Throwback Thursday by Matson Insurance: Wheeler Dealers

Matson Insurance has partnered with Jefferson County History Center to offer readers a look into Jefferson County’s past. Today, the history of automobile dealerships in Brookville is highlighted.

The Baker Buick Company sold automobiles with on Brookville’s Main Street for more than twenty years.


(Submitted by Carole Briggs.)

Streets like Pickering remind us of days gone by—when brick had replaced the dirt or “corduroy” roads of an earlier time. Pumps replaced hitching posts. Gas stations replaced liveries. Puddles of oil replaced manure on our streets and roads. Yes, the automobile changed a lot of things. The vehicles that moved over those roads have led us to where those vehicles were purchased.

There were no automobile dealerships when Walter Sandt registered his new Thomas automobile in 1904, the year before the crew at the Cook Mill watched the last log go under the blade, marking the end of an era on that land in the valley and the beginning of a new one.

Maxwell automobiles were manufactured between 1904 and 1925. Craig’s history of Brookville mentions that Norman D. and George R. Matson sold them sometime before 1910, but gives no location. By 1911 the old mill had been demolished and by the 1920s that flat land had become the place where Fords, Lincolns, and Fordson tractors were sold. During the 1930s the old Brookville Motor Company building was replaced by a new structure. Known as Fulton Chevrolet, then Gromley Chevrolet, and now as #1 Brookville Chevrolet Pontiac Buick Cadillac, the flat land, almost a century later, is still the place where automobiles are sold.

L. A. Leathers, another early automobile dealer, had come to town as a young man and first operated a store on the southwest corner of Main and Pickering. By 1910 he had located the first Ford dealership on Madison Street. That building was razed to make room for the new quarters of the Brookville Volunteer Fire Department dedicated in 1994.

In 1919 John R. Baker built the building we know last as Dollar General. He operated the Baker Buick Company there until 1923 when Leathers bought it and renamed it the Lakes-to-Sea Motor Company after the recently paved highway (US322). Automobiles were displayed, sold, and serviced there for more than twenty years. “Beany” Edwards sold Plymouths and Chryslers on Main Street, too, and Donald Reitz sold Oldsmobiles on S. White Street.

[email protected] County Historical Society, Inc.

Throwback Thursday is brought to you by Matson Insurance in Brookville.

Submitted by the Jefferson County History Center.

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