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#47 Charles P. Ketterer Wagon Factory in Hanover; Top 50 York County Factories at End of 19th Century

2012 Photo of the East Wall of the Building in Hanover, York County, which housed the C. P. Ketterer Wagon Factory during 1899 (S. H. Smith)

In my post Late 1800s Factory Inspection Reports Assist in Identification of an East Prospect Photo  I wrote about finding these reports in the State Library of Pennsylvania.  For this series on the Top 50 York County Factories at the end of 19th Century, I’m using data from the 10th Report of the Pennsylvania Department of Factory Inspection.

The 10th Factory Inspection Report is for the Department’s year ending October 31st 1899.  I ranked the 479 York County factories by numbers of employees; #50 has 47 employees, on up to #1 with 510 employees.  In the coming weeks, on Monday and/or Tuesday, I’ll count down to the top employer in York County at the end of 19th Century.

On the southwest corner of West Elm Avenue and the railroad tracks in Hanover stands a three-story brick building that housed the Charles P. Ketterer Wagon Factory during 1899.  The photo is a current view of the east wall of that building from across railroad tracks.  The lingering paint on the side of the present building indicates MOTOR TRUCK BODIES; in this post we’ll discover the history leading to that story.


The 10th Factory Inspection Report notes that on July 12th 1899 the C. P. Ketterer Wagon Factory in Hanover has 50 employees; all employees are male.  Of these 50 employees, 3 are under 21, but over 16-years of age. The 1907 History of York County by George Prowell notes in Volume I, page 832:

The Ketterer Wagon Works, situated in the northwestern section of the borough, were established by Charles P. Ketterer, of New York City, in the year 1891.  Soon after the building had been erected and the works put into operation, a violet storm blew the building to the ground and injured much of the machinery.  A new building was completed in 1892, and the manufacturing of wagons of different kinds, trucks and vans, has since been carried on.  About 60 workmen have been regularly employed.  This establishment has been under the management of George D. Hopkins.  Within recent years these works have been operated by the Ketterer Manufacturing Company.

Plaque in Factory Wall (2013 Photo, S. H. Smith)

An old stone plaque on the building notes, “Erected by Charles P. Ketterer 1891.  Destroyed by storm November 23, 1891.  Rebuilt 1892.”  The New Oxford Item reported that the storm on November 23, 1891 was a tornado.  Of the 33 men working inside the Ketterer factory when it was destroyed, one man was killed and many were injured.

Issues of The Hub have been digitized and are available on the Internet.  The Hub was a trade publication of the wagon and carriage making industry.  The Hub publication of September 1897 reported that some of the products Ketterer manufactured were specialty wagons; the most successful of these were sold to American Telephone and Telegraph for use during the installation of long distance lines across the country.  These wagons were outfitted three different ways: a six man sleeping wagon; a kitchen & lunch wagon; and a foreman’s wagon.  The local Ketterer factory was part of a larger organization, as noted in The Hub publication of May 1900:

HANOVER—The Ketterer Manufacturing Co., who have a factory at Hanover, Pa., also a New York shop and repository, have just taken the five story building, 1707-1709 Filbert street, and running through to Cuthbert street, Philadelphia, for a repair shop, repository, etc.  This firm enjoys the reputation of being among the leading builders of business wagons and specialty vehicles.  One of the latter is the well-known “Moxel” wagon.

I tried to find some information about the well-known “Moxel” wagon, but was unsuccessful.  If any of my readers know the story of the “Moxel” wagon, please comment.  In Polk’s 1898 York City and County Directory the officers of the wagon works are listed.  Charles P. Ketterer is President.  Philip H. Ketterer is Vice President.  S. Percy Kobler is Secretery and Treasurer.

The Hub publication of May 1908 reported the Hopkins Manufacturing Company acquired the Ketterer Wagon Works in Hanover.  The Hopkins Manufacturing Company quickly grew, as seen by the size of their plant in Hanover, per the following full page ad in the May 1921 issue of The Express Gazette; a trade journal of Express Transporation.

Hopkins Manufacturing Company ad in the May 1921 issue of The Express Gazette

I wonder if the “The Famous Hopkins Express Double Wagon” is a renamed “Moxel” wagon.  The building to the far right in the ad plant view (shown magnified at right –>) is the building seen in the photo at the beginning of this post.  The wording in this ad also points out the manufacturing transition from wagons to commercial MOTOR TRUCK BODIES; just as the lingering paint on the side of the present building indicates.

In my count down of the 50 top factories in York County at the end of 19th Century, there are 5 wagon or carriage factories represented.  Two of these factories show up in the top 10; anyone care to guess these two wagon or carriage factories in the count down?

#47 Charles P. Ketterer Wagon Factory in Hanover, with 50 employees, is the second wagon factory in my count down of the top 50 York County Factories at end of 19th Century.  Previous wagon factories that have made the list include:

#49 George W. Hoover Wagon Factory in York; 48 employees

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