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Warren County Local History by Dallas Bogan

Carriage Making As Told By The Western Star

Dallas Bogan on 8 August 2004
original article by Dallas Bogan
Return to Index to see a list of other articles by Dallas Bogan

"Carriage making did not reach its greatest development until the nineteenth century was far advanced. Various improvements in roads and in the construction of the vehicles made travel in carriages easy and pleasant. Elliptical springs were invented in England in 1804. Rubber tires did not come into use until near the close of the century.
"Fashion and taste brought about many changes in the forms of carriages in the United States to which different names were applied and all of which are now nearly obsolete. There were many forms of light carriages drawn by one or two horses, one of the most common being the one-horse buggy.
"The stage coach, the omnibus and the hack were the most common vehicles used by the general public. In England a carriage kept standing for hire was called a hackney-carriage, in the United States, a hack. As late as 1908 there were over 30,000 hackney-carriages with their drivers in London. Long lines of hacks with their drivers standing by could be seen in Cincinnati until the close of the 19th century.
"The keeping of livery stables for the hire of horses and vehicles and for the board and sale of horses was an important business in the United States during the greater part of the last century. The horses kept in livery stables were chiefly driving horses and it is a striking fact that none of the improvements in roads or travel of the 19th century affected the popularity or value of the horse. Even the steam railroads increased rather than lessen the value of the horse and did not injure the business of the livery stable.
"According to `Conteur' in the Sunday Enquirer, livery stables in Cincinnati increased rapidly in the latter half of the last century and declined more rapidly in the present century. He got his figures from the Cincinnati Directories. In 1820 there were only two or three; in 1850 there were 36 and thenceforward they increased much more rapidly than the population. In 1870 there were 70 and in 1880 there were 103.
"Wagon-making was an important business in Lebanon soon after the War of 1812 and in 1839 there were four wagon- making shops in that town employing 37 men.
"But carriages for carrying passengers came slowly into use. They were called pleasure carriages and in the rural districts were looked upon as marks of aristocracy. The legislature regarded them as luxuries which should be taxed and in 1825 they were the only wheeled vehicles in Ohio which assessors were required to return for taxation, but the rich man's carriage of the value of $100 or over could not escape.
"In 1825 when Ohio had grown to be the third state in the Union, assessors were required for the first time to return carriages for taxation and they were found in only one-third of the 73 counties when in the state, and in several counties only one or two were found.
"The whole number of carriages in the state in 1825 returned for taxation was 113 and their average value was $185. More than one-half of the whole number were in the four counties which had the large towns of Cincinnati, Chillicothe, Columbus and Zanesville. In Hamilton County there were 35, more than one-half of all in the state.
"As wealth increased costly carriages became more and more common and by the middle of the 19th century the rearing and training of fast carriage teams had become an important industry."

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This page created 8 August 2004 and last updated 28 September, 2008
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