Ever Hear of a Kissel Kar?

The US declared war on Germany April 6, 1917. Selective Service for men ages 21-39 began in May for what was called the Great War, or even the War to End All Wars. Clabe Wilson’s name was among those subject for the draft, as well as three of Leora’s brothers–Merl, Wayne, and Jennings.

Nevertheless, both Merl and Jennings bought Kissel Kars.

The Kissel Company was founded by Conrad Kissel (who came to Wisconsin in 1857 from Prussia) and his four sons in 1906. They produced 35,000 automobiles in Hartford, Wisconsin, before the Great Depression and mounting losses forced them into bankruptcy in 1931.

Jennings Goff’s Kissel Kar (note the pennant under the roof at right): Jennings Goff, Clabe Wilson with Donald, Leora Wilson, Delbert Wilson is with Leora’s brother Perry Goff. May 20, 1917, Wichita, Iowa

That March, those optimistic Goff boys bought “the Powell ranch on Beaver Creek” and began planting a crop, mostly popcorn. Two months later their draft notices ordered them to report to Camp Dodge. 

Jennings, who had bought a Kissel Kar the year before, “put it to good use” the day before leaving home. Then he asked Pa to sell it for him, which he did. For $1100.

From Leora’s Early Years: Guthrie County Roots.




    • He was a bachelor and headed to war, so he probably didn’t care how much it cost, just to have fun before the great unknown! (After the war he married a local girl. She died of mumps when their second child was just four days old! Jennings and his children lived with his folks through the Great Depression, so they were especially close to Leora’s children, first cousins.)

  1. What a great photo! I love it. I had heard this name before, but if I was asked on Jeopardy I wouldn’t know the answer haha.

  2. Never heard of the Kissel car, but it is interesting how many small car companies there were in the early 1900s. Back in those times a Case car was manufactured in Racine, WI, which is still the home of the Case tractor.

  3. Jennings got a really good price for a used Kissel-a car unknown to me. It must have had a lot of bells and whistles. A new Model T Ford sedan in 1917 cost just over half that price. I looked it up: $695.00!

  4. I have to be included in the group that never heard of Kissel Kars. I do love the picture of it though with the family.

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