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Hackney Bros. Body Co., Hackney Wagon Co., Hackney Brothers & Simpson, W.N. Hackney & Son, Washington Buggy Co., J.A. Hackney & Sons
Parker and Hackney, 1852-1856; Parker and Murray, 1856-1865; Parker, Murray, & Co.,1865-1871; Hackney & Murray, 1871-1879; Hackney, Nurney & Co., 1879-1881; W.N. Hackney & Son, 1881-1886; Hackney Bros., 1886-1890; Hackney Bros. & Simpson, 1890-1893; Hackney Bros., 1893-1920; Hackney Wagon Co., 1903-1935; Hackney Wagon Co., Inc., 1935-1943; Hackney Bros., Inc., 1920-1928; Hackney Bros. Body Co., 1928-1996; Wilson, N.C.; Hackney Bros. Body Co., 1977-1993; Fayetteville, Arkansas.

Hackney Bros. Carriage Co., 1875-1890; T.J. Hackney & Co. 1877-1914; Rocky Mount, North Carolina.

Washington Buggy Co., 1911-1913;
Washington Buggy Co., Inc., 1913- 1925; J.A. Hackney & Son, J.A. Hackney & Sons, (aka Hackney Industries), 1946-1990; Hackney & Sons division of Transportation Technology, Inc. (TTI), 1990-2005; Hackney & Sons division of VT Hackney, a subsidiary of VT Systems, 2005-present; Washington, North Carolina; Hackney & Sons, Midwest, 1972-1990; Hackney & Sons Midwest div. of TTI, 1990-2005; Hackney & Sons Midwest div. of VT Hackney, a subsidiary of VT Systems, 2005-present; Independence, Kansas
Associated Firms
Kidron, Inc; Kidron, Ohio

“The Recollection of Quality Remains Long After the Price is Forgotten”

The preceding moto and the history of a half dozen North Carolina vehicle manufacturers utilizing the surname Hackney can be traced to an enterprising native North Carolinian named Willis N. Hackney (b. Jan. 26, 1823 – d. Dec. 6, 1886).

It's very likely that Willis was a direct descendant of Joseph and Elizabeth (Jennings) Hackney, a wealthy merchant in London, England. Two of their sons - -Samuel and John - immigrated to Burlington County, NJ where their maternal grandfather, Samuel Jennings had a presence. Samuel Hackney (ca. 1678-1762) was known to have 2 sons and 3 daughters in Burlington, NJ, and is reported to have purchased land in North Carolina before returning to England, where he died. After moving to North Carolina, the sons, Jennings (ca. 1702-1765) and William (ca. 1702-1762) Hackney lived in Edgecombe and Halifax Counties. Subsequent mebers of the Hackney family passed the 'Jennings' surname down through each generation, creating a lasting link to their past.

Willis Napoleon Hackney was born January 26, 1823 in Nash County, North Carolina to Jennings (b. Nov. 10, 1784 - d. after 1850*) and Massey (Freeman, b. 1792 - d. 1855) Hackney. Siblings included Eliza Ann (b.1818, m. W.T. Talbot); William D (b. 1828 - d. 1902) and Josephine (b.1828, m. John F. Talbort) Hackney. Jennings Hackney's parents were William (b. 1759 - d .1787)  and Millicent (Foreman  - b.1758) Hackney; William's parents being Jennings (b.1702-d.1765) and Winifred (Walker b. 1703) Hackney.

[*Although one source lists Jennings Hackney's date of death as April 13, 1826; the 1850 US Census shows him very much alive and living with his family (less Willis N. our subject) on a farm in Nash County, North Carolina. The Jennings Hackney who died in 1826 lived in Chatham County (west of Raleigh) - our subject's father lived in Nash County (east of Raleigh).]

Regardless of the date of his father's passing, upon reaching his majority Willis N. Hackney was apprenticed to a Rocky Mount, North Carolina coffin and coach maker named Pomeroy Smith, as evidenced by the 1850 US Census which lists Willis Hackney (23 yo, coach maker) in Rocky Mount, Nash County, North Carolina as a boarder in the household of Pomeroy Smith, a coach maker originally from Connecticut.

On October 7, 1850, Willis married Martha Douglas Turner (b.1823 –d. 1860), daughter of wealthy farmers, Lazarus Turner & Rebecca Freeman of Battleboro, Nash County. To the blessed union were born 6 children: Thomas Jennings Hackney (b. Jun. 17, 1851 - d. Jun. 30, 1914); Infant Hackney (1852 - 1852); George Hackney (b.1854 - b.1948), Infant Hackney (1855 - 1855); Martha Ann Hackney (m. Stevens, b.1856 – d.1891), Willis "Douglas" Hackney (b.1858-d. 1937).

In 1852 Hackney and a fellow employee named Caleb Lee Parker (b. Feb. 13, 1829 - d. Jul. 14, 1870) purchased Pomeroy Clark's coach and wagon business and relocated in 20 miles south to Wilson, North Carolina where they embarked upon the sale, manufacture and repair of wagons and buggiesin the style of Parker & Hackney. In 1856 William Murray was brought into the firm, which was subsequently reorganized as Parker & Murray.

Willis N. Hackney became a widower in 1860 when Martha - his wife of just 10 years - died at age 37. The 1860 US Census lists Willis Hackney’s family in Wilson, N.C. as follows: Willis (37-yo – employed as coach maker); Thomas J. (9-yo); George (6-yo); Martha (4-yo); and Willis D. (2-yo) Hackney.

Also listed as a neighbor is William Murray (29-yo, also listed as a coach maker), and two of Murray's boarders: Thomas Horn (18- yo black smith apprentice) and Redmon Conden (20-yo wheel wright).

In 1863 40-year old Willis married Penelope Dickerson (28 yo., b. 1835 – d. 1872), and they would become parents to 4 children, all of whom died before reaching school age: Mary Hackney (b. 1864 - d. 1864), Johnnie Hackney (b. 1866 – d. 1868) Oscar Hackney (b. 1868 - d. 1871) and Samuel Hackney (b. 1870 - d. 1870).

At the end of the Civil War, the demand for buggies and wagons slowly returned and in 1865 Hackney was made a full partner and the firm name became Parker, Murray & Co.

The 1870 US Census lists Willis N. Hackney’s family as follows: Willis (47-yo – employed as coach maker); Penelope (35 yo); Thomas J. (19-yo, employed in coach shop); George (16-yo, employed in coach shop); Martha (14-yo); Willis D. (12-yo); Mary E. (6-yo); Oscar (2-yo); and Samuel (3-mo) Hackney. Still living next door was his partner, William Murray (listed as a coach maker) and two boarders – William Howe (18-yo) and James Taylor (18-yo) both of which were listed as coach makers apprentices.

Following the death of Caleb Lee Parker in 1870, the firm name was changed to Hackney & Murray. The following year Willis became a charter member of First Christian Church, Disciples of Christ, in Wilson and for the rest of his life contributed generously to the congregation.

In 1872 Penelope (Dickerson) Hackney died at 37, and the following year twice widowed Willis would marry for the third time to Orpha Brown (b.1835 – b.1902) of Jones County. Willis' third marriage would produced two more children: 'infant' (b.1876 –d. 1876) and Orpha Hackney (b.1877-b.1899).

In 1874 Willis' oldest son, Thomas J. Hackney, removed to Rocky Mount and established a satellite buggy- and wagon-building operation there, as well as serving as Mayor of the city, the October 1, 1880 edition of the Wilson Advance reporting:

“Our former townsman, Mr. T.J. Hackney, of Rocky Mount, has been elected mayor of Rocky Mount. We congratulate Mr. Hackney. It alwas pleases us to announce the success of a Wilsonian.”

Hackney's second oldest son, Willis D., eventually became a junior parter in the firm which was reorganized in 1879 as Hackney, Nurney & Co. after Charles N. Nurney (b. 1851 - d. Feb. 1, 1919), a Virginia-born carpenter, bought out William Murray, who established his own carriage works in Wilson. At that time the growing Wilson, N.C. manufacturer was producing a reported 200 buggies and 100 wagons per year.

The 1880 US Census lists Willis Hackney’s family as follows: Willis (57-yo, coach maker); Orpah (45-yo); Willis D. (22-yo, coach maker); Mary E. (16-yo); and Orpah (3-yo) Hackney.

The January 9, 1880 edition of the Wilson Advance included the following news item:

“Read the notice of Hackney, Nurney & Co., offering a reward of $25 for the apprehension of the thief who stole one of their buggies last Monday night.”

In 1881 Charles N. Nurney withdrew from the firm, which commenced operations as W.N. Hackney & Son, the January 7, 1881 edition fo the Wilson Advance announcing the dissolution:


“The firm of Hackney, Nurney & Co., is this day dissolved by mutual consent. All persons  havoing claims against said firm will present them to W.N. Hackney & Son for payments and all indebted to said firm same forward and make immediate payment.


“The business will be conntinued at the old stand on Nash Street by W.N. Hackney & Son, who take this opportunity of thankling their friends and patrons for past favors, and hope by strict attention to business to merit and receive a liberal share of their patronage in the future. W.N. Hackney & Son.”

Nurney established a lumber yard and planing mill in Wilson which for many years supplied the Hackney family businesses with lumber (coincidentally Willis D. Hackney's name was listed as 'informant' on Nurney's 1919 death certificate.)

The July 1, 1881 edition of the Wilson Advance covered the previous day's fire in Rocky Mount which partially destroyed T.J. Hackney's carriage works:

“Fire At Rocky Mount

“The fire-fiend has been at work again. Rocky Mount is this time the scene of its ravages. On Thursdeay night a fire was discovered in th ewarhouse of A.W. Arrington, which contained 250 bales of hay, and 250 bushels of corn, all of which were consumed together with the warehouse. This is the result of the damage sustained by the fire, through several small buildings were torn down to prevent the destruction of Mr. Arrington's store and Hackney's coach factory. Loss estimated at $1,000. No insurance.”

Friday August 29, 1884 edition of the Wilson Advance:

“W.N. Hackney & Son will shortly erect a large three story brick carriage factory on the site where their wooden shops now stand. This is one of Wilson's most successful enterprises, and we gladly note this contemplated improvement by these enrgetic men.”

Willis N. Hackney died Dec. 6, 1886 at age 62. His 3rd wife, Orpha, survived him 16 years, passing in 1902 at age 67.

The December 8, 1886 edition of the Wilson Advance included the following obituary:

“On Tuesday Morning last Wilson lost one of her oldest and most hjighly respected and useful citizens. For several months Mr. Willis N. Hackney has been in poor health and death was no unexpected visitor when he called Mr. Hackney. He was ready to answer the summons without a murmur.

“Mr. Hackney was born in Nash County on the 26th of January, 1823, and was therefore 64 years. 11 months and 6 days old when he died. He moved to Wilson in the winter of 1851-52, when the town was in its infancey - nothing more than a little hamlet. He was industrious and did not shrink from work, and soon after he moved to this place he formed a co-partnership with the late C.L. Parker and since that time, up to a few months ago, has been constantly engaged in the carriage and buggy manufacturing business. He was eminently successful an dsteadily increased his capital until he was worth considerable property. He was successful because he paid attention to business and dealt with the most perfect justice to every man with whom he had business. Mr. Hackney was married three times and leaves a wife and children by each of his three wives.

“Mr. Hackney was a devoted husband, a fond father, a faithful friend and a useful citizen. He was a consistent, conscientious member of the Diciples Church. He has left to his children the heritage of a worthy example and an upright, honorable life, whose purity none will doubt and whose honesty every man who has dealt with him can attest.

“The funeral services over all that was mortal of Mr. Hackney were held at the Disciples Church yesterday evening at 3 o'clock, Rev. M.T. Moye conducting the services. His remains will be interred in Maplewood Cemetary.

"Mr. and Mrs. Thos. Hackney of Rocky Mount, are in town, called her by the death of Mr. Hackney's father.”

Following the death of the family partriarch, George and Willis D. Hackney took over day to day control of the Hackney family's Wilson, North Carolina operations, which were reorganized as Hackney Brothers, the same firm name that their older brother Thomas J. was using for his carriage building operations in Rocky Mount, N.C. Although the two similarly-named firms shared directors and officers they were operated as separate enterprises, and catered to different markets. 

Born on September 19, 1854, in Wilson, North Carolina, the son of Willis Napoleon and Martha Douglas (Turner) Hackney, George Hackney attended the public schools of Wilson after which he enrolled in Horner Military Institute. At the age of eighteen he began learning the carriage trade, and for several years joined his father and brothers as members of the firm Parker, Murray & Company, his part in the business being 'the company.' Subsequently George became head of the wagon manufacturing plant of Hackney & Murray and its successors, Hackney & Son, and following the death of his father joined his brother Willis D. in the formation of Hackney Brothers.On September 15, 1886 George Hackney married Bessie Acra, a native of Gloucester County, Virginia, and to the blessed union was born 7 children: George, Jr;  Thomas J.; James Acra (later sec-treas. of the Washington Buggy Co. and president of Hackney Industries ); John Needham (later associated with Hackney Wagon Co.); Bessie Acra (m. William D. Adams, a wholesale grocer); Lula Roane (m. Harvey B. Ruffin, a member of the Branch Bank Co. of Wilson); and Ella, a graduate of the Atlantic Christian and Mary College. Besides Hackney Bros., George Hackney was president of the Washington Buggy Co. (Washington N.C.) a director of the Hackney Wagon Co., the First National Bank of Wilson, the Wilson Trust and Savings Bank, is vice president of the Dixie Fire Insurance Company at Greensboro, is vice president of the Underwriters Fire Insurance Company of Rocky Mount, North Carolina.

Willis D. Hackney born on March 28, 1858 in Wilson, North Carolina, the son of Willis Napoleon and Martha Douglas (Turner) Hackney, attended the public schools of Wilson after which he enrolled in Horner Military Institute. At the age of eighteen he began learning the trade of carriage trimming  and for several years joined his father and brothers in the firm of Parker, Murray & Company, his part in the business being 'the company.' Subsequently he became associated with the wagon manufacturing plant of Hackney & Murray and its successors, Hackney & Son, and following the death of his father joined his brother George in the formation of Hackney Brothers. On September 5, 1882, Willis D. Hackney married Susan A. Cooper, of Nash County, North Carolina and to the blessed union were born 6 children: Willis N. II (later sec-treas of Hackney Wagon Co.); May Etta (m. Samuel Richardson); Willis Douglas, Jr. (also connected with Hackney Wagon Co.); Martha Douglas; Susie; and Charles N. Hackney.

The January 24, 1889 edition of the Wilson Advance announced that Thomas J. Hackney, the oldest of the three Hackney brothers and head of the firm's Rocky Mount branch, was planning on erecting a 3-story business block of his own in Rocky Mount:

“Rocky Mount is booming with a quite determination that means something. We understand that the business of the bank is just twice what the projectors imagined it woiuld be from the very start. Mr. Hackney will soon commence the erection of a three-story brick block of stores.”

The May 30, 1889 edition of the Wilson Advance states that Willis D. Hackney was exploring business opportunities in Florence, N.C.:

“The enterprising firm of Hackney Bros. have a reputation that is far reaching. Some time since the citizens of Florence, S.C. made then an offer to secure their energy and talent to run a Carriage Factory in that progressive city. Mr. W.D. Hackney is now there for the purpose of conferring with them and seeing what arrangements can thus be made.”

An incendiary fire consumed the Rocky Mount, North Carolina factory of Hackney Bros. on the evening of Monday, February 18, 1890, at 11:00 pm, the February 20, 1890 edition of the Wilson Advance reporting:

“Fire at Rocky Mt.

“About Fifteen Thousand Dollars Worth of Property Destroyed

“The Negroes Carrying Out the Ingalls Idea*

“The news reached Wilson Monday morning that there had been an incendiary fire at Rocky Mount the previous night. On Tuesday and Wednesday the same doleful news was told to our people, and on yesterday the editor of the Advance boarded the train for Rocky Mount to find out the facts.

“Several days since a number of the best white people of that section warned the emigration agents that they must leave Rocky Mount and stay away. They told these men that the negores they were inducing to leave were nearly all under contract for th eyear and that their efforts to secure emigrants was demoralizing the labor of that section and that they would permit them to disorganize labor no longer. There was some little disturubance at that time and one negroe was knocked down. Threats of revenge were heard and subsequent events shows that those threats meant something.

“On Sunday night at about 1 o'clock the alarm of fire was sounded and the people came from their homes and found that Armstrong's warehouse (the repository of the Wilmington Oil Company) was being consumed. No other building was burned that night and the people thought the trouble had ended. This loss was fully covered by insurance.

“On Monday night at about 11 o'clock the alarm sounded again and this time the large carriage works of Hackney Bros. was found to be on fire. The shops (wooden structures) were consumed, as was also the warehouses of Sorsby & Ricks and Muse, Daughtridge & Co., and the livery stables of John Parker. The Methodist Church caught, but was put out. Several small houses in that neighborhood were also burned. Hackney Bros. loss is between $12,00 and $15,000 with not one cent of insurance.

“On Tuesday night so greatly alarmed were the people that a guard of between 75 and 100 armed men patrolled the town. Notwithstanding this at 7 and 8 o'clock the Floral Hall, at the fair grounds, about a half mile from town, was set on fire. It is believed that the object of setting this building on fire was that the people of town might be drawn to the fair grounds so that the devils who perpetrated these crimes might fire the town. The peole - most of them - stayed in town, however, and let Floral Hall burn. This loss was about $1,200, no insurance.

“Some few of the negroes worked manfully at the fires - they deserve to be held in grateful remembrance by the white people of Rocky Mount. The most of the negroes stood by and saw property destroyed and woudl do nothing to help stop the fire or save property. Thje town will be closely guarded at present and every effort will be made to prevent an further trouble.”

[*The 'Ingalls Idea' referred to Libertarian Joshua King Ingalls' ideals of land reform, first published in 1874: “An effective limitation of the right of private property in the soil, and in the crude material gratuitously supplied by Nature—out of which all wealth is developed—must constitute the initial step in any rational solution of the social problem.”]

The March 20, 1890 edition of the Wilson Advance carried the news that Thomas J. Hackney would not rebuild in Rocky Mount and would be resuming business in Wilson:

“Returning To Wilson

“The Rocky Mount correspondent of the Messenger there refers to the movements and future purposes pof Messrs. Hackney Brothers and give the gratifying information that our excellent former  fellow citizen Mr. Thomas Hackney will return here:

“Mr. Thos. Hackney, of the firm, Hackney Bros., of this place and Wilson, who was burned out recently and whose loss was about $12,000, has decided not to rebuild here, but will, at the end of the year, return to Wilson and consolidate the business here. Mr. Hackney has done a fine business here in the manufacture of carriages, etc., for about sixteen years., and in his loss one of her most valued and enterprising citizens.”

After his 1886 passing, Willis N. Hackney’s other two sons, George and Willis D. Hackney, continued to run their father's Wilson, N.C. carriage and wagon business, which was renamed Hackney Bros., the same name used by their older brother's operation in Rocky Mount, which was for all intents and purposes a totally separate firm, albeit with the same name.

The ‘I’m Thinking’ column in the September 28, 1955 edition of the Rocky Mounty Evening Telegram recalled the Hackney Bros. fire that took place in Rocky Mount on February 18, 1890 (The events were originally covered in the February 25, 1890 edition of the Rocky Mount News & Observer):

“On the night of February 18, 1890 the Hackney Brothers Carriage Factory and Wilmington Oil Company Warehouse owned by R.D. Armstrong were burned and the fires were believed to have been set by Negro incendiaries. On the following night the Floral Hall at the Eastern Carolina Fairgrounds was set afire. As a result of these fires excitement among the local citizenry reached a fever pitch.

“The Rev. Elliott White Bumstead, then rector of the Church of the Good Shepherd, kept a diary during his stay in Rocky Mount from 1887-1891. He had the following notation of the above events: ‘On Wednesday Feb. 19, 1890 - owing to the disturbed state of the town, evening service were omitted; Friday, Feb. 21, 1890 – service time changed due to excitement in town over fires.’ The carriage factory stood on the lot across from the Methodist Church. The loss was estimated at $15,000 and the Rocky Mount plant was never rebuilt. Mr. T.J. Hackney was active in Democratic politics and it was though that the Negro Republicans were discouraged at the way politics were turning against them and expressed their resentment in this manner. R.D. Armstrong’s storehouse stood near the present city hall.”

The I’m Thinking column in the January 23, 1962 edition of the Rocky Mount Evening Journal recalled the city’s big fires:

“Fewer than two thousand people composed the population of 1890 but most everybody went to a fire and gave help whenever called upon. The community was very fire loss conscious at the time, for the Hackney Brothers had decided not to rebuild their burned wagon and buggy factory here, but had elected to purchase a competitor with a plant in Wilson, who was retiring from business. With this happening, Messrs. Doug, and John Hackney had moved to Wilson, and only Thomas J. Hackney remained as a resident of Rocky Mount, he operating a hardware store in addition to the distribution for Hackney manufactured articles here. Mr. T.J. Hackney was the 'grandfather of Mrs. Hyman L. Battle and was long identified with the cultural and Industrial growth of this section of the State and identified with many financial undertakings. He was the only one of the sons to remain a resident of Nash county where the family was reared. In later years Mr. Hackney disposed of his hardware business to two younger employees, Messrs. R. R. Gay and Bob Arrington and the firm name was changed to Gay and Arrington and later Mr. Arrington retired and it became Gay's Hardware. The Rocky Mount Mills was the city's largest employer and the Hackney Wagon Co., next at the time of their plant's destruction by fire. Thus the community was very conscious of fire losses.”

The I’m Thinking column of the December 20, 1951 edition of the Rocky Mount Evening Telegram included more details of Thomas J. Hackney's business ventures in their community:

“Recently we recounted the growth of the Hackney wagon and implement enterprises and of how it had its early manufacturing effort in Rocky Mount at the instance of Mr. T.J. Hackney. After the burning of their plant here in the late eighties they moved to Wilson, and a hardware business was undertaken. That firm as a hardware business is still 'going strong’ as Gay's Hardware on almost the identical site of the wagon and buggy manufacturing business, which was located in the vicinity of Howard and Church St. Upon the establishment of the hardware business, a retail farm implement and funeral business was added with large display spaces, and the structure which now cares for the store of Bunting Hardy and Minges and Taylor's department stores was required. The firm known as Hackney Bros., under the management of the late T.J. Hackney continued extensive operations until about the turn of the century when it was sold to two enterprising employees, Mr. Robert R. Gay and Robert (Bob) Arrington. The firm was for upwards of twenty years known as Gay and Arrington and upon Mr. Arrington's retirement, all interests were taken over by the late Robert R. Gay. With the employment of his three nephews, the business passed to them, and is operated today as Gay's Hardware.

“Recently when we were at East Bend, N. C. we were provided an interesting perspective on the wagon and implement business in the State around 1880, for located at that point was the firm of J. G. Huff and Son and their territory was the mountainous expanse in the west of the State. A firm by the name of Tyson Jones was located at Carthage that cared for much of the business in the central part of the State and the W.N. Hackney family as represented by George, Tom and Doug Hackney, all of whom followed in their father's business, on an enlarging scale took care of the East’s needs. “The Hackney Bros. organization still holds forth in Wilson where, its major business is the manufacture of bus bodies, a major portion of them for the school systems in this and other States. It is under the management of George Hackney, a grandson of the founder.”

The August 6, 1890 edition of the Greensboro Patriot (N.C.) mentioned that T.J. Hackney was considering a move to their community:

“Mr. Hackney, of the well-known firm of Hackney Brothers, one of the largest buggy and carriage manufacturing firms oin the South, now located at Wilson and Rocky Mount, was here yesterday looking out a new location for new works.

“It is probable that this firm will remove their plant here early next year. The present capacity of their work is two buggies per day or 700 per year. It they move hgere the capacity will be largely increased.”

The August 7, 1890 edition of the Wilson Advance commented on the preceding article:

“It was with a feeling of alarm and perturbation that we read te above, and at the earliest possible moment we interviewed Mr. Hackney. 'Oh, no.' laughed he. 'The factory here is a fixed institution, so don't disturb yourself . For the proper consideration the shops at Rocky Mount would be moved, and I may have intimated as much during my stay in Greensboro. If so, that is the sole foundation for the statement. I can say, however, that we have tempting inducements offered us by Greensboro, Oxford, Henderson and other points. But why should we leave Wilson? You may say that we are here to stay.'

“This scribe took his departure feeling immensely relieved. There is no citizen of the town who could hear of the departure of Hackney Brothers with a feeling other than of deep regret.”

The December 25, 1890 edition of the Wilson Advance announced that banker William P. Simpson (b. Sep. 30, 1851 - d. Jun. 3, 1896) had purchased an interest in Hackney Bros.:

“W.P. Simpson, formerly bookeeper and general business manager for A. Branch & Co., has recently purchased a large interest in the carriage factory of Hackney Bros. of this place. Additional large buildings will be erected, adding greatly to the present manufacturing capacity so as to meet the increasing demand, for the excellent work which they have beenturning out heretofore and which has added so much to their reputation in this and other States.”

A tour of the Hackney Bros. & Simpson factories appeared in the March 12, 1891 edition of the Wilson Advance:

“A Carriage Factory That Would Be A Credit to Any City

“Messrs. Hackney Bros. & Simpson have bought the lot belonging to Mr. Geo. G. Wainwright on Green street, and will at once erect a brick building on it, enlarging the present immense dimensions of this successful establishment.

“Thinking a few items concerning this important enterprise in our town would be of interest to our readers, the Advance man dropped into their place one day last week and secured the following items

“The business was started her in 1854 by the father of Messrs. Hackney Bros. He knew his business and more than that he knew the public. He believed a good vehicle well made by careful workmen would sell - that it would 'take' well with all classes. Adhereing strictly to this belief he began to lay the foundation of the present business of this firm. At his death his sons, who had been raised up to understand the trade in all its details, continued the business and began to enlarge its scope. With the beginning of the present year Mr. W.P. Simpson bought an interest in the business. The firm now consists of Messrs T.J., Geo. and W.D. Hackney and W.P. Simpson. We found that the present establishment consists of 1 three story brick building, fronting Nash street 85 x 55 feet, and in the rear of this another three story brick building 301 x 120 feet. The first floor of the Nash street building is used as sales-room and office, the second floor as paint and trimming room and the third for priming vehicles and storing material. In the first floor of the seciond building is located the engine and machinery and blacksmith shop. The other are for wood work.

“The new building, now in process of construction on Greene street, will be 50 x 110 feet, three stories, and will be used as a wood, smith and machine shop. In addition to these building they have erected near the Wilson Colegiate Institute a shed 74  x 100 feet in which to store timber. In all they have  nearly an acre of floor space.

“At present 46 hands are on the pay roll, which amounts to something over $325 weekly. This will be increased as soon as the new building is ready. The capacity of the establishment at present is 20 complete buggies per week. Besides this they build a large number of wagons and carts and do a general reparing business.

“A handsomely furnished office, wainscotted and ceiled, will be constructed in the front room of the first floor fronting the Nash street entrance, for the convenience of friends and customers.

“What do they do with so many buggies you ask? Why, the sell them. The demand exceeds the supply. They have orders on file now for all they can make up to the 20th of next May. These buggies are made from material three years old. That is they keep a three year's supply of material on hand all the time.

“They claim for their vehicles that they are made of the best material that can be had, by skilled workmen, are strong, pretty, well-furnished and will gain by comparison with any made in the United States. They give the best satisfaction of any work sold in this country and hence sell readily.

“They carry in stock a full line of harness and saddlery hardware.

“Such in brief is a sketch of the most important of Wilson's enterprises. It is a big thing for Wilson. Most of the workmen are married and have families here. They are good citizens and are glad Wilson is their home. Wilson is proud to claim them. This is no paid writuep up. The editor does it freely and without solicitation. He is simply teeling the story of the success of energy, industry and merit well directed.”

The ‘Cyclopedia of Eminent and Representative Men of the Carolinas’ (pub. 1892) provided the following biography of Willis N. Hackney:

“W. N. Hackney, now deceased, was born in Nash county, N.C. on the 26th of January, 1823. He learned the trade of wheel-wright, and located in Wilson, N.C. in the year 1853. A partnership was formed with Pomeroy Clarke, and they engaged in the manufacturing of wagons and carts. Such was the humble beginning of the present extensive carriage factory operated by Messrs. Hackney Bros. & Simpson. Subsequently Mr. Clarke withdrew, and for several years thereafter the business was continued under the firm name of Hackney & Parker. Mr. Parker becoming associated in business with a Mr. Murray, the established business was then conducted under the firm name of Parker, Murray & Co. until Mr. Parkers death, after which date the style of the firm was changed to Hackney & Murray and remained as such up to 1878 when W.D. Hackney, son of the elder Hackney, was admitted to a partnership; and C.N. Nurney also becoming a partner the style of the firm was again changed to Hackney, Nurney & Co., which was succeeded in turn by W.N. Hackney & Son. Mr. W.N. Hackney's death occurred December 6, 1887 and his sons Thomas J. and George Hackney, becoming interested in the business with their brother W.D. Hackney, the business was continued under the name of Hackney Bros. until January 1, 1891 when Mr. William P. Simpson purchased an interest and the present firm of Hackney Bros. & Simpson was established. The business has steadily grown to its present enormous proportions for the past quarter of a century and more. Notwithstanding times of depression the substantial character of the men who have been at its head has given it an enviable reputation over a wide spread territory. Buggies, wagons, carts, and in fact all kinds of vehicles are turned out in large quantities by this enterprising concern. Hackney Bros. & Simpson carry on one of the finest carriage and wagon factories in the south, probably the most extensive. They employ many skilled and their pay roll each week amounts to a little over $350. They have capacity and turn out about 2,000 buggies, wagons and vehicles each year. They have a branch business at Rocky Mount, eighteen miles north from Wilson. Their repository, paint, storage, smith, machine and wood shops at Wilson cover an area of two acres, and are well arranged, and here is done the bulk of their work. A specialty is made of light buggies, phaetons and surreys.

“This great and stupendous business, now grown to an annual volume of more than $100,000 practically began with no capital, and its founder, W.N. Hackney, deceased, and who is the direct subject of this sketch, may be justly paid the tribute of having placed the enterprise on a safe and sound basis. He was a leading business man and citizen and was a man of sterling qualities, ever maintaining a strict character for probity; and in business transactions, fair, punctual and honest. He came of a respected family, as for three generations the Hackney family resided in Nash county where their name became to be honored and prominent. W.N. Hackney was prominent as a Mason and was a Christian gentleman, holding for years the office of deacon in the Disciples church. He was three times happily married, and his domestic relations were the most pleasant and happy. His children are: Thomas J., of Rocky Mount, born August 17, 1851; George, born September 19, 1854; W.D., born March 21, 1858; Martha Ann, wife of R.T. Stevens of Wilson; Mary Ellen and Orpha; and with the exception of the first named, all reside in Wilson. Each of the sons have become interested in and identified with the established business of the father, and are the brothers now comprehended in the firm name of Hackney Bros. & Simpson; and to their sagacious and sapient business qualities and excellent management is largely due the upbuilding of the stupendous and important business of the firm, and following in the footsteps of their worthy father it is worthy of them that they have exemplified the excellent character and business principles of their father.

“As has been observed, William P. Simpson became associated with the Hackney Brothers January 1, 1891, at which time he purchased a one fourth interest in the concern of which he is now a member; he managing the financial part of the business. He was born at Greensboro, Guilford county, N.C., September 30, 1851. In 1880 Mr. Simpson accepted a position with the mercantile house of Branch & Co., of Wilson, as bookkeeper. In January, 1886 he became associated with the banking firm of Branch & Co., with whom he remained till becoming a co-partner with the Hackney Bros. Mr. Simpson has become intimately identified with the business interests of Wilson. He has been president of the tobacco board of trade since its organization in 1889; he is a director in the Wilson Cotton mills, of which he was secretary and treasurer for one year; and he is also extensively interested in agriculture in Halifax county. As a democrat he is active and efficient. His wife, who is a valued communicant of the Methodist Episcopal church of Wilson, became his wife in 1874. She was Miss Anna R. Williams, daughter of Capt. W.T. Williams of Halifax county, N.C. The home of Mr. and Mrs. Simpson has been blessed by the birth of four children viz.: Anna Price, Edgar Williams, William Preston and Rezin Burgess.”

William P. Simpson's name was noticeably absent from the firm's advertisements after 1893 and it's assumed the Hackney brothers bought his quarter share in the firm. Simpson passed away of apoplexy three years later, on June 3, 1896, aged 55.

The  June, 20, 1895 edition of the Wilson Advance mentioned the firm's markets included Virginia, South Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee:

“Their establishment is known and forms the standard all over the South. They shipped fifteen buggies last week and orders are coming in by every mail, once their work goes out it advertises itself. They have steady orders from Virginia, South Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee and often ship to other states. They employ thirty-two men. In connection with the business is a well equipped harness factory where all classes of harness are turned out, the buildings occupied by the firm  are large and commodious, having been built from special designs under their own supervision; one being 150 x 55 feet thee stories, one 130 x 35 feet, also three stories, another 225 x 50 feet one story, all are brick, metal roof. In addition to these are extensive wood and drying sheds. The plant covers about four acres of ground. The business of Hackney Bros. is one that every citizen of Wilson speaks of with pride and well they may when it is known that it is the largest factory of its kind in the South.”

The November 11, 1897 edition of the Wilson Advance included the following 'paid article' detailing the current activities of the various branches of Hackney's operations:

“Hackney Bros.

“Manufacturers of and Dealers in Carriages, Buggies, Wagons and all Vehicle Material

“This is one of the largest factories of its character in the South and is conducted in a series of building, illustrations of which are herewith presented, with a floor area of 65,000 feet. The plant is fitted with every appliacne and the most modern imporved machinery for the successful prosecution of the business. The employ none but the most skilled mechanics an duse only the best material in the manufacture of carriages and buggies, hence the products of this factory have won a distintive reputation as to symmetry of finishe, elegance of design and durability - meeting with ready sales everywhere. The manufacture for the wholesale trade, extending alike courtesies to all customers - equalizing  freight rates. they also deal extensively in wagons, handling the 'Old Hickory' celebrated for its make and durability. They also occupy a large brick structures with a sales room 75 x 92; two doors opening on Nash street, in which is displayed one of the most elaborate stocks of hjarness, robes, horse blankets, whips, cushions, harness oils, and buggy, carriage and wagon hardware ever knonw to the trade of this section of the country.

“They will gladly furnish descriptive catalogue, price list and full information upon application, and it will pay you to confer with them before placing orders elswhere.

“This business is owned and operated by Wilson's most enterprising and substantial citizens, and who are numbered among those who have  contributed most largely to the upbuilding of this city and the commonwealth at large. The members of the firm are Thos J.; Geo. and W.D. Hackney, natives of North Carolina, and are widely and favorably known to the people of this entiresection of country, and bear enviable reputatioins as men of exceptional business qualities, conducting business on honest and well-defined business principles. We do not say anything of the prices of this modern house, but heartily commend it to our many readers feeling assured that it is one with which to establish profitable business relations.

“The also deal extensively in bicycles and handles the celebrated 'Niagara,' the proof of its make and durability is pre-eminently evinced by its popularity among the experienced cyclists. In this department they carry and endless variety of bicycle sundries, and it will pay you to examine their stock before placing orders elswhere.

“Branch House

“The gentlemen own and operate at Rocky Mount, one of the largest hardware houses in Eastern North Carolina. This branch of their vast interests is under the efficient management of Mr. Thomas J. Hackney, who has a valuable experience in the business. They carry in stock a well selected line of heavy and shelf hardware, cutlery, iron, nails, farm implements, harvesting machines, and in fact every mentionable article coming under th eheading of hardware and also wagons, buggies, carriages, harness, whips, saddles, cishions. etc. It will pay you to examine their stock before purchasing elsewhere.”

The June 30, 1902 edition of the Statesville (NC) Landmark mentioned that Hackney Bros.' former bookkeeper had made off with $12,000, a substantial sum at the time:

“F.F. Dawson, the ex-bookkeeper of Hackney Brothers, of Wilson, who disappeared leaving a shortage, has been located at Columbus, Miss. Governor Aycock has issued a requisition on the Governor of Mississippi and the sheriff of Wilson county has gone after the man. Dawson stood well in Wilson and was prominent in his church. His shortage is thought to be about $12,000.”

In 1903 George and Willis D. Hackney and Willis' two sons, Willis D. Jr., and Willis N. Hackney II, incorporated a new firm to manufacture farm and delivery wagons.The Hackney Wagon Co. hoped to get a piece of the lucrative wagon market that was currently dominated by Nissen in Winston-Salem, N.C., and Piedmont in Hickory, N.C.  Capitalized at $200,000, Willis D. Hackney Sr. serving as president; George Hackney, vice president; and Willis N. Hackney II, secretary-treasurer. The new plant occupied a fifteen acre plot located on Gold and Tarboro streets adjacent to the main line of the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad, and had a capacity of 12,000 wagons per year. At that time the two Hackneys were Wilson's largest employer, with 350 hands employed in the brother's various lines of business. 

The I’m Thinking column of the July 16, 1952 Rocky Mount Telegram provided a short third party history of the of the firm offered by local physician, Dr. Ryland Sadler:

“We have written before in this column about the wagon and body business, run by the Hackney brothers, and according to Dr. Ryland Sadler's reminisces of the '70s. This business was conducted first by M. L. Hussey grandfather of Thad Hussey of the Enterprise Carriage Co. of Tarboro. He was succeeded by the Hackney Brothers and their factory was on Sunset Avenue and Church Street. According to Dr. Sadler ‘the young man who was fortunate enough to own a Hackney built H.M.T. buggy and a good horse, stood an excellent chance of winning the hand and heart of his fair lady friend.’”

The September 22, 1905 edition of the Statesville (NC) Landmark mentions the respective firms turned out a buggy every 35 minutes and a wagon every 45:

“Hackney Brothers have a factory in Wilson which, it is claimed, turns out a buggy every 35 minutes of each working day and a wagon every 45 minutes, yet its capacity is not equal to the demands made upon it and the plant is to be enlarged.”

The 1905 Report of the Commissioner of Agriculture of the State of North Carolina lists the estimated annual capacities of the the two firms:

“Hackney Wagon Co., Wilson, N.C.; 3,000 wagons and carts
Hackney Bros., Wilson, N.C.; 4,000 buggies”

In 1907 another Hackney-owned business, the Washington Buggy Co., was established 60 miles due east of Wilson in the port city of Washington, Beaufort County, North Carolina. Organized by George Hackney Sr., the plant  was managed by his son George Jr., who was born in Wilson, North Carolina on November 30, 1887, the son of George and Bessie (Acra) Hackney. After a public education George Jr. attended Bingham Military School after which he enrolled in the University of North Carolina. He returned from college in 1907 to become associated with his father’s new enterprise, of which he served as vice president and manager. On December 23, 1908 he married Eva Hassell a native of Washington, N.C. The plant employed 75 hands and had an annual capacity of 4,000 buggies.The Washington Buggy Co. plant was located at the corner of Hackney and Third Streets. Railroad tracks ran on both sides of the plant building and into the Eureka Lumber Co. The Buggy Co. plant was located on the Tar River (aka Pamlico River) waterfront, the first Hackney family business to be located on a navigable river, giving it access to markets located along the southern Atlantic coastline. The January 10, 1911 edition of the Wilson Daily Times announced that the Washington Buggy Co. had become a stock company:

“The Washington Buggy Company was incorporated Saturday with a subscribed capital of $75,000. Mr. George Hackney, Jr., formerly of Wilson, is one of the incororators.”

The 1908 Wilson Directory lists numerous Hackney family members and their enterprises:

Hackney Bros., carriage mfrs., 212-214 E. Nash (George, W. Douglas & Thomas J. Hackney; George Hackney Jr., asst. mgr.)
Hackney, George (Hackney Bros.) and v-pres Hackney Wagon Co.
Hackney, W. Douglas (Hackney Bros.) and pres. Hackney Wagon Co. Inc.
Hackney, Thomas, J., Hackney Bros. h. Rocky Mount, N.C.
Hackney Wagon Co., Inc., Gold, Tarboro and A.C.L.RR (W. Douglas Hackney, pres; George Hackney, v pres.; Willis N. Hackney, sec-treas)

The October 28, 1909 issue of American Machinist stated that Hackney Wagon Co. was building a new plant dedicated to the production of their popular line of spring wagons:

“The Hackney Wagon Company, Wilson, N.C., is erecting an addition to be used as a spring wagon department.”

The 1911 North Carolina Corporation Commission listed Hackney Wagon Co. as follows; W.N. Hackney, president; address, Wilson, N.C. Authorized capital stock of $100,000 whose value was given as $74,800; the value of its physical assets (plant and machinery) being listed as $74,800.

The April 1911 issue of the Spokesman, a trade magazine covering the horse-drawn vehicle industry, highlighted the Hackney family's various North Carolina enterprises and the communities in which they operated:

“Wilson, N.C.

“Wilson is a town of about 10,000 people and is very citified in appearance, with well laid streets of fine macadam. It is situated in the midst of an unusually fine agricultural country, on the highest point above the sea level, between Wilmington and Raleigh, thus making its health rate better and its mortality rate less than most any other place of its nature in the United States. Its people are of a highly intelligent class, having within her borders a most excellent system of schools, and one of the finest co-educational colleges in the State. The principal form of industry among its citizens is that of commerce. Being located in the heart of a very rich farming country, its merchants find always a ready and profitable market for their wares, and some of the largest, most successful business men of the State have gotten their wealth and made their success within its borders. It is an inland town and has no waterways, but there are two competing lines of railways, the Atlantic Coast Line and the Norfolk & Southern. There are about thirty manufacturing industries, fine electric light and water plants, and is also arranging for the erection of a plant for manufacturing gas, thus having all the advantages of comfort and convenience for the citizens that any city could possess. There is an organization of business men in the city which has adopted as a slogan, “The Town to Tie to - Wilson, Where Worth Wins." The following vehicle concerns are located at Wilson:

“Hackney Brothers

“Hackney Bros. have won a reputation throughout the South as manufacturers of high-grade buggies and carriages, consequently are enjoying a big business. The members of the company are T.J. Hackney, George Hackney, manager; W.D. Hackney, W.L. Manning, superintendent; L. E. Barnes, secretary. The plant occupies four acres, has a capacity of 7,500 buggies each year and compares favorably with any vehicle factory in the country. Only one grade is built, the line consisting of buggies, surreys, etc. There are really eight buildings comprising the factories, viz., A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, every one of which is equipped from top to bottom with the latest machinery. The concern is using Ton-Don axles exclusively, Mr. George Hackney being careful to impress upon the writer the fact that these axles are giving general satisfaction. The following traveling men are on the road: T.S. Hedgpeth, North and South Carolina, with headquarters at Elm City, N.C.; J.M. Boykin, Box 418, Atlanta, Georgia, Florida and Alabama; R.A. Adams, Blackstone, Va., Virginia, Maryland and Delaware. The motto of the company, “The Recollection of Quality Remains Long After the Price is Forgotten,” has become known to all vehicle dealers who realize that it is not merely empty words, but has a meaning that is backed up by the product of the factory. One of their handsome jobs are illustrated in this issue. Mr. Hackney states they are running full time and the outlook is the very best, the concern having about all the orders they can take care of, which leads him to believe this will be the best season ever experienced.

“Hackney Wagon Co.

The Hackney Wagon Co. manufactures farm wagons, carts, log wagons, log wheels, spring drays and spring delivery wagons, and judging from the size of the factory and the volume of business the management need not worry about where the next meal is to come from. The officers of the company are W.D. Hackney, president; W.N. Hackney, secretary and treasurer. The plant occupies a territory of fifteen acres, and has a capacity of 12,000 wagons per year, which capacity is now taxed to the limit. Approximately three million feet of lumber is kept in stock - comprising the finest timber in the world. Each line of work is done in separate departments, located in separate buildings, by superintendents and workmen who give their undivided attention to the work with which long practice has made them most familiar. The name “Hackney” has been for years a synonym of quality among all vehicle dealers in Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, the Carolinas, Georgia, Florida and Alabama. Beginning in a small way in 1854, their carriage business had grown to immense proportions, making it imperative to establish a separate factory for this end of the business. The result has been the incorporation of the Hackney Wagon Co., composed of the Hackneys and some Wilson capitalists. Practical mechanics themselves, the Hackneys knew what good work was, consequently they have continued to forge ahead, until today they occupy the front ranks as carriage and wagon manufacturers. This concern hasn't an advertisement in this issue, but they will be with us in the future, so that the Southern readers of THE SPOKESMAN may get a line on their product.

“Washington, N.C.

Washington is a banking post town, capital of Beaufort County, on the north bank of the Tar (or Pamlico) River, and on the Atlantic Coast Line and the Norfolk & Southern Railroads, thirty-three miles north of Newbern. Vessels drawing eight feet of water ascend from Pamlico Sound to this place. It has foundries, saw and knitting mills, boat yards and manufactories of cotton seed oil, and the Washington Buggy Co., a description of which follows:

“Washington Buggy Co.

“The Washington Buggy Co. occupies a brand new plant, has up-to-date equipment and everything needed to make the manufacture of vehicles a joy forever. Over this establishment presides George Hackney, Jr., who, like his sire over at Wilson, understands thoroughly the vehicle business and how to create a demand for the product of his factory. The line manufactured comprises buggies and surreys for the Southern trade, and the factory is kept to its 4,000 capacity in filling the demands. Seventy-five men are constantly at work turning out a product that has rapidly become known throughout the South country. The shipping facilities of the company are excellent, the factory being located on a navigable river and two railroads, thereby insuring low freight rates, which help to reduce cost of raw material for vehicles, as well as to give a low competitive freight rate on finished work. One of the attractive jobs is illustrated elsewhere in this issue, but if you want to see the full line write for a copy of catalog. The superintendent of the plant is J.H. Alligood, one of the most expert carriage men in the South.”

Another son of George Hackney Sr., Thomas Jennings Hackney II (b. April 25, 1889 - d. March 6, 1971 and named after his uncle T.J.), joined the family business in 1910. After a public education T.J. Hackney II attended the Bingham Military School after which he enrolled in the University of North Carolina. Upon his 1910 graduation he went to work at the Hackney Bros. plant at Wilson, becoming its general superintendent. On April 25, 1917 he married Evelyn E. Jones, the daughter of Walter H. and Helen Jones of Washington, North Carolina.

The 1912 Wilson Directory lists numerous Hackney family members and their enterprises:

Hackney Bros., carriage mfrs., 212-214 E. Nash (George, W. Douglas & Thomas J. Hackney)
Hackney, W. Douglas (Hackney Bros.) and pres. Hackney Wagon Co. Inc.
Hackney, Thomas, J., Hackney Bros. h. Rocky Mount, N.C.
Hackney Wagon Co., Inc., Gold, Tarboro and A.C.L.RR (W. Douglas Hackney, pres; Theodore W. Tilghman, v pres.; Willis N. Hackney, sec-treas)

The September 1913 issue of Mill Supplies stated that the Wagon Co. had recently doubled their capitalization:

“The Hackney Wagon Co., Wilson, NC., has increased its capital stock from $100,000 to $200,000.”

The August 1913 issue of The Carriage Monthly reported on a reorganization of the Washington Buggy Co.:

“Washington (N.C.) Buggy Co. Reorganizes

A charter was issued in Raleigh, N.C. on July 1st for the Washington Buggy Co., Washington, N.C. with an authorized capital of $300,000. Of this amount $200,000 has been subscribed for by Geroge Hackney, Jr., S.H. Williams and William Rumley. The incprorators are taking over the business heretofore conducted by George Hackney, Jr., under the name of The Washington Buggy Co. The charter authorizes the company to manufature and deal in buggies, carriages, automobiles and other vehicles.”

One year later, George Hackney Jr. sold his share in the Washington Buggy Co., and on August 19, 1914,  announced he was going into the automobile business as distributor of the Buffalo, New York-built Stewart Truck for Georgia and North and South Carolina. He also organized the Hassell Supply Company, an agricultural implement and supply house.

Hackney Bros. continued to expand, the July 1914 issue of Carriage Monthly announcing a new 500 x 100 foot 2-story addition in Wilson:

“Hackney Brothers, Wilson, N.C., will erect a new fact 500 x 100 feet, two stories high, of mill construction.”

Stick wagons - open platform wagons with seating for two, which were often used for hauling rocks and stone - another popular product of the Hackney Wagon Co., were mentioned in the transcript of proceedings of the Good Roads Institute held at the University of North Carolina on February 23-27, 1915 (aka Second Road Institute):

“In moving rock from macadam work or other construction work where the haul is long, say from one to four miles, an entirely different condition confronts us, and an altogether different method must be employed. During the construction of the macadam road work in Wilson County in this State, I found that a maximum haul of seven miles would be required. This was prior to the development of the many efficient hauling outfits that are now on the market. This work was done under contract, by the use of mules and wagons. The wagons were built by the Hackney Wagon Company of Wilson especially for this work and were of eight thousand pounds rated capacity. The bodies of these wagons were of the ‘stick’ variety, and held three cubic yards. These wagons were loaded with an average load of four tons of crushed rock, and four large mules handled them very readily. The hauls under this contract were from one to four miles in length and the cost of the work was eighteen cents per ton mile. This paid the contractor about six dollars per day for his team of four mules and driver. The loads were dumped into the wagons from the crushed bins, and unloaded by removing the slats of the ‘stick’ body. The time consumed in loading did not figure largely in the cost of the work owing to the length of the hauls.”

The 1916 Wilson Directory lists numerous Hackney family members and their enterprises:

Hackney Bros. Inc., carriage mfrs., 205-209 E. Green (George & W. Douglas Hackney)
Hackney, Charles N. student, h. 300 E. Nash
Hackney, W. Douglas (Hackney Bros.) and pres. Hackney Wagon Co. Inc.
Hackney, John N., asst supt., Hackney Bros.
Hackney, Thomas, J. supt., Hackney Bros.
Hackney Wagon Co., Inc., Gold, Tarboro and A.C.L.RR (W. Douglas Hackney, pres; Theodore W. Tilghman, v pres.; Willis N. Hackney, sec-treas; W. Douglas Hackney Jr., asst. sec- treas)

The 1917 North Carolina Corporation Commission listed Hackney Wagon Co. as follows; W.D. Hackney, president, Theodore W. Tilghman, vice president; address, Wilson, N.C. Authorized capital stock of $200,000 whose value was given as $110,000; the value of its physical assets (plant and machinery) being listed as $76,293.

Theodore W. Tilghman (b.1851),  the wealthy lumber executive who replaced George Hackney Sr., was president and general manager of the Dennis Simmons Lumber Co., president of the Roanoake and Tar River Steamboat Co., and a director of the North Carolina Pine Association, First National Bank of Wilson, Wilson Savings and Trust Co., and the Toisnot Banking Co.

The July 1918 issue of The Spokesman announced pending improvements to a number of Hackney family enterprises:

“Extensive Factory Improvements.

“The Hackney Bros., Wilson, N.C., manufacturers of high-grade buggies and carriages, are completing extensive improvements to their factory, which gives them one of the most modern plants to be found in vehicledom. The Hackney block in Wilson is one of the most pretentious in that thriving city, no money having been spared to make it strictly modern in every detail. The officers of the company are as follows: W.D. Hackney, George Hackney and T.J. Hackney. The Hackneys were practically born in the buggy business, consequently, a ‘Hackney’ buggy stands for all that is worth while in vehicle construction.

“Hackney Bros. have long been known as one of the old established vehicle concerns in the South, the business having been founded in 1854. They have always made one grade buggy only, especially adapted for the farmer’s use.

“The Washington (N.C.) Buggy Co.

“Men who know whereof they speak say that the factory of the Washington Buggy Co., Washington, N.C., is not only the most modern in the South, but that there are no superiors in the North - for it is a fact that the builders and designers of this plant seemed to have forgotten nothing essential to its up-to-dateness. It has a capacity of 6,000 finished vehicles annually, and all their bodies and seats are made in this plant - vehicles are built from the ground up. Being situated on two railroads and a navigable river, freight is handled to the best advantage. With their splendid facilities it is possible to turn out a carload of buggies in an incredibly short time. They cater only to the southern trade, North and South Carolina, Virginia and Georgia. As a matter of course the concern is now loaded with orders, but customers may rely upon receiving the most satisfactory treatment at all times. The officers of the company are George Hackney, Sr., president; T.J. Hackney, manager, and Jas. A. Hackney secretary and treasurer. The concern was established in 1908.”

Although the practice is outlawed today, in the late 19th and early 20th century vehicle trade groups saw to it that their members’ priceed similar goods within reasonable limits, going so far as to dictate the dimensions of certain popular types, ensuring that one firm not gain a competitive advantage over another. During the teens W.N. Hackney II, president of Hackney Wagon Co., was in charge of one of those groups, the Southern Wagon Manufacturers Association. In the build up to the First World War, the Federal Government embraced the practice; the War Industries Board supporting the standardization of complete wagons, as the parts would be interchangeable, just as those found on the Type B Liberty Trucks.

At the time there were about 250 manufacturers of wagons, wagon parts, and wheels in North America. Among the prominent wagon companies engaged in this work were: Bain Wagon Co., Oshkosh, Wis.; Columbia Wagon Co., Columbia, Pa.; Deere & Co., Moline, Ill.; Emerson Brantingham Co., Rockford, Ill.; Florence Wagon Co., Florence, Ala.; Hackney Wagon Co., Wilson, N.C.; International Harvester Co., Memphis, Tenn.; Moline Plow Co., Moline, 111.; Mogul Wagon Co., Hoskinsville, Ky.; Owensboro Wagon Co., Owensboro, Ky.; Pekin Wagon Co., Pekin, Ar; Peter Schuttler Co., Chicago, Ill.; Springfield Wagon Co., Springfield, Mo.; Stoughton Wagon Co., Stoughton, Wis.; A. Streich & Bros. Co., Oshkosh, Wis.; Thornhill Wagon Co., Lynchburg, Va.; Tiffin Wagon Co., Tiffin, Ohio; Eagle Wagon Works, Auburn, N. Y.; A.A. Cooper Wagon & Buggy Co., Dubuque, Iowa; Winona Wagon Co., Winona, Minn.; White Hickory Wagon Co., Atlanta, Ga.; Kentucky Wagon Co., Louisville, Ky.; Studebaker Corporation, South Bend, Ind.; American Car & Foundry Co., Jeffersonville, Ind.

After the War farmers complained that all the wagons were the same, both in cost and dimension, and in 1919 the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) launched an investigation into the root causes of the alleged “price fixing” and what could be done about it. Published in 1920, “The Report of the Federal Trade Commission on the Causes of High Prices of Farm Implements” put the blame clearly on the Manufacturers Associations, the report citing Hackney’s Southern Wagon Manufacturer’s Association as a prime example. Hackney was no more to blame than any of their competitors, as it had been a common practice amongst all vehicle manufacturers up to that time, save for high end manufacturers like Brewster whose customer’s sought out vehicles priced at the top of the market. The lengthy report makes an interesting read and is available in its entirety on Google Books:

As mentioned above the Hackney Wagon Co. produced large numbers of escort wagons for the US Quartermaster Corps. during the buildup to the First World War, the March 19, 1918 edition of the Wilson Daily Times providing details of the plant inspection process:

“Keep A Man Here

“The government keeps a man here at the Hackney Wagon factory to inspect the wagons the largest individula wagon factory turns out for it. These wagons will carry about seven thousand pounds of equipment and are pulled by four horses. They will be sent to France and are for the purpose of following the army and hauling food supplies. They are shipped from here knocked down.

“Mr. Simms, the gentleman in charge of the work, speaks well of the high product turned out by the Hackney Wagon company, and seldom throws out anything which has passed by the company, in fact when he first came here he said that the company was grading their material closer than was necessary. He is sent out from the quartmaster's department at Jeffersonville, Indiana.”

The Hackney Wagon Co.'s contracts for escort wagons was abruptly cancelled by the Quartermaster Corps. after the signing of the Armistice on November 11, 1918. Hackney filed a $190,293.55 claim against the government for materials they had purchased, but had not been compensated for, and on November 1, 1919 were awarded a judgment of $189,196.02 by the Purchase Claims Board under the War Contracts Act which passed Congress on March 2, 1919.  Volume 88 of the Central Law Journal (pub. 1919) includes the following details of the judgement:

“St. Louis Mo., May 30, 1919. Adjustment of Claims Against the United States Based on Uncompleted War Contracts. It was said recently by Hon. Thomas M. Henry, an attorney of Washington, D.C. practicing in the United States Court of Claims, that the national government is or should be in no better position regarding its obligations than are the citizens of this republic. The statement seemed to us so reasonable that we decided to lay emphasis at this time on the means Congress has provided to meet the losses sustained by business men in preparing to fulfill the terms of contracts for war supplies which were cancelled after the Armistice went into effect. It seems that in the rush of war preparations, the officers in charge of the quartermaster's division were in the habit of making contracts in the name of the chief officer of any particular supply depot that made proper requisition. This practice it seems was in the teeth of Sec 37.44, Revised Statutes, which does not permit one officer to contract for another. The result was that after the Armistice those holding uncompleted contracts with the government signed by deputies for the chief officers authorized to contract, have been unable to collect anything for the supplies which have been manufactured and undelivered, or for the great expense involved in the investments necessary to handle the government orders. So long as supplies were received and accepted under these orders the comptroller ignored the infirmity in the contract on the grounds that the government was liable for all goods actually accepted under such contracts, but on November 25, 1918, he made the following ruling. As to outstanding contracts not signed by the officer named as contracting officer, their validity is open to question and is dependent upon proof of the fact if it be a fact that the officer who signed was a duly authorized contracting officer and made the agreement with the contractor, and that the officer named as contracting officer did not. The statute clearly requires the act of one officer in the making and signing and wholly negatives the idea of one officer signing for another. The purpose of section 3744, Revised Statutes, has been so clearly stated many times by the Supreme Court, and the result of failure to comply with it, has been so often pointed out by that court that I do not cite or discuss the cases. The decisions of this office have followed the interpretation of the statute as announced by that court and have been uniform for 40 years or more. This office is anxious to do all in its power to meet the situation referred to in your letter and to facilitate settlement with contractors legally entitled to payment on the termination of their contracts. Cases involving only equitable claims cannot be settled by executive officers without new legislation. This ruling has resulted in great hardship to the loyal merchants and manufacturers who many of them went to great expense to adapt their business to the government necessities. Among the many claims filed with the quartermaster's division from all over the country we shall call attention to just one case in order to give the reader some conception of the great injustice likely to result unless prompt action is taken by attorneys under present legislative provisions, or unless Congress passes additional remedial legislation. Take for instance the case of the Hackney Wagon Co., Wilson, N.C. In a letter to Senator Overman the president of this company said:

“ 'To be perfectly plain and frank we are going to state that the Hackney Wagon Co. has tied up in investments of war materials for Government escort wagons and parts and in investments of equipment and machinery to make these wagons and parts, approximately $400,000, and by canceling all of these orders it has placed the Hackney Wagon Co. in a very embarrassing position with the banks who financed us in this undertaking. Our unfilled contracts with the Government amount to approximately $600,000. These were to be completed by June 1, and we would have made shipments of approximately $100,000 per month and would have completed these contracts by that time. Since cancellation of contract we have made claim on the War Department for approximately $235,000 which is the actual inventory of all material on hand with no cost or overhead charges added on direct cost of raw materials and manufacturer's labor cost included, less the salvage we could use on this material. It strikes us in order to relieve these embarrassing conditions to ourselves and other small manufacturers that the Government should either authorize us to complete these contracts or pass some legislation immediately whereby we could receive remuneration for this expenditure which we have gone to in purchasing these materials and making the necessary changes to get in shape to do this work. We will further state that these orders came to us unsolicited - we were in a way commandeered by the War Department to put 50 percent of our output on this work.'

“The errors made in the execution of government contracts by deputies instead of by the proper officer were due to the inexperience of the men who came into the Quartermaster's service from civil life. Where the contract was properly executed the government is able to take care of the claims by means of supplemental agreements whereby the contractors for a fair consideration agree to a cancellation of the original contracts. But the great majority of the contracts made by the Quartermaster's Division are not of this kind and require legislation to give the relief necessary to do justice. To meet the situation thus revealed Congress at its last session passed an Act entitled 'An Act to provide relief in of contracts connected with the of the war,' approved, March 2, 1919. Under this Act the Secretary of War authorized to adjust pay and any agreement upon a fair and basis entered into during the present emergency, and prior to November 12, 1918, any officer or agent acting under his authority: for the acquisition of lands; or the production manufacture or sale of equipment, material or supplies; or for services or for other purposes connected with the prosecution of the war, when such agreement has been performed in whole or in part or where expenditures have been made on the faith of the same. The award under this act is to be made by the Secretary of War, or in the event of the refusal of the Secretary of War, to make the award asked for by the Court of Claims. The award in no case shall include prospective or possible profits. It is important also to observe that in order to take advantage of the provisions of this Act, claims must be presented before August 30th, 1919 which is a fixed date of limitations beyond which no claim of this can be presented for allowance. It is important also to observe that the Secretary of the Interior is given the same authority to adjust and pay the net losses suffered by any person or corporation by producing or preparing to produce either manganese chrome pyrites or tungsten in compliance with the request of the Department of the Interior, the War Industries Board, the War Trade Board, the Shipping Board or the Emergency Fleet Corporation. The same provisions in respect to future profits exists in this case as in the case of claims presented to the Secretary of War. But the period of limitations in this case is three months from and after the approval of the Act which would be June 2 1919. This Act adds nothing to the law so far as providing for the payment of claims for work done or properly delivered, since it has always been a well settled rule that compensation in such cases is recoverable against the government on an implied assumpsit or on a quantum meruit.( Clark v United States 9.3 US 539 Wilson v United States 23 Court of Claims Rep 77).”

As George Hackney Jr. became successful in the automobile business, his brothers remained focused on horse-drawn conveyances, the July, 1919 issue of the Spokesman reporting that the:

“Washington (N.C.) Buggy Company Is Busy

“The Washington Buggy Co., located at Washington, N.C., one of the modern factories of the Southland, is exceedingly busy at this time. They are now running to full capacity 6,000 jobs per annum. The concern builds buggies strictly for the Southern trade and their customers are having wonderful success selling the Washington buggy. The officers of the company are George Hackney, Sr., president; T.J. Hackney, manager and Jas. A. Hackney, secretary and treasurer.”

Washington Buggy Co.'s secretary-treasurer, James Acra Hackney, was born at Wilson on September 22, 1890 to George and Bessie (Acra) Hackney. After his early education in the public schools of Wilson, N.C. James attended Oak Ridge Institute after which he enrolled as a law student at the University of North Carolina. He did not graduate, electing to work with his father in the vehicle manufacturing business. James started off as a clerk at Hackney Bros. and in 1913 went on the road as a salesman and in September of 1914 joined the Washington Buggy Co. as its assistant manager, later becoming its secretary-treasurer and general manager. He was also affiliated with the Beaufort County Storage Warehouse and Hassell Supply Companies. On March 7, 1916 he married Mae Ayers of Washington, N.C., the daughter of E.W. Ayers, a well known merchant. Their children include James Acra Hackney Jr. (b. Jan 3, 1917); Jeanette (b.1919); William A. (b.1925); and Mae Ayers (b.1931) Hackney.

Hackney Bros. first commercial automobile bodies date to 1914 when they installed a horse-drawn Hackney dairy body onto a Ford Model T chassis. Similar work was conducted on a extremely small scale prior to the end of the First World War at which time they began to advertise their automobile services as evidenced by the following display ad from the July 28, 1919 edition of the Rocky Mount Evening Telegram:

“Hackney Brothers Wilson, N.C. Specializes in Auto Painting and Top Building – Your Old Car Made To Look Like New

“We lengthen the days of the good car. We paint and trim the machine and return it looking new. Our facilities are the largest and most complete in the State. We are equipped to receive your car and return it to you within the shortest possible time. If your car needs a new top, or a new coat of paint bear in mind the important features we have above enumerated.”

The War was good for Hackney Wagon Co., the 1921 North Carolina Corporation Commission listing the firm's particulars as follows; W.N. Hackney, president; address, Wilson, N.C. Authorized capital stock of $200,000 whose value was given as $656,825; the value of its physical assets (plant and machinery) being listed as $656,825.

The 1920 Wilson Directory lists numerous Hackney family members and their enterprises:

Hackney Bros. Inc., carriage mfrs., 205-209 E. Green (George & W. Douglas Hackney)
Hackney Bros. Oil Co., Gold, Tarboro and A.C.L.RR (S. Nodeck, mgr.)
Hackney Building, 214-226 E. Nash
Hackney, Charles N. clk, h. 300 E. Nash
Hackney, John M., garage
Hackney, Thomas, J., supt. Hackney Bros.
Hackney Wagon Co., Inc., Gold, Tarboro and A.C.L.RR (W. Douglas Hackney, pres; Theodore W. Tilghman, v pres.; Willis N. Hackney, sec-treas; W. Douglas Hackney Jr., asst. sec- treas)

Hackney Brothers also started dealing in new car and truck sales, and were recapitalized with another $100,000 in capital stock, the May 1920 edition of Cycle and Automobile Trade Journal reporting:

“Hackney Brothers, Wilson, N.C., have been incorporated to manufacture, buy, sell, and deal in carriages, buggies and automobiles. Authorized capital is $300,000, with $300,000 paid in by George, T.J. and John N. Hackney.”

Hackney catalogs dating from the 1920s offered numerous cabs and bodies for Ford Model T & TT trucks. In 1920s, cost of the cab was $76 and the flatbed was $77 with 14" side panels and $82 with 16" side panels.

Disaster struck Hackney Bros.' Wilson, North Carolina operations in the early morning of December 24, 1921 (Christmas Eve), The Associated Press reporting:

“Fierce Fire Destroys Plant at Wilson, N.C.

“Wilson, N.C., Dec. 24. - (AP) - Fire starting in the automobile department of the Hackney Brothers Buggy Manufacturing plant here about five o'clock this morning completely gutted the front of two three story buildings owned by that company and destroyed about 125 new automobiles stored within. The loss on the building is estimated at $100,000 and their contents at $300,000, fully covered by insurance.

“One of the buildings destroyed was used by the buggy company as a repair shop and the other as a storeage warehouse for automobiles. The machinery and automobiles in the structures were completely destroyed.

“The blaze had gained such headway when it was discovered that it was only by the heroic work of the firemen that it was prevented from spreading to other property. The heat from the fire caused $2,5000 damage to the Welfare Automobile Coompany located across the street from the Hackney plant, but it did not catch afire.

“ The Rocky Mount department was called upon for assistance and one truck in charge of Chief Daughtridge made the trip to Wilson in record time, the firemen rendering valuable aid to the local fighters. The blaze was brough under control at eight o'clock.”

Additional details of the Christmas Eve fire were included in the December 30, 1921 edition of the Wilson Daily Times:

“Loss May Be Over Half Million

“While it is still impossible to tell what the loss is in the Hackney Brothers fire early Saturday morning, it is thought that it will proably exceed a half million dollars. Not until all the items are checked over from the inventories, can the exact loss be determined. The amount of insurance carried on the stock and buildings was  $365,000. There were around 100 automobiles consumed, a number of these being customer cars.

“Insurance was carried on some of these cars by their owners, while other did not and these sustained a total loss. The company had a considerable number of  new and second hand cars on hadn, and the loss on their cars is of course great.

“The company is preparing to continue its automobile business in the rear of the burned buildings, where the fire was stopped by dead walls. But for these walls there is not telling where the fire would have ended. The safes were found to be intact and the paper in these was saved. The records as to the number of customers'cars were in teh office and these were consumed. Temporary quarters have been located over Mr. Graham Winstead's book store, where Hackney Brothers will transact business for the present.

“With the exception of a few painters the entire force of hands will be kept on the payroll and the company expects to have everything in fair shape within a few days, and will rebuild just as soon as adjustment is mnade on insurance.”

Just as Hackney Bros. - which was under the direction of George's son, Thomas J. Hackney - decided they were going to rebuild in Wilson, a second conflagration  struck, the Friday February 24, 1922 edition of the Wilson Daily Times reporting:

“Hackney Brothers Suffer Another Big Fire Loss - Within Two Months - Paint Shop Burned Yesterday Afternoon With Loss of $50,000 Covered By Insurance. Fire Quick and Hot. Four Workemn Were Injured. Two In Hospital

“One of the fastest and hottest fires ever seen in this city ocurred yesterday afternoon about five o'clock when the paint shop of Hackney Bros. in this city burned, and four workmen came near losing their lives before they were able to escape from the building. This is the second fire suffered by the Hackney buggy and automobile plant located on Green street and running back to an alley between this property and their store property which fronts on Nash street since Christmas. This was the fifth fire yesterday.

“The fire at Christmas caused a loss of around $400,000. That fire burned two building fronting on Green street and stopped at a double wall, leaving the rear ends of the buildings adjoining the alley. The Hackneys moved their garage equipment and were getting ready to replace the old buildings with a modern garage building, with a service and filling station in front and offices on Green street, when this second fire changed their plans and now they are uncertain what to do.

“After the first fire they located their paint shop in the building on the north side, here they painted buggy bodies, automobile bodies and cars for customers. In the other building just across the alley they had their workshop for repairing cars.

“The front of both buildings were burned in the Christman fire. The fire yeasterday burned the paint shop, but the repair shop across the way was not injured.

“The burning of this shop has completely changed the plans of the proprietors and therefore they are uncertain at present as to what they will do.

“After the Christmas fire, as explained above, the company decided to erect a factory on their property on Herring avenue located on the Atlantic Coast railroad in the eastern part of the city, and just across the railroad from the Hackney Wagon Company. Here commercial automobile bodies, and buggy bodies will be built. They will not change their plans as to this, but will go ahead with their work here. The fir has for the moment coasued them to undecided as to what they will do with their property fronting on Green street which has been destroyed.

“The fire yesterday afternoon was caused by the breaking of an electric light bulb, attached to an extensions cord which was being used by Mr. Albert Flowers underneath a car on which he was engaged in cleaning the chassis. He had a bucket of water and gasoline, as is usual in such cases. When the bulb broke fire began to run around the floor on which was water and gasoline. Mr. Flowers got from under the car, and others around the car secured fire extinguishers and began to fight the flames.

“Mr. Robert Smith who is in a local hospital, and one most badly burned, except a colored man named Lucien Studaway, who is confined in the Negro hospital, tells the following story of the accident.

“'When the bulb broke, and the fire began to run around on the floor, Jim Wallace ran for a fire extinguisher, and Mr. Ben Owens, foreman of the paint shop, also came back there. All of us fought the flames but we did not think it was so bad. I then ran to get a fire extinguisher, and it seemed in a second the whole floor was in a blaze, and I said to Ed Winstead, we can't put it out, lets get our clothes and get out. I ran to the place where my clothes were hanging, and the smoke blinded me so, I could not get to the door. I was near a window and started to break the glass with my hands. I then noticed there was a nail holding down the window and I pulled this out and escaped.'

“Four altogether suffered burns and had a narrow escape. These were Mr. Bob Smith who is burned on the face and hands and arms to his elbows. He is in the hospital. Mr. John Whitehead is burned on the face, and hands, and one eye is closed. He was taken to the hospital at first, but was later taken home. He is able to sit up. Mr. Ed Winstead is burned on the face and back of the head. He is also able to be up. Lucien Sturdaway, Colored, is still in the hospital. His injuries are about as those of Mr. Smith. He is also not seriously burned.

“Within a few moments after the alarm sounded the flames and smoke were pouring from the building, a three story structure containing much paint, a barrel of turpentine and linseed oil. Just where the fire started there were two automobiles, customers' cars, newly covered with a coat of varnish, and these burned like a tinder. There were probably a dozen customers' cars in the building and these are a total loss. Some of them carried insurance while others did not.

“The firemen did heroic work, and deserve special commendation for their efforts. Notwithstanding the terrific heat and the danger from falling walls, they stayed on the roofs of the adjoining buildings and from both engines four streams of water played on the fire, two from the north side and two from the south side. By playing streams on the corners of the building they held these intact, and through the walls in the center on the north side fell in, the corners kept then from falling directly, and thus adjoining buildings were not endangered. The walls came down in sections beginning at the top. About half of the north wall fell in.

“At one time it was thought the Municpal building would go, and Mr. Hinnant, city clerk, prepared to remove fiurniture and valuable papers, but the fine work of the fire department kept the flames confined to its origin in the Hackney building. This is the proud record of our firemen for several years. They have managed to keep the flames confined in the building where it had started. The Times believe that we have the best fire company in the country, and they should be commended by our people.

“On account of the number of fires ocurring yesterday, there was not sufficient time to wash and prepare the hose. Mr. Murray says he needs a place to wash the hose, and that this would save hundreds of dollars worth of fabric. The alkali in the dirt being very injurious to the fabric. The city fathers should provide a place for this purpose.”

News of the two fires appeared in the March 1922 issue of The Spokesman:

“Hackney Brothers’ Plant Burned

“The large plant of Hackney Bros., at Wilson, N. C., was completely destroyed by fire on February 22, the loss being estimated at from $100,000 to $125,000, completely covered by insurance. The origin of the fire was due to the explosion of an electric light bulb, and on account of the large quantity of paints and varnishes in the building the fire gained rapid headway. The structure was three stories high, and contained in addition to a large amount of buggy parts, tools and buggies, a number of automobiles, the company making a feature of painting automobiles. Four workmen were painfully burned.

“This is the second disastrous fire suffered by the company in the past few months, the first fire occurring on December 24th last, when the loss amounted to $375,000. This also was covered by insurance. The only building now left is that used for gear work, it being a small structure. As yet there is no decision with regard to the future, as the members of the firm have not determined what course to pursue.”

The May 1922 issue of Steam states the firm decided to rebuild on a smaller scale:

“Hackney Brothers, Wilson, N.C., manufacturers of commercial bodies for automobiles, have awarded contracts to the Wilkins & Wilkins Co., Wilson, for a new one story plant 80 x 300 ft. T.J. Hackney is general manager. The structure will replace works recently destroyed by fire with loss of about $110,000.”

The 1922 Wilson Directory lists numerous Hackney family members and their enterprises:

Hackney Bros. Inc., autos, 204 E. Green (Geo. Hackney, pres., Thomas J. Hackney, v pres, John N . Hackney, sec-treas.)
Hackney Bros. Oil Co., N Railroad and A.C.L.RR (L.E. Barnes, mgr.)
Hackney, Charles N. carriage mfr., h. 301 E. Nash
Hackney Wagon Co., Inc., Gold, Tarboro and A.C.L.RR (W. Douglas Hackney, pres; Theodore W. Tilghman, v pres.; Willis N. Hackney, sec-treas; W. Douglas Hackney Jr., asst. sec-treas)

The April, 1922 issue of the Spokesman included an article detailing the somewhat optimistic business outlook of firms doing business in the southern states:

“Reduce Prices To Increase Sales

“The Washington Buggy Co., Washington, N. C., write: ‘During the last two years the writer has had an opportunity to get the direct experience of the retail business pertaining to the sale of buggies direct to the farmers.

“‘In taking charge of our subsidiary company, which at the time was loaded with about 50 buggies on hand to retail, and for six months after September 1st, 1920, it seemed to be a heavy load, due to the fact that none were sold. It, therefore, occurred to the writer that the best thing to do was to cut the price about 40 per cent and make the cut so drastic that it would look like a buying opportunity. I did this, and advertised thoroughly so that on March 1st, 1921, I put on a sale, selling a top buggy that cost $115.00 wholesale for $85.00 retail. I soon found out that by getting a new buggy in a different locality, or in each locality, that a big movement was started based on the price inducement. We sold the buggies that we had on hand in something like 60 days. We also received benefits from that sale all during the balance of 1921, and during the last four months of 1921 we turned our buggy stock over each month, we carried only 12 to 15 buggies on hand. Our sales have slowed up gradually since the first of February, and they are now running only two or three each week.’

“‘I have gone to some length in giving this explanation, because it is interesting to me in view of the fact that we had so many buggies on hand at the factory, and of course, I made a special effort in getting them sold at the retail store. Another thing I have noticed, no customer on our books who has ordered from us as many buggies in the whole of the last twelve months as we have been averaging selling for only one month.’

“‘My opinion is that the dealers are not trying to sell buggies. In the first place they have a large amount of farmers notes on their books, which they cannot collect, and they are unable to buy and pay cash for what they buy unless they buy one buggy at the time. For the same reason they do not want to credit out more merchandise and have more money out this coming fall than they already have. They are persuaded to follow this policy by the bank more than for any other reason, because the Banks, and this is generally speaking of all the South, know that some accounts are decreasing and will continue to decrease until the fall crops come in, and for this reason do not want or will not discount any more paper, or make any more loans to the Dealer.’

“‘I can see very little hope for the dealer to buy any amount of buggies from the manufacturer until next October, when he should be making collections from the farmer.’

“‘As for the demand of the farmer for the buggy, it is better than I have seen it for several years. My personal contact with the farmer has convinced me that the buggy is wanted, and more important still it is needed, and if the farmer can get out of debt and the dealer can get in shape to enter the business field again to buy and sell there will be a bigger demand for buggies.’

“Just A Sound Business

“Hackney Bros, Wilson, N. C., write the following: ‘In regard to the horse-drawn vehicle business for the coming year and this year. Will state that business is somewhat better each month as the year goes on. Personally, we believe that it will be this way for the balance of this year. By next year, we believe, there will be a steady demand for horse-drawn jobs. We do not believe however, that there will be any more 'spurts' or large sales, but just a small sound business.’”

April 11, 1924 edition of the Wilson Daily Times announced that Hackney Bros. were constructing another facility adjacent to the structure erected in 1922:

“Hackney Bros. To Build Big Garage

“The Building Will Be Placed in the Space in Front of Their Present Quarters Fronting on Green Street.

“Mssrs. Hackney Bros. have placed a contract with Jones Bros. contractors of ths city to erect for them a two story garage to be placed in front of their present quarters fronting on Green street. The building will be 65 x 140, and work will begin at once.

“The building will be fitted up for their repair shop and will carry all neccessary parts for their line of cars they represent.

“The building will cost $27,000 dollars.”

The 1925 Wilson Directory lists numerous Hackney family members and their enterprises:

Hackney Bros. Inc., auto body builders, N. Goldsboro near A.C.L.RR (Geo. Hackney, pres., Thomas J. Hackney , v pres, John N . Hackney, sec-treas.; Geo. Hackney, Jr., mgr)
Hackney Bros. Oil Co., N Railroad and A.C.L.RR (J.H. Wright, mgr.)
Hackney Wagon Co., Inc., Gold, Tarboro and A.C.L.RR (W. Douglas Hackney, pres; Theodore W. Tilghman, v pres.; Willis N. Hackney, sec-treas; W. Douglas Hackney Jr., asst. sec- treas)

As horse-drawn vehicles were retired, Hackney Bros. commercial body business expanded to included ambulances, house trailers, hearses, portable storage rooms, temporary bleachers, car-top sleepers, and school buses. They also bid on numerous government contracts, the competition being especially fierce as the nation's carriage and wagon builders went out of business. The August 12, 1926 issue of Automotive Industries reports that Hackney Bros. had entered a bid for a contract to build 35 mail truck bodies for the US Post Office:

“Body Builders' Bids Cover Wide Range

“Washington , Aug. 12 - Names of the bidders on 35 standard mail truck bodies, together with the prices bid on mounted chassis have just been made public here by Thomas L. Degnan, Purchasing agent of the Post Office Department. They follow: Fort Smith Body Co., Fort Smith, Ark., $380; Greenfield Bus Body Co., Greenfield, Ohio, $400: Ford Body Co., Greensboro, N. C., $300; Hugh Lyons & Co., Lansing, $483.75; Kratzer Carriage Co., Des Moines, $353.85; Woonsocket Mfg. Co., Providence, $305; Westchester Auto Body Co., White Plains, N.Y., $523; Andrew Murphy & Son, Inc., Omaha,. $397.50; Hackney Bros., Inc., Wilson, N. C., $299; Mason Mfg. Co. , Inc., Newport News, $258; Atlas Body Works, Bridgeport, $465; American Coach & Body Co., Cleveland, $382; Veenema & Wiegers, Inc., Paterson , N.J., $565; Biehl's Wagon & Auto Body Works, Reading, Pa., $514.75; Ahlnrand Carriage Co., Seymour, Ind., $248; Hoover Body Co., York, Pa., $519; Defiance Carriage Co., Defiance, $289.50; Fitzgibbon & Crisp, Inc., Trenton , N.,J., $413; A.P. Rainey & Son, Westminster, Md., $341.38; Southland Motor & Body Corp., Nashville, Tenn., $305; George B. Mark, Inc., Brooklyn, $310; Kentucky Wagon Mfg. Co., Louisville, $199; American Body Co., Grand Prairie, Tex., $385; Izett Auto Body Co., Denver, $310; G.W. Goundrey & Son, Binghamton, N.Y., $415, and J.W. Rogers Mfg. Co., Minneapolis, $375.”

While Hackney Bros.'s insulated truck body business was taking off, things across the tracks at the Hackney Wagon Co. were not. The post war deluge of military surplus wagons and the decreasing overall demand for horsedrawn conveyances combined to pu the firm into receivership, the February 4, 1927 edition of the Burlington Daily Times (North Carolina) reporting:

“Hackney Wagon Co. In Hands of Receiver

“Wilson. Feb. 4. — Judge J.M. Meekins of Elizabeth City, has appointed a worked receivership for the Hackney Wagon company, the south’s largest vehicle works, located in this city, at the request of the Richmond, Va., credit banks. Allen J. Seville, of Richmond, was appointed receiver by the federal judge and W.D. Hackney, Sr., head of the concern was named as assistant receiver.

“Representations were made to Judge Meekins by the creditors to the effect that the enterprise, which put the town of Wilson on the map in earlier days, would be able to work itself out of its financial embarrassment eventually if given a chance to do so. The opportunity was given the Hackney company to do this.

“The plant is Wilson's largest industry, employing a great number of men which adds to the population and commercial life of its community. The enterprise represents the life work of Mr. Hackney and his associates, who are working diligently to save the concern.”

Over in Beaufort County, the Washington Buggy Co. was also facing hard times, and withdrew from business sometime after 1925. The 1930 US Census lists the occupation of the firm's former manager and secretary-treasurer, James A. Hackney, as 'salesman' for a 'sugar co.' The firm's buggies were still being offered for sale into the 1930s, but they were new, old stock - all having been manufactured before 1925 the firm's closing in 1925.

The 1930 Wilson Directory lists numerous Hackney family members and their enterprises:

Hackney Bros. Body Co., 528 N. Railroad (Geo. Hackney, pres., John N. Hackney, v pres., Thomas J. Hackney, sec-treas., Geo. Hackney, Jr., mgr.)
Hackney Oil Co., 520 N Railroad (Thomas J. Hackney, pres., Winnie Barber, treas., H.L. Finlayson, asst treas.; Jas.H. Wright, mgr.)
Hackney Tire Co., 128 S. Goldsboro (Willis N. Hackney & Willis D. Hackney Jr.)
Hackney Wagon Co., Inc. 106 W. Gold (A.J. Saville, receiver)
Hackney, Willis D., (Sue E.) wagon mfr., h 301 E Nash

The Hackney Wagon Co. remained in operation on a limited basis during the bankruptcy under the watchful eye of its receiver, A.J. Saville. By 1934 he advised the Federal Bankrupcy Judge that liquidation was in order, and firm'sassets, naming rights and intellectual property was sold at auction to John Hackney, W. D. Adams and W.B. Edwards who reorganized it as the Hackney Wagon Company, Inc. in 1935.

In 1931, Hackney Bros. patented a carbon dioxide-based refrigeration system and introduced it as an option on their insulated truck bodies and vendor carts. Also popular with southeastern customers were Hackney's bulk beverage and Stop 'N' Step route delivery bodies. They also constructed service bodies for utility companies and small numbers of municipal ambulances and 'woody' wagons. The firm's school bus bodies competed efectively against those manufactured by their two largest southern competitors, Blue Bird and the Perley Thomas Car Works.

In 1936 the state of North Carolina advertised for bids for the construction of 500 wooden school bus bodies for its school system.

Although most street cars had converted over to all-metal construction in the teens, school buses were another matter. Although all-metal transit buses had been in production for more than a decade, school buses were another matter, as the safety of children was considered a low priority at the time. The contract called for a basic body with an all-weather roof, window openings with canvas shades and bi-lateral rows of inward-facing longitudenal bench seats running the length of the body. The driver had the benefit of the windshield and wiper motor furnished with the cowl and chassis, but even the headlights were deleted to save money - the buses would be driven during daylight hours only.

Knowing that they would have to beat the offers of their compeititors, which included Fort Valley Georgia's Blue Bird and High Point, North Carolina's Perley A. Thomas Car Works. With a carefully prepared bid of $195 for a 17-foot bus, $205 for a 19-footer, and $225 for a 21-footer Thomas handily won the order, however their quote specified they could supply only 200 bodies in total as it couldn't afford to finance the capital required to purchase the raw materials need for the remaining 300. Consequently the state split the order between Thomas and Hackney Bros.

The following year the state of North Carolina advertised they were accepting bids on 400 new school buses, the May 7, 1937 edition of the Robesonian (Lumberton, N.C.) reporting:

“State Buys 400 Bus Chassis and Bodies

“Raleigh - (AP) – The state board of awards purchased this week 400 school bus chassis and composite bodies for $387,305. Contracts were awarded in all cases to low bidders.

“The Sanders Motor company of Raleigh, Ford dealers, will supply the state with 400 16-foot chassis at $532 each. Perley A. Thomas Car Works, Inc., of High Point, will furnish 150 steel-and-wood bodies at $435 each and the Hackney Brothers company of Wilson will supply 250 similar bodies at $437.02. “The purchases brought the number of buses bought since the 1937 generally assembly adjourned to 750, for which a total of $737,339 was spent.”

In September of 1938, Hackney's chief engineer, H.C. Wendt, won a $13,700 award from the James F. Lincoln Arc Welding Foundation for a paper entitled 'The Arc-Welded-Steel School Bus Body, Its Economic and Social Advantages', the September 19, 1938 issue of Automobile Topics reporting:

“Arc Welding Awards Made by Foundation; Grand Prize $13,941 To Cleveland Couple

“Savings to industry by arc welding aggregates $1,600,000,000, according to claims made by authors of papers in the $200,000 award program of the James F. Lincoln Arc Welding Foundation of Cleveland. The jury of award has just made known its findings after judging the papers.

“The grand award went to Mr. and Mrs. A. E. Gibson, president and stockholder respectively of the Wellman Engineering Co., Cleveland. They received jointly $13,941.33. Their paper was a treatise on all the elements required to assure the business and technical success of all users of welding throughout industry.

“Altogether, 382 awards were made by the Foundation. The amounts ranged from $101.75 for honorable mention to the grand award. Recipients included engineers, designers, architects, production managers, superintendents, draftsmen, shop foremen, mechanics, inspectors, welding operators, welding supervisors, owners of businesses, college professors, high school instructors, students and others.

“In the automotive division, a school bus body, a truck body, a track roller frame and side-dump trailer received first, second, third and fourth awards respectively. The school bus body award went to H.C. Wendt, chief engineer, Hackney Bros. Body Co., Wilson, N. C. The truck body prize was given Fred S. Beach, designing engineer, Northwestern Electric Co., Portland, Ore. C. A. Davis, engineer, Caterpillar Tractor Co., Peoria, Ill, won in the field of welded track roller frames, and Nelson Severinghaus, superintendent of the Consolidated Quarries Corp., Lithonia, Ga., won fourth award for his paper, ‘Side-Dump Semi-Trailer.’

“The Foundation's Award Program, which began 18 months ago, was judged by 31 engineering authorities.”

The paper was subsequently published in a text book published by the Lincoln Foundation entitled: 'Arc Welding in Design, Manufacturing and Construction'.

A rise in fatal school bus accidents resulted in an April 1939 conference in New York City where representatives from all 48 states gathered to develop a set of national standards for school bus construction and operation. The symposium was chaired by Frank W. Cyr, a Columbia University professor and a former superintendent of the Chappell, Nebraska school district.

The conference was attended by representatives of the bus body industry and at the end of the 7-day event the group released a list of minimum standards and recommendations. Among them were specifications for type of construction, body length, ceiling height and aisle width and color.

Strips of different colors were hung from the wall and the participants in the conference slowly narrowed down the colors until three slightly different shades of yellow remained.

National School Bus Chrome became the chosen shade with slight variations allowed as yellow was a difficult color to reproduce exactly. Yellow had been decided upon because it provided good visibility in the semi-darkness of early morning and late afternoon.

Since then, 12 National School Transportation Conferences have been held, giving state and industry representatives a forum to revise existing and establish new safety guidelines operating procedures for school buses.

For many years the Federal Government allowed the industry to regulate itself, but they became directly involved in motor vehicle safety with the passing of the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1966. A School Bus Safety Amendment was passed in 1974, and since that time the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has issued 36 Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) which apply to school buses.

A United Press newsire report dated February 6, 1942 claimed the reorganized Hackney Wagon Co. was busy due to wartime restrictions on rubber and automobile usage:

“Wagon Company is Swamped With Orders

“Wilson, N.C. , Feb. 4 (UP) - The Hackney Wagon Company which has been making vehicles for horse drivers since 1854 reported today that for the first time in 87 years it is six weeks behind on orders.

“Director W. D. Adams said the company is swamped with ‘hurried demands from all over the United States’ resulting from the rubber shortage and automobile rationing.

“Orders have come for buggies, sulkies and other horse-drawn passenger, vehicles but these are being turned down. The Hackney Wagon Co., is strictly in the wagon field and will not branch out into the passenger carrying trade.”

Although most of the firm's employees served in the US armed forces during the Second World War, Hackney Bros. produced several batches of olive-drab school buses for the US Army's Quartermaster Corps. at the plant in Wilson. After the War Hackney Bros. re-acquired the services of George Hackney's son, Thomas J. Hackney II. T.J. began helping out the Hackney Brothers firm when he was still in high school, delivering refrigerated trucks to Durham. He graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1941. He worked briefly for the firm in 1941-1942, before joining the armed services during World War II. He served as a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy from 1942 to 1946.

At the end of the War, James Acra Hackney (b. Sep. 22, 1890 – d. Sep. 3, 1969), a grandson of Willis N. Hackney, and a former secretary-treasurer of the Washington Buggy Co., founded J.A. Hackney & Son with his son, James Acra Hackney Jr. (b.1917) to manufacture truck bodies.

James Acra Hackney was born on September 22, 1890 to George and Bessie Acra Hackney. After a public education he enrolled in Oak Ridge Institute, after which he attended the University of North Carolina majoring in law and literature. On March 7, 1916 he married Ada Mae Ayers and to the blessed union were born 4 children: James Acra Jr. (b. Jan 3, 1917 - d. Jan. 21, 2001); Jeanette (b.1919); William A. (b.1925) and Mae Ayers (b.1931) Hackney. He did not graduate, electing to learn the vehicle businesess from the ground up, his first position being a clerk for Hackney Bros. He eventually went on the road as a salesman and in September of 1914 moved to Washington, N.C., taking a position as assistant manager of another one of his father's businesses, the Washington Buggy Co. He soon took over as plant manager and became an officer and director, serving as secretary-treasurer, the 1920 Census listing his occupation as 'Buggy Mfr'. The firm went out of business in 1925 and Hackney took a postion as a 'salesman' for a 'sugar co.' Little is known of his activities during the 1930s, the 1940 US census lists him in Washington, N.C., his occupation 'salesman' for a 'wagon co.', the firm most likely being the Hackney Wagon Co., which remained in business into the late 1940s.

In 1946 James A. Hackney and his eldest son, James A. Hackney Jr., organized their own truck body manufacturing business in Beaufort County. Corporately unrelated to his cousins' truck and bus body business in Wilson, N.C. (Hackney Bros.). J.A. Hackney & Son was located at 400 Hackney Ave., Washington, N.C. and specialized in public service, utility and beverage bodies. In the 1950s J.A. Hackney & Sons introduced a beverage body with roll-up doors, which better protected it precious cargo from theft, breakgage and inclement weather.

The school bus business operated on an unusual schedule for most of the 20th century. Although school boards and superintendents put off ordering new buses for the coming school year until the very last minute – typically April or May – they demanded the vehicles be ready in time for the upcoming school year, typically the last two weeks of August or first week of September.

Unless the constructor was well-heeled, building school bus bodies was a highly seasonal enterprise, with four months on, then eight months off. Money was unavailable until deposits were made in the spring, and the flow of money ended when the buses were delivered in August. Consequently many Thomas employees were part-time farmers, relying upon their bus building income to tide them over during the hot summer sabbatical.

The April 13, 1954 edition of the Lumberton Robesonian reported on a recent contract shared between Thomas and their North Carolina neighbors:

“New Buses

“Raleigh (AP) – The State Board of Award yesterday ordered 650 new school buses. Quality Equipment Supply of Charlotte will furnish 350 and Hackney Bros. of Wilson and Perley A. Thomas Car Works of High Point, 150 each. They will mount the bus bodies on chassis furnished by General Motors' Chevrolet division and International Harvester Co.”

Established in 1948, Charlotte's Quality Equipment & Supply was not a bus body-builder, but rather a bus and truck body distributor who handled various manufacturer's lines.

In the days before the government got involved in the purchase of school buses, more often than not, coaches were sold to third parties unconnected to the school district. Most were local individuals or small fleet operators who had won a bid for transporting a certain number of students to a certain school. The sale of a school bus was more akin to selling a motor vehicle to a single customer, sometimes a lot of leg work was involved in order to get a single bus sold and financed. During the 1950s more money became available for school transportation and many school districts began operating their own fleets, buying their own buses and hiring their own drivers on a non-profit absolute cost basis.

Bids for bus fleets would be let at a certain place and time, each salesman knowing that if he could learn the exact amount of his competitors’ bids, he would more often than not win the contract, even if he beat it by just a dollar or two. 

A salesman for Blue Bird named 'Red Willie' once described a popular scheme he had used to drum up business, called ‘the pigeon drop.’ It utilized an ‘inside man’, typically a secretary or assistant superintendent who was short on cash. Our salesman's ‘friend’ would place a fictitious too-high bid from his firm in plain sight on top of his desk just before a competing salesman was due to arrive. The 'mark' would submit a slightly lower bid, believeing his was now the lowest. Later in the day, our 'resourceful' salesman would arrive at his appointeded time with an even lower bid, and if the superintendent hadn't caught on, would be awarded the contract, as the low bidder was always awarded the contract.

Tom Hackney returned to Hackney Brothers in 1946, becoming secretary-treasurer in 1947. He served in that capacity until 1956 when he became president.

North Carolina Governor William B. Umstead, journeyed to Wilson on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the firm's founding, the April 21, 1954 edition of the Rocky Mounty Evening Telegram reporting:

“Umstead Praises Industry

“Wilson, N.C. (AP) - In their campaign for new industries, North Carolinians should never forget the ‘everlasting contributions made to our economy’ by old established industries. This was asserted yesterday by Gov. Umstead in a speech at the 100th anniversary of the Hackney Brothers Body Co. The firm, founded in April, 1854, first operated under the name of Hackney Brothers and was the largest manufacturer of buggies and wagons in the South. The company now specializes in building school bus bodies and refrigerated truck bodies. More than people attended the anniversary celebration in the company's large assembly room. The governor told the group he has ‘tremendous regard for free enterprise and its capacity to do business.’ He urged his listeners to ‘continue to believe in and help North Carolina grow into what it ought to be. This means good government, too.’ He added, ‘North Carolina is bigger than any one or group of men in its growing development. North Carolina and Wilson County have gone through the shadows since this company was founded seven years before the War Between the States started,’ Umstead said. ‘We are now climbing and I congratulate the descendants of Willis Napoleon Hackney (the company's founder) for keeping the faith they have in the future of our state.’ T.J. Hackney Jr., secretary-treasurer of the company, presented pins to 27 employees who have been with the firm for 20 years or more.”

An Editorial in the April 24, 1954 edition of the Rocky Mount Evening Telegram congratulated Hackney Bros. on it's 100th brithday:

“A Significant Birthday

“The celebration this week of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Hackney Brothers Body company in Wilson is full of significance for Eastern Carolina. In the first place the survival of any industry or enterprise under the management of the same family for a century is a remarkable thing. In the second place the survival and the prospering growth of the Hackney firm through five wars, innumerable panics and depressions and tremendous technological changes speaks well indeed for the stability of Eastern Carolina as a favorable environment in which industry can thrive. One of the secrets of the Hackney firm's success is its flexibility. When the company was founded prior to the Civil War this section was, as it still is, predominantly agricultural. The Hackney Body Works at first produced wagons and products then needed by the area. As times changed and the horse and buggy era succumbed to the automobile age. Hackney changed too. It now builds school buses and refrigerator trucks. Response to changing times has made this firm great. It is the quality which continues to give promise of success in the future. Perhaps the most significant thing for Eastern Carolina in the Hackney story is the fact that it was and is a homegrown industry. Somehow in recent years we have expected industry to come swooping in from the North, borne by a corporation executive on a white charger. We here in Eastern Carolina have neglected the opportunities here at home in search for some pot of gold at the end of a distant rainbow. We have ignored the acres of diamonds in our own back yard. We have forgotten that most of the greatest industry in North Carolina is homegrown —products of the Piedmont North Carolinians: The Dukes and Reynolds founded great tobacco industries which enriched the state; the Hanes and the Cones founded great textile industries; Burling« ton Mills sprang up from the red soil of Alamance. The Hackney Body Works has shown Eastern Carolina the way. Their centennial celebration is an occasion for congratulating them and for re-examining our local industrial possibilities.”

The May 8, 1959 edition of the Rocky Mount Evening Telegram announced the passing of Hackney Bros.' longtime vice president, Walter E. Tichener:

“WILSON — Walter Edmund Tichener, vice president and factory manager of Hackney Brothers Body Company, died at 2 p.m. Thursday in Memorial Hospital in Chapel Hill. Memorial services will be held in the First Presbyterian Church at 3 p.m. Saturday, conducted by the Rev. R. Murphy Williams. Surviving are his wife, the former Ruth Christine Lindberg; one son, John David Titchener; three grandchildren; three brothers, Fred of Cortland, N. Y., Frank of Geneva, N. Y. and Charles Titchener of Binghamton, N. Y. and Mexico; two sisters, Mrs. Helen Delavan of Wilson and Mrs. Margaret Williams of Cortland, N.Y.”

An article in the November 20, 1960 edition of the Rocky Mount Evening Journal notes that Robert H. Hackney had replaced Tichener as vice president, and places the number of employees at 240:

“Of course, industry existed alongside the phenomenally-important tobacco from Wilson county's start. As an example, Hackney Brothers Body Co. has been on the city of Wilson scene since 1854 which was five years after the municipality's founding. Hackney began by making buggies and graduated to making refrigerated truck bodies for the dairy and meat-packing industries and school buses, an enterprise which in itself is unusual for Eastern North Carolina and utterly removed from identification with tobacco. The firm employs about 240 persons in a plant which is expanding from 92,000 square feet to 107,000 square feet of floor space, and, according to Robert H. Hackney, great grandson of the founder of the industry and its vice-president ‘will do its part for a diversified economy for Wilson county.’”

During the 1950s Hackney Bros. most popular lines were their refrigerated trucks and school buses.  As demand soared for Hackney's insulated and refrigerated truck bodies, increased competition in the school bus business resulted in fewer profits and in 1962 the firm's chariman, Thomas J. Hackney, Jr., decided to discontinue the school bus line, concentrating instead on its line of insulated and refrigerated truck bodies.

At that time Hackney, and their primary competitor, Divco, monopolized the insulated and refrigerated dairy truck body business, the main difference being that Divco offered complete vehicles, while Hackney furnished the coachwork only.

Hackney also produced a number of standalone insulated push carts and Chevrolet, Ford and Jeep-chassised Good Humor Trucks under license to the Good Humor Corp. during the 1950s, 1960s and early 1970s - the final examples being built in 1973. The chassis were sent to Hackney, who built, and installed everything from the windshield back and feature porcelain sides with the Good Humor Logo on the freezer. When plugged in overnight the front-seat-passenger-mounted compressor will keep the insulated ice cream compartment frozen for up to 2 days. There are florescent lights in the sign above the windshield, the rear and sides of the freezer. There is no door on the drivers side, the driver would enter and exit from the curb side, for safety reasons.

In 1969, Good Humor commissioned Hackney Brothers body company in North Carolina to build 80 ice cream trucks on Ford chassis, the firm's last pickup-based series. The foolwing year (1970) Good Humor switched to larger, more functional stepvans that allowed the operator to stand inside, dispensing the ice cream treats over a counter through a sliding glass window.

Beginning in 1968, Unilever-owned Good Humor started losing money and the firm changed to step vans to increase capacity to better compete with Mr. Softee. Very few pickup-based Good Humor Trucks were constructed after that time, save for a pair of 1973 Ford F-250-based trucks which were purchased by a Good Humor distributor in Florida. Unfortunately switching to step-vans didn’t alter the changing demographics of their customers and after a decade of unprofitability, Good Humor sold off the remaining fleet in 1978 for $1,000 to $3,000 per truck, many of them going to former Good Humor vendors who started running their own businesses.

The March 9, 1971 edition of the Statesville Landmark & Record announced the passing of Hackney Bros. 88-yearold chairman, T.J. Hackney Sr.:

“Wilson, N.C. (AP) - Funeral services were held Sunday for the chairman of the board of Hackney Bros. Body Co., Thomas Jennings Hackney Sr.

“In addition to heading the board of the truck body manufacturing firm, Hackney was a former member of the board of trustees of East Carolina University and Atlantic Christian College.

“He died Saturday at 88.”

In 1977, Hackney Brothers expanded their insulated and refrigerated truck body manufacturing operations by building a new plant in Fayetteville, Arkansas. The March 7, 1977 edition of the Northwest Arkansas Times reporting on the upcoming sale:

“The Fayetteville Board of Directors has granted a 90-day option on 28 acres of land in the city-owned Industrial Park to a company from North Carolina which expects to build a plant to manufacture refrigerated truck bodies. If core drillings and other pre-purchased essentials turn out satisfactorily, as anticipated, Hackney Brothers Body Co., of Wilson, N.C. will order construction of a 45,000 square foot structure on the site, which is east of the operational Armstrong Brothers Tool Co.

“Plans call for an initial employment of 50 workers, who will be trained (or their jobs. Work on the building is to be started in April, with actual plant operations set to begin in the fall of 1977. As other companies which have come to this area have done, this firm, also, is prepared to expand the plant later on, to 200,000 square feet. With this accomplished, employment of 200 persons is contemplated.

“Hackney Brothers has been in existence since 1854, and remains a family business. It specializes in making refrigerated delivery equipment for producers and distributors of perishable products. Dairy business equipment plays a large part in the company's production. Students who attend a college in Wilson, where the home base of the firm is located, are used in delivery of finished products all over the country, and it is thought that University of Arkansas students may find employment along the same lines once the company is in production in Fayetteville.

“Thomas J. Hackney Jr., president of the firm, made several trips to this area, and selected the site after looking over many others elsewhere. Seeking a suitable location between Dallas and Joplin, the company's representatives decided upon Fayetteville after considerable study and conversations with Chamber of Commerce, city, and Industrial Committee members. Purchase price for the 28 acres is $101,080 which will go to the city and the holders of bonds which financed purchase and preparation of the Industrial Park.”

The April 17, 1977 edition of the Northwest Arkansas Times listed the agenda of the upcoming meeting of the Fayetteville Broad of Directors:

“The first item the Board will consider is a resolution authorizing a memorandum of intent between the City and Hackney Brothers Body Co. for the Issuance of 'Act 9' industrial development bonds. The company recently purchased a tract of land in the Fayetteville Industrial Park for construction of the new plant. Under the terms of the memorandum the city would issue approximately $1,250,000 in Act 9 bonds to finance construction and equipping of the plant. Hackney Brothers would pay off all costs of the bonds, financing and attorney’s fees through a lease arrangement.”

The April 20, 1977 edition of the Northwest Arkansas Times states the memorandums was passed:

“Board Of Directors Meet; Act 9 Bond Sale Okayed

“By Scott VanLaningham, Times Staff Writer - The Fayetteville Board of Directors approved a resolution authorizing the sale of Act 9 industrial development bonds, left a rezoning request on first reading, denied two appeals from the city's sign ordinance and approved another sign appeal in its regular meeting Tuesday night.

“The Board approved the resolution authorizing a Memorandum of Intent between the city and Hackney Brothers Body Co. for the sale of Act 9 industrial development bonds.

“The company recently purchased 28 acres in Fayetteville’s Industrial park for the construction of a new plant. Under the memorandum the city agreed to issue approximately $1,250,000 in Act 9 bonds to finance the construction and equipment of the plant. The company will pay including both principal and financing and attorney’s fees. The city will own the facilities until the bonds are paid off. Lynn Wade, an attorney for the company, told the Directors Tuesday the city will technically own the facility. Asked about the city's liability under the lease, Wade paid the bonds would be specific obligation bonds involving only the factory facilities. He said other municipal funds would not be obligated.”

The new plant location strategically positioned Hackney for expansion into the western United States. Just as the plant was established the industry experienced a gradual downturn as consumers abandoned home delivery of dairy products in favor of weekly treks to the supermarket. By the late-1980s, both Hackney Bros. plants were struggling as the demand for dairy route delivery trucks disappeared. Divco was already out of business, and both Boyertown and Hackney Bros. were facing bankruptcy. Hackney closed down their Fayetteville plant in Arkansas and in 1996 were bought out by Transportation Technologies, Inc., a holding company that had recently purchased J.A. Hackney & Sons, their Washington, N.C., cousins and Kidron.

The Washington, N.C. branch was in much better shapes than their cousin in Wilson.  Instead of resting on their laurels - which includedthe introduction of roll-up door technology for side-loading truck bodies - they expanded their product lines, venturing into the fields of maintenance bodies and fire apparatus.

Hackney & Sons' introduction of the first lightweight, all-aluminum side-load, roll-up door beverage body in the 1960's was rewarded through a greatly increased damnd for their beverage bodies which prompted the construction of a second, more modern manufacturing plant in Independence, Kansas in 1972. By the 1980s Hackney dominated the beverage body business with a 70% share of the North American market, all under the direction of three successive generations of Hackneys, all named James Acra Hackney (I,II,III).

In 1984 Washington, N.C., based Hackney Industries Inc., a firm controlled by officers and directors of Hackney & Sons, Inc., acquired the assets and trade names to the Load-Master line of refuse collection bodies from the City Tank Corp., of Corona, NY., whose founder, John G. Hagan - of Hagan Industries, had constructed his first hydraulic refuse body in the early 1930s. Marketed for many years under the Roto-Pac trade name, City Tank's primary customers were the Sanitation Departments of New York City, Philadelphia and Chicago.

In 1959 Hagan Industries relocated their City Tank refuse body manufacturing operations to Culpepper, Virginia, a small community located 75 miles south of Washington D.C., organizing it as the Old Dominion Mfg. Corp. Starting in 1961 the firm developed an all-new rear-load packing system which debuted as the Load-Master in January of 1964.  The Load-Master was sold alongside the Roto-Pac series for several years, then discontinued. By 1972 Old Dominion was producing 800 Load-Master units per year, most of which went to municipalities located along the Atlantic seaboard.

In the early 1980s Hackney Industries made inquiries as to the availability of the Load-Master line and in March of 1984, acquired the Loadmaster assets, and took out a lease on the former Old Dominion plant in Culpepper – the trade name being changed to ‘Loadmaster by Hackney’. In August of 1990 Hackney Industries sold the Loadmaster assets to Waste Disposal Equipment Acquisition Corporation (WDEAC), and got out of the refuse body business.

In 1992 Hackney International, the global division of Hackney was formed to make Hackney products available to beverage companies outside of the United States. Since its inception, more than 7,000 aluminum beverage truck bodies have been delivered to users in more than 60 countries through an international network of 24 licensed manufacturers.

Hackney & Sons built their first  Emergency Support Vehicle (ESV) in 1984 at the request of the Salem, Oregon Fire Department officer, who, after observing a Hackney beverage truck making a delivery, determined Hackney's compartamentalized cargo holds offered more space and easier access than the conventional fire rescue bodies available at the time.

In an interview with Industry Today, Eddie L. Smith, Hackney’s Director of Sales & Marketing recalled: ‘The light bulb came on … He saw all the space in the vehicle and that it would make a fantastic HAZMAT vehicle. This prompted a call to the local distributor where he was directed to Hackney.’

Consequently, Hackney found itself in the hazmat and fire rescue body business, establishing a separate division to focus on the emergency vehicle market in 1987. Things took off and 25 years later Hackney is recognized as the leader in emergency support vehicles in the U.S. including rescue vehicles, HAZMAT, and technical rescue (also known as urban search and rescue or USAR).

In 1990 the J.A. Hackney family sold their Washington, North Carolina beverage and rescue body business to Transportation Technologies, Inc., a decision that propelled them into becoming one of the largest specialty truck body manufacturers in the United States.

The January 9, 1993 edition of the High Point Enterprise mentioned that Hackney & Son and Kidron, an insulated truck body builder located in Kidron, Ohio, had recently been acquired by the same company, Transportation Technologies, Inc. (TTI):

“Transportation Technologies, Inc. is the parent holding company for Hackney & Sons and Kidron, Inc., two of the leading manufacturers of specialized truck bodies and trailers serving the multi-stop beverage and food service distribution markets. Hackney & Sons, founded in 1946 in Washington, N.C., entered the refrigerated truck body and trailer manufacturing business with the production of its first wooden soft drink delivery truck body in 1947. Over the years, the company has greatly expanded its manufacturing capacity at its Washington, N.C. facility, and in 1972 constructed a second state-of-the-art plant in Independence, Kansas, which is the largest beverage body and trailer manufacturing facility in the U.S. The company's brand commands a #1 market share in its respective market.”

One year later (1994) TTI acquired Wilson, N.C.'s Hackney Bros. Body Co. Transportation Technologies Inc. was already involved in the truck body business, controlling Kidron, in Kidron, Ohio; as well as the corporately unrelated J.A. Hackney & Sons, which was founded by a grandson of Hackney Bros. founder, Willis N. Hackney Sr. In 1996, TTI closed down the Wilson, N.C. operations consolidating it with the Hackney and Sons Co. in Washington, N.C.

Hackney continued to evaluate underved markets and in 1993 introduced a line of service bodies aimed at the vending and plumbing industry. The resulting Perfomer line, which included such industry firsts as infinitely adjustable shelving ; interior ladder racks; light weight; and low center of gravity, resulted from countless on-site visits and interviews with service contractors.

In 1995 Transportation Technologies, Inc. purchased Kidron, Inc. of Kidron, Ohio (and Lakeland, Florida since 1965). Founded in 1946, Kidron was a leading manufacturer or refrigerated truck bodies and trailers serving the multi-stop food service industry. In 1997 Transportation Technologies purchased Hackney & Son/Hackney Bros. Body Co. and merged it with Kidron, reorganizing the three firms into two, Hackney & Kidron.

The December 14, 2001 edtion of Trailer andBody Builders annocuned that TTI had filed for bankruptcy protection:

“Transportation Technologies, the parent company of Hackney & Sons and Kidron, has started voluntary bankruptcy actions under provisions of Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code, according to the Washington (NC) Daily News. H.I.G. Capital, owner of Transportation Technologies, views the bankruptcy filing as a means to position the company better financially.

“'The filing of our Chapter 11 marks the culmination of the company’s 12-month effort to restructure its finances,' said Frank Papa, chief executive officer of TTI, in a news release. 'This step will give us the flexibility to reduce our debt and restructure our balance sheet. All operations will continue as usual without interruption during the proceedings. It is our intent to make this process ‘seamless’ to our customers. We fully expect to emerge from Chapter 11 as a stronger, more-competitive company than we are today.'

“Papa, in the press release, said the company expects the restructuring will have no impact on the company’s abilities to fulfill its obligations to its employees or to its worldwide customer base.

“'During the restructuring period and beyond,' Papa was quoted as saying, 'we will continue to operate as one of the world’s leading specialty-truck manufacturers. We remain committed to providing the highest-quality products and services that our customers expect. Our recent actions to improve operational performance prior to the filing have included changes to key management personnel, improvements to manufacturing efficiencies and a 25% reduction of overhead and fixed costs. The improvements to operations will continue until we have the most satisfied customers and the lowest cost base in the industry.'

“'Management’s outlook on the future of TTI remains strong. The current owners of TTI also believe in our long-term prospects. While it is a difficult decision, it is the best course of action to take to preserve the future for all employees and to get this company financially back on track.'

“Hackney & Sons, which began in 1946, has its headquarters in Washington. The company is the world’s foremost manufacturer of aluminum bodies for beverage trucks and trailers. It has four plants, which are located in Washington; Lakeland, Fla.; Independence, Kan.; and Las Vegas. The Washington operation laid off 45 people in September 2000.”

The February 4, 2002 edition of Trailer and Body Builders announced that TTI had successfully emerged from its Chapter 11 bankruptcy:

“Kidron, Hackney emerge from Chapter 11 bankruptcy

“Less than 60 days after its initial filing for bankruptcy protection, Transportation Technologies Inc, parent company of Kidron, Hackney Brothers, and Hackney & Son, emerged from reorganization under Chapter 11 of the US bankruptcy code.

“Restructuring became final on February 4, 2002.

“The reorganized company is owned by management and a group of institutional investors. All operations remain intact and continue in business-as-usual.”

TTI's reorganization resulted in a name change for the HIG subsidary, to Specialized Vehicles Corp. Three years later the August 1, 2005 edition of Trailer and Body Builders announced that HIG Capital Management had agreed to sell Specialized Vehicles Corp., to Singapore-based Vision Technologies Land Systems Inc.:

“Parent of Kidron, Hackney being purchased

“Vision Technologies Land Systems Inc, a subsidiary of Singapore Technologies Engineering Ltd (ST Engineering), has entered into an agreement with HIG to purchase its Specialized Vehicles Corp (SVC), parent company of Kidron and Hackney. The transaction, subject to regulatory approval and other closing conditions, is expected to close in 90 days.

“ST Engineering consists of four core businesses: Aerospace, Electronics, Marine, and Land Systems and has revenue of $1.8 billion with 12,000 employees worldwide in 15 nations.

“SVC is a leading manufacturer in North America for specialized truck bodies and trailers that services the multi-stop food and beverage service distributors and municipal emergency rescue departments. Its two divisions, Hackney and Kidron, specialize in beverage truck bodies and trailers, emergency rescue bodies and trailers, special application truck bodies and multi-temperature refrigerated truck bodies and trailers. SVC counts among its U S customers major fleet and truck leasing operators, foodservice, beer, soft drink distributors, and municipal authorities.

“The acquisition is in line with ST Engineering's strategy to grow the commercial automotive business of its Land Systems sector and to become a global specialty vehicle player. It will leverage on the sector's experience and expertise in the automotive industry and its growing network.

“'Vision Technologies Systems provides Specialized Vehicles Corporation the financial strength, the cost, purchasing and engineering expertise which we can leverage to be the market/product leader in the truck segments where we compete,' says Frank A. Papa, chief executive officer of SVC. 'This is an important step towards the realization of our business strategy of being the number one supplier of customer value in the products we design and produce, and in the niche markets we serve. Most importantly, together with Vision Technologies Systems, SVC would be positioned to better serve the needs of our customers in North America with a wider range of products, as well as grow internationally.'

“'SVC will become even greater because of the synergies that exist among SVC, Vision Technologies Systems and ST Engineering,' says John Coburn, VT Systems chairman and chief executive officer. 'SVC's management, which has performed well, will be able to draw on expanded resources and serve its North American customers even better.'”

The July 1, 2012 edition of Trailer and Body Builders announced that SVC was consolidating  some Kidron and Hackney body building operations at Hackney & Sons' plant in Independence, Kansas:

“Company's plant in Kansas builds Hackney and Kidron products

“For the first time since the merger of Kidron and Hackney, the products of both companies are being built in the same plant. Hackney’s beverage body plant in Independence KS has been expanded to accommodate production of the refrigerated van bodies built by Kidron.

“Not every hybrid contains an engine and an electric motor. Take the newly “hybridized” Hackney and Kidron plant in Independence, Kansas, for example.

“It's been almost a decade since two of America's venerable truck body manufacturing companies — Hackney and Kidron — became sister companies. During that time, Hackney plants built Hackney products, and Kidron plants built Kidron products. The two operations mostly shared ownership, rather than manufacturing space. Until now.

“The VT Hackney plant in Independence, Kansas, is the first to house production of both — the beverage body and trailer line that Hackney builds and the refrigerated bodies that are the hallmark of Kidron.

“But Kidron recognized the potential to use the Hackney facility as a manufacturing base for serving the Southwest, and expanded the Hackney plant by more than 50% in order to create space to manufacture refrigerated van bodies.

“In making the move, it is now much closer to major population centers in Texas (now the nation's second-most populous state), along with Colorado, Missouri, and Oklahoma.

“'We have a good sister company with a well-managed plant here in Independence,' says John Sommer, executive vice-president. 'It was a great place for us to invest.'

“Hackney first opened the plant in 1972. Located on 28 acres, the facility consisted of 140,300 square feet of manufacturing and warehouse space, along with 6,600 square feet of offices.

“To meet Kidron's manufacturing requirements, the company expanded the main assembly building with a 54,250-sq-ft addition. The chassis and final installation building was enlarged by 18,000-sq-ft.

“The entire process took less than a year. The company broke ground June 14, 2011, and began limited production May 1.

“'We hired a general contractor to build the building. But other than that, we did the entire project with existing staff,' says Kevin Spears, plant manager. 'That includes either finding or building all of the fixtures. And we did it while taking care of the normal Hackney production — at a time when demand for Hackney beverage bodies was really beginning to balloon.'

“Contributors to the project included Jason Scammey, engineer; Steve Potter, production manager; and Ron Hannigan, materials manager.

“Construction for the expanded facility began July 1 last year. And while the building was being constructed, a group of Hackney employees went to Kidron headquarters in Ohio for training.

“We posted a notice to see if anyone would be interested,” Sears says. “We needed nine, and 20 people volunteered.”

“The nine who were selected spent two months in training. Hackney in turn hired nine new people to replace the skilled personnel who transferred to the Kidron side of the plant.

“Sears, a Hackney veteran, also spent time learning the Kidron product. He studied the company's plants in Kidron, Ohio, and Montgomery, Pennsylvania, in search of best practices that could be implemented in Independence.

“The building was completed January 31. However, the plant was far from complete. Fixtures had to be installed, and some plans were changed as people had new ideas. Here is one example:

“'Kansas is tornado country,' Sears says. 'We are required to have a tornado shelter. As we looked at the heavy structural steel that we were using to build our elevated roofing station, it occurred to us that we could use the area beneath the roofing station as our tornado shelter. We put some heavy steel walls around the beams and now have a shelter that is far stronger than what we had planned. More than 70 people can gather beneath our roofing station in the event of a tornado.'

“Refrigerated van bodies and beverage bodies are two different products with major differences in the way they are manufactured. For example, most of the welding is done on the floors of refrigerated bodies. Beverage bodies, however, involve a significant amount of welding throughout. They also require a fair amount of fabrication — including major alterations to the chassis frame rails.

“For refrigerated vans, insulation quality is key. It is primarily an assembly process with very limited fabrication required. Generally, the bodies are mounted with no significant alterations required on the chassis.

“'We alter frames every day,' Sears says. 'So if we get a chassis for a Kidron order that needs alteration, we are ready to do it. We know exactly what's required.'

“Even the basic material flow is different for the two product lines. Hackney beverage bodies have been and will continue to be stall-built. The plant has six assembly stations where Hackney products are produced. By contrast, Kidron uses a cellular manufacturing approach to produce subassemblies that are fed into an assembly line.

“Kidron is only in the first few weeks of production at the Independence plant.

“'We have a good backlog,' Sears says. 'By the end of 2012, we expect to be building 15 bodies a week, and we will be pushing for more.'

“The additional production is well within what the plant is designed to be able to build. When at top speed, the plant should be able to produce seven bodies a day — 35 per week — on a single shift.

“'We have an experienced workforce here,' Sears says. 'Our average employee has 17 years experience with us.'

“Much like the people who work there, Kidron and Hackney have been serving their respective markets for many years. Hackney, based in Washington, North Carolina, has been specializing in beverage bodies and trailers for more than 60 years. Beyond that, the Hackney family traces its roots back to England where it built four-wheeled horse-drawn carriages known as Hackney coaches. The first know coach of this type was built in 1619.

“Kidron also started as a family business. Two of the three generations of the Sommer family continue to work there.

“The two companies are now owned by VT Systems (VTS) is an integrated engineering group serving the aerospace, electronics, land systems, and marine sectors. VTS has 5,100 employees worldwide.

Today Hackney manufactures in excess of 25,000 roll-up doors each year and was the originator of roll-up technology for truck bodies in the United States. The Hackney unique H-Drop frame is 2.8 times stronger than factory specifications. Hackney has specialized in this type of frame modification for over 40 years. Production is handled at its 2 North American manufacturing facilities: Washington, N.C. and Independence, KS., which also offer fleet maintenance and refurbishing facilities for customers not located near the firm's numerous sales and service centers.

Several structures originally used by the various Hackney businesses survive. Located at the corner of Hackney Ave. and Third St., the original Washington Buggy Co. plant in Washington, N.C. remains in use as an imported auto repair business. Also standing is  the Hackney Building (aka Hackney block) which is located across the street from the Post Office and CourtHouse on East Nash St. (State Hwy. 58) in downtown Wilson, N.C.

© 2015 Mark Theobald for








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