The principle mode of transportation in the 1800s was the
horse and buggy. From its earliest years, Sidney, Ohio, was an important center for this
fledgling transportation industry. Sidney was home to several wagon builders. Piper Wagon
Works was formed in 1847 and its location was 824 West Court Street. The Rupert Wagon Shop
was in competition on West Popular Street three years later. (Sidneys plat initially named the street Popular
rather than Poplar as it is known today) This business lasted only four years. The
location was taken over by the Miller and Smith firm for the manufacture of carriages.
mid-1854, Lorenzo Bimel of St. Marys moved to Sidney to open a buggy manufacturing
business known as the Bimel Buggy Company. He built a plant at 218 South Ohio Ave, and
produced a fine quality buggy. The company made various types of buggies, carriages and
runabouts with either steel or rubber tires. Each year, the company made hundreds of
Storm King buggies for the winter season. After his business began to
deteriorate, Mr. Bimel returned to St. Marys in 1860.
After learning that Mr. Bimel had left Sidney, James Crozier of Piqua decided that
Sidney presented more opportunity for him than his home town. He moved his buggy business
here, and, in 1860, occupied the former Bimel plant. The business became Crozier and
Son with the addition of his son some years later. Mr. Crozier was featured in the
April 4, 1914, edition of the "Sidney Daily News" for completing 54 years in the
carriage business. In addition to overseeing his business, James Crozier served over 50
consecutive years as trustee of the Methodist Church,
and was mayor of the town for several terms. He died in 1919.
Lorenzo Bimel's son, William, was induced by Sidneys Board of Improvement to return in 1897 to build a new plant
for the production of buggies on Miami Avenue just south of the canal feeder. The business
failed after seven years. The structure was last occupied by the Hawthorn-Seving Company.
Fire destroyed the building in 1980. Buggies were also made in Sidney by C. F. Yager who
conducted business at 708 West Avenue.
Each new industry in those early days created
trailing businesses to supply needed parts. Jonathan Dann established a spoke and wheel
business in 1870. It was located on the north side of the canal on Ohio Avenue.
A large parts plant was established in 1881 by Enoch Anderson, Cyrus Frazier and J. N.
Anderson. The company made wooden wheels and wheel parts. The Anderson-Frazier Wheel Works
was situated north of the original Big Four Railroad tracks, between Miami and Main
Avenues, where Bimel and Hawthorne-Seving would later be located. In the 1890s, a major
fire swept the structure and water from the nearby canal was pumped in to fight the blaze.
Owners of buggies and wagons needed whips to motivate the occasionally stubborn horse.
Sidney, Ohio, acquired a major whip manufacturer in 1891, when the Underwood Whip Company,
(pictured above), a division of U. S. Whip Company, moved to Sidney from Wooster, Ohio.
This was one of the businesses that local leaders recruited to move to the area. In the
late 1890s, Underwood Whip was the largest whip manufacturer west of Massachusetts. The
plant had doubled its capacity by 1903. It was located on the northwest corner of North
Street and Highland Ave. (An apartment complex stands on the site today which is located
across the street from the empty Sidney Machine Tool Company building owed by Stolle.)
The opportunities presented by the development of the automobile industry nationally were
not lost on Sidney entrepreneurs. W.H.C. Goode gathered a
group of investors together in 1915, bought the assets of the defunct Bimel buggy
business, and formed the Bimel Spoke and Auto Works to manufacture auto parts. With T. M.
Miller, formerly a manufacturer in the buggy business as general manager/treasurer and
A.C. Noble as president, the company opened for business in February of 1915. It was
located at the old Bimel Buggy site on Miami Avenue across from (west of) Clinton Street,
just south of the canal.
It was these two men who decided to manufacture an automobile
later that year when the Elco Four model became available. Originally, this car was to
have been built in Elwood, Indiana, by the Elwood Iron Works. The company went bankrupt
before getting its product to market. The Elco was a four-cylinder, 30 horse-power
gasoline car selling for $585. Initially, the cars continued to be marketed under the Elco
name, (Elco 30) but ads in "The Sidney Daily News" promoted the roadster and
touring models to Shelby County, Ohio, residents as a Bimel F. It is believed
that the Bimel F and the Elco 30 were the same car, with the Bimel name emphasized in this
case for home town use. By July of the first year, management announced that
the plant was producing four Elco 30 vehicles a day!
In April, 1916, the Bimel Automobile Company was incorporated with a capital stock of
$500,000. The success of the company was short-lived, however. The firm survived a year
and went into a receivership by early 1917. The American Motor Parts Company of
Indianapolis bought the assets of the company in May of that year. A few finished cars
remained on hand, and these were also sold under the Bimel name.
Ethel Littleton prepares to board a Beck Bus in this
promotional picture snapped near the Big
Fred D. Clark of Sidney was a financial backer of the new
Bremac Motor Car Corporation in 1932. The project was a radical new idea in automobile
construction. The Bremac had no chassis frame and, as described by the company, seating in
the five-passenger sedan was the reverse of the usual, three passengers in front, two in
the rear. In mid-October, 1932, Bremac announced that its first prototype was under
construction in Sidney and that the company expected to complete three cars of
different body model design for exhibition at the New York Automobile Show the following
month. It never made it to show.
Another vehicle manufacturer was the C. D. Beck
Company. It made large vehicles - primarily busses and motor homes. The company was
located on the corner of Russell Road and Main Avenue. The structure now houses LeRoi
Numerous parts for automobiles were produced in Sidney, Ohio. When the Anderson-Frazier
Wheel partnership dissolved, James Anderson purchased the assets, and subsequently formed
the Anderson Body Company. The firm made wooden steering wheels, automobile bodies, and
associated parts for autos. It occupied the former Maxwell
Mill site west of the Miami River, where Shelby Manufacturing now stands on Adams
Street. The Tucker Woodworking Companys wood products were used for invalid chairs,
punching bag rims, bicycle wheels and automobile steering wheels. The company produced
75,000 car steering wheels in 1915. The Stolle Corporation manufactured fenders, radiator shells and other automobile parts.
The Sidney Manufacturing Company was
formed in 1907 with capital stock of $75,000 by leading industrialists Thedieck, Studevant, E.J.
Griffis and attorney J. Hess, among others. It made metal seats and bodies for
buggies, automobiles and trucks. Production output capacity was from 80,000 to 100,000
seats annually. The organization took possession of the old Maxwell Mill, which was
purchased by Thedieck for $17,000. As with the Anderson Body Company, it was located where
Shelby Manufacturing now stands on Adams Street.
written in January, 1998 by Rich Wallace
[ Back to Industry Index ]