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100 YEARS . MAXWELL-BRISCOE MOTORS TIME CAPSULE

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100 YEARS . MAXWELL-BRISCOE MOTORS TIME CAPSULE

Crowd gathers to see what mysteries were stashed for the 21st Century

Paul Hines

Staff Writer

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Walking from the parking lot toward Metaldyne on Friday are Michael Sweigart, portraying U.S. Vice President Charles Fairbanks, Paul Niles, portraying a 1911 driver of a Maxwell car, and Jeff Cummings of Spiceland, portraying J.D. Maxwell, owner of the Maxwell-Briscoe Motor Co. The three attended the opening of a 1907 time capsule Friday at Metaldyne, where the Chrysler and Maxwell car companies once operated. (C-T photos John Guglielmi)

Former plant manager Al Maitzia pulls the time capsule from the cornerstone as Rodney Scott (foreground), current plant manager, assists.

Found in the 1907 Maxwell-Briscoe time capsule:

Two newspapers: the June 22, 1907 edition of The Daily Courier (morning newspaper) and the June 21, 1907 edition of The Courier-Times (afternoon newspaper):

Three coins, one of which was an 1897 dime, and one was a 1905 Indian head penny. (The Lincoln penny did not come into circulation until 1909.)

Two issues of "Automobile Monthly" magazine from the year 1907.

A stick-pin with a picture of a flower (likely handed out to everyone present at the time).

A parchment containing approximately 70 signatures. The first three were a U.S. Senator from Ohio and company owners J. D. Maxwell and Benjamin Briscoe.

A leather packet which remains unopened at this time.

Rodney Scott gently removed the lid from a tarnished, century-old time capsule.

Time had taken its toll on the outside of the 1907 Maxwell-Briscoe Motor Co. capsule, but the lid slid smoothly off the shoebox-sized case.

Friday marked 100 years since the box was placed into the cornerstone of the Maxwell building. Scott, Metaldyne's plant manager, was nervous he would just find "some coins and ash."

But what he pulled from the copper box and displayed to the audience of about 100 people was anything but ashes.

The first item was a scroll signed by numerous people at the 1907 cornerstone dedication. At the top of the worn parchment was the signature of J.D. Maxwell. The capsule also contained a pair of newspapers in good condition, several coins and a stick-pin with a ribbon.

"I was really happy with what we had," Marianne Hughes, curator of the Henry County Historical Society, said.

The items will soon be on display at the society's museum in New Castle.

As Scott went lower into the box, the contents became more fragmented.

"The contents are getting a little worse," Scott said, referring to an automotive magazine that was pulled from the capsule. There was also an unidentified object, a piece of wood.

Scott is the fourth generation in his family to work at the factory at the corner of 18th Street and I Avenue. The plant has changed hands from Maxwell, Chrysler and Metaldyne, but it has never moved from the New Castle corner.

The event gave people time to look back into the past, but also remember the automotive history that has been the backbone of the community for the past 100 years.

Since the factory's beginning in 1907, a business has continuously operated in New Castle as one of the county's largest employers.

The majority of Friday's audience had a connection to the Maxwell, Chrysler and Metaldyne operations over the past 100 years. Mayor Tom Nipp remembered lying awake at his Southview Drive home as a child and hearing the 10:30 p.m. shift change whistle piercing the air.

Nipp invited Metaldyne to move its corporate headquarters to New Castle, noting the airport runway was just expanded. "So keep those things in mind," he joked.

Wil Ruback remembers the remains of the Maxwell Building. He worked for Chrysler as personnel manager and his office area is still standing as a part of the building that was never demolished.

The Maxwell Company's decision to locate in New Castle sparked a population boom in the early 1900s.

This summer another time capsule will be placed in the cornerstone.

What was going on

Theodore Roosevelt was president of the United States.

Other national leaders were Emperor William II in Germany, Czar Nicholas II in Russia and King Edward VII in England.

The USA had 46 states, with Oklahoma being the most recent.

The Chicago Cubs defeated the Detroit Tigers in baseball's fourth World Series.

Actor John Wayne was born that year.

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