Grove City businessman John R. Hooper was president of the Okey Manufacturing Company. He was a community activist in Grove City in the 1970s and served as a city councilman. Why is that important?
The company he owned and operated was once owned by Perry Okey, a Columbus master machinist and inventor who built the first motorized vehicle in Central Ohio, according to papers Hooper had in his possession.
Campbell T. Chittenden, a Columbus businessman and hotelier, purchased the first motorized vehicle in 1899 from Winton Motor Carriage in Cleveland, the same year Okey introduced his version of a “horseless carriage”. Okey continued to make improvements until Jan. 13, 1900, according to Hooper’s papers.
Little else is known except that he formed the Okey Automobile Company on Feb. 25, 1901 at 7 Frank St., Columbus, to build automobiles. That’s where Okey’s history ends.