The White Lily Engine
engine was featured in the following article: Thompson, Glenn. "The
White Lily Connection; The Story of the White Lily Washer Co. and the
Schmidt Bros. Co. Engine Works." Gas Engine Magazine, vol.53, no. 6, October/November 2018, pp. 6-10.
To view photos of Harry Seidensticker's White Lily Engine, please click on WHITE LILY PHOTOS.
Seidensticker is a native-born Texas who has lived all of his life on
the ranch established by his ancestors in the Texas Hill Country. A few
decades ago, Harry’s brother-in-law Allen Becker got him interested in
old engines and he became an avid collector. Harry’s wife Mary wasn’t
as excited about all of that old iron showing up on the place, but
faced with the enthusiasm of both her husband and her brother, she
resigned herself to her fate. Harry now has a substantial
collection of old engines—running and otherwise—scattered around the
ranch. One of these is his pride and joy—a White Lily Engine. Harry has
only been able to identify three other White Lily Engines in the United
States. The brass tag on the engine bears the serial number 600.
is nothing on Harry’s engine which provides an indication of the
horsepower rating. Comparison with photos of other White Lily Engines
suggests that the engine might be a 3 hp model. If the engine is a 3 hp
model, it has a 4 inch bore and a 4 inch stroke and produces
at 550 rpm. The engine has a Lunkenheimer carburetor. The speed is
governed by a hit-or-miss system in which ignition and fuel are
withheld intermitently to retard acceleration. Ignition is by a spark
plug, a battery and a buzz coil. The flywheels measure 18
in diameter and are 1 ½ inches thick. Harry’s engine does not have
cooling fins on the flywheel; however, as issued from the factory,
these were attached to a band clamped around the flywheel and were
easily removed. A previous owner might have removed them for safety’s
sake. With later models, a screen was provided by the company to cover
the flywheel and protect the operator. Information in raised letters
and numbers on the flywheel indicate that engine was patented on August
13, 1907. A rather cryptic company name is crudely enscribed on the
other flywheel-”YYL’MFG.CO 72.”
purchased the White Lily Engine in February, 1979, from a Mrs. Bacon
who lived near Comfort, Texas. He paid $75 for the White Lily Engine
and two Stover engines—a considerable investment at that time for three
rusty hunks of iron that had been left to deteriorate in an old shed.
Mrs. Bacon was disposing of things that had belonged to her late
husband. The White Lily Engine was in terrible condition, with a stuck
piston and a broken crankshaft, amongst other problems. Harry worked
out a deal with an acquaintance, Sig Johnson, who agreed to restore the
White Lily Engine in return for one of the Stover engines. Mr. Johnson
determined that the gas tank and the battery box were beyond repair, so
he fabricated replacements. When the restoration was finished, Mr.
Johnson painted the engine light blue, because that happened to be the
color of some paint that he had on hand; however, Harry thinks that the
original color was gree
a happy ending to this story, Harry has greatly enjoyed owning,
operating and displaying his White Lily Engine, his wife Mary now
acknowledges that maybe the acquisition wasn’t such a bad deal after
all, and they plan to pass on this and other engines and tractors to
their grandsons, who are just as interested in old iron as “Opie.”
enjoys discussing old engines. He can be reached at 830-739-1263
The White Lily Washer Company
all start from a level playing
field, more or less. Sure, some people come from wealthy families,
others are blessed with exceptionally good looks and some always seem
to be in the right place at the right time, but in the end, to a large
degree the criteria by which we judge success in life are shaped by the
goals that we set for ourselves and the determination with which we
pursue those goals.
would say that Sam T. White had a
head start in life. He was born in Saint Blazey, Cornwall, on February
1, 1868, and was exposed to hard labor on the family farm at an early
age. His father had gone to the United States as a young man and joined
the “49er’s” who went West searching for gold. After prospecting and
mining for a number of years, he returned to England in 1866, married,
and settled into a rural life. He may not have brought back a great
deal of wealth, but he did return with visions of the opportunities
available in the new world which he shared with his son and in 1884, at
age 16, Sam emigrated to the United States.
might say that
Sam “hit the ground running.” He lived in Staatsburg, New York, for a
brief period but soon went to Canada. Sam was a big, strong youth and
this stood him in good stead as he worked on farms, dug ditches and
wells, and cut down trees in lumber camps. While still in Canada, he
also began to sell bicycles, which were a “hot item” at that time.
1891 Sam moved to Chicago and sold bicycles produced by firms such as
the Stokes Company, the Monarch Manufacturing Company and the Stover
Bicycle Manufacturing Company. He became a traveling salesman for
Western Wheelworks and established his headquarters in Davenport, Iowa.
While doing that, he found out that there was a market for washing
machines and he began to sell the Voss Brothers Ocean Wave Washers.
you may have guessed, Sam was a good salesman. He was a large man who
cut an imposing figure and he radiated confidence and good will. He
liked being around people, he enjoyed talking to people and he was
always ready to lend a hand if someone needed help.
that there was a large segment of the female population who was still
washing clothes by hand, Sam joined with two partners—Bernard L.
Schmidt and Franz L. Schmidt—to form the White Lily Washer Company on
November 1, 1902. Bernard was President, Franz was Vice President and
Sam was Secretary and Treasurer. The business prospered. At its peak,
the factory consisted of a 50,000 square foot building on five acres of
land. The factory could produce 500 washing machines a day and these
were sold in Australia and a number of European countries, as well as
the United States.
DeLuxe Jr. Washing Machine could be
purchased at the bargain price of $7.00 if the housewife was willing to
agitate the clothes by moving a handle back and forth. To acquire
something less demanding physically, the washer was available with an
electric motor for $50.00. That was fine for women living in homes
wired for electricity, but the majority of homes in rural areas didn’t
have that luxury, so another option was offered to them—a washer with a
pulley that could be belted to a gas engine—a White Lily gasoline
engine, of course. A 3hp, 4 cycle, air cooled White Lily engine was
available for $69.75.
someone else likely was
responsible for the initial design of the White Lily Engine, Henry
Stoltenburg was associated with the White Lily Washer Company and he
made improvements to the engine which were granted patents 828,867 in
1906, 863,234 in 1907 and 880,835 in 1908. Stoltenburg designed the
cooling fins which were attached to the flywheel.
White Lily Washer Company was renamed the White Lily Manufacturing
Company to reflect the fact that the company now produced a variety of
items, not just washing machines. This was the first of several
financial and legal maneuvers. Sam White bought out the Schmidt
Brothers’ share of the White Lily Manufacturing Company on May 22,
1909. At that time the company was reorganized and he became President.
Then, Sam sold the White Lily Manufacturing Company Engine Works to the
Schmidt Brothers, who merged it with the Davenport Ice Chipping Machine
Company and formed the Schmidt Brothers Company. Finally, Sam White
bought out the Schmidt Brothers Company in May, 1910.
records became confused. In July, 1909, the White Lily Gasoline Engine
was advertised as being made by the White Lily Manufacturing Company.
In August of that year, the White Lily Gasoline Engine was advertised
as being made by the Davenport Ice Chipping Machine Company and in
September, 1909, the White Lily Gasoline Engine was advertised as being
made by the Schmidt Brothers Company, formerly the Davenport Ice
Chipping Machine Company.
T. White died in 1929 at age 61
and was buried in the Oakdale Cemetery in Davenport. After he passed
away, his business interests faded from the commercial scene, probably
in part due to a lack of the strong, aggressive leadership which he
brought to a company.
The Schmidt Brothers Engine Company
F. and Sophia Schmidt were
immigrants from Germany who came to the United States in 1847. Although
a cabinet maker in Germany, Carl became a farmer in Iowa and later
raised grapes and made wine. Carl’s son Bernard L. Schmidt was born on
October 22, 1869, in Davenport. He was a student in the public schools
in Davenport and later completed a business course at the Davenport
Business College. Bernard first worked as a machinist for William
Sternburg and then took a job with the Voss Brothers Company. That firm
made furniture fixtures, doors, door sashes, blinds, and wooden-soled
shoes with leather tops. Bernard Schmidt’s brother Franz L. Schmidt was
born on November 19, 1876, in Davenport. Like his brother, he attended
public schools and later completed a business course at the Davenport
1897, Bernard and Franz purchased the
Voss Brothers Company and became jobbers for the items produced by that
firm. The new company was known as the Schmidt Brothers Company. In
1902, the Schmidt Brothers sold the Schmidt Brothers Company, purchased
the patent for the Little Giant Ice Crusher and formed the Davenport
Ice Chipping Machine Company, with Bernard as President. The Little
Giant Ice Crusher was a commercial machine designed for use in hotels,
restaurants and saloons. Also in 1902, Bernard L. Schmidt, Franz L.
Schmidt, and another Davenport entrepreneur, Sam T. White, formed the
White Lily Washer Company, with Bernard as President, Franz as Vice
President and Sam as Secretary and Treasurer. The business prospered.
This firm manufactured the White Lily Gasoline Engine.
the Schmidt Brothers organized the Schmidt Brothers Gasoline Engine
Company, with Bernard as President and Franz as Vice President. This
firm produced Schmidts’ Chilled Cylinder Gasoline Engines. “Chilled
Cylinder” was a reference to a manufacturing process in which the
cylinder walls are chilled while metal is being poured to form the rest
of the engine. Supposedly, this produced cylinder walls with a harder,
denser metal which resisted wear better.
1907, the White Lily
Washer Company was renamed the White Lily Manufacturing Company, to
reflect the fact that the company produced a variety of products. On
May 22, 1909, Sam White bought out the Schmidts’ share of the White
Lily Manufacturing Company and became President of the company. At that
time, the Schmidt Brothers purchased the White Lily Manufacturing
Company’s Engine Works, combined it with the Davenport Ice Chipping
Machine Company and formed the Schmidt Brothers Company. The Schmidt
Brothers Company’s Engine Works continued to produce the White Lily
Gasoline Engine as well as Schmidt Chilled Cylinder engines. In 1910,
the 3 hp White Lily Engine sold for $97.50, the Schmidt Chilled
Cylinder 4 hp engine sold for $99.50, the Schmidt Chilled Cylinder 5 hp
engine sold for $119.50 and the Schmidt Chilled Cylinder 7 ½ hp engine
sold for $167.50.
rapid change of companies caused
confusion. In July, 1909, the White Lily Gasoline Engine was advertised
as being made by the White Lily Manufacturing Company. In August of
that year the White Lily Gasoline Engine was advertised as being made
by the Davenport Ice Chipping Machine Company and one month later, in
September, the White Lily Gasoline Engine was advertised as being made
by the Schmidt Brothers Company, formerly the Davenport Ice Chipping
Machine Company. Sam T. White purchased the Schmidt Brothers
in May, 1910.
L. Schmidt died on August 10, 1912, at the
young age of 36. His brother Bernard L. Schmidt died on November 21,
1937, at the age of 68. Both brothers were buried in the Fairmont
Cemetery in Davenport. None of the above companies exist today, due to
natural attrition caused by increased competition, failure to keep up
with a rapidly developing technology and the lack of strong leadership.