Jane Johnson Hamm and the Florence Wagon Company

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Jane Johnson Hamm, in the flower-print dress at left, rides in the annual wagon parade with her family.

Much of what is known about the history and the popularity of the Florence Wagon Company is the result of research done by Jane Johnson Hamm for her book, Florence Wagon Co. Memories & More.

Looking to preserve the memory and history of the company’s aging former employees, Jane chronicled their memories in the book and did additional research on the town of Florence, and how its growth paralleled that of the wagon company.

First published in 1997 and stocked at Young’s Welding Supply in Florence, “the book sold like hot-cakes,” Jane recalls, “and everyone took an interest in the Florence Wagon Company.” Four hundred copies were gone in just days, and in time, a second edition was published, too.

“That’s how I got started in the hobby,” Florence resident Willard South says. “I never paid attention to wagons until I read that book. Then after I read it, I started restoring wagons.”

Willard’s decision to start restoring wagons was an important one because as his work got under way, other people joined him to help. Soon, the Florence Wagon Club was formed, and Terry Young, a club member, wagon restorer and the owner of Young’s Welding Supply, suggested an annual parade. Today, that event, called the Florence Wagon Works Celebration, is going into its sixth year, and club members are seeking out more old wagons of all types to preserve, restore – and parade. FC

Read more about the impact of Jane Johnson Hamm’s book on the Florence Wagon Company: “Book Sparks Renewed Interest in Florence Wagon Company.”

For more information:
– Jane Johnson Hamm, 210 Knights Bridge Rd., Florence, AL 35630; (205) 764-8370.
– Willard South, South’s Wagon Shop, 2073 County Road 154, Florence, AL 35633; (256) 766-6476.

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