Posts Tagged ‘Ford Motor Company’

Joe Gilman Last Installment

December 17, 2009

Joe Gilman was still in Minneapolis in 1917 when he registered for the draft on June 5. He and his family lived at 3218 Bryant Street and he worked as a salesman for Minneapolis Auto Laundry Company. He gave his date and place of birth as February 8, 1892 in Emily, Minnesota. He registered as an Indian but claimed no exemptions from the draft. Under prior military service, he claimed 4 years as an infantry 1st Sergeant at Carlysle [sic]. It may be that he was trying to get drafted. It seems unlikely that he did because his second child, Isabelle, was born in 1918 in Minnesota.

Although Minneapolis Auto Laundry Company is an odd name for a company that sells automobiles, it might have been who Joe was working for when he wrote Carlisle in November 1916.

The 1920 census listed Joe Gilman as working for Ford Motor Company in Minneapolis as a salesman. It might be that his work ended when the 300-car contract was finished, causing him to return to the Ford branch. Family lore has it that he owned a Ford dealership, Gilman Motors Company, in Minneapolis that went bankrupt in 1922. He could have started that right after the 1920 census.

According to family lore, after his bankruptcy Joe Gilman moved his family back to Detroit where he again worked for Ford as a salesman. At least for a time. The 1930 federal census listed him as living in Detroit but working for an unnamed soap company. His position was illegible but might have been salesman but probably wasn’t. The 1937 tribal role listed him as still living in Detroit.

He left his family in 1943 and his daughter, Roberta, never saw him again after her wedding day. Needless to say, his grandchildren never saw him. He died in 1960 while in an Addicted Adult Program, which probably meant that he suffered from alcoholism.

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Joe Gilman Part V

December 14, 2009

Joe Gilman was apparently transferred to Minneapolis by Ford because his daughter, Roberta Carlysle, was born there and his wife, Lydia, was from Michigan. The November 3, 1916 issue of The Carlisle Arrow contained this item about Joe:

End of Part V

Joe Gilman Part IV

December 10, 2009

In July, The Carlisle Arrow announced that Joe Gilman and 18 other boys were receiving excellent reports for their work at Ford. On Sept 11 1915, Joe married Lydia Douglas 1 week before Lydia’s 17th birthday. In November the school reported on his marriage, stating the young couple, “..is getting on very well. Joseph has an excellent record at Carlisle, and great success is wished him by his friends.” The fact that this item appeared in the Alumni Department Notes column implied that Joe was no longer a Carlisle student. Lydia was a white girl who was born in Michigan to a father from Canada and a mother from Michigan.

The December 3 edition told of Joe’s promotion and transfer:

Joseph Gilman, Everett Ranco, and Norman Thompson, who went to Detroit last January, were promoted in July and are now receiving $5.00 a day.…Joseph Gilman expects to be transferred to Minneapolis, Minn., before long to do the same kind of work in the Ford plant there.

In January 1916, The Arrow reprinted an article from the Philadelphia Public Ledger titled “Indian Youths Set Records in Factory.” The lead paragraph featured Joe:

Out of the score of nations represented in an automobile factory in Detroit it remained for an Indian, Joseph Gilman, a Chippewa, whose home is in Minnesota and who is at present enrolled at the Carlisle Indian School, to set the world’s record for assembling a car of that make. He had the machine ready for the road in two hours and fifty minutes after beginning work. The previous record was three hours.

Roberta Carlisle Gilman was born on March 3, 1916 in Minnesota.

End of Part IV

Joe Gilman Part II

December 2, 2009

How long Joe Gilman stayed in Minneapolis isn’t known nor is exactly what he did during this time period. Perhaps his Carlisle student file would shed a bit of light on it. We know that he eventually showed up at Carlisle because his name began to appear in the school’s newspaper. His first mention was for playing tackle in the first game of the 1913 football season against Albright College. He didn’t get further mention during the football season, probably because a more experienced player returned from summer break. Even though several star players left the team after each of the 1911 and 1912 seasons, the Indians sustained only one loss in each season from 1911-13. Joe Gilman was contending against some strong players.

 In December, he was listed as being in the receiving line with Mary Bailey at a reception held by the Susan Longstreth Society. Joe had either been at school for several years without receiving prior mention or had some education, particularly with English, prior to coming to Carlisle. Because he doesn’t seem to be listed on the 1910 Federal Census as being enrolled at Carlisle at that time, Joe probably hadn’t arrived many years before 1913.

 The Carlisle Arrow listed him as placing third in both 220-yard and 440-yard dashes in the handicap track meet held among students as part of 1914 Commencement activities during which Joe Gilman received an industrial certificate in blacksmithing. This implies that he was at Carlisle for at least two years prior to this. So, he likely came to Carlisle in 1911. However, he wasn’t finished yet.

Joe returned for the 1914-15 school year and was promoted to the Freshman class. He also played football but, again, wasn’t a starter. He did get into the Penn game and probably more but the line-ups weren’t generally included in the school paper’s coverage of that year’s games.

Joe Gilman was to be the starting center for the Freshman basketball team that winter but an opportunity in Detroit was of higher priority.

End of Part II

Pretty Boy – part 4

October 8, 2009

On April 30, 1915, Thomas Hawkeagle’s request to be allowed to drop his academic work and spend all day learning and working at his trade was turned down. The reason given was that, with only two weeks of school remaining, it wouldn’t be to his advantage to miss the final examinations and likely not be promoted. On that same day, he filled out paperwork to determine his eligibility for Federal aid. Given that he was an orphan with no income, he was probably deemed eligible. He owned 320 acres of land and would inherit land from his mother, but that didn’t provide immediate income.

He may have wanted to be released from academic work early to allow him to leave for Detroit two weeks earlier than he would if he completed the school year. He may have thought the opportunity with Ford Motor Company would disappear if he didn’t take advantage of it immediately. It didn’t.

Thomas Hawkeagle and several other boys from Carlisle Indian School spent most of the spring and summer learning how to make Model Ts. After successfully completing their apprenticeship, they would be eligible to earn wages twice what other employers paid. From all accounts, he performed well and enjoyed working at the Highland Park Plant. At the start of the school year, he and the other football boys returned to school.

Hawkeagle was finally a starter on the football team, but changes made in the wake of the 1914 Congressional Inquiry deemphasized athletics and band, dooming the team to no longer be competitive at their previous level. The team’s dismal 1-3-1 record may have had something to do with his mid-season departure, but the stated reason was to return home to his ranch to “care for the stock that has recently been issued to him.” But that wasn’t the last Carlisle would hear of Thomas Hawkeagle.

Next time – Part five of Pretty Boy’s tale.

End of Carlisle-Detroit Connection

October 21, 2008

Last Friday night I had the pleasure of meeting Marcia and Sheldon Cohen, the wife and son of the late Gus Cohen, at Lone Star Dietz’s induction ceremony, but more on that in a later blog. Mrs. Cohen related that her mother left the Triangle Shirtwaist factory two weeks before the infamous fire in 1911. At the time she was making $2.50 a week. She made that much because she had the skill necessary to sew lace collars onto shirts. This puts Henry Ford’s pay increase into better perspective for me. $2.50 per week increased to $5.00 per day and the workday was shortened from 9 hours to 8. That was a ten-fold increase. However, autoworkers were already making more than many other workers. But still, this raise more than doubled their income if they met Ford’s criteria. No wonder the other industrialists were flummoxed.

Not every Ford worker qualified, starting with women. Ford believed that women rightfully should be married and taking care of their families, so he didn’t increase their wages. Worker’s under 22 were not qualified unless they had dependents. To further determine who was worthy, the company’s Sociological Department was expanded. The staff of 150 visited employees’ homes and asked them about everything from marital status to savings, health, hobbies, and child care. Excessive drinking, gambling, buying on credit, a dirty home, and an unwholesome diet were all grounds for probation; if a worker hadn’t cleaned up his act in six months, not only did he not get the $5 a day wage, he was fired.

The Carlisle students at Ford worked hard to qualify. In December 1915, 25 Carlisle boys were working at Ford. Three of the first to go to Detroit (Joseph Gilman, Everett Ranco, and Norman Thompson) had already qualified for the $5 a day wage and six others (Clement Hill, William Hall, Leslie James, Francis Kettle, Fred Skenandore and Benjamin Skenandore) expected to attain that status soon. Joseph Gilman, Chippewa, expected to be transferred to Ford’s Minneapolis plant soon. That move would return him to his home state.

In May 1916, The Arrow reported that, in 1916 alone, the school had received checks from Ford to be deposited in 25 students’ accounts $1,988.60, an amount that equals 25% of their earnings during this period, $7,954.40. Most were able to live on the 75% of their pay that they received directly but some withdrew money from their school accounts for living expenses.

While living and working in Detroit the boys formed their own football team, the Detroit Carlisles, and competed with the independent or semi-pro teams along the Great Lakes. By June 1918, a total of 68 Carlisle boys had worked at the Ford plant of which more than completed the student course. Twenty-five had enlisted in the armed forces by this time. The Ford-Carlisle was impacted first by the declaration of War in 1917 and finally by the closing of Carlisle Indian School in 1918.

 

 

 

Carlisle Indians Built Model Ts

October 17, 2008

In 2003 three of my brothers and I took our soon-to-be 90-year-old father for a tour of old car museums in the Midwest. At Greenfield Village in Dearborn, MI we took a ride in a Model T. That was all it took to whet his appetite for the Tin Lizzie. Before I knew it one appeared at my doorstep. Dan lives in Illinois but the 1915 brass radiator T he found was in New Jersey. The seller agreed to deliver it as far as my place in Pennsylvania. (See photo below)

This being the 100th anniversary of the Model T, one looks for connections between it and the Carlisle Indian School. Some employee surely had one but I haven’t bothered to explore that link because a much stronger tie exists.

Shortly after Henry Ford increased wages to $5 per day and reduced the workday from 9 hours to 8, a move that other industrialists thought would bankrupt him and possibly themselves as they tried to compete for workers, Superintendent Oscar Lipps arranged to have some Carlisle students enter the training program at Ford. In January 1915 6 boys left to put Americans on the road. At Ford they were placed in a training program which consisted of both classroom training and hands–on work in the various aspects of the Highland Park plant. Lipps received feedback on the boys’ performance and found it necessary to upgrade part of the academic program at Carlisle to better prepare students for positions in modern industrial concerns.

The boys performed well and received good evaluations from Ford. So good in fact, that additional students were sent to Ford. By mid-summer, 19 boys were in the Ford training program. In September most, including the football players, returned to Carlisle, but 9 remained at Ford. In December, after football season was over, 16 more, including several who had previously been in the Ford program returned to Detroit. By January 1916, Joe Gilman, Chippewa, set a Ford record by assembling a Model T in 2 hours and 50 minutes, breaking the previous record of 3 hours.

End of Part I

Ann cranks while Tom impatiently honks horn

Ann cranks while Tom impatiently honks horn