Early Automobiles in Greenfield

The were a number of Greenfield people who owned automobiles in the early 1900s. F.R. Harris in his book Hometown Chronicles describes some of those early auto owners and the list of auto manufacturers at that time is interesting. See if you knew any these makes of autos.

The first horseless carriage appeared upon the streets of Greenfield in 1902 when a young man from out of town by the name of Bruce Chapman came calling on Miss Evelyn Rucker [picture on left]. His new car made a deep impression not only on Miss Rucker, but on the entire neighborhood. That must have been quite a site!

Fay Baldwin, Cashier of the Highland County Bank seems to have been the first citizen of Greenfield to purchase a car, probably in 1902. The car opened from the rear. It is said that he invited one of the bank’s clients to take a ride in his new car. The client, a very large lady of considerable avoirdupois, managed to enter the car but Mr. Baldwin, much to his embarrassment, found that his conveyance was so heavily loaded that he couldn’t start it.

About the same time Dr. Robert Jones acquired a Waverley Electric. When the battery needed recharging, he took it to Mr. Kengle at the Power House who obligingly recharged the battery but in doing so plunged the whole town into darkness. [The specific car model was not specified, but a picture of the Physician’s Model is shown the left.]

Dr Jones soon replaced the Electric with a Rambler, steered by tiller and cranked from the side. [Example shown on left.]
Bert Lough purchased the first five-passenger car, a Logan made in neighboring Chillicothe. [ The Logan pictured at left is at the Ross County Historical Society.]
The first wheel-steered automobile, a Crestmobile, was acquired by Milt Strain. It had more features common to the automobiles of today than any of the early cars to appear upon the streets of Greenfield.
Mr. Strain soon purchased a second car, an Orient Buckboard with no hood of any kind, merely a platform and foot rest and a single cylinder engine located on the back axle. Mr. Strain also pioneered the first buggy car in Greenfield, the first real horseless carriage.
The first really big car in town was a Thomas Flyer owned by E.L. McClain and operated by Erk Kerr, probably in 1905 or 1906. [Example at left.]

Dr. W.H. Wilson was the first citizen to own a Ford and Rev. S.A. Aikman the first to own a Cadillac. Other early owners of the newfangled contraption were Charles M. Mains, E.G. Miller, D.O. Miller, S.A. Dewey, W.H. Moehlenpage, H.M. Fullerton, J.M. Waddell, A.L. Slavens, J.S. Arnott, L.J. Cole, Harry Christopher, and J.B. Renick.

Ersa Beatty was the first farmer in the Greenfield neighborhood to purchase a car (1906 or 1907), a two cylinder, double chain driven Lambert with friction clutch.
Dr. Robert Dunlap and his good friend, Luther Matthews, both purchased a Queen. One day Dr. Dunlap found that something had gone wrong with his car which was parked in front of his residence on Mirabeau Street. He was lying on his back with his feet projecting out from under the car when Luther came down the street driving his Queen. He ran over the good doctor’s legs and then panic stricken, realizing what he had done, he put the car in reverse and ran back over the doctor’s legs again. For a while their friendship was somewhat strained.

By 1908 there were thirty cars in town. [It must have been quite a site back then!]

The Greenfield Historical Society
PO Box 266
Greenfield, Ohio 45123