Batavia Body Co. - 1931-1973 - Batavia, Illinois


Batavia Body Company Batavia, Ill - beverage truck bodies 1930s - Batavia Body Company

Batavia Body Company was founded in 1852 as the Newton Wagon Works. The Newton Wagon Company originated in Alexander, New York in 1838 by Levi Newton. When that factory was destroyed by fire in 1854, Levi Newton, its owner, brought his family to Batavia. He built a shop to make farm wagons on land where wheat had grown and which became the center of the village. The first year he manufactured seventy-two farm wagons. By 1887, it was one of the largest wagon factories in the United States, making 5,000 farm wagons a year. Newton wagons were sold all over the country.

D.C. Newton was made President of the Newton Wagon Manufacturing Co. on the death of his father, Levi Newton, who had been President since its organization and the Capt. held this position until his death in 1893; he was also President of the First National Bank of Batavia. D.C.'s four children did no survive him and control of the firm reverted to his widow.

The Newton family sold their business to the Emerson-Brantingham Company in August of 1912. The Emerson-Brantingham Company of Rockford, Illinois was on a buying spree and also purchased the Pontiac Buggy Company at the same time.

By the 1920s, Emerson-Brantingham had added automobile bodies and fenders to the products built by the former Newton Wagon Works. In 1931, it became the Batavia Body Company, which made refrigerated truck bodies. These buildings were torn down in 1978 to make way for two strip malls along North Island Avenue.  In the 1920s (error should be 1912) the company was merged into the Emerson-Brantingham Company that produced a complete line of farm implements and associated equipment and was listed on the New York Stock Exchange. During the depression, Emerson-Brantingham ran into difficulties and was purchased by J.I. Case of Racine, Wisconsin in November of 1928. As J.I.Case was only interested in the farm implement portion of the Emerson-Brantingham firm, they sold the former Newton Wagon plant to some local Batavia residents and former Newton Wagon Co. stockholders in 1931.

Fox Valley residents who were stockholders arranged for the separation of the local company from Emerson-Brantingham/J.I. Case in 1931.  Established as an individual entity, the company was given the name Batavia Body Company in 1937. During this same time, the company became engaged in the building of wagons used for the hauling of milk. They were cooled by cake ice and insulated with cork.

In the 1930s, Batavia applied new developments of mechanical refrigeration to the first building of a compressor cooled milk transporting vehicle. This established Batavia as a leader in a new and rapidly expanding field-refrigerated truck bodies.  By the 1960s, insulated and refrigerated equipment was the only product manufactured by the factory located in downtown Batavia. Among the company's customers were Dean Food Company, the Borden Company, Bresler Ice Cream, and Ekrich Meats. In 1955, the company was purchased by the American Gage and Machine Company of Elgin and continued manufacturing refrigerated truck bodies. Batavia Body Company ceased operations on June 29, 1973. The buildings were razed to make room for a strip mall.



Capt. D.C. Newton - An Old and Highly Esteemed Batavia Citizen Passes Away

The Batavia Herald - Published October 12, 1893

After a brief illness of ten days, he Answers the Messenger's call.

Batavia Looses One of Her Able Financiers and Prosperous Business Men

Died, at his home in Batavia, ILL., Sunday morning, Oct. 8th, 1893, Capt. D.C. Newton, of Diabetes, after a brief illness of 10 days, aged 61 years.

It was with a feeling of profound regret and surprise, that the citizens of Batavia learned, Sunday morning, of the sudden death of Capt. D.C. Newton. It was indeed hard to realize that one who had been so active in our business circles, for so many years, had been called from our midst, so soon, to answer the great summons. Only a few days ago, Mr. Newton returned from Chicago, where he had been spending a week at the World's Fair, with his family and eastern friends, and but a short time afterwards was taken to his bed, where he suffered intense pain, for ten day's, but was released by death, Sunday morning.

Capt. D.C. Newton has made his mark in this busy active world, that will remain many years to come. He was a persevering, self-made man.

Deceased was the oldest of the children of Levi and Rachael (Cooley) Newton, born in Alexander, New York, August 26th, 1832. He attended the common schools of that vicinity and was a pupil in the Alexander Academy in his native state, and then became a student in Allegheny College, Meadville, Penn. He had laid the foundations of a ripe scholastic education. In the meantime, in vacations, and when not in school, he was in his father's shops, gaining his first ideas of the business in the factory that was to occupy his entire time and talents in mature life. There were combined in him natural talents for operating machinery and the financial affairs of his father, and make him unite the practical with the theoretical lessons of the school room. Soon after finishing his school work, he was admitted to a partnership with his father, and with him suffered in the loss by fire of their factory and contents, in 1854, the work and savings of years being swept away - a total loss from the fact that the insurance co., never paid a dollar on its policy. At the time of the destruction of their factory, D.C. was not yet 22 years of age. The Newton family then, in 1854, came to Illinois and were attracted to Batavia were attracted to Batavia by the magnificent hard wood timber in the Big Woods that Iay along the East side of Fox River and the splendid water power of that stream, to be used in furnishing power for their factory. Father and son continued their relation of partners, and at once set about retrieving their fortunes, but they had to commence in rather a small way, to carry on the work, their chief capital being their knowledge of working in wood and iron, and their own strong and willing hands to do the work. For some time it was slow progress: they had not only to manufacture their goods, but to make a market and build up a trade that would extend beyond the confines of the small vicinity. Month by month they worked and struggled along, constantly adding every new appliance of machinery that their means would permit of in the development of their factory. And thus the small shop has grown to be the very successful Wagon Factory, now one of the most extensive int he State of Illinois. D.C. Newton was made President of the Newton Wagon Manufacturing Co. on the death of his father, Levi Newton, who had been President since its organization and the eh Capt. held this position up to the time of his death; he was also President of the First National Bank of Batavia.

At the braking out of the great Rebellion, Capt. Newton laid aside his business affairs, helping
to organize the 52 Regiment, Illinois Infantry and gave unhesitatingly, his best energies to the cause of the Union. He was elected Lieutenant of Company D, 52 Regiment Illinois Infantry. In December of the same year, he was promoted to Captain of his Company. He was actively engaged in the service during his three years term, and was mustered out at Savannah, Ga., in Dec., 1864, having participated in the battles commencing at Fort Donelson, Shiloh, siege and battle of Corinth, Luka, the marches and battles from Chattanooga to Atlanta, and the Grand march with Sherman to the Sea. At the close of the War he returned to Batavia and resumed his business interests, which he has continued up to the time of his death.

October 27, 1853, D.C. Newton and Miss Mary M. Prindle were united in marriage at Bennington, N. Y., of which State she is a native. To this union were born four children, all of whom have died and Mrs. Newton is left to mourn the sad demise of her husband.

Capt. Newton and wife have traveled extensively in Europe. and in the elegant home are evidences of taste and refinement in rare articles, found in the course of their travels, purchased and brought to adorn their pleasant home on Batavia Avenue. While traveling through Southern France, Mr. Newton's attention was drawn to various Churches of rare construction, and very attractively built, the walls being entirely of boulders. The impression lingered in his mind, and after his arrival home, he at times would notice the boulders scattered about the country. The idea eventuated into the magnificent M. E. Church of this city on Batavia Avenue, opposite the residence of the departed. It was built by Capt. Newton and the late
E.H. Gammon and presented to the Society. This church will long remain the most unique and elegant in the Valley, and will endure as a permanent monument to the memory, taste and munificence of its buiIders. Its line of architecture are new and striking, the material, and the solidity and strength of its walls, will keep it in its perfection through the coming centuries.

The funeral took place at the First M.E. church. Tuesday afternoon at 2 o'clock, and was very largely attended. Many being present from Evanston and Chicago. The G.A.R. and employees of the Newton Wagon Works attended in a body. The church was beautifully decorated with cut flowers, tokens of friends, and made a lovely appearance, as the remains were viewed by hundreds, as they lay in state, for one hour before the services began. We noticed among the floral pieces, a large pillow from the Loyal Legion, of Chicago, A Sheave and Sickle, from the office employees of the Newton Wagon Co., a Wreath with the word, "Grandpa," master Carl Moore. Rev. N.O. Freeman, of Ottawa, a former pastor and friend of the departed, conducted the service, assisted by Rev. A.M. White, and paid a fine eulogy to the memory of the deceased. A quartette consisting of W.H. Gregg, H.E. Crankshaw, Mrs. E.W. McCullough and Miss Lina Alexander, furnished appropriate music. The remains were laid to rest in the West Side Cemetery.

The sorrow stricken wife and mother have the heart-felt sympathies of the entire community, in this, their hour of bereavement.



J. H. Manny & Co.


Manny & Co.


Talcott, Emerson, & Co.


Emerson & Co.


Emerson & Talcott


Emerson Mfg. Co.


Emerson-Brantingham Co.



November 1928



(Incorporated 1909)

Pontiac Buggy Co.

(Pontiac, MI) August, 1912

La Crosse Hay Tool Co.

(Chicago Heights, IL) April, 1912

Reeves and Company

(Columbus, IN) August, 1912

Geiser Manufacturing Co.

(Waynesboro, PA) August, 1912

Rockford Gas Engine Works

(Rockford, IL) August, 1912

Gas Traction Co. (Big-4)

(Minneapolis, MN) August, 1912

Newton Wagon Co.

(Batavia, IL) August, 1912



For more information please read:

Batavia Body Company

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