A shot of the Indian Sales Company located at 223 West Liberty Street in Savannah, Ga. ca. 1927. The gentlemen running this new operation are posing with a sharp lineup of fresh Indian’s, including the Springfield company’s latest 4 cylinder, the product of Indian’s most recent acquisition of the Ace Motor Corporation. Joseph Neely, who is pictured with his 4 year old son Joseph Jr. on the far right, was the owner of Savannah’s newest establishment. A local businessman and motorcycling enthusiast, Neely had been piloting motorcycles through the low country for years before opening his own shop. When his son Joseph Jr. was born in 1923, the Neely’s could be seen motoring around Savannah’s beautiful old streets in the family Indian Chief and sidecar.
Neely would have no doubt acquired his dealership through Indian’s regional dealership manager, Atlanta’s own Harry Glenn, who as it turns out is standing in the doorway with his arm outstretched. Glenn was a veteran of the Springfield company, being a successful asset both on the salesroom floor as well as in the factory’s exalted racing program. He began work in Hendee’s first southern branch in Atlanta as early as 1912, and shortly thereafter began racing on the infamous boards of the American motordrome circuit as a member of the factory team. Harry opened his own Indian dealership in Atlanta in the late teens and by 1922 had become Indian’s “man” in the East Coast, helping expand the network of dealerships from Miami to Maine.
Neely, who with his wife Nettie had just welcomed their second son, James in 1926 made a good go of it with the new Indian dealership in Savannah, giving local motorcycle legend and Harley-Davidson dealer George “Pop” Cleary a run for his money with a diverse and robust fleet of Indians. His new shop did so well that the Neely’s moved from their rented duplex on York St. into a larger house at 309 35th St., a home which still stands today, though this dealership structure is no more. Tragically, Joseph Neely Sr. died of cancer just days before his 40th birthday the following year in Fall of 1928, leaving his wife to raise their two young sons alone through the Great Depression. Joseph was laid to rest in the Neely family’s plot in Savannah’s elegant Bonaventure Cemetery, where later his wife and two sons would also be interred.