Biography of Charles F. Kettering
North Central Ohio Biographies





Charles Franklin Kettering, American inventor and manufacturer, president of the General Motors Research Corporation, vice president, General Motors Corporation, and official of other corporations, was born on a farm near Loudonville, Ashland County, Aug. 29, 1876, the son of Jacob and Martha (Hunter) Kettering.

Jacob Kettering was numbered among the successful agriculturists of Green Township. He was born in Knox Township, Holmes County, Ohio, April 1, 1841, the son of Melchor and Christina (Price) Kettering. Both were natives of Canton Pirmasens, Germany, the father being born July 25, 1815, and the mother Jan. 10, 1815. They were married in this country and both passed away on the farm which their son, J. F. Kettering, settled on. Meichor Kettering died Oct. 10, 1887, age 72, and his wife died April 14, 1893, aged 78 years. They raised a family of ten children.

Jacob Kettering, father of the subject of this sketch, was reared on the old homestead place in Holmes County. At the age of 23 years he was married and came to his farm of 152 acres on sections 23 and 26, Green Township, two and one half miles northwest of Loudonville, Ohio, and in addition to general farming he engaged in stockraising, in which he was most successful. On April 7, 1864, he was married to Miss Martha Hunter, who was born in Green Township, Ashland County, June 22, 1845, the daughter of David and Katharine (Scholes) Hunter. The father was a son of William and Jane (Steel) Hunter, and the mother of Mrs. Kettering, a native of Baltimore, Md., was brought to this county by her parents, Joshua and Harriet Scholes in her childhood days. Unto David and Katharine (Scholes) Hunter were born 12 children, all of whom are now deceased.

Jacob Kettering died in 1914 and his wife died in 1920. Both are buried at Loudonvilie, Ohio. Their children were: David, lives on the Kettering homestead near Loudonville; Mrs. Emma Culler, lives at Ashland; Adam, lives at Ashland; Charles F., the subject of this sketch; and Mrs. Charles F. Heyde, lives on the Kettering homestead.

Charles Franklin Kettering was educated in the country district school, Loudonville High School, Wooster College, and Ohio State University, at Columbus, graduating therefrom in 1904. After completing his collegiate course, he taught for a while in a country school, later entering the employ of the Star Telephone Company, at Ashland, as an installation man, remaining there for a short period, after which he went to Dayton, Ohio, and entered the employ of The National Cash Register Company, in the capacity of an inventor and engineer, where he remained for a few years.

His next venture, in association with Edward A. Deeds, was the organization of The Dayton Engineering Laboratories Company (Delco), with headquarters at Dayton, Ohio, for the purpose of manufacturing one of Mr. Kettering's most important inventions, the Delco starting, lighting and ignition system for automobiles, which today is being utilized all over the world. He is also universally known as the inventor of the DelcoLight system.

Mr. Kettering, in addition to the offices enumerated above, is president and a director of The Flexible Company, of Loudonville, Ohio; president, C. F. Kettering, Inc.; vice president, Ridgeleigh Securities, Inc.; president The Domestic Building Company; chairman, Board of Directors, Winters National Bank & Trust Company, Dayton, Ohio. He is one of the trustees of Antioch College at Yellow Springs, Ohio, and is intensely interested in the subject of education.

Mr. Kettering's genius and inventive ability enabled him during the war to contribute in many ways to the electrical, mechanical, and aeronautical departments of the service. The ignition system used on Liberty motors was one of his inventions.

Mr. Kettering was one of the founders of the Engineers' Club, of Dayton, Ohio, and, with Col. E. A. Deeds, joint donor of its complete club building. He is a member of Dayton Country Club, Miami Hunt and Polo Club, the Athletic Club of Columbus, Ohio; the Society of Automotive Engineers, American Society of Mechanical Engineers, American Institute of Electrical Engineers, National Academy of Sciences, Dayton Engineers Club, the Army and Navy Club, American Academy of Political and Social Science, American Chemical Society, American Society for Steel Treating, American Society for Testing Materials, American Philosophical Society. He is a member of the Detroit Yacht Club, Detroit Club, Tam-O-Shanter Country Club, Detroit; Detroit Athletic Club, Lockhaven Country Club, University Club, New York; Society of American Military Engineers, American Chemical Society, and Grosse Point Yacht Club, Detroit; New York Yacht Club, Montauk Yacht Club, the Bath Club and Surf Club, Miami Beach, Fla.

On Aug. 1, 1905, Mr. Kettering married Miss Olive Williams, of Ashland, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Alonzo B. Williams. They both died in 1924. Mr. and Mrs. Kettering have a son, Eugene Williams Kettering, who is identified with the Winton Engine Company, of Cleveland.

The family resides at Ridgeleigh Terrace, Dayton. They also maintain residences at the Park Lane, New York City, and the Book Cadillac, Detroit. Mr. Kettering has offices in the Winters Bank Building, Dayton.

From:
History of North Central Ohio
Embracing Richland, Ashland, Wayne,
Medina, Lorin, Huron and Knox Counties
BY: William A. Duff
Historical Publishing Company
Topeka-Indianapolis 1931


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