Alphabetical Index|A|B|C|D|E|F|G|H|I|J|K|L|M|N|O|P|Q|R|S|T|U|V|W|X|Y|Z


quicklinks|buses|cars|designers|fire apparatus|limos|pro-cars|taxis|trailers|trucks|woodies

Charles H. Stratton, 1872-1874, Monroeton, Pennsylvania; C.H. Stratton Carriage Co., 1875-1892, Salem, Ohio; 1891-1895, Buffalo, New York; Stratton Carriage Body Co., 1899-1913, Muncie, Indiana
Associated Builders

Charles Henry Stratton, the founder and driving force behind the Stratton Carriage Body Co. of Muncie, Indiana and its predecessor, the C.H. Stratton Carriage Co. of Buffalo, New York and Salem, was born in Monroeton, Bradford County, Pennsylvania sometime during the early 1850s.

After a public education Stratton was apprenticed to a local blacksmith and carriage builder and in 1872 established his own wagon, farm implement and blacksmith shop in Monroeton. Stratton was a skilled engineer and starting in 1874 received a series of patents on farm implements, carriage seats and wagon bodies. 

He relocated to Salem, Ohio in 1876 where he established the C.H. Stratton Carriage Co. at the corner of W. Main St. and 15 Jennings Ave. His younger brother Franklin eventually joined him and by the mid 1880s they were shipping large numbers of their patent jump seats, jump seat irons, wagon gear, and combination carriages to numerous carriage builders and resellers across the country. They claimed to be “The largest carriage company in the world making exclusively family carriages”.

In 1899 Stratton announced that he was moving to a new factory in East Jeanette, Pennsylvania. Salem’s residents were not pleased and the following news item appeared in the July 9, 1889 Salem Daily News:

“Several of our neighboring exchanges have come to us with a news item to the effect that C.H. Stratton, the carriage manufacturer of this city, will move his carriage factory to East Jeanette, Pa. This item is rather misleading. Mr. Stratton has been considering the propriety of removing his plant but we do not understand that he has determined to make such a removal. If his present facilities are inadequate for the demand for his products which we understand is the case he will have no difficulty in enlarging his factory. He has purchased land for this purpose, and the factory will probably be enlarged where it stands.”

As it turns out Stratton did not end up relocating to East Jeanette, he chose a much better location, Buffalo, New York. The following article comes from the December 30th, 1890 Salem Daily News:

“New Carriage Company

“B.P Angel, of Buffalo, N.Y., who was here the latter part of last week for the purpose of completing arrangements for the organization of the C.H. Carriage Company, left for home Saturday evening on the 4:15 west bound train. For some time past negotiations have been in progress between C.H. Stratton of this city and capitalists of Buffalo who are interested in the International Carriage Works at that city, but it was impossible to forsee how these negotiations would terminate and for that reason we have hitherto refrained from saying anything about the prospective enterprise. We can now say that all the details have been satisfactorily arranged, and that all the necessary papers have been signed.

“The new carriage company will be known as the C.H. Stratton Carriage Company, and will be composed of five members, C.H. Stratton, Franklin Stratton, B.P. Angel, I.P. Thorn and another gentleman yet to be admitted. C.H. Stratton will retain a controlling interest in the company. The company will have a business at Buffalo, and another at Salem. The mechanical force employed here will be doubled with as little delay as possible. Five new hands have already been employed. Whether the buildings here will be enlarged will depend on circumstances. If it is found that the work can be done cheaper at Salem than at Buffalo, the work will be done here, and the factory here will probably be replaced by a more spacious and imposing structure.

“C.H. Stratton will remove to Buffalo and reside there. His brother, Franklin, will remain here and will manage the factory here. The Buffalo members of the firm are interested in the International Carriage Factory at Buffalo, and a part of the Stratton carriages will be made by the International Company. The bodies of the combination carriages will be made here, and the rest of the work will be done at Buffalo. The intention of the new firm is to make three-thousand combination bodies here within the coming year.

“Mr. Angel came here last week for the first time. Before his arrival he was under the impression that Salem was a small, unimportant place, but was agreeably surprised at finding a wealthy and populous manufacturing centre. He had but one fault to find with it, the fact that it has but one railroad.”

Despite claims to the contrary, within two months the Salem works were mothballed as evidenced by the following Salem Daily News article dating from February 20th, 1891:

“Salem’s Loss Buffalo’s Gain

“The Stratton Carriage Factory Changes its Base.

“The carriage works on West Main street, this city, known as the C.H. Stratton Carriage Factory, is to be removed gradually to Buffalo, N.Y. where Mr. Stratton's business interests are chiefly located and where he has been employed during the past year. Frank Stratton is here at the present time but will leave here for Buffalo some time next week after which very little work will be done in the blacksmithing department of the carriage factory at this place. During the past year this department has given employment to eight or nine men, whom some will probably go to Buffalo if they wish to continue in operation through the coming summer, but probably not with a full force of men. A great deal of work must be done here before the factory is permanently closed, and several months will lapse before this work can be completed. In the meantime a stock of parts and finished work will be kept here for the accommodation of the people of this city and vicinity who prefer double jump seat carriages. After the departure of Frank Stratton the carriage factory at this place will be under the control of E.L. Stanley. During the past year the C.H. Stratton Carriage factory in this city furnished employment to 25 or 30 men and pad out to its employees, in the year 1890, $12,000. The reasons for removing the factory at this place to Buffalo are such that no considerations can be entertained to prevent the removal. A year or more ago C.H. Stratton organized a carriage company at Buffalo, transferred his business interests largely to that place and subsequently removed his family there. The head of the C.H. Stratton Carriage Company is therefore at Buffalo, the body is also there, and to remove the carriage shop on West Main St. to Buffalo is merely removing what might be called one leg of it.”

The April 8th, 1891 Salem Daily News announced that the former Stratton works had been rented to Henry Z. Thomas. However, shipments of existing carriage parts and bodies from Salem to Buffalo continued throughout the remainder of the year.

Things did not go well in Buffalo, and the October 9th 1895, issue of the Buffalo Courier announced the voluntary dissolution of the firm, and stated that the firm’s creditors were launching proceedings against B.P. Angel and I.P. Thorn.

Stratton remained undaunted by the bankruptcy and relocated to Muncie, Indiana in 1898, where he established the Stratton Carriage Body Company on April 26, 1899. Stratton was well-known in the wholesale carriage business and in no time at all he found plenty of customers for his bodies, seats and hardware.

In January of 1903, the Stratton firm made national headlines when an outbreak of mumps forced the temporary closure of the factory. By that time Stratton had already begun supplying convertible tops, seats and bodies in the white to many of the region’s pioneer automakers.

In early 1908 Stratton made the decision to develop a Stratton automobile and delivered the prototype during February of 1909. Kimes & Clark had kind words for the car, although by that time, the highwheeler was already on its way out:

“Though the Stratton Carriage Company venture into manufacture itself was short-lived, the highwheeler it produced in 1909 was an admirable one, with two-cylinder 14 hp engine under a hood in front, two-speed planetary transmission, double chain drive, and right-hand steering by wheel. The Stratton's wheel­base was a long 90 inches, and the car's ride on 36-inch wheels in front, 38-inch in rear was said to be quite comfortable.”

Stratton entered into negotiations with a group of Wabash, Indiana businessmen in the hopes of establishing a factory there to build the Stratton car, but the financing fell through, and Stratton decided to stick with building automobile bodies.

During his many years in the carriage business he had designed and manufactured a number of clever transformable seats and carriage bodies. His infatuation with seating continued into the automobile age, and he introduced a number of novel seating conventions.

The first involved an inflatable rear occasional seat/cushion that allowed physicians to their doctor’s coupe into a temporary ambulance. The second was a runabout body with a concealed rear seat that could be raised when needed. The Muncie Evening Press claimed it solved:

"... the nuisance of hauling friends about on their business when the owner of the car has urgent business of his own to transact."

Stratton’s death was reported in a 1913 issue of Automotive Industries: 

“C.H. Stratton, designer and manufacturers of the Stratton Car died suddenly last week at his home in Muncie, Indiana, following a stroke of paralysis.”

Stratton’s body building operation was a one-man show, and his firm accompanied him to the grave.

© 2004 Mark Theobald -






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

Extended Auto Warranties
Are you paying too much? Make sure your auto warranty covers your entire vehicle.

Car Shows
State by State directory of car shows; includes new car shows and classic auto events.

Auto Buying Guide
Paying too much? Use this step by step guide to help get the best deal on your next car.

Car Books, Models & Diecasts
Your one stop shop for automotive books, models, die-casts & collectibles.


Submit Pictures or Information

Original sources of information are given when available. Additional pictures, information and corrections are most welcome.

Click Here to submit pictures or information

Pictures Continued


quicklinks|buses|cars|designers|fire apparatus|limos|pro-cars|taxis|trailers|trucks|woodies

© 2004-2012, Inc.|books|disclaimer|index|privacy