Baily & Bowne (and its successor, Bowne & Bowne) was a small Utica, New York commercial body builder that manufactured small numbers of truck bodies for businesses and municipalities located in and around New York State's Oneida and Herkimer Counties.
The firm was rarely mentioned in either the national trades or the local newspapers, although a pair of attractive portable salesrooms manufactured for the Union Fork & Hoe Co. of Columbus, OH (and Frankfort, NY) in 1935 were used in various advertisements by the International Harvester Corp., the manufacturer of the chassis (1935 International D-15). Like most of its competitors, it survived the Depression doing collision work, remaining in business into the late 1950s.
At the time of the firm's founding in January of 1898, its two principals, Albert E. Bailey and Edward J. Bowne, had a combined 40 years of experience in the trade.
Albert Elmer Bailey was born in Utica, Oneida County, New York of February 2, 1862 to Charles Henry and Mary J. (Peek) Bailey. Both his father and grandfather were natives of Whitesboro, the former born on the 7th of April, 1827, in what was called the Pratt Settlement. Samuel Bailey, the paternal grandfather of Albert E. Bailey, born in 1794, was an agriculturist by occupation, while Charles Henry Bailey was engaged in the foundry business. Albert's paternal great-grandfather, Stephen Bailey, was born in Connecticut in 1762, and served in the Revolutionary War, while on the maternal side of the house the great-grandfather was a native of Holland, who had early settled in Saratoga County, New York where Albert's mother, Mary J. (Peek) Bailey was born in 1830.
Albert's father, Charles, moved to Utica in the early 1850s where he was engaged in the blacksmith and foundry business. Young Albert attended the public schools of Utica, graduating from the Utica Free Academy in 1879. The 1880 US Census lists Albert's occupation as 'bookkeeper', his father's as 'moulding foreman'. A 1925 biography states "He has spent all but ten years of his life in Utica and enjoys a wide and favorable acquaintance here" but his activities during those ten years (1880s-1890s) are currently unknown.
He first appears in the 1894 Utica directory which lists him as "mgr." Also listed is his wife, Ella M. (Parker, b. 1861 in Missouri) Bailey and it is assumed he was employed at C.H. Childs carriage manufactory, where he was working when he formed Bailey & Bowne in late 1897. The 1896 Utica directory lists him as "supt."
Far more is known about the working experience of his partner, Edward J. Bowne.
Edward J. Bowne was born in April of 1856 in Edmeston, Otsego County, NY, to the offspring of one of the county's early settlers. He was apprenticed to a vehicle builder and when he reached his majority chose carriage painting as his profession. The 1876-1879 Utica, New York directories list him as a 'carriage painter', his residence being 90 John St., which was just two blocks away from the carriage works of Chas. H. Childs & Co., a well-known Utica builder who is covered elsewhere in this encyclopedia.
He subsequently went into partnership with a Canadian-born blacksmith named John F. Atkinson, in the style of Bowne & Atkinson, electing to locate their business in Rome, New York, another Oneida County canal town. Their listing in the 1883-1889 Rome directories under carriage and wagon manufacturers follows:
"Bowne & Atkinson (Edward J. Bowne and John F. Atkinson) man'fr wagons, 310-312 S. James St. (factory), 145 Whitesboro St. (repository); Rome."
John F. Atkinson, born on Aug.18, 1860 in Northumberland, Canada to William and Janet Atkinson and trained as a blacksmith, emigrated to the US in 1881 with his wife Mary Anne Massie (married Aug. 22 Aug 1883 in Campbellford, Ontario, Canada).
The October 2, 1885 issue of the Roman Citizen announced the partners had won several prizes at the Oneida County Fair:
"Conclusion of the Oneida County Fair.
"The Oneida county fair concluded last Friday afternoon. Altogether, the fair was a gratifying success. Following is the remainder of the premium list:
"Single carriage, Bowne & Atkinson 1st, Oneida Carriage Works 2d; two horse carriage, Oneida Carriage Works 1st; pleasure wagon and market wagon, Fitch Gear Company 1st; farm wagon, George W. Mickle 1st, McDonald & Clark' 2d; wagon gear. Fitch Gear Company 1st, Bowne & Atkinson 2d; horse power fire engine, Remington Agricultural Company 1st; farm tell, same; double and single harness Edward Barnard 1st; farm harness, J. M. Childs 1st, buggy wagon, Bowne & Atkinson 1st."
In 1890 the partnership was dissolved with Atkinson retaining the Rome facilities and Bowne moving to Utica to take a position with Chas. H. Childs as a carriage painter, the 1891-1896 Utica directories listing his residence as 761 Genesee St.
Atkinson ultimately purchased the carriage works of David D. Williams at 116-118 John St., Rome, which also operated a repository and sales room at 121-125 W. Front St., and by 1910 was operating it in the style of J.F. Atkinson. His business operated as a blacksmith shop, builder repairer and dealer in carriages and sleighs into the teens transitioning into a successful Rome automobile sales and repair business which survived until his death on March 24, 1928.
The January, 1898 issue of The Hub reveals that Bowne and Albert E. Bailey, who were both working for Chas. H. Childs & Co., had decided to form their own firm:
"Chas. H. Childs & Co.'s carriage factory at the corner of Whitesboro and Wiley sts., Utica, NY, will be sold about Jan. 1 to E.A. Bailey and Edward Bowne who have been employed as its superintendents. The factory has done a good business since it was started five years ago and it will be continued in its present location."
Although the article is unclear Bailey and Bowne did not take over the carriage business of Chas. H. Childs & Co. The small building located at Whitesboro and Wiley Sts. was no longer being used, and Childs continued to manufacture carriages into 1909 at their main facility, which was located at 12-18 Lafayette St., Utica.
Bailey & Bowne's inaugural directory listing (under carriage and wagon manufacturers) appeared in the 1899 Utica city directory:
"Bailey & Bowne (Albert E. Bailey and Edward J. Bowne) wagonmakers, cor. Wiley and Whitesboro."
They were also visited by New York State, whose 1899 Industrial Directory of the State of NY lists the firm as a mfr. of carriages and sleighs whose 12 employees worked 59 hrs. per week. The 1902 Industrial Directory of the State of NY lists the firm as a mfr. of wagons whose 15 employees worked 60 hrs. per week.
Their listing in the 1904 Utica directory follows:
"Bailey & Bowne (Albert E. Bailey and Edward J. Bowne) wagonmakers and harness mfrs., cor. Wiley and Whitesboro – home phone 380."
They were listed in the 1909 Motor Cyclopedia as a manufacturer of automobile tops and the 1909 Utica directory listed automobiles in addition to wagons and sleighs:
"Bailey & Bowne (Albert E. Bailey and Edward J. Bowne) wagons, sleighs and automobiles, cor. Wiley and W'boro."
Their first mention in a trade publication appeared in the February 1909 issue of the Hub, which mentioned the factory suffered a small fire on January 4, 1909:
"The wagon factory of Bailey & Bowne, Utica, NY, was slightly damaged by fire on Jan 4."
The factory was conveniently located across the street from Station No. 4 of the Utica Fire Dept., and the blaze was extinguished before any major damage took place.
One piece of early Bailey & Bowne fire apparatus is mentioned in the September 14, 1910, issue of The Clinton Courier:
"The John Osborn Hose Company has had added to its equipment a new hose wagon, which was received on Monday. It was made to order by the Bailey & Bowne Company of Utica and is a very handsome and substantial vehicle. It will carry 600 feet of hose besides other equipment and is rigged to be drawn by either men or horses. It is equipped with two chemical fire extinguishers. The wagon cost about $125."
The February 1, 1912 issue of the Automobile Journal included the following mention of the firm as a charter member of the Utica Auto Trades Association:
"UTICA DEALERS ORGANIZE.
"The dealers in Utica, N. Y., have organized the Utica Auto Trades Association with the following officers: President, H. D. Gouse; vice president, A. A. Ledermann; secretary, W. F. Carroll; treasurer, A. H. Westcott.
"The following firms are represented in the membership: Crist Motor Car Company, Utica Motor Car Company, Ebann & Berringer, Lederman Company, Bailey & Bowne, Ford Sales Company, Westcott Garage Company, Decker Garage Company, Crim Bronner, Oneida Square Garage Company, H. A. House, Central Auto Supply Company, Utica Cycle Company and Utica Auto Supply Company."
The May 29, 1913 issue of the Municipal Journal included a detailed description of a Fire Chief's Car that Bailey & Bowne had recently outfitted for the City of Utica:
"Purchase Chief’s Car for Fire Station.
"Utica, N. Y. — A new automobile for the use of fire chiefs has been placed in the station. The machine is a Cadillac, 40 horse-power, with an engine capable of drawing it 60 miles an hour. The machine is painted a pretty red and is fitted in an elegant manner. On the front, near the mud guards, are two powerful electric searchlights, while a third is placed on the dashboard. Lanterns are also placed in standards at the front and rear. The drive is a right hand one and it has an electric self-starter. On each side of the hood is the word “Chief” in neat letters, while on each side of the front seat are the letters U. F. D. in monogram. The machine carries two Child's hand fire extinguishers, an axe, crowbar and tool box. Nonskidding Goodyear tires are fitted to the wheels, and two extra ones are fastened at the rear in case of emergency. The car is a four-cylinder and will carry four persons. A large electric gong is attached to the side nearest the chief's seat. The body of the car was designed by Thomas V. Church, Commissioner of Public Safety, and was built from his design by Bailey & Bowne."
The 1913 Industrial Directory of the State of NY lists the firm as a mfr. of auto bodies and wagons with 20 employees.
1915 Chilton's Directory lists the firm as a manufacturer of automobile tops and wooden automobile bodies.
His 1918 draft registration lists Norman as supt. Bailey & Bowne.
Edward Bowne's son Norman spearheaded a move into new automobile sales and for several years after the First World War the firm was listed as authorized distributors of Paterson and Dixie Flyer automobiles.
The June 22, 1926 issue of the Utica Daily Press announced the June 1, 1926 dissolution of the partnership with Norman L. Bowne taking over Bailey's half of the business, which was continued in the style of Bowne & Bowne. The 1926-1929 Utica directories listed both firm's names, as follows:
"Baily & Bowne (see Bowne & Bowne)
"Bowne & Bowne (Edward J. Bowne & Norman L. Bowne) repairing, 801-803 Whitesboro St."
A paid insertion in the August 11, 1927 issue of the Utica Daily Press follows:
"Bowne & Bowne Make Truck and Van Bodies
"Shapes and Sizes to Meet Needs of Patrons
"The body building and automobile repair shop of Bowne & Bowne, Whitesboro and Wiley Sts., reports exceptionally brisk business in recent weeks, especially in the commercial body building department. Many large trucks and van bodies have been turned out, the patrons including large corporations and business houses which need bodies of special types and demand the best in quality and workmanship.
The various repair departments have also been busy. The Bowne & Bowne establishment is one of the oldest and best equipped automobile repair shops in Central New York, and they often accomplish surprising results in transforming wrecked and smashed cars into serviceable machines. Bodies, doors, fenders, springs and axles are repaired and decks are renewed and recovered; running boards, linoleum and slip covers are replaced and upholstering in all the branches is taken care of, as well as painting and lettering.
"In the painting department they are well prepared to give good service to patrons and all types of paint, varnish and lacquer finish, giving the old car the appearance of freshness so much appreciated in pleasure vehicles."
1930 census list both father and sons as employees of 'general auto shop'.
1932-1938 Utica directories:
"Bowne & Bowne (Norman L. Bowne) gen auto shop, 801-803 Whitesboro cor Wiley."
"Bowne & Bowne (Norman L. Bowne) auto bodies, 801-803 Whitesboro cor Wiley."
1935 International Trail:
"Sales representatives of the Union Fork & Hoe Co. are also spending less time in thumbing the catalog and more in showing dealers the actual products with the result that sales have tripled by men equipped with these travelling showrooms. The Union Fork & Hoe Co. units are Model D-15 Internationals with special bodies. They contain a complete assortment of current items in the line of farm and garden tolls neatly and systematically arranged for exhibiting. The bodies of the two units recently purchased are identical, and they were built by Bowne & Bowne of Utica, N. Y. Exhibits are contained in cabinets, drawers, and racks on both sides of a wide center aisle. The inner surfaces of the rear doors arc also utilized for display purposes. Glass -covered doors and display cabinets contain exhibits that come into view when the doors are opened."
1935 International Harvester Press Photo caption:
"Salesman delivering farm and garden goods to the Wolff-Kubly & Hirsig Hardware store, 21 South Pinckney Street on the Madison capitol square, with an International D-15 truck. The truck was owned by Union Fork and Hoe Company, and was equipped with a special body built by Bowne & Bowne of Utica, New York. The Wisconsin State Capitol building is reflected in the glass above the storefront."
1940 census lists Norman as "com. body builder"
A paid insertion in a 1941 issue of the Utica Daily Press follows:
"Have Cars Repaired Now At Bowne & Bowne Shop
"This midwinter season is an opportune time to have automobile repair work done. The car can be spared for a few days now easier than at other seasons.. It will not take long to have bodies and fenders restored to good condition, dents taken out, windows tightened, glass replaced, upholstery cleaned, wheel aligned, axles and frames straightened, and the whole operation completed with a new refinishing job.
"Equipped for Work
"The Bowne & Bowne repair shop, Whitesboro and Wiley Sts., a pioneer in automobile repairing, is equipped for all these classes of work and has expert mechanics in each department. Cars which have been driven over ice and snow probably have had a bumpy time of it. Those sharp bumps frequently force the wheels out of alignment, wear the tires excessively and make steering difficult. Axles and frames should be straightened by the Bear system cold process which does not weaken the metal or destroy its temper, and defective wheels should be made strong and sturdy.
"In the steering of an automobile, what might be termed 'the geometry of wheels' has to be considered. Old fashioned two-wheeled carts had wheels which leaned out at the top. This was done to make each wheel vertical to the high crowned road. The same, principle is followed in the motor car. The professionals call it 'camber.' The front wheels of a car are designed to be 'toed-in' - turned in a little at the front - to the point where the tires do not side slip on the road as they travel along. Wheels a half inch out of alignment will drag the tires sideways 87 feet during each mile of travel.
"Have Faults Corrected
"Often the front wheels of a car are jolted out of alignment. Repairmen who thoroughly understand the mechanics of wheels should be employed to correct faults.
"A checkup and detailed estimate by Bowne & Bowne will show that your car can be made safe and road worthy, as well as having its appearance restored at reasonable cost."
The following paid insertion appeared in the June 22, 1942 issue of the Utica Daily Press:
"Bowne Firm Offers Quick Truck Repairs
"A large part of the country's transportation is being handled by trucks. These big, powerful machines, running in all directions and at all hours of the day and night, with sharply limited time schedules, need the services of a dependable repair shop where they are sure of prompt expert service. The Bowne & Bowne shop, Whitesboro and Wiley, is bending every energy to serve this type of trade as its contribution to the success of the war effort. The shop is well prepared to meet this demand with its roomy building and adequate machinery for all types of wood and metal work, wheel repairing and alignment, glass replacement, upholstering and refinishing.
"The firm builds trucks and trailer bodies to order. Business firms often need a special type of body and some are used as travelling offices and display rooms. Refrigerator bodies for perishable, products and many other types are turned out. The firm does an artistic job of lettering, reproducing trademarks and other special designs. A neat well painted truck is recognized as a big asset by successful business concerns.
"The Bowne shop, a pioneer in the automobile repair field, has long been noted for its skill in rebuilding wrecked cars. This is a first aid station for cars after an accident and no matter how bad the smashup, it is best to get an estimate of a repair job before abandoning the car for junk. Many cars wrecked, battered or weatherworn after long usage can have their good appearance and serviceability restored at comparatively small cost. This firm has the Bear equipment for straightening bent frames and axles and aligning wheels.
"Much precious rubber is wasted and tires which cannot be replaced are needlessly worn out because of faulty wheel alignment. Have these faults corrected if you want your tires to last through the emergency."
During the 1940s and 1950s Norman L. Bowne served as president of the Central New York Harness Horse Racing Association and as a sideline to his truck body business he manufactured small numbers of
jog carts and sulkies for harness racing participants . Bowne & Bowne was one of four North American firms known to manufacture harness racing vehicles after the Second World War.
Normal L. Bowne retired in 1958 at which time the former C.H. Childs factory building was taken over by Whitesboro Collision which abandoned the property soon after at which time it was razed. The property remains vacant today and is located across the street from the old No. 4 Utica firehouse which is currently the home of the Boscar Electric Co., a local electric sign manufacturer. Norman L. Bowne passed away on December 1, 1963 at the age of 78.
© 2014 Mark Theobald for Coachbuilt.com - with special thanks to Sharry and Lance Whitney. Some pictures courtesy of Oneida County Historical Society.