John Mohler Studebaker
In the mid-1850's, John Mohler Studebaker lived and worked in Placerville at 543 Main Street. John made wheelbarrows for gold miners and invested his earnings in the family business with his brothers Clement, Henry & Peter in South Bend, Indiana where they opened a blacksmith and wagon building shop.
At this time, Clement, Henry and Peter were filling wagon orders for the U.S. Army, and would continue to do so throughout the Civil War. At age 25 in 1858, John Mohler Studebaker left Placerville to join his brothers Clement and Peter in South Bend after buying out brother Henry's interest.
[pictured from top left ... Peter and Jacob ... bottom left ... Clement, Henry and John].
The brothers didn't stop there . in 1868, the Studebaker brothers founded one of the largest vehicle manufacturing firms in the US. A fifth brother, Jacob Franklin Studebaker, entered the firm in 1870 and established its first branch office at St. Joseph, Mo., where it helped to outfit settlers moving west. The firm produced more than 750,000 wagons during its history.
The Studebaker brothers were the only corporation that was successful in making the transition from horse drawn to gasoline powered vehicles. Studebaker eased their way into the automobile market after the turn of the century, introducing an electric car in 1902. Gasoline powered Studebakers came in 1904, produced by the Garford Company in Ohio, marketed under the name Studebaker-Garford. At age 84, John Mohler Studebaker was the only brother that lived to see the production of the automobile (born 1833 and died 1917).
So, though humble beginnings started in Placerville by John back in the 1850's, his innovation and success had a major impact on the transportation industry's evolution. As you kno, we can all nurture the simplest of ideas that can then evolve to change history. Thank you John Mohler Studebaker.
Today, at the El Dorado County Fair each year, we honor John Studebaker by having wheelbarrow races.