Wendel Motor Sales, Chattanooga, Ohio

A few weeks ago someone asked me about the history of Wendel’s Garage/Motor Sales in Chattanooga, Ohio.

I remember the Wendel Brothers car dealership very well. We called it Wendel’s Garage and the business was located across from the Chatt Restaurant/Bar. The building is currently occupied by the Chatt Fire Department.

2008 Google Earth street view of former Wendel’s Motor Sales, Chattanooga, Ohio.

I remember that it was called Wendel Brothers Motor Sales and I remember Jim and Bob Wendel–James W. and Robert J. Wendel. My parents bought several Pontiac cars from Wendel’s over the years and they also had them serviced there. I remember being in Wendel’s Garage several times but I did not know much about the history of the business.

However, thanks to the Internet, I was able to piece together a basic timeline of Wendel Motor Sales.

Their father Louis Philip Wendel started the business in Chatt in the 1920s.

Louis P. Wendel was born 27 January 1891 in Adams County, Indiana, the son of Philip & Marguerite (Emrick) Wendel. Louis married Jessie Butcher on 6 May 1916 in Adams County by W.F. Johnson, pastor of the Brethren Church. Louis worked as a carpenter. [1] They had children Marguerite (Lester Miller), Genevieve (Robert Cecka), Pauline (Herbert Brudi), James (Mary Pierstorff), and Robert (Ruth Wehner; Virginia Brown). Louis Wendel died 24 June 1969 in Celina, Ohio. Louis was a member of the Chattanooga Methodist Church and is buried in the St. Paul UCC cemetery.

In 1917 Louis resided at R.R. #5 Rockford, Ohio, but was farming in Jefferson Township, Adams County, Indiana. He was married to Jessie and they had one child, Marguerite. [2]

In 1920 Louis and Jessie rented a home in rural Jefferson Township, Adams County, Indiana, probably fairly close to the Ohio state line. Louis worked as a house painter and the couple had two children, Marguerite, 2, and James, 1. [3]

The Louis Wendel family likely moved to Chattanooga sometime between 1922 and 1930. L.P. Wendel is among those listed on an old Chatt platt map created during that time period. They lived on the west side of State Route 49.

In 1930 Louis Wendel worked as a mechanic in a garage in Chatt. He lived very close to Ivan Johnson, who also was a garage mechanic. They both had the same 7673 census occupation code (mechanic; automobile greasing station/garage). [4]

A 1933 a Willshire Herald newspaper ad advertised Wendel Motor Sales, Chattanooga, Ohio: “New and used cars, general automobile and body and fender repairing; Duco and all kind of top repair work.” [5]

Chatt ads, Willshire Herald 1933.

In 1940 Louis was an automobile dealer in the village of Chattanooga. [6]

In 1942 Louis was self-employed in Chattanooga. He was 51 years old with a .R.R. #1, Rockford, Ohio, address. [7]

From Wendel Motor Sales, Chattanooga, Ohio, likely before 1958.

Louis Wendel owned and operated Wendel Motor Sales until he retired in 1958, when the business was taken over by his sons Jim and Bob. [8]

Jim and Bob operated Wendel Brothers Motor Sales for another 17 years. The auctioned off the building and contents on Friday 25 April 1975, selling the real estate, the garage, shop and office equipment, and some automobiles. Phil Neuenschwander and Atlee Gehres were in charge of the auction. [9]

Auction of Wendel Brothers Motor Sales, Van Wert Times Bulletin, 15 April 1975.

I am sure there is much more to include in the history of Wendel Motor Sales. I would love to hear from anyone who can add information to this brief history or who has memories of the business.

[1] “Indiana Marriages, 1811-2007,” FamilySearch.org, Louis Wendel and Jessie Butcher, 6 May 1916; Adams County Marriages, Vol. K, p.23, FHL microfilm 2321630.

[2] WWI Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918, Adams, Indiana, roll 1439777, Lewis Philip Wendel; Ancestry.com; U.S. Selective Service System, NARA microfilm M1509, Washington, D.C.

[3] 1920 U.S. Census, Jefferson, Adams, Indiana, ED 4, p.7B, dwelling 142, family 152, Lewis P Wendel; Ancestry.com; NARA microfilm T625, roll 420.

[4] 1930 U.S. Census, Liberty, Mercer, Ohio, ED 20, p.10B, dwelling & family 257, Louis P Wendel; Ancestry.com;  FHL microfilm 2341584, NARA microfilm T626, roll 1850.

[5] The Willshire Herald, December 1933.

[6] 1940 U.S. Census, Liberty, Mercer, Ohio, ED 54-22, p.14A, visitation no. 277, Lewis P Wendel; Ancestry.com; NARA microfilm T627, roll 3114.

[7] WWII Draft Cards (4th Registration), Ohio, Louis Philip Wendel, 1942; Ancestry.com; Records of the Selective Service System 1926-1975, Record Group No. 147, National Archives, St. Louis, Missouri.

[8] Louis P. Wendel obituary, Van Wert Times Bulletin, 25 June 1969, p.2; digital image, Ancestry.com.

[9] Wendel Bros. Motor Sales ad Chattanooga, Ohio, public auction notice, Van Wert Times Bulletin, 15 April 1975, p.10; digital image, Newspapers.com.


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    • Doris Goins on September 8, 2017 at 9:32 am
    • Reply

    I remember going with my cousin, Janet Miller, to babysit at the Wendel’s one New Year’s Eve in the early 1960’s. I was thrilled because we got to watch television in color! Seems so funny now since technology has made so many advances.

    Doris (Hellwarth) Goins

    1. I also remember how exciting it was to watch a color TV show! I believe Bananza was one of the first shows in color. Yes, technology has come a long way. Thanks for writing!

    • Kenny Miller on September 8, 2017 at 9:53 am
    • Reply

    I bought my 1952 Olds 88 there in 1955 when I got out of the army. I used to like hanging around there and check out the cars when I was a kid.

    1. It was a good dealership and nice that it was so close to home. My folks usually bought Pontiacs from them. Did they sell Chevrolets, too?

    • Brian Brewster on September 8, 2017 at 9:01 pm
    • Reply

    I have a thermometer from my folks just like that.

      • Karen on September 12, 2017 at 10:01 am
      • Reply

      I love those old advertising items from local businesses, don’t you?

    • Steven Toth on September 2, 2019 at 9:17 am
    • Reply

    I now own a 1966 pontiac catalina with there dealer sticker still readable on the left side of the rear bumper car has only 30000 miles original miles on it

    1. How interesting! Those Pontiacs were good cars and my parents owned several over the years. Sounds like yours was well taken care of. Thanks for writing!

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