Buch Manufacturing Played A Major Role in E-Town's Development

By Jean-Paul Benowitz

During September we celebrate Labor Day. The U.S. Congress unanimously voted to make Labor Day a national holiday and President Grover Cleveland (1837-1908) signed it into law six days after the end of the Pullman Strike on 11 May 1894. The Pullman Strike was a nationwide railroad strike which pitted the American Railway Union (ARU) against the Pullman Car Company (1862-1987). As we celebrate labor this month, let us consider a major employer in Elizabethtown's history, The Buch Manufacturing Company. Addison Buch and Jonathan B. Buch were members of the Church of the Brethren from Manheim. The Buch families settled in Elizabethtown after the Civil War (1861-1865). Addison Buch was a member of the board of trustees when the Elizabethtown Church of the Brethren was established in 1902. Addison Buch and his wife Marie deeded the land for the establishment of the Elizabethtown Mennonite Church in 1905. Addison Buch and his sons Royer S. and J. Harvey purchased the Benjamin Groff farm to establish the campus of Elizabethtown College for the Church of the Brethren in 1899. J. Harvey Buch established the College Heights Development Company which sold real estate around the college campus including the building of the Elizabethtown Brethren in Christ Church in 1909. J. Harvey Buch was instrumental in persuading the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania to the build the Masonic Village in Elizabethtown in 1910. Buch Manufacturing Company was established in 1870 at the intersection of South Market Street and College Avenue (to the east) with Bainbridge Road (to the west). The sketch posted above illustrates the factory on the west side of South Market Street (the former location of J. F. Binkley Roller Mill). Jonathan B. Buch established the Buch Carriage Factory and next door Addison Buch (along with Benjamin G. Groff and T. W. Nissley) created a foundry and machine shop where they manufactured agricultural implements. The foundry was powered by a steam engine and was one of the largest foundries in Lancaster County. Buch's steam powered foundry played an important role in the Buch Carriage Factory and the Anchor Spring Wagon Works, created in 1896 by Johnathan Buch's son-in-law, Hiram H. Nissley who was married to Laura Buch. In 1876 the foundry was destroyed by fire and immediately rebuilt. In 1890 the name was changed to A. Buch & Sons Agricultural Implements Works and Novelties when J. Harvey and Royer S. joined their father in the business. In 1900 the company built a new factory on South Market Street opposite Cherry Street. At this time the company began to specialize in the production of wheelbarrows and steel lawn swings. The Buch Eagle lawn swing won bronze awards at the St. Louis World's Fair in 1904 and Tercentennial Exposition at Jamestown, Virginia in 1907. In 1953 Jesse Lane and Associates of Lancaster bought all the Buch Manufacturing common stock. In 1959 the company was sold to Dura Corporation of Detroit, Michigan. In 1960 Dura Corporation made the Buch Company a subsidiary of Moto-Mower, Inc. in Richmond, Indiana and closed the Elizabethtown plant the same year. In 1968 R & R Electronics, subcontractors for AMP: Aircraft Marine Products (1941) moved to the Buch plant. Harry Reese and Charles Roland created R & R Electronics in 1954. This company specialized in making parts for bombs and under water mines used in the Vietnam War (1946-1975). In 1971 the firm was incorporated as R&R Metal Finishing. Today the Buch Manufacturing plant is gone but Buch agricultural equipment, lawn swings, and wheelbarrows are highly collectible among local antique enthusiasts. The Buch family legacy of civic engagement and the development of Elizabethtown is still evident in our community. Text by Jean-Paul Benowitz, Historian, Elizabethtown College Director of Student Transition Programs & Assistant Director of Academic Advising. Illustrations by Shanise Marshall, Elizabethtown College Class of 2015, History major with a Fine Arts-Art History and Religious Studies minors.