Relic of the Past

Yancey estate auction features
sale of antique produce wagon

It is believed to be one of the
last in Jefferson County, Ind.

(May 2015) – A piece of Madison, Ind.’s history rolled out of Jefferson County for good when the Harold M. and Frances Yancey estate auction ended on a cold and drizzly day on April 25.
As a crowd gathered outside one of the barns on the Yancey farm on State Rd. 250, auctioneer Sara Minor of Minor Auction Service reviewed the next items to be sold: an antique produce wagon made in the late 1800s and used for deliveries – perhaps the last one left that was made by the old Madison Wagon & Carriage Co. Also up for auction were a horse-drawn surrey, a horse-drawn manure spreader and an old hand-cranked wooden washing machine – pretty unique items.

Photo courtesy of Sara Minor

This 1800's produce wagon is believed to be one of the last created by the Wagon & Carriage Co. in Madison, Ind.

“Now this is a good solid wagon,” Minor said of the sentimental favorite. “You will find writing on the back saying it was built at the Madison Wagon & Carriage Co.” The horse-drawn produce wagon with red wheels still has the original decorative stenciling on the wooden seat and back. Its ride can provide quite a jolt.
Hopes ran high that the produce wagon would stay home in Madison. Within moments, however, the produce wagon had a new home in Montgomery, Ind. Paul Raber made the winning bid of $1,700. 
“It’s headed for a museum somewhere,” Raber said later. He restores and reworks old wagons at his business, Raber Wheel Works in Montgomery. Before leaving home for the Yancey auction, he sent three of his wagons out to other states.
The antique wagon was believed to be the last wagon left in Jefferson County, Ind., that was made by the old Madison Wagon & Carriage Co., located on Sixth Street. Merritt Alcorn, attorney for the Yancey estate, said he thinks the company was located at the site of his current law practice, Alcorn, Sage, Schwartz & McGrath, although he has not been able to verify this. He does know that the Graham Ross Co. was located there.
“They made that type of wagon in the 1860s, and the building was used for that purpose,” he said.  Currently, there are three bay windows on the West Street side of the building that had been doors for wagons to go through, he said. 
Alcorn had hoped to buy the wagon to return to the place where it was made. Charlie Gilles of Madison also was interested in keeping the wagon in Jefferson County. Several years ago, he worked with John Zubaty, when both were on the board of the Jefferson County History Society. They compiled an impressive file about the Wagon & Carriage Co. It’s now in the archives of the historical society.
Harold M. Yancey, former county commissioner, died at home in July 2014 at age 96 with his dog, Snoopy, at his side, according to his daughter, Shirley Kloepfer. His wife, Frances, a former teacher, died in 2010 at age 92. The Yanceys had been married 71 years and had two daughters and two sons. Yancey was the founder and, with his wife, was co-owner of Yancey’s Auto Parts in Madison.
“Dad got it (the antique wagon) a long time ago,” Kloepfer said, estimating that he bought it 30 years ago. “He liked things like that.” Several years ago, he lent the wagon to the Heritage Center and Railroad Museum for the facility’s celebration of the Jefferson County Bicentennial.
Her brother, Jerry Yancey  of Yancey’s Auto Parts, took a break from working on a car to talk about the family auction and the antique wagon. “We put wheat in there the last time we used the wagon,” he said. He thinks his dad acquired the wagon about 20 years ago.
Chuckling, he also shared a short family story about his grandfather, Clarence Yancey, long used to using horses to work the fields. “When he got his first tractor, he said ‘Whoa!’ at the end of the field because he wasn’t used to anything but horses.”
The Yanceys’ other two children are Pamela Zehren and Harold Yancey Jr.

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