M. F. Bates

| June/July 2001

  • M. F. Bates

  • M. F. Bates

12234 Harris Carleton, Michigan 48117

M. F. Bates, organizer of the Bates & Edmonds Motor Company and of the Bates Automobile Company, as well as an inventor of note in the specialty of gas and gasoline engines, is a native of Calhoun County, Michigan, and was born in the year 1869. He is the son of B. D. and Betsy A. Bates, his father being also a Wolverinite, and, by trade, a blacksmith. He is still living a proud witness of his son's marked success in the industrial field, which he and his boy commenced to cultivate nearly twenty years ago.

Our subject was brought up in Calhoun County, Michigan, where he received his early education, and, where, while yet a boy, he was granted a patent on an improved land roller in 1887, and at once he and his father began the manufacture of the device, placing several hundred of the machines on the market. The ambitious boy realized, however, that to make the most of himself and his inventions, he must obtain a practical training as a mechanic. He therefore entered the machine shop of the Olds Works, at Lansing. From the first day of his employment there he was thoroughly in earnest. He had a definite object in view, and he never rested, night or day, or holidays, until he had become a thorough machinist. More than that, he became an expert draftsman, making patterns and drawings, especially for gasoline engines.

Mr. Bates finally invented the first gasoline engine used by the company, trading his invention for stock in the P. F. Olds & Son. He is also the inventor of a two-cycle boat engine, which is manufactured by the Smalley Motor Company of Bay City, Michigan.

After remaining with the Olds Company for six years Mr. Bates severed his connection with the firm, and, in April 1899, organized the Bates & Edmonds Motor Company, of which he is the president and with Mr. Edmonds is the real power behind the large and rapidly growing industry. When the company was first organized it employed only three men, and the capacity of the works was only four engines monthly: it now employs 100 men and its output is 200 monthly. To keep up with orders the factory is in operation night and day, turning out the up-to-date gas and gasoline engines, which are the result of the president's ingenuity, and upon which he has been granted patents by the Government.

He is also vice-president of Bates Automobile Company, which is in the general manufacturing business in that line.

A consideration of the above bare record indicates rare executive and inventive ability on the part of Mr. Bates; a rare genius, in fact, for realizing financial results from the products of his thought and mechanical skill. Little idea, however, can be given of the grim determination which has accomplished these results, the hours of overtime which he passed as a machinist; his persistent studies to improve his general education and business knowledge at the Scranton Night School, and a hundred other ways by which he 'kept everlastingly at it,' and wrenched success out of a thousand difficulties; little idea can be given of all this, without far overstepping our bounds.

In 1896 Mr. Bates was married to Miss Celesta Thomas of Lansing. They have two children: Ralph and Louise. Both husband and wife are members of the Presbyterian Church.

I found this information on Mr. Bates at the library in Lansing, Michigan. It was from a book dated 1905, titled Settlers of Ingham County Michigan. The signature on the bottom of the picture of Bates is his signature from one of his U. S. Patents.


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