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years passed and his financial standing became secure, Mr. Henkel retired from the more active responsibilities of business, relegating the same largely to his sons, and in 1878 he began making annual trips to Europe.
The secret of Mr. Henkel's long life and exceptional strength lay in his abstemious habits and the good care he took of himself. He was of robust constitution, and though never considering himself an athlete he could, when a young man, hold out a barrel of flour with his two hands. It is related that on one occasion a prize-fighter entered his store and made himself disagreeable, whereupon Mr. Henkel caught him by the shoulders, dragged him to the door and thumped his head on the sill until he promised to be good. Heart failure was the immediate cause of the death of Mr. Henkel, although his health had been impaired for some time prior to his demise, which took place at his home, 706 Fort street, west, at eleven o'clock on the night of May 23, 1904. He was one of the sterling pioneer business men of Detroit and his loyalty to the city was shown in manifold ways. No citizen was more progressive and public-spirited, and none more ready to aid worthy objects—religious, charitable and benevolent.
In politics Mr. Henkel gave stanch allegiance to the Democratic party, and in 1865 he was elected a member of the city board of aldermen. Later he was a delegate to the constitutional convention of the state and for eleven years served as a member of the board of fire commissioners of Detroit. Prior to this, in 1847, he had joined the old volunteer fire department, in which he took deep interest. He served as president of the board of fire commissioners in later years and upon his retirement from this office he was presented with a gold commemorative medal, which he ever afterward prized most highly. Though a stalwart Democrat in a generic way, he was independent in local affairs and gave his support to men and measures meeting the approval of his judgment, irrespective of partisan lines. He erected a fine mansion of thirty rooms on West Fort street, and after his death his widow disposed of this property and built her present beautiful home, at 340 East Grand boulevard, in one of the most attractive residence districts of the city. A man of fine social instincts and genial personality, Mr. Henkel won and retained friends in all classes. He was appreciative of the refining influences of life, especially music, and was a lifelong member of the Harmonic Society, the leading German social and musical organization of Detroit. He also held membership in the German Bowling Club and the Detroit Board of Trade. In his death the city mourned the loss of one of its sterling citizens and pioneer business men, and his name merits enduring place on the roster of those who have contributed much to the development and upbuilding of the fair metropolis of Michigan.
On the 27th of January, 1859, Mr. Henkel was united in marriage to Miss Julia Mordhorst, who was born and reared in Germany and who is a daughter of John and Anna Nordhorst, her parents passing the closing years of their lives in Detroit. Mrs. Henkel came to America when seventeen years of age, in company with her brother John, and her marriage was celebrated in a frame house that stood on the site of the present county building. She has been a resident of Detroit since her girlhood and is now one of the venerable and loved pioneer women of the city in which she and her husband lived their wedded life of nearly a half century and which is endeared to her by the gracious memories and associations of the past. Mr. and Mrs. Henkel became the parents of eleven children, of whom four died in infancy. Concerning those who attained to years of maturity the following brief record is given in conclusion of this memoir: Robert, who is one of the representative business men of Detroit, married Miss Athene Yemans and they have three children—Robert Y., Athene Julia and Frederick; Julia H. is the wife of Albert H. Sternberger, of Detroit, and they have two children—Elsie, and Albert H.; Walter, who likewise is a prominent business man of his native city, married Miss Minnie Kenzie and they have one child—Julia; Herman married Miss Anna Salmon and is likewise identified with prominent business interests in Detroit; Louis D., died in Germany, at the age of twenty-three years; Julius F., another son who is well upholding the prestige of the name in Detroit, married Miss Emeline Lichtenberg; and Lillian Martha is the wife of Julius H. Haass, president of the Home Savings Bank, of Detroit, their only child being a daughter, Constance.
Hudson Motor Car Company. To organize a new business and market four million dollars' worth of product the first season is a rather remarkable record. So far as is known, it has never been equalled even in the automobile industry, and the Hudson Motor Car Company is the corporation that accomplished this unusual feat.
The company, which was organized in 1909, produced first a low priced roadster model, and gradually since that time has increased the size and improved the quality of its output until now it stands as one of the dominant producers in the class of moderate-priced cars. The remarkable thing about the company's progress is that it is operated on "inside capital." There are ten stockholders and they are all actively engaged in the work of expanding the company's business. This means that every man's heart is in his work, and the unusual growth of this institution is indicative of such a policy. The company is essentially a young man's organization. At the present time, the average age of its officers is thirty-six years, and the aggressiveness that goes with youth has surely characterized the yearly growth of the company.
The business was first started in a small, rented factory, but the demand for Hudson cars quickly necessitated more room. It was decided to purchase a large plot of land, and twenty-five acres were secured on Jefferson avenue, across from the old Grosse Pointe race track. A modern, concrete plant was built, and additions to this factory have been in progress almost continuously ever since. Today the factory has 341,525 square feet of floor space and a manufacturing capacity of fifty machines a day. It has been the policy of the officers of the company to obtain a commanding place in a certain field of the motor car industry and continue in that field. Each new season has served to more strongly entrench them, and a radical increase in the volume of business over the original four million of the first year has been annually attained.
A great specialty has been made of bringing together unusual engineering brains within the Hudson organization. It is felt that however good all the other departments might be, the company must stand or fall upon the design of its cars. Engineers have been secured from all of the reputable automobile makers in the world and an engineering board formed composed of specialists in every line of motor car structure. At the head of this board of engineers is Howard E. Coffin, perhaps the most famous designer within the industry, and vice president of the Hudson Company. Complete and thorough organization necessitates that every department be well rounded out, and running through the whole institution is to be found a class of men who have had long experience in their own particular line of endeavor. There is essentially an esprit de corps among the Hudson employees that is invaluable. This very spirit of satisfaction and helping one another certainly argues much for the successful future of this corporation.
The officers are Roy D. Chapin, president; Howard E. Coffin, vice president and consulting engineer; Frederick 0. Bezner, secretary; Roscoe B. Jackson, treasurer and general manager, and E. H. Broadwell, vice president. Messrs. Chapin, Coffin, Bezner and Jackson have been intimately connected with several of the well known motor car companies, and their experience runs back practically with the beginning of the industry, all of them having started with the Oldsmobile Company when it produced the extraordinarily successful curve-dash roadster, many of which are running even yet on the streets of Detroit.
Mr. Chapin was general sales manager of the Olds Company, Mr. Coffin chief engineer, Mr. Bezner, purchasing agent, and Mr. Jackson, factory manager. Mr. Broadwell was for years identified with one of the larger tire companies, and in this way came closely in touch with the needs of the motor car user. Through this early experience it may be seen that an unusual diversity of ability has been gathered together among the Hudson officials.
Popular approval has stamped the worth and attractiveness of the Hudson motor cars, and Detroit has emphatically gained by having this concern added to its long and splendid list of manufacturing industries.
Howard E. Coffin. Fortified through fine technical knowledge and skill, comprehensive practical experience and marked facility and resourcefulness as an executive, Mr. Coffin has won for himself a prominent place in connection with the automombile industry, and is now identified with one of the important concerns of this line in Detroit, where he is vice president and consulting engineer of the Hudson Motor Car Company, concerning which due mention is made elsewhere in this publication. His status as a business man and as a progressive citizen well entitle him to recognition in this history of Detroit, where he has achieved success worthy of the name.
Howard Earl Coffin reverts with a due measure of pride and satisfaction to the fact that he can claim the fine old Buckeye state as the place of his nativity. He was born on the homestead farm of the family, near the village of West Milton, in Miami county, Ohio, and the date of his nativity was September 6, 1873. He is a son of Julius Cestal Coffin and Sarah E. (Jones) Coffin. The genealogy of Mr. Coffin is traced back to the well known Coffin family of Nantucket, Massachusetts, where Tristram Coffin the original American progenitor settled, upon his immigration from England early in the seventeenth century. The name has been one of no little prominence in the annals of New England and other sections of the United States.
Reared to the sturdy discipline of the farm, Howard E. Coffin gained his rudimentary education in the district schools, and after leaving the same he continued his studies in the public schools of the village of West Milton, where he partially completed the curriculum of the high school. In November, 1889, in pursuance of a natural predilection for a line of activity radically different from that to which he had been reared, he came to Ann Arbor, Michigan, and entered its admirable high school, in which he was graduated as a member of the class of 1893. In the same year he entered the department of mechanical engineering in the University of Michigan, where he continued his studies until 1896, when he withdrew from the University to enter the United States civil service, with which he continued to be actively identified until 1901. He then resumed his studies in the university, and he left this institution six months prior to the completion of his course in mechanical engineering, but in June, 1911, the university conferred upon him the degree of Mechanical Engineer, in recognition of his practical accomplishment and marked ability in his profession.
In leaving the university six months prior to graduation, Mr. Coffin took this action in order to accept, in 1902, employment in the shops of the Olds Motor Works in Detroit, and in the following year he was advanced to the position of engineer in charge of the experimental shops of this company. This incumbency he retained until 1905, when he became chief engineer of the concern. In the spring of 1906, however, Mr. Coffin severed his connection with the Olds Company and assisted in the organization of the E. R. Thomas-Detroit Company, which engaged in the manufacturing of automobiles and of which he became vice president and chief engineer. In the following year he further amplified his duties and responsibilities by assuming the position of consulting engineer to the E. R. Thomas Motor Company of Buffalo, New York. The Detroit concern was reorganized as the Chalmers Motor Company in 1908, and Mr. Coffin continued as vice president of this company until 1910, in which year he instituted operations of a more independent order in the same line of industrial enterprise. In January, 1910, he became vice president and consulting engineer of the Hudson Motor Car Company, and this dual position he has since retained. It is mainly due to his fine professional skill and executive ability that the Hudson car has been brought up to so high a standard and gained that distinctive popularity which makes for cumulative success. The company now has one of the finest automobile plants in the world, with the best of modern appliances and facilities, and the products of the same attest the skill of Mr. Coffin and his able corps of assistants in the practical details of the industry. In 1910 Mr. Coffin had the distinction of serving as president of the Society of Automobile Engineers. He was chairman of the rules committee of the Automobile Manufacturers' Contest Association for 1911. He has been a member of the executive committee of the American Automobile Association since 1909, is a member of the council of the Society of Automobile Engineers, and was for five years chairman of the committee on tests of the Association of Licensed Automobile Manufacturers. These connections amply indicate his high standing in the automobile world, and also offer assurance of his enthusiasm in his chosen field of endeavor. In a more localized way Mr. Coffin is identified with the Wolverine Automobile Club, the Detroit Automobile Club, the Detroit Motor Boat Club and the Michigan Aero Club; besides which he is identified with the Aero Club of America and the Engineers' Club of New York City. In his home city he holds membership in the Detroit Club, the Country Club, the University Club and the Detroit Boat Club. Aside from his connection with the Hudson Motor Car Company, he is a stockholder in the Detroit Metal Products Company and several other manufacturing concerns.
In politics Mr. Coffin is arrayed as a stalwart advocate of the principles and policies of the Republican party, but he is essentially a business man, and political office has had no allurement for him. He is affiliated with the Masonic fraternity, in which he now holds membership in Palestine Lodge, Free & Accepted Masons, of Detroit.
In November, 1907, was solemnized the marriage of Mr. Coffin to Miss Matilda Vary Allen, daughter of Edwin A. Allen, a representative citizen of Battle Creek, this state. The Allen family in America was founded by Samuel Allen, who emigrated from Dorchester, England, in 1630, and settled at Windsor, Connecticut. The father of Mrs. Coffin is a direct descendant of Joseph Allen, who was father of the illustrious patriot, Ethan Allen. Mr. and Mrs. Coffin have no children.
Roy D. Chapin. Well worthy of recognition in this work as one of the representative business men of the younger generation in Detroit, where he fully exemplifies that progressive and vital spirit that has made