The Apperson Brothers Automobile Company was incorporated in Kokomo, Indiana on November 9, 1908, and its paperwork extended to 1925. Its original directors were Elmer Apperson, Edgar L. Apperson, Alton G. Siberling and C. H. Felske
The object of this corporation was “to manufacture automobiles, motor cycles, all self-propelled conveyances, and all accessories thereto and machinery connected therewith.” The name of the company was changed to the Pioneer Automobile Company on October 13, 1924.
Elmer Apperson was born in 1861 and his brother Edgar in 1870. Elmer opened a machine shop in Kokomo, Howard County, Indiana in 1888 and his younger brother later joined him. Elwood Haynes, a Kokomo inventor, got the idea of attaching a gasoline fueled marine motor to a carriage and asked Edgar to help him with the project, which they finished and tried out successfully on July 4, 1894. Edgar continued to work on the idea, and together Haynes and the Apperson brothers formed the Haynes-Apperson Company, slowly producing some of the first automobile models in the United States.
The partnership split in 1901, though Haynes did not drop the Apperson name until 1905. The Apperson factory, which was located near Wildcat Creek in Kokomo, burned down and a new plant was built in 1906 on Kokomo’s South Main Street. A bigger plant was built on Washington Street in 1916. They incorporated their company as the Apperson Brothers Automobile Company in 1908. Besides the Appersons, an original director was Alton G. Seiberling, an investor who became the company’s secretary and treasurer till 1912 when he joined the Haynes Automobile Company. Also, Charles H. Felske, a local factory manager, was an original director.
Instead of delivering their purchased autos by train, they would drive the autos to the purchasers and personally show them how to drive and maintain the auto. One delivery to Brooklyn, N.Y. took 21 days! They also would participate in various kinds of races around the country to publicize their product. In 1907 they introduced their Jackrabbit model which became their most popular auto.
Elmer died in 1920 and Edgar sold his stock in the company and retired from the business in 1924 when the company was in financial trouble. It went bankrupt in 1926. Though, according to the corporate papers, Edgar was a director in the newly formed Pioneer Automobile Company, but it was not successful. It is interesting that the treasurer of the Apperson company, A. G. Dawson, and the company’s Vice President, B.C. Buxton, hung in as directors of the Pioneer Company, along with E. B. Barnes, a local lawyer, and three out-of-town investors. The company must have had too much debt.
Edgar Apperson retired to Arizona to become a farmer, and his hobbies were hunting and fishing. He died in 1959.
by Robert F. Gilyeat, an Indiana State Archives volunteer