JAMES CUNNINGHAM SON & CO., ROCHESTER, NEW YORK
Carriage Builders Reference Book, published by the Carriage Monthly 1877 page 207-207,152, 111,123,107, 103.
This firm had on exhibition six vehicles, comprising a top and a no-top buggy, landaulet, two five-glass landaus, and a hearse. The two latter classes this firm builds largely, and their exhibit showed many new features in heavy work. All the carriages displayed were disposed of before the Exhibition closed.
No. 250. Side-Bar Buggy Page 152). This was another in the list of carriages hung on side-bars, and like all the others was claimed to be easier riding than any of the rest. The usual half- springs were used at the end, but in place of having bars connected with them, side-springs were used in their stead, the ends of the side-springs connecting with the ends of the end springs by shouldered clips in the latter, thus allowing the side springs full play when depressed. In order to prevent forward or backward motion as well as to prevent the ends of the springs being drawn through the clip, the lower leaves of the side-springs were turned down. The bars, which were like the ordinary spring-bar, except that the bearing was longer, were clipped to the top of the side-spring, the bars being nearly the length of the body, which was suspended from them by iron loops secured at the ends of the bars. The body was the usual style of piano-box, there being no new points in its outlines or construction. The painting was plain black, without any ornamentation. The trimming was very neat, the material used being green cloth. The back was made with a roll at top and ends, and three broad smooth rolls in-center. The cushion was smooth, with roll around the back and sides. Cloth raises on fall and cushion facing.
No. 313. Landaulet (Page 111). This full size landaulet had a Clarence body, and was the only one of the kind on exhibition. It had the compass sweep at back quarter and door, and the boot was also swept in graceful lines. The manner of making the front part of top was new in several particulars. Instead of detaching it as usual, the front was made to lower, the pillars being hinged at top and bottom, and the front stay at center of circle so arranged that by touching a spring it was made to slide when it folded down. To lower the top, the glass frames were first removed and placed in the boot, by means of a door in the under part of arch made for that purpose. Then the front stay was unscrewed at the top, and the top folded down, resting on the iron extending from the driver’s seat to the boot. The back part was upheld in the usual manner. The panels of the body were painted claret color; the remaining parts black. Carriage-part, lake, striped 5/8 line of black. The trimming was red satin, very handsome and luxurious, the design being squabs, and wrinkles or pleated rolls on the edges. Carpet, dark brown, with black and orange figure. Inside mountings, ivory, silver mounted; outside, silver.
No. 320. Five-Glass Landau (Page 107). This landau was made with English quarters, and was composed almost entirely of straight lines, the single exception being the front of the seat standard. There were two noticeable improvements in this carriage, both being in connection with the working of the top. The first was a spring at the lock pillar, which helped to hold the top either in raising or lowering. The hinges at the top were so arranged that the top took up less room than if it had been worked by the Lohner system, thus allowing the boot to be made shorter. The back portion was also furnished with a spring, to ease its working. The second improvement was in the manner in which the seat moved in order to allow the top to be lowered. Instead of turning forward, as is usually the case, it was so arranged that it moved forward, remaining in a horizontal position and resting on the toe-board until the top was lowered. The iron stays at back of seat were hinged at top, and were held up against the seat by a spring catch when the top was down. When lowering the top, the quarter-lights were taken out and put in the boot in the same manner as in the landaulet. This carriage was painted dark green on the body-panels, the remaining portions black; carriage-part, dark green, striped with broad line of black, the latter having two fine lines of light green on it. Trimmed with dark green satin; the cushion tops in biscuit pattern, with broad lace facings. Back made with large pipings in center, with diamond squabs top and bottom. Head-lining and quarters, small diamonds. Inside mountings, ivory, outside, gold.
No. 331. Five-Glass Landau (Page 123). This landau was totally different in outline from the one just described, as instead of having English quarters, it had the full compass sweep. This was a much stronger manner in which to build the body than if the English quarters had been used, though it caused the body to look as if it was hung higher. The boot and the rockers were framed differently from any others at the exhibition. The boot was framed square, and was perfectly straight upon the side. The contract formed by the rocker was framed against the boot, showing an offset midway between the front pillar and the door. The front quarters were swelled, which allowed the quarter-lights to slide around. A draw which extended into the boot, the outside forming part of the trimming when in, was made to put the quarter-lights in when desired. The working of the top was similar to that in the preceding landau. The body panels of this carriage were painted lake, the remaining portions black; carriage-part, black, striped two lines of red, glazed. The trimming was very handsome, the material used being brown satin; the cushion tops in large biscuit pattern, the back with large wrinkled roll in center, and squabs top and bottom, and the quarters and head-lining in small diamonds; carpet, dark brown with brown and orange flower. Inside mountings, ivory and silver, outside, silver.
No. 322. Hearse (Page 103). Among the hearses on exhibition, this one attracted the greatest share of attention. It presented a very rich appearance. Around the glass in the sides, were panel moldings, in which were emblematic designs in silver. In the center over the side glass, were doves, beautifully carved from wood, and gilded with silver, holding an olive branch, the emblem of peace. Extending each way from the center, and on the sides were sheathed swords, at the lower corners were anchors, and at the bottom in the center, were a cross and crown. The front and back were furnished with circular glass, the front ones made to slide. The rails on the roof were silver-plated, the urns gold-plated, with silver drapery. The dickey-seat was finished with a full, deep and rich black hammer-cloth, with heavy braiding and black worsted fringe. This hearse was painted plain black, polished mound. The curtains were double festooned, the outer one of gros grain silk, with gold bullion fringe, the other, black cloth, with silver fringe. Large rosettes were secured at the loops, from which rich tassels were suspended.
Plate No. 41. English-Quarter Five-Glass Landau.
Carriage Monthly August 1879 page 94.
This is one of the many styles of five-glass landaus manufactured by James Cunningham, Son & Co., of Rochester, New York. It contains the C spring, which is now seldom used. The cause of its being not in use is, prices are cut down so low that the demand does not warrant using them. This landau has a full-size glass front and English quarters. In laying down the front top, take out front quarter lights, and place them in the boot, or by hinging them at front pillar, and turning them in against the front windows, they are also out of the way. The front glasses are made to slide over each other.
Some of the principal dimensions of this job are: width of body: front, 41 inches; back, 42 inches; at hinge pillar, 62 inches; at lock pillar, 61 inches; turn-under, 6 inches; boot, front, 32 inches. Wheels: 49 x 40 inches diameter. Hubs: 5 3/4 x 8 2 inches long. Spokes 1 9/16 inches. Rims: 1 5/8 x 1 3/8 inches. Tire : 1 7/16 x 3/8 inch, steel, edges rounded. Axles: 1 7/16 inches length of arm for 8 2 hub, full patent.
Front elliptic springs 1 3/4- steel, 13 inches open from out to out, 5 plates, first plate No. 2, the others No. 3 steel. Back platform springs 1 3/4 inches wide, 11 2 inches open from out to out, 6 plates, first plate No. 2, the others No. 3 steel. Cross-spring, 37 inches long, 1 3/4 inches wide, 7 inches open from out to out; 5 plates, first plate No. 2, the others No. 3 steel.
C springs according to shape and size desired, 1 3/4 inches wide, 5 plates, same size as the others.
The gearing: close futchel platform, halt circle fifth-wheel, straight bed, patent folding steps.
The late James Cunningham, of Rochester, New York.
Hub June 1886.
On May 14th we were startled by the receipt of a telegram from Rochester, saying: “James Cunningham is approaching the point of death;” which was followed the next day by the sad tidings: “Mr. Cunningham died at six forty this morning.” From later communications we learn that the cause of death was blood poisoning, indirectly due, it is thought, to an accident which occurred in March, 1884, described elsewhere in this number. His age was seventy-one years. As president of the great carriage company in Rochester, New York, with which his name has for so many years been identified, Mr. Cunningham had a world-wide reputation; and, by his death, the trade has lost one of its ablest and most successful members. The facts of the busy life of this self-made man may be briefly stated as follows.
Mr. Cunningham was born in County Down, Ireland, in 1815. When four years of age his father died, and, upon attaining his sixteenth year, accompanied by his mother, four brothers and one sister, he emigrated to Canada, where the family settled upon a farm of two hundred acres. The habits of the Canadians were so slow, however, that he came to the conclusion that the Province was but a slight improvement on the old country; and, in 1834, at the age of nineteen, he moved to Rochester and began work at carriage-making, under instructions, with the firm of Hanford and Whitbeck.
During the first year he received $1 a week and board, with a slight advance in subsequent years, until he had mastered the mysteries of the wood department. In 1838 he formed a copartnership with J. W. Kerr and Blanchard Dean, under the firm name of Kerr, Cunningham & Co., which conducted business in the old Hanford & Whitbeck shops,–Mr. Cunningham acting as wood-worker, Mr. Kerr as trimmer, and Mr. Dean as blacksmith. The firm continued four years, when it dissolved with an indebtedness of $6,000 over and above its assets-a large sum in those days.
Messrs. Kerr and Dean went through bankruptcy, and Mr. Cunningham was left alone with an establishment on his hands, $6,000 worse than nothing. This was his first trial, and his abilities were put to a severe test. When friends who knew his circumstances inquired what he intended to do, his reply was: ” Go on with the business.” They shook their heads and prophesied inevitable ruin.
None of them offered help and he had no backing; but, with courage and will equal to the emergency, and with a capital in knowledge of his business and tireless activity which no man could take from him, he continued, and in a few years paid off the amount of indebtedness, with but few compromises.
His determination to increase and extend his business then grew stronger, and in 1850 he removed to the site of the present works, on Canal and Litchfield-streets. As the profits were insufficient for his purposes, he made arrangements with a capitalist for a loan at eighteen per cent. per annum, and he borrowed at this rate for fourteen or fifteen years, during which period it is said that he paid in usurious interest over $100,000! Although oppressed by the weight of this exorbitant charge, he was enabled to extend his works and multiply production without sinking under the load.
Looking back over that period, he said that he had no regrets to express, as the terms were the best he could make at the time, but he felt the necessity of freeing himself from the hands of the money-lender. While studying the problem of relief, the rebellion broke out and the war commenced. Money–paper currency-became plenty among the people, and their wants in his line grew with their ability to purchase and pay. He then at last found himself able to meet all obligations without borrowing, and began to reap the reward of his toils (luring the previous twenty-five years. From that time to this, the steady growth and prosperity of his establishment have been marvelous. The formation of a stock company in 1881 relieved him from much of his former care and responsibility.
The personnel of the corporation included James Cunningham, President; Joseph T. Cunningham (his son), Vice-President; and Rufus K. Dryer (his son-in-law), Secretary and Treasurer. The capital stock of the concern is $803,000, all paid in. The tenacity with which he clung to his life’s work was remarkable. Though age impeded his movements and enfeebled his frame, a day seldom passed without his visiting the great factory and walking through every department. He made his last round only a few days previous to his death.
The funeral of Mr. Cunningham took place on the Thursday following his death, and was attended not only by his five-hundred workmen, but also by the employees of Messrs. Keeler & Jennings, carriage-builders, of the same city, and numerous representatives of the carriage and accessory trades from this and other states, all of whom unite in mourning the death of one so energetic and capable, as a permanent loss to the trade he so creditably represented.
Late James Cunningham, of Rochester, New York.
Hub July 1886.
We present on this page a portrait of the late James Cunningham, President of the great carriage-building house in Rochester, N.Y., known as the James Cunningham, Son & Co. We have already given, in our last number, a detailed biographical notice of the deceased, the substance whereof was kindly furnished us by Mr. W. R. Connor, superintendent of the works; which we now supplement by presenting the resolutions adopted at a meeting of the employees of the company, indicating the high esteem in which he was held.
“We, the employees of the firm of James Cunningham, Son & Co., In meeting assembled, desire to offer some public expression of our feelings on learning of the death of the President and founder of the corporation which perpetuates his name, and to embody in this memorial the heartfelt sorrow and deep regret at that sad event, and the appreciation of the manly qualities which at once distinguished him as an employer and endeared him to those most intimately associated with him. “It is seldom that, in this restless age, so many men remain in the employ of one man so many years as have a large number of us with James Cunningham. Some of us were with him almost from the beginning of that struggle against apparently insurmountable difficulties, which, at last, owing to his indomitable pluck and perseverance, never-failing faith in himself, and his ceaseless hope and ambition, were overcome and ended in such triumphant success. For these, there is needed no monument of stone to remind them of the friend they have lost. The great factory he established signifies to the world the success of his efforts. The remembrance of the numberless kindly acts to those in his employ, of the hearty shake of the hand, and of the cheery smile with which he was wont to greet us, is something that cannot be expressed in marble; but, more enduring still, it lives in our hearts, and will live until we are called to lay down our life-work and join him where everlasting rest abides.
“Himself a workman, he knew the wants of the workingmen; he appreciated the difficulties and hardships to which they were exposed; and he never lost an opportunity to lend a helping hand to the needy and distressed, and to better the condition of those dependent upon him.
“Even in the darkest hour he never lost hope, never doubted his ability to overcome the most disheartening obstacles. He was at all times courteous and kind to his employees and, while expecting and requiring each man to do his whole duty, never forgot that they were in a great measure his aids to that success which crowned his labors. He was most truly the friend of labor, never tyrannical to his employees, always anxious for their comfort, and always considerate. He came to be looked upon, especially by those long in his employ, as a kind and loving father. They felt he was their friend, and that they could ask help of him as a brother; and they regard his death as a personal bereavement. To many of us; the old shop will never be the same as when he directed its workings.
“His life is an example which should inspire all our young men with hope and ambition, for by it they see that the lowliest among them have it in their power to win that success in life which industry, perseverance and economy are sure to bring to those who practice those virtues.
” To the members of his family we offer our sincere sympathy; commending them to the giver of every good and perfect gift for that peace which the world cannot give, and who alone can comfort the afflicted and distressed.
“As a mark of our esteem, we shall, in a body, attend the funeral of our deceased employer.”
Cunningham Carriage Works at Rocheste
r Hub November 1886 page 504.
OBITUARY RESOLUTIONS to the memory of the late James Cunningham, of Rochester, N. Y., and John C. Goold, of Albany, N. Y., appear in the Convention Report in this number.
The Cunningham Carriage Works at Rochester.–A correspondent at Rochester, New York, writes as follows: “I take pleasure in responding to your request for particulars concerning the extent of the Cunningham carriage and hearse works in this city. The area of ground occupied by the buildings is the square extending front Canal-st. to Litchfield -st., a distance of 285 feet, and the same distance parallel with those streets. The buildings occupying this space are arranged in the form of a hollow square with the eastern face open, and are of brick, six stories high, with perfect light and ventilation throughout. Arising near the junction of the north and west wings, and connected with the latter, is a brick tower 150 feet high, from the balcony of which there is a grand view of Lake Ontario, and the city and surrounding country. When once inside, the extent of the workrooms is almost bewildering. The first floor or basement is allotted to the blacksmith department, which occupies the entire north and west wings, and contains 75 forges. It is well lighted and aired, and always kept in perfect order. This department is divided into several sections, in order to move rapidly forward the processes, one portion being devoted to ironing gearings, others to hanging bodies, setting tires, and grinding and finishing ironwork, and another to making rocker-plates there is also a section in which irons for carriage-parts and bodies are bent over forms, etc. This floor also contains the axle-forging, drop-forging, and spring-making departments, furnaces for tempering axles and bending glass, and also the tire-setting plant. The south wing contains the repair blacksmith shop, with offices in the front end. The main offices are situated in the center of the open space or court facing east, and occupy a three-story brick building which was at one time the dwelling of the late Mr. Jas. Cunningham. This building also contains the designer’s and superintendent’s offices, stock-rooms for the various costly goods, reception parlors, private offices, etc. The second floor of the factory, entering on the east end of the north wing, contains the showroom or repository, where all the finished carriages and hearses are sent for final inspection and shipping directions. The west wing contains all the heavy wood-working machinery for sawing, and planing material for the framing room; and also the gear-making and wheel-rooms, and the lock, die-cutting, machine and wheel-boxing shops.
The third floor contains the body-making department and framing room. The fourth floor contains the trimming department, and also the filling-up room, finishing room, lamp-making shop, silver-plating and polishing shops, brass foundry and the japanning and polishing departments. The fifth floor is devoted to priming and rough stuffing bodies, and coloring and storing the same. The sixth floor contains the gear painting department in the north wing, and the body varnishing department or body japanning room, and also the varnish-rooms for gears and bodies. The factory throughout contains all the most improved machinery and other appliances, including a 100-horse-power engine, and a complete wood-bending room. A working force of about 450 men is usually employed, whose weekly pay-roll aggregates about $5,500. The capacity of the factory is 1,800 heavy carriages and hearses a year, the greater part of which go to New-York, Chicago, St. Louis and Boston, while a great many are sent to South America, Australia, the Sandwich Islands, Germany, Mexico, and other foreign points. The foremen of the different departments are: Mr. John Clements, in the smith-shop; Mr. S. J. Kuenze, in the wood-shop; Mr. Jas. Loan, in the trimming-shop; and Capt. M. O’Connell, in the paint-shop.
Gothic Hearse Built by James Cunningham Son & Co., Rochester, New York.
Hub June 1891.
The hearse illustrated herewith is one of the most elaborate vehicles of its character ever built in this country. It was designed and constructed by James Cunningham, Son & Co., of Rochester, New York, and built to the order of the La Equitative Co., Caracas, Venezuela, South America, through the New-York commission house of Sholts, Sancher & Co. It is much to the credit of the builders that they obtained the order in competition with European firms in London, Paris, Vienna and Berlin.
The body is unlike any heretofore built in this country, being of a general Gothic architectural design. Its extreme length is fourteen feet; height, eight feet. The inside dimensions are seven feet nine inches in length and four feet in height.
The carving on the body is hand work throughout and required the service of fourteen carvers between three and four months. The interior woodwork is of solid mahogany, paneled and carved. The inside drapery is of heavy broadcloth, edged with heavy mohair fringe. The rails are heavy silver plate with gold-plate standards and lips. The lamp, were specially designed to correspond with the body and are silver throughout with gold reflectors. The hammercloth is an exceptionally fine piece of workmanship, the trimming of which as well as the hammercloth itself was made to order by Sheaefer & Schlegel, of Rochester.
The woodwork of the carriage part, including the hubs and spokes is elaborately carved. The handles and hub-band are of heavy silver plate. The caps being of silver, having as ornaments an eagle’s head and wings.
The glass panels as well as that in the lamps are heavy plate with beveled edges.
M. Gable. the company’s designer, is entitled to great credit for skill and taste displayed by him in harmonizing all the details. The vehicle, when complete and ready for use, weighs 2,500 pounds and cost $6,000.
Plate No. 44. Compass Bottom Landau, XVI Century Style.
Carriage Monthly September 1893 page 167.
The James Cunningham Son & Co., Rochester, New York, exhibit a compass bottom landau, with excellent outlines, superior finish and novel curves. The belt rail has the same curve as the landau of Brewster & Co., excepting the upper front and rear corners are not rounded, and the pronounced. The three upper curves of the side windows are rounded with graceful curves, giving the upper part of the body a very tasty appearance. The double belt also looks well on this landau. The body is constructed on the French system, with leather quarter on the back only, doors going over the rocker, and lower hinge bent 1 3/4 inches back, and 6 inches above the main lower molding. The boot is of the latest style in its outlines, but its finish is far more laborious than it is usually made.
The body is suspended front on full elliptic springs, and back with new style scroll platform springs, the style as made being original with this house. The front gear is the regular coach gear, excepting the finish, which is excellent, and far more care is taken than on the regular work. The front ends of the futchels have well carved scrolls, and all the braces have well shaped collars. The pump handles are well shaped, and exceedingly well carved.
Round bodies, with full canoe shape, seem to receive special attention from the carriage builders. Brewster & Co. exhibit one landau with 11-inch drop center, and 18 2-inch deep full side quarter; Guiet & Co., of Paris, exhibit a similar style, with 8 2-inches drop, and 19-inches deep side quarters; Jacob Lohner & Co., of Vienna, Austria, exhibit a full round landau, without drop center, with 21-inches deep side quarters, lower part open, upper part divided with a horizontal molding, making the upper side quarter 10 2 inches deep, and belt rail curve finished with imitation cane. Here we have four landaus, two American and two foreign styles, similar to each other, and all inclining toward the full round bodies, with deep side quarters, avoiding the full drop centers.
Painting.–Body: olive green; moldings, black, striped cream color. Carriage part: light bronze green, striped 2 inch line of cream, and distant fine black line, split fine bronze green.
Trimming.–Cafe an lait cloth, with broad silk lace to correspond; English cloth dickey seat; fine carved hand mirror; new style silver plated lamps, of double tulip pattern, with silver stems; French pattern door handles and electric bell.
Carriage Monthly June 1899.
Mr. Clements is foreman of the blacksmithing department of the James Cunningham, Sons & Co. carriage making establishment, Rochester, New York. His history is a remarkable one in several points of view. The human race live on an average a little less than forty years. Mr. Clements has been favored, for he has passed his sixty-sixth milestone in life. There are no figures to show the average business life of men, but unquestionably his experience is a marked one in this respect also, for he rounded out a business career of fifty years on the 20th of last March. The third remarkable thing in his case is that his business life of it half century has been spent in one establishment. That he has been enterprising and up to date is evident from the fact that he has remained with that company so long, for they are not that class of men who would tolerate anything not strictly in accordance with business ideas. However, one might almost have prophesied that Mr. Clements would have been a business success front the facts of his early life. He left his native county, Derry, in Ireland; at the age of eleven, spent five years in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and reached Rochester, N. Y., on the 2d of March, 1849. Eighteen days latter he had secured a position and begun work with the Cunninghams. For a time he was an ordinary workman in the blacksmithing department, but he soon showed his aptness for the business to such a degree that he was made foreman of the department, which position he has held without interruption, and where his services are highly appreciated by the concern.
James Cunningham Son & Co., Rochester, New York.
Carriage Monthly February 1900 page 376.
Exhibition of the National Export Exposition, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The James Cunningham Son & Co., Rochester, New York. They had on exhibition four elegant vehicles, including a coach, full size round brougham, a five glass landau and a funeral car. The outlines on the side elevations of the coach were convex-concave and the bottom doors curved in the same way.
This is one, of the latest things produced by this concern. The shape of the turn-under was convex only. It had the old style boot, but a very short and well proportioned front gear. The lower panels were deep green, striped one fine line of red through the center of the molding; the upper part of the body and the boot were black. The trimming was in green cloth, the front and edges bound with leather inside; the lower part was green cloth and the upper part green satin, including the head lining; the style was diamonds, cushion fronts and falls, broad nice. Finish: rubber tires, three electric lights, one in the center of the head lining and two in the lamps on the boot, Collinge axles, fenders on door, moldings upper side quarters and back, wood pump-handles, fenders on boot, hovel edge glass, stiff curved draw bar grate steps, pole futchels, deep green carpet, rubber mat in front and brass mounted lamps of attractive pattern.
The brougham was full size extension front. It had large coupé pillars, large front with medium round corners and regular style of boot. The body was suspended on two elliptic springs in front and coach platform springs in the rear. It had wooden pump-handles, with rocker plates running on the inside the entire length of the pump-handles. The suspension was the same as the coach. The lower body panels were painted in deep brown; the upper part and boot, black, striped one fine line of gold on the inside edge of molding; the gear, Indian red, striped two lines of black, 3/4 inch apart for wheels, the rest two 1/8 inch lines of gold 5/8 inch apart. The inside was red satin throughout; style, diamonds; lace and carpet to match; the driving seat, brown cloth and plain as usual. Finish: glass frames covered with brown cloth, bevel edged glass, rubber tires, rosewood finish throughout and mountings of brass.
The five glass landau had full round side quarters and angular doors with sharp round corners. The belt rail was convex concave, and the fence rail straight; a concave bracket and regular style boot. The gear and entire suspension were like the others. Fenders front and back, rubber tires, grate steps without covers, but with branch shanks. The body was painted deep green; the upper part and boot, black; the gear, Brewster green, striped three lines 3/4 inch apart. Trimming: fawn colored cloth, style and finish as above. The most notable feature about this exhibit, while first class in workmanship and material throughout, was the painting and striping, which excelled anything else in the carriage line.
The funeral car attracted a good deal of attention. It had four columns on each side, arched corners and heavy molded top. There was a movable draw bar of stiff swivel trees, and the rest was like the other vehicles mentioned. Mountings were silver, the ornaments were artistic. It was well proportioned, and had an inside finish of mahogany.
Obituary, Martin Gabel.
Hub July 1901 page 184.
Martin Gabel, draughtsman and constructor for James Cunningham, Son & Co., carriage and hearse builders of Rochester, N. Y., died after a short illness on June 1 in the forty-fourth year of his age, Mr. Gabel was a designer of rare merit and a most capable superintendent: Mr. Gabel was born in Maenz, Germany, October 24, 1857. He came of an old and respected family, his father being burgomaster of the town and possessed of liberal means. His father died when he was but two years old.
He remained in his native town and attended school until he was twelve years of age, when he came to this country and made his home at an uncle’s in New York city. He attended school until he reached an age to select a calling. He went to Andes, Delaware County, New York, and worked for John Miller, a carriage builder at that place. After a stay of two years with Mr. Miller he returned to New York city and went to work for Brewster & Co., Forty-seventh street and Broadway. Here he worked in the woodshop and applied his hours outside of the factory in the study of drafting. He left Brewster & Co. to take the position of foreman with James Gray & Co., and later on as draughtsman and superintendent. Later he opened an office on his own account, as designer and draftsman. After several changes he went with James Cunningham, Son & Co., where he remained six years, during the time designing a line of carriages and hearses for the Columbian Exposition at Chicago, every one of which won a prize. He remained with the James Cunningham, Son & Co. until the fall of 1897, when he accepted a partnership in Columbus with the firm of Meyer & Schlecter. On the dissolution of this firm in the fall of 1899 he again engaged with James Cunningham, Son & Co. His services were rewarded later, on account of his unceasing activity and popularity, where his many years of congenial companionship gained him in the trade, to be the manager of their New York branch of the James Cunningham, Son & Co. He leaves a wife, two sons and a daughter, Arthur, Alexander and Catherine respectively, and a host of relatives and friends to mourn his loss. The services at his last resting place were conducted by the Masonic fraternity, of which he was a member.
Obituary, Martin Gabel
Carriage Monthly July 1901 page 129.
Mr. Gabel died on Saturday, June 1st, at his home in Rochester, New York, at the age of forty-four, after an illness which lasted but a few days. He was a native of Germany, but came to this country when only fourteen years old. Very early he learned the trade of a carriage builder. He worked for a time in New York City, afterward in New Haven, Connecticut, and in 1888 begun service with James Cunningham Sons & Co., Rochester, N. Y., with whom he remained as superintendent and designer for a period of eight years. He then accepted a position at Columbus, Ohio, where he remained for four years. In January, 1900, he returned to Rochester, where he again entered the employ of the Cunningham Co., with whom he remained until his death.
He was a remarkable man in many respects. He was of an active, energetic temperament, and by constant application, coupled with a rare genius, he became a veritable artist in his line. He successfully designed vehicles of all sorts from the sulky to the mail-coach and the finest hearse in the world. Probably his greatest triumph was achieved at the World’s Columbian Exposition, Chicago, where every vehicle designed by him, and entered for competition, won an award and a medal. This gave him more than a national reputation, and some of his finest work has been sent to other countries where it has been much admired for its originality of design and elaborate workmanship.
The services at the time of his funeral were conducted by the Masonic Fraternity, of which he was a member, and the sorrow at his early death, which pervaded the circles in which he was known at Rochester, will be shared by the carriage fraternity throughout the country. No man will be rash enough to dispute the statement that, in the death of Martin Gabel, the carriage building industry has suffered an irreparable loss. We present, herewith, a likeness which shows him in a characteristic attitude.
Cunningham Motor Ambulance.
Carriage Monthly May 1909 page 79.
Jas. Cunningham, Son & Co., Rochester, New York, are prepared to furnish motor ambulances like the one illustrated by Plate No. 426, page 61 or vehicles for other uses on the same type of chassis.
This ambulance is driven by a 30 H. P. motor. A leather-faced, cone clutch is used and a selective type 3-speed and reverse speed change gear. Shaft drive it employed. Two sets of brakes are provided on the rear hubs. Wheel base is an inches; gauge 56 inches. The tires are 34 by 4 2 inches and are of the quick detachable type, any make.
Semi-elliptic springs are used in front and in the rear a 3-spring , arrangement is employed, the side springs working on radius rods. The equipment includes a gong beneath the toe-board, a sprag in the center of the car and a heater operated by the exhaust. The interior finish consists of one suspended cot and two attendants’ seats, and there are four, electric dome lights. The lamps on the outside also are operated by electricity. This ambulance has a wind shield which, in case of storm, may be thrown about 12 inches forward so one can see between two plates of glass, and in fair weather can be swung up against the front roof.
The floor it covered with linoleum, and rear step and running board are covered with pyramid rubber, which is bound around the edges with brass moulding.
The vehicle weighs 3,434 pounds and lists at $4,000 with a 20 per rent. discount to dealers.
DEATH OF JOSEPH T. CUNNINGHAM.
Carriage & Wagon Builder and American Vehicle, May 1914 page 17.
Joseph T. Cunningham, one of the pioneer business men of Rochester, New York, and for many years connected with James Cunningham & Son, died at his home in that city last month. He had been in poor health for a number of months. Mr. Cunningham was born in Rochester, March 7, 1843. At the death of his father, James Cunningham, in 1862, he became president of the Cunningham company, retiring from active business five years ago. On his retirement the presidency of the company was filled by Augustine J. Cunningham, who now holds that office. Hospitals and other institutions had a friend in Mr. Cunningham. It was his wish to give without having his donations made known to the public. He was a member of Corpus Christi Church. The house of James Cunningham has had one of the most successful and extensive careers in the country, and its fame is international.
Other sources of information:
Museum: Long Island Museum of Art, History and Carriages, 1205 25A, Stony Brook, New York 11790. Phone 631-751-0066 large collection of hearse drawings from the Cunningham Co.
Museum: National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D. C. 20560 collection of hearse photographs from the Cunningham Co.
Library: Carriage Museum of America, Post Office Box 417, Bird-In-Hand, Pennsylvania, 17505 collection of hearse photographs from the Cunningham Co.
Book: Pursuit of Excellence by Noel Hinrichs.
Magazine: James Cunningham, Son & Company, of Rochester, New York, Carriage Journal-Winter 1978 & Spring 1979 published by the Carriage Association of America, Salem, New Jersey.