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A wagon for Democrats?

When the estate of Charles Cheever of Plyumouth County, Massachusetts, was inventories in 1916, his belongings included a lot of small deposits in different banks, shares in a couple of copper companies, some household furniture, a diamond ring, two pearl rings, some cows, some hens… and…

A Democrat wagon.1


Excuse me…?

A what?

In this polarized day of blue versus red, donkey versus elephant, left versus right, The Legal Genealogist couldn’t help but be startled by a name like that.

A wagon for Democrats?

A wagon pulled only by donkeys?

A wagon a Republican would refuse to ride in?

Nothing so divisive.

To the contrary, a Democrat wagon was “a light farm wagon or ranch wagon that has two or more seats and is usually drawn by two horses.”2 And it looked like this:


(Russell Lee, “A Democrat wagon on William Walling farm near Anthon, Iowa,” December 1936)3

It was so named, the story goes, because of “the availability of this inexpensive, easy to handle, wagon to a wide range of people. A Democrat Wagon was so light that if it got stuck a single individual could often lift it out by hand.”4

A Democrat wagon.

Who knew?5


  1. Plymouth County, Massachusetts, Probate Court, Estate of Charles S. Cheever, No. 23,904, Executor’s Inventory, Schedule of Personal Estate in Detail, filed 28 Feb 1917; ; digital images, “Massachusetts, Plymouth County, Probate Estate Files, 1686-1915,” FamilySearch ( : accessed 1 July 2014).
  2. Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary ( : accessed 1 July 2014), “Democrat wagon.”
  3. Russell Lee, “A Democrat wagon on William Walling farm near Anthon, Iowa,” December 1936; Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, Farm Security Administration – Office of War Information Photograph Collection ( : accessed 1 July 2014).
  4. Bob Lemen, Cowboy Bob’s Dictionary ( : accessed 1 July 2014), “Democrat wagon.”
  5. Other than Mr. Cheever’s estate appraisers, of course…
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