OT - The first cars owned by the Seelye family of Abilene Kansas:

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Model T Ford Forum: Forum 2015: OT - The first cars owned by the Seelye family of Abilene Kansas:
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Rob Heyen - Eastern Nebraska on Wednesday, October 28, 2015 - 03:30 pm:

A well known family in Abilene bought their first car in 1907. The patriarch of the family was Dr. A. B. Seelye, a self made millionaire by the turn of the last century. Dr. Seelye built a business developing and delivering health products throughout Kansas and neighboring states:



Abilene, also the boyhood home of future President Dwight D. Eisenhower, is located near the geographic center of the lower 48 states:



When the Seelye mansion was completed in 1905, Abilene was a progressive city of about 4500, with modern conveniences including electricity and telephones.

The mansion, costing over a million dollars in today's terms, included several telephones, bathrooms and even a bowling lane:



The Seelye's also built a theatre that would attract well known performers from around the world:



In the summer of 1907 the Seelye family purchased their first automobile. Perhaps due to the publicity generated setting a world record mentioned in the following news article, the Seelye's chose a Ford six cylinder touring car:




At the end of July, both Abilene papers ran stories describing the Seelye's new car, saying the Ford was now the "largest, longest, handsomest, finest equipped" car in town. It is also described as "the only one with a glass front." The Seely's "secured a colored chauffeur brought in from Missouri:"



(Message edited by Rob on October 28, 2015)


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Burger in Spokane on Wednesday, October 28, 2015 - 04:39 pm:

HOLY COW !!! ... THAT CAR IS TEN FEET LONG !!!

HOW WILL HE EVER GET IT IN THE CARRIAGE HOUSE ???


:-)


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Rob Heyen - Eastern Nebraska on Wednesday, October 28, 2015 - 10:11 pm:

Burger, actually, 13 feet long with fenders. Ten feet (120 in.) is the wheelbase. :-)

The Seelye's quickly put their Ford to use, planning a trip to Minnesota and visiting local Kansas towns. The car has been named "pathfinder:"






Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Rob Heyen - Eastern Nebraska on Wednesday, October 28, 2015 - 10:53 pm:

The Seelye's take their Ford on the MN trip as planned. On the way back to Kansas the car is left near Omaha Nebraska due to muddy roads, taking the train and having the car shipped later:



The Seelye's continue touring to area towns in the fall of 1907:


Next: 1908, including a Model T

(Message edited by Rob on October 28, 2015)


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Kim Dobbins on Wednesday, October 28, 2015 - 10:55 pm:

Abilene is also the home of renowned Model T expert Gail Rodda!


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Rob Heyen - Eastern Nebraska on Wednesday, October 28, 2015 - 11:04 pm:

Kim,
I didn't know that! The Seelye daughters remained at the mansion the rest of their lives, into the 1980's, and were probably well known by the local residents.

(Message edited by Rob on October 28, 2015)


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Rob Heyen - Eastern Nebraska on Wednesday, October 28, 2015 - 11:14 pm:

One last teaser for tonight. This is what the Seelye Model K looked like, minus a windshield:



How do I know it looked like this?

Continued tomorrow. :-)


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Rob Heyen - Eastern Nebraska on Thursday, October 29, 2015 - 08:24 am:

1908 begins with the Seelye family traveling in their Ford six. On Feb 10th an article reports 34 cars owned in Dickinson county (Abilene).



In the second article below, Mrs. Seelye transports a group of Kansas City business around Abilene with their Ford:



At the end of 1908, one of the first 300 Model T produced in 1908 has made it's way to Abilene. Steve J., Tyrone, Verne S., Jerry H. And you other Kansas forum members better get out there and start looking in barns, there may be a number 200 something Model T still tucked away......... :-)


Next up, 1909 and 1910.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Harvey Cash - Winnemucca Nevada on Thursday, October 29, 2015 - 10:07 am:

It's hard to believe that in 1908 just buying and owning an automobile could generate such public interest and be so news worthy. That's what I love about this hobby, it is history re-lived. Harv.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Rob Heyen - Eastern Nebraska on Thursday, October 29, 2015 - 11:09 pm:

Harvey, I'm often surprised at the media attention automobiles and their owners received too. Fortunately for us, this means a paper trail exists of how people of the day perceived new fangled horseless carriages.

1909: the Seelye's continue to take trips and have adventures with their Ford Six. First, the K has been painted white with gold stripping. I presume it would look similar to the Model K pictured earlier in this thread.

The second article mentions bowling at the Seelye mansion. The bowling lane is still at the mansion and operational.

The third article mentions the Seelye's are preparing for their late summer trip to Minnesota:


The Minnesota trip begins:


The trip has it's issues. The K is stopped in Oakland Nebraska with magneto problems, then rains begin and finally the Ford is railed home:


And, in 1909, a young man graduates from Abilene High School who will go on to be the Allied Commander over Europe, lead the D-Day invasion and Victory in Europe. He'll top that off with a two term Presidency. Who could have guessed:


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Dave Hjortnaes, Men Falls, WI on Friday, October 30, 2015 - 12:08 am:

I wonder if Holly has ever served 'dainty refreshments'.

Fun to read. Thanks Rob.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Eric Hylen- Central Minnesota on Friday, October 30, 2015 - 07:35 am:

It appears that an annual, late summer pilgrimage to Minnesota is nothing new for a six cylinder Ford.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Steve Jelf, Parkerfield KS on Friday, October 30, 2015 - 08:40 am:

I would think the newsworthiness of automobiles lasted longer in rural Kansas towns like Abilene and Arkansas City than in places like San Francisco and New York. A regular feature in the Arkansas City Daily Traveler is called 100 Years Ago in the Traveler. We're now up to 1915, of course, and there are still occasional items about groups of automobilists touring through the city. Recent items also have reported on the new brick paving being installed on some downtown streets.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Rob Heyen - Eastern Nebraska on Friday, October 30, 2015 - 08:23 pm:

Dave,
I'm about to have a "dainty" refreshment as we speak (er, ah, type).

Eric,
You're right. Next year I expect three Model K "pilgrimages" to Minnesota from Michigan, Connecticut and Nebraska. We may have three K on the run, one for each of the ten years the Antique Car Run has existed (August 2016 is the 30th anniversary of the Antique Car Run, also known as the New London to New Brighton Run).

Steve,
I'm often surprised at the details offered by local newspapers about early autos and their owners. Of course, local papers were the Internet, cable news, social media, TV and communication systems of the period, all wrapped into one. Just imagine the local radio or TV news or paper announcing when a family is planning to leave, or who they visit and when, in today's world.

This thread is getting long, so I'll begin a part two and follow the Seelye's automotive exploits through 1916.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Bob Gruber- Spanaway, Wash. on Friday, October 30, 2015 - 10:51 pm:

Cars have become such an every-day item...like a refrigerator or washing machine that they aren't newsworthy any more.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Roger Karlsson, southern Sweden on Saturday, October 31, 2015 - 04:23 am:

I don't think the thread is so long? It's interesting so please keep this familys auto adventures together :-)

Apart from those who had accidents, this one seems to have been the most trouble prone Model K we've read about yet? Roads must have been really bad when the 34" tires and 40 hp couldn't get through..


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Dennis Seth - Ohio on Saturday, October 31, 2015 - 07:59 am:

I often wondered how the owners of these cars ever got any work done or how well they handled their business affairs when they traveled about so much. It's not like they could just jump on the telephone or internet to check up on what's happening.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Rob Heyen - Eastern Nebraska on Saturday, October 31, 2015 - 08:21 am:

Roger,
Other than bad roads, I didn't think the car too troublesome. The magneto "cog" that broke shouldn't have kept the Seelye's from continuing home from Oakland Nebraska, unless it was actually the gear that drives both the coils/timer and magneto (two separate ignition systems, both driven by a shaft running from the cam gear). One other article mentions a spring repair, due I suspect, to poor/rough roads.

It looks as if Dr. Seelye seldom if ever drove the car. There almost always is a chauffeur or Mrs. Seelye is driving. My suspicion is Mr. Seelye was not very "mechanical."

Below are a couple of 1909 articles I intended to post and missed. First, Dwight D. Eisenhower's graduation photo. Edgar was Dwight's older brother, and had quit school to work and returned, graduating the same year as his younger brother. There were six Eisenhower brothers:


Another celebrated Model T event occurred in Abilene during 1909. The Ocean to Ocean route passed through the small Kansas town:


(Message edited by Rob on October 31, 2015)


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Rob Heyen - Eastern Nebraska on Saturday, October 31, 2015 - 09:24 pm:

Moving along, 1910 begins like the last three, with the Seelye's touring their "Ford six." By now, the 1907 Ford probably has a fair number of miles:


As Steve mentioned above, news articles about autos, especially in smaller towns and cities, seemed numerous. However, by 1910, I suspect the novelty of cars is wearing off, and news of the Seelye car is also rare.

1911:
The Seelye's open the season touring with their Ford six. I've been impressed that this wealthy family has continued to own what is by now an outdated, and discontinued model:


However, all things must come to an end. In July, the newspaper reports the Seelye's have traded their Ford, for a Rambler:


I've found no other information about Seelye cars between 1911 and 1916. However, we know that in 1916, Dr. Seelye purchased a Cadillac V-8. All in all, not bad company for our Ford to have been included with:


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