Jacob J. Deal came to Michigan from New York State in 1854, then went on to Jonesville in 1858, where he opened a blacksmith shop. Deal did all kinds of custom work until 1865, when he sold the shop and erected two small buildings on West Street, where he started building wagons and buggies. He also hired over a dozen men to help with repairs as well as new work.

Although numerous buggy building shops existed throughout the county, the Deal plant seemed to thrive where others failed. The company turned out hundreds of carts, wagons, carriages and sleighs, necessitating laying extra railroad track next to the Deal building. Due to the fine quality of the workmanship—and a significant amount of lead paint, the norm for the day—a few of these products remain in pristine condition to this day.

     Jacob Deal had one surviving son, George, who became his father’s partner in 1891. The business was then renamed J.J. Deal and Son. George became interested in horseless carriages, specifically delivery trucks. Eventually Deal began assembling “autobuggies,” which developed into the Deal automobile in 1908. Unfortunately, George died later that year. For five more years the company was run by Omar Dickenson. After that the autobuggy was no longer produced and the company went out of business in 1915.

    Only two of the Deal autos are known to still exist today. One was at Harrah’s Casino in Las Vegas, but was sold to a private collector when Harrah’s was redecorated. The other sits in the front display window of the Jonesville City Building at East Chicago and Evans streets in Jonesville.

Carol A. Lackey  2015