The Murray by Adrian’s Church Manufacturing Co.

Photograph courtesy of The Grant Snedeker Photograph Collection, Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan 112.

1902 This rather fragile-looking early automobile, which some might call a “flivver,” doesn’t look like much of a match for Michigan’s fierce winters, but it’s being tested here as a mode of transportation to deliver rural mail in Adrian, in Lenawee County. At the turn of the 20th century, Adrian, southwest of Detroit, was a nascent car-manufacturing center. The pictured auto is the Murray, made by Adrian’s Church Manufacturing Co., which also created a car called the Lenawee. Neither car lasted long, but poor management, rather than sluggish sales, was said to be the death knell for the company. A more successful auto made in Adrian was the Lion, produced by the Lion Motor Car Co. Sales were brisk, but a plant fire in June of 1912 destroyed the company’s fleet of new cars, consigning the Lion to the scrap yard of auto history.