Ole Evinrude
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Ole Evinrude (1877 - 1934)

Ole Evinrude aka Evensrud, Evinrud
Born in Vardal, Oppland, Norgemap
Ancestors ancestors
[sibling(s) unknown]
Husband of — married 21 Nov 1906 in Milwaukee, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USAmap
Descendants descendants
Died at age 57 in Wisconsin, United Statesmap
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Ole Evinrude created the first commercially feasible outboard motor for pleasure and enjoyment by the public.[1][2]
Norwegian Native
Ole Evinrude was born in Norway
Notables Project
Ole Evinrude is Notable.

Growing up

Ole Andreassen was born at Åslundeie, Vardal (today in Gjøvik), Oppland, Norway April 19, 1877[3][4] to Andreas "Andrew" Olsen Evinrude (1843-1919) and Beatha "Beate" Olsdatter Dohl.[5][6][7][8][9][10][11][12][4] He was christened 10 June 1877.[3] The Evinrude name (spelled several ways) came from Beate's family's farm in Norway, Evenrud, and was adopted after the family emigrated.[4] The Evinrudes came to America from Norway in 1882, later settling on a farm at Ripley Lake, near Cambridge, Wisconsin in 1887.[13][6][12][14][4]

Ole was living on his own in 1900 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.[15]

Ole was described as of medium height, stout build, and blue eyes on his World War I draft registration.[11] He was older by then and had gray hair.[11]

Ole and Bessie's Family

Ole Evinrude married Bessie Cary, the daughter of Henry Cary and Hattie Lynch, 21 November 1906 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.[7][4] Together they had one child, Ralph, born in 1908 in Wisconsin.[6][8]

The Ole and Bessie Evinrude raised their son in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.[6][8][10] In 1910, Ole was listed as working as a pattern maker, having developed skills working for EP Allis, while also working on his outboard designs.[8][11][4][14] Ole and Bessie were working together for their company in 1920, Ole as the primary owner and manufacturer and Bessie as an office manager.[6][5][14] In 1930, he is listed as the president of his motor manufacturing business.[10][5]

Evinrude Outboard Motors

From a young age, Ole enjoyed working with all things mechanical.[12][14][4] He apprenticed in various cities and became a master pattern maker, as well as creating his own "horseless carriages" with the then new internal combustion engine.[16]

On August 14, 1906, a group of young people, including Ole and his future wife, Bess, went on a picnic on Okauchee Lake in Wisconsin.[14][5][17] Bess decided she wanted ice cream, and Ole took the task to heart.[5][1] While rowing a small boat a couple miles away to Schatz's Ice Cream and back again, totaling ninety minutes in the summer heat in Wisconsin, Ole realized the combustion engine might also be used for boats, not just carriages.[17][12][5] Bess got to drink her ice cream by the time he got back to her.[5][17] The next year he built a prototype motor, the "coffee grinder" as Bess dubbed it.[14][16] Two years later he had a 1 ½ horsepower, 62 pound engine. with a vertical crankshaft, horizontal flywheels, and set of bevel gears.[17][14][4]

By August 22, 1911, Ole had a patent for the "Detachable Row Boat Motor."[17]

It took a couple years and a lot of advertising but his outboard motors for boats started to become popular, selling for $62.00 each.[5]There were others experimenting with the idea of an outboard motor but Evinrude's was the first to be practical enough to be commercially successful, selling 10,000 by 1913.[5][17] That design remains an industry standard.[17] Bess would help push him to make a business of the idea.[5][1] It was she who thought up one of their advertising slogans, "Don't Row, Throw Your Oars Away and Use An Evinrude Motor."[4][5][14][1]

Ole worked hard at producing the motors but that coupled with caring for Bess, who was chronically ill, led him to decide to sell Evinrude Outboard Motors for $140,000 to a partner, Chris Meyer, in 1914.[2][4][16] Ole agreed to not re-enter the boat motor business for five years, but he kept developing new products on his own.[16]

By 1921, he had developed a twin-cylinder, 3-horsepower, 48-pound, aluminum outboard motor.[14][4] He offered the new item to Chris Meyer, but Meyer turned down the product.[16] Evinrude then formed a new business: the ELTO Company (the name stood for 'Evinrude light twin outboard') which now created new competition with the first company he had founded, still owned by Meyer.[14][4] Meyer sold the company to Stephen F. Briggs of Briggs & Stratton.[14]

Between 1919 and 1929, ELTO and Evinrude went back and forth as leaders in this new industry.[16] Johnson Motors, which started in 1922, a specialist of inboard motors and speedboats, then took the lead in the industry.[14] Ole's son, Ralph S. Evinrude joined the family business in 1927 and worked on development of a new four-cylinder motor, the "Elto Quad".[16]

In 1929, Stephen Briggs approached Ole about combining ELTO, Evinrude, and Lockwood-Ash Motor into one company-OMC (Outboard Marine & Manufacturing Corp.).[4][18][17][14] Ole was made president, and Briggs became chairman of board.[14][4] Johnson Outboard was added to the company in 1936.[14][4] Ralph Evinrude, who took over the business when he father passed away, continued to run the corporation and added many new products under the LawnBoy name (chainsaws, lawn mowers, etc).[4][16][17][12][19]


Ole's wife, Bess, died in 1933.[2][16][4] That loss was too much for Ole, and he died only a year later, July 12, 1934 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.[9][16][12][4][1] He and Bess are buried in Pinelawn Memorial Park, Milwaukee, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.[9]

Ole's original outboard motor earned the distinction of National Historical Engineering Landmark from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers for creations that contributed significantly to the development of civilization.[17] It was the first consumer product to earn the distinction of the landmark award.[17] OMC continued creating replicas of the original Evinrude outboard motor, some of which are housed in museums across the United States.[17] He is also remembered for his kindness, and was compared a sort of Jimmy Stewart, quietly helping those around them when they needed it, an especially relevant trait in his final years during the Great Depression.[16]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 "Inventor of Outboard is Dead at 57", San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco California, 13 July 1934, page 11. Accessed via GenealogyBank.com 14 Apr 2017.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Wikipedia contributors, "Ole Evinrude," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ole_Evinrude (accessed April 14, 2017).
  3. 3.0 3.1 Ole's christening record, SAH, Vardal prestekontor, H/Ha/Haa/L0007: Ministerialbok nr. 7, 1867-1878, s. 13
  4. 4.00 4.01 4.02 4.03 4.04 4.05 4.06 4.07 4.08 4.09 4.10 4.11 4.12 4.13 4.14 4.15 4.16 4.17 Lovoll, Odd, "Ole Evinrude", on Norwegian Encyclopedia, 13 Feb 2009. Accessed 14 Apr 2017
  5. 5.00 5.01 5.02 5.03 5.04 5.05 5.06 5.07 5.08 5.09 5.10 Carnegie, Dale,"Dale Carnegie's Column", Lexington Herald, Lexington, Kentucky, 3 Jan 1940, page 4. Accessed via GenealogyBank.com, 13 April 2017.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 "United States Census, 1920," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MFK9-R8Z : accessed 13 April 2017), Ole Evinrude, Milwaukee Ward 18, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States; citing ED 217, sheet 2B, line 95, family 55, NARA microfilm publication T625 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1992), roll 2003; FHL microfilm 1,822,003.
  7. 7.0 7.1 "Wisconsin Marriages, 1836-1930," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:XRXX-7JD : 4 December 2014), Ole Evinrude and Bessie Cary, 21 Nov 1906; citing reference 72; FHL microfilm 1,014,022.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 "United States Census, 1910," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MPKM-TG3 : accessed 13 April 2017), Ole Evinrude, Milwaukee Ward 8, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) ED 68, sheet 7B, family 113, NARA microfilm publication T624 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1982), roll 1725; FHL microfilm 1,375,738.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 FindAGrave Memorial #14010562, memorial for Ole Evinrude, accessed 14 Apr 2017
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2002. Year: 1930; Census Place: Shorewood, Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Roll: 2600; Page: 25B; Enumeration District: 0362; Image: 184.0; FHL microfilm: 2342334
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 Ancestry.com. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2005.Registration State: Wisconsin; Registration County: Milwaukee; Roll: 1674815; Draft Board: 13
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 12.4 12.5 Ancestry.com. U.S., School Yearbooks, 1880-2012 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010."The Hilltop", 1942, Marquette University, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
  13. Norway Heritage forum, with links to ArchivDigital citing records for Ole's birth, his parents' marriage, Beate's emigration with the children, and Andreas' original emigration. Accessed 14 Apr 2017
  14. 14.00 14.01 14.02 14.03 14.04 14.05 14.06 14.07 14.08 14.09 14.10 14.11 14.12 14.13 14.14 Robertson, Pat, "Outboard history traced to ice cream and walnuts", State, Columbia, South Carolina, 16 Nov 1986, page 28. Accessed via GenealogyBank.com 13 April 2017.
  15. Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2004. Year: 1900; Census Place: Milwaukee Ward 5, Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Roll: 1801; Page: 4A; Enumeration District: 0033; FHL microfilm: 1241801
  16. 16.00 16.01 16.02 16.03 16.04 16.05 16.06 16.07 16.08 16.09 16.10 "Ole Evinrude", Lemelson MIT, accessed 14 Apr 2017.
  17. 17.00 17.01 17.02 17.03 17.04 17.05 17.06 17.07 17.08 17.09 17.10 17.11 Anderson, Andy, "On boating, ice cream, and Evinrude outboard motors", Dallas Morning News, Dallas, Texas, 9 Aug 1981, page 61. Accessed via GenealogyBank.com 13 Aug 2017.
  18. Outboard Motors Corporation, Boston Herald, Boston, Massachusetts, 14 Mar 1929, page 27. Accessed via GenealogyBank.com 13 April 2017.
  19. "Evinrude Will Head Motors Corporation", San Diego Union, San Diego, California, 2 Aug 1934, page 11. Accessed via GenealogyBank.com 14 Apr 2017.

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Memories: 1
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Story as told to Stuart News by Thomas Evinrude (grandson of Ole), Stuart, FL 2008 ~~~~~~~~

As a boy, "Ole Evinrude, built a sailboat from scratch deep in the woods. When Ole Evinrude's father, a dyed-in-the-wool farmer found the boat, he chopped it up for kindling."

posted 13 Dec 2008 by Alice Luckhardt
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Comments: 4

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I now understand why the dragonfly who powered the boat in the cartoon movie, The Rescuers, was named Evinrude!
See bio France's Langford singer actress, 1913/2005 . Married Ralph E. 1955-1986. They brought Chanticleer 110 ft yacht to North Shore from Florida , to Lake Huron ,Georgian Bay in Summer. She donated $5, 000. annually to hospital in Little Current , Ontario, population 1500 ,on Manitoulin Island,in largest fresh water lake in the world. They anchored at the end of Baie Finne , Killarney Provincial Park , Ont. beside their cottage & boat provided electricity to cottage. Husband tested out his newer inventions in the area. She was well known by locals.
posted by [Living Fredette]
This is a great bio. But there are no sources listed. Wikidata doesn't count.
posted by Anne B
Ole and Bess were at Lake Okauchee, west of Milwaukee. After lunch, Bess expressed an interest in some ice cream. Ole rowed to Schartz's for the ice cream, but it had melted by the time he returned.
posted by Alice Luckhardt