Mogul Wagons and the Forbes House of Hopkinsville, KY
The Mogul Wagons emblem (at left) is included in the Founders Square mural near 9th and Main Streets in downtown Hopkinsville, KY.
I didn't know much about the history of Mogul Wagons, until a few days ago, when I received an e-mail from James T. Forbes. Dr. Forbes is a descendant of the family who manufactured the Mogul Wagon.
Until Dr. Forbes wrote to me, I did not fully understand why a Mogul wagon sits on the front porch of the former Fuqua-Hinton funeral home in Hopkinsville. Now I realize it is there because the house was built and owned for many years by the family who manufactured Mogul Wagons.
Dr. Forbes graciously agreed to allow me to publish the information he sent me about the Mogul Wagon company and the family who owned it. The following brief history is compiled from his e-mails.
I ran across the web site in which you described the Mogul Wagon sitting on the front porch of the Fuqua-Hinton funeral home. My family owned and operated the Mogul Wagon Co.
The wagon company, Mogul, was originally (starting in 1871) at 10th and Virginia St, [in Hopkinsville, KY] and moved to the beltline on Harrison between 18th and 21st in 1906.
It was destroyed by fire Dec. 28, 1925, and the parts were sold by Forbes Hardware until 1951. We used to burn the hubs in the fireplace when I was growing up -- they would probably bring a handsome sum today.
The wagons were advertised as "Easy-to-Pull, Hard-to-Break", "Strong Where the Strain Comes", and "Buy a Mogul and Will it to Your Grandson". It was but one of the family businesses which ran the spectrum from retail hardware, farm implements, groceries, jewelry, construction, etc.
They also built the house that is in the picture in 1905. My aunt, Annie L. Forbes Hancock, sold the house to the Fuquas in 1954. I visited the house many times before that and lived in it the last year before it was sold.
The house cost $50,000 to build in 1905 and was built by the brothers, James K. and M.C. Forbes. M.C. was my great grandfather and was also known in town as "Mr. Bud".
My father practiced medicine in Hopkinsville from 1953 until 1986 when he passed away. I no longer have any direct connection with Hopkinsville but I lived there from 1953 until I went away to college.
When I was growing up, I had constant reminders of the family business as they built most of the schools in Hopkinsville including the old HHS on Walnut St. and Virginia St. and West Side schools. They also built the old part of Jennie Stuart hospital.
Source: E-mails received from Dr. James T. Forbes in July 2007. Reprinted with permission.
Here are three additional bits of historic information about Mogul Wagons that I've gleaned from Google's book search
1. The following is quoted from the Handbook of Kentucky, by Hubert Vreeland, Kentucky Bureau of Agriculture, Labor, and Statistics, published in 1908: "Several manufacturing establishments [in Hopkinsville, Kentucky] have recently greatly enlarged -— Forbes & Bro., now Forbes' Manufacturing Company; lumber planing mills, extensive manufactory of Mogul wagons, employing some 250 hands... "
2. According to The Scroll of Phi Delta Theta, by Phi Delta Theta Fraternity, 1909,
James M. Forbes, '06, had been elected vice-president and manager of the Mogul Wagon Co., which had just built a $300,000 factory at Hopkinsville, Ky.
3. In America's Munitions, 1917-1918: Report of Benedict Crowell, the Assistant Secretary of War, Mr. Crowell writes of the demands that World War I made upon America's wagon makers.
The first military order for wagons exhausted the entire nation's supply of air-dried lumber. To meet the military need, wagons were constructed of kiln-dried lumber for the first time ever. The War Department contributed to the cost of building the kilns.
As the war progressed, the wagon makers were at full production. Furniture makers were called upon to help produce spare parts and automobile makers to produce wheels.
By Armistice Day (November 11, 1918), America's wagon makers had produced 110,000 wagons. The Mogul Wagon Company of Hopkinsville, KY, is included in a list of "prominent wagon companies engaged in this work."
Related Prairie Bluestem articles:
Mogul Wagons Revisited
Try the "Mogul Wagons" label at end of this post.