Newton Wagon Company – An Early Find

Published by: David Sneed, Wheels That Won The West® Archives, LLC
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This week marks our 200th consecutiveblog post.  It’s hard to believe we’veshared so much material over the last several years.  As I look back, I’m thankfulthat we’ve had a role in helping open up America’s western vehiclehistory to so many folks.  Day in and dayout, it’s a brief reflection of our continual commitment to recovering rare details anddocumentation related to yesterday’s wooden vehicles.

While our files are too extensive to discussevery element they contain, our Wheels That Won The West® Archives have become a highly regarded and reliable resourcededicated to America’s early western transportation history.  Part of our stewardship in maintaining thesearchives involves continual research and a dedicated acquisition program.  Over the last two decades, that focus hasallowed the “Wheels” archives to grow from a single photograph to literally thousandsof images, business papers, and related sales pieces. 

Much of the reason we collect so manymaterials is to help expand the understanding of our nation’s firsttransportation industry.  The process helpsus gain an even better grasp of our country’s roots as well as those of aparticular wagon brand.  Having somuch material to dig through, the collection paints a vivid picture of an entireindustry that no other single source can replicate.

To that point, scarcely a week goes bythat we’re not uncovering and securing information related to these earlywooden wheels.  Just this week, we foundevidence of a rare, unknown Concord coach that, at the turn of the 20thcentury, was being housed in shed in Bloomfield, Kentucky.  At this point, it’s uncertain what may havebecome of the old stage.  While it's design is almost a mirror of most known Abbot Downing Concords, careful examination of a surviving photo shows that there are differences.  Those differences, along with an accompanying written history, could be beneficial in tracking down andadding valuable provenance to an extraordinary set of wheels.  We're working with other knowledgeable sources to determine what can be gleaned from the photo and documentation.   

These rare, surviving letters, written andsigned by D.C. Newton, provide even more insights into the legendary NewtonWagon Company.
Similarly, a few weeks ago, we were incrediblyfortunate to obtain a series of letters from a well-known early wagon manufacturer.  The correspondence was written during thedecade immediately following the end of the Civil War. As many might imagine, it’s difficult to locate wagon makercorrespondence from this and earlier periods. Most written records like this have simply not survived, so anytime we dig up such rare glimpses into a notable past, we work hard to help procure and preserve them.  After all, these behind-the-scenes views can add immeasurable and incontrovertible knowledge to our nation's past.   

The specifics of what we found were... Sixteen lettersdating from February of 1867 through April of 1875.  Most all of the letters are personally signed by D.C.Newton who was the business partner and son of Levi Newton, founder of the Newton Wagon Company.  Don Carlos (D.C.) Newton was born in 1832 and, uponthe death of his father in 1879, he became president of the firm.    

The topics of the letters range fromwages and available employment to accounts payable collections and family concerns.  One of the letters, dating to November of1869, states that sales had come to a “standstill” and prospects foradditional trade were “gloomy.”  Clearly,the interruption in commerce proved to be temporary as the company enjoyed a powerfulreputation as a legendary brand throughout the late 1800’s and early1900’s.  In fact, by the early 1870’s,the brand was seeing steady growth and was building as many as 1500 vehiclesper year.  By the end of the decade, theNewton brand was listed as one of the top wagon makers in the West

Today, Newton continues to be a favoriteamong many collectors and early vehicle owners. You can read even more about the company in a two-part story I wrote and posted to our website several years ago.
Emerson-Brantingham purchased the NewtonWagon Company in 1912 and began publishing detailed artworks to promote the legendary brand.
Please Note:  As with each of our blog writings, all imagery and text is copyrighted with All Rights Reserved.  The material may not be broadcast, published, rewritten, or redistributed without prior written permission from David E. Sneed, Wheels That Won The West® Archives.
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