Harry's White Lily Engine

Harry's White Lily Engine



The White Lily Engine


This 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
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Harry 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.


There 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 3 hp 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 inches in diameter and are 1 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.”

White Lily EngineHarry 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

As 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.”


Harry enjoys discussing old engines. He can be reached at 830-739-1263

The White Lily Washer Company


We 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.

Nobody 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.

You 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.

In 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.

As 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.
 
Realizing 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.

White’s 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.

Although 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 Engine AdIn 1907, the 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.

Production 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.

Sam 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.


White Lily Manufacturing Company Plant

The Schmidt Brothers Engine Company


Carl 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 Business College.

In 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.

In 1904, 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.

Chilled Cylinder Engine AdIn 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 hp engine sold for $167.50.

The 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 Company in May, 1910.

Franz 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.