Ingham County Biographical Sketches

M. F. Bates

M.F. Bates, organizer of the Bates & Edmonds Motor Company and of the Bates Automobile Company, as well as an inventor of note in the speciality of gas and gasoline engines, is native of Calhoun county, Michigan, and was born in the year of 1869. He is the son of B. D. and Betsy A. Bates, his father being also a Wolverinite, and, by trade, a blacksmith. He still living -- a proud witness to his son's marked success in the industrial field, which he and his boy commenced to cultivate nearly twenty years ago.

Our subject was bought up in Calhoun county, Michigan, where he received his early education, and, where, while yet a goy, he was granted a patent on an improved land roller in 1887, and at once he and his father began the manufacture of the device, placing several hundred of them machines on the market. The ambitious boy realized, however, that to make the most of himself and his inventions, he must obtain a practical training as a mechanic. He therefore entered the machine shop of the Olds Works, at Lansing. From the first day of his employment there he was thoroughly in earnest. He had a definite object in view, and he never rested, night or day, or holidays, until he had become a thorough machinist. More than that, he became an expert draftsman, making patterns and drawings, especially for gasoline engines.

Mr. Bates finally invented the first gasoline engine used by the company, trading his invention for stock in the P. F. Olds & Son. He is also the inventor of a two-cycle boat engine, which is manufactured by the Smally Motor Company of Bay City, Michigan.

After remaining with the Olds Company for six years Mr. Bates severed his connection with the firm, and, in April, 1899, organized the Bates & Edmonds Motor Company, of which he is the president, and with Mr. Edmonds is the real power behind the large and rapidly growing industry. When the company was first organized it employed only three men, and the capacity of the works was only four engines monthly; it now employs one hundred men and its output is two hundred monthly. To keep up with orders the factory is on operation night and day, turning out the up-to-date gas and gasoline engines, which are the result of the president's ingenuity, and upon which he has been granted patents by the Government.

He is also vice-president of the Bates Automobile Company, which is the general manufactuing business is that line.

A consideration of the above bare record indicates rare executive and inventive ability on the part of Mr. Bates; a rare genius, in fact, for realizing financial results from the products of his thought and mechanical skill. Little idea, however, can be given of the grim determination which had complished these results, the hours of over-time which he passed as a machinist; his persistent studies to improve his general education and business knowledge at the Scranton Night School, and a hundred other ways by which he "kept overlastingly at it, " and wrenched success out of a thousand difficulties; little ideas can be given to all this, without far overstepping our bounds.

In 1896 Mr. Bates was married to Miss Celesta Thomas of Lansing. They have two children: Ralph and Louise. Both husband and wife are members of the Presbyterian church.

Taken from:
"Past and Present of the City of Lansing and Ingham County, Michigan", by Albert E. Cowles.
Published by The Michigan Historical Publishing Association Lansing, MICH., 1905.
Pages 249 - 250


Michigan Biographies Project

Sondra Higbee