First Things


| October/November 1995



16 HP Horizontal Gasoline Engine

Red Ball thinks back to all the time and sweat used to restore this Olin 16 HP horizontal gasoline engine housed in his Wellsville, New York, shop.

Olin Family Historian, 5855 Lisle Road, Owego, New York 13827

My first real interest in the Olin family history began in 1984 when my mother gave me all the material that my deceased father had somehow gathered by 'hit and miss' from family members. She also included a letter of inquiry that had been forwarded to her. I knew absolutely nothing about the ins and outs of genealogy or the conventional rules of etiquette involved, but I had a large notebook full of information in my hands, and from it I prepared an answer to the query of what I proudly thought was right. A scathing letter came back, letting me know in certain terms that I did not know what I was writing about.

I had always figured myself as a knowledgeable person, having recently retired from middle management in a large corporation. Now I was experiencing a humility based on ignorance of the simple kind, my own family history. I accepted the challenge because I did not want to experience this feeling of inadequacy again. I began corresponding with the older members of the Olin family and found that my branch, the Joseph (2) Olin, had never been documented as had his two brothers. Mine appeared to be a lost branch since 1710.

Now I had a goal for my extra time in my retirement years, to research, collect, compile and possibly author a book of my long lost branch. But in doing so I found that I had to collect all Olin information and sift through it for what I needed.

About this time, 1986, I accepted the appointment of Historian for Tioga County, New York, which provided me with the opportunity to learn the use of research facilities and to generate other family genealogies or history as I prefer to call it. The historian position also gave me a legitimate excuse to visit 'old timers' around the country and develop short stories relating to their family's history or activities for the local papers.

While visiting the annual Steam and Gas Engine Show in Maine, New York, Jack Green, small gasoline engine buff, told me about the Olin gasoline engines and wondered if I was related to the originator. I had no idea if I was related or not. He suggested that I take in the Steam and Gas Show in Canandaigua, New York, where he thought someone would know of the Olin engine.