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Hincks & Johnson, Wood Bros., Tomlinson Wood & Co.
Tomlinson, Wood & Co., 1828-1879; Tomlinson Carriage Co., 1854-1880; Tomlinson Spring & Axle Co. 1854-1898; Z.M. Miller ????; Hincks & Johnson, 1879-1906 (1908); Bridgeport, Connecticut; Wood Bros. 1840s-1878; New York City, New York
Associated Builders
White Mfg. Co., Wood Brothers, Tomlinson Carriage Co., Tomlinson Spring & Axle Co.

Hincks & Johnson was a little-known Bridgeport carriage builder that produced wooden automobile bodies for early Locomobiles. The firm had a long history of producing automobile coachwork, their first known automobile customer being Manhattan’s John Chester De La Vergne for whom they constructed a couple of bodies in 1895. The firm was best known for their sturdy carriages and Hansom cabs which were sold to Manhattan’s elite through their 146 E 41st St. wareroom, which was managed by Charles W. Rivers.

Their direct predecssor, Wood Brothers, was far better known, in no small part due to their having supplied carriages for three successive US Presidents; Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Johnson & Ulysses S. Grant.

Hincks & Johnson can trace their roots to Tomlinson, Wood & Company, an early Bridgeport builder of heavy carriages founded in 1828 by brothers Stephen (b. 1804) and Russell (b. 1807) Tomlinson and David A. Wood (b. 1806-d. 1874).

David Augustus Wood was born on May 22, 1806 (d. Sep. 4, 1874) in Danbury Township, Fairfield County, Connecticut to David (b. Dec. 23, 1781-d. Mar. 8, 1867) and Betsey Hoyt (b. 1786-1855) Wood.

The 1870 Census lists David A. Wood (b. 1806 - 64yo) as a resident of New York City, his occupation retired carriage builder. In the ‘value of real estate owned’ column he provides $200,000 under the ‘real estate’ heading and $20,000 under the ‘personal estate’ heading. Also listed in the same household is his brother Charles B. Wood (b.1821 -48yo), occupation coach builder and David A. Wood’s son F. Charles Wood (b. 1849 - 21yo), his occupation clerk.

In 1834 Tomlinson and Wood took in a third partner, Jeremiah Judson, and erected a new carriage factory on Broad Street near the head of Cannon. The partners business became highly successful and on May 16, 1842 Stephen Tomlinson received US Patent No. 2624 for a spring perch for carriages.

On January 1, 1846 a group of Bridgeport businessmen organized the Spring Perch Company to exploit Tomlinsons’s patent. Capitalized at $25,000, its shareholders included Eli Gilbert, Joseph C. Lewis, Samuel W. Phelps, and Edwin Porter Jr. The firm was eventually taken over by executives of the Bridgeport Savings Bank, its success spawning a subsidiary, the Bridgeport Elastic Web Co. The firm’s products proved useful to the automobile industry, and a Buffalo, New York branch was later established, the firm remaining in business into the Second World War.

Jeremiah Judson’s share in Tomlinson, Wood & Company was eventually taken over by Frederick Wood (b. Aug. 22, 1815-d. Oct. 21, 1877), David A. Wood’s younger brother and on April 1, 1846 the two pairs of brothers reorganized the firm as a $100,000 joint stock company, its incorporators being Stephen and Russell Tomlinson and David A. and Frederick Wood.

Although they weren’t listed, David and Frederick's two brothers, Nathaniel C. (b. 1809), and Charles (b. Feb. 10, 1822) Wood were also involved with the firm. During that period Tomlinson, Wood, & Co. became the most extensive carriage builders in Bridgeport, and by the end of the decade had established a Manhattan repository in the old Apollo Hall at 410 Broadway, and a repair shop on Courtland alley, both of which were conducted in the style of Wood Bros., with no mention of the Tomlinsons.

The 1850 US Census reveals that the Woods had mostly relocated to Manhattan by that time. Included in the census were; Nathaniel C. Wood (b.1809 – 41yo), carriage manufacturer; David A. Wood (43yo), carriage manufacturer (and his wife Sarah, 37yo); Frederick (34yo), carriage manufacturer (and his wife Elizabeth, 30yo); Charles F. Wood (28yo), carriage manufacturer. Also included were the Wood brother’s parents, David (68yo) and Betsey (63yo) Wood.

Unlike his other brothers, Frederick maintained a Bridgeport residence up to the end of his life, and he appears in the 1850 US Census as a resident of both Bridgeport and Manhattan. His Bridgeport listing being; Frederick Wood (35yo), carriage manufacturer; Elizabeth (30yo) his wife, and their two sons, Augustus N (b. 1842 - 8yo) and Charles Frederick (b. 1849 - 1yo)

In 1854 the Tomlinson brothers sold their share in Tomlinson, Wood & Company and organized two new firms; the Tomlinson Spring & Axle Co., headed by Russell Tomlinson; and the Tomlinson Carriage Co., a $30,000 joint stock company organized on April 15, 1854; headed by Stephen Tomlinson, with George K. Groot, secretary and sales agent. The second generation of the Tomlinson family; Mark, Monson H., and William Tomlinson, were also involved in the two enterprises.

The Tomlinson Carriage company erected a four story manufactory, 121 by 50 feet at 38-46 John Street, Bridgeport. The first story (all were 10’ high) held the smith-shop with eight forges in the center, and one large chimney running up forty feet above the roof; a passageway and stairway in its center; and the remainder divided into an office, stock-room, and show-room. The second story was used for a wood-shop and turning-room, the third story was for ironing, painting and varnishing and the fourth floor for the storage of material and finished vehicles.

The Tomlinson Spring & Axle Co, was situated across the street from the Carriage factory on Cannon St. Both shops maintained a good relationship with the Wood Bros., who served as their exclusive New York City agents at 410 Broadway; and in Boston, Dudley H. Bayley, 91 Federal street, served in a similar capacity.

The 1857-1858 Bridgeport & East Bridgeport Directory reveals that even at that late date the Wood Brothers’ Broad and Cannon St.’s factory continued to be operated in the style of Tomlinson, Wood & Co.:

“Tomlinson Carriage Co., 38 to 46 John.
Tomlinson, Wood & Co., Broad c. Cannon.”

One period accounts claims that the Wood Brothers Bridgeport facility was managed by Z.M. Miller (Zephaniah Mills Miller, b.1811-d.1888), a longtime Bridgeport wagon and carriage builder. The 1850 US Census lists his occupation as wagon maker, the 1880 US Census, carriage builder. His exact business relationship with the Woods is currently unknown.

The Wood Brothers exhibited a group of carriages at the 1858 Fair of the American Institute, which was held at New York’s Crystal Palace. All was lost when the cast iron and plate glass exhibition hall famously burned to the ground on Oct 5, 1858.

The May 30, 1863 issue of Harpers Weekly announced that Wood Brothers had moved from 410 Broadway to 594-596 Broadway:

“REMOVAL. WOOD BROTHERS, Carriage Manufacturers, have removed to Nos. 594 and 596 Broadway, a few doors above Niblo's.”

The firm prospered and Frederick became a leading member of the Carriage Builders' National Association who referred to him in their 1897 history as “one of the brightest men ever connected with the carriage industry”.

Frederick Wood was a personal friend of P.T. Barnum and when Abraham Lincoln visited Bridgeport on March 10, 1860, the President enjoyed a fried oyster dinner with the Wood family at their 67 Washington Ave. (at Coleman St.) mansion. While at the Wood home Lincoln complained about the seating on the trains he had been traveling on and commented he liked the chair he was sitting on at the Wood home. The chair in question was lent to the President for the remainder of his journey.

In 1864 a group of New York merchants presented a Wood Bros. Barouche to the President just prior to the inauguration of his second term*. Equipped with six springs and solid silver lamps, door handles and hubcaps, the stylish Barouche (a 4-passenger vehicle descended from the 2-wheeled Caleche) included steps that automatically lowered when the doors were opened (and raised when they were closed).

*(Another source claims it was privately purchased by President and Mrs. Lincoln in 1864, who were subsequently reimbursed for its cost by Congress.)

On the night of April 14, 1865, President and Mrs. Lincoln journeyed to Ford’s Theater in the very same vehicle accompanied by Major Henry Rathbone and Miss Clara Harris to see a performance of ‘Our American Cousin’, during which John Wilkes Booth mortally wounded the President, who died the next day.

Abraham Lincoln’s son, Robert later sold the Barouche to F. B. Brewer of New York, after which it was sold to Clement Studebaker, who shipped it to the Studebaker Bros. Michigan Ave Carriage Repository, where it was first placed on display in August 1890, one of the very first vehicles included in the Studebaker Corporation's historic vehicles collection. The vehicle was recently restored to its original condition by B.R. Howard & Associates, Inc. of Carlisle, Pennsylvania, and remains the centerpiece of the Studebaker Museum’s collection.

The September 20, 1864 issue of the New York Times reported on a fire at the Wood Bros. repository:

“Large Fire in Broadway.

“Between 3 and 4 o'clock yesterday morning a fire broke out on the third floor of the building known as No. 596 Broadway, just above the Metropolitan Hotel, near Houston street. Owing to the time in the morning at which the alarm was given, and the further fact that many of the firemen had not returned from a fire uptown, considerable time elapsed from the first striking of the bells, before there was much force of firemen on the ground. The flames spread with great rapidity, and soon all the upper portion of the extensive building extending through to Crosby street, was one sheet of flame.

“The first floor was occupied by Messrs. WOOD, BROTHERS & CO., as a carriage repository. By dint of almost superhuman exertions they succeeded in saving nearly all of their extensive stock of carriages Some of them were however slightly damaged by water. The Messrs. WOOD are fully insured.”

An advertisement in the October 14, 1864 issue of the New York Semi-Weekly Times revelas the set up temporary accomodations in the Sanitary Fair exhibition hall located on the grounds of Manhattan's Palace Garden which was established in 1858:

“Carriages at Bargains.

“At the ‘Palace Garden,’ 14th-st., near 6th-av., SANITARY FAIR BUILDING, on exhibition, and offered for sale, WOOD BROTHERS immense stock of Carriages, embracing the newest and most fashionable styles in use, from the finest coach through all the varieties of Park Carriage to the lightest Trotting Wagon.

“That portion of the stock damage at the late fire will be sold at greatly reduced prices, and their new stock proportionately reduced to the gold standard.”

The November 5, 1864 issue of Harpers Weekly included the following advertisement which reveals they were also agents for Albany, New York's James Goold Co.:

“WOOD BROTHERS' Immense Stock of Carriages on Exhibition and for Sale at the PALACE GARDEN, Fourteenth Street, near Sixth Avenue (SANITARY FAIR BUILDING). Embracing the newest and most fashionable styles, from the finest Coach, through all the varieties of Park Carriages, to the lightest Trotting-Wagon. That portion of the stock damaged by the late fire will be sold at greatly-reduced price, and their new stock proportionately reduced to the gold standard. WOOD BROTHERS are Agents for the sale of GOOLD'S ALBANY Sleighs. A full assortment of these celebrated Sleighs will be found in our stock.”

Lincoln’s Vice-President, Andrew Johnson, became President after Lincoln’s assassination, and he too was an owner of a Wood Brother’s carriage. In ‘The Papers of Andrew Johnson, Volume 8, May - August 1865, pub. 1989, Lincoln Paul H. Bergeron includes the following letter:

“From John Rice, 129 South 7th Street, Philadelphia

His Excellency Andrew Johnson
President USA

Dear Sir.
At the request of General Mussey, I have purchased for you from Wood Brothers, New York, a carriage including slip linings and Stable cover, for the sum of $1550 – (The original prices was $2000.) and have ordered them to ship it, by the most convenient and safe route, and requested them to transmit Bill of lading &c direct to you.

Messrs. Beckhuas & Allgaier, to whom you gave the order to build a carriage, claim that they will be damaged at least $100 - by countermanding the Order. As the price of one bought in New York is as much below the price they ask, you will loose nothing by the transaction.

Hopeing it will please you, and the use of it assist in relieving the cares of your official duties.

I remain your obedient Servt.,
John Rice

(Two week later, Johnson sent a check to Charles B and Frederick R. Wood, New York City)”

Wood Bros. continued to use the Sanitary Fair building as their repository into late April of 1865 at which time the disposed of their old stock in an acution that was advertised in the General City News column of the March 29, 1865 New York Times:

“LARGE SALE OF CARRIAGES. -- Messrs. WOOD BROTHERS, the well known carriage manufacturers, will dispose of their entire stock by public auction on Wednesday and Thursday evenings next, at their repository in Fourth-street near the Sixth-avenue. (Palace Garden.) The stock contains nearly one hundred and fifty carriages, many of them of the most fashionable styles, and made expressly for this market. The clarences, coupes and phaetons are particularly worthy of attention, being finished in the most costly and recherche manner. Immediately after the sale, the firm will resume business at its old stand No. 596 Broadway with a large and entirely new stock.”

An advertisment in the April 6, 1865 New York Times states they had resumed operations at their  No. 596 Broadway repository:

“Fine Carriages.

“WOOD BROTHERS, Carriage Manufacturers, No. 596 Broadway, N.Y., having, since the late fire, made a clearing out sale at auction, of all their old goods, and resumed business at their old stand, No. 596 Broadway, with an entire fresh stock, made especially for the Spring trade, from new models of the most fashionable pleasure carriages now in use, are prepared to sell at greatly reduced prices. Style, fashion, beauty of model, excellence in workmanship, and durability are the characteristics of their work, and they believe in these particulars it stands unrivaled by any made upon the continent.

“WOOD BROTHERS, No. 596 Broadway, N.Y.”

The Wood Bros.' 92 Crosby street workshop was damaged by fire on Dec. 17, 1865, the December 18, 1865 New York Times reporting:


“Between 8 and 9 o'clock Saturday evening, a fire broke out at No. 92 Crosby-street, a five-story building, occupied by WOOD BROTHERS, carriage manufacturers, as a workshop. The flames were first discovered among some paints and oils, but were kept well under by the persistent efforts of the firemen, who were early on the ground. The damage to the stock is about $1,000; the building is damaged by fire and water $250. Both losses are fully covered by insurance.”

In 1870 newly-elected US President Ulysses S. Grant commissioned Wood Bros. to build him a carriage of his own design, becoming the third successive US President to do so. The style was that of the hunting carriage or dog cart, a sturdy 4-passenger vehicle with built-in kennels beneath the tonneau that included provisions for food and beverage underneath the driver’s seat.

Wood Bros. also produced small numbers of wood-wheeled bicycles (aka boneshakers for their unpleasant ride) in the period immediately following the end of the Civil War. One surviving example is on display at the Velocipede Museum in New Castle, Delaware, whose description of it follows:


The June 1858 issue of the New York Coachmaker’s Magazine indicates that another coachbuilder named Wood (Fred. R. Wood Co.) was operating a competing firm on West Ninteenth street. Although they shared a surname, the two firms were totally unrelated.

The Fred. R. Wood Co. was established in 1848 by Frederick R. Wood* (b. 1825), a native New Yorker who established a Manhattan wareroom and manufactory at 219-221 West 19th St., under the style of Fred. R. Wood & Co. during 1848.

*(Not to be confused with the Manhattan realtor, Frederick R. Wood (b.1868-d.1924) who built up a large commercial real estate business as F.R. Wood & Co. He took on a partner, William Hamilton Dolson (1880-1926), in 1911, forming the Wood, Dolson Co. which survived under various iterations until 1968.)

Trow’s 1872 New York City Directory lists both carriagemakers as follows:

“Wood Brothers Co., carriages, 740 Broadway & 58 Lafayette Pl.
“Wood, Frederick R., carriages, 219 W. 19th, h. 446 W 20th,”

In late 1869 The Wood Bros. purchased a LaFayette Place plot at 740-742 Broadway running through to Astor Place upon which they erected a 5-story carriage manufactory and repository. Whilst under construction, the building suffered a partial collapse, a fact mentioned in the following 'concerned citizen' letter published by the New York Herald in its April 15, 1870 issue:

“A Dangerous Building

“To the editor of the Herald

“Through your valuable paper we wish to call the immediate attention of the inspector of buildings, if we have any, to the very dangerous condition of the large building erected by Wood Brothers for a carriage manufactory on Broadway near Astor Place, running through to Lafayette Place. It is five stories high with very light walls. About 100 feet of the north wall fell of its own weight a few days ago, with a crash. The remainder of the wall near Broadway has bulged out and is propped up with timbers, the ends resting on the Stuyvesant Bank building. The neighbors are afraid of the lives, as they expect it to fall at any time. The owners and builders should be prosecuted and made to pay any damages for erecting such a shell of a building, and the inspector of Buildings should compel them to remove the dangerous structure immediately. By policing the above you will greatly oblige many in the neighborhood.


A detailed report of the collapse was published in the April 17, 1870 issue of the New York Times, included below are the first few paragraphs:

“THE FALLEN BUILDING.; The Recent Accident at Wood Brother's Carriage Warehouse--Result of the Inspection Yesterday--The Official Report.

“The inspection which was adjourned from Wednesday last of the fallen building in Lafayette-place, now in process of erection as a carriage warehouse for Wood Brothers, was continued yesterday, and the report of the Committee will be found below. Another inspection is to take place during the coming week, to ascertain, if possible, the cause of the disaster. This was not done yesterday, from the fact that the foundation of the fallen wall is so covered with debris that it was found impossible to obtain a fair view of the under structure. It is thought by Superintendent MacGregor, and other practical mechanics, that water running from the roof during the recent heavy Spring rains so undermined the foundation walls as to lead to the disastrous results which followed.”

During the consequent delay in construction, Wood Bros. leased a portion of the 22nd Regiment Armory as a repository as stated in the following display advertisement published on the front page of the May 28, 1870 New York Herald:

“Astonishingly Low Prices. Wood Brothers are offering their stock of fine carriages at the armory of the Twenty-second regiment, Fourteenth street, between Sixth and Seventh avenues, at great bargains, among which are a few second-hand carriages at the astonishingly low prices mentioned below:

“Two wheel dog cart $200; Open Ensembles for six persons $260 to $480; Light Open Coaches $500; Open ‘Four-In-Hand’ Carriages $350; Four seat Park Phaetons $310; Six seat Park Phaetons $340; Fine Clarences, with silk linings $1800; Elegant Closed Coaches $2,000; Cabriolets $2,400. ‘Tea’ Carts, Top Buggies, Pony Phaetons, &c., at great bargains. Wood Brothers, armory Twenty-second regiment, Fourteenth street between Sixth and Seventh avenues.”

The collapsed wall was rebuilt and the new repository and warerooms opened during the first week of August of 1870, the August 2nd issue of the New York Herald included the following classified:

“A Superb Eight-Spring Paris-Made Landau, at less than the cost of Importation, for sale by Wood Brothers & Co., at their new warerooms, 740 Broadway, one block below Astor place. Other elegant Paris made Carriages equally cheap. French carriages imported to order. A fine 8 spring Landau, $1,150.”

Wood Bros. suffered a $75,000 loss on February 1, 1873, the Spectator Insurance Yearbook for 1874 reporting:

“An iron front building on Broadway New York occupied by an upholstering firm was damaged by fire $300,000 Wood Bros carriage makers lost $75,000.”

The February 2, 1873 issue of the New York Times reporting:

“Destructive Fire in Broadway Loss Estimated at $500,000.

“Shortly before 3 o’clock, yesterday morning, Patrolman Brennan of the Fifteenth Precinct, noticed smoke coming issuing from the second story windows of Nos. 740 and 742 Broadway. He sent out an alarm, which was promptly responded to be detachments of the police, Fired Department and Insurance Patrol. The doors of the building were with difficulty forced open, when it was discovered that the second floor was enveloped in flames. The firemen woo had several streams of water playing on the fire, and in the meantime the police and insurance patrolmen exerted themselves in saving property in the lower part of the building. The first floor of the premises is occupied by the Wood Bros., carriage-makers, and was filled with a valuable assortment of carriages and sleighs. The doors on Broadway and Lafayette place were thrown open, and under the direction of Capt. Byrnes, of the Fifteenth Precinct, much property was saved. In the meantime the flames had spread very rapidly throughout the second floor of the building, and before they could be extinguished had extended to the third and first floors, causing an immense loss. The second floor was occupied by Nicol, Cowlishaw & Co., importers of and dealers in upholstery and carriage trimmings. They estimate their loss at $300,000 in gold, and they have an insurance of $235,000, gold, principally in foreign companies. The third floor is occupied by A. Ingalls, upholsterer; loss on stock, $5,000; fully insured. Wood Brothers occupy the first floor and basement of the building. They estimate their loss on stock at $75,000; covered by insurance. The building is owned by Wood Brothers and is damaged to the extent of $20,000; fully insured. The fire is supposed to have originated from a grate fire igniting the floor beams.”

The eldest Wood brother, David Augustus Wood, passed away on September 4, 1874, the Obituary column of the September 7, 1874 New York Times reporting:

“Wood – Suddenly, on Friday, Sept. 4, David Augustus Wood, formerly of the firm of Wood Brothers, in the 69th year of his age. The relatives and friends of the family are invited to attend the funeral services at his late residence, No. 33 West 23rd St., on Monday, Sept. 7, at 10 A.M. The remains will be taken for interment to Bridgeport, Conn. where carriages will be waiting on the arrival of the 1 o’clock train from New York.”

After hiss passing his younger brothers assumed control of the firm's Manhattan operations, a sample ‘Holiday Goods’ advertising supplement is transcribed below that appeared in the December 24, 1875 New York Times:

“Wood Brothers, of No. 740 Broadway, are selling at a large discount from former prices their fine stock of richly-finished carriages, of the best quality only, and all designed and made by themselves. The latest French and English fashions, which rule the carriage, as they do the dry-goods market, are reproduced by this firm, and all their carriages are trimmed with imported Moroccos and satins, and are guaranteed in all respects the best carriages made. The prices at which the firm are selling their stock are low enough to come within the meads of comparatively limited incomes; they have contented themselves with small profits, depending on quick returns, and have organized their business on an economical basis, which enables them to offer a good article at a low price. Their large store and show rooms contain as elegant a display of carriages and sleighs for Winter use as may be found anywhere, and a general stock, from the skeleton-like sulky to the all-containing Rockaway or wagonette, in which the largest sort of a picnic party may find accommodation. Carriages for the country, for the City; wagons, buggies, broughams, Victorias, landaus, and every other style of vehicle, may be found here, as cheap and good as any purchased could desire.”

By 1878 David's younger brother Frederick had retired to Bridgeport and with no successors deemed capable of running the firm, the Wood family elected to sell off its assets and withdraw from business, stating it was ncessary to 'settle the estate'. The firm's 5-year old Broadway manufactory was put up for lease, its inventory acquired by 5th Avenue's Brown & Pray,  who took out the following advertisement in the April 14, 1878 New York Times:

“CARRIAGES, Brown & Pray offer for sale at greatly reduced prices the entire stock of elegant carriages manufactured by the late firm of Wood Brothers for less than the cost of construction to close out the estate. The stock consists of Landaus, Landaulets, Victorias, Grand Victorias, Cabriolets, Vis-à-vis, Coupelets. Ladies Phaetons, Pony Phaetons, Wagonettes, Park Drags, Coaches, Broughams, Coupes, Stanhope Phaetons, T Carts, Tandem Carts, Stanhope Gigs, Tax Carts, Road Wagons. Brown & Pray, successorts to Wood Brothers, Carriage Builders, 84 5th-av. Cor. 14th-st.”

The June 6, 1879 issue of the New York Times announced a special auction of the firm’s assets:

“The entire stock of carriages of the firm of Wood Brothers will be sold at auction, beginning on Wednesday morning next, at No. 84 Fifth Avenue. The sale is absolute in order to close the estate.”

Wood Brothers’ 740-742 Broadway warerooms were subsequently occupied by James Crossley, an importer of all grades of carpets who was previously located at 320 and 323 Broadway. He occupied the building until his 1885 bankruptcy after which it served as the home of Charles Scribners and Sons who occupied it until 1888 when it became the home of the Baker & Taylor Co. a scholastic book publisher and distributor who occupied it until 1894. By the turn of the century it had become the Manhattan branch of the Addressograph Co.

In May of 1879 the Wood Bros. old Broad Street, Bridgeport, Conn. carriage factory was purchased by Enoch P. Hincks & George H.N. Johnson, who reintroduced a similar line of heavy carriages (coaches, landaus, coupes, hansoms, etc.) for which the Wood Bros. were well-known.

The unrelated Frederick R. Wood Co. would enjoy another 60 years manufacturing vehicle bodies for Manhattan’s elite, under the style of Fred. R. Wood, Frederick R. Wood & Son, and finally F.R. Wood & Son, Inc.

Hincks and Johnson's operation were well described in the second volume of Orcutt’s A History of the Old Town of Stratford and the City of Bridgeport (pub. 1886):

“Hincks and Johnson, manufacturers of fine heavy carriages, such as coaches, landaus, broughams, coupes, hansom cabs, established their business on Broad street in May, 1879, as successors to Wood Brothers, who, with Stephen and Russell Tomlinson, gained a well-deserved reputation during seventeen years of successful labors in the business. Mr. David Wood was among the first to commence a manufactory of heavy carriages in this country, beginning in 1828, under the firm name of Tomlinson, Wood and Company, Mr. Hincks is a native of this city, and Mr. Johnson was engaged In New York for a term of years before starting the business here. They occupy the original edifice built in 1831, with such additions as have been made from time to time, and now cover over two acres of ground floor, giving employment to 100 or 150 hands. They turn out complete about 200 of the larger carriages or coaches yearly, and of other styles a greater number, being, in fact, the largest establishment of the kind in New England and the second in this country. The departments for construction in wood and iron work each in itself would make a large business. They were the first to introduce recently the London hansom cabs, making some changes from the English design, and have already sold a large number of them in the most populous cities of the country. All their business is transacted at the office of their manufactory.”

Hincks & Johnson officers included: President, George H. Johnson; vice-president, Enoch P. Hincks; treasurer, William B. Hincks ; secretary, H.S. Wilmot ; superintendent, Thomas Boudren.

The firm's president, Enoch Pond Hincks, was born on December 22, 1846 in Bucksport, Hancock County, Maine to John Winslow (b. 23 August 23, 1817 in Bucksport) and Sarah Ann (Blodgett) (b. August 24, 1820 in Bucksport) Hincks who were married August 23, 1839. To the blessed union was born four boys: William B. (b. Sep. 8, 1841); Edward Y. (b. Aug. 13, 1844); Enoch P. (b: Dec. 22, 1846); and John (b. 1849) Hincks – all born on the family farm in Bucksport, Hancock County, Maine.

Enoch Pond Hincks older brother, William Bliss Hincks, (Sgt. Major W.B. Hincks) was Bridgeport’s most-celebrated Civil War hero. After moving to Bridgeport with his family William established a career for himself as a writer, and on July 22, 1862 he enlisted in the 14th Connecticut Infantry as the unit’s adjutant (aka secretary).

W.B. Hincks was present at many of the major Civil War battles and on December 1, 1864 received the Congressional Medal of Honor for his actions at the Battle of Gettysburg. After the war, he returned home and established a book business in partnership with Hobart Brinsmade, under style of Brinsmade & Hincks, purchasing his partner’s interests in 1871. He was interested in American history and contributed to many of the nation’s leading magazines (Harpers, Hearth & Home) and in 1876 wrote 'Bridgeport and Vicinity in the Revolution and the War of 1812'.

In later life Hincks became one of Bridgeport’s most respected citizens, serving on the boards of a large number of Bridgeport businesses in his capacity as treasurer of the City Savings Bank of Bridgeport. He was a good friend of P.T. Barnum and helped him found the Barnum Museum and Bridgeport Hospital. Following the great showman’s death on April 8, 1891, he served as co-executor of Barnum’s estate which amounted to more than $5 million at the time.

The 1870 US Census lists William’s less-celebrated brother, Enoch P. Hicks, as a ‘clerk in carriage shop’, one history of Bridgeport states he was in the lumber business starting in 1862.

At the time of the 1870 Census Enoch and his wife Cornelia lived with William B. Hincks (his occupation ‘inspector of customs’) and his wife, Mary Louise (Hart) Hincks (William and Mary were married on September 11, 1866). Coincidentally the Hincks brothers married sisters, their parents being Baldwin (b.1815) and Charlotte J.W. (b.1821) Hart, farmers who lived in Madison Township, New Haven County, Connecticut. Mary L. Hart was born in 1843, Cornelia E. Hart in 1848.

Enoch married Cornelia Emmarine Hart, sister of his eldest brother's wife, on Oct. 5, 1869 and to the blessed union was born 3 children; Annie Hart (b. May 22 1872), Henry Winslow (b. Dec. 13 1875), and Cornelia Baldwin (b. March 12, 1882) Hincks.

Enoch and William’s business partner (and the firm's president), George Huntington Nicholls Johnson (b. Jan. 8, 1844-d.May 12, 1928), was a sixth generation representative of the old Nicholls family who came to the New World in 1635 and at one time owned much of Bridgeport and the surrounding area.

He was born in Brooklyn, New York on January 8, 1844 to William Sumner and Ann Eliza (Nicholls) Johnson. William Sumner Johnson, a native of Oneida county, New York, was for many years a leading wholesale hardware and dry goods merchant in New York City.

In December of 1849, the family removed to Bridgeport, where George attended the public schools, after which he attended Columbia College. After graduation he embarked upon a business career in Manhattan, later serving as treasurer of the Moore Car Wheel Co. of Jersey City, New Jersey.

On April 15, 1868, Johnson married Mary Emma Webster, of New York City, and to the blessed union was born two children, Annie Webster and Mary W. Johnson (the latter became the wife of Dr. T. L. Ellis). Johnson was a sporting enthusiast and is recorded as importing a two wheel bicycle or ‘bone shaker’ from Paris in 1869.

In 1868 he returned to Bridgeport, the 1870 US Census giving his occupation as treasurer of the White Mfg. Co., 95 Cannon St., Bridgeport, a manufacturer of brass and silver hearse, coach and carriage lamps. The White Mfg. Co. can trace its history to 1832 when it was organized as Rippen & Sturges. That firm was succeeded by George Rippen who sold the operation to White and Bradley in 1846. It was succeeded by Thomas P. White & Company in 1853 which in turn was reorganized in 1861 as a $40,000 joint stock company called the White Manufacturing Company. In addition to its own well-established lines of hearse lamps and hardware it supplied firms such as Brewster & Co. with private label carriage lamps and accessories. Known suppliers of Brewster & Co. lamps include the Abraham P. DeVoursney Co. (later DeVoursney Bros.), Broome St., New York City, and the White Mfg. Co.

Although the White Mfg. Co.'s Cannon St. factory burned to the ground on November 1, 1879, they were soon back in business, the October 23, 1881 Boston Daily Globe reporting:

“The White Manufacturing Company, Bridgeport, Conn., is manufacturing fine carriage lamps and mountings of every description, running full time with about fifty hands, and have increased business by about 25 per cent.”

At that time White Mfg. Co.’s officers included: George H.N. Johnson, President; William B. Hincks, Treasurer; H. S. Wilmot, Secretary; and Thomas Boudren, Superintendent. Early listings (pre-fire) give 95 Cannon St. as an address, later listings give 155 Cannon St. Coincidentally, the Blue Ribbon Auto and Carriage Co. was located directly across the street at 130-70 Cannon St.

The 1880 US Census lists George H. N. Johnson in Bridgeport, occupation carriage builder, with a wife Mary E., and two daughters; Annie W. & Mary W. Johnson.

Hincks & Johnson were one of a handful of firms that specialized in building heavy carriages, their most popular item being the Hansom Cab, a fact revealed in the April 29, 1882 issue of Scientific American:

“Hansom Cabs.

“The first, extensive introduction and use of Hansom cabs in this country is to take place in Philadelphia, Pa., in a short time, by the Pennsylvania Railroad Company. The cabs are to be constructed in the best manner after the English pattern, and a contract for thirty has been given to the enterprising Connecticut firm of carriage builders, Messrs. Hincks & Johnson. The Pennsylvania Railroad Company intend by means of these cabs to transport passengers from their new depot to various parts of the city at a very low price.

“The experiment will be watched with interest, and, if successful, will probably lead to the extensive introduction of these cabs in other cities.”

Two year later the same publication, (Scientific American) mentioned the partner’s improved cab in its November 8, 1884 issue:

“An Improved Cab Carriages with the driver's seat behind after the style the English hansom have never been very popular in country although a great variety of two wheeled has been introduced within the past two or three years our leading carriage manufacturers have however competing to see which could build the best vehicle of kind and one that would at the same time take the fancy One of the latest inventions m this line is a wheeled vehicle recently patented by Messrs. E. P. and G.H. Johnson of Bridgeport, Conn. The front is projecting one and presents a three sided figure the being straight and the doors on the sides forming an therewith opening toward the wheels the side springs being so arranged that the doors may be readily opened without interference The springs extend beyond the of the doors to near the front of the wheels and are supported at their forward ends by goose necks attached to rocker frame of the carriage The vehicle is low hung so far forward on the axle that with the driver's seat raged behind it makes a well-balanced as well as very convenient and easy riding carriage and one which presents an extremely neat and attractive appearance.”

Hincks & Johnson Hansom cabs were popular with Manhattan hacks as revealed by the following list of chattel mortgages (aka installment loans) issued by Hincks & Johnson’s Manhattan branch during the week of September 28, 29, & October 1, 2, 3, 4, 1900, as reported in the October 6, 1900 Real Estate Record and Builder’s Guide:

“Colton J.J., 206 W. 18th - Hincks & J. Cab $675
Cornish H.G., 111 E. 82d - Hincks & J. Cab $1,575
Nelson O.S., 205-207 E. 38th - Hincks & J. Cab $800
O’Connell W.P., 122-124 W. 54th - Hincks & J. Cab $225
O’Hara Kate, 207-209 E. 38th - Hincks & J. Cab $775
Rankin J.W., 338 W. 25th - Hincks & J. Cab $775”

That particular week was a good one for the firm, in most other weeks during the year Hincks & Johnson issued only from one to three chattel mortgages. If you interpolate the sales, its Manhattan branch was selling approximately 150 taxicabs per annum at about $1,700 per vehicle. The same publication also records occasional liens on the firm’s carriages, but at a far diminished frequency.

August 18, 1888 New York Times:


“BRIDGEPORT, Conn., Aug. 17.--Enoch P. Hincks, head of the firm of Hincks Johnson, the largest carriage manufacturers in Western Connecticut and always a Republican, has come out squarely for Cleveland and tariff reform, as he made known very plainly in a speech delivered last evening before the Bridgeport Democratic Association. He said he voted for Blaine in 1884, but the Republican platform, declaring for free whisky and against lessening taxation on the needs of life, was more than he could stand.

“His careful reading – for 15 years – of the New York Tribune had made him a fairly good free trader. ‘In my business,’ said Mr. Hincks, ‘the talk about inability to compete with the pauper labor of Europe is nonsense. The bodymakers in my factory tell me they made as much by the piece in England as here, but they say that our machinery. Our methods, and our management are so superior that we can make a carriage in less time than the Englishman. Everything we make a carriage with is highly taxed, and we can never have a fair field for free competition unless we get our raw materials free of duty. We have never had any difficulty with our help. Our labor is better than the foreign labor. We have a 35 per cent duty on carriages, but we pay $20 a ton on Norway iron, 60 per cent on cloth, 60 per cent on plate glass, 50 per cent on varnish, and on through the list. The removal of the duties on these things would not cheapen labor, because with wider markets the tendency would be to increase the demand for labor and therefore its price. Why should varnish be protected in the interest of labor when scarcely any labor is required to make it, three or four men doing the whole work of a factory?’

“He regarded the Mills bill as a very conservative measure and wondered that it did not call for sweeping reductions. Several prominent Republicans were at the meeting intending to worry Mr. Hincks with questions, but not one of them asked a question or attempted to controvert his arguments, although invited to do so.”

Another political article in the August 27, 1888 New York Times states:

“Hincks & Johnson employ nearly 1,000 skilled workmen, each and all of whom would feel the benefit could the firm have open to them the markets of the world for exporting carriages.“

In 1889 Enoch P. Hincks, Bridgeport, Conn., was made a member of the Board of Trustees of the Carriage Builders National Association. E.P. and G.H. Johnson and H.R. Murray, the firm’s chief draughtsman were also CBNA members. Hincks was also a trustee of the People's Savings Bank of Bridgeport. His wife was Cornelia E. (Hart) (b. 1848), three children; Henry W. (b. Dec. 13, 1875) Anna H. (b. May 22, 1872) and Cornelia B. (b. Mar. 1882) Hincks.

During the mid-to-late 1800s the firm and its two partners were issued and or assigned 9 US Patents as follows:

Trunk Lid Support - US Pat. 121786 – Filed Dec. 12, 1871 - Issued Dec. 12, 1871
Hub Bands - US Pat. 139317 - Filed Mar. 29, 1873 - Issued May 27, 1873
Tack - US Pat. 170854 - Filed Oct. 4, 1875 - Issued Dec 7, 1875
Folding Top Carriage - US Pat. 235528 - Filed Nov. 10, 1880 - Issued Dec. 14, 1880
Sash - US Pat. 260873 - Filed Apr. 27, 1882 - Issued Jul. 11, 1882
Two-Wheeled Vehicle - US Pat. 305187 - Filed May 8, 1884 - Issued Sep. 16, 1884
Coach-Hinge - US Pat. 348212 - Filed Apr. 5, 1886 - Issued Aug. 31, 1886
Carriage Top (J.G. Carpenter) - US Pat. 448931 - Filed Oct. 25, 1890 - Issued Mar. 24, 1891
Door Opener (C.J. Rishor) US Pat. 493520 - Filed Sep. 9, 1892 - Issued Mar. 14, 1893

The ‘Horses, Traps, and Drivers’ column of the April 8, 1894 New York Times inclded a glowing review of one of the firm's new Hansoms:

“A Hansom cab that exited a deal of admiration yesterday was the new one belonging to the Imperial Hotel outfit. It has a black body, with yellow running gear striped with black, the wheels having rubber tires. The trimmings are of a light drab, the lamps ornate and ornamented with gilt, and the whole outfit neat as that of any private cab. The builders are Hincks & Johnson of Bridgeport. Markart of Twenty-third Street owns the trap.”

The November 1895 issue of The Horseless Age reveals that Hincks & Johnson supplied the coachwork for the short-lived De La Vergne motor carriage, one of the nation's pioneering automobile manufacturers:

“At the De La Vergne Refrigerating Machine Company's Works:

“The De La Vergne Refrigerating Machine Company has created a special oil engine department under the management of Mr. George Richmond and expects to have ready for the market at an early date some 20 sizes of these engines, up to 40 horse-power.

“While the Hornsby-Akroyd engines are being prepared for the market, the De La Vergne Co. are building four motor wagons propelled by regular horizontal gas engines. Two of these may be described as hunting traps, and the other two are drags in somewhat modified form.

“The hunting traps, which are of the very newest design, are equipped with single cylinder motors, having two pistons. This novel departure in gas engine construction which is an invention of Mr. Richmond is said to reduce to a minimum the vibration or pulsation experienced in many motor wagons.

“The weight of the traps is 1,500 pounds each and they have a seating capacity for four with abundant room for baggage and hunting equipment. They were built specially for rough use on all kinds of roads by Hincks & Johnson, of Bridgeport, Ct.

“The two drags are slightly heavier, weighing 1,800 pounds each, and having three seats, accommodate 6 or even 8 persons.

“These wagons have the ordinary fifth wheel though the steering wheels are pivoted at the hub as in the hunting traps. They were built for park use and summer touring by Valentine Linn & Son, carriage builders, Brooklyn, N. Y.

“The lamps on all these wagons are lighted by electricity generated by the motor, and the wheels which are respectively 36 and 48 inches, are fitted with the solid rubber tires of the Rubber Tire Wheel Co.

“The De La Vergne motor and gearing are built in an iron frame, around which the wagon or carriage maker constructs his vehicle. This frame can easily be used for any style of vehicle.”

Although it’s totally forgotten today, as late as 1911 the De La Vergne Motor Wagon was mentioned alongside the Duryea Motor Wagon as being one of the nation’s first. Patrick Robertson writing in his 1911 edition of ‘Robertson’s Book of Firsts:

“While the Duryea Motor Wagon Co. of Springfield., Mass., is generally acknowledged as the founder of the American auto industry, it should be noted that there were other firms that began producing gasoline-engine cars that year, 1895. One was G. Edgar Allen, a carriage builder resident in Englewood, N.J., who established a motor manufactory at 304 West 53rd Street in New York City, which survived until 1900; while elsewhere in the city, on 138th Street, the De La Vergne Refrigerating Co, completed its first four production vehicles, two single-cylinder traps and two twin-cylinder drags, In December. That month the company reported that it had orders from such luminaries of the financial world as John Jacob Astor, William Waldorf Astor, William Rockefeller, George Gould. Edwin Gould, and William Havemeyer, as well as beer barons Jacob Rupert of New York and Fred Pabst of Milwaukee. Building of cars to fulfill these and other orders was subcontracted to Hincks & Johnson of Bridgeport, Conn., and Valentine, Linn & Son of Brooklyn. Production was abruptly halted on the death of the company founder, John Chester De La Vergne in May of 1896. Meanwhile in Harvey, Illinois the Chicago Motor Vehicle Co., which despite its name also built horse-drawn carriages, was boasting of its factory capacity for a hundred vehicle weekly. It continued making cars for four years before switching to motor buses and delivery vans. The company went bankrupt in 1904.”

One of the images sent out by the de La Vergne Co. depicting one of their motor hunting traps was in fact lifted from an earlier issue of The Hub, who was none too pleased. Their January 1896 issue called attention to the fact as follows:


“During the recent gathering of horseless vehicle experimentalists at Chicago an organization was formed, having for its purpose the encouragement of the manufacture of horseless vehicles. Under the present circumstances this movement was a good one, and I he organization cannot get down to business too soon, as they have two serious obstacles to overcome. The first is the mechanical difficulties, and the second is the closing of the mouths and stopping the publication of so much arrant bosh as is now going the rounds of the press. This is bad enough when appearing in the columns of journals that make no pretense of mechanical or technical knowledge, but when seen in those that from their titles would appear to be entitled to recognition as mechanical publications they become serious obstacles in the path of the inventor, as they lead to ridicule from the general public, and thus lose the encouragement necessary to their introduction.

“The latest burlesques in this direction recently appeared in a journal which aims to reflect the true situation as to motor vehicles. Among the drawings shown are many that are crude and ridiculous, but this might be excused under the circumstances, as about every patent crank in the country has reached the conclusion that he is the Moses who will lead the horseless vehicles out of the wilderness, and the Patent Office is being deluged with crude drawings which mean nothing, and it becomes necessary to fall back upon these freaks; but when recourse is had to the mutilating of The Hub's Fashion Plates, one is led to doubt the truth of any of the reproductions. We reprint herewith a mutilated cut, the original of which appeared in the May number of The Hub. As will be seen, the wheelhouse has been filled in with a pen and a post, and what is intended for a wheel placed forward of the driver's seat, and the improvised vehicle is dubbed a "Motor Hunting Trap," are accredited to the "De la Vergne Refrigerating Machine Co., New York." We are not willing to believe that the company will claim that they have produced such a trap, in view of the fact that the artist (?) who made the alterations failed to show any connection between the power, (wherever that may be stored) and the wheels. It is possible, however, that he had some doubts about the ability of the motor to propel the vehicle, and he therefore left the platform gear with its draw bar and pole loop, so that a team of old fashioned horses could be used when the motor failed. He failed also to remove The Hub's imprint, thereby making us responsible for the crude alterations and the omission of mechanical devices. The selection of a good design from our columns is creditable to his good taste, but the alterations as shown don't improve it, or advance the interest of the horseless vehicle.”

A freak accident suffered by George H.N. Johnson during early 1904 was carried in the national papers, the March 25, 1904 Lowell Sun reporting:


“BRIDGEPORT, Conn., March 25 - George H. N. Johnson, Junior member of the firm of Hincks & Johnson, carriage manufacturers, fell asleep while returning to this city from New York Wednesday night and when the train reached here at 12;30 he failed to awake. While the train was pulling out of the city, however, he was aroused by the brakeman's announcement that the next stop would be New Haven and he rushed, half dazed, out of the car to find that the train was just going over the rolling lift bridge. A jolt of the train threw him off the car platform and he landed on the ties, sustaining a compound fracture of the right arm. Then he rolled off the bridge into the harbor, and the shock of the sudden bath restored him completely to consciousness.

“Swimming with his left arm for 100 yards or more, he reached the fender piling of the bridge and rested there for an hour until his cries for help were heard by the crew of a freight train which had stopped on the bridge.

“How to rescue him was a puzzle to the trainmen, but Johnson had a plan. By his direction the rolling lift was opened so that the counter-weights which drop toward the water were just above his head. He was not quite able to reach the bridge even them, but by attaching a ladder to the lower part of the structure he was able to crawl to the counter-weights and on this impromptu lever was brought to safety.

“He was carried to the railroad station in a freight car. When he reached there he refused to have an ambulance called, but took a cab for his home, where a physician attended him.

“Mr. Johnson is 50 years old and a 33d degree Mason. Yesterday he was fairly comfortable, though pneumonia was threatened.”

Hincks & Johnson's factory was destroyed by fire on April 9, 1906, the May 1906 Carriage Monthly reporting:

“Serious Fire Loss.

“The carriage factory of Hincks & Johnson, Bridgeport, Conn., was destroyed by fire April 9th; loss estimated at $50,000. The damage was confined entirely to the portion of the plant devoted to manufacturing all kinds of vehicles, and the flames did not reach the large repository south of the shops where some $50,000 worth of finished vehicles were stored. The loss is covered by insurance.”

Many of the firm's craftsmen found temporary employment at the Bridgeport Vehicle Co., and the May 1908 issue of The Hub inferred that Hincks & Johnson were out of business for good:


“In connection with the revival of the rumor that the old firm of Hincks & Johnson, the well-known carriage manufacturers of Bridgeport, Conn., intend to go out of business, Enoch P. Hincks, senior member of the firm, practically confirmed the report recently, when he said that nothing definite had been decided upon, but that neither he nor Mr. Johnson cared to continue in business much longer. ‘We are both getting along in years,’ said Mr. Hincks. ‘We have no plans for the future.’

“This firm has had many years of a prosperous trade and its reputation among the trade is of the best. At different times during the past ten years there have been reports of the sale of the firm’s valuable property in Bridgeport.”

The July 1908 issue of The Hub cornfirming:


“The affairs of Hincks & Johnson, Bridgeport, Conn., one of the oldest carriage making concerns in the country, are about to be wound up and the firm will go out of business after more than half a century. Several Bridgeport and out of town parties have made offers for the business and it may be sold.”

The February 1909 issue of Carriage Monthly stated that they were consdiereing a return to business, but confirmation is lacking:

“It is understood that Hincks & Johnson have had plans prepared for a large new three story block to take the place of their carriage factory at the corner of Broad and Cannon Streets, Bridgeport, Conn. The present building will be torn down and work on the new building will be begun as soon as possible.”

A Hincks & Johnson Hansom Cab is in the collection of the Shelburne Museum, Shelburne, Vermont.

Hincks & Johnson’s management elected to withdraw from business after a devastating fire destroyed the firm’s factory in April of 1906. At the time of the fire Hincks & Johnson were constructing wooden automobile coachwork for Locomobile, and the contracts were fulfilled at the Bridgeport Vehicle Company (1906-1911) using craftsmen formerly employed at the Hincks & Johnson plant.

Initially established as an automobile garage, the Bridgeport Vehicle Co. entered into the manufacture of automobiles bodies after a fire destroyed Bridgeport’s Hincks & Johnson carriage works in April of 1906. Hincks & Johnson’s management elected to withdraw from business and a core group of their body craftsmen went to work for the Bridgeport Vehicle Co. At the time of the fire Hincks & Johnson were constructing coachwork for Locomobile, and the contracts were fulfilled at the Bridgeport Vehicle Company’s facility.

The September 1, 1907 issue of the Cycle and Automobile Trade Journal included a picture of an attractive body built for a Bridgeport businessman on a Locomobile chassis:

“Limousine body made by the Bridgeport Vehicle Co. for Mr. E.G. Burnham of the firm of Eaton Cole & Burnham, Bridgeport, Conn.

“Bridgeport Automobile Bodies

“The Bridgeport Vehicle Body Co., Bridgeport, Conn., was formed over a year ago by Mr. Harry D. Miller, and seven practical body makers who have been connected with one of the largest carriage manufacturing concerns in the State of Connecticut. The company builds a line of high-grade Limousines, Landaulets, Victorias and Touring bodies of every description.

“They make a specialty of limousine and touring, car body work. The bodies are constructed of selected, thoroughly seasoned stock and are assembled by skilled workmen. The painting may be of any combination of colors; upholstering may be of morocco, satin or broadcloth. The bodies are furnished with an equipment usually found in high-grade work, such as clock, toilet case, card case, megaphone or speaking tube, roll up silk curtains inside, sliding or revolving seats, dome electric light, etc. All outside fittings are of best quality brass. Inside appointments may be of brass or silver finish. Side lamps wired for electric lights are furnished, if desired. The body is supplied with storm front, folding into top when not in use.

“The bodies are made in both wood and aluminum. This concern has also a special top department where they build tops to order; also, wind shields, slip covers, lamp covers, etc.”

The ‘one of the largest carriage manufacturing concerns in the State of Connecticut’ mentioned in the article refers to Hincks & Johnson, a well-known Bridgeport heavy carriage manufacturer that was winding down its operations at the time, having suffered a devastating fire the previous April that was mentioned in the May 1906 issue of Carriage Monthly:

“Serious Fire Loss.

“The carriage factory of Hinks & Johnson, Bridgeport, Conn., was destroyed by fire April 9th; loss estimated at $50,000. The damage was confined entirely to the portion of the plant devoted to manufacturing all kinds of vehicles, and the flames did not reach the large repository south of the shops where some $50,000 worth of finished vehicles were stored. The loss is covered by insurance.”

The following item published in the January 14, 1909 issue of The Automobile erroneously states the firm was ‘one of the largest of the fine coach builders, no doubt a reference to Hinks & Johnson, which was corporately unrelated, although they shared many of the same employees:

“Body Builders Prosperous. — The Bridgeport Vehicle Company, one of the largest of the fine coach builders, which made Bridgeport, Conn., famous for this kind of work, has recently turned its attention to the construction of automobile bodies. So successful has it been in this line that the plant at Water street and South avenue has been outgrown. To provide for present and future needs ground has been broken at Fairfield and Holland avenues for a three-story brick building 88 by 160. This handsome structure is expected to be completed, ready for occupancy, July 1, when it is expected that the present force of seventy men will be doubled. The officers of the company, with a showroom for the displaying of six cars, will be in the Fairfield avenue side of the building. The concern will install its own power plant and an elevator. The officers of the company are: President and treasurer, Harry D. Miller; vice-president, H. F. Brandes; secretary, George C. Miller.”

Although Locomobile never built their own bodies they encouraged their dealerships to imply that they did to their customers.  Most were constructed by Bridgeport firms located within driving distance of the plant, who would receive the chassis after they passed inspection at the Locomobile factory.

After a short road test the bare chassis would be equipped with a temporary seat and  driven down the road to either the Bridgeport Body Works, Bridgeport Vehicle Company (successor to Hincks & Johnson) or the Blue Ribbon Body to have its coachwork installed. Popular body styles would normally be built in advance, although full custom jobs might take as many as 3 months to complete.

Surviving bodies include small plaques attached by the body builder to the threshold of the driver’s door indicating its style and or production number. Unfortunately precise identification of the builder is difficult as they were not allowed to imprint their name on the plaque. Many of these body number plaques remain today but there are no known records indicating the body builder’s origin.

Known Locomobile production body builders inlude the following:

Currier, Cameron & Co., Shields Carriage Co., James N. Leitch Carriage Co., Briggs Carriage Co. - all Amesbury, Mass.
New Haven Carriage Co., New Haven, Conn.
J.B. Judkins Co., Merrimac, Mass.
Willoughby Co., Utica, New York
McFarlan Automobile Co.; Connersville, Indiana
Bridgeport Vehicle Co., Bellamore Armored Car & Equipment Co., Blue Ribbon Body Co., Bridgeport Body Co. (aka Bridgeport Body Works); Henry Killam, Hincks & Johnson - all Bridgeport, Conn.

Bodies built for the Locomobile’s custom body program, instituted in 1914 after the hiring of the brilliant designer J. Frank de Causse, were supplied by Judkins, Fleetwood, Holbrook, Derham, Locke, Willoughby and Healey & Co. Tags after 1914 often identify the builder; eg. ‘Designed by Locomobile Custom Body Dpt.” and “Healey & Co. Builders New York’

“EDWARD LOVER, who is president and a member of the board of directors of the Lover Top & Converter Company, Inc., of Buffalo, engaged in the manufacture of a patented convertible automobile top which is his own invention, is one of the notably successful business men of this city. Born in Fairfield, Connecticut, son of George E., and Carrie (Distel) Lover, Mr. Lover received his early education in the public schools of his native city, supplementing this with two terms in the Evening High School of Buffalo, and one year in the Buffalo Evening Technical School, where he studied mechanical drawing and mathematics. While still a boy, he began his business career in the employee of a manufacturing chemist in New York City, continuing that connection until he went to Bridgeport, Connecticut, where he learned the trade of coach body builder, in association with Hincks & Johnson. When his trade was learned, he became identified with the Locomobile Company as a body builder, and here he remained for a period of nine years, gaining valuable experience and rendering faithful service.”

Hincks & Johnson remained involved with the operation of the White Manufacturing Co. long after their carriage building business was discontinued. The firm’s listing in the 1910 Bridgeport Board of Trade’s Year Book reveals they were now producing lamps for automobiles:

“White Manufacturing Co., Cannon Street. President, Thomas Boudren, Bridgeport; treasurer and secretary, Horace S. Wilmot, of Bridgeport; assistant treasurer and assistant secretary, S.M. Middlebrook, Bridgeport. Directors:Enoch P. Hincks, of Bridgeport; George H.N. Johnson, of Bridgeport; S.M. Middlebrook. Lamps., coach lamps, and automobile mountings.”

The White Mfg. Co.’s decades-long career as a carriage, hearse and automobile lamp and hardware manufacturer came to an end in late 1919 when the firm’s factory was destroyed by fire, the November 3, 1919 Bridgeport Standard Telegram reporting:

“A fire on Saturday evening burned out the upper stories of the White Manufacturing company on Cannon street, occasioning a loss that the company estimates at $20,000 and which is covered by insurance. The cause of the fire is not known, but the company, which manufactures large amount of coach lamps and carriage trimmings, had considerable varnish and oil and other flammable matter in their factory which made a hot fire. The firemen did well and finally go the fire under control. The White Company will rebuild their factory, and will not be forced to suspend operations for long.”

Although the firm remained in business for a couple more years the February 17, 1925 issue of the Bridgeport Telegram reveals they had recently withdrawn from business:


“Notice is hereby given that every stockholder of White Manufacturing Company, a Connecticut corporation located at Bridgeport, Connecticut. Has signed and duly acknowledged an agreement that the corporate existence of the White Manufacturing Company be terminated pursuant to the general corporation laws of the State of Connecticut. All claims against said Company will be barred unless presented in writing to Charles O. Mathews, 155 Cannon Street, Bridgeport, on or before June 14th, 1925.

“Directors of White Manufacturing Company acting as Trustees in Dissolution, by C.O. MATHEWS, their duly appointed agent.”

The August 7, 1925 Bridgeport Telegram contained the following classified advertisement:


“The White Mfg. Co. building, 155 Cannon St., 4-story brick building, 12,000 sq. ft. floor space, elevator and boiler, 75 foot frontage on Cannon St. For particulars address C.O. Matthews. c/o White Mfg. Co., Bridgeport, Conn.”

© 2012 Mark Theobald -






Beverly Rae Kimes & Henry Austin Clark - Standard Catalog of American Cars: 1805-1942

Edwin T. Freedley - Leading Pursuits and Leading Men, pub. 1856

George Curtis Waldo - History of Bridgeport and Vicinity Vol. I & Vol. II, pub. 1917

Samuel Orcutt - A History of the Old Town of Stratford and the City of Bridgeport, Vol. I, pub. 1886

Patrick Robertson – Robertson’s Book of Firsts, pub. 1911

Winfield Scott Downs - Municipality of Buffalo, New York: a history, 1720-1923, Volume 3, pub. 1923

Paul H. Bergeron – The Papers of Andrew Johnson Volume 8, May - August 1865, pub. 1989

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