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Frank P. Gmelin (1888-1962)
Born in Canada, raised in Bay city and resided in Detroit.

Biography - Added Aug., 2010.

The History of Detroit, Michigan, 1701-1922.


While Detroit has become the recognized center of automobile manufacturing in all the world, no unimportant chapter of its history is that which concerns the retailing of cars in the city and in this connection Frank P. Gmelin has built up an extensive business. He was born in Preston, Ontario, August 28, 1878, a son of J. H. and Bessie (Toye) Gmelin, the former a native of Preston, Ontario, while the latter was born in England. The family removed to Michigan in 1887 and the public schools of Bay City, Frank P. Gmelin continued his education. In early life he began learning the machinist trade, serving his apprenticeship in Bay City, and was first connected with the manufacture of marine gas engines before starting in as auto repair mechanic in 1902, continuing in Bay City until 1911. For seven years he was associated with M. A. Young, one of the pioneer retail motor car men of Detroit. On the 15th of March, 1917, he established business independently and is now distributing the Mitchell and Briscoe cars, in which connection he has built up an extensive trade, his business being one of large and gratifying proportions.

On the 8th of October, 1903, Mr. Gmelin was united in marriage to Miss Lena Parreant of Bay City, and they have two children: Arthur, who is seventeen years of age; and Bessie, aged fifteen. Politically Mr. Gmelin is a republican but has never been an aspirant for office. He is a well known member of the Detroit Automobile Dealers Association and is widely known in Masonic circles, belonging to Palestine Lodge, A. F. & A. M., while in Michigan Sovereign Consistory he has attained the thirty-second degree and had also crossed the sands of the desert with the Nobles of Moslem Temple of the Mystic Shrine. In an analyzation of his career it is evident that close application and indefatigable energy have been the basic elements of his constantly developing success, which has brought him to creditable position among the progressive merchants of the city.

1920 - News story. - Added Aug., 2010.

Masonic News – March, 1920


Back in 1888, on the 28th of August, the stork deposited a small package at the Gemlin home, and forthwith the nurse announced to the waiting father, “It's a boy.” Being a hot day, and also being father to a son who should perpetuate his name, pater familias did what any other normal father would do under similar conditions.

Just what happened on the day of the christening affiant deposeth not but circumstances justify the statement that the child grew and waxed strong, and passed his “exams” in due form.

When the time came for Frank to select a vocation he passed up the white shirt positions and got a job. He started as an auto mechanic and learned the anatomy of his subject from headlight to rear smoke. He thrived on gasoline and grease and had good sense enough to realize the possibilities from putting in six full days per week. That's one reason why he is in business for himself today.

But he used his eyes and ears and soon he discovered – and so did his boss – that he could do a lot besides tinkering. He fitted himself for the next job higher up and when there was a vacancy in that job he got it, and he kept doing that until he became manager for one of the big Detroit distributors.

That he was a good manager is best evidenced by the fact that he held the job for six years.

Then the opportunity came to secure a distributing agency for himself and he grasped it. Three years ago he had a showroom on Cass avenue, with a small service station, the whole plant covering barely 2,000 feet of floor space. Today he had one of the handsomest show-rooms on Woodard avenue, covering 10,000 feet of floor space, and 7,500 additional feet space on Theodore street in his service station, where he gives night and day service.

His line includes the King, the Briscoe and the Malbohm cars.

About a year after he had started on his gasoline and grease career, Mr. Gmelin discovered that in spite of his many good qualities, he needed refinement and improvement, so he enlisted the services of an expert, and through the co-operation of the license clerk and a clergyman made the contract for life. That was seventeen years ago, and if you should ask this gentleman today if his wife and the boy and girl have had much to do with his success, he could tell you emphatically, “yes.”

He is a member of Palestine Lodge of Masons, also Michigan Sovereign Consistory and Moslem Temple, Shrine. He is also a prominent member of the enthusiastic boosters for Detroit's new Masonic Temple.

1921 - News article. - Added Aug., 2010.

Safety Engineering, Vols. 41-42, Jan. - Jun., 1921.

Page 300.

March 1, 1920. Detroit, Michigan. Frank P. Gmelin Co., 998-1000 Woodard avenue. Salesroom and garage. One 1-story building damaged. Walls, brick. Floors, cement. Roof, composition. Cause, supposed short circuit of charging battery wires. Fire started in rear of building. Discovered by employes at 7:09 a. m. Alarm, telegraph. Duration, 2-1/4 hours. Confined to building. Private fire apparatus, none. Approximate value of building and contents, $99,419. Property loss, $14,403.

Additional Notes.

    1893 – Directory: West Bay City, Mich.

  • Gmelin, Jacob H – clk Mosher, Bissell & Mather, res 607 E North Union.
  • Gmelin, Miss Lottie – bds 204 E North Union.

    1896 – Michigan Marriages: West Bay City, Mich.

  • Date: Sep. 15, 1896.
  • Groom: William Laura – b. 1875 Flat Rock. Parents: Joseph and Mary Ann Laura.
  • Bride: Lottie Gmelin – b. 1877. Parents: Jack Gmelin and Elizabeth Toy.
  • Note – Frank P.'s sister.

    1900 – Patent Office.

  • Jacob Henry Gmelin, of Bay City, Mich., held patent for a sand and screen fixture – Serial No. 474,653, filed Jan. 28, 1900. (father of Frank P.)

    1902 – Michigan Marriages: Bay City, Mich.

  • Date: Oct. 8, 1902.
  • Groom: Frank P. Gmelin - b, 1878, Canada. Parents: Jacob H. Gmelin and Elizabeth Toye.
  • Bride: Lena L. Parrent – b. 1883. Parents: Joseph Parrent and Matilda Lesperance.

    1910 – Michigan Marriages: Detroit, Mich.

  • Date: Jan. 1, 1910.
  • Groom: Fred C. Buechler – b. 1883. Parents: Christian and Lena Buechler.
  • Bride: Kate M. Gmelin – b. 1883. Parents: Jacob H. Gmelin and Elizabeth Toye.
  • Note – Frank P.'s sister.

    1915 – Michigan Marriages: Bay City, Mich.

  • Date: Dec. 20, 1915.
  • Groom: Albert E. Gmelin – b. 1884 Canada. Parents: Jacob H. Gmelin and Elizabeth Toye.
  • Bride: Anrilla E. Paul – b. 1893 Bay City, Mich. Parents: Peter Paul and Anges Savage.
  • Note - Frank P.'s brother.

    1962 – Social Security Death Record.

  • Frank P. Gmelin died Oct., 1962.
Related Pages/Notes

Frank P. Gmelin

Related Pages:
None at this time.
People Referenced
Buechler, Christian
Buechler, Fred C.
Buechler, Lena Mrs.
Gmelin, Albert E. (bro)
Gmelin, Arthur (son)
Gemlin, Bessie (dau)
Gmelin, Frank P (subject)
Gmelin, Jacob H. (father)
Gmelin, Kate M. (sis)
Gmelin, Lottie (sis)
Laura, Joseph
Laura, Mary Mrs.
Laura, William
Lesperance, Matilda
Parreant, Joseph
Parreant, Lena (wife)
Paul, Anrilla
Paul, Peter
Savage, Anges
Toye, Elizabeth (mother)
Young, M.A.
Subjects Referenced
Bay City, MI
Frank P. Gemlin Co.
Detroit, MI
Preston, Ont. Can.
WRITINGS: History As It Was Written Then.