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At the beginning of the 20th century, there were plenty of buggy and automobile companies in the DeKalb County area. Today let’s take a look at one that didn’t start off in the transportation business: the Zimmerman Manufacturing Company.
In 1874, Elias Zimmerman opened a sawmill in Spencerville, Indiana. This sawmill, which became known as the Zimmermann Manufacturing Company, started off making axe handles, barrel staves, and other wooden parts, before moving to Auburn in the 1880s. The company began branching out in the products they made, manufacturing windmills, pumps, and tanks under the name “Monarch Mfg. Co.”
In 1890, Zimmerman added buggies to their lineup, which were offered in a variety of styles: surreys, driving wagons, stanhopes, etc. They even manufactured a “storm buggy,” an enclosed vehicle with “substantial glass windows” to give its occupants “complete protection from the storm and cold.”
In 1907, the Zimmerman Mfg. Co. began creating automobiles, starting with a single-seat runabout with solid rubber tires. In 1909, they released a standard four-cylinder car with pneumatic tires, and added a six-cylinder car in 1911. This second car, however, was actually manufactured by the Auburn Automobile Company in the Zimmerman plant, due to a contract between the two companies. Gradually, the Auburn Automobile Company took over their competitor, consolidating their buggy lineups in 1914, and eventually buying Zimmerman’s remaining assets when the company finally dissolved in 1918.