TULSA AUTOMOTIVE MANUFACTURING
In the early twentieth century, as Americans made a transition from horse-drawn buggies and wagons to motorcars and trucks, automobile manufacturing emerged in Oklahoma. Before the making of cars became an organized process under Henry Ford’s tutelage, a few creative individuals were producing various models. For instance, in 1909 an independent automaker briefly operated a shop in Frederick in Tillman County. Soon larger-scale, assembly-line factories began to appear in the state.
In June 1917 a group of Oklahoma City business leaders, headed by James M. Aydelotte of the State Board of Affairs and Floyd Thompson of the Ozark Trails Highway Association, formed the Midland Motor Car and Truck Company. They sold stock in order to construct a plant south of town; they planned to make the Oklahoma Six passenger car and a truck called the Ozark. They anticipated producing three cars and seven trucks per day. However, World War I interrupted the plans. The plant was constructed in 1918, and in October it began making trucks under a U.S. Army contract. After the war the company had to be reorganized due to financial mismanagement and the indictment of two of its stock salesmen for embezzlement. The federal contract was cancelled. In October 1919 the Wichita Motors Company, a Texas concern that manufactured trucks, bought the plant and produced the Wichita model truck there, into 1922.
Similarly, other small manufacturers produced automobiles in the early part of the twentieth century. Oklahoma Auto Manufacturing Company, established in a factory near Okay and North Muskogee in 1915 by C. E. Harris, built heavy-duty O. K. oil-field trucks in the World War I era. The operation folded during the Great Depression. In the 1910s and 1920s the W. R. Lantz Manufacturing and Supply Company of Muskogee made car and truck bodies, as well as bodies for hearses and ambulances. In Enid, William C. Allen and other entrepreneurs from around the state established the Geronimo Motor Company and incorporated it in mid-1917. By June of that year the firm had taken orders for fifty cars, and by September a thirty-thousand-square-foot factory had been constructed. It made tractors, a roadster, and a five-passenger, full-size automobile. After building one thousand cars that were distributed by agencies in Kansas, Nebraska, West Texas, and Oklahoma, Geronimo ended production in 1920 when the factory burned. The Tulsa Automobile Corporation capitalized in 1917 at $2 million with T. J. Hartman, president of the Producers State Bank of Tulsa, as president. Grant Stebbins, of the Gladys Bell Oil Company, was a director. By 1918 the company was producing the “Tulsa Four,” a thirty-five-horsepower automobile. It was available with a four-cylinder engine and by 1921 with a six-cylinder. The factory produced ten cars per day that were distributed through dealers in Tulsa and Oklahoma City.