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This article is from the Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, 6 volumes, edited by William S. Powell. Copyright ©1979-1996 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. For personal use and not for further distribution. Please submit permission requests for other use directly to the publisher.

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Receipt for the Geo. E. Nissen & Co.  Wagon Manufacturers, Winston-Salem, N.C., 1913.  Receipt shows "Established 1834," the year George Nissen's father, J. P. Nissen established his wagonworks. Item S.HS.2008.5.335 from the collections of North Carolina Historic Sites.  Used courtesy of the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources.

Nissen, John Philip

by Frank P. Cauble, 1991

12 Mar. 1813–17 Dec. 1874

See also: Nissen Wagon Works

John Philip Nissen, wagon manufacturer, was born at Friedland in Forsyth County, the son of Christian and Salome Vogler Nissen. He was the grandson of Tycho Nissen, who was born in Denmark in 1732 and arrived in Salem in 1770.

At age twenty-one, J. P. Nissen started a small wagon factory in the village of Waughtown and managed the business until after the Civil War, when two of his sons, George E. and William M., began to operate the firm under the name of the George E. Nissen Wagon Works. At the peak of production, this company produced about ten thousand wagons a year. John Israel Nissen, another son of J. P. Nissen, also established a wagon factory, which he later sold to his brother, Christian Francis (Frank). 

The George E. and J. I. Nissen wagon factories were consolidated in 1910 and continued to operate under the Nissen name until 1925, when the firm passed into other hands.

Advertisement for the C.F. Nissen & Company "J.I. Nissen Wagon."  C.F. and J.I. Nissen were the sons of John Philip Nissen. From the Interstate Directory Company's <i>Directory of Greensboro, Salem and Winston</i>, published 1884 by H.H. Dickson, Book and Job Printer, Atlanta, G.A. Presented on

William M. Nissen, the most successful son of J. P. Nissen, became a millionaire and made a large investment in the eighteen-story Nissen Building, erected in 1927 on the corner of Fourth and Cherry streets in Winston-Salem.

John Philip Nissen married Mary Ann Elizabeth Vawter (1813–84) on 1 Oct. 1835 and became the father of twelve children: Martha, Jane, George Elias, John Israel, Mary Elizabeth, Reuben B., Christian Francis, Harriett E., Louis H., Alice A., William M., and Samuel Jacob. 

He was buried in the cemetery at Friedland Moravian Church.


Roxie Sides, comp., Nissen Family Records (Moravian Archives, Winston-Salem).

Winston-Salem Journal-Sentinel, 23 Aug. 1953.

Winston-Salem Twin-City Sentinel, 9 Oct. 1965.

Additional Resources:

Fries, Adelaide L. (Adelaide Lisetta). Forsyth County. Winston, N. C. : Stewarts' Print. House. 1898. (accessed September 19, 2014).

Image Credits:

Interstate Directory Compnay. Directory of Greensboro, Salem and Winston and Gazetteer of Forsyth and Guilford Counties. Atlanta, Ga.: H.H. Dickson, Book and Job Printer. 1884. (accessed September 19, 2014).

"Receipt [Geo. E. Nissen & Co.], Accession #: S.HS.2008.5.335." 1913. North Carolina Historic Sites. (accessed September 19, 2014).

Origin - location: