O.N. (Oliver) Onsgard was a Ford dealer in Spring Grove, Minnesota in 1909, with a sales territory that included all of Houston County. The Ford Motor Company had received considerable publicity in July of that year after a Model T car won the cross country race from New York to Seattle, an event which kicked off the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition. (The winning Ford car was later disqualified with much less publicity because of making unauthorized repairs along the route.)
In 1909, Onsgard sold a five-passenger Ford to E.J. Foss, who shortly thereafter became a partner with Onsgard. Their business was located on Division Street in Spring Grove as seen in a picture dated 1910. In 1912, Oliver Onsgard retired and sold his share to E.J.Foss, who continued the business. The cars sold through the dealership were likely made in the Minneapolis Assembly Plant and shipped by rail. A picture shows Model Ts being rolled off a box car down a ramp. In 1920, Foss announced his intention to build a new garage and showroom at 110 East Main Street, but he had to scale back his plans. The local newspaper reported, “Owing to the scarcity and high price of materials, E. J. Foss has decided to build only the basement of his garage this year. The first floor will be added in a year or two.” The newspapers also reported on various trips that Foss took to Minneapolis to attend the auto show and meetings of Ford dealers. By late 1920s or 1930s, E.J.’s son, Owen, had entered the business. At the time of E.J. Foss’s death, an obituary noted the dealership had operated for forty-seven years.Special thanks to Georgia Rosendahl and Thomas Carlson of the Houston County Historical Society for providing this history and pictures. Pictures and Two Ads Onsgard and Foss, Spring Grove, MN Courtesy of Houston County Historical Society.