Ralph Elmer Northway
|Birth||1 May 1873|
|Death||4 Dec 1940|
Aged: 67.6 years
R.E. NORTHWAY 8 Coombs Street Middleboro, Mass.
May 25 - 1929
My Dear Granddaughter Marie;
I am very glad to get your letter and will answer your questions the best I can. My Grandmother Northway parents were named Fuller and Great Grandmother Fuller was born in 1765 ad died in 1868, aged 103 years. She lived with my father and mother about a year in 1867 and according to them she told many incidents of the War of the Revolution, War of 1812, war with Mexico. As I recall it her mother was a sister of Col. Ethan Allen. The Northway family are of Welsh descent, the American branch of the family are descended from two brothers that came to America the year that New England dispersed the Arcadian settlement, they married two of the Arcadian girls.
One of the brothers settled in Vermont, the other in Connecticut. Since starting this letter I recalled a letter received from my Father in 1918 which I copied. I have an extra copy which I am enclosing. you will notice a mention of Roger Sherman, he was persecuted by the Puritans for his expression of rights of Quakers and other religious sects to worship as they please. I hope this has answered your questions and I am glade that you will soon be here. Your loving grandfather,
/signed/ R.E. Northway
About a week ago the picture sent and was glad very much pleased to receive them, you son looks fine in his uniform as the young man told his father (a G.A.R. veteran) it is in the blood Dad, perhaps it is inherited, certainly my father had 8 uncles in Washingtons army and I had 3 great grandfathers, Fuller, Drake & Miller. Miller was colenal of a Connecticut regiment, his wife was a sister to Ethan Allen. Drake was a nephew of Admiral Sir Francis Drake of the English navy, he was a captain in the Continental Army. Fuller was a surgeon. I forgot to mention that Col. Millers mother was a relative of Roger Sherman, an aunt I believe. So he comes honestly by his fighting blood, what a pity that bright American boys must be sacrificed to pay for a man mans whims. My health has been excellent this winter, the best it has been in 10 years; I have worked in storms to get fuel every day and have not had even a cold. We had 2 1/2 months of the coldest weather I have seen in 45 years. Well we have survived and I am tankful. Well Elmer I look much as I did when I last saw you, hardly any grey hairs, yet am neither bald nor stooped, can do as much work as most men of 55. Occasionally I have an attack of catarrh of the stomach, when I do I eat limburger cheese and it disappears. Hoping that I have not wearied you with my letter,
your father S.B. Northway
The first letter was written to E. Marie MacFarland Hyland; it and the copied second letter are in her possession.
E. Marie MacFarland Hyland also recalled that her grandfather, Ralph Elmer Northway though that Dodge was the only car one ought to buy, that it was the only car that was built right. She also said that her grandfather was interested in the radio, and that if he was in his room with the radio on, no one was to disturb him or make any noise.
BUILDERS SURE OF NEW "EIGHT" - J.J. Cole, on Return From Detroit, Tells of Enthusiasm With Which Engineers Pronounce New Motor Ready - ENTIRE STAFF CONFIDENT - New Device Is Put Through Unprecedented Test Without Showing Signs of Wear - Complete in Every Detail
"There has never been a time in the history of the Northway Motor Company," says J.J. Cole, president of the Cole Motor Car Company, "when that concern was so completely convicted of the fitness of its product in the case of the new eight-cylinder Cole-Northway motor."
This remark was made by Mr. Cole last week, just after he had returned from a trip to the Northway factory in Detroit, where he had spent two days inspecting the motor. He was also assured that deliveries on the eight-cylinder motor would begin March 15 as previously planned. In speaking of the new motor, Mr. Cole said: "I have never seen a group of engineers so thoroughly satisfied as in the present instance. In talking with General Manager Knoblock on my first day at the factory he assured me that the eight-cylinder motor was more perfectly developed than any other new motor the company had ever built and the Northway company is famous for the quality of its production.
Engineers Back Statement
"Not content with his own statement, Mr. Knoblock called Chief Engineer Gunn and the entire Northway engineering staff into his office. Each of these men told me emphatically that the motor was 'ready' in every sense of the word: each of these men not only backed that statement with his reputation as an engineer, but also staked his position with the Northway company on its truth.
"The Northway company always has subjected its motors to the most vigorous tests. In this case I was informed by Chief Engineer Gunn that the eight had proved not exception to the rule. In fact it has been given tests far more severe than had usually been applied to the famous Northway fours and sixes. According to Mr. Gunn the eight was sent through these tests with a perfect record. It was then determined to put in through a more trying ordeal than any motor had ever passed in the Northway plant.
"When this had been decided upon, it was the belief of many that the motor could not withstand the severity of the trial. Chief Tester Griffith insisted the motor would go to pieces within five hours. Such, however, was not the case. The motor finished a ten-hour test at terrific speed intact, and when dismantled showed not the slightest sign of excessive wear on the pistons, cylinders or any of the bearing surface.
Ready In Every Detail
"In speaking of this remarkable test, General Manager Knoblock said to me: 'When we found that this eight-cylinder motor had come through this unheard-of test, each man connected with its construction put himself on record that the motor was ready to market in every detail. This naturally means that the Northway company will back their judgment to the limit. The oiling system is more highly perfected in this motor than in any four or six this company has ever built, as is proven by unprecedented block tests, and my thousands of miles of driving over winter roads.'
"This statement by General Manager Knoblock and his engineering board gives the Cole company an explicit faith in this eight-cylinder product which it could not otherwise have had. We are satisfied that this motor will add new laurels to the splendid record that Northway motors have established on the test. Out own chief engineer, Mr. Crawford has made exhaustive tests of this new motor in the laboratories of the Northway plant and on the roads of the central states, every one of which has proven that the Cole eight motor is now right and ready." The Indianapolis Star, March 10, 1915.
RALPH ELMER NORTHWAY
Within the circle of automotive pioneers there were comparatively few men who contributions achieved lasting acceptance. Many brilliant inventors produced engineering masterpieces which went by the board because of economic or practical factors which rendered them undesirable from a marketing or production standpoint. There were, however, a few engineers whose work has been recognized as the ultimate, who laid down principles that automobile design would follow not for two, automobile for five, but for fifty, sixty, or more years to come. One such man was Ralph E. Northway. A tall, slim, quiet and rather shy man. Mr. Northway's engineering skill stemmed from a training and experience that embraced many phase of construction principles necessary to automotive work. He was born in 1872, at Orwell, in Ashtabula County, Ohio. His first position, with Phoenix Iron Works, brought him into contact with marine engine construction. Later, at he Cleveland and Detroit plants of the American Shipbuilding Co., Northway was engaged in steam engine development variously as draftsman, pattern maker, as supervisor of machine shop and foundry, and in machine erection and development. During the period from 1895 to 1899 the young engineer worked with Charles Lewis, who was later to build the Jackson and still later, the Hollier car, at the shops of Lewis Spring & Axle Co. at Jackson, Mich. With Lewis, he gained a valuable knowledge of spring construction. Privately during this period, Ralph Northway worked out designs and experiments leading to the first three port, two cycle gas engine with hot tube ignition. With Bullock Electric co. and in 1898 with Allis Chalmers' Cincinnati factory, Northway acquire valuable experience overcoming electrical problems later encountered in automotive design. In 1901 and 1902 he was associated with Russell Wheel & Foundry Co., Detroit, working with engineering phases of gas production and their relation to combustion in hydro-carbon engines. Then, in 1902, Ralph Northway entered directly into the automobile industry as chief engineer for Dodge Brothers, who were developing and arranging for productions for Henry Ford. It is said that Dodge built everything from the early Model A Ford cars but the wheels. Thus, Mr. Northway's work contributed directly to the early success of the Ford Motor Co. He designed and worked out tooling and special equipment making possible the low price at which Ford cars were marketed. With Dodge Brothers, Mr. Northway was intimately associated with Mr. Ford. At this period, Ralph Northway also aided in the design of engines used in Oldsmobile and Northern cars. The latter was Charles by. King's enterprise, and became on the antecedents of Studebaker automobiles through the E.M.F. Company. Late in 1903 Mr. Northway left Dodge Bros., and with the financial assistance of Henry Ford, founded his own enterprise car Detroit, naming in Eureka Mfg. Co. The immediate object was to manufacture parts for Ford cars. Expansion was rapid, and a line of engines, transmissions and axles was offered to the trade. In 1904 the name was changed to Northway Motor & Mfg. Co.. and an engine of unit power plant type was added, the first of its kind offered commercially. Response at first was slow, but manufacturers were shown the advantages inherent in a design wherein engine, clutch, and transmission were built in permanent alignment, with three-point suspension to the chassis frame, and eventually a big trade was built up. A new factory was built in 1905. A variety of engine designs were offered, overhead valve, side valve, with or without unit power plant. An early engineering advancement was an integral oiling system eliminating the external "mechanical oiler" with its maze of copper tube leads to the various bearings. Among the motor car manufactures supplied by Northway Motor & Mfg. Co. may be listed the following: Jackson, engines and transmissions Buick, engines Auburn, engines and transmissions Firestone-Columbus, engines & transmissions Cole, engines, clutches and transmissions Oakland, unit power plats Cartercar, engines Regal, transmissions and rear axles, Northern, engine, clutches and transmissions E.M.F., engines, clutches and transmissions Imperial, engines. The company's payroll grew from 8 to 800. When, in 1909, a controlling interest in the company was purchased by General Motors, Mr. Northway withdrew. he was not idle for long, however. Recognized as one of the country's leading automotive engineers, his services were in great demand as consultant. For example, he made a drawing of a one-piece fan for Sparks-Withington of Jackson, Mich. In this design the center was punched out, leaving a continuous rim around the outside. This was then rolled over a wire to strengthen the blades. For this one drawing Mr. Northway received $1500 which was in those days, a very good price. Mr. Northway then moved with his family to Hartwell, a suburb of Cincinnati, Ohio, where he accepted a position with the Jewel Carriage Co. as automotive engineer. He designed a car for them which was called the Ohio and a subsidiary company, the Ohio Motor Car Co. was organized to build them. Approximately 800 to 1000 cars were built in 1910 and 1911. This concern was not related to the Jewel Motor Car Co. of Massillion, Ohio, despite the similarity in names. The Ohio was a good-looking automobile selling in the $2000-2500 price bracket. It had a unit power plant. The 1910 model had a single joint enclosed propeller shaft, changed in 1911 to a double joint open design with full-floating rear axle. Each car was given a rough-road test of at least 150 miles before passing inspection. Advanced body design showed "torpedo" models with inside control, sold with full equipment which included top, windshield, lamps and speedometer. Engines were T=head. In the Northway design of three-point suspension the single engine support was located at the front, unlike that of Stevens-Duryea design which had two points at the front and one in the rear. Ohio was absorbed in 1912 by the Northway Motor & Mfg. Co. with C.F. Pratt as president, who stated that the Ohio car would be continued, but the chief energies of the company would be devoted to motors. The Ohio was succeeded by the Crescent in 1914 when the Ohio Motor Car Co. was purchased by Crescent Motor Car Co. The Crescent was similar in design to the Ohio. These cares competed in quality with the Cadillac and Packard of their day but the company was forced to liquidate due to lack of capital for expansion. When the Crescent Motor Car Co. failed, Mr. Northway purchased the company's patterns, fixtures, and a quantity of parts, and supplied owners with repair parts for several years. From 1914 to 1917 Mr. Northway carried on his work as engineering consultant. In the latter liquidate he removed to New England where he selected a site for a truck factory at Natick, Massachusetts. On January 4, 1918, the Northway Motor Corp. was formed to manufacture cars and trucks with a charter from Massachusetts. Senator James E. Canvanaugh was made president, James E. Finneran, head of a large drug company was elected treasurer, and Ralph E. Northway was chief engineer. The company was capitalized at $5,000,000 with offices at No. 1 Beacon Street, Boston. The Northway truck, except in price, was in many respect the Rolls-Royce among motor trucks. in it were combined nearly all of the engineering achievements of the great pioneer. For the first time in a heavy duty truck were found such features as an enclosed heated, all-weather cab, a completely electric starting and lighting systems, valve-in-head unit power plant with three-point support, special spring cradle suspension of motor, generator, starter, radiator, and battery, and a system of chassis lubrication eliminating grease cups. Ralph Northway left the corporation in 1922 to accept a position with Maxim Motor Co. at Middleboro, Mass., who are builders of fire apparatus. The truck corporation did not survive many months after its founder resigned as vice president and director. A small venture was attempted in passenger car production, but its price was necessarily prohibitive. A light delivery truck called the Rocket was attempted with assembled purchased components, but this, too failed. In 1933 the factory was taken over by the Massachusetts State National Guard for use as a motor depot. Ralph E. Northway, one of the truly great men of the motor industry, has been described by Dean Fales, who associated with him in the S.A.E. as "dignified, friendly and courteous, a true gentleman of the old school." From Who's Who in Automobilia, Walter O. MacEvain, from material provided by Everett P. Northway.
Pioneer In Auto Industry Was Once Employed In Saco
By Joseph O. Brogran District Correspondent
SACO "" The man experts say was most responsible for the success of the early Ford car was once an engineer at the Saco-Lowell Shops, now New England Division, Maremont Corp.
Ralph E. Northway, who died at 68 in 1940, worked for the local firm about eight years following a brilliant automotive engineering career during which he developed the first Ford production engine.
His son, Everett P. Northway, 72, of Ferry Beach, has been retired from Saco-Lowell eight years. His interests now lie in traveling and photography, but he readily recalls the early automotive days.
NORTHWAY WAS four years old when his father was chief engineer for Dodge Brothers in Detroit at a time when according to one source, the company was building "everything for the Model A Fords but the wheels.'
Northway's father designed and worked out tools and special equipment which made the early Fords available at a "working man's price" and accelerated the age of the automobile. During that period, he also designed initial engineering items for the Oldsmobile and the early, widely-known Northern engine, which was later absorbed into what was to become the Studebaker.
With Henry Ford's backing, Northway began his own company in 1904, which at first primarily supplied Ford parts, but later retooled for production of the revolutionary (at that time) Northway engine.
THE ENGINE was one of the first unit power plants to be used by the American auto industry. It combined an enclosed clutch and transmission with the engine to insure proper lubrication and alignment of working parts. Northway engines and running gear were built for Buck, Oldsmobile, Cole, Oakland, Auburn, Jackson and other period cars.
Separate Northway Projects included working out designs and experiments leading to the first three-part, two-cycle gasoline engine with hot tube ignition; designing and three-speed planetary transmission which was a forerunner of today's automatic shift, and planning one of the first commercial overhead valve engines.
After several other engineering ventures, including the design of the Ohio car, Northway moved to Natick, Mass., where he built trucks from 1918 to 1924.
Early magazines describe the Northway trucks as the "Rolls Royces" of motor trucks. Before lack of expansion capital forced the company to close down, they competed successfully with Mack and White trucks, which are still produced today.
THE NORTHWAY two-ton and three-and-a-half-ton trucks, besides their valve-in-head unit power plants, featured a host of refinements that were combined for the first time in a heavy duty truck. One of theses was an enclosed, heated cab.
An early advertisement described the advantage this way to a prospective buyer: ""Â¦The drive who may operate his truck comfortably housed in a completely enclosed cab heated to the temperature of a home in cold weather"Â¦ will take on or discharge his load in a shorter time at the terminals"Â¦"
Following service in World War I, Everett worked for his father at the Natick plant, starting in the tool room and working up to a supervisor's job in the experimental room, which tested car and engine parts for the trucks.
RALPH NORTHWAY left the corporation in 1922 to go with a fire apparatus concern in Middleboro, Mass., and the company folded two years later, after switching to passenger cars and light delivery truck production. In 1933, the Massachusetts National Guard took over the factory as a motor depot.
Everett Northway has lived at Sunset Ave. with his wife Doris, since 1932 and is a member of the Veterans of World War I and R.C. Owen Post, American Legion, here.
The Northways recently returned from a visit with their daughter, Mrs. Margaret Trask of Long Island, N.Y. Several times a year, they visit their other children, Mrs. Doris Williams, Michigan; Theodore, Whitingville, Mass. And Philip, who teaches at the University of New Hampshire. Unnamed newspaper, about 1968
Elizabeth Minnie "Bessie" Mellenkamp
|Birth||1 Oct 1873|
|Death||11 Jun 1960|
Aged: 86.7 years
Alternate Name: Elizabeth Neeb
MRS. E. NORTHWAY Mrs. Elizabeth M. Northway, widow of Ralph E. Northway, pioneer automobile motor designer, died Saturday at the residence of her daughter, Mrs. Elsie McFarland, 8417 Curzon Ave., Hartwell. She was 86 years old. Mr. Northway, who died in 1940, helped design the motor for the "Ohio Car" one of the first manufactured here. He also organized the Northway Motors Co., Detroit, which later was absorbed by General Motors. Mrs. Northway, a life member of Eastern Star, also is survived by four sons, Everett, of Saco, Maine; Cecil, of Boston, Mass; George of North Hollywood, Calif, and Ralph, of Easley, S.C. Friends may call at the Vorhis funeral home, Lockland, from 7 to 9 p.m., tomorrow. Services and burial will be held at Natick, Mass.
NORTHWAY, Elizabeth M., (nee Mellenkamp), wife of the late Ralph E. Northway; devoted mother of Everett Northway of Saco, Maine, Cecil Northway of Boston, Mass, George Northway of North Hollywood, Calif., Ralph Northway of Easley, South Carolina, Mrs. Elsie McFarland and the late Elizabeth E. Northway, also survived by 21 grandchildren and 25 great-grandchildren, Saturday, June 11, 1960; residence, 8417 Curzon Ave., Hartwell, formerly of Saco, Maine. Friends may call at the Vorhis Funeral Home, 310 Dunn St., Lockland, Tuesday 7 to 9 p.m. Services and interment at Natick, Massachusetts.
Elizabeth was adopted. Her birth surname was "Neeb":
State of Michigan
County of Jackson
Probate Court for the County of Jackson
At a session of the Probate Court for the County of Jackson holden at the Probate Office in the City of Jackson on Friday the 22d day of October in the year one thousand eight hundred and seventy five - present Melville McGee
Judge of Probate in the matter of the adoption
of Elizabeth Neeb by Henry
Mellankamp and Christina Mallan
kamp his wife, and to change
her name to Elizabeth Mellankamp
On reading and filing an instrument in writing, signed and acknowledged by the said Henry Mellankamp and Christina Mellankamp his wife, in and by which it is declared and made known that they, the said Henry Mellankamp and Christina Mellankamp, his wife, have adopted the said Elizabeth Neeb as their child, and intend to make said child their heir at law and for that purpose and to that end they desire the name of said child may be changed to that of Elizabeth Mellankamp:--- And it further appearing from said instrument that Annie E. Neeb the mother and only surviving parent of said child has given her consent to such adoption--- And it further appearing to the satisfaction of this court, that the said Henry Mellankamp and Christina Mellankamp his wife are acting in the premises in good faith and are suitable persons to have the care, custody and education of said child and are residents of the said County of Jackson:--- Thereupon it is ordered by the court no here, in pursuance of the statute in such case made and provided that the said Henry Mellankamp and Christina Mellankamp, his wife, do henceforth stand in the place of parents to said child... (from a handwritten photocopy provided by Ralph Northway to E. Marie MacFarland Hyland)