Ransom Eli Olds
Born in Geneva, Ohio, Ransom E. Olds came to Lansing in 1880. He worked in his father's machine and repair shop, where he experimented with small steam engines. In 1887, Olds drove for a distance of one block, Lansing's first automobile, an experimental steam vehicle. He continued to work with steam, gasoline and electric power. Eventually he produced a gasoline-powered vehicle that seated four persons and could do 18 miles per hour on level ground. On August 21, 1897, Olds, Edward W. Sparrow, Eugene F. Cooley, Arthur C. Stebbins, Samuel L. Smith, Frank G. Clark, Fred M. Seibly and Alfred Beamer; formed the Olds Motor Vehicle Company, the forerunner of the Oldsmobile Division of General Motors. As general manager, Olds was authorized to "build one carriage in as nearly perfect a manner as possible." Four vehicles were produced that first year.