Our County History
by County Historian Marion W. Coplen

In this column a short time ago we related some information we had on early automobiles in Kosciusko county. The response from our readers was very gratifying, and several interesting reminiscences concerning early autos were sent to us.

The first people to buy automobiles in any community were usually people of at least moderate wealth--a doctor, a merchant, or a factory owner--but it was necessary for them first to get the urge to buy. In one of the early years of the century the Jack Robinson's Minstrel Show came to Warsaw and put on a performance at the Opera House. As an advertising stunt they brought with them a red "horseless carriage" and put on a little demonstration on South Buffalo street in front of Phillipson's Clothing store at noon on the day of the show. George Nye was on hand to see the demonstration and feels that this appearance caused local citizens to get the necessary "urge".

Not all of our readers agree that Frank Hafer had the first automobile in the county. Mrs. Minnie B. Gary and Mrs. George Minear both believe that Dr. Eggleston, a Warsaw dentist, was the first Kosciuskoan to own a "horseless carriage". Mrs. Garry rode in the doctor's car when many of her friends were afraid. Mrs. Minear tells of one time when Eggleston was driving on South Buffalo street and became so excited that he turned his car right down the Pennsylvania railroad tracks. Mrs. William Sutherlin feels that a Mr. Foster, who ran a drug store on Market street, had the first auto. She recalls seeing the red auto with the Fosters perched high up in the machine passing her parents" county home on their way to Yellowbanks hotel. she dates this as occurring in 1902 or before.

Mrs. Millard G. Stookey, of Leesburg sent us a photograph of an auto owned by her father, the late Al Scott, who lived for many years on North Lake street. She relates that, because of the dusty roads, she and her mother wore linen dusters and heavy veils, tied down around the throat, while riding with her father.

Al of these items made us wonder where those early automobile owners purchased their gasoline and when the filling station made its advent in our county.

Warsaw Times-Union Sat. Aug. 2, 1952