1906 Charter Members of the York Motor Club
Some automobile owners of York and York County met April 25, 1906. They formed “The Automobile Association of York County.” This organization is not to be confused with AAA (American Automobile Association), which established a chapter in York County twenty years later in 1926.
The Automobile Association of York County soon adopted the shorter name “York Motor Club.” The club promoted good safe roads. Members shared road trip travel ideas. The club encouraged camaraderie of car ownership through gatherings and activities.
Links to other posts related to the York Motor Club include:
- 1906 York Automobile Owners form York Motor Club; their Club House still stands
- Coal Baron built Mansion in Springettsbury
- Dempwolf drawings of Laing Mansion
- Dr. Spotz used Race Car to make York County house calls
- Dr. Spotz off on house calls in 1900
This illustration shows the 31 Charter Members of the York Motor Club in 1906. The collections of the York County Heritage Trust contain a ledger book of the earliest club meeting minutes. This ledger contains a list of the 1906 members with their license plate numbers.
I’ve used census data and directory information to provide full names. For example the ledger lists “C. A. Geesey, South George Street, York, Pa.” Name analysis via census and directories shows this is Clarence A. Geesey.
All except two of the 31 members are from the City of York, Pennsylvania. The two are from south central and southwestern York County. D. Ross Anderson is from New Park in Fawn Township. Thomas J. O’Neill is from Hanover.
Continue reading for more about the York Motor Club and the 1906 Pennsylvania License Plates.
In 1903 only 8,000 automobiles were registered in the whole United States. In 1906 the number of automobiles registered in Pennsylvania alone was nearly 15,000 and with 67 counties in Pennsylvania that amounts to an average of 224 automobiles per county.
York County likely had much more than average; definitely at least 300 automobiles, but probably more. Therefore the 31 Charter Members of the York Motor Club represented about ten-percent of the 1906 car owners in York County.
From 1903 to 1905 automobile registration was done at the county level in Pennsylvania. Car owners were given a county registration number and they made their own license plate to display that number. Everything changed in 1906 when the issuing of automobile licenses was transferred from the county level to the Pennsylvania Highway Department.
Effective January 1, 1906, all automobiles in the state were required to carry Pennsylvania issued license plates by paying a $3.00 registration fee. This illustration shows typical 1906 Pennsylvania issued license plates; white numbers on a dark blue background. The longer these plates were exposed to the sun, the greater the blue background lightened.
These license plate numbers were issued sequentially, starting at 1. The earlier one got their registration into the Pennsylvania Highway Department and paid the $3.00, the lower the number. Pennsylvania contracted with the Ingram-Richardson Company in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania to manufacture the porcelain license plates. Notice how the porcelain is chipping from the base metal on the #35 License Plate in the illustration.
Each year Pennsylvania changed the color of the license plate. Red plates with white numbers followed in 1907. Black numbers on yellow plates followed in 1908 and black numbers on white plates in 1909. Drivers were required to have the new license plate on their automobile by the end of the first week of January, or face a fine.
If you are a descendent of one of these 31 Charter Members of the York Motor Club and see your ancestor’s exact license plate go up for auction, be prepared to pay big bucks for the license plate. I’ve seen four-digit 1906 Inaugural Year Pennsylvania License Plates sell for $800 on eBay. The three, two or one digit license plates are much more rare, they go into the thousands.Reading the Headlines: A Quick Index to All YorksPast Posts