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Cox Characters
Conclusions to Confusions

Part 5: Appendix 6

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Dad's 1909 Overland

by Kenny Ray Cox



Dad's 1909 Overland
Dad's 1909 Overland
in an Oklahoma City parade
in 1948.

The original owner of this "horseless carriage" paid $1000 in gold for it in 1909. In 1944, Marvin W. Cox became the second owner of the beauty. He bought it from one of his wife's cousins, and kept it until 1950.

During the six years of Cox ownership, the car was used for publicity stunts for the Cox family grocery store and was a fixture in the annual 89'er Parade in Oklahoma City.

Then, in 1965, the Willys-Overland passed into the hands of Eugene W. Jones. Twenty years later, Jones published his account of the car's history. His article, "The Solid Gold Overland," appeared in the May-June 1985 issue of Antique Automobile (see below).

Also on this page, is correspondance from Mr. Jones on the subject of this fine automobile.

article from
Antique Automobile
May-June 1985

This story began in 1909 when my Overland touring tonneau was built in Indianapolis, Indiana by the Willys-Overland Company. […]

My own role in the story began in the Texas Panhandle in July 1965. […] My wife and I drove to Borger and saw the Overland [in a showroom] With noses to the glass, we gazed at it like children looking through a bakery window. […] It was all black. The top was up and ragged. This and the 25-inch wheels with 34 x 4 ½ tires made it seem very tall. The black flat fenders stood out straight in front and back. The big brass radiator had no Overland nameplate, but the cap with a hinged lid was the unmistakable mark of the Overland. On top of the brass headlights was the Overland script. No sidelights were mounted on the brackets, and it was learned later that the original lights had been stolen. […]

Restoration, as far as it went on this first try, was completed about six months before we moved to San Angelo in December 1968. Each year thereafter in San Angelo, the Overland has [been in] the annual Homecoming parade. In 1975 the Overland led in the annual San Angelo Rodeo Parade with my brother, "Grandpa" Jones of the Grand Ole Opry and the "Hee Haw" television show, in the rear seat.

During the restoration period in Plainview we discovered an old license certificate stuck inside the leather pocket of one of the rear doors. To retrieve it, a portion of the leather had to be cut away. It proved, however, to be a treasure of information. On a 3 x 5 inch paper form was typed the name and address of the owner and the name, model, style, and horsepower of the car. Date of issuance was July 6, 1914; the license number issued was 4705; and the owner was J. V. Bollinger, R.F.D. 4, Fort Scott, Kansas. For some unexplainable reason, no immediate response was made to this important bit of information. Then in January 1978 I wrote to the Chamber of Commerce in Fort Scott and asked for the names of any Bollingers in the telephone directory. The Chamber responded with six names. I wrote to residents at each of these addresses and requested information on the family of J. V. Bollinger. A month later came a letter from his daughter, Mrs. Ruth M. Goodbody, who lived on the family farm and in the house that her father built in 1918. She included a 1909 photo of her father and his family in the Overland. Also included in the letter was a recent color photo of the old garage, still standing, that housed the Overland as long as it remained in the possession of the Bollinger family. She explained in a subsequent letter that her father bought the car in 1909 in Fort Scott and paid $1000 in gold for it. An older sister who remembered the purchase believed there was no bill of sale issued. The car remained with the family and on the farm until after her father's death.

Mrs. Goodbody stated that it was the second car owned in Bourbon County. Her father died in 1939 and the Overland was sold in the mid-1940s to her husband's cousin, Marvin Cox of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Mr. Cox used it to advertise his grocery store. This accounted for the word's "Cox Grocery" painted on when I bought the car. Later I obtained a copy of transfer of title from Marvin Cox to S. H. Staten in 1950 and another transfer of title from S. H. State to E. D. Speegle in June 1965. So there has been a total of five owners of the Overland including the original and present owners.

In 1982 the Overland received its second restoration. […] Undercarriage, wheels, and body were painted "lipstick" red; fenders were repainted black. It now has only two colors instead of three. From all this history of one 1909 automobile, the most outstanding feature to me is the original payment in gold.


Below is the first letter from Mr. Jones to my father, Marvin W. Cox, concerning his 1909 Willys-Overland automobile. The answer to Mr. Jones's question is Velma Ann Goodbody died Sept. 16, 1981 and John Ellsworth Goodbody died July 4, 1983. Both were buried in St. Mary's Cemetery, Fort Scott, Kansas.

San Angelo, Texas

Dear Mr. Cox,

I have been intending to write to you for a long time. I am the owner of the 1909 Overland auto that you bought from the Bollinger family (or John Goodbody) some years ago. I bought the car in 1965 from E. D. Speegle of Borger, Texas. He purchased it from S. H. Staten in June of the same year. So there have been five owners:

1. J. V. Bollinger (1909-1944)
2. Marvin Cox (1944-1950)
3. S. H. Staten (1950-1965)
4. E. D. Speegle (1965)
5. E. W. Jones (1965 to present)

I have been in correspondence with Mrs. John Goodbody (Ruth Bollinger) who gave me a lot of information about the car and a 1909 picture of her father in the car. She gave me your address and I have been intending to write to you about the Overland for some time.

I have enclosed two pictures of the car as it is today. I repainted it as you can see. Do you have any pictures of the car taken while you owned it? I would greatly appreciate hearing from you. If you have any pictures or other material on the car, I would appreciate your loaning them to me. I could then reproduce them and return the originals to you if you wished.

I have not heard from Mrs. Goodbody since March 1978. Does she still live at the old home place? Her husband was placed in a nursing home at that time. Is he still living?

I would greatly appreciate hearing from you.

Sincerely yours,
Eugene W. Jones

This second letter from Eugene Jones was addressed not to my father, who had passed away, but to me, Ken Cox. Unlike the very neatly typed letter above, this one was handwritten. It appears here in type for readers' convenience. The Grandpa Jones that he refers to was the well-known star of the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee. (The magazine article he sent is at the top of this web page.)


Dear Mr. Cox:
It was a great pleasure to hear from you. I want to thank you for remembering me, for sending the pictures of the Overland, and for bringing me up to date on the folks that I corresponded with.

In response to your request for information on the Overland, I am enclosing here a copy of an article I wrote for the Antique Automobile which is the official journal of the AACA. The article was published in the May-June 1985 issue. It contains a picture of my brother, Grandpa Jones of "Hee-Haw" sitting in the Overland before I restored it. A little bit later, I will send you some photos of the car after restoration.

I bought it in Borger, Texas about 1965 when I lived in Plainview, Texas. I restored it there and then restored it a second time after coming here to San Angelo.

Much to my sorrow, I sold the Overland to Dennis Milstein in Philadelphia. That was about three years ago. However, I am trying to get back in touch with him to see if he will consider selling it back to me.

I will be out of the state during the remainder of August. On my return, I will locate other photos and news articles and send them to you.

Eugene W. Jones



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