OF THE AMERICAN AUTOMOBILE
By Jim Hinckley
Do you know what the thread linking Fred and Augie Duesenberg, Maytag
appliances, and an obscure manufacturer of tractors and farm machinery
is? The answer is William Galloway.
Born on a farm near Berlin, Iowa in 1877, Galloway did nothing in public
school to distinguish himself from other students. Likewise, with the
years spent at Monmouth College in Illinois.
After college, he traveled the rural roads of Iowa selling all manner of
specialty goods to rural farm families. Employment as a traveling
salesman for a farm implement dealer in Reinbeck, Iowa was the next step
in his journey to create an empire.
William Galloway and his manure spreader
In 1901, after literally learning the business from the ground up, he
established his own farm implement dealership in Waterloo, Iowa.
Galloway, however, was an ambitious man with a vision for the future.
The cornerstone for the William Galloway Company established in
Waterloo, Iowa in 1905 was the manufacture of a variety of agricultural
products including manure spreaders and harrow carts. Everything the
company was produced was available via mail order. Soon Galloway would
be selling products produced by other manufacturers in a similar manner,
and in less than a decade, the company was the largest mail order farm
equipment supplier in the country.
In 1908, Galloway expanded his product line to include the manufacture
of a vehicle promoted as a conveyance that could carry the family to
church on Sunday and haul loads during the week. Load carrying
capacities are questionable as power for the primitive high wheeler was
a two-cylinder, fourteen-horse power engine.
Expansion of his venture into automobile manufacturing occurred in 1910
with acquisition of a substantial interest in the Maytag-Mason Motor Car
Company after securing a guarantee the company would relocate from Des
Moines to Waterloo, Iowa. Senator Fred L. Maytag had initially
established Maytag to produce agricultural machinery and washing
machines but with the acquisition of controlling interest in Mason Motor
Car Company in 1909, he expanded operations to include automobile
The cornerstone for the Mason built automobiles was a two-cylinder
engine designed by Fred and August Duesenberg. Incorporated in Des
Moines, Iowa, the Mason Motor Car Company established in 1906 was named
for Edward R. Mason, the primary financier behind the endeavor.
Promoted as "The Fastest & Strongest Two-Cylinder Car in America" the
Mason garnered critical acclaim as a hill climber in numerous events,
and after 1907, as a racecar. This, however, did not translate into
sales and reorganization occurred in 1908.
Acquisition of controlling interest in the company by Maytag and a
subsequent merger did little to bolster sagging sales. Neither did
manufacturing an automobile sold under the Galloway name in 1911.
though the William Galloway Company continued to manufacture agricultural
equipment profitably, the company’s namesake still hoped to become a
successful manufacturer of motor vehicles. In 1910, Galloway and C.W. Hellen
purchased Dart, a manufacturer of trucks in Anderson, Indiana, and relocated
the company to Waterloo. In 1914, with reorganization of the company it
became Dart Truck & Tractor Company, a manufacturer of chain driven
tractors, and after 1916, worm and internal gear driven models.
following year he made one more attempt to produce a passenger vehicle under
the Galloway name. However, instead it debuted as the Arabian, a vehicle
that with the exception of nameplate was simply an Argo manufactured in
Michigan by Benjamin Briscoe.
Briscoe divested himself of he company selling it to Mansell Hackett in the
late fall of 1916, manufacturing continued under license at the Galloway
facilities in Waterloo, Iowa. The Chilton Trade Directory lists the car as
being in production in 1919, but in actuality cessation occurred at the end
The Galloway 25 1911.
Car Company, Des Moines, Iowa history website. The website indicates it
was a Maytag with a Galloway emblem with no known example in existence
today. Click on image for larger version.
of this was taking place while the company continued to expand its
agricultural line and mail order business. The 1913 catalog featured
146-pages of pumps, cream separators, plows, harrows, Galloway wagons,
anvils, forges, iceboxes, mattresses, roofing, work clothes, windmills, and
almost anything the farmer could imagine.
Even the "Little Wonder Vodaphone" to "Open Your Doors to Whole World of
Entertainment" was available for ordering. Tennis rackets, roller skates,
and even bicycles were sold through the Galloway catalogs.
1917 Galloway Catalog, image courtesy of Farm
late 1915, Galloway turned his attentions toward the manufacture of what he
envisioned as the blending of the passion for building a motor vehicle and
his farm implement and supply company – a tractor. The Galloway Farmobile
12-20 debuted in 1916 and the company’s 1917 catalog notes that the tractor,
which sold for $995 featured, "a 4-1/2-by-5-inch engine and a 2-speed
transmission." Promotion claimed that the Galloway manufactured tractor
"Pulls Anything, Anywhere, Anytime."
October 17, 1918 edition of Automotive Industries noted that the new worm
drive tractors were the product of three years of experimentation. The
article also states that, "…in January of this year the company received an
order for 1,080 tractors of this type from the well –known British firm of
Henry Garner, Ltd."
Appraisal of the company’s complex of shops and offices that sprawled across
fourteen acres placed the value at $1,462,000. Profits soared and Galloway
built a red brick home that mirrored his success.
for expansion in the decade to come mirrored the companies soaring sales and
diversification. That, however, required, financing. Volume 99, Bankers
Magazine, 1919, "One of the largest bond issues ever handled by Iowa banks
has been underwritten and sold by the Waterloo Clearing House Association
without the assistance of either Wall Street or LaSalle Street interests.
This was the $1,750,000 issue of the William Galloway Company of Waterloo,
Iowa, hearing date of July 1, 1919, and due July 1, 1925."
The article continued with, "Both are a direct obligation of the William
Galloway Company and are a lien against its plant, properties, and
in the blink of an eye, the empire crashed. Over extension, the severe post
war recession and a plunge in agricultural commodity values brought the
William Galloway Company to the brink of bankruptcy in 1920.
sons resurrected the company in late 1926, but on a much more modest scale.
As a mail order company for farm supplies, it lasted into the early 1940’s,
and William Galloway passed away in 1952.
Today, Galloway, his catalog business that provided serious competition to
companies such as Sears & Roebuck, his automotive manufacturing ventures,
and the namesake tractors are less than an historic footnote. A couple of
trucks, an array of Galloway stamped products ranging from engines to watch
fobs, and thirteen tractors, twelve in the United States and one in France,
are all that remain from Galloway’s once formidable empire.
Hinckley, Legends of America, June 2015
Buddie Knutson stands on his vintage Galloway
Tractor. Photo by Jim Hinckley.
About the Author:
Jim Hinckley is an award winning author and photographer, and an
official contributor to Legends Of America through a partnership developed
in October 2012. Hinckley is a former Associate Editor of Cars and Parts
Magazine, and author of multiple books, including several on Route 66.
His latest "The Route 66 Encyclopedia" is available with autograph via
Route 66 Chronicles, Jim's blog.
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