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More Proof That Warner Wasn’t First Carlislian To Own A Car

June 5, 2012

While browsing through Two Hundred Years in Cumberland County for something unrelated to Carlisle Indian School, I stumbled across a short article that, although moderately interesting in itself, brought an entirely different article to mind. In 2008, I wrote about an article written by a James C. McGowan that is loaded with falsehoods. Honest errors are one thing but some of these seem to be made up from whole cloth. To make matters worse, this false information has been disseminated from, a paid “educational” web site that flogs subscriptions for schools, districts and individuals, since 2007.

The article that caught my attention today was titled, “Autoists Arrested.” In July, 1906, G. Wilson Swartz, Esq. and Albert E. Caufman were brought before Burgess Brindle for breaking Carlisle Borough’s five-mile-per-hour speed limit. None of the police officers who observed the drivers would testify that Swartz “goes faster than some of the drivers of the big machines….” This is further evidence to show that McGowan’s claims about Warner being the “first man in town to own an automobile” is patently false. One wonders about McGowan’s motives for promulgating such unfounded claims. Accuracy is something about which McGowan and, by extension, have little concern.

McGowan wrote the following in a section of the article that attacked Pop Warner:

As the Redmen beat one top team after another, including Pitt, Navy, Yale, Syracuse, and Rutgers, the Athletic Fund swelled with cash. Pop Warner took to wearing diamond jewelry, and he became the first man in town to own an automobile.

Anyone the least bit familiar with Carlisle Indian School football knows that the Indians never beat Yale. Even those who are familiar would be hard pressed to name a year in which Carlisle beat Rutgers because there is no record of the two teams playing each other. Warner wasn’t living in Carlisle in 1906 and didn’t return to live there until 1907, at which time he had an automobile. Little is known about that car but Warner was known for buying inexpensive old clunkers and tinkering with them until he got them running. Regardless, this piece further demonstrates that other Carlislians had autos well before Pop Warner.

Warner didn’t own first car in Carlisle

September 30, 2008

I met county archivist Barbara Bartos at the Cumberland County Historical Society last night. She informed me that the archives from the Prothonotary’s Office contained automobile registration records prior to when the Commonwealth started issuing license plates.


In February, 1903 Senator Grim of Bucks County introduced a bill requiring the registration of automobiles. The legislature enacted an auto licensing law on April 23, 1903 that required motor vehicles to be registered with the county Prothonotary and a $2 fee be paid to the county Treasurer for a license tag to be affixed to the vehicle. Pop Warner may have owned an automobile before this act went into effect but, if he did, he did not register it in Carlisle. It is unlikely that, due to his notoriety, Warner would have been able to avoid licensing his automobile, if he had one. The Cumberland County Prothonotary issued ten automobile registrations between May 4, 1903 and March 11, 1904, the approximate date of Warner’s departure for Cornell. Seven of the vehicles registered were for owners who resided in Carlisle; the others resided elsewhere in the county. The automobiles registered in the first year of registration included recognizable names, both in makes of vehicles: Olds, Cadillac, Packard and Rambler as well as family of owners: Henderson, Biddle, Plank and Chronister. As one would expect, the list of early car owners includes wealthy families. Not included was Glenn S. Warner. So, it is highly likely that he did not own an automobile prior to May 4, 1903, the date on which W. H. Newsham of Carlisle registered his Olds. Not only wasn’t Warner the first man in town to own a car but he wasn’t among the first.


James C. McGowan provided no source for his information so one assumes that he concluded from the mention of Warner’s automobile on the Indian School campus in 1907 as a novelty that no one else in town had a car. That is simply not true. Errors of this nature would not be so egregious if they were not being foisted off on students and educators by McGowan and as being true.


If such a simple part of McGowan’s article is wrong, what about the rest of it? Does WorldandI fact check what it posts on its site?


First Car in Carlisle

September 26, 2008

A piece posted on a website used by educators and students contains a number of significant errors concerning the Carlisle Indian School, so I was suspicious when it stated that Pop Warner was the first person in Carlisle to own a car. Carlisle is the seat of Cumberland County and was then a prosperous place. Logic suggests that the first car in Carlisle would have been purchased by someone in one of the wealthy families. Also, its placement in the article implies that Warner purchased it around 1912, a date that seems late for the first automobile to appear in a county seat.


Carlisle Indian School publications first mention Warner’s automobile in early 1907, shortly after he returned to Carlisle from a 3-year stint back at his alma mater, Cornell. He may have brought the car with him or he may have purchased it with his substantial pay raise. Neither make nor year of the car was mentioned in the school newspaper’s articles. A 1910 article in The Carlisle Arrow informed readers that Warner had bought another cat, a Chalmers-Detroit 30. I had licensed a photo of Warner tinkering with his $15 auto for the Lone Star Dietz biography so checked with the Chalmers Registry to determine if the car in the photo was the Chalmers-Detroit 30. Joe A responded quickly that the car in the photo was a Franklin but not enough of the car was shown to determine the year and model. Franklins were made in Syracuse, NY which was Warner’s home state.


A newspaper article from late 1906 stated that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania had already licensed almost 13,000 cars. Seeing that led me to contact PennDOT which, surprisingly quickly, directed me to a person who might be able to tell me when the first Car was licensed in Carlisle. That person informed me that PennDOT keeps no records on “dead tags,” license plates no longer in use, so has no historical data. Bummer. Boiling Springs historian and photo curator at Cumberland County Historical Society, Richard Tritt, came to the rescue. He informed me that Barbara Bartos has the records for the licenses issued by the county before PennDOT began issuing them. Now I may be able to solve this mystery.