An early advertisement for the Yale touring car. Among the listed agencies selling the automobile is “C.J. Whitten, Lynn, Mass.”
We’ve already written about Mary Baker Eddy’s horses, and featured an exhibit about one of her carriages, leaving another transportation topic yet undiscussed: horseless carriages, or automobiles.
Eddy owned different automobiles at different times, each for different reasons. The first of these was purchased in April 1902 by Calvin Hill. Eddy wrote to him:
I want an Automobile to use not to ride in but to drive my teams up to and take away their scare of it. 1
Eddy’s horses, Prince and Duke, had recently begun shying at the appearance of automobiles on the streets of Concord. Several members of the household staff described in their reminiscence how the horses became increasingly frightened and difficult to drive when faced with automobiles. The plan was to purchase an automobile to “desensitize,” or accustom them to the noise, smell, and sight of the new machine.
Calvin Hill recounts the next part of the story in his reminiscence:
After searching for a time, I bought an inexpensive automobile from a dealer in Lynn. It took several days to drive it to Concord because of inexperience and engine trouble. At the end of each hour’s drive, the overheated engine stalled. This occurred over and over again but eventually we reached Pleasant View…. 2
Hill had purchased a Yale touring car. The Yale was made by the Kirk Manufacturing Company between 1901 and 1905. Kirk, a celebrated bicycle manufacturer, had first decided to expand into automobiles in 1899. They produced various models, with engines ranging from two to four cylinders, capable of making between twelve and thirty horsepower. Kirk advertised its Yale car as “Speedy, Strong, Safe, and…above all, Simple,” but the Pleasant View household found it anything but. John Salchow was given the responsibility of caring for the Yale:
The car was left in my custody and it was up to me to make the thing go. I had no one to consult with about it and just had to tinker with it and pick up the running of it myself. It boasted two cylinders and when once it got going you could hear it all over the town: then when it did get started no one dared stop it for fear it would not go again. I drove it most of the time myself and used it quite often on errands to town….Mr. Joseph Mann tried to drive the car once but it jumped a stone fence and landed in the lot, so he decided to leave it alone after that.3
In fact, the front bumper on the Yale was so badly damaged in the crash it had to be removed. In our collection, there are photographs of it before and after Joseph Mann’s incident. Minnie Weygandt described the process of getting the carriage horses used to the Yale:
[The Yale] was a small noisy thing, with a door in the rear and high precarious seats. I still have a picture which I took of it, for at that time we were very proud of it. August Mann took Mrs. Eddy’s horses out to exercise regularly each morning and at that time John Salchow and Joseph Mann would drive the car, passing and re-passing the horses. At first they shied and reared up every time it came anywhere near them, but finally they got so used to the noise that they paid no more attention to the car. 4
Using the Yale to desensitize the horses to the noises and smells of automobiles was only partially successful, however. On May 27, 1903, Eddy wrote to William D. Chandler (a neighbor, and the son of William E. Chandler, who was later involved with the Next Friends suit) with a request:
My horses are shy of the Automobile and I notice your son goes out in one at my hour for driving. Will you do me the favor to change his hour for recreation as it must be easier for him than for me to do this? My hour is 2 to 3 p.m. Or would he kindly avoid the streets that I take on my drive namely Warren St. Pleasant St. Green St. Capitol and North Main Streets. I am not long on any street as I am out but one hour.5
Prince and Duke, the team of horses who never became accustomed to the automobile, were also in need of retirement, and the task of selling them – and the Yale automobile, which had served its purpose – fell to Gilbert Carpenter. He found new homes for the horses and the Yale in August 1904, and purchased a new pair of horses, Dolly and Princess, who had more experience with modern road hazards. John Salchow tells that the Yale did not have an auspicious future after it left Pleasant View:
It was sent to Providence and [Carpenter] disposed of it to a man who was running on the Democratic ticket for Governor. The story was told that he used the car in his political campaign, and that it got him such a bad reputation by stalling in front of every saloon and roadhouse that he lost the election. 6
The later automobiles that Eddy purchased all have their own interesting stories – and we will save them for another day. Today, the Yale touring car is considered a rare example of an early Brass Age automobile.