In 1820, Joshua Bodley and Thomas M. Galley collaborated and established the “Bodley & Galley” [1]wagon factory in Wheeling, Virginia.  In the late 1820s, it became the “Joshua Bodley” wagon works, and in 1832, it became “Bodley & Richards” wagon works (Bodley, Joshua and Richards, David).  In 1865, Mr. Frome joined Bodley as the “Frome & Bodley” carriage manufacturers.   With the retirement of Joshua Bodley in 1860, Mr. Lunsford joined with Mr. Frome, and the works became the “Lunsford & Frome” carriage makers listed as so into 1872.

Joshua Bodley and David Richards made the cable wire used in the building of the Wheeling Suspension Bridge and assembled the wire on the Wheeling Island.  In a letter dated August 4, 1848, Anna Cook of Wheeling writes to her sister Julia Cook c/o Bennett Cook in Parkersburg, Virginia, “tell Uncle, they stretch the first wire on the Bridge tomorrow (August 5th 1848) and if he can make us a visit in September he can walk on it, in spite of the Pittsburghers.” [2]  The company made the cables for the Nashville Suspension bridge in 1850 and shipped the cables from Wheeling on the American Star steamboat.

In 1891, grandsons of Joshua Bodley (John and James W.) established the “John Bodley Brothers” wagon works, at 1724 Chapline Street, a four-story building occupying an entire block, from Eoff Street to Chapline Street.  The firm was building wagons, carts, and drays for the western lumber trade, southern cotton trade and sugar producing interests, shipping nearly the whole lot of their manufacture.  The Bodley Brothers shipped their wagons by piece on steamboats, most to New Orleans where they owned a warehouse occupying an entire square.

In the 1830s, “Busbey, Little & Co.” established themselves as wagon manufacturers.

Starting in 1820 and going into early 1830, we have found two wagon works in Wheeling, the “Joshua Bodley” and “Busbey, Little & Co.” wagon works that were probably doing a good business.  The Zanes had founded Wheeling in 1769 and moved the family here in 1770.  By 1774, the Wheeling settlement had roughly 30 people and certainly, the need for a wagon did not exist.  Where would you go that you needed a wagon?  The horse path, Mingo Indian path that led to Red Stone, Brownsville where one could obtain minimal goods was not then wide enough for a wagon.  A trip to Pittsburgh for supplies took two days, and this was by boat.  But, after the Revolutionary War ended and beginning in the spring of 1783, large numbers of emigrants traveling over the old Portage Road began arriving at Wheeling.  This road coming out of Brownsville to Washington, Claysville and West Alexander, Pennsylvania and then on to Wheeling, had been widened from the old Mingo Indian path into a wagon road.  These emigrants were then purchasing Flatboats and Barges at Wheeling, and most were heading for Kentucky.  A few were actually settling in Wheeling.

The James Patton and James Palmer boat yards were taking in trade wagons for boats, the advantage going to Patton and Palmer.  A 15’ x 55’ barge or open flatboat sold for $60.00 (16 shillings) and for a decent large wagon, they were offering 2 shillings ($7.50), and one thing this did, it supplied Wheeling with a surplus of wagons. 

At this same time, wagon yards were opened by John McCortney and Robert T. Newlove and they too began buying these surplus wagons. McCortney and Newlove were establishing themselves as “Forwarding and Commission agents”, each keeping a tavern and behind their taverns were their large wagon yards.  In the late 1780s, we find Conestoga wagons arriving daily in Wheeling   The Conestoga wagon’s freight was unloaded and immediately placed in the hands of these Forwarding and Commission Agents (McCortney and Newlove) for passage on Barges and Flatboats that were leaving Wheeling daily down-river for the West.  This set up a wagon repair business for Cortney and Newlove using parts from their junk yard of used wagons.  They and boat builders Patton and Palmer were also into the used wagon business, selling wagons to Wheeling residents.[3]

Life in Wheeling in the 1700s was still rather primitive and with this large supply of used wagons, starting a wagon making business did not seem profitable.  At the turn of the century, Wheeling began seeing itself grow.  Times were changing and in 1820, Joshua Bodley and Thomas M. Galley established the “Bodley & Galley” wagon making business.  In the 1830s, the “Busbey, Little & Co.” was formed and now two Wheeling wagon businesses could make a go of it.  Soon, more wagon business were started, in 1839, Samuel Miller became a wagon maker on Alley #12 between Sixth and Seventh Streets.

“John Pfarr” had his wagon manufactory from 1840, and then in 1859 it became the “Pfarr & Kammer” wagon manufactory on Market Street above Madison (Tenth) Street.  “Pfarr & Kammer” at that time furnished the Southern market with carriages and plantation wagons.  This same company would later become Charles J. Elig’s business.

“T.T. Hutchison & Company” a jobber in saddles, carriage hardware and general blacksmith supplies in 1847 began focusing on the wagon manufacturing trade as “Hutchison & Bell”, coach makers at 69 Main Street.

William Spears founder of the “Spears Axle Co.” was a maker of buggy axles in the 1850s.  In 1880, it went to the son, Ralph R. Spears. (William Spears did all the underground work for the Suspension Bridge).  “Spears Axle Works”, (Spears, Ralph R.) listed on the corner of Main, Water and Twenty-Seventh Streets employed over fifty men.   Ralph R. Spears sold out in 1887 to Andrew Reitz who took over the “Spears Axle Co.” and (Phinney, T.W. and Howe, A.D.) joined him.  In 1888, they operated a rolling mill and forging department with a capacity of 500 axles a day and were located between Main and Market Streets employing 85 men with sales to the entirety of the United States.  The “Spears Axle Co.” trademark is the ‘Horse-shoe’ brand wagon, carriage and buggy axles. 

In Wheeling, Virginia in 1853, “W. & J.N. Charnock” was wagon makers at 73 Market Street. In 1856, “George M. Varney”, was a wagon maker at First and Market Streets.

In 1858, “Samuel J. Ellifritz” was a manufacturer of wagons, elliptic spring wagons, wheelbarrows and timber wheels on the corner of Twenty-Fourth and Market Street that in 1859 became “Ellifritz & Tharp”.

Things go in spurts…

In 1859, “Moffet & McNabb” were wagon manufacturers on Webster Street, between Main and Market Street.

In 1859, “Neil & Reid” were wagon manufacturers on Webster Street.

In 1859, “Uriah Ship” was a wagon maker on Clay Street near Fifth Street.

In 1859, “Daniel Schneider” was a wagon manufacturer, corner Fourth and Clay Streets.

Many master carpenter wagon and coach makers thought they could go out on their own, but it was a tough business and most did not make it past two years. In the 1850s, the “E. Hayes & Co.” formed the “Wheeling Wagon & Carriage Company”, coach and wagon makers.

In 1860, “Busbey, Little & Co.” in business from the 1830s, absorbed the “Wheeling Wagon & Carriage Company” and manufactured the Civil War ‘Wheeling Ambulance’, designed by Union General W.S. Rosecrans.

The “Wheeling Wagon & Carriage Company” shipped the first ever (Wheeling Ambulance) buggy to Dr. Alexander a missionary in Persia. 


Wheeling, Virginia became Wheeling, West Virginia June 20 1863

Again, “things go in spurts”…

In 1865, Jacob Grosscloss was a coach and wagon maker on Market Street between Jefferson (Ninth) Street and Adams (Eighth) Streets.

In 1865, John Merschrod was a coach and wagon maker on the corner of Fifth and Locust Streets. 

In 1865, Lawrence Neuberger was a coach and wagon manufacturer at 129 Main Street and in 1872 at 10 Twenty-Third Street. In 1865, H. Schonhils was a carriage and wagon manufacturer at Fourth and Denny Streets.

In 1866, “Busbey, Little & Co.” dba as the “Wheeling Wagon & Carriage Company” dissolved.  Arthur Little then joined with William R. Donaldson and in 1866, the “Wheeling Wagon & Carriage Company” became the company of (Little, Arthur and Donaldson, William R.) from “Busbey, Little & Co.” and others from the old “E. Hayes & Co.”  In 1875, the “Wheeling Wagon & Carriage Co.” became the “Donaldson, Lewis & Co.”, (Little, Arthur, Donaldson, William R., Lewis, Washington H., and Ahl, Charles).  In 1881, “Donaldson, Lewis & Co.” was wagon makers at 1500 and 1506 Market Streets employing 50 hands.  In 1895, the successors to the “Donaldson, Lewis & Co.”, the “Donaldson Carriage Co.” were listed as builders of fine carriages and wagons.

In 1870, “David Kull, Jr. & Co.” at 2110 Main Street was making carriages, phaetons, buggies, surreys, delivery wagons, road carts and ice wagons.  ‘Repairing promptly attended to’, and expanding to 2108, 2110 and 2112 Main Street in 1886.

In 1872, “Jacob F. Luikert” was a wagon manufacturer at 747 Market Street.

In 1878, “John L. Kimmins” began the manufacture of carriages and wagons on the Nat’l. Road in Elm Grove and in 1884 he sold out to “J.M. McCrudy” who continued the business into 1889 when it was then sold back to “John L. Kimmins” in a new building.

Kimmins Carriages in 1889
Kimmins Carraiges in Elm Grove
John L. Kimmins Wagon & Carriage Shop from the Herb Bierkortte coll.

In 1878, “Louis G. Staib” established a wagon maker’s shop at 3435 Chapline Street.  In 1919, son “William H. Staib” was listed as a wagon maker at 3719 Woods Street into 1919.

In 1879, “J.F. Klopman” was a wagon manufacturer, corner Twenty-Third and Main Street.

In 1879, “William McNabb” was a wagon builder on Twentieth Street.

These following wagon businesses were listed in the 1880s.

In 1880, “Bernard Bach” had a wagon manufacturing business at 15 Twentieth Street.

In 1880, “Wherry & Beltz” (August Beltz) were wagon and carriage manufacturers at 809 Market Street. 

In 1880, “Richard Dolby” was a wagon maker at 137 Main and Second Street.

In 1880, “Conrad Brodrecht” was a wagon maker at 145 Main Street.

In 1880, “Alfred Butts” had a coach and wagon makers shop at the rear of 74 Main Street.

In 1880, “William Cahill” was a coach maker at 110 Market Street with sales at 104 Market Street.

The “Cooper & Dunleavy” wagon maker’s workshop employing a few hands was listed in 1880 at the rear of 15 South Street.

In 1880, “Alpheus Murphy” operated a wagon makers shop at 18 South Street.

In 1880, “Hamilton and Goudy” had a wagon maker business at 301 Market Street.

“William C. Henry” was a wagon manufacturer on the National Road in 1880.

“Jacob Ridemiller” was a wagon manufacturer at 624 Market Street in 1880.

“Mathias Schuetzner” was a wagon manufacturer in Fulton in 1880.

In 1881, “Och & Phillips” (Och, Fritz and Phillips, Walter A.) had a wagon and blacksmith shop at the rear of 2245 Main Street.

“Stein Brothers”, (Miller and Henry) were wagon makers on the National Road in Fulton.  In 1884, to “Stein Brothers & McClusky” wagon makers in Fulton.  The Stein brothers then went with the “W.T. Burt & Co.” as dealers in wagons.

“Standard Axle Manufacturing Co.” organized by Theodore W. Phinney in 1887 was making axles of an improved pattern for wagons, carriages and buggies.

“Christopher Lotz, Sr.” was a wagon maker at Twenty-Second and Market Streets in 1889. In 1872, “John Pfarr & Co.” established in 1840, was sold to the “Hook, Schrader & Lotz”, (Hook, George, Schrader, C.F.W. and Lotz, F.) carriage and buggy manufacturers at 937 Market Street, and then in 1882, it became the “Lotz & Elig Company” (Lotz, F. and Elig, Charles J.) lasting to 1893 when it became the “Charles J. Elig Carriage Company”.  Elig erected the six-story building on Tenth Street, facing Market Street in 1896.  Their plant and lumberyard employed 25 people building phaetons, depot-wagons and box buggies.  The sales territory is unlimited. [4]  Charles is the son of Adam Elig, a Wheeling grocer.

In 1897, the City of Wheeling got its First Ambulance. In 1897, Samuel Bloch, Bloch Bros. Tobacco donated an ambulance to the city of Wheeling.  It was horse-drawn and the reason for the gift was later explained by the donor, who said, “I was standing on the street in the upper Market Square, when and accident happened.  A man was struck-down and his lower limb was badly crushed.  There was much delay in having proper relief and the poor man suffered unnecessary agony.  Just at that moment it occurred to me that Wheeling needed and ambulance.”  Later on, he gave another ambulance and the specially fitted carriages built by Charles J. Elig were given the names of his two daughters, ‘Madelyn’ and ‘Dorothy’. [5]

In 1919, “Center Wagon Works” was doing wagon manufacturing at 19 Twenty-Third Street.

In 1919, “Morgen Carriage Co.” was at No. 6 Twenty-Third Street.

In 1919, “Charles H. Seabright” was a carriage manufacturer doing carriage trimming at 4145 Woods Street.

In 1920, “William B. Walters” was a carriage manufacturer at 38 Twenty-Fourth Street.

“Wheeling Bent Works” (Dobbs & Kissinger) at Eighteenth Street between Chapline and Eoff Streets in business from 1873 supplied many of the wagon and coach makers with every type of bentwood and had a wareroom in Pittsburgh where much of their manufacture ships. [6]

Wagon Dealers

“William R. Dudley” farm implements, buggies, wagons and seeds on the corner of Twentieth and Market Streets, widely shipping his inventory over the tri-state area.

Listed from the 1860s,“Pryor, Boyd & Co.” A Dealer in ‘Studebaker’ farm and spring wagons, (the standard of the country), mowers and reapers, steel tooth and revolving hay rakes, horse hay forks, plows and plow castings, pumps and churns, horse yokes, grass and garden seeds, clothes wringers, hay and fodder cutters, corn shellers, cider mills, grain drills, Wheeling, W. Va.  Shipped This Day Feb. 20, 1877.

“R.K. Giffen & Co.” wholesale dealers in agricultural implements, shays, wagons, buggies, carts, pumps, seeders, buckeye mowers, reapers and binders, bone meal at 1520 Main Street.  Shipped by Express Sep. 26, 1892.

“W.T. Burt & Co.” (Burt, W.T., Stein, Miller and Stein, Henry) wholesale wagon and blacksmiths’ supplies from 1895 at 1313 Main Street.

“Wheeling Axle Co.” at 2700 Main Street. “John Knote” coach and leather varnish, buggy bows, hubs, spokes, fellows, carriage and tire bolts, malleable irons, patent and Enamelled leather (Leatheroid), and everything used by the trade, to which I invite the attention of the public at 153 Main Street.

[1]  Source: Brant & Fuller, History of the Upper Ohio Valley, Vols.  I and II.  Madison, Wis. 1890 Pg. 270

[2] The Wheeling Bridge Case.

[3] Source: Bowman, John, Bills of Lading Freight on Board Wheeling, West Virginia 2012

[4] Source: Cranmer, Hon. Gibson Lamb, History of Wheeling City and Ohio County, West Virginia and Representative Citizens, Biographical Publishing Co., Chicago, Ill.1902 Pgs. 349, 461, 658 

[5]  Source: Wheeling News Register, September 23, 1990

[6] Source: Newton, J.H. Editor, Nichols, G.G., Sprankle, A.G. History of the Pan-Handle, Being Historical Collections of the Counties of Ohio, Brooke, Marshall and Hancock, West Virginia J.A. Caldwell, Wheeling, W.Va. 1879 Pgs. 245, 380

Wagon & Coach Manufactories and Dealers shipped

The cable wire used in the Nashville Suspension bridge in 1850

Buckeye’ mowers

‘Horse-shoe’ brand wagons

‘Studebaker’ farm and spring wagons

‘Wheeling Ambulance’

Axles for carriage and buggy

Bentwood of every type  

Box buggies


Carriage trimming




Cider mills


Corn shellers

Delivery wagons



Elliptic spring wagons

Farm implements

Grain drills

Hay and fodder cutters

Hay binders

Horse hayforks

Horse yokes

Ice wagons



Plantation wagons

Plows and plow castings



Revolving hay rakes,

Road carts

Road wagons


Steel tooth rakes


Timber wheels

Wheelbarrows Wood spoke wheels

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