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The Infamous Black Bird Southern Oregon History, Revised


Abram C. Speer
Jackson County's aviation pioneer--who never took flight.

Argentine, Michigan
:
Abraham Spear, 26, carpenter, born in New Jersey
U.S. Census, enumerated August 27, 1860


Abram C. Speer, [served] 1861-1864. Saginaw. Enlisted in Company A, Fourteenth Infantry, as First Sergeant, Oct. 11, 1861 at Bay City, for 3 years, age 27. Mustered Jan. 7, 1862. Commissioned Second Lieutenant July 9, 1862. Commissioned First Lieutenant March 9, 1863. Mustered March 15, 1863. Discharged Oct. 25, 1864, on account of disability from wounds received in action July 5, 1864, at Chattahoochee River. (Descriptive Roll Fourteenth Michigan Volunteers).
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Rotary engines, Abram C. Speer, Hart.
"List of Patents," Alpena Argus, Alpena, Michigan, August 23, 1876, page 3


MARRIED.
SPEERS-KENT--At the U.S. Hotel in Jacksonville, June 5, 1882, by Rev. M. A. Williams, A. C. Speers and Miss Belle Kent, lately from the state of Michigan.
Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, June 10, 1882, page 3


Marriage at Woodville.
    On Wednesday morning, Oct. 27th, near Woodville, a quiet wedding was solemnized at the residence of A. C. Speer, stepfather of the bride, in the presence of the near relatives and friends of the contracting parties, Albert A. Whiteman of Placer County, Cal., and Miss Blanche Kent of Woodville, only daughter of Mrs. A. C. Speer, being joined in matrimony by Justice Steckel. At the close of the ceremony congratulations were freely extended the happy couple, and after a social chat the company sat down to a bountiful wedding dinner. Following are the names of those present: Mr. and Mrs. Whiteman, Mr. and Mrs. Speer, Misses Alice Morris, Angie Simpkins, Rilda and Vienna Steckel, Ida Wilcox, Idis Wilcox, Messrs. C. W. Clarke,  G. W. Wilcox, P. L. Simpkins, E. Wallace, Ernest Whiteman. A social party then took place at Stanley's, lasting until two o'clock, A.M., when the newly made pair took the train for California, where they will make their future home.
A FRIEND.
Democratic Times, Jacksonville, November 12, 1886, page 3


    The citizens of Woodville and vicinity had a barn-raising at A. C. Speers' place one day last week, and had a fine time which was topped off by a grand chicken pie dinner.
"Woodville Whisperings," Valley Record, Ashland, March 28, 1889, page 3


    One of the cows of A. C. Speer of Evans Creek gave birth to a calf having no forelegs.
"Local Notes," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, June 6, 1889, page 3



    Parties wishing to run a sideshow at the state fair would do well to see and secure the wonderful two-legged calf of A. C. Speer of Woodville, Jackson County, Oregon.
"Here and There," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, September 12, 1889, page 3


    A. C. Speer of Evans Creek lost a fine irrigating wheel, besides having considerable land washed away during the recent flood.
"Here and There," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, February 20, 1890, page 3


    United States to Abram C. Speer, patent to 160 acres in Tp. 36 S., R. 4 W.
"Real Estate Transfers," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, September 25, 1891, page 2



A. C. Speer, Woodville, Ore., portable band-sawing machine . . .
"List of Patents," Morning Press, Santa Barbara, California, September 16, 1892, page 1


UP IN THE AIR.
Novel Craft Invented by an Oregonian.
IT IS BUILT OF ALUMINUM.
Propellers Fixed on Movable Shafts That Will Force the Ship
Up or Down, Forward and Astern.

    For years a man has been working in one of the southern counties of Oregon upon a ship which shall float in air, and now he is confident that he has attained the desired end. His name is A. C. Speer and he lives at Woodville, Jackson County, a town cut in twain by that branch of the Southern Pacific railroad known as the Shasta route. Mr. Speer believes that his new craft should be exhibited during the Midwinter Fair in this city, and he is endeavoring to make arrangements to have it shown.
    He had hoped that it might float around over the White City at Chicago, but when the Columbian Exposition opened there were still several details that needed attention, and he did not like to place before the public an article upon which he had expended so much care and attention, to say nothing of money, with even a remote possibility of failure.
    But now the builder says that his airship is complete, that it can be made to mount or descend at the will of the navigator, and that it can be propelled in any direction either with or against the wind. Mr. Speer says that it is also adapted to passenger traffic and can carry a certain number of persons from place to place with as much comfort and at a greater speed than the trains that roll along upon the earth's surface.
    Like most inventors Mr. Speer is reluctant to go into details as to the method of the working of the machinery which propels the ship, but he has given sufficient information to the Call to enable its readers to form a fair idea of what he expects his novel vessel to do. In selecting a material with which to construct the airship the Oregon builder has taken a step in advance of those who have tried to construct craft which would travel above the earth. He at once discarded all ideas of gutta percha or silk, out of which balloons are usually made, because of the danger to those coverings by flame and by being punctured. So he looked around for a metal that would answer his purposes, and finally decided upon aluminum.
    Out of this light substance he constructed a cigar-shaped spheroid 65 feet long and 18 feet in diameter. Although aluminum is very strong yet he believed it should be further reinforced, and as metal ribs would add too much weight he decided to cover the surface with bamboo rods. This network proved just what was needed. It added great strength without increasing the weight to any great extent.
    The motors are of a design upon which Mr. Speer has bestowed great care. One is placed at each end of the airship, and they resemble as much as anything the fans which are placed in the walls of buildings, and, operated by electricity, force air currents through the edifice. These propellers work upon movable shafts--that is, they can be turned so as to force the vessel up, down, to the right or to the left, ahead or astern. The motive power is electricity, carried in storage batteries.
    Attached to the bottom of this craft is a light car made of bamboo. In one compartment is the battery and the machinery which directs the moving of the propellers, in the other room for passengers.
    Mr. Speer finds that with his aluminum vessel of the size described he can carry a burden of 1000 pounds in addition to the weight of the necessary machinery. In the compartment in which passengers are to travel he proposes to store a number of weights equal to 1000 pounds in all. When passengers enter the car certain weights will be placed on terra firma and the ship will then be in equipoise. It will [not] be necessary to throw out ballast to ascend above obstacles, such as trees and hills, for a deflection of the shaft of one of the propellers will cause the ship to rise. And so in descending it will not be necessary to allow gas to escape, the upward bend of the propeller shaft doing the work.
    Stations will be arranged at different points at which the airship will stop, and at these places weights will be kept. As passengers leave the car these will be placed on board, so that at all times a perfect equipoise will be maintained.
    The inventor claims that the aluminum vessel is perfectly airtight and that it is impossible for any gas to escape.
    He is so confident of the success of his invention that he courts investigation by those who are interested in the question of aerial navigation and says that any queries sent to him at his home, in Woodville, will be promptly answered.
The Morning Call, San Francisco, December 17, 1893, page 17


Navigation of the Air
    As usual, Jackson County is in the lead. This time it has an airship, which is claimed by the inventor, A. C. Speer of Woodville, to be capable of navigating the air as a ship does the water. The machine is cigar-shaped, about 65 feet long and 18 feet in diameter and is made of aluminum. The motive power is electricity, and the machine is capable of carrying passengers or freight to the amount of 1000 pounds. It is raised or lowered by means of deflection of the propeller blades, of which there are two, one at each end of the ship. The airship will be on exhibition at the Midwinter Fair, and passengers will be carried to different points on the grounds by this means. Mr. Speer expects his invention to revolutionize aerial navigation, and we see no valid reason why it shouldn't--if it will work.
Democratic Times, Jacksonville, December 29, 1893, page 3


TO NAVIGATE THE AIR.
A Jackson County Main Comes to the Front with the Long-Expected Ship.

    Jackson County has an inventor of an airship that will soon become famous. The man is A. C. Speer of Woodville, who will soon have his airship ready for exhibition at the Midwinter Fair. The cigar-shaped spheroid, 65 feet long and 18 in diameter, is made of aluminum, and the oar underneath is made of bamboo rods. In one compartment is the battery, and the machinery which directs the moving of the propellers in the other room for passengers, to the weight of 1000 lbs. more. In the compartment in which passengers are to travel he proposes to store a number of weights equal to 1000 lbs. in all. When passengers enter the car certain weights will be placed on terra firma and the ship will then be in equipoise. It will be unnecessary to throw out ballast to ascend above obstacles, such as trees and hills, for a deflection of the shaft of one of the propellers will cause the ship to rise. And so in descending it will not be necessary to allow gas to escape, the upward bend of the propeller doing the work. Stations will be arranged at different points at which the airship will stop and at these places weights will be kept. As passengers leave the car these will be placed on board, so that at all times a perfect equipoise will be maintained. The inventor claims that the aluminum vessel is perfectly air tight and that it is impossible for any gas to escape. The motors are of a design upon which Mr. Speer has bestowed great care. One is placed at each end of the airship, and they resemble as much as anything the fans which are placed in the walls of buildings, and, operated by electricity, force air currents through the edifice. These propellers work upon movable shafts--that is, they can be turned so as to force the vessel up, down, to the right or to the left, ahead or astern. The motive power is electricity carried in storage batteries. It can be propelled in any direction either with or against the wind, and the speed will be rapider than railroad trains.
Valley Record,
Ashland, December 21, 1893, page 3


    The flying machine that will fly and carry passengers has yet to be built, but almost daily for the past ten years the newspapers have been discovering machines in course of construction which are sure to fly when completed, and that is the last heard of any particular flying machine. That the air will one day be navigated by human beings is extremely probable. A bird is simply a natural machine which supports itself by powerful wings. The principle upon which a bird does this act is liable to be discovered someday, and then everybody can have his own aviator as he can nowadays have his own bicycle. Speed the day.
Rogue River Courier, Grants Pass, June 24, 1897, page 2


628,962.--PILE DRIVER--A. C. Speer, Woodville, Ogn.
"List of U.S. Patents for Pacific Coast Inventors," Pacific Rural Press, San Francisco, August 5, 1899, page 93


 
Last revised April 17, 2022
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