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1914 was an eventful year for Young Oliver C. Joseph. He was only 24 and recently married. His rare College Degree was serving him well as Principal of Summerfield School near Lebanon. He supplemented his income by running a garage in O’Fallon which serviced and sold many makes of “new fangled” automobiles and by working the farm on which he was born.
His ambition was boundless at 24, and he made a fateful decision! Applying for and receiving a Dodge Brothers Motor Car Agency-an institution was begun. The story of how Oliver C. Joseph was chosen from among the 14,000 applicants is lost, but his legacy continues in the Oldest continually operating Chrysler Corporation Dealership in the World! The Dodge Brothers Agency was purchased by Water P. Chrysler in 1927, the year Oliver Dee Joseph was born and subsequently JEEP was added. This makes Oliver C. Joseph, Inc. the world’s oldest Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep Agency with the same owner and even the same location until August 1, 2006.
Our previous location on West Main in Belleville was built sometime around the Civil War and modified just after OC began selling New Dodges. A separate service department was added in 1948 and the famous Railroad Car arrived in 1976. Governor French Academy now occupies the former showroom and it is named the Oliver C Joseph Performing Arts Center in honor of Curt Joseph, Curt was Oliver Dee’s older son who passed away in 1998. Curt’s three children, Oliver Curtis, Audrey and Michael, all graduated for Governor French. The former service department building is occupied by LineX of Southern Illinois.
In 1998-after years of working in many different positions in the dealership-Brad Joseph, Oliver Dee’s younger son, began handling the day-to-day operations of the dealership. Free of daily paperwork, Oliver Dee Joseph continued to greet customers and answer phones from his roll-top desk.
On August 1, 2006 a new era began with the opening of the New dealership facility on Highway 15 at Belleville Crossing near Frank Scott Parkway. The 6 acre, 25,000 square foot facility was proclaimed Chrysler’s most beautiful dealership by Chrysler Corporation’s VP of Sales, Stephen Landry. AND now the Railroad Car is INSIDE!!! We often wonder what would Oliver C. Joseph think.
On December 23, 2009, Oliver Dee Joseph passed in a house fire. Though his warm smile and humor are missed, we continue in memoriam. The Oliver C. Joseph Family would like to thank all who shared their memories and well wishes.
Now, with the strong leadership of the third generation, Oliver C. Joseph Inc. looks forward to continuing to serve Belleville and the metro bi-state region. Thank you to all of those who have supported OCJ through our over 100-year history. It is thanks to you Oliver C. Joseph has not only weathered the Great Depression but even grew during the Great Recession by adding JEEP to their lineup!