Michael Staebler Papers: 1872-1934
Summary Information
Title: Michael Staebler Papers
Creator: Staebler, Michael, 1843-1928
Inclusive dates: 1872-1934
Extent: 13.5 linear feet
Location: Portions of the collection are located offsite; two days notice required for retrieval.
Ann Arbor, Michigan businessman, dealer in coal, farm machinery, bicycles, and automobiles; correspondence, letterbooks, and various record books of Ann Arbor business/enterprises owned and established by Michael Staebler and his family including Staebler and Elmer, Michael Staebler and Son, and Staebler and Sons.
Call number: 8644 Aa 2
Language: The materials are in English.
Repository: Bentley Historical Library
1150 Beal Ave.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2113
Phone: 734-764-3482
Fax: 734-936-1333
e-mail: bentley.ref@umich.edu
Home Page: http://www.bentley.umich.edu/
Finding aid prepared by: Michigan Historical Collections staff

Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

The collection was the gift of Mr. and Mrs. Walter P. Staebler and Mr. Herman Staebler (donor no. 2718) and came to the library in 1953.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.

To protect fragile audiovisual recordings (such as audio cassettes, film reels, and VHS tapes), the Bentley Historical Library has a policy of converting them to digital formats by a professional vendor whenever a researcher requests access. For more information, please see: http://bentley.umich.edu/research/duplication/.


Donor(s) have transferred any applicable copyright to the Regents of the University of Michigan but the collection may contain third-party materials for which copyright was not transferred. Patrons are responsible for determining the appropriate use or reuse of materials.

Preferred Citation:

item, folder title, box no., Michael Staebler Papers, Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan


Michael Staebler was born September 7, 1843, in the Staebler homestead on Scio Church Road in Lodi Township, at the intersection of Lodi, Scio, Freedom, and Lima townships. He was the son of Maria Wildt Staebler and Frederick Staebler, who had purchased the land from the United States Government in 1831. Michael Staebler had a sawmill, a cider press, and a flax seed press. He also operated a threshing machine.

In 1885 Michael Staebler erected the Germania Building in Ann Arbor on the southeast corner of Ashley and Washington Streets. The American Hotel, now the Earle, occupied part of the building, and the remainder was used to house his various business enterprises. He sold coal, farm machinery, and bicycles. From 1889 to 1891 he was a member of the firm Staebler and Elmer, which manufactured the Ferguson Speed Cart.

Staebler and Son, of which Edward W. was the partner, in 1900, became the first automobile dealers in Ann Arbor. During the next half century they were agents for the Trimoto, the Toledo Steam Carriage, the Winton, the Reo, the Dort, the Franklin, the Oakland, and the Pontiac. The firm name became Staebler and Sons after Michael retired and Herman J. entered the business with Edward. Walter P. Staebler joined them in 1913. The company was dissolved in July, 1952.

As a result of the increasing demand for gasoline, two sons, J. Frederick and Edward W. organized the Staebler Oil Company and became the first independent gasoline distributors in Washtenaw County. Besides Edward, Herman, Walter, and Frederick, who have been mentioned, the children of Michael Staebler were: a daughter who died in infancy, Robert E., Albert H., and Alice Staebler Johnson.

Collection Scope and Content Note

This is a collection of the business papers of Michael Staebler, Ann Arbor businessman, dealer in coal, farm machinery, bicycles and automobiles. The records date from the early 1870s to the late 1920s. Included are some materials of Staebler's son, Edward W., who in addition to assisting in the family business was also active in bicycling craze of the 1890s.

Subject Terms

This collection is indexed under the following headings in the finding aid database and catalog of The Bentley Historical Library/University of Michigan. Researchers desiring additional information about related topics should search the catalog using these headings.

  • Agricultural machinery.
  • Ann Arbor (Mich.) -- Commerce.
  • Automobile industry and trade -- Michigan -- Ann Arbor.
  • Business records -- Michigan -- Ann Arbor.
  • Coal trade -- Michigan -- Ann Arbor.
  • Cycling -- Michigan.
  • Bicycle industry -- Michigan -- Ann Arbor.
  • League of American Wheelmen. Michigan Division.
  • Michigan and Indiana Retail Coal Association.
  • Staebler, Edward William, 1872-1946.
  • Staebler and Elmer.
  • Staebler and Sons.
Contents List
Request materials for use in the Bentley Library
Container / Location Title
Business records [series]

The collection consists of a single series of business records with subseries of: Incoming Correspondence, Letterbooks, Coal Business, Bicycle/Automobile Business, Other Records.

The Incoming Correspondence is arranged by the various names of Staebler firms: Staebler and Elmer, Michael Staebler, Michael Staebler and Son, and Staebler and Sons. The Letterbooks have been arranged chronologically. Where the dates of volumes overlap, the volumes presumably documented different business activities. The Coal Sales Order books have interest for the names of Ann Arbor family dealing with Staebler. The Bicycle and Automobile Business records document the changeover taking place in society as the automobile replaced the carriage and wagon as the principal means of transport. The researcher should note that later records of the Staebler family automobile dealership will be found in the papers of Edward W. Staebler.

Incoming Correspondence [subseries]
Box   1  
Staebler and Elmer 1890-1891
Michael Staebler 1887-1910
Box   1  
1887-October 1896
Box   2  
November 1896-October 1901
Box   3  
November 1901-December 1903
Box   3  
January 1904-April 1906
Box   4  
Box   5  


Staebler and Sons 1911-1915
Box   5  
January 1911-April 1912
Box   6  
May-December 1912
Box   6  
July-December 1915
Letterbooks [subseries]
Box   7  
Box   7  
Box   7  
Box   7  
Box   7  
Box   7  
Box   7  
Box   8  
Box   8  
Box   8  
Box   8  
Box   8  
Box   8  
Box   9  
Box   9  
Box   9  
Box   9  
Box   9  
Box   10  
Box   10  
Box   10  
Box   10  
Box   10  
Coal business [subseries]
Box   11  
Coal sales order books 1887-1903 (9 volumes)
Oversize Box   12  
Coal sales order books 1893-1895 (2 volumes)
Oversize Box   12  
Michigan and Indiana Retail Coal Association 1898, 1900-1911
Bicycle/automobile business [subseries]
League of American Wheelmen and related
Box   13  
Michigan Division 1894-1896
Box   13  
Michigan Division 1897-1899
Box   13  
Michigan bicycle clubs
Box   13  
State divisions
Box   13  
Bicycle journals
Box   13  
Crescent Bulletins; Facts for Victor Agents
Box   13  
Box   13  
Bicycle sales record book 1893-1898
Box   13  
Bicycle and automobile sales record book 1914-1924
Box   13  
New and used automobile sales record book 1925-1934
Box   14  
Auto sales record book (includes bicycle sales)
Other records [subseries]
Box   14  
Articles of agreement and contracts 1878-1908 (9 folders)
Box   14  
Various account books (mainly for agricultural equipment) 1870s-1880s (3 volumes)
Box   14  
Dues books for Ann Arbor German social organizations (3 volumes)