MotorCities National Heritage Area

Madison F. Bates

Another whose career was cast in the shadows of R.E. Olds was Madison F. Bates. Also the son of an industrialist, Bates was, like Olds, an inventor from an early age. At the time when Ransom Olds was beginning to win recognition for his early model automobiles and P.F. Olds & Sons was winning international acclaim for their gas engines, Bates joined the shop on River Street as a mechanic, in 1893. In 1898 his residence is listed as 227 River Street--right next to the Olds shop. He was instrumental in the invention of several important items for Olds, including advancements in the gasoline internal combustion engine and a two-cycle marine engine. The first to own stock in the Olds shop outside the family, he severed ties with Olds concerns in 1899 in order to join efforts with J.P. Edmonds in the Bates & Edmonds Motor Company.

Bates Automobile Co, 1905
The Bates Automobile Co was a splinter of the motor company with J.P. Edmonds, and which once again proved how difficult to get an automobile company into the black. In EARLY LANSING HISTORY (1944) J.P. Edmonds describes the venture as follows: "In 1902 the Bates Automobile Co was organized by J.P. Edmonds, M.F. Bates, F.M. Seibley, J.E. Roe, and Dr. H.A. Haze. They started business in the old 'Armory' Building in the 300 block on So. Capital Ave where the Lansing Oldsmobile is now located. They, at first, made a single cylinder runabout and later produced a few two-seated cars with four cylinder engines under the hood. In all, a total of about 25 cars were built." Pictured is the failed one-cylinder runabout. Of note to this model are some of the great differences between it and the early Curved Dash Olds and REO runabouts--especially that the engine and transmission were actually under the hood in the Bates. Motto for the car was "Buy a Bates and Keep Your Dates."

704 E. Kalamazoo
Lansing, MI 48906