Delker Brothers Manufacturing Company stood at the corner of First and Green Streets for seventy-three years. The bulk of the 78,000 square foot building came down in just fifteen days under the supervision of Tom Riggs, head of Riggs Wrecking and Excavating Company of Louisville.

Just ten years after its beginning and six years after its incorporation, the plant manufactured medium and high grade light vehicles of all descriptions.

The name Delker Brothers is a guarantee to the buyer of all that is best in vehicle construction. The capacity of the plant is fifteen thousand finished vehicles, annually, and the average actual output for the past few years has been about nine thousand complete vehicles each year.

The business later proved itself capable of bending to the winds of change. When the horseless carriage caught on and the demand for horse-drawn vehicles dwindled, Delker Brothers smoothly adapted its facilities to produce furniture.

In 1926 the plant made its last carriage and began turning out high quality, solid maple bedroom suites, desks, chests, and bookcases.

During World War II, it produced 47,000 bunkbeds for the Women’s Army Corps.

In later years it specialized in bedroom and dining room suites, captains chairs, hutches and gun cabinets. At its peak, the plant employed 330 full-time workers and had a payroll exceeding one million dollars.

Then the corporation became a victim of progress. Frank Delker, Jr., son of the original president of the company explained, “We simply couldn’t afford to keep up with the technology demanded of us. We were told that we’d have to install pollution control equipment that would cost us a minimum of $200,000. The cost would have to be absorbed through increased prices on our furniture – – prices that would be prohibitive in a competitive market.”

In August the plant began selling surplus inventory, and in September it auctioned off more than $250,000 worth of office equipment, motor vehicles and machinery. The property was purchased by Sam Lambert and James Stapp. They purchased the property August 20, 1974 for $125,000.

The original officers of the firm were John J. Delker, Frank W. Delker and Alfred G. Delker.

George Delker was a man of considerable vision. He received a patent Nov. 9, 1880, to build a new type of carriage, which had higher front wheels, a lower body, and better suspension than regular phaetons. In November of 1881 Delker and several others incorporated a company to manufacture the phaeton.

Delker first began supplying buggies and wagons to the immediate Henderson area but by the end of the century the company was concentrating on the wholesale trade. An 1898 story in The Gleaner said the company was producing about 25 vehicles a day and was shipping them to every state in the country.

George Delker died in 1891 and in October 1901 a new company was formed called the Delker Buggy Co., according to Francele Armstrong’s column in The Gleaner of Oct. 14, 1951.

The Gleaner of Aug. 19, 1923, announced the company was starting to manufacture furniture and was changing the name to reflect that: Delker Bros. Manufacturing Co.

By the early 1970s, though, the workforce had deteriorated to about 150. And layoffs had reduced that to around 100, according to the June 19, 1973, Gleaner story announcing the plant’s upcoming closure.

That story said the factory would cease operations in six to eight weeks, and a story that appeared Aug. 22 indicated that was right on the nose. The factory “is no longer in production and is currently liquidating its assets.”


Gleaner 16 June 2023: Henderson history: Federal regulations yanked reins on Delker Bros. in 1973 by Frank Boyett

History of Henderson County KY

The Spokesman May 1912

Postcard history of Henderson KY