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Sedan Body Company
Sedan Body Co., 1917-1970s; Union City, Indiana
Associated Firms
Union City Body Co.

The Sedan Body Co. was a little-known builder that specialized in the production of closed automobile bodies for regional automakers, in particular the Haynes Automobile Company of Kokomo, Indiana, with which it shared a number of common directors and stockholders. Located on West Pearl Street, Union City, Indiana, Sedan Body was closely related to the Union City Body Company, with which it shared not only directors, but officers as well. The same group also controlled the International Seat Corp, a manufacturer of theater, opera and concert hall seating.

Other products manufactured by the three related firms (Union City, Sedan Body, and International Seat) included truck cabs, truck bodies, school buses, transit buses and automobile bodies.

Sedan Body’s formation as announced in the January 25, 1917 issue of the Automobile / Automotive Industries:

“Sedan Body to Build

“Union City, Ind., Jan. 24—The Sedan Body Co., this city, will complete its new building in June. The brick structure will be two stories and will have 54,000 sq. ft. floorspace. C. C. Adelsperger is president and general manager and C. C. Koontz is secretary and treasurer. Two hundred men will be employed.”

Other directors included A.G. Seiberling and Walter M. Haynes, Elwood’s banker brother.

Charles C. Adelsperger (b. Sep.25, 1853-d. July 10, 1936), the firm’s president, was born in Loudon, Seneca County, Ohio to John and Mary Adelsperger. He followed his older brother William H. Adelsperger into the carriage trade and by 1880 had established his own carriage and wagon manufactory in Arcanum, Darke County, Ohio. Adelsperger held a number of US Patents for sliding seats and carriage bodies which led to the formation of the Star Slide Seat Company of Springfield, Ohio, which soon became one of region’s largest manufacturers of carriage seats.

Adelsperger's US Patents include the following:

US Pat. No. 340970 – Shifting seat for carriages - ‎Filed Nov 2, 1885 - ‎Issued May 4, 1886 to Charles C. Adelsperger
US Pat. No. 367884 – Shifting seat for carriages - ‎Filed Dec 31, 1886 - ‎Issued Aug 9, 1887 to Charles C. Adelsperger
US Pat. No. 385831 – Shifting seat - ‎Filed Nov 25, 1887 - ‎Issued Jul 10, 1888 to Charles C. Adelsperger
US Pat. No. 466211 - Shifting seat for vehicles - ‎Filed Jun 13, 1891 - ‎Issued Dec 29, 1891 to Charles C. Adelsperger, Star Slide Seat Company of Springfield, Ohio
US Pat. No. 763451 - Vehicle Body - ‎Filed Oct 23, 1903 - ‎Issued Jun 28, 1904 to Charles C. Adelsperger, Union City Body Co., Union City, Indiana
US Pat. No. 1230359 – Automobile Door - ‎Filed Feb 6, 1914 - ‎Issued Jun 19, 1917 to Charles C. Adelsperger, Union City Body Co., Union City, Indiana
US Pat. No. 1268800 – Concealed seat for automobiles - ‎Filed Nov 21, 1917 - ‎Issued Jun 4, 1918 to Charles C. Adelsperger & George O. Stuck, Union City Body Co., Union City, Indiana
US Pat. No. 1769731 – Theater chair - ‎Filed Apr 9, 1927 - ‎Issued Jul 1, 1930 to Charles C. Adelsperger & Heber D. Fitzgerald, Union City Body Co., Union City, Indiana
US Pat. No. 1823418 – Theater chair - ‎Filed Oct 29, 1928 - ‎Issued Sep 15, 1931 to Charles C. Adelsperger & Heber D. Fitzgerald, Union City Body Co., Union City, Indiana
US Pat. No. 1994162 – Chair Back - ‎Filed Mar 11, 1932 - ‎Issued Mar 12, 1935 to Charles C. Adelsperger, Union City Body Co., Union City, Indiana

In 1898 Adelsperger relocated to Union City in 1898 and formed the Union City Body Company with two local investors, S.R. Bell and J.W. Wogoman.

During his active business career Adelsperger served as president of both the Union City Body Company and the Sedan Body Company, another Union City automobile body builder that he formed with Charles C. Koontz and A.A. Charles, president of the Kokomo Steel & Wire Co. and a Haynes Automobile Co. director.

Charles Cracknell Koontz (b. April 11, 1890-d. Jun 30, 1969) was born in Wayne, Randolph County, Indiana to John B. and Mary Koontz. His family ran a furniture store in Wayne and after graduation from Notre Dame University he took a position with the Union City Body Co., becoming its secretary and treasurer by the time Sedan Body Co. was organized. He was also a founding partner in the International Seat Corp. and served as an officer in all three firms, his positions included president of International Seat and vice-president of Sedan Body and Union City Body.

Although Adelsperger & Koontz’s firms were corporately unrelated, they operated as a cohesive unit under the direction of Union City’s general manager H.D. Fitzgerald. Heber D. Fitzgerald was born in November of 1887 in Greenville, Darke County, Ohio to Dr. William T. and Mary C. Fitzgerald. His father was a prominent Greenville physician who after serving as its mayor from 1921-1925 represented Ohio’s Fourth district in the US Congress from 1925-29.

The firm’s listing in Chilton’s 1921 Vehicle Year Book follows:

“UNION CITY - Sedan Body Company. W. Pearl St. (Pas) (W-M) C. C. Adelsperger. pres.; C. C. Koontz. sec and treas.; H. D. Fitzgerald, gen'l mgr. & pur. agt.”

The Incorporations column of the September 16, 1921 Indianapolis Star announced an increase in capitalization:

“Sedan Body Company of Union City, increased its capital stock from $125,000 to $250,000.”

Charles C. Adelsperger had a keen interest in supplying his customers with comfortable seats and realized that Union City’s commuter bus seating could be cross-marketed to the country’s burgeoning movie theatre owners. In 1927 Union City Body Co. established the International Seat Division to produce and market them. Adelsperger and George O. Stuck, Union City’s chief body engineer, designed the seating division’s early products.

The Adelsperger family also owned the Central Garage Inc., a large automobile distributor that handled the Haynes automobile and a number of other popular brands as well as serving as Union City’s finest auto repair and body shop. Upon C. C. Adelsperger’s retirement, his nephew, Werner Edmond Adelsperger (1893-1979), an accountant at the TF & F Railroad Co. of Fostoria, Ohio, moved to Union City in 1930 to take charge of the Central Garage. When his uncle retired from Union City’s board of directors in 1932, he became its chairman, a position he held into the 1970s.

Following the retirement of Adelsperger in 1930, H.D. Fitzgerald became Union City’s president. Adelsperger passed away in Union City on July, 10th 1936 at the age of 82, his obituary from the same day’s Union City Evening Times follows:

“A Great Man - Was Charles C. Adelsperger whose life's work was centered in Union City - Built up the city's largest manufacturing concern - Always had the best interests of the city at heart.

“In the death of Charles C. Adelsperger, 82, Union City loses one of the foremost prominent citizens and manufacturers, a man who started at a small beginning and climbed to the head of the city's largest manufacturing concerns.

“Because of ill health he retired from active business about five years ago, yet during that time kept ever in close touch with his many business interests.

“During his active business career Mr. Adelsperger served as president of both the Union City Body Company and the Sedan Body Company this city.

“Born in Seneca County, Ohio, Mr. Adelsperger engaged in the manufacturing business at Springfield, Ohio, before coming to Union City in 1899. He had an active part in organizing the Union City Body Company soon after taking up residence here. This company first engaged in the manufacture of horse drawn vehicles, later going into the motorcar body business.

“Later Mr. Adelsperger was instrumental in organizing the Sedan Body Company. He also owned the Central Garage Inc.

“Mr. Adelsperger was a Thirty-second Degree Mason, affiliated with lodge in Union City and in Indianapolis. He also held a life membership in the Elks.

“Mourning are the Widow Christina; three brothers, Frank, Union City; James, Tiffon, Ohio; Henry, Detroit; three sisters, Mrs. Amanda Gordon, Tiffin, Mrs. Flora Brandeberry and Mrs. Nora Coppess, both of Fostoria.

“Private funeral services will be held at the home, 502 West Pearl street, at 4 p.m. Sunday, the Masonic Lodge and Rev. Forbes Robertson officiating. Burial in the family mausoleum, City Cemetery. Friends may call at the home Friday from 7 to 9 p.m.; Saturday from 2 to 4 p.m and from 7 to 9 p.m.; Sunday from 2 to 3:30 p.m.”

John Weber, Union City’s director of automotive body sales also served in the same capacity at Sedan Body and International Seat. In 1935 he left Union City to take a similar position with Highland Body / Trailmobile, later becoming head of the firm's combined truck cab division. In 1948 a group of former Trailmobile employees headed by Weber purchased Trailmobile’s truck cab manufacturing operations, reorganizing as the Truck Cab Manufacturing Company, Western Hills (Cincinnati), Ohio.

July 28, 1937 Logansport Press:


“Union City, Ind., July 27. (AP) — Employees of the Union City Body company and the Sedan Body company, under the same management, voted 203 to 161 today to affiliate with the C.I.O., rather than with the independent city labor union. Balloting proceeded quietly in the election supervised by a state official, previously employees of the Backstay Welt company had voted unanimously to affiliate with the local labor union.”

In later years the production of automobile, theater and institutional seating was Sedan Body’s main activity, with motor body production being consolidated at the Union City plant. Post World War II, the demand for eating increased substantially and Sedan Body constructed a new plant, a 1948 issue of Steel magazine reporting:

“UNION CITY, IND. — Sedan Body Co., has awarded a $75,000 contract to Austin Co., 16112 Euclid Ave.. Cleveland, for the design and construction of a 2-story factory.”

Werner Adelsperger’s son, Werner Edmond Adelsperger Jr. (1917-1982) was also a director of Union City Body and worked for the firm as its parts and service manager until he took over the operation of the Central Garage when his father retired in the 1960s.

International Seat’s listing in the 1952 Motion Picture Production Directory follows:

“International Seat Corp. (Theatre chairs) Union City, Ind. President, C.C. Koontz; Vice-President, H.D. Fitzgerald; Secretary-Treasurer, W. E. Adelsperger; Vice President in Charge of Sales, David H. Dewey.”

As late as 1974, Union City’s International Seat Division was still producing movie theater and school seating and on November 16, 2005, Union City Body Co. was purchased by their chief competitor, Utilimaster, and Union City’s Workhorse Custom Chassis division was sold off to International Truck and Engine Corporation, a division of Navistar International Corporation.

© 2013 Mark Theobald for







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

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