Lee Hwy, Willys-Overland, & 1919 Motor Convoy

Craig Harmon continues researching the 1919 Transcontinental Motor Convoy, which followed the Lincoln Highway for much its course across the U.S. Some of his work lately has focused on the Reverend Samuel Myrtle Johnson, a preacher who combined religion and patriotism, especially when it came to support for Good Roads. Along with being the official speaker for the convoy, Johnson conceived the Zero Milestone in Washington D.C. and was director of the Lee Highway Association (which, like the Lincoln Highway, also connected New York to San Francisco).

The image above shows Johnson’s invitation (on Lee Highway letterhead) to U.S. Bureau of Public Roads Chief T.H. MacDonald to attend the dedication of the Zero Milestone, the launching point for the convoy. He was also being reminded that he would talk for 3 minutes about the routes that radiated from the marker.

Much of the new info came from an 8-page article in the October 6, 1919 issue of The Willys-Overland Starter. On the cover, you can see three cars donated by the Willys Overland Company for use with the convoy: Dr. Johnson traveled in the covered sedan followed by two open-top Willys-Overland 4s used by Army Publicity Officer Lt. William B. Doron and official photographer Sergeant George Lacey. A fourth car was an 88-4 Willys-Knight that was used as the pilot car by LHA vice-president H.C. Osterman, who traveled several days ahead. The article includes the only known photo (below) of Osterman, Doron, Train Commander Captain Bernard S. McMahan, and Expeditionary Commander Lt. Col. Charles W. McClure.

Click Here to download the 5 mb article at 150 dpi. And see my previous post on Harmon’s convoy research here.

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3 Responses to “Lee Hwy, Willys-Overland, & 1919 Motor Convoy”

  1. Jeff Durbin Says:

    Hi Brian–

    I was just hunting some information about Samuel Myrtle Johnson and found the entry about Craig Harmon’s work on the 1919 convoy. Good to see the image with the Lee Highway Assn letterhead!

    I’m doing a paper on the Lee Highway this fall in Chattanooga (yeah, I know, shades of the 1998 SCA conference).

    I knew that Johnson was on the convoy and have found the FHWA biographical information on him, but have been having only some minor success in finding information about him. Compared to Henry Joy and Carl Fisher, Johnson is pretty obscure.

    Hope you’re doing well!


    • brianbutko Says:

      Love the Dixie Highway, waiting for a good book on it! Yeah, lots out there on Fisher and Joy. Harmon makes lots of great discoveries, visiting archives in DC daily.

  2. Bob Kaspar Says:

    In the Lake Tahoe area the Lincoln Hwy had two routes, one to the north and one to the south of the Lake. Can you confirm that the 1919 convoy took the southern route over Echo Summit?


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