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Henry Theodore, Eagle Bus Lines Car Collection, Greenville SC


Matt Goist
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I am looking for more information on a museum/car collection that existed in Greenville, South Carolina from the 1930s-1960s(?) The collection belonged to Henry Theodore and he seemed to collect mostly brass era vehicles, and bicycles. He was the owner of a bus service, Eagle Bus Lines. From what I have found it seems that the museum was created after he sold Eagle Bus Lines, but he had a collection prior to forming the museum. Any photos and/or info on the museum and the cars within would be very appreciated. Does anyone remember the collection or Henry himself? Below is a picture of some of the cars he owned in front of Eagle Bus Lines building. Theres also a newspaper clipping telling about an outing with a dozen or so if his antique cars, he is pictured in his 1912 Ford T. I think the lineup photo is from the 1940s. Thanks! 

Eagle Bus Lines Car Collection .jpg

Henry Theodore 1912 Model T .jpg

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I'll do some digging on this.  As a note on the photo with caption, The 50th Golden Jubilee was in 1946.  Bill France noted on the left in the photo is Bill France, founder of NASCAR.  The building in the first photo was on Academy Street between W. Washington St and W. McBee Ave.  In the late 1970's I worked three blocks from there.  The buildings are now gone, but I remember them.  I think I had a convertible top replaced at a trim shop that was in those buildings in the '70's.

Edited by 61polara
additional information (see edit history)
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I have had good luck researching the family on Newspapers.com

 

When I have time I will clip some of my findings and share them here. I can say with certainty that the father, Henry Theodore, passed away in 1962 but had an antique car collection as early as the 1930s. The Sons, Billy and James (Jimmy) sold the bus lines business and numerous properties around Greenville in 1964, and there were plans to create a museum for their fathers car collection. The father also had a large display of his antique autos at the January 1962 Auto Show in Greenville. He died pater that year. 

 

The son Billy owned multiple antique cars that I can only assume were inherited from his father, and there's evidence of him being active with these cars up into the 1970s and he had an estate auction in 1998 that included many cars. the other brother died in 2003. 

 

I am looking for any knowledge of the cars in the collection, especially a brass era Franklin. Photos would also be a huge help if any AACA members remember seeing the museum or the cars out and about in Greenville. 

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Old photos like this always intrigue me. They show the beginning of our hobby. Because all of these cars were being treated as collector cars in the late 30's or 40's, they are almost certainly still around today. What a great piece of history for the fortunate owner of one of these cars. Thanks for sharing. 

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1 hour ago, Chris Paulsen said:

Old photos like this always intrigue me. They show the beginning of our hobby. Because all of these cars were being treated as collector cars in the late 30's or 40's, they are almost certainly still around today. What a great piece of history for the fortunate owner of one of these cars. Thanks for sharing. 

Funny you should mention that... If one looks closely they will see a 1910 Franklin in the photo 🙂 

 

You're absolutely right the car is still around today. I am hoping to learn more about the entire collection, I am positive some people in Greenville must have photos of Mr. Theodores cars. Through newspaper articles and first hand knowledge from Henry Theodores granddaughter (thanks Facebook) I was able to trace the history of this 1910 Franklin back to this photo! Henry Theodore owned the car until 1962, then his son Billy owned the entire collection until his passing in 1998. His widow sold the collection as a whole. The Franklin was auctioned off in 2019, and I just purchased it last weekend from an estate. It is the same serial number that Billy Theodore registered with the HH Franklin Club in 1972. 

 

Hopefully some South Carolina members remember this collection or family. I'd love to find more photos of the cars! 

 

1910 Franklin G - Theodore .jpg

Edited by Matt Goist (see edit history)
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Just now, Walt G said:

Great to see that the Model D (?) Franklin has a new home with a enthusiastic and proud owner. Looks like a really solid car.

Thanks Walt! It is a 1910 Model G, very solid, pretty untouched overall, complete. 

 

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Matt, I will look to see what I may have regarding paper of that era, most of the early Franklin literature I had I sold off about 20 years ago and now focus on the WWI to WWII era for all luxury car makes ,but have a few early periodicals, catalogs etc left. Always happy to share what I know exists if I am able to. My first ride in a model G Franklin touring car was at the first trek I attended held in downtown Syracuse ( really!) at the Hotel Syracuse. This was in 1965. Fred Johnson of NY gave me the ride in his and bought me a bottle of soda ( glass bottle in those days) out of the vending machine in the parking garage where the Franklins were stored /placed during the trek. I was in my very early teens and thought that was just really cool.

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Walt, that is a great story! My first ride in a 1910 G was also my first Trek, in 2013. I was 18 at the time. I've been drawn to the brass Franklins from the start. I am excited to have this one at its first Trek someday! 

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1 minute ago, hook said:

Matt, I love your running board.

 

Bill

Thats actually the original top bows sitting there! And the green ratchet strap is holding the front axle up, new frame rails are certainly in order! 

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Marty, who got your 1917 Touring if I may ask? I also own a 1917 Series 9 Brougham, the last surviving example with an American Body Company body as far as I know.. It is a basket case project and was in a barn fire at one point in its life. The Trek is a wonderful event, I urge you to check it out even without a car! We always have open seats! This year will be my 9th Trek. 

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On 2/2/2022 at 1:02 PM, Matt Goist said:

Marty, who got your 1917 Touring if I may ask? I also own a 1917 Series 9 Brougham, the last surviving example with an American Body Company body as far as I know.. It is a basket case project and was in a barn fire at one point in its life. The Trek is a wonderful event, I urge you to check it out even without a car! We always have open seats! This year will be my 9th Trek. 

Hi Matt,

I sent you a PM, as I didn't ask for authorization to release the identity of the other person, well-known in the Franklin community.

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14 minutes ago, paulrhd29nz said:

The second small little car in the photo , I believe is made by Maytag. They made 500 of those to promote their small washing machine motors. 

I’m actually thinking those are Henry Theodore’s own creations. Here’s an article I found from September 1930 discussing the midget cars he created. They were well known around town. I’d love to find a copy of the magazine they were featured in. 

CEDA417D-5444-4E80-98F2-E5C0367C6577.jpeg

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