The Batavia Body Company was a company that rose out of the Newton Wagon Company, was part of Emerson Brantingham and then was plucked off into its own entity by the local citizens of Batavia. A sample of one of the refrigerated body trucks they built was on display at the Batavia Depot Museum.
The salesman sample was used when salesmen went from place to place showing an example of what they were selling. This was no small item, even though it wasn’t he size of a truck, it would have still been quite bulky to carry and show.
I love the history that is intertwined in this company that was once the windmill industry capitol of the US.
The Newton Wagon Company began in 1852 as the Newton Wagon Works in Alexander, New York (or Attica, I read that it was located in both places). The company was founded by Levi Newton in 1838. Newton started out as a cabinet maker then moved onto woodworking and wagon making. After a fire destroyed his factory Newton decided to move his family to Batavia where wagons had sold well over the years.
The Newtons built a shop along the Fox River to make farm wagons which became a very successful endeavor. They made seventy-two wagons the first year, and by 1887 they were one of the largest farm wagon companies in the US making 5,000 farm wagons a year.
The Newton family sold the company to Rockford, Illinois based Emerson Brantingham Company according to the Batavia Historical Society in 1916, although some accounts mention 1912. The Batavia Historical Society also stated that Emerson Brantingham Company who was known for their agricultural implements expanded after the purchase to make automobile bodies and fenders!
When the Depression came and Emerson Brantingham was bought by J.I. Case, they no longer wanted the wagon portion of the business so local Batavian stock holders took over the wagon portion which became the Batavia Wagon Company/ Batavia Body Company. They soon became engaged in the building wagons for the hauling of milk. They were cooled by cake ice and insulated with cork.
The Batavia Wagon Company moved into refrigeration and built a variety of refrigerated trucks for a long run. In 1955, the company was purchased by the American Gage and Machine Company of Elgin and continued manufacturing refrigerated truck bodies. The Batavia Body Company ceased operations on June 29, 1973. Sadly like so many iconic historic buildings these were razed to make room for a strip mall.