January 30, 2023

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Smart family makes mark on automobile history

In final week’s column I dealt with the advent of the vehicle in Arkansas. This week we transform our consideration to the Good family members of Pine Bluff — which can only be described as the initial family members of Arkansas vehicle sellers.

The first automobile sellers have been brothers William C. and James P. Faucette, who were being the top political powers in Argenta. Faucette Bros. began providing steam-run autos — known as locomobiles — in 1902, but that dealership did not previous prolonged. Felix Gillespie Smart, the son of pioneering Pine Bluff settler Felix Grundy Intelligent, proven the F.G. Good Motor Co. on West Barraque Street in Pine Bluff in 1906.

For generations the Wise relatives gave the name Felix to their sons, which causes significant confusion for historians. To explain which Felix is underneath dialogue, I will involve their middle names.

The increasing Clever family members migrated to the Pine Bluff place in the 1830s even though Arkansas was even now a territory and Felix Grundy was a youngster. He attended neighborhood “subscription schools,” considering the fact that Arkansas would not have a public university procedure for another 40 many years.

Felix Grundy is explained by contemporaries as a “self-manufactured gentleman,” which usually means his relatives was of modest signifies. He undertook many enterprise pursuits, and is ideal remembered as a founder of the very first financial institution in Pine Bluff in 1876. Later named Retailers and Planters Bank, it prospered until 1930, when it failed in the course of the Excellent Despair. The bank developing survives and is on the Countrywide Register of Historic Areas.

Felix Grundy died in December 1884 at his wonderful residence in Pine Bluff, obtained all through the Civil War for $12,000 in Accomplice forex.

Felix Gillespie Good, the son of Felix Grundy and Liza Hudson Good, was born in 1876. Like his father, Felix Gillespie was a tough-doing work gentleman in a tricky-working and prosperous neighborhood. He was full of existence and constantly open to new undertakings.

When the bicycle fad struck Arkansas and the country in the 1880s and 1890s, Felix Gillespie was a primary bike owner and promoter of the new vehicle. He was president of the Pine Metropolis Biking Club, and structured and participated in bike races. He gained a two-mile levels of competition in the autumn of 1894 regardless of getting been “knocked senseless” in an before race the identical day.

Also, Wise was a lover of motorized boats, in 1901 currently being a single of three Pine Bluff citizens who owned “swift minimal river launches.”

Felix Gillespie started his enterprise vocation early, purchasing the refreshments concession at Sulphur Springs, a common weekend resort in close proximity to Pine Bluff, when he was 18 yrs of age. In two additional years he was the operator of a thriving grocery store, soon incorporating a wholesale part. He dove into authentic estate with a lover, and built a substantial roller-skating rink. In 1905 Felix he obtained the People’s Home furniture Co., and the following calendar year he recognized Sensible Motor Co.

Felix Gillespie was even a lot more enthusiastic for automobiles than he experienced been for bicycles. On many events he structured auto outings. In 1905, for instance, he was amongst a “jolly group of automobilists” who drove from Pine Bluff to Very little Rock and back house in a single day. Driving everywhere in Arkansas in 1905 was an journey, offered there have been no services stations and the roadways were being little additional than dusty trails. Newspapers covered these excursions avidly.

Clever Motor Co. was positioned to consider edge of the swiftly expanding vehicle current market. In 1912 the company obtained the Ford franchise for Pine Bluff, an vital enhancement considering that Henry Ford was in the course of action of reworking his organization into a powerhouse which would make vehicle ownership feasible for the masses.

Felix Gillespie Intelligent died in 1915 at the age of 39. His son, 17-yr-old Felix Gerrett Sensible, still left substantial school to carry on the loved ones organizations. The automobile business did quite very well throughout the economically sturdy 1920s, offering 700 new and used autos in 1922 by itself. They designed new and more substantial amenities on West Second Avenue, which bundled an elevator for relocating autos from upstairs storage to the expansive floor-ground showrooms.

By 1923, the company experienced a tractor revenue department. In 1933, Good gave up the Ford franchise and grew to become a Chevrolet dealer, a partnership which carries on to this working day.

Like his father, Felix Gerrett experienced numerous passions. He was specifically energetic in civil aeronautics in Pine Bluff, in which he led the motion to create a town airport. For the duration of Earth War II, he served as a colonel in the Army Air Corps, though his brother-in-legislation S. Ray West Sr. ran the corporation. For a long time right after the war he was an officer in the Air Force Reserve. He dropped a son during the war, Felix Jr., killed although serving in the U.S. Navy.

Felix Gerrett was an energetic promoter of Pine Bluff, staying a president of the Chamber of Commerce and the Pine Bluff Rotary Club. He played a important function in establishing an Army Air Corps traveling faculty at Grider Area in Pine Bluff through Planet War II.

Like so several other Good adult men, Felix Gerrett died early, on Dec. 17, 1957. His son, Richard L. “Bubba” Wise, then assumed management of the organization. A wide variety of loved ones customers have saved the Intelligent dealerships going by the ensuing several years.

Currently the enterprise has its headquarters and 3 dealerships in White Corridor, not much north of Pine Bluff, as properly as a Ford dealership in Malvern and a Chrysler Dodge Jeep dealership and made use of car or truck procedure in Pine Bluff.

Tom Dillard is a historian and retired archivist living around Glen Rose in rural Incredibly hot Spring County. Electronic mail him at Ark[email protected]