Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Studebakers of Gettysburg

Yes, those Studebakers. I bet most people don't know that the early automobile industry had its origins in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Members of the then "Staudenbecker" Family arrived in Philadelphia from Germany in 1736 and moved westward to Gettysburg shortly thereafter. In 1820, John Studebaker married Rebbecca Mohler there. Eventually, they have five sons, one of whom was John Mohler, the future president of Studebaker Brothers Manufacturing.

John Studebaker made wagons in Gettysburg up through the 1830s until the family moved to Ohio. (Gettysburg was well known for its wagon manufacturing, not shoes as is widely believed.) In South Bend, Indiana, the Studebaker sons produced countless wagons for the Union Army during the Civil War-many of which were coincidentally used at Gettysburg. Studebaker's five sons went on to enhance their father's original profession by creating some of the first electric automobiles (which we need more of these days). The Studebaker corporation first made these in 1902. Two years later, they built a similar car, but gasoline-powered. The company lasted until 1967.

I often joke with my father that so much of modern history and society can be connected with the American Civil War...even Studebaker cars.

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