Edward Andrew Deeds, Dayton’s Mr. Git-R-Done

Edward Andrew Deeds was a man who got things done. Dayton benefited from his talent.

He was born on March 12, 1874, to parents Charles and Susan Deeds and grew up on a small farm near Granville, Ohio. After graduating from high school, he attended Denison University, graduating in 1897 as valedictorian. He received a Bachelor of Science degree. Next Deeds went to Cornell University seeking a graduate degree in electrical engineering. However, he soon had to drop out of school because he lacked the money to continue.

In 1898 Deeds took a draftsman’s job with Thresher Electric Company in Dayton. He became a chief engineer within a year. The following year he was hired by National Cash Register Company. He planned the electricity generation plant and the electric installation for the factory.

Deeds married Edith Walton in June of 1900.

The couple left Dayton and went to Niagara Falls in 1902. There he created the plans for the equipment and the facility of the Shredded Wheat Company. The building has been called the “Palace of Light.”

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After a year Deeds returned to Dayton and a job at NCR as the head of development and construction.

Deeds hired Charles F. Kettering to work at NCR in 1904. Through the years they became successful partners in many enterprises.

Kettering and Deeds in 1908 began to work in Deeds’ barn. Others joined them in researching, and the group came to be called “The Barn Gang.” They developed the electric starter for automobiles and sold Cadillac the first order.

Kettering left NCR in 1909. He and Deeds founded Dayton Engineering Laboratories Company (DELCO). Deeds resigned from NCR in 1915 when DELCO needed his leadership. A few years later the pair sold the company which eventually became a part of General Motors.

After the 1913 flood, Deeds helped set up the Miami Conservancy District. He hired Arthur Morgan to create a flood prevention plan. Deeds pushed through opposition and got the Conservancy Act passed and dry dams built.

In 1909 he asked the Wrights to consider a DELCO starter for airplanes but was turned down. He also sought their advice about building a landing strip on his property. In 1916 Deeds built the landing strip at his home, Moraine Farm. His house also had an observatory with a 7-inch telescope.

In 1914 Kettering and Deeds founded the Engineer Club to encourage collaboration among engineers. They donated the building to the organization.

Deeds was made a colonel in the Army in 1917. Along with Orville Wright, Charles Kettering and H.E. Talbott, he formed the Wright Airplane Company. This company became the major producer of planes during World War I.

In 1931 Deeds returned to NCR, this time as president. He retired in 1957 at age 83.

His wife, Edith, died in 1949. His died in 1960. They are both buried in Woodland Cemetery and Arboretum in Dayton.

Contact this contributing writer at rdyoakam58@yahoo.com.

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