Geographic Connection to Pennsylvania: Pinetown, Adams County
Born in Pinetown, Clement Studebaker headed Studebaker Manufacturing Company, which eventually produced automobiles.
Clement Studebaker was born on March 12, 1831. Studebaker had a sporadic education as a child but worked for his father as a blacksmith. He became a teacher later in life to help raise money for a joint blacksmith business with his brother. In 1870, the Studebaker's blacksmith shop became the Studebaker Manufacturing Company, a joint stock company. Studebaker claimed his company was the biggest horse-drawn vehicle manufacturer in the world. As the company began to grow, Clement Studebaker became president. The company later became the Studebaker Corporation. Studebaker died on November 27, 1901.
Clement Studebaker was born on March 12, 1831, in Pinetown, Pennsylvania, to John Clement Studebaker and Rebecca Mohler. John Clement Studebaker was a farmer, a blacksmith, and a wagon maker who lived near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. John Studebaker had five sons. Clement was raised as a German Baptist, or dunkard. The Studebaker family was not very wealthy and was forced to move to Ashland, Ohio. Prosperity did not follow. Clement Studebaker's early education was scarce at best. By the age of fourteen he was already working in his father's blacksmith shop. By the age of twenty, Clement and his older brother, Henry, moved to South Bend, Indiana. Clement originally worked as a teacher before earning his mark as a blacksmith. In 1851, Studebaker married Charity Bratt, his former student and a member of the German Baptist community of South Bend. Their two children died at a very young ages. The H & C Studebaker blacksmith shop opened in 1852 at the corner of Michigan and Jefferson Streets in what is now the heart of downtown South Bend, Indiana. The shop primarily worked on horse-drawn wagons.
In 1857, much of the American economy was in panic. However, the Mormon rebellion in the Utah Territory led to a boom in business for the H & C Studebaker blacksmith shop. The Milburn Wagon Company contracted with the Studebakers to produce wagons for the U.S. Army. The army needed to transport men and supplies to the Utah Territory immediately, which led to the increase in demand for wagons. This agreement would leave the Studebaker name carved in stone forever because of the efficiency and quality in which the Studebaker brothers worked. However, tension remained between Henry and Clement after the order has been completed. Their Baptist beliefs were of pacifism and Henry had strong feelings against abetting armed conflict. Henry, who was torn on whether to continue with the company, allowed his shares to be bought by John Mohler Studebaker, his younger brother. Henry happily retired as a farmer while Clement continued in the business.
Charity Bratt died in 1863. Clement Studebaker remarried Anna Milburn Harper, a Methodist, in 1864. They had three children.
As the American population continued to move westward, the demand for wagons continually increased. This increase in demand required more capital. The Studebaker brothers built new factories and expanded their production to buggies and carriages.
In 1870, the Studebakers' blacksmith shop became the Studebaker Manufacturing Company, a joint stock company. Four of the five Studebaker brothers were now involved with the company with Clement as the president. The company had factories in nearly every major city including Kansas City, New York City, Chicago, San Francisco, and Portland. As the company's name grew larger and larger, Studebaker's Republican politics became very influential in Indiana. Studebaker was a delegate to the Republican National Convention in 1880.
Studebaker became very well-known in the political world. He openly supported President Ulysses S. Grant, President Benjamin Harrison, and President William McKinley. He often entertained highly-regarded citizens at his Gothic stone mansion, which would later be named Tippecanoe Place. Studebaker served as a delegate to the Republican National Convention in 1888. In 1890, President Harrison, a fellow Hoosier, appointed him as a representative to the Pan-American Congress.
At the latter end of the 19th century, the Studebakers reorganized their company into the corporate system. They issued two million dollars worth of stock. The majority of the shares were owned by the family and a large portion was owned by J.P. Morgan. Morgan helped with the refinancing of the company. J.P. Morgan's assistance was needed in transforming the company's infrastructure from that of a joint-stock company to one of a corporate status. The company's inventory now included over 30 types of horse-drawn wagons. Yearly earnings were around three million dollars a year. The main factory in South Bend, Indiana, covered more than 95 acres and employed nearly 2000 workers. In 1897, the company began to build motorized vehicles. Production was low due to Clement Studebaker's feelings on the subject. He believed they would not survive in the market.
Studebaker was a founder and later president of the Carriage Builders' National Association. He also donated a large sum of money to the city of South Bend for the construction of Epworth Hospital.
In 1901, after returning home from a spa in France, Clement Studebaker became very ill from the weather. He would die of natural causes in his home in South Bend, Indiana, on November 27, 1901. After Clement Studebaker's death, the Studebaker Manufacturing Company began mass producing motorized vehicles. In 1913, Studebaker began manufacturing its own gasoline powered vehicles under the Studebaker name. In 1954 the Studebaker Manufacturing Company was bought by Packard Motors Company of Detroit, Michigan. Studebaker became a division of the Studebaker Packard Corporation from 1954 to 1962. Later, the company returned to its original name, the Studebaker Corporation. In 1966, the corporation stopped producing automobiles. The company survived for a year as an independent investment firm until 1967, when it merged with Worthington to become the Studebaker-Worthington Corp.
Bonsall, Thomas E. More Than They Promised: the Studebaker Story. The Journal of American History (2002): 488.
Cheape, Charles W. Studebaker: the Life and Death of an American Corporation. The Journal of American History (1997): 670-672.
Critchlow, David T. Clement Studebaker. American National Biography. Feb. 2000. 3 Nov. 2006. <>http://www.anb.org>.