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Ransom Eli Olds is Born

Today in Masonic History Ransom Eli Olds is born in 1864.

Ransom Eli Olds was an American automobile pioneer.

Olds was born on June 3rd, 1864 in Geneva, Ohio. When he was a young boy his family moved first to Cleveland, Ohio and finally to Lansing, Michigan.

In August of 1897, Olds founded the Olds Motor Vehicle Company in Lansing, Michigan. Two years later the company was bought by Samuel L. Smith a copper and lumber magnate. Smith renamed the company Olds Motor Works and moved the company to Detroit, Michigan. Smith became president and Olds Vice President.

In 1901, the Olds Motor Works factory burned to the ground. The only model surviving the fire was the Curved Dash runabout. It was from it, Olds built his first successful car model. Olds claimed the fire is what made him select the Curved Dash, an almost divine providence. This story is disputed by those familiar with Olds story. It is believed before the fire, Olds had already gotten an order for 300 Curved Dash models and the prototype of the car was not needed to construct new versions since detailed plans already existed.

The same year, Olds went to the New York Automobile show, having a driver, Roy Chapin, drive the car to New York. During the show Olds pushed hard to make sales. One notable conversation after Chapin had arrived with the Curved Dash model was between Olds and a dealer. The dealer placed an order for 500 cars, Olds said "I would like to see you make this order for a thousand cars. Then the public would drop its jaw and take notice." Olds was correct, although the dealer only sold 750 of the 1,000 cars, the number everyone remembered was the original order.

In 1904, Olds left the company he started when Samuel Smith's son, Frederic joined and eventually removed Olds as the Vice President and General Manager. The Olds Motor Works was bought by General Motors in 1908. The Oldsmobile brand was discontinued by General Motors in 2004, a 96 year run.

Olds started a new company after leaving in 1904. He started R.E. Olds Motor Company. He changed the name after a lawsuit threat to REO Motor Company. REO being Olds initials. Olds was president of the company until 1925.

Although Henry Ford is credited with he Assembly line, it was Olds who pioneered the idea. Ford added the idea of the line moving to manufacture the cars. The idea, which he started using at Olds Motor Works took the 1901 cars assembled from 425 to 2,500 in 1902.

Other businesses Olds started were the Capital National Bank, which was later called the Lansing National Bank and the Michigan National Bank. He was the primary Financier of the Olds Tower which when completed in 1931 became the tallest building in Lansing and still holds the title, although the name has been changed to the Boji Tower.

Olds passed away on August 26th, 1950.

Olds was a member of Capitol Lodge No. 66 in Lansing, Michigan.

This article provided by Brother Eric C. Steele.