EDITOR’S NOTE–This is another article on Findlay-area history adapted from a series written from 1959 to 1974 by the late R.L. Heminger, publisher and editor of The Courier.
By R.L. HEMINGER
A book (published in 1967) has some interesting angles that have a Findlay bearing to some extent.
The volume is entitled “My Days with the Diesel.” It consists of the memoirs of Clessie L. Cummins, known as the “father of the highway diesel.” It was published by Chilton Books, of Philadelphia and New York.
Mr. Cummins is the man who invented the well-known Cummins diesel engine that holds such a preeminent place in the diesel world. His invention led to the huge Cummins engine plant, located at Columbus, Ind. What will interest Findlay is the fact that in the story of his life Mr. Cummins said he was a member of the crew of Ray Harroun, of Findlay, when the latter won the first Indianapolis 500-mile automobile race in 1911.
At the time Mr. Cummins was working for the Marmon Automobile Co. at Indianapolis. Ray Harroun drove a Marmon car in the successful race.
“AMONG MY assignments with the Marmon company,” he says in his memoirs, “was the first Memorial Day 500-mile race at Indianapolis in 1911. Joe Dawson (who was destined to be the second Indianapolis winner in 1912), and I worked side by side as members of the crew when Ray Harroun drove a Marmon creation to victory in the inaugural event. Never again, however, would the Marmon company bask so warmly in the spotlight of American automotive glory.”
Mr. Cummins’ recollections take on added interest at this time (1967) in view of the fact that the Findlay Area Chamber of Commerce honored Ray Harroun with one of its Fort Findlay awards.
When the book was published, Mr. Cummins was no longer with the Cummins concern but resided at Sausalito, Calif., in retirement. He had developed the diesel engine while still a young man in Columbus, Ind. He was chauffeur for the town’s leading banker at the time. He had an inventive and scientific bent that flowered in the diesel development. The manufacturing firm that evolved from the production of the engines was given his name.
The Ray Harroun race in 1911 in which Mr. Cummins figured as a crew member was a big event for Findlay in 1911. Little realized then was the fact that the crew had as one of its participants the man who would later revolutionize automotive history with his diesel engine.
THE INDIANAPOLIS RACE of 1911 was witnessed by two prominent Findlay citizens, E.E. Jackson, head of the Jackson Department store, and F.J. Collingwood, who then was the manager of the Jackson firm’s garage on Broadway. Later Mr. Collingwood and E. Claude Edwards were to buy the automobile business from the Jacksons and operate under the name of Collingwood and Edwards for a number of years. Mr. Collingwood later acquired the firm himself and today (1967) it is the oldest Ford automobile agency in all Ohio.
Mr. Jackson came to Findlay early in the century to head the Jackson department store, which operated under the name of the Glass Block. The Jacksons had been in the department store business in Norwalk for some years and decided to establish a Findlay store as well. The store became the center of Findlay’s retail business area and made a signal contribution to the development of Findlay as a retail sales center over the years.