I have no idea when the photo at my grandmothers house first caught my eye, and I don’t know where the photo is today. I do know that that picture of my grandfather and his guest, Henry Ford, sitting in a rocking chair on the front porch of the house on Hinckley Boulevard was what inspired a grand adventure that continues to this day.
I never knew my grandfather, Frederick P. Hinckley as he was born July 1866. Years later I learned some rather interesting things about the tall, thin man in the photograph. Hinckley obtained a patent for the bicycle coaster brake in 1898. Two years later, he was in the employ of David Buick as a machinist. In the years that followed he was involved in a number of manufacturing companies including Hinckley-Meyers, a company that designed and produced specialty machine tools for Hudson, Fisher Bodies, and other automotive companies. He also launched a company that produced saw sets, and established a machine shop on Francis Street in Jackson, Michigan that, among other things, produced experimental components on direct order from Henry Ford.
It was my quest to know more about this man that sparked my fascination with the American auto industry between 1885 and 1940, and the City of Jackson’s rich automotive history. And this led me full circle, a meeting with Ted O’Dell, the man that is single handily bringing to light Jackson’s industrial past, in October 2017. The center piece of O’Dell’s crusade was acquisition of the circa 1909 Hackett Automobile Company factory, and his ongoing efforts to transform the old building into an event center and museum.
To read more about this Fred P. Hinckley, my quest to discover his story, and a fascinating place called Hague Park, check out our exclusive content site on the Patreon platform.