Homer N. Motsinger and the Motsinger Device Mfg. Co.


On May 18, 1900, representatives of the Motsinger Device Manufacturing Company broke ground for their new 40-by-100-foot brick factory located just north of the Pendleton Falls on land acquired from the Pendleton Window Glass Company. This was the fruition of Homer N. Motsinger’s dream to manufacture his newly patented Auto Sparker. The factory was to initially employ 30 skilled tradesmen and 16 laborers working in two shifts. The town of Pendleton agreed to finance the building and supply the natural gas on the fear of Motsinger moving his factory to another city.

Homer Motsinger was born in Shoals, Indiana, attended Purdue University and moved to Pendleton around 1895 where he married Inez Cole, the daughter of a prominent Pendleton businessman. The couple lived on North Main Street before moving to their newly built home at 204 West Street in 1900. 

 Their new residence was designed by New York’s leading architect, Stanford White, who also had designed Fifth Avenue mansions for the Vanderbilts and the Astors. (An interesting side note is that 53 year-old Stanford White was murdered by Harry Thaw six years after designing the Motsinger home. Thaw was the jealous husband of his much younger wife and noted actress. The incident occurred at the Madison Square Roof Garden, a building that, coincidentally, White had also designed. Harry Thaw went to trial for the murder of White, but was found not guilty by reason of insanity and rode to the asylum on a private train. Thaw’s wife, Evelyn Thaw, became the subject of the movie, The Girl in the Red Velvet Swing, with her life portrayed by a young Joan Collins.)

Homer Motsinger continued to develop and receive patents for gasoline engine-related accessories. His two-story lab was located on his property immediately to the west of his house. (This lab building was later relocated across High Street to the north and reduced to a single story.) In addition to the patent for the Auto Sparker, Homer Motsinger received twenty other patents for ancillary engine devices including a carburetor, magneto, electric igniter, thermostat, and muffler.

Motsinger Patent 907,628 

Patent no. 907,628 for a gas engine spark timer, granted to Homer Motsinger in 1908 

Kate Sadowski
10/11/2012 3:56:18 AM

Thank you so much for posting this. Homer was my great grandfather and this was very interesting to read. I knew some of this history but not this many details.


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