedstrom, the Man Behind the Machine©

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“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

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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

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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.

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(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.

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(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.

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Ride safe and above all, HAVE FUN!

A Motorcycle Compared to a Car

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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.

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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.

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

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

Motorcycles Outings©

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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.

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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”.

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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.

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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, vrumblesramblingbikerblog.wordpress.com

The Unions and Indian Motorcycles©

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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]

Sources:

“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.

You’re in the Army Now: MOTORCYCLES, SIDE CARS, BICYCLES, and WAGONS FOR WWI. ©

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“The need of the Army for motorcycles, side cars, and bicycles was so tremendous that for many months during the war practically the entire output of these vehicles of the kinds selected as being most suitable for Army use was taken by the Government.

It was found that the Indian and Harley-Davidson motorcycles were best adapted to meet the necessities of the Expeditionary Forces in France, and these types were standardized for overseas shipment.  Orders for a total of 39,070 Indian motorcycles were placed with the manufacturers at Springfield, Mass., and before the end of 1918, 18,081 of these had been delivered.  From the Harley-Davidson manufacturers at Milwaukee, Wis., the Government received 14,666 machines of the total of 26,487 ordered before the end of 1918.  In addition to the Harley-Davidson and Indian machines, 1,526 Cleveland motorcycles, made in Cleveland, Ohio, were contracted for, and 1,476 delivered previous to 1919.

Side-car equipment for the Indian and Harley-Davidson machines was bought in almost as great quantities as the motorcycles themselves.  In fact, the demand for motorcycles and side cars from these two concerns was so great that they were working at 100-per-cent capacity for the Government before the summer of 1918.

The needs of the Army for machines increased so steadily and the requirements were so vast that both the Indian and Harley-Davidson concerns had made large additions to their plants for meeting the Government needs at the time the armistice was signed.

A standard military bicycle was turned out for the Army by the Westfield Manufacturing Co., at Westfield, Mass., and other bicycles were ordered from the Great Western Manufacturing Co., at Laporte, Ind., and the Davis Sewing Machine Co., at Dayton, Ohio.”

In addition to the vast number of bicycles, motorcycles, and side cars the Army also ordered so many horse-drawn wagons that within one year of production all the air-dried lumber in the country had been exhausted necessitating the building of facilities for kiln drying newly cut lumber.  R. V. Board of the Kentucky Wagon Co.; A. B. Thilens of the Studebaker Corporation of America; E. E. Parsonage of the John Deere Wagon Co.; and R. W. Lea of the Moline Plow Co., were named members of an advisory committee to assist the Army in the procurement of such vehicles.

The first requisition for wagons was for 34,000 escort wagons.  Orders came a little later for drinking-water carts and wagons, medical and ration carts, combat wagons, veterinary ambulances, sprinkling wagons, and various other types of special needs vehicles.  Companies called upon to produce the wagons included Bain Wagon Co., Oshkosh, Wis., Columbia Wagon Co., Colungia, PA; Deere & Co., Moline, Ill.; Emerson-Brantingham Co., Rockford, Ill.; Florence Wagon Co., Florence, Ala.; Hackney Wagon Co., Wilson, N.C.; International Harvester Co., Memphis, Tenn.; Moline Plow Co., Moline, Ill.; Mogul Wagon Co., Hoskinsville, Ky.; Owensboro Wagon Co., Owensboro, Ky.; Pekin Wagon Co., Pekin, Ill.; Peter Schuttler Co., Chicago, Ill.; Springfield Wagon Co., Springfield, Mo.; Stroughton Wagon Co., Stoughton, Wis.; A. Streich & Bros. Co., Oshkosh, Wis.; Thornhill Wagon Co., Lynchburg, Va.; Tiffin Wagon Co., Tiffin, Ohio; Eagle Wagon Works, Auburn, N.Y.; A. A. Cooper Wagon & Buggy Co., Dubuque, Iowa; Winona Wagon Co., Winona, Minn.; White Hickory Wagon Co., Atlanta, Ga.; Kentucky Wagon Co., Louisville, Ky.; Studebaker Corporation, South Bend, Ind.; American Car & Foundry Co., Jeffersonville, Ind. –  Source:  “American Munitions 1917-1918”.  U.S. War Dept.  1919.

© Vickie (Rumble) Brady, vrumblesramblingbikerblog.com

Motorcycles on the Farm©

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We are slaves to a small farm and are also riders, so any mention of farming and motorcycles is of special interest, particularly articles from the era when motorcycles and automobiles first came on the scene and their use overlapped that of horses and buggies.  It was a transition which took some years to fully evolve and I find the contrast fascinating.

Earlier I posted a piece on George M. Hendee of Indian and his farm in Conn., and while there’s no famous person involved in this piece it does reflect on the use of the earliest motorcycles on the farm.  Why do I have an image in my head of me riding around the place trying to balance a basket of eggs on my head?

“The motorcycle is speedy and inexpensive in operation.  It requires but little storage room and can be used on poor roads.  For these reasons it is adapted to the use of single men on the farm.  On a motorcycle they can go to town easily and quickly after the chores are done; the farmer boy, too, can get away for an afternoon at a ball game or to go hunting.  If a side car is used, two persons may go on a pleasure trip.  In general the motorcycle may be used for pleasure just as a horse and single buggy are used, with the advantage that much greater distances may be covered in a given time.

As a business machine, the motorcycle is of great use when hurried trips to town are necessary.  In sections where hired men insist on the use of a horse, a man who owns a motorcycle is entitled to more pay than others because he needs no horse.  On the other hand, it is well to have a definite understanding with the motor cyclist, so that he may not spend too much time on the road.

The capacity of the motorcycle is limited to 2 or at most 3 passengers even when a side car is used; and unless the roads are good, the side car must be left at home and the 2 persons ride tandem.  The motorcycle can be used but little for carrying produce, though it is a fine thing for the rural mail carrier.  Few women ride motorcycles but the side car can be used by a woman quite comfortably if the roads are good.  For its capacity, the motorcycle gives a great deal of pleasure and is very serviceable.  Its principal limitation is lack of carrying capacity.  The first cost of the motorcycle is reasonable and is the principal one, and if properly cared for, the machine entails but a small upkeep.

Before purchasing a motorcycle, the farmer should consider several factors.  One is, of course, the first cost.  Another is the amount of use he can make of it both for himself and for his family.  If he is purchasing for the boys, he should consider whether they are capable of caring for the machine and using it wisely.  A third factor is the real value of the machine for business purposes.  In some cases it can be used for many trips and for long rides…

Speeding and fast riding cause many motorcycle accidents.  The rider must watch the road closely because his machine is easily unbalanced.  Curves must be taken with discretion, to avoid the skidding of the machine from under the rider.  Mud and sand must be negotiated with care, otherwise a nasty spill may result.

When a side car is used, it must be so fastened that the front wheel is not pulled out of line.

The motorcycle requires careful handling if serious accidents are to be prevented.  One should learn to ride by practicing on little-used roads before he attempts to go where there is much traffic.”

Source:  “Farm Knowledge:  A Complete Manual of Successful Farming Written by Recognized Authorities in All Parts of the Country; Based on Sound Principles and the Actual Experience of Real Farmers”.  Prepared exclusively for Sears, Roebuck and Co.  1918.

 

© Victoria (Rumble) Brady – vrumblesramblingbikerblog.wordpress.com

George M. Hendee & Hilltop Farm ©

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At a recent gathering of the Coosa River Riders, an Indian riders group hosted by Big Number One in Birmingham, AL, I learned one of the men involved raises Katahdin sheep and, since I want to eventually own a few, I was pretty interested in his operation.  Perhaps a discussion on raising sheep was a little out of place at a lunch for motorcyclists, but then again, maybe not.

While most everyone with any interest in Indians knows that George M. Hendee was an award-winning bicyclist and the founder of the company that eventually launched Indian Motorcycles, but perhaps few know that Mr. Hendee was also a gentleman farmer and involved in animal husbandry during the early 20th century.

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The Hendee Manufacturing Co. became the Indian Motorcycle Co. in 1923.  His hugely successful career wound down with the announcement of his retirement in 1916.  “The desire on the part of George M. Hendee to retire from the activities of the Hendee Manufacturing Company has been known among his associates for the past three years, but only recently was the desire made possible through the larger interests hinting that they would not be adverse to further increasing their holdings in the Hendee Manufacturing Company”.  That verbage referred to the purchase of Hendee’s stock by his successor in the company, John F. Alvord.

“This gave Mr. Hendee the looked-for opportunity which would allow him to retire and enjoy to its full extent his beautiful estate in Suffield, Conn., with the result that a deal was consummated, not only for the sale and purchase of his entire holdings in the Hendee Manufacturing Company, but also he was to be relieved from active duties to become effective not later than August 1”.  – “Motorcycle Illustrated.  July 27, 1916.

He expressed a desire to remain active in his life and not to, “lie down and die”, after his retirement saying how much he valued each employee who had been loyal to him and to the company.  With those sentiments he also said, “I am very much in love with my farm down in Suffield, and we are doing some interesting things there.  We have a herd of about 70 Guernseys that cattle experts say are first class; we are growing alfalfa and the first cutting this year shows it to be a success.  I have about 265 acres down there and I am going to get all the pleasure and value out of it I can”.

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Hendee then retired to the farm which eventually consisted of 500 acres with a 17 room manor house.  His prize Guernseys became known as Hilltop Butterfats and his poultry plant for breeding white leghorn chickens was quite successful making Hilltop Farm legendary for milk, dairy products, and poultry products.  He, and stock that he sold, can be found in numerous publications including the Guernsey Breeders’ Journals of 1921 and 1922.

He built a barn which was equipped with state of the art sanitary features.  The barn survives, however, the home was torn down in 1961 and the land gobbled up by the campus of St. Alphonsus College which was later known as the Lincoln Culinary Institute.  The barn is 18,700 square feet and is so striking that upon first seeing a photograph this author mistakenly assumed it was the home.  It is a sprawling two-story white Colonial style facility complete with silo “turrets” on each side of the entrance and numerous gables.  It has been referred to as the “Monster Barn” and “Connecticut’s Agricultural Cathedral”.

Hendee was 50 years old when he made this change in his life and lived on his beloved Hilltop Farm until 1940 when his health prompted him to sell the farm and move into a smaller home in Suffield.  He died in 1943 at the age of 76.

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Born Oct. 2, 1866 in Watertown, CT, died June 13, 1943 at Suffield, George Mallory Hendee was the son of William Goodell Hendee and Emma Dwight Upton Hendee.  He is buried at the Springfield Cemetery in Springfield, Mass.  Today the barn is open to tours operated by the Friends of Hilltop Farm.  A number of events are scheduled at the site annually including Hendee Day and Motorcycle Rally which will be held July 23rd this year.

© Victoria (Rumble) Brady, vrumblesramblingbikerblog.wordpress.com

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