Years In Operation: 1902 Models Built: Manistee/Autoette Approximate Number of Cars Built: At least 1 Factory Address:
344/350 River Street
284/286 River Street
74-76 Division Street
Officers of the Company:
Otto Brugman: Founder
Henry Brugman: Founder
Frank Brugman: Repairman
Louis Brugman: Repairman
J.L. Sweetman: President-1911
J.H.D. Wallace: Vice President-1911
B.P. Barnes: Secretary/Treasurer-1911
Dr. A.S. Payne: Vice President-1915
T.J. Elton: Secretary/Treasurer-1915
Alexander Smith: Board of Directors-1915
What can i see today?
There is no known vehicle that exists but you can learn more about the Brugman Brothers at the Manistee County Historical Museum. Address: 425 River Street, Manistee MI 49660 Phone: (231) 723-5531 Website: https://www.manisteemuseum.org/
The first factory location was at the Brugman Brothers shop. It is currently occupied by Taco Bout It... Address: 344/350 River Street, Manistee MI
The Brugman Brothers started the Auto Garage Company in 1911 located at 284/286 River Street. The original building is no longer standing.
By 1921 the garage had moved to 74-76 Division Street. The original building is still standing today and is occupied by Manistee Tire Service...
The Brugman family came to the United States from Germany in the mid 1870's. The parents, Henry Sr. and Caroline, were married in Germany in 1864 and had 4 kids there including their oldest, Otto....
The Brugman Brothers opened a shop in Manistee in the 1890's that sold and fixed a whole array of items. It was here that they honed their mechanical skills...
In 1893 Otto Brugman was granted a patent on a lock and latch system. Patents were common among some of the early industrial pioneers such as Edison, Ford, and the Dodge Brothers...
The first mention of a vehicle in Manistee came in May of 1900. The vehicle needed some repairs and was brought to the Brugman Brothers shop...
In 1899 the Brugman Brothers began work on their own vehicle as a hobby and finished it in 1902 calling it the "Manistee". The car was powered by a two-opposing cyclinder steam engine located under the seat. It was started with a crank on the side of the vehicle and had a top speed of 25 m.p.h. The vehicle was intended to be used as a taxi service for the community. The photo below shows Otto and his sister Mary sitting in the seat...
The vehicle was made to hold plenty of weight. Otto is shown here driving while his sister Mary is sitting high in the back wearing the black hat. This photo is courtesy of the National Automotive History Collection, Detroit Public Library.
By 1903 the shop had the address of 344 River Street as shown here in the Michigan Gazetteer. This would have given the brothers better visibility on the street...
Brothers Louis and Frank also worked at the company for a time. Frank would have been around 14 at the time which could explain the "boy under 16" sworn statement....
In 1911 the Auto Garage Company(spelled wrong here) was formed which was the continuation of the Brugman Brothers business. The location was at 284-286 River Street in the original Manistee Iron Works building...
Photo courtesy of Leelanau Historical Society Museum
Henry and Otto are standing here together in the middle of the photo...
This photo shows the possible assembly of a "Manistee" in the background but it is not clear. It is rumored that the Brugman Brothers produced automobiles throughout the life of their business. Otto Brugman is standing to the right of the seat assembly here circa 1910-1915. This photo is courtesy of the National Automotive History Collection, Detroit Public Library.
The Brugman Brothers were not only car inventors but their business included repair, sales, and storage of cars in the winter. This photo shows a "Manistee" in the back right as well as signs of the tire manufacturers of the day. Otto Brugman is standing second from the right and Otto is standing second from the left. This photo is also courtesy of the National Automotive History Collection, Detroit Public Library.
This article from February 18th, 1915 shows new officers being elected. Otto and Henry held different titles throughout the life of the business...
The Auto Garage Company was always a repair shop but was also an agent for many different car companies including Dodge Brothers, Overland and Hudson...
There are conflicting stories on the National Garage & Sales Co. being absorbed by the Brugmans in 1916 but, even if true, the business never moved to the building on Washington Street.
The Auto Garage Company eventually moved to 74-76 Division as stated here in 1921...
It is said that the Brugman Brothers continued to make vehicles for their local community. Their ads stated that they were "Pioneer Automobile Men" which certainly seems to be the case.
Photo Courtesy of the Leelanau Historical Society Museum
An article in the news(unknown origin) shows the death of Otto on March 1st, 1937 at 69 years old...
"Brugman Passes His many friends throughout the region were saddened to hear of the death of Otto J. Brugman, Auto Garage Company Founder, and a resident of Manistee for the last 51 years. He was one of the first automobile dealers in this part of the country, and during his life watched the development of the auto from the first one cyclinder car up to the present models. He was 69"
Henry Brugman passed away July 19th, 1940 at age 64. Frank Brugman passed away January 19th, 1914 at age 23. Louis Brugman worked as part of the original shop, a mechanic for the garage, and at an auto factory in Detroit. He passed away November 16th, 1952 at the age of 73.
Standard Catalog of American Cars-Clark/Kimes
Manistee City Directory-1913/1914
Manistee Phone Book-1911
Michigan Manufacturer & Financial Record-Feb 1915
Traverse City District Library
Manistee County Historical Museum
Manistee: The Salt City of the Unsalted Seas-American Printing Company-1910
The Automobile-Volume 22
Motor Age-Volume 20
State of Michigan-Bureau of Labor and Industrial Statistics-1904
R.L. Polk & Company-Manistee 1902/1903
The Accessory and Garage Journal-November 1911
The Hudson Triangle-January 1917
Scarborough Road Map of Michigan-1913
Michigan State Gazetteer and Business Directory-1921/1922
Automobile Topics-Volume 43
United States Patent Office
Leelanau Historical Society Museum
National Automotive History Collection-Detroit Public Library