McKay Carriage Company - McKay Body Works - 1876-1940s - Grove City, Pennsylvania


McKay Carriage Company - later McKay Body Works - Grove City Pennsylvania built smaller bus bodies in teens and twenties on Ford Model T & Olds chassis. Known production dates from 1913, 1920.

Known Fire Apparatus builder at least through 1939, probably through WWII.


1876 McKay Carriage Works established


When fire on the night of August 20, 1897, swept through the large McKay Carriage factory, it seemed to carry with it the destruction of Grove Cityís largest industrial plant. Less than a year later, however, a larger factory arose from the ashes, which prospered until the automobile destroyed the market of carriages. 

Alex B. McKay, the senior member of the firm first began the business of carriage and wagon making in Irishtown, near Pardoe, two years after his return from the Union Army. His first beginning as a wagon-makerís shop, made new carriages, and repaired old vehicles. After working nine years there, he moved to Grove City, then but a village with a few scattering houses in 1876. He formed a partnership with D. M. and P. W. Morrow in the same business, the shop being located on what is now the college campus. This partnership was dissolved in 1879, and he then located a shop of his own on Broad Street. He remained in this location a few years and then built a new shop at Center and Blair Streets and confined the business under one roof. As business grew, he added new and larger buildings and in 1892 his brother Robert, who has been engaged in the sale of farming implements and carriages in Mercer, became associated with him. 

With each succeeding year, the business continued to increase, and when the flames swept the factory out of existance (sic) in 1897, a large and profitable wholesale trade had been established, and the firm was unable to manufacture its products fast enough to meet the demand. Plans were prepared fast for a new building in September 1897 and it was completed in December 1897.

In January 1904 this building was completely destroyed by fire, but was immediately replaced with the present plant. The building is located on North Center and Erie Streets and now houses the business establishment of P. Wall Mfg. Co.


Mercer Dispatch
28 January 1910

Business Man Meets Awful Death

Robert McKay, of Grove City, Caught in Machinery in His Carriage Factory, Sustains Fatal Injuries

Robert McKay, president of the McKay Carriage Company, of Grove City, and one of Mercer county's leading business men, lost his life Tuesday as the result of an accident at the factory during the morning. While making a tour through the plant he went down in the shaft pit in the basement and while talking to Mr. White, the engineer, his coat was caught on the shaft, both legs being terribly mangled below the knees. He was removed to the Grove City hospital, where during the afternoon his legs were amputated. However, he was unable to withstand the shock and died on the operating table. The news of the accident and Mr. McKay's death was a terrible shock to the people of Grove City, of which he had for years been one of the most progressive citizens, as well as to his many friends throughout the county.

Mr. McKay was born on a farm near Pardoe in 1851, being a son of William and Eliza McKay, who came to this country from Ireland in 1820. In 1895 he engaged in the carriage business in Grove City with his brother A.B., who has since retired from the firm. He was married to Miss Rebecca Moon, of Mercer, who survives him, with four children, Ray and Louis, who were associated with him in business; Mrs. Theodore Robinson and Elizabeth, all of Grove City. He was a member of the Presbyterian church and of the Masonic fraternity. He was an upright citizen, esteemed by all who knew him, and his untimely death was a severe blow to the community.


McKay & McChesney business in Grove City.  The first McKay business in Grove City on Broad Street, about 1883.

The sign on the top of the building reads: "Roofing   Spouting  Wagons  Farming  Implements  Buggies Harness  Engines  Pumps and Repairs" 


Mercer Dispatch, 14 June 1929:

Alexander B. McKay, aged 85, Civil War veteran and one of the first industrial leaders of Grove City, died at the home of his daughter, Mrs. L.D. Shafer at St. George, Staten Island, N.Y. on June 5 of the infirmities of old age. He was born in Findley township in 1844. He enlisted in Co. H., 100th Pennsylvania Volunteers in 1864 and served throughout the war. In 1870 he married Annie Paxton. Six years later he moved to Grove City and founded the McKay Carriage company. He was always active in the affairs of the town and community and was one of the charter members of Marion Craig post. G.A.R., of which there are now but three survivors. He made his home with his daughter for about 18 months. He body was brought to Grove City and on Saturday was buried from the home of his sister, Mrs. M.B. Montgomery, with Rev. C.H. Williamson in charge of the services. Survivors are the widow, one son William McKay of Greenville; two daughters, Mrs. Shafer and Mrs. Nelson Sutter of Orange, N.J., a sister, Mrs. Montgomery and a brother James C. McKay of Grove City.


Robert McKay - Son of William and Elizabeth McKay; owner McKay Carriage Company; Married Rebecca Moon - born 1851 died 1910


Ray W. McKay, representative from Mercer County in the Pennsylvania Legislature.

Ray W. McKay was born 30 Apr 1883 in Springfield Township, the son of Robert and Rebecca Moon McKay.  He graduated from Grove City High School, attended Grove City College and worked at the McKay Body Works (formerly McKay Carriage Co.)

He served with the 112th Infantry as adjutant and plans and training officer during World War I.  He died in 1941.

McKay Body Works later engaged in Autos Sales and Mechanical Work, Ray W. McKay served as president for a time. Ray was the son of Robert and Rebecca Moon McKay.


Founded by Alex .B. McKay in 1876. Later owned with his brother Robert (Bob) McKay. Their sons, Ray McKay and Lew McKay also worked at the firm in the late 1800s through the teens.


The men in the photo are identified as follows:

Top Row, Left to Right:  Clarence McMillan, Mr. Morrow,  Mr. Cochran, Harry Miles,  Frank Rugar,  Mont Cochran, Lew McKay. The young boy is standing in front of the second man is Ray McKay.

Second Row, Left to Right:  Bob McKay,  Mr. Patterson, Joe Clark, Mr. Ramsey, John Williams and, Half Standing, Walter Smoyer

Front Row, Left to Right:  Mr. Bish, George Gregory, Sam Lawrence, Billy Galbreath, Alex. B. McKay (Founder).



For more information please read:

G.N. Georgano & G. Marshall Naul - The Complete Encyclopedia of Commercial Vehicles

Albert Mroz - Illustrated Encyclopedia of American Trucks & Commercial Vehicles

Denis Miller - The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Trucks and Buses

Tad Burness - American Truck Spotter's Guide, 1920-1970

Tad Burness - American Truck & Bus Spotter's Guide, 1920-1985

Robert M Roll - American trucking: A seventy-five year odyssey

David Jacobs - American Trucks: A photographic essay of American Trucks and Trucking

David Jacobs - American Trucks: More Colour Photographs of Truck & Trucking

John Gunnell - American Work Trucks: A Pictorial History of Commercial Trucks 1900-1994

George W. Green - Special-Use Vehicles: An Illustrated History of Unconventional Cars and Trucks

Daniel D. Hutchins - Wheels Across America: Carriage Art & Craftsmanship

Ronald G. Adams - 100 Years of Semi Trucks

Stan Holtzman - Big Rigs: The Complete History of the American Semi Truck

Stan Holtzman & Jeremy Harris Lipschultz - Classic American Semi Trucks

Stan Holtzman - Semi Truck Color History

Donald F. Wood - American Beer Trucks

Donald F. Wood - Beverage Trucks: Photo Archive

Donald F. Wood - Commercial Trucks

Donald F. Wood - Delivery Trucks

Donald F. Wood - Dump Trucks

Donald F. Wood - Gas & Oil Trucks

Donald F. Wood - Logging Trucks 1915 Through 1970: Photo Archive

Donald F. Wood - New Car Carriers 1910-1998 Photo Album

Donald F. Wood - RVs & Campers 1900-2000: An Illustrated History

Donald F. Wood - Wreckers and Tow Trucks

Gini Rice - Relics of the Road

Gini Rice - Relics of the Road - Impressive International Trucks 1907-1947

Gini Rice - Relics of the Road - Keen Kenworth Trucks - 1915-1955

Richard J. Copello - American Car Haulers

Niels Jansen - Pictorial History of American Trucks

John B. Montville - Refuse Trucks: Photo Archive

Bill Rhodes - Circus and Carnival Trucks 1941-2000: Photo Archive

Howard L. Applegate - Coca-Cola: Its Vehicles in Photographs 1930 Through 1969: Photo Archive

James T. Lenzke & Karen E. O'Brien - Standard Catalog of American Light-Duty Trucks: 1896-2000

James K. Wagner - Ford Trucks since 1905

Don Bunn - Dodge Trucks

Fred Crismon - International Trucks

Don Bunn - Encyclopedia of Chevrolet Trucks

Ed Strauss & Karen Strauss - The Bus World Encyclopedia of Buses

Donald F. Wood - American Buses

Susan Meikle Mandell - A Historical Survey of Transit Buses in the United States

David Jacobs - American Buses, Greyhound, Trailways and Urban Transportation

William A. Luke & Linda L. Metler - Highway Buses of the 20th Century: A Photo Gallery 

William A. Luke & Brian Grams - Buses of Motorcoach Industries 1932-2000 Photo Archive

William A. Luke - Greyhound Buses 1914-2000 Photo Archive

William A. Luke - Prevost Buses 1924-2002 Photo Archive

William A. Luke - Flxible Intercity Buses 1924-1970 Photo Archive

William A. Luke - Buses of ACF Photo Archive (including ACF-Brill & CCF-Brill)

William A. Luke - Trailways Buses 1936-2001 Photo Archive

William A. Luke - Fageol & Twin Coach Buses 1922-1956 Photo Archive

William A. Luke - Yellow Coach Buses 1923 Through 1943: Photo Archive

William A. Luke - Trolley Buses: 1913 Through 2001 Photo Archive

Harvey Eckart - Mack Buses: 1900 Through 1960 Photo Archive

Brian Grams & Andrew Gold - GM Intercity Coaches 1944-1980 Photo Archive

Robert R. Ebert  - Flxible: A History of the Bus and the Company

John McKane - Flxible Transit Buses: 1953 Through 1995 Photo Archive

Bill Vossler - Cars, Trucks and Buses Made by Tractor Companies

Lyndon W Rowe - Municipal buses of the 1960s

Edward S. Kaminsky - American Car & Foundry Company 1899-1999

Dylan Frautschi - Greyhound in Postcards: Buses, Depots and Post Houses


© 2004, Inc. | Index | Disclaimer | Privacy