J.P. Nissen Wagon Works - 1834-1925 - George E. Nissen & Co. - 1925-1948 - Winston-Salem, North Carolina
Nissen Wagon Co.
Tycho Nissen was born in Denmark l732. He came to Charlestown, North Carolina in 1770. The followin year he went to Bethania and worked as a wagon maker on and until his death in 1789.
His son, Christian Nissen left wagon making to others and was a farmer who probably wished his son John Philip Nissen had stayed me and worked the farm too.
But John Philip Nissen was a boy with a mechanical talent. He tinkered with the family wagon. By the time he was in his early teens, John Philip Nissen had built a wagon of his own.
In 1834, he moved to the area that would later be known as the Winn-Salem area. There he built a log shed high on a hill. The Nissen Wagon Works trace back to that log shed.
J.P. Nissen worked for the Confederacy during the Civil War, making supply wagons and gun carts for Lee and Johnson. The Nissen wagon was as well known and as highly thought of as the famous Studebaker wagons.
Nissen always insisted on the best quality of materials and workmanship, and when his boys-George E. and William M. Nissen-took over the works shortly after the Civil War they continued to build the finest crooked bed wagons that man and materials combined could make.
Will Nissen is remembered as a giant of a man, who was soft spoken and even tempered. He dropped out of school at an early age to apprentice in J.P.'s wagon works. When he eventually headed the company, they were producing 50 wagons a day-some 15,000 a year.
Will wasn't a church goer, but was a Christian man in every sense.
He was remembered as a man who was "Will" to his men, ate lunch with and pitched horseshoes after lunch with them, and generally took care of his men. It was said he pioneered the industrial retirement plan. When his workers got too old to perform their tasks, Will would keep them on doing handy work around the factory.
In 1919 the Nissen Wagon Works burned to the ground. Instead of laying off - Will hired one outside man to head up construction-then put his own crew of over 200 men to work, building a bigger and better facility. This, for a period of four months before production resumed.
The end of an era came when the family tradition, which began with Tycho Nissen in 1770, ended in 1925, with the sale of the business.
The J. P. Nissen Wagon - manufactured by- Geo. E. Nissen & Co.
C. F. Nissen & Company
Over time, several businesses sprang up in Waughtown, but none more prominent than wagon manufacturing, the largest of which was Nissen Wagon Works. At one time, Nissen was one of the largest wagon manufacturers in the South, and the 15-story Nissen Building related to that business, located in downtown Winston-Salem, has been home to several other companies and is currently being converted to apartments.
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