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Burkett Closed Body Co.
Burkett Enclosed Body Co. 1916-1918; Burkett Closed Body Co., 1919-1948; Dayton, Ohio
Associated Builders
Correct Mfg. Co.; Hughes-Keenan Co.

Lee T. Burkett (1881-1965), the firm's namesake, was born on March 4, 1881 in Wayne Township, Randolph County, Indiana to Henry (b. Jan 1832) and Rachel A. Burkett (b. Nov 1846), two Ohio-born farmers. The 1900 census lists Lee's occupation as farm laborer, and it's assumed he worked on his father's farm. Lee T. Burkett's wife, Dollie L., was born in 1884.

The Burkett Enclosed Body Co., 2807 W. 3rd St., Dayton, was listed in the 1918 edition of Directory of Ohio Manufacturers under carriage manufacturers.

1919 State of Ohio New Incorporations- Burkett Closed Body Co., Dayton, $15,000. Lee T. Burkett, William Fetters, Charles M. Feldmaier, Albert M. Muma, Dollie L. Burkett.

A small news item dated 1925 follows:

"Burkett Closed Body Co., Dayton, O., manufacturer of automobile bodies, has acquired unit No. 5 of the former plant of the Davis Sewing Machine Co., Dayton, consisting of 71,000 square feet. The purchase will enable the company to triple its present production."

The Davis Sewing Machine Company sold most of their machines through the Sears Roebuck catalog and are better known as a bicycle manufacturer today.  Among their more popular brands was the Harley-Davidson, which were offered by Harley-Davidson dealers from 1916-1922. By 1923 Davis' core products were no longer desired by the American consumer and the firm went bankrupt in 1924.

According to a 1926 advertisement in the SAE Journal, Burkett utilized the Petrie heating systems in its bus bodies. A 1929 issue of Power Magazine contained a small item indicating that the firm was raising capital in order to build a new plant:

"O., Dayton — BODY FACTORY — Burkett Closed Body Co., Master Ave., plans the construction of a 1 story factory for the manufacture of truck and bus bodies on North Dayton St. Estimated cost $200,000."

Unfortunately the collapse of the stock market later that year forced the firm to look for existing structures, and suitable space was leased at 102 S. Clinton St., a four-story brick building that was once part of the massive Barney & Smith Car Co. (1849-1921), a well-known rail and street car manufacturer that once occupied an entire city block of Dayton bordered by S. Clinton, Bacon, and Keowee Sts.

The plant was well-suited to the production of bus bodies which soon became a specialty of the firm. In 1932 the built a series of 30-passenger school buses for Dayton's Centralized School District.

Burkett also produced wooden bodies for International’s 1934-36 C-1 based suburban station wagons whose production was shared with Baker-Raulang and the M.P. Moller Motor Car Co. It is believed that the wood bodies for the similarly styled 1937-1938 International D2 Suburbans were built by M.P. Moller, Cantrell and Hercules, and not furnished by Burkett or Baker-Raulang.

The November 2, 1947 Lima (OH) News announced the merger of the firm with two central Ohio manufacturers:


"COLUMBUS, Nov. 1 (AP)—Formation of the Hughes-Keenan Corp.. with principal offices in Delaware, O., today received approval of the secretary of state, combining the Hughes-Keenan Co., of Mansfield, the Correct Manufacturing Co. of Delaware, and the Burkett Closed Body Co., of Dayton."

"The address of the Hughes-Keenan Corporation, beginning November 15, will be Delaware, Ohio. The move will bring together two of the firm's three divisions — the Correct Manufacturing Company and Hughes-Keenan. The third division, the Burkett Body Company of Dayton, Ohio, is scheduled for movement later."

Although it was announced that Burkett was relocating to Delaware, Ohio, I could locate no concrete evidence that such a move actually occurred. It's possible that that Glenn W. Way, the man behind the Hughes-Keenan / Correct Mfg. merger, merely purchased the firm's equipment and relocated it to his Delaware, Ohio factory where he had just undertaken a contract to manufacture bodies for the Ford-based Vannete route delivery truck. Whatever happened, it's clear that Lee T. Burkett retired withdrew from business sometime between 1948 and 1950.

Burkett's last factory, located at the corner of S Clinton and Bacons Sts., is still standing today and serves as the home of Dayton Mailing Services.

© 2004 Mark Theobald -






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