The White Lily Engine Connection

The story of the White Lily Washer Co., the Schmidt Bros. Co. Engine Works and a White Lily engine in Texas.

| October/November 2018

  • Harry Seidensticker’s circa-1906 3 hp White Lily gas engine, manufactured by White Lily Washer Co., Davenport, Iowa.
    Photo by Glenn Thompson
  • Harry’s engine shows serial No. 600. The earliest known is 523, the latest 876.
    Photo by Glenn Thompson
  • The 1907 patent date for Harry Stoltenberg’s design for the White Lily’s governor is cast into the governor-side flywheel.
    Photo by Glenn Thompson
  • “YY L MFG CO 72” is scribed into the pulley-side flywheel. Its meaning is unknown.
    Photo by Glenn Thompson
  • Harry’s White Lily is equipped with a Lunkenheimer mixer. It’s unknown whether it’s original to the engine.
    Photo by Glenn Thompson
  • Like most engines of its time, the White Lily features an atmospheric intake valve and a mechanical exhaust valve.
    Photo by Glenn Thompson
  • Harry and Mary Seidensticker with the White Lily.
    Photo by Glenn Thompson
  • A close-up of the engine’s muffler, which appears to be original to the engine.
    Photo by Glenn Thompson
  • A 1908 3 hp Schmidt Chilled Cylinder.
    Photo by Glenn Thompson
  • A 1909 3 hp White Lily.
    Photo by Glenn Thompson
  • The 1908 3 hp Schmidt and the 1909 3 hp White Lily engines are almost identical and it’s clear they are the same design.
    Photo courtesy of Glenn Thompson
  • The 1908 3 hp Schmidt and the 1909 3 hp White Lily engines are almost identical and it’s clear they are the same design.
    Photo courtesy of Glenn Thompson

Circa-1906 3 hp White Lily

Manufacturer: White Lily Washer Co., Davenport, IA
Year: circa 1906
Serial No.: 600
Horsepower: 3 hp @ 550rpm
Bore & Stroke: 4in x 4in
Flywheel: 18in x 1-1/2in
Ignition: Spark plug w/battery and buzz coil
Governing: Hit-and-miss, flywheel weights
Cooling: Air-cooled


Nobody would say that Sam T. White had a head start in life. Born in Saint Blazey, Cornwall, England, on Feb. 1, 1868, Sam T. White was at an early age exposed to hard labor on the family farm. His father had gone to the United States as a young man and joined the “49ers” who went west searching for gold. After prospecting and mining for a number of years, he returned to England in 1866, married and settled into a rural life. He may not have brought back a great deal of wealth, but he did return with visions of the opportunities available in the New World, which he shared with his son. In 1884, aged 16, Sam emigrated to the United States.

Sam hit the ground running. He lived in Staatsburg, New York, for a brief period, but soon went to Canada. Sam was a big, strong youth, and this stood him in good stead as he worked on farms, dug ditches and wells, and cut down trees in lumber camps. While in Canada, he began to sell bicycles, which were a hot item at that time.

In 1891, Sam moved to Chicago, Illinois, and sold bicycles produced by firms such as the Stokes Co., the Monarch Mfg. Co. and the Stover Bicycle Mfg. Co. He became a traveling salesman for Western Wheelworks and established his headquarters in Davenport, Iowa. While employed he discovered there was a market for washing machines, and he began to sell the Voss Bros. Ocean Wave Washers.



Sam was a good salesman. A large man, he cut an imposing figure and radiated confidence and good will. He liked being around people and he enjoyed talking to people, and he was always ready to lend a hand if someone needed help.

Appreciating that many women were still washing clothes by hand, Sam joined with two partners – Bernard L. Schmidt and Franz L. Schmidt – to form the White Lily Washer Co. on Nov. 1, 1902, with Bernard as president, Franz vice president and Sam secretary and treasurer. The business prospered. At its peak, the factory consisted of a 50,000-square-foot building on 5 acres of land. The factory could produce 500 washing machines a day, and these were sold across the U.S. and in Australia and a number of European countries, as well.