Seven New Buicks - Old Settlers 1909


Old Settlers September 2, 1909 - Photo provided by: Ann Tindall

It was back in February 1909, when Frank H. Brown, Hillsboro businessman and community leader for a number of years, secured the Buick Sales franchise for both Montgomery and Bond counties and began selling the first of several makes of automobiles he was to handle at the George W. Brown, Jr. hardware and farm machinery center on the west side of courthouse square.


Mr. Brown and his brothers James P. Brown and Don Brown were operating the hardware and implement business, which had been established years before by their father, when the first automobiles went chugging through the business district.


While in St. Louis, securing the Buick franchise, Mr. Brown sold his first two automobiles, one to E.M. Gullic, mayor of Greenville, and the other to David "Cappy" Davis of Litchfield. Pictured are seven of the first Buicks he sold in Hillsboro. They belonged to Attorney L.V. Hill, Arthur Grassel, Fred Robertson, Orville Hill, Harry S. Hargrave and his own "demonstrator." Standing beside their automobiles and wearing coats and ties for the parade, are, from the left, nearest the NEWS building to the Buick sign, at the right, are L.V. Hill, Arthur Grassel, Fred Robertson and Harry S. Hargrave.


The Buick owners were not the only Hillsboro men who sported new automobiles, for according to the NEWS, early models were also owned by Will Smith, O.B. Graden, J.W. Osborn, Newell Henry, J.K. McDavid and E.B. Hess. Mr. Hess, who operated a furniture store in the Corner Block building, in the room now occupied by Sherman's department store, had received the Maxwell franchise a short time before Mr. Brown became the Buick dealer, and James Logan McDavid, who operated a hardware store in the building, now occupied by Gregg Ace Hardware, had become the dealer, first for Ramblers, and then Regals and Hupmobiles. Mey Brothers & Young, farm wagon makers, located in what is now known as the Kelley building on the southeast corner of Main and Tremont streets, added Patterson automobiles to their line of " carriages" and advertised two White Steamers for sale, cheap.


Automobiles new in 1909

Automobiles were new in Hillsboro in 1909 and most of the makes looked like· single seated "runabouts" or double-seated "hacks" with collapsible tops and rubber-tired wheels. They were still new enough to scare horses into a runaway unless their drivers jumped from the wagon or carriage and held them by the bridle, soothing them as the snorting "go-devils" went by in a cloud of dust.


They were still enough of a curiosity to be a feature attraction in the 1909 Old Settlers' parade and spectators by the hundred, watching the Buicks and other automobiles, some with tops up and some with tops down and windshields folded to the front, as they chugged along or became stalled on Main Street.


Source: The Montgomery News

Written by: Tom Bliss

Published: Sometime in the 1980's.



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Jeff Dunn

Vice President

Historical Society of

Montgomery County

Advisory Board

Illinois State

Historical Society