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Matamoras Minute: Automobile industry

Another enterprise in which C.C. Stover played a prominent role in the economy of Matamoras encompassed a fundamental change in industry. He early saw the proverbial “handwriting on the wall” and hitched his wagon onto the coming of the automobile age.

The country was moving from horse drawn transportation to the car and Stover fell in with preparations to adapt to the new mode of transportation.

The Stover Machine Shop, which he had organized and equipped on Broadway to handle the oil field repair work, had machinery installed to handle the new business. He therefore became the first auto repair and garage man of the entire community. In 1913 he built the largest garage in the Ohio Valley between Pittsburgh and Cincinnati. The plant was fully equipped and had a large stock of accessories on hand. It was described as a real city automobile store in every sense of the word.

The Stover dealership first carried Metz cars and later sold Dodge and Chevrolet. A Ford agency came to town when G.C. Wilderman, the county agent for Ford, expanded to Matamoras.

In the summer of 1921 he built a large building on the “brick block” of Main Street. A full line of Ford products were kept with J.R. Semon as the local manager. And reference is found to a Hall’s Garage located at the site on Second Street where the Cline livery stable stood as having a share of the automobile trade. Many people of town remember the two locations of the Frank Hall service station business but this is not in the same lineage.

One other outlet associated with the automobile was an auto repair and accessories building across Second Street from the present post office. This was started in 1920 by C.F. Barnhart and C.B. Chandler and included a service station. The structure was later to house the business of Donald “Skinny” Rosenlieb.

The extent of the automobile business in Matamoras can be appreciated when the numbers show there were around 400 such vehicles in Grandview Township in the mid-1920s with half of them owned by townspeople.

John Miller is president of the Matamoras Area Historical Society. Membership dues are $15 per year single/couple. Life membership is $150. Contact the society at P.O. Box 1846, New Matamoras, Ohio 45767. Much of this column is built on the work of Matamoras’ historian, the late Diana McMahan.

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