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Manufacturers Index - Defiance Machine Works

Defiance Machine Works
Defiance, OH, U.S.A.
Manufacturer Class: Wood Working Machinery & Metal Working Machinery

Last Modified: Jan 26 2019 12:15PM by Jeff_Joslin
If you have information to add to this entry, please contact the Site Historian.

In 1872 (or 1875), the partnership of Kettenring, Strong & Lauster incorporated as Defiance Machine Works, with Peter Kettenring as president. In their early days, Defiance mainly made machinery for wheelwrights, and they came to completely dominate the wagon, buggy, and carriage machinery market. Many of their machines were designed by Peter Kettenring himself. They diversified into barrel-making machinery and eventually produced a fairly complete line of woodworking machinery intended for making railway cars and other large-scale products.

In 1890, Kettenring's sons, William A. Kettenring and Ransom P. Kettenring, took control of the company.

During World War I the company made almost all the machinery for manufacturing rifle stocks and artillery and gun carriage wheels. The company further diversified into machine tools and vehicle and engine production machinery.

Defiance stopped manufacturing woodworking machinery sometime in the early 1930s. By then they had fallen on hard times. The company was sold to The Toledo Scale Co. in 1938. World War II kept them busy, but they ceased operations in 1949.

Sovereign Hill Historic village at Ballarat, Victoria, Australia (http://www.sovereignhill.com.au/) has a complete set of Defiance wheelwright machines in full working order and running every day of the year.

Parts and Service

Parts for some Defiance lathes are still available from

Messerman Machine Co.
407 Agnes Street, Defiance, OH 43512
(419) 782-1136

Information Sources

  • Ca. 1880 catalog on archive.org.
  • Much of the information for this important but almost-forgotten company is taken from Dana M. Batory's first book, Vintage Woodworking Machinery: An Illustrated Guide. According to Batory, Defiance was founded 1856 to make woodworking machinery specialized for building wagons, carriages, wheels, and various small items.
  • 1895 catalog that claims "established 1850". This can only make sense if they are using the establishment date of some company that had been acquired by Defiance.
  • A 1920 ad in The Wood-Worker shows their "No. 207 steering wheel rim shaping machine."
  • Listed in Kenneth Cope's American Cooperage Machinery and Tools, page 49
  • 1883: History of Defiance County.
    Peter William Lauster, only son of John Jacob Lauster, and Sibilla Gertrude Wiertz. was born in Rheydt, Khenish Prussia. Germany, December 18, 1820. At the age of about fifteen years he commenced his apprenticeship to learn the reed and harness-making business, in his native town, which consisted largely of silk and cotton factories. From bore he went to Elberfeld, where he also wrought five years at his trade, to perfect himself in his business. He immigrated to this country in 1848, where, after a six weeks' voyage in a sailing vessel, be landed at New York on the 13th of June of the same year, where, through the influence of J. V Smith, afterward Governor of Rhode Island, he found a situation in Providence, to work at his trade. In Decomber, 1850, he moved to Fall River, Mass., commenced business for himself and was very successful. In 1809, he sold his business at Fall River, and moved to this county (Defiance), and bought an interest in the hub and spoke factory of this city, which was carried on by Kahlo Brothers, Crowe & Co. Soon after this, he purchased another interest, in the Defiance Machine Works, which was carried on by Kettenring & Strong. The firm was then changed to Kettenring, Strong & Lauster; the business was enlarged, new shops built, new shops built and Mr Lauster made Treasurer of the company. The company was finally changed to a stock company, Mr. Kettenriug being elected as President and Mr. Lauster continued as Treasurer, which position he still holds. In October, 1881, he was elected by the people of the county to the office of County Treasurer by a large majority, being the first Republican Treasurer the county ever had. He was married, August 13, 1849, in New York City, to Miss Thusnelde Dorothea Gruiter, a lady of German descent, who was born at Langenberg, near Elberfeld, Rhenish Prussia, October 22, 1S19. To them the following seven children were born, viz.: Martha Washington, July 4 1850; Eliza was born May 9, 1852, and died on the 29th; Emilie Thusnelde, born April 25, 1853, deceased April 12, 1873, and was buried in Heidelberg, Germany, where she had gone to attend school; Maria Louisa, born December 6, 1855; William Charles, born February 9, 1858, died March 28, 1859; Charles William, born May 31, 1860; Lydia Amanda, born October 2, I861, died December 7, 1861. The parents of Mr. Lauster came to this county in 1849, and lived with their son, the subject of this sketch. His mother died at Fall River. Mass, September 28, 1858, aged sixty-two; his father died at Defiance, May 3w 1877. aged eighty-three years and ten months. Mr. Lauster made two trips across the water, to his native country, in 1871, also in 1872, remaining one year on his last trip, returning in 1873.
    The Defiance Machine Works, one of the largest manufacturing institutions, has been in operation since 1872. They are successors of a foundry which was operated for many years at the same place. The foundry and machine ship was built in 1850, and leased to Kimball & Frank, the former a molder and the latter a machinist. Peter Kettenring, a young man who had learned the molder's trade with this firm, in 1856 leased the shop. Two years later, Strong Brothers & Orcutt became its operators. It was burned in 1864, but rebuilt by Kettenring and Strong, who in 1869 admitted William Lauster as a partner. In 1872, a stock company was organized and chartered. Mr. Kettenring has been its President to the present time. The works manufacture wood-working machinery, engines, boilers, shafting, etc., together with all kinds of castings. In 1882, an extensive brick addition was made to the buildings. About one hundred twenty-five men are employed.