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Mason County Memories

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Stearns Motor Gile Tractor Company History Column Dave Petersen In 1909 Justus Stearns along with several other Ludington businessmen that included W.L. Mercereau, F.B. Olney, and M.B. Danaher, established the Giles Tractor and Engine Company in order to manufacture Marine and heavy duty stationary engines. Boat engines and boats were manufactured at the plant as well from 1909 to 1914William Gile an early pioneer in the design and construction of engines who we will showcase here was hired as General Manager. The following information is quoted from the "History of Michigan", by Charles Moore, 1915. "William L. Gile. The wonderful success which has marked the five years which represent the life of the Gile Boat and Engine Company, of Ludington, Michigan, attests the sagacity, foresight and business skill of its members, whose watchful care and fidelity are building up and perpetuating their fortunes. "The general manager of the Gile Boat and Engine Company, William L. Gile, has been a resident of Ludington only since 1909, but within the short space of five years he has achieved a success such as many men would consider a triumph if accomplished through long years of earnest and patient effort. Mr. Gile was born in Allegan County, Michigan, January 25, 1869, and is a son of Chauncey and Adelia (Liscoe) Gile. "William L. Gile was fifteen years of age when his father died, and it was necessary that he early begin to contribute to the family support. His educational training was secured in the public schools of Montague, Michigan, but when he was fifteen years of age he put aside his books and began to work in a planning mill. "Later he secured employment on the river and in the lumber woods, and at the age of nineteen years went to work for the Muskegon Street Railway Company. He was enterprising, faithful and industrious, and at the age of twenty-two years was made master mechanic and chief engineer of the company, positions which he held until 1907, when he went to Greenville, with the C. T. Wright Company, an implement concern. "On March 1, 1909, Mr. Gile came to Ludington, Michigan, and organized the Gile Boat and Engine Company, a modest enterprise for the manufacture of boats and engines which grew so rapidly that it was soon capitalized at $150,000, and it was found necessary to treble the size of the factory. The present capacity of the factory is fifty engines per day, and during the winter of 1913-1914 it was necessary to run the factory day and night in order to supply the demand for the company's popular product. "Considerable goods are shipped to Minneapolis, but the company's manufacture does not have its sale confined to this country, for many of these engines are in use in foreign lands. Mr. Gile is general manager of this enterprise, with J. S. Stearns, president, and W. L. Mercereau, secretary. "Mr. Gile is a careful, prudent and successful business man. His accumulations have not been the fruit of wild speculation or adventure, but have been gathered in the pursuit of legitimate business, to which he gives his constant attention. In March 1908, Mr. Gile was married to Miss May Moriarity, of Grand Rapids, and they have one daughter, - Josephine, who is three years of age." If you have any stories or photographs to share with our readers please feel free to contact me at 757-3240 (please leave a message) or davep@blackcreekpress.com

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