Gerstenslager, started with buggys in 1860, then made all kinds of specialty vehicles like the Oscar Meyer

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Gerstenslager’s history begins in 1860 when a 19 year-old German immigrant named William T. Wehe established a wagon works in Wayne County, Ohio. during the 1870s and by 1880 the Wehe Company was one of Baughman Township’s largest employers.In 1882 a young blacksmith of German descent named George Gerstenslager went to work for the Wehe Company. His younger brother Barney (b. 1868) became associated with the firm and George eventually became its manager. Sometime around 1890 William T. Wehe retired, and the two Gerstenslager brothers purchased his share in the business which became known as Weimer and Gerstenslager. In 1904 the Weimer’s retired and sold their share in the firm to the Gerstenslagers, manufacturers of Buggies, Phaetons, Surreys, etc. The brothers moved to a bigger city and reorganized as The Gerstenslager Company, Wooster, Ohio. They continued to manufacture the same high-quality vehicles that they had built in Marshallville, only on a much grander scale. Commercial delivery vehicles were in great demand at that time and Gerstenslager gained a reputation as a premiere builder in the field. The emergence of the automobile, and in particular, Henry Ford’s Model T did not go unnoticed by Gerstenslager and in the mid-teens, the firm began offering commercial bodies for the popular horseless carriage. Although some very early Ford trucks were sold with commercial bodies, Ford discontinued the program in 1913; leaving the field wide open for enterprising commercial body builders through 1924 when the first factory-built Ford Model T pick-ups were introduced. Barney and his son, George Gerstenslager Jr., went on to create a successful string of dealerships as Barney Gerstenslager and Son, Co. By the late thirties they owned Ford dealerships in Wooster, Cincinnati and Cleveland, which were operated as Barney Motor Company, Inc. in order to avoid confusion with the family’s truck body business. Gerstenslager’s high quality truck bodies remained in demand and they were able to survive the Depression. By the late 30s the US Post Office’s existing fleet of Model A Parcel Post delivery trucks were on their last legs and in 1940 the Government began a replacement program which included new ¾ ton Ford trucks with bodies supplied by Gerstenslager The multi-year contracts were cancelled at the start of the war and the firm ramped up for wartime production, producing cargo boxes and trailers such as the G569 6-ton shoe-repair semi-trailer and the G518 1-ton cargo trailer. Other unknown types of vehicle bodies were also built by Gerstenslager during the war, for instance U.S. Army Technical Manual #9-2800, Military Vehicles, lists a 1-ton Dodge carryall fitted with Gerstenslager body. Following the war, Gerstenslager was faced with stiff competition from firms mass-producing delivery vans, so they looked for new niche markets, and hit a home run with the Pioneer Bookmobile. The success of the bookmobiles led the firm into other niche markets and starting in the early 1950s Gerstenslager began to market their purpose-built civil defense, ambulance and rescue bodies to municipalities and volunteer fire departments in nationally-distributed periodicals as well as in dealer-only truck equipment catalogs such as Chevrolet’s Silver Book. Although most of Gerstenslager Civil Defense trucks were less elaborate, they built large numbers throughout the 1950s and 1960s. They incorporated many of the Civil Defense body’s features into their new line of fire squad and rescue car bodies that debuted in the early 50s. The years from 1950 to 1954 brought five new versions of the Oscar Meyer Company’s Wienermobile, one of which is in the permanent collection of the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village in Dearborn, Michigan. 1950s. By the end of the decade they were producing a fair number of the vehicles for county health departments and rural and inner city hospitals. A dedicated Mobile Medical Unit catalog included Mobile X-Ray units and Dental Clinics built using the firm’s Transit Van and Parcel Delivery bodies. Gerstenslager also produced small numbers of Transit Van-based Product Demonstration and Display Vans for well-heeled manufacturers as well as a handful of Mobile Canteens for the Red Cross and the Salvation Army. Also pictured in their catalogs were mobile shoe stores, field offices and motor homes. found on