Hours 4/Gasoline 9/Oil 2/Total $5.51

November 19, 2014

Johnson Controls and the Voss family have been together for a long time.

How about 100 years plus and counting?

WSJ Society member Ken Voss drew up the charter for the society 25 years ago. He recently found the invoice below among the things his family has collected over the years.

It’s an invoice from the Johnson Service Company #50154, issued in Milwaukee, Wis on August 26, 1914, ‘Sold To: Mr. Peter Voss, Emp.” The item was the “Use of Seven Passenger Car without driver, for 4 Hours @ $1.00 per hour, 9 Gallons Gasoline at $0.15 per gallon, and 2 Quarts Engine Oil at $0.08 per quart. The total sale was $5.51.

Well, Peter Voss was Warren Johnson’s driver at the time.*(See correction below)  And, one of the offerings of the Johnson Service Company then was “Johnson Automobiles, Pleasure Cars and Auto Trucks.” Apparently this invoice documented the use for 4 hours of one of those “Pleasure Cars” to drive Mr. Johnson to some appointment . . .  on business of course!

The $0.15 per gallon of gasoline creates a bit of nostalgia, as does the $0.08 per quart of oil. But, did the Johnson Pleasure Car really require 2 quarts of oil for every 4 hours of operation? That seems to be the odd number out here.

Do any of you car buffs have an idea on this? Please send us your thoughts — use the Help button to send us an email.

Thanks Ken for sharing this bit of family history with us.

JCI Invoice 1914a (737x418)

*Correction kindly submitted by Ken Wirth:

“Warren Johnson was deceased by 1914, so Peter Voss wasn’t driving Warren around. In fact, since Peter is being billed for the use of the car, perhaps it was Peter himself who was driving the car around for some reason. The strange thing is that the invoice states for “use of seven passenger car without driver” – yet Peter was the driver.

As for the oil, I was thinking that perhaps it was low to begin with. I know that with the 1910 Empress Sedan that the company owns, before every start-up, the driver checks the fluid levels to ensure they’re adequate,” 

Ken also added that Peter Voss was grand-uncle to Ken Voss i.e. borther of Ken’s grandfather.

Lesson learned — the editor should check early history articles with the historian. The mistakes are entirely those of the editor!