Founded by two British brothers Charles W.
and Benjamin J.
Fox, the firm was founded to manufacture wooden furniture and fireplace
Automobile bodies were added to the mix in 1908-1909, its customers
Ford Motor Co. and other Detroit-based automakers. The management of
was also involved in three other Detroit-based body builders: Kelsey,
Co., Kelsey Wheel Co. and the Herbert Mfg. Co.
Charles Westfield Fox was born in England on
1860. Following his 1867 emigration to Schömberg, Ontario, Canada, he
enrolled in the public schoolhouse after which he was apprenticed to a
cabinet-maker and millwright after which he relocated to Duluth,
where he spent four years building sawmills and grain elevators (likely
Consolidated Elevator Co.). Fox moved to Detroit in November
where he took a job as superintendent and designer for Gray & Baffy
- Messrs. Alfred A. Gray and Eugene Baffy
- manufacturers of Lounges, Mattresses and Parlor Furniture at 98-102
Congress St. W.
Fox married Mary Bell Shaver but the union
as she died in childbirth, although her infant daughter survived.
Charles remarried to Nina Hague (b.1878 in Mich.) and to the blessed
born two children, Nina V. (b. 1907) and Charles Westfield Fox jr. (b.
In 1892 Fox entered into a partnership with
R. C. McClure
and his younger brother, Benjamin, as Fox Brothers & Company,
of special furniture and wood mantels.
Benjamin J. Fox was born in Schömberg,
Ontario, Canada in
1869. After a career and education that mirrored his brother’s, he
sibling in Detroit in the late 1880s. He married Loretta M. (b. 1873 in
and to the blessed union were born 4children; Lillie P.(b. 1897);
1901); Loretta P. (b. 1905); and William E. (b. 1911) Fox.
The 1898 edition of the annual Michigan
Bureau of Labor and
Industrial Statistics Report lists Fox Bros. & Co., Detroit, mfrs.
mantels, as having a staff of 30 male employees; avg. monthly payroll
The February 1904 issue of The Wood Worker
announced the firm's first incorporation:
“Fox Bros. & Co., Detroit, Mich. have
the purpose of manufacturing wood mantels, furniture and interior wood
finishings; Capital $26,000.”
The firm's lsiting in the 1907 Polk Directory
“Fox Bros. & Co., C.W.
Fox, ;pres; R.C.
McClure, vice pres.; B.J. Fox, sec. and treas.; wood mantel mnfrs.,
The August 1907 issue of Barrel & Box
announed the firm was construcing a new plant in Windsor:
“Fox Bros. Ltd., manufacturers of wood and
Windsor, Ont., are erecting a new plant. The building will be 40x130
stories high with basement, constructed as nearly fireproof as
all modern conveniences, be equipped with a sprinkler system.”
An article in the April 1910 issue of
Mantel, Tile &
Grate Monthly reveals that the Fox Bros. took in an additional partner
“Three years ago Vic Vollbracht became a
partner of Fox
Bros. & Co., Detroit. Mich., and eighteen months ago severed
connection with the Detroit firm and became Vice President of
Bros. & Co. at Windsor. Ontario. Since that time he has
entire time to developing the Canadian field. Mr. Vollbracht is not
authority on designs in Wood Mantels, but he is also one of the most
gentlemen to meet in a social way.”
The 1909 edition of the annual Michigan
Bureau of Labor and
Industrial Statistics Report lists Fox Bros. & Co., Detroit, mfrs.
mantels, as having a staff of 36 male employees, 2 female, for a total
The March 1910 issue of Mantel, Tile &
recorded Fox Bros’ withdrawal from the mantel business, their line
purchased by C.D. Widman, a cousin of automobile body constructor, J.C.
“AN ANNOUNCEMENT - Fox Brothers & Co. of
have discontinued the manufacture of Wood Mantels and their business
taken over by C.D. Widman & Co. of the same city, who are
Furniture and Mirrors. The membership of Fox Bros. & Co. in the
Manufacturers Credit Association will be transferred to the new
new firm promises prompt shipments fair prices and good treatment.”
In early 1912 Charles W. Fox took a short
the family business to oversee the manufacture of the Hupp-Yeats
electric car produced by Robert Craig Hupp's R.C.H. Co., the March
14, 1912 issue
of Motor World reporting:
“C.W. Fox has been made general manager of
the Hupp Yeats
electric car department of the R-C-H Corporation in Detroit. Fox, who
of the firm of Fox Bros. & Co., body builders, will retain his
that firm and devote a part of his time to it.”
Fox’s involvement with R-C-H may be directly
related to the firm's
lease of a Herbert Mfg. Co., plant, as he was vice-president of the
concern. The March 25, 1912 issue of the Automobile Journal reporting:
“NEW HUPP-YEATS FACTORY.
“In order to care for the steadily
increasing demand for the
Hupp-Yeats electric cars, it has been found necessary to provide a much
factory, and the buildings in Detroit, formerly occupied by
Herbert Manufacturing Company, have been leased for the future home of
car. The Hupp-Yeats has been constructed in the plant of the R-C-H
on Lycaste street, Detroit, the new R-C-H gasoline car also
manufactured in this plant. Although several buildings have been added
the past six months, the growing requirements of the business in
with the two machines made a change imperative.
“Establishing the Hupp-Yeats in new and
quarters not only will permit of a greatly increased output of electric
but the space gained at the R-C-H plant will enable the R-C-H
increase its output of gasoline machines over 50 per cent. One of the
features in connection with the change, is the association of C. W. Fox
the Hupp-Yeats interests. Mr. Fox is widely known throughout the
because of his connection with Fox Bros. & Co., occupying
number of years a foremost position in the construction of automobile
He will devote a large part of his time to the production of Hupp-Yeats
electrics, although he will retain his interests with the body building
“There will be no change in the distribution
Hupp-Yeats, and as heretofore, the car will be sold through the R-C-H
Corporation's branches and dealers.”
Unfortunately for all the parties involved
the R-C-H Co. began
experiencing financial difficulties during October of 1912 and within
the year was
bankrupt, with the Herbert Mfg. Co. listed as one of its chief
creditors at $218,988.
The November 29, 1913 issue of Automobile Topics reported:
“NEW BIDS ENTERED FOR R-C-H ASSETS
“Detroit and New York Men Appear at
Creditors' Meeting and
Raise Harris Brothers' Bid—Lively Fight for Control Now Expected.
“Because of the eleventh hour appearance of
new bidders for
the assets of the bankrupt R-C-H Corporation, of Detroit, on
of this week, affairs took a sudden turn, and the seemingly
"cut-and-dried" sale to the Harris Brothers, of Chicago, was held up,
pending further developments. When the creditors assembled before the
in bankruptcy, Lee E. Joslyn, on Monday, the business of the day was
acceptance and confirmation of the bid of the Harris Brothers,
$240,000, exclusive of $28,400 in liabilities which must be paid by the
purchaser. To the surprise of the assembled creditors, however,
of another group appeared with a more favorable proposition, offering
exclusive of the guarantees. The solitary representative of Harris
present at the meeting did not have the necessary authority to raise
the bid on
his own responsibility, and the meeting was adjourned for a few days,
in order to
give the referee and the creditors time to think matters over, as well
give Harris Brothers an opportunity to raise their bid.
“With the appearance of a new bidder in the
prospects for the unsigned creditors grow a little brighter, and it
surprise those on the "inside" if the fight for control between the
new bidders and Harris Brothers boosted the bid to well above $300,000.
interests so far revealed behind the new bidders are the Lincoln Real
Co., Frank Brothers Iron & Metal Co., and Benjamin B. Jacob,
of Detroit, and C. J. O'Hara and Theodore Friedburg, of New
“About 200 or more creditors will derive no
whatever from the sale, as they signed off all claims in order that the
might be saved from a bankruptcy sale and continued as a working
These creditors claims amount to $1,442,512.66. The Firestone Tire
Co. will lose $113,890, the Goodyear Tire Co., of Akron, O., $144,384,
the Herbert Manufacturing Co., of Detroit, $218,988.
the three companies to lose the biggest sums, while creditors who had
off lost from 50 cents up, the majority of them losing over $5,000.
“Unsigned creditors' claims amount to
claims amount to $9,518.61 and the receivers now have on hand $118,000
from sales made since the concern has been in the hands of the
Unsecured claims which include both the creditors who signed off and
did not sign off, amount to $1,687,663.47, and the total liabilities
“The assets were at the time the petition
$1,346,582, but have changed, probably for less because of about
of stock being sold by the receivers.”
With no automobile production to manage,
Charles W. Fox
assumed control of the automobile body divisions of the Herbert Mfg.
Wheel Co.’s. As early as 1892 Fox had been associated with Kelsey as a
stockholder and director, and was instrumental in the acquisition of
Herbert Mfg. Co. which merged with the Kelsey Co. in 1916-1917.
During the interim his brother Benjamin
remained in charge
of Fox Bros. Detroit body building operations, adding trailers to the
line in 1916, the November 2, 1916 issue of Motor Age reporting:
“Fox Bros. & Co. report
200 trailers to date and to have a capacity of five per day. The
trailer is a
two-wheel design, intended for attachment to passenger cars. It has a
of 1,200 pounds.”
For a number of years they also operated a
Fox Bros. & Co., Ltd., across the Detroit River in Windsor,
Canada. It appears that both firms bearing the Fox surname discontinued
operations sometime during the First World War after which Benjamin
Kelsey Wheel Co. where his brother Charles was now serving as
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