Looking Back: Hartsville’s First Car Dealership | Hartsville

The Trousdale County Historical Society has researched early car dealerships in Hartsville and Trousdale County, and if a reader has any old photos or information, please share them with us.

Our research shows us that Dick Owen, nicknamed Cotton, was the first Hartsville scholar to have a car dealership.

As we mentioned in last week’s article, the first cars were sold directly by the manufacturer. Over time, it became clear that a certified dealer with a showroom would be more efficient.

These dealerships were franchises and a person purchased the right to sell a certain brand of car for a specific area, perhaps an entire city or county.

Cotton Owen was part of the family that owned the Owen Tobacco factory in Hartsville. It later moved to Gallatin and is still in business. He was also an early investor in the old Citizen’s Bank.

Owen set up his dealership in a location already associated with travel. This was where the old Vance Livery stable was. A boarding stable was where people could leave their buggy and horse when doing business in Hartsville, or they could rent one if they wanted to travel out of town.

A huge barn on the property, at the corner of River Street and East Main Street, was used to store cars and became part of a small complex of buildings used for service, the sale of tires and tires. ‘essence.

In 1914, an advertisement appeared in the Video of Hartsville for “Hartsville Motor Car Co., RC Owen, Jr., Owner… Agents for Trousdale and Macon Counties.”

A 1919 high school yearbook advertisement gives the name Hartsville Auto Co. and states, “Dealers for FORD and DODGE cars also Fordson tractors.”

In 1922, a Ford sedan was given away as part of a Christmas promotion by the Hartsville Auto Co. The company has one of the tickets for the raffle, signed on the back by Roy Owen.

The dealership changed its name in 1924, when we find mention of the company in the December 10 issue of the video“Owen Tire Company, a subsidiary of Owen Motor Company, has opened a new gas station and accessories store across from their garage.”

It didn’t take long for car dealerships to see the money they could make working on the cars they were selling. Today, dealerships get more out of their after-sales service than their showroom.

Cotton Owen had a slogan that appeared in advertisements for its dealership and tire company, “Good Fires in Winter, Ice Water in Summer—Service by Cotton.”

His hospitality to people by giving them a warm place to visit during the winter months and serving them a glass of ice cold water during the summer months probably paid off when they decided to buy a new car…or so he thought.

We continued to see advertisements for the Owen Motor Company in later years, even as other dealerships popped up in town.

Advertisements for the company continued to appear until 1948.

Sometime in the 1940s, a new building replaced the old wooden barn and gas station that Owen used with a new, much larger concrete and brick building. The new building features a larger showroom with an Art Deco touch, glass bricks on a curved exterior wall.

This building would later be used by the Oakley Mungle Feed Store and later by the Macon-Trousdale Co-Op until the county made it our new justice center a few years ago.

Dewey Martin owned the company for a time, and the name changed to Trousdale County Motor Company.

In a video article from 1956, we find this title, “Ford Agency In New Quarters”.

The article under the headline explains, “Trousdale County Motor Company, Trousdale County Ford Dealerships, moved this week from the old location on East Main Street to the newly completed new building on the freeway. 25, near North Broadway.

The completion of a new freeway north of the old downtown business district saw several businesses move from Main Street to the freeway. 25.

The article further states, “Mynette Beal is the manager of Trousdale Motors.”

He also gives this description, “…one of the finest buildings in the city and is modern in every respect. The glazed facade represents a half-octagon, and is topped by a fluted parapet with aluminum trim.

In next week’s article, we will see that it changed hands again in 1963 and became, Rickman Ford Sales.

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