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Geneva Body Co.
Geneva Carriage Co., 1891-1894; Geneva Wagon Co., 1894-1920; Geneva Body Co., 1920-1939; Geneva, New York (aka Geneva Wagon Works)
 
Associated Builders
Hercules-Campbell; Mid-State Body Co.
     

The Geneva Carriage Co. was formed in 1891 and reorganized in 1894 as the Geneva Wagon Works. It became the Geneva Body Co. during the late 1920s and until it was purchased by Robert Campbell and relocated to Waterloo, New York where it was incorporated into the Mid-State Body Co. 

The Geneva Carriage Co. was formed by two experienced carriage builders and designers named Charles A. Eddy and William N. Morrell. 

Eddy was born in the Chenango County town of Smithville, New York on August 26, 1854. He learned the carriage-building trade as an apprenticeship at the shops of a Chenango County builder named McDonough, and once a journeyman he worked for a number of builders finally settling in Seneca Falls, New York in 1885 as superintendent of the Seneca Falls Carriage Co. 

Morrell was born in Ripon, Yorkshire, England, on February 17, 1850. He learned the carriage manufacturing trade with his father, and came to the United States in 1869, locating in Rochester, New York where he worked for the Cunningham Carriage Co. He returned to England in 1875, and following a 4-year hiatus returned to the Cunningham Co. in 1879. 

Morrell was a partner in the Waterloo Wagon Co. of Waterloo, New York. The history of Waterloo can be traced to William L. Pikeís first firm, the Tully, New York wagon builders Pike, Smith & Walsh. Pike & Walsh eventually succeeded the older firm and in 1881, moved their operation to the Seneca County village of Waterloo, New York.

At the end of the decade Morrell became acquainted with Charles A Eddy, the superintendent of the Seneca Falls Carriage Co. and the pair set about designing an iron arch for cut under wagons for which they were awarded patent #412778 on October 15, 1889.  

Morrell suggested that the pair start a new firm to take advantage of their new invention and on April 7, 1891 the Geneva Carriage Co was incorporated with a capital of $30,000, which later increased to $50,000. The firmís officers were: O.J.C. Rose, president; Millard F. Blaine, secretary, treasurer, and general manager. The directors included: Rose, Blaine, Eddy, Morrell and E.N. Squires.  

Eddy became the firmís superintendent while Morrell split his time between his operations in Waterloo and Geneva. In December, 1891 Eddy and Morrell were awarded another patent for a new and improved coach gear, or fore carriage, which were included in the firmís advertising which prominently displayed Morrell & Eddy's patent cut-under wagon.

Their first factory was located adjacent to the railroad on Exchange St. but in March 1893, they took over the much larger Pierce, Butler & Pierce building on Middle St. In 1894, the firm was re-incorporated as the Geneva Wagon Co. to reflect the firmís new product line which consisted of light and medium express wagons, panel top delivery wagons, ambulances and wagonettes.

A single gasoline-powered road wagon was built in 1899, but the firm devoted its efforts to the horse-drawn trade for the next decade. In 1910, the firm finally started to manufacture their own assembled light truck chassis. The Geneva truck featured a 96Ē wheelbase in a choice of payloads - Ĺ- or ĺ-ton - all powered by a 2-cylinder Beaver gas engine with a planetary transmission delivering power to the rear wheels via double-chain drive.

The firmís president, Oswald J.C. Rose (1852-1914), was a graduate of Hobart College, and a founding partner in the Dorchester & Rose Hardware Store at 12-14 Seneca St., Geneva which was formed in 1874. At the time of his death, Rose was also a director of the Fay & Bowen Engine Co., the Geneva Cutlery Co. and Vice-president of the New York Central Iron Works and Geneva National Bank. 

Born in 1849, Millard F. Blaine graduated from the University of Michigan law school in 1879. He practiced in Rockford, Illinois until he was hired as manager of the Union Needle Co. of Middleboro, Massachusetts in 1880. He became manager of Genevaís Kirkwood Hotel in 1884, and helped organize the Geneva Carriage Co. in 1891. Following the death of O.J.C. Rose, Blaine became its president and largest stockholder. His son C.G. Blaine became Vice President and R.M. Johnson, the firmís secretary≠manager. 

In 1920, a Geneva automobile joined the firmís light trucks. Priced at $2300, the assembled touring car rode on a large 139Ē wheelbase powered by a 6-cylinder Herschell-Spillman engine mated to a 4-speed trans≠mission that delivered power to the rear wheels using a floating rear axle. 

Unfortunately, the Geneva Six found very few buyers and within the year, the firm ceased motor vehicle manufacturing, and was reorganized as the Geneva Body Co. Early catalogs offered a large variety of light commercial bodies including depot hack, jitney and suburban bodies for the Ford Model T and TT.

For many years the firm had specialized in enclosed delivery bodies, which were popular with the regions Chevrolet and GMC dealers. This attracted the attention of General Motors and during the late twenties and early thirties, Geneva built production Sedan Delivery bodies for Chevrolet and GMC. The 1929 Chevrolet catalog included a picture of a Geneva-bodied sedan delivery which had a price tag of $595 fob.

They were one of the few body-building firms that survived the Depression, and when its owner died in 1939, Robert Campbellís Mid-State Body Co. purchased the firmís assets and moved its equipment to their Waterloo factory. Some of Geneva Bodyís employees, including its foreman, Henry Mosher, (plus his father and brother) followed the equipment to Geneva where they were hired by Karl Bernhardi, Mid-Stateís plant manager.

© 2004 Mark Theobald - Coachbuilt.com

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References

A Bibliography of the History and Life of Utica - Utica Manufacture and Industry: Willoughby Company pp187

   
 
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