O.J. Mitchell & Company - Mitchell Hearse Co. - Mitchell Hearse & Body Co. - Ingersoll Mitchell Hearse Co Ltd. - 1900s-1940s - Ingersoll, Ontario Canada


    The O.J. Mitchell Hearse Company of Ingersoll, Ontario manufactured a full line of professional coaches. They exhibited a magnificent 8-column carved-panel hearse with beveled-glass driver's windows at the 1914 Canadian National Exposition. Built on a Chalmbers chassis, the design and craftsmanship of this coach was comparable to the best available stateside.

For 1918, they offered a smart-looking carved-panel hearse with verticle oval windows behind the drivers position.  For 1920 they introduced a large casket wagon built on a REO light truck chassis that featured removable carved-panels that enabled the coach to be used as a funeral coach as well.  Production of this removable-panel funeral coach extended through 1923. 

Styling was typical of mid-priced American coach-builders and there limousine styles predominated throughout the 1920s.

Starting in the mid 1920s Mitchell established a relationship with the McLaughlin-Buick Company and by 1932 most Mitchell coaches were built on their chassis. Unique to early 1930s Mitchell coaches were their subtley-arched windows which included faux silver etched-window frames all around.  Due to the Depression, many funeral coach chassis were under-utilized, and some thrifty funeral home directors who wanted a new-appearing coach, would hire smaller firms like Mitchell to furnish new bodies for their existing chassis. 

In 1935 Mitchell created the Mobile Sanctuaire, their version of Eureka's and A.J. Miller's streamlined faux carved-panel funeral coach. Mounted on an older 1931 Packard chassis, it was built on a standard Mitchell body mated to embossed aluminum panels made to look like hand-carved wooden drapery panels.

By 1936 both Packard and General Motors were offering extended-wheelbase commercial chassis to the professional car industry. The Packard chassis was based on their successful 120 Series while G.M.'s 160" wheelbase chassis that was available from their Buick, Cadillac, LaSalle and Oldsmobile divisions. Consequently Mitchell introduced a new range of Packard and Oldsmobile-based models that featured limousine or art-carved styling within a new streamlined body produced specifically for the new chassis. Mitchell's roof-lines were rather low and made for some classy-looking coaches when painted black and mated to a Packard chassis. The also built a few dedicated side-loading sedan-ambulances using fastback coupes that were cut in half and lengthened, just like todays stretch limousines.

A 1933 McLaughlin-Buick Hearse with a body by Mitchell still exists.

John A? or George S? 1901 Ingersoll census

As with other small regional builders of the twenties and thirties, Mitchell often mounted new hearse bodies onto used Packard, Pierce-Arrow, Cadillac or other high-priced chassis giving rural funeral directors a new-looking coach for a fraction of the cost of a new one.  

North of the border, however, several companies were offering Canadian funeral directors motor equipment on Dodge, DeSoto and Chrysler chassis. These firms included A.B. Greer in London, Ontario and the Mitchell Hearse Co. in nearby Ingersoll. When John J.C. Little left the Mitchell Co. and started building funeral coaches in his own small shop in Ingersoll, many of his customers delivered Plymouths, Dodges, DeSotos and Chryslers for conversion into custom-built funeral cars and ambulances. Worthy of note was a 1940 DeSoto Carved-Panel Hearse Mr. Little built for a funeral home in Dundas, Ontario.

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Known professional car builder on LaSalle chassis. LaSalle shipped 1 commercial chassis to Ingersoll Mitchell Hearse Co. Ltd. in 1937 and another in 1938 through their GM Oshawa, Ontario Branch. 2 LaSalle chassis were shipped in 1939 to Ingersoll Mitchell and another single chassis in 1940.

 

    For more information please read:

The Professional Car, Issue # 51, First Quarter 1989

The Professional Car - Issue #96 Second Quarter 2000

Ron Van Gelderen & Matt Larson - LaSalle: Cadillac's Companion Car

The Professional Car (Quarterly Journal of the Professional Car Society)

Gregg D. Merksamer - Professional Cars: Ambulances, Funeral Cars and Flower Cars

Thomas A. McPherson - American Funeral Cars & Ambulances Since 1900

Carriage Museum of America - Horse-Drawn Funeral Vehicles: 19th Century Funerals

Carriage Museum of America -  Horse Drawn - Military, Civilian, Veterinary - Ambulances

Gunter-Michael Koch - Bestattungswagen im Wandel der Zeit

Walt McCall & Tom McPherson - Classic American Ambulances 1900-1979: Photo Archive

Walt McCall & Tom McPherson - Classic American Funeral Vehicles 1900-1980 Photo Archive

Walter M. P. McCall - The American Ambulance 1900-2002

Walter M.P. McCall - American Funeral Vehicles 1883-2003

Michael L. Bromley & Tom Mazza - Stretching It: The Story of the Limousine

Richard J. Conjalka - Classic American Limousines: 1955 Through 2000 Photo Archive

Richard J. Conjalka - Stretch Limousines 1928-2001 Photo Archive

Thomas A. McPherson - Eureka: The Eureka Company: a complete history

Thomas A. McPherson - Superior: The complete history

Thomas A. McPherson - Flxible: The Complete History

Thomas A. McPherson - Miller-Meteor: The Complete History

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

Hearses - Automobile Quarterly Vol 36 No 3

Marian Suman-Hreblay - Dictionary of World Coachbuilders and Car Stylists

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

Marian Suman-Hreblay - Dictionary of World Coachbuilders and Car Stylists

Michael Lamm and Dave Holls - A Century of Automotive Style: 100 Years of American Car Design

Nick Georgano - The Beaulieu Encyclopedia of the Automobile: Coachbuilding

Marian Suman-Hreblay - Automobile Manufacturers Worldwide Registry

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

Albert Mroz - Illustrated Encyclopedia of American Trucks & Commercial Vehicles

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

John Gunnell - Standard Catalog of American Cars, 1946-1975

James M. Flammang & Ron Kowalke - Standard Catalog of American Cars, 1976-1999

 



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