Historic WB Catalogs
1994 - 1999
working for several other manufacturing companies,
Wilson decided it was time to go it alone. Well not
quite alone, he and his fourteen year old son, Wilson
Todd Bohannan, set up a small shop behind their modest
Brooklyn home and began assembling padlocks. Wilson
Bohannan was granted his first patent on April 17
Their success didn't happen overnight, but by 1870,
Wilson was able to move out of his garage and into
a much bigger building. His new workshop was located
on the comer of Kossuth Place and Broadway, also in
Brooklyn. In a few short years, Wilson Bohannan &
Co. began to enjoy some success. Steam engines were
purchased and used to power several new machines.
The steam also provided heat during winter to a vastly
growing number of employees. Production increased
1888, the company was incorporated and business was
booming. That same year Wilson Bohannan Inc. built
a new factory on Lexington Ave. This factory was four
stories and almost 10,000 square feet. This new factory
also contained a brass foundry where all the padlocks
were cast. By the turn of the century, nearly two
hundred employees were now casting, assembling and
shipping an estimated 100,000 padlocks. Railways were
Wilson's biggest consumers. The most popular WB padlocks
sold to the railroads were the models " 115 " and
" 119 ".These models were produced in great numbers.
Even today, these locks can readily be found at many
flea markets and computer auctions at a very reasonable
Before Wilson Bohannan passed away on February 22,
1896, his patented padlocks could be found worldwide.
He enjoyed a fine reputation for his "Well Built"
padlocks and left behind many friends. His thriving
business was left to his family so that future generations
could follow in his footsteps.
Wilson Todd Bohannan, who was Wilson's only son, took
his father's position with the company but died 1904
at the age of 44. The next generation to keep the
business in the family was Wilson Bohannan Tway.
1926 the factory on Lexington Avenue was nearly 40
years old and Wilson Tway decided it was time to leave
Brooklyn. Earlier in his life, while traveling across
country in the army, he had gotten off a train in
a small town in the Mid-West and was quite impressed
with the towns relaxed atmosphere. This town was Marion,
Ohio. So in 1927, he moved the entire outfit to the
quaint town of Marion.
As times changed, so did WB padlocks. Switch locks
were now outdated and the competition was already
producing pin tumbler padlocks. By the late 1930's,
WB introduced its first "pin tumbler" mechanism padlock.
This new padlock allowed for many more key changes
and, for the first time, master keyed systems were
The market for padlocks was also changing. New highways
filled with freight trucks were quickly absorbing
electric railways. Now the focus was on Public Utilities,
and they remain to this day, the largest consumer
of WB padlocks. By the late 1950's WB introduced its
first extruded solid brass padlock. This new weather
resistant padlock was designed for outdoor utility
usage and are still being produced today.
Wilson Bohannan is the oldest family
owned padlock company still producing padlocks in
the United States. A fact that Wilson would certainly
be proud of.
by William B. Tway