Hoosier Dusty Files - January 30, 1888 - Elkhart Carriage and Harness Manufacturing Company Organized
|A Year of Indiana History - 2016|
Founded by Frederick B. Pratt, the Elkhart Carriage and Harness Manufacturing Company grew into one of the premier carriage manufacturers in the United States. The company began building "horseless carriages" in 1906, finally becoming Pratt-Elkhart Automobiles.
Frederick B. Pratt (December 18, 1822 - July 18, 1903)
The son of Herbert and Caroline (Brooks) Pratt, Frederick was born into the dry goods business, to which both his parents had business interests. In 1846, at twenty-four, he joined his uncle in the hardware business in Battle Creek, Michigan. He left his uncle's employ to start his own store in 1855. This enterprise failed and he rejoined his uncle, who put him in charge of a satellite store in Elkhart, Indiana. After becoming enamored of a buggy he saw on the street in Elkhart, he vowed to start his own buggy manufacturing business. In 1874, he and his son began manufacturing buggies in Elkhart under the name F. B. Pratt & Son. This venture succeeded and by 1884, they built a new four-story building. This building burned in a fire in 1885.
Elkhart Carriage & Harness Manufacturing Company
They reorganized the business in 1888 as the Elkhart Carriage & Harness Manufacturing Company. This company became one of the largest manufacturers and distributors of carriages, buggies and harnesses over the ensuing years. The company built several types of carriages, harnesses, wagons and carriages at the factory, supplying a free catalog of their offerings to all interested queries. The advent of the "horseless carriage" spurred them to explore using their carriages for this new form of transportation.
The started putting motors on some of their carriages in 1906. They called these motorized wagons the Pratt. This line proved successful and over the years of 1908 - 1909, they transitioned the business over to building horseless carriages, calling the new company Pratt-Elkhart Automobiles. After a few transitions, the company survived as the Elcar Motor Co. until 1934.
A Year of Indiana History - 2016
© Paul Wonning