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The Hackney name has been associated with vehicle manufacturing in North Carolina since Willis Napoleon Hackney became partner in a carriage shop in Wilson about 1854. Hackney and his descendants operated transportation companies in Wilson and Washington, North Carolina, that carried the Hackney name until 1996. In that year Transportation Technology, Incorporated (TTI), which had purchased the Hackney businesses in the 1980s, moved all production to the Hackney and Sons Company site in Washington. In 1903 George and W. D. Hackney, Willis Hackney’s sons, incorporated Hackney Wagon Company. George Hackney was also president of Hackney Brothers, the company that traced its roots to Willis Hackney’s carriage shop. With the earlier business focused on carriages and buggies, the 1903 venture was set up to manufacture farm and delivery wagons. It became known as the “wagon company” while Hackney Brothers was the “carriage company.” The wagon company’s primary competitors were Nissen in Winston-Salem and Piedmont in Hickory.
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The company prospered through World War I, the military having generated great demand for wagons. At one point Hackney’s production capacity was about 15,000 wagons per year. In 1920 George and W. D. Hackney exchanged assets, putting George in control of Hackney Brothers and W. D. becoming the sole owner of Hackney Wagon Company. The post war deluge of military surplus wagons and the increasing demand for motorized transportation contributed to the demise of Hackney Wagon Company.
Hackney declared bankruptcy in 1930 and George’s son Thomas J. Hackney, then vice president of Hackney Brothers, took over management of the business. In 1935 W. D. Adams, John Hackney, and W. B. Edwards formed Hackney Wagon Company, Inc. and bought the assets of the old company of the same name. That operation was still manufacturing farm and delivery wagons in 1942. It is not clear when Hackney Wagon Company ceased operation. Records of incorporation indicate that no reports were filed after 1936. In 1942, in a newspaper interview, W. D. Adams, director of Hackney Wagon Company was under the impression that his company shared the history of Hackney Brothers, in that he claimed that his company was founded in 1854. It seems that many people entwine the various Hackney enterprises. Nevertheless, Hackney Wagon Company stood on its own in Wilson and closed prior to the merger that consolidated the Hackney truck businesses and moved the operations to Washington.
J. M. Daniel, Jr., Hackney: The History of a Company (1979)
Hackney Brothers, Inc., Records, Southern Historical Collection, UNC
Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps of Wilson, 1908, 1913, 1922
North Carolina Secretary of State Corporations records, Hackney Wagon Company, Hackney Brothers, Hackney and Sons
(Raleigh)News and Observer, January 29, 1942; April 11 and 25, 1954