On display at the Cortland Corset Factory

Donated to Cortland County Historical Society in 2021 by Shirley Schumacher.

About 1898 Harley and Ada Kise of Clyde, New York purchased a Democrat Wagon manufactured by the Cortland Wagon Company in Cortland, NY. They used it for their farm work and their growing family. The Kise family used the wagon throughout the early 1900s, drawn by one and two horse teams. It was used to transport their family, haul wood, coal, and miscellaneous items.

During the great depression, a man seeking work, food, and a place to stay stopped at the Kise farm and inquired if he could work for a meal and shelter. He offered to paint the Kise Democrat wagon and wheels with freehand red pinstriping. He did an excellent job!

During the 1940s, Kenneth Kise, the son of Harley and Ada, used the wagon until it was stored in the barn at the Kise farm. Shirley and her sons played in the wagon as children. The wagon remained in the Kise barn until 1979 when Ken and Bessie gave it to their daughter Shirley (Kise) Schumacher and her husband Peter when they relocated to a small farm in Ohio. Peter and Shirley would drive the wagon to town to pick up the local newspaper on Sundays and all over the area for local events. 

Peter’s job forced them to move to Ohio in 1988 when Shirley and Peter drove the wagon for the last time. It was moved and stored in numerous garages as Peter moved from one job to another. Eventually, it returned to New York in 1998. By 2021 it was clear that her wagon needed a new home. Rather than sell her beloved wagon, Shirley suggested she donate it. Peter approached the Cortland County Historical Society to see if her wagon could be donated. She was thrilled that her wagon went home to be displayed for all to see as a great work of art that is still in excellent condition after 123 years.

The wagon is currently on display at the Cortland Corset building – the original home of the Cortland Wagon Company.