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.



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”.


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.


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,



The Care of Motorcycles



“Generally speaking, the care of motorcycles calls for little more than a display of common sense, ordinary thoughtfulness and some precaution combined with a minimum of manual effort.

Common sense dictates cleanliness and, as in all things, this virtue, or lack of it, has a direct bearing on the amount of repair that becomes necessary.  Usually the motorcyclist who waits until trouble troubles him does not have long to wait.  A motorcycle is a machine, and all machines require some attention.  They cannot attend to themselves.

As insurance against stoppages and vexatious delays:

Avoid unnecessary tinkering, but do use wrench, pliers, and screwdriver for periodically going over all nuts, screws and connections—not some, but all—and, while you are about it, keep your eyes open for weakened wires or frayed ends.

Take up any undue slack in belt or chain or compensating sprocket.

Strain the gasoline.

Use only known qualities of oil.

Test the battery with an ammeter.

See that tires are well inflated.

When on the road:

Oil, and oil regularly.  It is of supreme importance.  When in doubt, do not fail to oil.

Let the burnt oil out of the motor base occasionally.

Don’t open your muffler when there is no real necessity for doing so.

Cut off power occasionally in descending hills.  It greatly cools and helps the engine.

When the motor is running rightly, let well enough alone.  Don’t keep changing the mixture.

When you have completed your ride:

Inject a few squirts of kerosene into the cylinder while it is still warm and “turn over” the engine a few times.  It’s a small attention and cleansing operation that pays large returns.

Clean the machine as soon as possible.  Mud caked over the radiating flanges of the motor soon causes it to heat unduly; sand and dirt permitted to accumulate in the muffler cause it to muffle too effectively, creating a back pressure, which deprives the motor of some of its power, sometimes causing it to overheat, and generally impairing its effectiveness.”

Source:  “Care and Repair of Motorcycles”.  Bicycling World Co.  NYNY.  1908.


Motorcycles Carry Missionaries and Bible Women


“While carrying the full amount of regular work, special attention has been given to strengthening the evangelistic forces.  One hundred and forty missionaries are definitely engaged in evangelistic work and fifty more are needed for this service.  Two hundred new Bible women have been taken on, multiplying many times the effectiveness of the missionary.  Since missionary and Bible women must travel far as they go on to the villages, they should travel fast.  To this end forty-four automobiles, most of them staunch Fords, have been provided, but many lands have no roads for even these.  Two wheels may go where four cannot and bicycles, or a motorcycle have been sent…”.  – “The Methodist Year-book”.



Some of the foreign papers devoted to outdoor sports sometimes depict women riders of the motorcycle, but on this side of the water the sport has made rather slow progress.  A western maker of motorcycles, has, however, completed one of these machines for his 15-year old daughter, and, as she promptly made 65 miles with it over country roads on her first trip, she may be regarded as being to the manner born.  The dropping of the frame has naturally brought about some construction problems, which seem to have been well solved.  The machine is belt-driven, and in order to avoid the risk of catching the rider’s skirts both wheels have casings.

The maker has also been confronted with a number of other problems in the adaptation of the motorcycle to a woman’s use which are more difficult to overcome, at least for the maker himself, for they lie somewhat outside of his province.  They are, in fact, more closely connected with the marketing of the machine, and thus form part of the dealer’s duty, and they consist mainly in over coming the prejudice of the external feminine to anything that savors of the mechanical or that requires systematic supervision.  It is notorious that a woman never oils a sewing machine nor winds up a watch regularly, so that how to make her realize the pressing necessity of these little attentions in the case of the motorcycle forms a very considerable part of the problem.  – “The Automobile”.  June 13, 1907.

Women Riders and Motor Repairs


I’m sure there are women riders who can tear into a motor and repair pretty much anything, however, I am not one of them.  I’ve mastered pumping gas and the choke, but not much else.  Any repairs I need fall to my husband or if serious enough to a certified mechanic.  After reading the following article perhaps I am not that far removed from the first female riders when it comes to a having a thorough understanding of the motor.  Oh, BTW, I am pretty lame when it comes to my car engine too.

“A word might here be said upon motorcycles for ladies.  Although suitable for the more athletically inclined, a motorcycle can hardly be considered a lady’s vehicle; to be satisfactory, the machine must be high-powered to enable hills to be mounted without pedaling-0-and high-powered engines entail weight, and weight means difficulty in handling—at least, for ladies.  The vibration also will be found very tiring to most ladies, and under such circumstances the sport very soon loses its pleasantness.

However, in these days of spring forks, spring handlebars, spring saddle pillars, and free engines, much has been done to improve motorcycles and bring them within the province of a lady’s vehicle, and doubtless, many ladies will find that there is much enjoyment to be obtained from motorcycling, whilst, as a means of getting a little mechanical knowledge before attempting car driving a motorcycle will be found to be just the thing.

Many ladies have no hope of ever thoroughly understanding a car, considering a mechanical knowledge beyond their reach.  But why should it be?  Women have equaled men in mathematics, classics, and art—why not in practical mechanical knowledge?

Like everything else, mechanical knowledge is more easily grasped by some people than by others, but one often comes across ladies who, when explained to them, very much more easily grasp the principles of the petrol motor than many men do; in fact, there are some men who would never thoroughly understand such things, even if they lived to be a hundred.

Of course, there are a few ladies who occasionally “drive” their cars, but to whom the engine is a mass of mystery; they are entirely dependent upon their chauffeurs for the good running of the motors, and merely know that to start, accelerate, or stop the car this pedal has to be depressed or that lever moved—but one does not get the same amount of enjoyment from such “driving” as when one  thoroughly understands what is taking place under the bonnet, and can trace any cause of bad running.” – V. (Rumble) Brady ©



In the June issue of “Motorcycle Illustrated” there appeared a short item in reference to Mrs. H. G. Smith, wife of the president of the Detroit Motorcycle Club, with the statement that she was probably the only woman motorcyclist between New York and San Francisco.  But there are several others.  Mrs. F. H. Williams of Minneapolis has ridden a Wagner for over a year now, and has become expert in its management.  Then from Buffalo, N. Y., word has been received of two nurses—Misses Wardwell and Wenborne—from a Schenectady hospital who passed through that city recently on a trip from their home town en route to Kansas City.  They were muddy and somewhat worn, but had made the run from Lyons to Buffalo, 113 miles in one day.

Mrs. Smith the Detroit rider, has accompanied the Detroit Motorcycle Club on several runs this spring.  She also covered the seventy-nine miles from Detroit to Flint, Mich., in one day.  Forty miles of this route is said to be over the worst roads in the state of Michigan.  Mrs. Smith went through without a mishap, stayed with friends at Flint, and returned two days later over a different route.  She rides an M. M., and as she weighs only 130 pounds herself, she can travel just about as fast as any member of the club.  From other parts of the country, we have had information of the constant use of motorcycles by lady riders, and it is pleasing to know that the softer sex are taking up this sport.  They are sure to give it an impetus that would otherwise be lacking. – “Motorcycle Illustrated”.  Aug. 1, 1908.

Preppers Discover Motorcycles

The following article came from the American Preppers Network and while those of us who ride won’t find anything new in it, I thought readers might find it interesting that this group has discovered the benefits of riding. The next time you see an ad for an armored bug-out vehicle while channel surfing, you’ll smile knowing you already have the ultimate get-away vehicle. LOL.

When the worst happens and you’ve got to bug out, you want to be a cheetah, not an elephant. Your motorcycle plan should be to get to safety as fast as possible to set things up for slower members of your party that come later. Savvy preppers plan years in advance and don’t have to carry much with them when they travel to their shelter area, so a bike works perfectly. Riding a motorcycle isn’t like riding a bicycle; you’ll need to take professional lessons and practice a lot before you’re really good on your bike. Once you feel comfortable on the road, though, a motorcycle can be your first and most important vehicle for getting yourself to safety.
Speed and Agility
If things get bad, there will be massive traffic jams on major freeways and surface streets. Look at the history of any major disaster and you’ll find this happening. If you’ve got a motorcycle, you can ride around stalled cars and pileups, and even walk the bike through the absolute toughest of all traffic tie-ups. In most traffic situations, a motorcycle will get you to your destination quicker than a car or truck.
Most motorcycles are less expensive to buy and own than most cars. You can purchase a solid used bike for a few thousand dollars. It may not be the fanciest Harley on the block, but it will get you to your destination. When it comes to running your vehicle, motorcycles get about twice the gas mileage that most cars do. The average motorcycle gets 35-40 MPG, while the usual car averages just over 20.
Today’s auto repairs are complicated, with many of them relying on computers and specialized tools to do the simplest fixes. Motorcycles, on the other hand, are much easier to repair when they break down. When it comes to stocking up on motorcycle parts, they’re easy to find online and generally cost much less than comparative auto parts. Anyone with a basic knowledge of engines can effectively repair most problems, and for much less money.
Psychological Factors
Prepping for the future is a form of minimalism, and getting a motorcycle ready for bugging out is great practice for this. Living in your shelter will be a much simpler existence. Instead of a multiple-roomed home, you may have one or two rooms for your family at first. You’ll have to make do with fewer possessions and have to create your own entertainment. When you’re planning to use a motorcycle as a bug out vehicle, you have to reduce the supplies you’ll carry to the bare minimum. You’ll have to consider each item and decide whether it’s worth the weight and space it takes up in your saddlebag. Setting up your motorcycle ahead of time like this gives you a tranquil peace of mind, because you’ll know you can react with a minimum of preparation without any worries.

Early Motor Maid History

The MM’s VP, Pat Boatright, rode with her brother and liked it so she asked him to teach her to ride. “She did fine, except for one thing…just couldn’t stop the machine and keep the engine running. She couldn’t, until—one day she was tearing down the road and looked up to see a train across the road… was real surprised, seconds later, to find herself sitting there at the edge of the crossing, quite up-right and the motor just purring away. That was the end of that trouble.

Pat has taken many trips…She is particularly fond of races and Enduros. Daughter, Patsy, has been a constant companion on trips since babyhood. Pat enjoys the Convention trips and has missed very few since joining the Maids eleven years ago [1944]…

The most popular Girl Rider in America in 1949…first year of this National Contest, was Pat Boatright… She won several [trophies]… at field events, in which she excels, but is best in the Slow Race. The rest of the trophies she has won in Enduros and Club Events.

The Boatrights are a motorcycle family. Both Pat and her husband, Fred, are connected with the Harley-Davidson shop in Shreveport and their thirteen year old daughter has her own motorcycle and is a member of the Motor Maids of America. The convention in 1955 will see Pat and daughter, Patsy, on two machines for the first time. Husband, Fred, is an Auxiliary member of the Motor Maids…

Pat was State Director of Texas and Louisiana for many years before she was appointed by the President, Dot Robinson, to fulfill the office of Vice-President in 1951…Pat was elected to the post in 1954 to hold office for three years.”

In 1955, Patsy (later Patsy Boatright Nuchia) rode her bike 1,760 miles to convention in St. Catherine’s, Ontario, at age 14. Her photo and a notice appeared in the Ottawa Citizen on July 16, 1955.

October 1955, Patsy and Pat were joint winners of the long distance trophy presented in Springfield, IL where 40 MM’s, “opened the track before the National with a parade to make Springfield again one of the best attended events of the year”.

In December of 1955 Patsy took second place in a run in Shreveport, planned by Harry Talmadge, husband of MM “Weezie” Talmadge. First place went to Jody Bunch of New Orleans, and third to Nickie Hero of Pensacola.

Young Patsy took awards at non-MM events as well, winning the trophy for the girl rider who rode her machine the longest distance to attend the Gypsy Tour in Houston, TX at 14.

Patsy won the annual 50 mile Dot Robinson Run on July 8, 1956, and received the trophy from Dot Robinson herself who attended with her mother, Mrs. Goulding, and daughter, Mrs. Betty Fouls, both of Detroit. Nickie Hero took second prize in the run and Betty Fouls came in third.

How America Toppled off its Pedestal

We all know it happens. Lawmakers discuss the need for legislation, turn it left, right, and upside down picking it apart then before it gets voted on some Good Ole Boy (or Gal) decides to tack on some issue completely unrelated to the bill being discussed/voted on.

That is exactly what happened in North Carolina. A, “two paragraph”, bill on motorcycle safety was interspliced with four pages of restrictions on abortions for the state. Look up “Motorcycle Vagina Bill” if you doubt me. If you can tell me how these two topics have anything in common you’ll be the only person who seems to be able to.

For the simple-minded, adding the abortion rider to that bill means that if a legislator chose to vote in support of motorcycle safety, he or she would also be inadvertently voting in support of restrictions on abortion.

I personally have no objections to a bill that would limit abortions to only cases in which carrying a child would significantly risk the life of the mother, but shoving those restrictions in the middle of a totally unrelated bill is not the way to accomplish that. Getting legislation passed which will increase the safety of riders is difficult enough without attaching a well-known controversial topic to the proposal. How underhanded can you get? A legislator who would vote in support of rider safety might well vote against it just to keep from voting in favor of the unrelated issue.

These sleezy tactics are not rare occurrences, in fact you can just about bet the back 40 that every bill passed in the legislature has some unrelated issue buried deep within the proposal. If they can tack on four pages to a two paragraph bill, just imagine how many totally unrelated issues are added into the so-called Affordable Care Act.