Join  |  Official Historian  |  City of Stamford  |  Blog  |  About Us
Jewish Historical Society  |  Civil War Roundtable  |  Contact Us


Photo Archivist's Selection of the Month: February 2001

We proudly Present: Stamford's First Oldsmobile and the Mechaley Brothers

Appended October 2005

John Mechaley in Stamford's First Oldsmobile, 1896
John Mechaley in Stamford's First Oldsmobile.

The Mechaley Brothers had an early interest in automobiles.

John E. and Joseph (Joe) A. Mechaley worked as printers for the STAMFORD HERALD from 1887 to 1888, and the TOWN CRIER from 1889 to 1892, after which they opened their first bicycle shop at Main Street near Summer Street.

In 1897 they bought Seeley and Adams Bicycle Shop, and the 1902 City Directory finds them at 32 Summer Street. During that year, they added automobiles to their stock in trade.

On the back of the photo at left, the automobile is noted as of 1896, but we just learned the following:

Kit Foster, Society of Automotive Historians, writes us: “That is probably Stamford 's first Oldsmobile, but not in 1896. Ransom E. Olds built his first car, a three-wheeled steamer, in 1887, a better steamer in 1891, and his first gasoline car in 1896. The Olds Motor Vehicle Company was formed in 1897 to manufacture his cars, but the curved-dash model, as in your photo, did not appear until 1901, when 425 of them were built. By 1903 it had surpassed the steam Locomobile (built in Bridgeport ) as America 's best-selling car (over 4,000 that year).

Joe Mechaley & Belden Brown in a Standard 1902 in an undated photo
Joe Mechaley, left, and Belden Brown in a "Standard" 1902 automobile, in an undated photo.

"And that takes us to the 'Standard.' There were several Standard automobiles circa 1902, but I don't have much to indicate what they looked like. This car is somewhat reminiscent of a line drawing I have of a 1903 Standard built in Chicago."

The B.75 number is interesting. 2005: Prior assumptions have been proven wrong. This number is most likely related to a New York to Boston race. A research of the Advocate microfilms in the Ferguson Library is under way. So stay tuned… (2010: this is still on the to-be-researched list.)

Photo of Joe Mechaley

Joe Mechaley

Ad on automobile

Joe Mechaley in a 1902 White steam automobile
Joe Mechaley in a "White" steam automobile. The back of the photo says 1902, but see below.

Joseph Mechaley on the left, with an unidentified gentleman, in a 1904 Cadillac
Joseph Mechaley on the left, with an unidentified gentleman, in a 1904 Cadillac.

Again Kit Foster: "The White steamer is a Model C, which my references say was introduced in 1903. The Cadillac looks like a 1904 Model B."

Summer Street was paved c. 1920

Cars lining up in front of Mechaleys for Automobile Show at the Armory, circa 1920
Cars lining up in front of Mechaleys for Automobile Show at the Armory, ca. 1920
Joe Mechaley is standing on the left.

Kit Foster: "Here we see two 1920 (probably) Brockway (certainly) trucks with an Essex following. Essex was Hudson's lower priced “companion” car, which would have been sold by the Mechaleys as part of their Hudson franchise. I suspect they also held an agency for Brockway. Note the tiny kerosene lamps on the trucks. Automobiles had used electric headlamps for several years by 1920, but trucks, particularly solid-tire ones like these, didn't go very far nor very fast, even in daytime, so strong lighting was not required."

Brochway truck, detail, kerosine lamps and license plate Brockway truck
  the Essex behind the trucks

Photos © Stamford Historical Society

Other Photo Archivist Selections of the Month
Photo Collection Information