The Anchor Works (Sterling) are the outgrowth of a small shop run by Mr. A. B. Spies,
situated first just back of the present National Bank building. He commenced business
there in 1863, and did wagon work and repairing exclusively. In 1868 he commenced the
manufacture of a walking corn plow, an invention of his own. The plow proved a success,
and the business increased so rapidly that in 1871 he was obliged to leave that location,
and erect a large building near the river. This building
is thirty-two feet front, and three stories high, with everything so arranged as to do
the greatest possible amount of work with the least expenditure of force. In 1872, Mr.
Spies also invented and commenced the manufacture of a harrow, of which he sold one hundred in 1873; one hundred and sixty the next year, and the gain since then has been in an increased ratio. Besides these corn plows, and harrows, carriages, buggies, wagons, sleighs, etc., are made by the company in great numbers. The firm name is Spies,
Zendt & Co., and is composed of A. B. Spies, Henry Zendt, and Justus Becker.
H.F. BATCHELLER & SON (Rock Falls) was organized in 1859, although at that time the son is now the father in the firm, as D. Batcheller dieing left it to the son, H.F. Batcheller, eighteen years ago, and in a few years he took his son A.M. into partnership. Their first article manufactured was a handcornplanter, patented by H.F. Batcheller in 1858. Twelve were made the first year at a small shop in east Coloma. Sales were good for the planter and many thousands were made and sold. As high as 15,000 were sold in one year. They moved to Rock Falls in 1873 and built a big shop where they ran many men, making planters, churns, wind mills, washers, etc. The shop was burned out twice. The firm is now in a shop near the depot.
Bush's Cafe - 50th Anniversary: 50th Birthday and Opening of New Facilities at Bush's
Bush's Cafe will celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of its founding with an Open House next Thursday. The Open House also will mark the formal opening of two new features added during recent months, the Wooden Shoe and the Industrial Room. The Wooden Shoe is a modern cocktail lounge and the Industrial room is a spacious private dining room. Both are located in the rooms just south of the location occupied by Bush's Cafe for a number of years. the new facilities were added after the building in which they are located was purchased from John L. Poole, Jr., by George W. Bush. Mr. Bush a native of Fulton, has operated the cafe since April, 1944, when he took over the business after the death of his father, Burnie Bush. Burnie Bush, a native of The Netherlands, had operated the business in several different locations, for more than 40 years. It was always in the same block on Fourth Street as its present location. Burnie Bush was brought to the United States by his parents at the age of five. Shortly after he arrived he adopted the name he was to carry the rest of his life, Americanizing it from Esbrand van den Buis. During his long career as a cafe operator he became widely known, not only as an excellent cook, but also as a sportsman and a colorful figure in the developing community of Fulton. He lost an arm in a hunting accident and for many years amazed his friends and customers with the dexterity of his work with only one arm. His son, the present proprietor, has carried on the tradition of his father, and has expanded the business a great deal. Bush's Cafe is known far and wide as one of the finest steak houses in the Middle West and is a popular eating place for prominent figures in the sports and business world when they are in this section of the country. Much of the success of the business is attributed to the fact that nearly all of the cooking through the years has been done by Burnie Bush and his son George, ably assisted by his wife, Mrs. Leona Bush, who has been a fulltime partner in the operations of the businss in recent years. Many visitors from out of town are expected at Bush's next Thursday for the Open House and Anniversary celebration. [Contributed by Nancy Kolk "Glimpses of Fulton" Fulton Journal: October 11, 1951]
CHARTER GAS ENGINE COMPANY (Rock Falls) - In 1861, F.B. Williams and B.E. Orton started the foundry and macine shop, which has always gone under the name of Williams & Orton. Even to this day that term is applied ot the plant by the old inhabitants. In 1871 the business was incorporated under the name of Williams & Orton Manufacturing Company. A General line of work was done, the specialties being pullies, shafting, couplings, hangers, (the two latter being built under patents,) wire rope sheaves, for transmission and hoisting purposes; portable mills, flouring mill and grain elevator machinery. In 1881 the experimenting in the line of Gas Engines was entered upon, which resulted, in 1886, in the placing upon the market the first gas engine in the US to use gasoline. The "Charter" was not only the pioneer in the use of that fuel, but for several years was alone in the field. In January 1889, the name was changed to "The Charter Gas Engine Company," as neither of the founders of the company was connected with it, in order that the benefit of the name be obtained for advertising. The "Charter" Gas and Gasoline Engine has been used for nearly every purpose power is applied to under the sun, from running flour mills, factories, cotton gins, threshers, and other purposes requiring large powe, down to coffee mills, job presses and cow milkers. Nearly two hundred uses are upon its list. The "Charter" can be run on the top of a mountain, or at the bottom of a mine; in the city, or on the farm; or any other place where power is desired. It is perfectly safe, for in the many years it has been used in great numbers, there has never been an instance of fire or explosion. The capacity of the plant has been doubled in 1896, by the erection of a two-story brick building 65 x 60 feet, used for erecting, esting and shipping purposes. Fifty to one hundred men can be employed with the present facilities. Not onlya re stationary engines built, but also tractions, portables and combined engines and pumps. The officers are; George M. Robinson, President and Treasurer, who has been in the office of this company twenty-five years, and William S. McCloy, Secretary, who has been with the company for five years. [Sterling Standard December 11, 1896]
COBB & DREW (Rock Falls) - Manufacturers of all kinds of rivets, double pointed tacks, entc., is a branch facatory of the large manufactory at Plymouth Mass. They moved to Rock Falls last July (1896) and commenced the erection of their machinery in Section 6 of the Industrial building, starting their works in October and have been doing a nice business since then. L.T. Hayward is the superintendant and has a number of men under him, and expects to increase as fast as business will permit. The machinery that has been placed in the building is of the very latest pattern and of which any one may be proud. It is an institution that is bound to succeed as it is the only one of its kind in thissection of the country. [Sterling Standard December 11, 1896]
Cocking & Besse - Clothing, Boots & Shoes (from the 1914
CRESCEMT TELEPHONE COMPANY
1936 OFFICERS: E. H. McMURPHY, President; RAY PALMER, Treasurer; C. O. BURNS, Vice-President; WM. GUTHRIE, Secretary
DIRECTORS: KIRK S. THOMPSON, GEORGE WAINWRIGHT, CHARLES PFUNDSTEIN, J. WESLEY HUDSON SETH WILSON, JAKE RIEVERTS ALVIN FRELS
RATES: PARTY LINE -- Net $1.25, PRIVATE LINE -- Business or residence Net $1.50
Reduced toll rates are in effect from 7 p. m. to 4:30 a. m. each night and also are in effect all day on Sunday. For quick service call by number. Also report any trouble to the operator. To facilitate good transmission, please talk directly into the mouthpiece. When asked if "calling central," please answer "No" or give number. [Contributed by LeRoy Sundin]
W.D. DETWEILER's STORE - Penrose
J. R DEYO (Sterling) makes the manufacture of an animal power churn, a specialty. These churns have attracted universal attention, and the demand for them is very large.
DILLON-GRISWOLD WIRE (Sterling)
The largest factory on the sterling water power, and one of the youngest, as well, is the Dillon-Griswold Wire Mill. The plant covers three and one-half acres of land on the Rock River, south of the Chicago & Northwestern and Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Rail roads, with each of which it has switch connections. There are three main buildings, used as follows; a three story stone building, 180x80, wire drwing and woven fence; two story stone 220x60, galvanizing, barbed wire, baling wires and m achine shop; one story stone, 124x80, cleaning room, bakers, and nail machines. A two story and basement brick and stone warehouse, 50x100, is in process of construction. This building is located just north of the others. As will be seen the wire is drawn to the required size, cut up into nails, galvanized, barbed or manufactured into bale wires under one roof. This factory was projected slightly more than three years ago by W. M. Dillon, of this city, and J. Wool Griswold, of Troy, N. Y. Work on the erection of the buildings was begun at that time and has been pushed forward steadily, notwithstanding dull times and the stringent financial market. The main buildings of the institution were completed practically in July, the present year, though a force of men was employed prior to that time. At the present time, and in fact, since work at the mill was begun, business has been very good. Every department of the mill being fitted with the most modern machinery, the products manufactured are of the highest grade and are made ready for the market at low cost. The capacity for drawing wire is sixty tons per day. All styles and sizes of nails are made, besides several kinds of bail ties, barbed wire and woven wire fence. The most recent addition is the galvanizing department which has been in operation but two months. This department is in the room west of the main building. The series of tanks and vats has been made according to the latest and most improved devices. An excellent quality of galvanized wire is turned out. Power is furnished by five enormous water wheels, which with our excellent facilities furnishes 500 horse power. The main line shaft is 172 feet long, nine inches in diameter. The machine shop is fitted with lathes, planer, shaper, emery wheels, etc. All the repair work is done in this shop, the shafting is made here and parts of machines are turned out. The buildings are well ventilated, well the heated in winter and fitted with electric lights. In short, the Dillon - Griswold Wire Mill is fitted with the best and most modern labor saving machinery and can turn out immense product at a low cost. It has already done much toward making Sterling known as a manufacturing center and it is bound to do more in the future. Its products already have a recognized reputation for superiority in the world of trade. [The Sterling Standard December 11, 1896]
DILLON MILLING COMPANY (Rock Falls) - Many years ago Sterling was an important milling center, but of later years it has felt the influence of the great Northwest and the most importnat institution of this character remaining is the Dillon Milling Company located in Rock Falls, on the bank of the Rock river, and occupies an immense stone building. The mill has ten sets of rollers and three stones and has a capacity of one hundred barrels of flour and two carloads of feed per day. It is doing a large business in custom grinding for the surrounding country and for the home market produces "Dillon's Best", one of the best brands of flour sold in Nothern Illinois. Quantities of rye flour are also made for the Chicago market. The members of the Dillon Milling Company are L.H., W.M. and Moses Dillon, all of whom are prominent business men and intimately connected with the business interests of Sterling and Rock Falls. L.H. Dillon has entire charge of the mill, and is not only a practical business man, but is thoroughly posted on the milling business, having been engaged in it here for nearly a quarter of a century and is the last of the pioneer millers of the two cities. [The Sterling Standard December 11, 1896]
D.W. ALLEN TOBACCO COMPANY - Rock Falls. Allen's Stone Jar Mixture, The Connoisseur's Blend
ECLIPSE LAWN MOWER
Prophetstown - Fred Adams developed a new type lawn mower with several unique features that were patented in 1902, working in a barn located in the vicinity of the Paul Ackeberg residence. He was joined by his brother, Henry C. Adams, incorporating the business in 1904 with C.W. Fenn and Dr. J.H. Mosher as directors, in addition to he Adams brothers. As business increased the mowers were made in the second floor of a building located at the corner of Washington and W. Railroad, and in 1910 the first floor of the first plant was built, with a second floor to the plant added later. In 1912, twelve persons were employed by the company. As Manufacturing expanded, a foundry was dedicated by William Jennings Bryan in 1920. A woodshop building was added in 1921 for the wood handles and rollers and wood shipping boxes. Henry Adams served as principal executive officer during the formative years, with L.b. Roth, Adams' son-in-law, contineing leadership during the change from hand to powered mowers and through the years of the depression. In 1937 the Eclipse Lawn Mower Co. was the first manufacturer to develop a power driven model designed and priced for home use and a steel and brick storage warehouse was added. During the war years, 1942-45, the manufacture of mowers was prohibited and the company offered its services toward the war effort. Following the death of Mr. Roth in 1945, the stock of the company was sold by the Adams family to the Buffalo Bolt Company in New York, later purchased by Houdaille Inc. In recent years, the Boyd Casket Co. purchased the original building for a small facotry here; and in the past 15 years, Micro Gear, Inc. and Sterling Multi-Products have added to the industrial growth of the city. [From the Daily Gazette July 1, 1976]
ELITE MARKET, Locust & Fourth Sts. Sterling, Illinois. Owned by A.H. Fondersmith in 1896
Choice meats,fresh & cured. Oysters, wholesale & retail.
Home made Mince Meat - Bottle pickles of all descriptions
EMERSON GENERAL STORE
Decline of the "Old Country Store"; Walter T. Heilener, War Veteran, and Owner of the Rural Store
The pages of Whiteside County history would be lacking without mention of the importance of the "rural general store" and its city cousin, the "neighborhood grocery store," both having been institutions in their day. One of the last rural general stores to close its doors was the Emerson Store which provided all the services required for more than 100 years up to the year 1969 when the final sale was made and the store closed. Walter T. Heilener was the last owner and operator of the Emerson Store and he was a veteran merchant with over 50 years service with the store business. The store was a "Ma and Pa" operation for many years and Heilener was assisted by his wife, Gesina (Seinie) Edeus Heilener and members of the family. Heilner was born in 1900 in Genesee Township, the son of Onno and Bertha (Frerichs), Heilner. He attended rural schools in the county and at the age of 17, became associated with A.P. Reed, owner of the Emerson Store.
The Emerson General Store was established in the late 1850's by Joel Harvey. This was only five years after Emerson, or "Empire" as the community was called, was platted in 1855 by Elijah Wallace, G.S. Fraser, O.C. Stolp and William M. Sutton. In addition to the store business, Harvey ran a saw mill at Emerson which was built by Hezekiah Brink, the founder of Sterling. Harvey operated a large grist mill, a factory for carding, spinning and dressing wool and weaving woolen cloth. Harvey also built several of the earlier homes in Emerson. The Emerson store changed hands several times at one time was operated under the name Reed & Ryerson, apparently owned by A.P. Reed and Martin Ryerson. Around 1886 Reed acquired the full ownership and ran the store for over 50 years until the time of retirement in 1936. In 1917, Reed hired Walter Heilner and on Sept. 15, 1936, sold the business to Heilener. Heilener ran the store along with a contract from the U.S. Post Office, until 1969 when the store was finally closed due to retirement and his failing health. With the sale of the store in 1969 the U.S. Post Office was moved and operated from the Heilener family home in Emerson for about six months. Heilener died in 1972 and his wife Seinie in 1974. They were the parents of three children, two daughters, Mrs. Paul (Ruth) George of Emerson, Mrs. Robert (Lorraine) Knicl, Dixon and one son, the Rev. Raymond Heilener of Galena. An important aspect of the old Emerson Store was in lending the tone for the atmosphere of "socializing." Heated in the earlier days with a coal burning pot-bellied stove, the store provided the light, warmth and companionship for socializing and drew a number of area residents for that purpose. Among these was Bill Zigler, a blacksmith by trade, who was known to perform feats of entertainment using the hot stove as the target for his tobacco juice. The warmth of the Emerson Store also attracted the young people who used the front steps as "A meeting and gathering place." It was not unusual either, for the older area residents, having finished the supper meal, to saunter over, have a soda or ice cream cone and then rest contentedly on the front steps of the store and discuss the topics of the day and pass along information as well. Heilener's rural store carried a general line of merchandise making it a grocery, department, hardware and clothing store of a kind. Among the lines carried includes dishes, pots, pans, foodstuffs and fresh meat, a complete line of clothing for all, complete line of hardware in addition to rakes, shovels and other small farm tools. If the long hours in the store was a problem, it did not hamper the operation for the store remained open six days a week and every evening too. Heilener maintained the policy of remaining open every night (except Sunday) for the convenience of the many farmers who traded with him. The farmers were usually busy in the fields during the day which concluded iwth the "chores" and afterwards, in the evening hours, were able to satisfy their needs at the general store. Most of Heilener's regular customers were from neighboring farms and Emerson itself and most were known on a "first name basis."
An old ledger from Heilener's store indicated the growth of the general store from the year 1869, when the total net value of the stock, plus what was owed on credit, amounted to $2,116.48. As of April 4, 1870, the ledge showed an inventory of stock with a net value of $3,473.91, including a $500 note. A year later on March 28, 1871, the net value of the stock was listed at $4,641.34 On April 4, 1872, the net value of the stock was $5,142.09. Continued growth was indicated in the inventory of stock as of April 16, 1873 with a total of $6,282.78. In relation to eth economic conditions at that time, the stock in 1873 represented a sizeable inventory in terms of dollars and cents value. In the early days of Heilener's operation of the Emerson Store, a sizeable amount of business was conducted on credit due to the lack of hard cash. Heilener kept an individual account book on each credit customer in which purchases and payments were recorded as did many of the merchants at this time. Store bills were paid at random and a system of "honesty" was in effect on the accounts. Some paid bills after selling soem produce, some paid after the milk check arrived or after the harvest was in and sold. Heilener established an egg business in lieu of cash payments when money was hard "to come by." Farmers would come into the store and buy groceries and pay for them, not in cash but in trading eggs. This business was especially enlarged during the "depression years." At one time, eggs was the main item of barter at the Emerson Store. Heilner would then candle, sort, and package the eggs, haul them to the train depot at Galt for shipment to individual customers in the Chicago market area. Prior to World War II, Heilener created his own "premium" promotion and rather than use the "green stamps," invented his own system. He had coupons printed which were given to the customers making purchases. Later, the customers could return and redeem the coupons for dishes, clothing and other stock in the store. The end of the Emerson General Store in 1969 marked also the end of another era in history from which its pages radiate the true, warm and pleasurable atmosphere emitted from a business enterprise which was in reality .. an institution of friendliness and sociability. [The Daily Gazette July 1, 1976]
The Empire Feed Mill Company (Sterling) was organized in 1870. The buildings of this Company are situated on the river bank on the opposite side of the race from the Sterling School Furniture Works and are large and conveniently arranged for all classes of work manufactured. They are built of limestone and are three stories high. The machine shop connected with the works is a wooden structure next west of the main building, and is two stories high, with basement. The principal work of the Company is the manufacture of feed mills, and shellers, and the power attached. The feed mill, which was originally designed for shelling and grinding corn, was afterwards so constructed that it will grind other grain equally as well, and as now made is the most economical mill ever invented. The capacity of the double mill is from thirty to forty bushels per hour. The others are of various capacities according to their size. Three kinds of shellers are made, a one, and a two hole, besides one attached to the feed mills. These mills and shellers are sold all over the United States. Every class of job work, and repairs, both in wood and iron, is also largely carried on by the Company. Lorenzo Hapgood is President, and Samuel C. Harvey, Secretary.
EMPIRE MANUFACTURING COMPANY (Rock Falls) is located in Section 4 of the Industrial building, Rock Falls, with H. B. Blood, president; R.K. Swift, vice-president and general manager; J.J. Zeller, secretary and treasurer. The company was organized in 1883 and at that time occupied Section 1in the Industrial building, with J.J. Zeller, president and secretary; Lyman E. Phelps, treasurer, and R.c. Swift, Superintendent. They manufacture farm machinery. Among the prominent articles are the rotary disc harrow, spike tooth smoothing harrow, barrell carts and seeders. The office is managed by Mr. Swift, ably assisted by Miss Bertha Swartly. Mr. Swift states that the institution has been doing a good business with bright prospects for the future, as they have already booked enough orders to keep them running anyhow until June or July. [Sterling Standard December 11, 1896]
Eureka Manufacturing (Rock Falls)
The Farmers Co-operative Manufacturing Company of Lyndon, was organized under the general law of the State of Illinois in 1873. In 1875 the Company commenced the erection of their building for manufacturing purposes and finished it in 1876. It is a brick structure, the main building being one hundred and sixty feet long and eighty feet wide two stories high with stone basement, and the addition eighty feet long and eighty feet wide, one story high with iron roof. The design of the Company is to manufacture all kinds of farming implements. The first President of the Company was L.C. Belding of Carroll county. At the second election, Ambrose Denton was chosen President; Alexander Wilson, Treasurer, and Charles H. Rood. Secretary. The present officers are Samuel J. Baird, President; John Whallon, Secretary, and W.C. Snyder, Treasurer. The building erected by the Company is admirably adapted for manufacturing purposes.
Few and Smith- Smith and Phelps Manufacturers of and Dealers in Steam-Dried Corn Meal and Feed
Fidelity Life Association 1934 - Fulton IL
FRANTZ MANUFACTURING CO.
The Frantz Specialty Mfg. Co. was started Sept. 16, 1909 by Peter Frantz, C.W. Lahman and J.D. Lahman. The company was located in a small building leased from the Sterling Machine Works. One of the early products being manufactured was an adjustable light fixture that could be suspended over factory macines and over desks. In 1911 the company moved to large quarters and geban the manufacture of Glide Barn Door Hangers and Track. In 1911 the company changed its name from the Frantz Specialty MFg. Co.to the Frantz Manufacturing Company. The first officers were Peter Frantz, Clarence W. Lahman, W.K. Palmer and L.C. Thorne. Peter Frantz had become well known as a machine designer, having worked for the Reynolds Wire Company in Dixon, Lawrence Brother and the Northwestern Barbwire Co. Lahman was an important financial backer and had been associated with Frantz in Mt. Morris. Lahman was never active in the operations, though he was a director and was certainly an important part of the policy making group. W.K. Palmer was the first sales manager. He had previously been with Natl. Mfg. L.C. Thorne was a well known railroad man in this community, having been appointed to the position of general agent in charge of Rock Falls Branch in 1838. He later became president of the First Natl. Bank of Sterling. Thorne was one of hte principal financial backers of the company. In 1914 the company had outgrown its quartes and construction was completed on a new building. The late Joseph W. Wentsel became secretary and sales manager of the firm on Oct. 23, 1919, succeeding Palmer who had retired. Frantz retired in 1925 due to ill health when William D. Ferris came to the company from Ohio to take over the duty of plant manager. Thorne became president in 1925. C.W. Lahman became president in 1936.
JOHN B. GILBERT DAIRY
The creamery located on East Third street in Sterling is one of the most successful institution of its kind in Northern Illinois. Mr. Gilbert first engaged in this industry in but a small way in 1878. At this time he was living on a large farm north of the city in Jordan township. The following year he erected a small frame building 20x28, near where the present Cold Spring Creamery is now located in Jordan township and simply gathered the cream from the farmers in the neighborhood. The business continued to increase and he was compelled to build an addition. For eleven years he conducted his plant on this basis, using horse power for churning. At this time the present Cold Spring Creamery was built, a company formed and incorporated, separators put in, which have been added too from time to time, until now the business is of immense proportions, and every pound of butter put out is made in two pound prints and disposed of jobbers at Aurora. At the beginning the output was one-third as large as at present. In 1894 Mr. Gilbert erected another Creamery, in Genesee township, two miles south of Coleta. This institution has also prospered and is now receiving milk from miles of the surrounding country.
Early last spring, Mr. Gilbert purchased the F. H. Johns pop factory on East Third street and after remodeling it and building a large addition opened up another large creamery, which to a certain extent is run on the same plan as the other institutions owned by Mr. Gilbert. In addition to the creamery a sterilized milk department has been placed in this building, for the purpose of distributing milk and cream to his customers in the city. This process is meeting with excellent success, and adds greatly to the keeping qualities of both milk and cream, and destroys all germs of disease, which perchance may be in the milk. Great care is exercised in the selection of milk, which is purchased from farmers living in close proximity to the city. The sterilizing process Mr. Gilbert is making a speciality of, and he proposes to furnish the citizens of Sterling with the very best of milk, cream, skim milk, buttermilk as well as of butter and cottage cheese. An although he is at a great expense in purchasing the outfit, his charges are no higher, than one has to pay elsewhere. He has four wagons running in the city, delivering the products of this plant to his customers, all but one of which carry the sterilized product, put up in conveniently sized bottles for family use, the other dispenses milk in the old fashioned way, from cans. [The Sterling Standard December 11, 1896]
W.H. HARRISON GENERAL STORE - Tampico
HUBER BROTHER located at No. 9, West Third street, in Sterling, are manufacturers of all grades of cigars. George and Andrew Huber came to this city last spring (1896) and opened up their present place of business and are now making a large line of cigars, the most prominent of which is the Sterling and Club House, for five cents goods, and the Princess for ten cent goods. The young men have made many friends in this city and are enjoying an excellent business.
Known for their All Wood Toys made out of Poplar Wood from Arkansas.
"HUSTLER TOYS For GIRLS And BOYS," circa 1920s
They made such toys as - Hustler Pup; Pete Hustler's Rowing Wagon; Doc Hustler's Automobile; Sambo Hustler on his Mule; Larry Hustler on his Horse; Bobby Beach Duck; Betty Roll Duck; Surf Rider; Sand Duck; Sand Fish; Hustler Crew; Aviator; Hustler Twins; Baby Hustler; Hustler Bell-Hop; Hustler Action Toy Builder; Hustler Beads; Billy Hustler in his Dog Cart; Baseball Game; Football Game; Horse Shoe; Hustler Bowling Game; Hustler Six Pins; Red Cap; Hustler Service Wagons; Hustler Dump Truck and more.
International Harvester - Keystone International Harvester Manufacturing Company Rock Falls
Joseph Guthrie & Sons Hardware (Erie, IL) - Wagons & Carriages Picture
Jules Danish Farm Restrauant (Rock Falls)
KEENEY and HARRISON (Rock Falls), Contractors and Builders, is one of the first among the firms of this business in northern Illinois; they also do a large business in general job work and mill work and small hand planters. In September 1884 Mr. Keeney purchased a half interest of Foyette Dyer who was then conducting a similiar business, and April 1886 W.N. Harrison purchase Mr. Dyer's half interest. The business was then conducted in Section 3, Industrial building, Rock Falls, and in May 1895 was moved to this city (Sterling) to the old Elliott mill, at the foot of Locust street. Among some of the prominent buildings erected by this firm are the two additions to the eureka Mfg. Co Rock Falls, J.F. Utley's residence, Capt. Parker's residence, J. V. McCarty's residence, E.J. Ross residence now owned by E.E. Sheetz, I.O.O.F. building, W.M. Lightcap residence now owned by George Warner, Addison Pltt residence and the large addition to the Charter Gas Engine Co. [Sterling Standard December 11, 1896]
S.H. McCrea Company (Morrison, IL) - Lumber, Coal, Cement
LIBBY MCNEIL was started March 4, 1907, W.P. Page, Supt. and employs 45 men and 7 girls. The farmers bring milk in 10 gallon cans. After it is weighed it is thrown into a large storage tank and the systematic process begins. copper kettles, the adding of sugar, the vacuum pan, where steam eliminates water and impurities, the filling of the cans, placing in coolers, and then in barrels of 600 pounds for shipment to bakers and confectioners. After the cans are emptied, they are washed by steam and sterilized. Nothing is left undone to insure perfect cleanliness. The whole building from top to bottom would make a Dutch housekeeper dance for joy. In one room is an array of small bottles on shelves of milk subjected to analysis. As we were informed, these milk plants are a direct benefit to farmers by affording a home market for cash and by increasing the value of the land. It rents for more per acre, and rises in valuation. The can-making department at the Libby, MeNeill & Libby plant made a very respectable reputation for itself one day by turning out 22,037 cans in four hours. The average run is around the 5,000 per hour mark, but on this particular occasion it was stretched a trifle. This department is in charge of Mr. Bernheisel, lately of Rockford. Not far off is the Refrigerator factory. It was started for the sole manufacture of refrigerators, but to furnish employment at dull seasons of the year, school furniture was added as a sort of by-product. For instance, from May to September, furniture, from September to May, refrigerators. In winter 135 hands are employed. Fitfteen years in operation. The chief woods used are elm, ash, and gum. A late innovation in the interior of the refrigerator is the insertion of glass and enamel instead of zinc. More ornamental, but increases the price. A perfect fire system with a pressure through the pipes on every floor from their own 51,000 gallon tank. W. H. Coler, nine years in the works, showed the writer much courtesy. (History of Whiteside County by Davis, 1908)
The Lyndon Hydraulic Manufacturing Company was organized in the spring of 1872, under the general manufacturing law of the State, with a capital of $60,000. The officers were: President, Justus Few; Secretary, John Whallon; Directors, Justus Few, George W. Fitch, George L. Coburn, George P. Richmond, Pardon A. Brooks, B.E. Orton, and John W. Hazard. The Company erected a dam during the same year across Rock River at the head of the rapids a little north of the village of Lyndon. The dam is seven feet high and eleven hundred and eighty feet long, giving a head of eight feet, and securing a power of thirty thousand inches of water and cost $30,000. The Company also erected a Merchant Flouring Mill the same year, with five run of stones. The mill is 45 by 50 feet in size, three stories in height above the basement, and is known as the Lyndon Mill. It cost $35,000. The mill was afterwards transferred to Church & Patterson, with use of sufficient water power, and by the latter gentlemen to L.P. Johnson
A.D. Mitchell's Store - Fulton
NORTHWESTERN BARB WIRE COMPANY (Rock Falls) - which has been doing business for so many years in Rock Falls, first originated in the spring of 1878 when, under the management of W. M. DilIon and Capt. W. C. Robinson, who were then engaged in the hardware business in this city, the manufacture of barb wire was commenced in an old frame building, that stood on the bank of the river, just at the rear of site now occupied by the Charter Gas Engine Co. The work at that time was done by machinery run with hand power, which was much harder work than the present system and much slower.
In March 1879 the Northwestern Barb Wire Company was organized and incorporated with a capital of $10,000, W. M. Dillon being president of the newly organized company, Dr. Long, vice president; Capt. W. C. Robinson, treasurer; B. C. Gibbons, secretary and the plant moved over to the Industrial building in Rock Falls, occupying section NO.6. In the year 1880 the building which the company now occupies was purchased. Up to this time only a few machines had been used, but from time to time more machinery was added until they had forty machines running day and night. These machines occupied all the available room in the building, hence they could not increase the output without building, and they were unable to purchase more ground. The company flourished from year to year dispite the hard times and have increased their capital stock to $100,000. During the summer of 1896 the barbed wire machinery was moved to the Dillon-Griswold Wire Mill in this city, (Sterling) and the business converted into a wire nail factory, and since that time nearly 100,000 kegs of nails have been manufactured and sold, and a contract has been let for more machinery, which will increase the output fully 60 per cent. During the past summer many changes have been made in the interior arrangements of the building, which adds vastly to the convenience of the work in hand. One of the most costly improvements is the equipping the plant with an entire steam outfit that they can run at any time regardless of the stage of water in the river, the water power being the principal power used. The plant has been running day and night and expect to so continue, and report that prospects are most flattering for the coming year. The present officers are W.M. Dillon, president and treasurer; E.E. Brenneman, secretary.
Old Mitten Factory
The mitten industry apparently disbanded and 10 years after the construction of the building, it was purchased by the Rock Falls Advance Lodge of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. The sale was approved on August 5, 1879 by members of the Advance Lodge and Number Five Ancient Order of United Workers. A committee consisting of A.C. Stanley, W.W. Brown and F. Dyer was authorized to borrow funds to pay off the indebtedness and to solicit contributions from the members of both orders for a one-year period without interest. The sale agreement on the mitten factory building was executed on Aug.6, 1879 in the amount of $700. The purchase was made from James Darlan for Wesley Demplin who assigned their interest to Fayette Dyer. Dyer signed the bill of sale Aug. 14, 1879, turning the property over to the two orders. A.C. Stanley, a leading Rock Falls grocer, was the noble grand of the IOOF in 1879 when the building was purchased for the new lodge home. Taxes were paid for the building in the amount of $15.27 on Mach 3, 1880. The Odd Fellows organization occupied the building (called the old mitten factory in later years) until November of 1972. At this time the Odd Fellows moved into a new home located on Dixon and Emmons Avenues. The old mitton factory building was sold to the Wheeler Estate. A short time after the purchase, the building was torn down and the site today is a private parking lot. An early photo (above) of the building which served numerous purposes including a mitton and glove factory, a schoolhouse and for many years the home of the Rock Falls Advance Lodge of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. Located on East Third Street just off First Avenue, the mitton factory was built in 1869 by A.P. Smith and after more than 100 years service, was torn down. [Daily Gazette July 2, 1976]
PAPER MILL, Rock Falls
ROCK FALLS PAPER MILL doing business in Rock Falls, is located on the river bank and is one of the largest mills of its kind in the US. The building was erected by Frank Tracy and E. G. Church, in the summer of 1890, the year following the big explosion of the old mill, which every one well remembers. The new structure is 600 feet long and 100 feet wide and is supplied with all of the modern conveniences needed in this branch of business. In 1893 Messrs. Tracy & Church disposed of their interest in the plant to the Columbia Straw Paper Company, and still conducts the business under the able management of Mr. Harry Washburn, with Mr. Ross Smith as superintendent. The product of the mill is entirely straw wrapping paper, and the capacity is about twenty-five tons per day. The mill has been running night and day, except at short intervals when shut down for necessary repairs. The business during the past two years has been fair and the prospects for a large increase is good. [The Sterling Standard December 11, 1896]
~ The manufacturing of paper products was to aid the early industrial development in the City of Rock Falls only to be marred by an explosion in 1891 which claimed the lives of four workmen and totally destroyed the mill. Early records indicate the first paper mill was built by E.G. W. Parks in the year 1869. The first mill occupied a site the Sanger and Nichols store had been located at in the earlier days when the community was known as "Rapids City." It was in the early 1879's that Parks, the owner of the paper mill, took on a partner and the business operated under the name "Parks and Johnson Paper Mill" Johnson eventually became the sole owner of the mill. He later sold the lot and building to the Keystone Company and moved the paper mill machinery to Lyndon. Another paper mill was built in the city in 1892 by E.L. Church, Henry Utley and J.A. Patterson. They had operated a mill in Sterling, sold it to Dwight Brothers and moved to Rock Falls where a new mill was built. The paper mill was destroyed after an explosion on Jan. 27, 1891. The explosion claimed the lives of four men including John Meyer, Oliver Miller, Samuel Schrader and william Bell. It is believed the explosion resulted from bleach in the mill. The paper mill was listed as the Illinois Strawboard Paper Corporation in 1908 according to W.W. Davis' history of Whiteside County. The mill was located along the race at the foot of Fourth Avenue and the warehouses were located along West Second Street. The bill employed some 75 workers in he early 1900's and the operation included the use of eleven and one-half tons of straw daily in the manufacture of manila, rag and straw wrapping papers. In addition to the straw, some 21 tons of paper stock was used daily and the mill operated both day and night. The mill ment out of businessin 1928 as a result of an apparent bankruptcy. [Source Unknown - Believe it might have been The Daily Gazette]
The PAPER MANUFACTURING MILL (Lyndon) is situated near the Flouring Mill, and was built in 1873, by the Orton Bros. at a cost of $12,000. In 1875 it was transferred to Johnson & Hubbard who furnished the water wheels and all the machinery at an additio nal cost of $21,000. The building is one hundred and sixty feet long and 50 feet wide, and two stories high above the basement. In addition to the main building is the boiler house, sixteen feet long and 24 wide, constructed of brick, with stone basement. The mill uses two thousand inches of water, and manufactures two tons of straw wrapping paper per day.
The PATENT NOVELTY COMPANY - Fulton
This company made the no-stoop dust-catcher. It became a popular item but the company was plagued with problems. In November 1906 there was an explosion, they moved what is now 10th Ave and 5th. In March 1907 another explosion occured and the citizens insisted they move. In May 1909 yet another explosion blew out the side walls of the drying oven. In 1967 they were located at Church and River Sts. Neighbors again became outraged. By 1910 they were producing kitchen racks, mail boxes and then there was another explosion in 1910. Five more major explosion occured between 1913 - 1926. As of 1967 they had about 30 acres - and a last explosion in the fall of 1966. To make matters even worse the flood of 1965 caused considerable damage to their building.
One of the lovely Christmas window displays in Fulton during December 2000 was in the Musk Building on 4th Street. Among the many wonderful toys was a boat and rower with box marked Fulton, Illinois, Patent Novelty Company. The Fulton Journal, December 8, 1916, records the history of the company to that date. “A splendid industry that has built up within the past ten years in Fulton is the Patent Novelty Company, engaged in the manufacture of advertising novelties and hardware specialties. The enterprise was founded by C.L. Passmore in 1905, and among the articles of utility that was first made was a handle dustpan invented by Mr. Passmore. It was not long before the factory sold a million of the “So E-Z” dustpans in one year. In 1906, Mr. Passmore sold out to Frank W. Dana for a nominal sum, and soon afterward L.A. Lemke became Mr. Dana’s partner and the business was expanded and a building was purchased on the corner of Tenth Avenue and Fifth street and machines installed and a japanning oven constructed. In 1907 Edward H. Downs was added to the firm and the company incorporated with capital stock of $20,000. The business proved wonderfully successful and, finding lack of room in the Tenth avenue factory, the company purchased a block of lots on Eighth avenue, paralleling the C,B.&Q railroad, which enabled it to have a side track. A new factory was built in 1910 and many new articles added to the list of manufactured products. Several traveling salesmen were employed and the factory was enlarged, and in 1912 the large brick building on the northeast corner was erected. Business increased so rapidly that the company increased the capital stock to $140,000 and decided to build a new brick factory, which was commenced in July and is just completed. It is a model plant and the building cost about $20,000 with the new American Blower heating plant. The new structure is ninety feet wide and two hundred and forty-two feet long, built of brick and steel and contains 26,000 square feet of floor space. The building is admirable planned and lighted for factory purposes, and scores of machines, operated largely by electricity fill the floor space. It is, in fact, a model manufactory with fine equipment and now rushed to fill orders to the full capacity with over ninety people employed. The line of goods made embraces fifty different articles, the greater part of which have a regular and increasing demand.
Frank W. Dana is president of the company; E.H Downs, secretary and treasurer. There are nineteen people in the office force.
T. A. Landa has charge of the salesmen in the large cities.
S.C. Coman is general sales manager.
C. J. Harned, manager of sales in the premium department.
Miss Catherine J. Dugan has charge of the bookkeeping and collections department, and has proved highly efficient.
George H. Reimer is superintendent of the factory.
S.H. Wilson is foreman of the metal stamping department.
Sika Poel is foreman of the finishing department.”
According to Wayne Bastian in his book "A HISTORY OF WHITESIDE COUNTY," the Patent Novelty Company produced toys as early as 1908 when the Little Nemo Popgun and Mocking-Bird whistle were made. In 1927, the assets of the O.K. Toy factory of Sterling were purchased and moved to Fulton. In 1929, 410,000 toys were manufactured and part of them exported to 14 countries. The new line included Whirling Maypole, Tick Tack, Twirlo and Ben Hur. The company developed new toys and produced them for years. [Contributed by Nancy Kolk - Glimpses of Fulton]
WILLIAM W. PERKINS & CO, (Sterling) manufacture the Perkins' improved fire proof iron door and shutter, refrigerators, etc., and A. F. Spooner makes an improved baby jumper.
P.H. COMPANY - Matches made in Fulton
REVER HOUSE - Proprietors B.C. Bailey & Son (Morrison, IL) (The "Son" is probably Edward who also worked in the old Nachusa House around 1871)
ROCK FALLS MANUFACTURING: One of the most extensive manufacturing institutions which has come into prominence in recent years, and one of great value to the city and vicinity, is the Rock Falls Mfg. Co. It was incorporated in 1877, the first location, being in Rock Falls, in a small building located on the grounds now occupied by the C.B. & Q. deport in that city, with E.L. Brookfield as chief stockholder and he was then as now, president of the institution. In 1883 the plant was moved to Sterling and located in the brick buildings, which are the present site of the manufactory. In 1888 the first of the buildings on the southwest corner of the intersection of East Third street and Third avenue, was built, and in 1895 another immense structure was added, which gives the institution one of the largest as well as most complete plants in the West. The business was started in a modest way, making burial cases andundertakers supplies, the building of hearses and funeral cars, of which they now manufcture a larger number than any other firm in the country. The total sales reach above $250,000 per year, or a sum five times as large as when Mr. Brookfield first became manager of the business. Lewis E. Brookfield, president, general manager and chief stockholder, has a remarkable record as a business man. When only 17 years of age he assumed the entire management of the affairs of the new concern. He was born on a farm near Sterling and was educated in the Sterling schools. His ideas of business were always broad and comprehensive. He was never content with a small business and looked forward to leadership in anything he undertook. He saw the opportunities for supplying the West with hearses and funeral cars, and began the manufacture of these expensive vehicles in 1883. The first year twenty-five completed hearses were sold, while now the annual sales reach over 200. [The Sterling Standard December 11, 1896]
SCHIMER & STIRLING
C.S. Schimer M.D., D.O. and William Stirling D.O.
Located at the Randolph House
SEWARDS GROCERY - Located on West Fifth Street of Rock Falls, Sewards Grocery stands in the same place as it did in July of 1931 when Frank Seward purchased the building of begin his 36 year career of management. The oldest grocery store in the city under the same management, the building was remodeled ot its present size in 1938. From 1931 until early in 1951, three gas pumps were in use. In years past Sewards Grocery was the "hub" of the neighborhood for the men of the town as its well lighted grounds provided nightly horse shoe court activity which continued for many years. Seward was the sponsor of a basketball team in the years between 1939 and 1942. Most of the boys had played on the winning team at the ROck Falls High School the previous year. Many trophies were won by the Seward team, some of which are still on display at the store. (Sterling Gazette July 25, 1967)
SOMMERS REPAIR SHOP - William F. Sommers decided to go into business for himself in 1942 in a small garage, 16 x 24' at 315 E. 10th St. Rock Falls. His first piece of equipment was a $100 lawn mower sharpener, which his wife humorously recalls as "a worthless piece ofmachinery." That sharpener is now accompanied by many other pieces of valuable machinery to aid in the repairing of lawn equipment at Sommers' Repair. The shop deals in sales, service, and parts for mowers, lawn sweepers, yard vacumers and snow ploughs.. Sommers sells new rider mowers as well as the standard push mowers, sweepers and snow ploughs. he also has the latest equipment for saw filing. Tis year so far,Sommer estimates he has already repaired over 500 mowers and as high as 3,000 saws. His garage has been enlarged for work space three different times during the course of his 25 year old business. It is now about four times as large as when it began.
SOWLES DRY GOODS - Mr. and Mrs. William J. Sowles Sr. moved to Rock Falls with an infant son, William J. Jr. from Kansas City MO in 1905. At that time Mr. Sowles Sr., purchased the Hubbard and Morrison Grocery store located at 205 W. 2nd St. Rock Falls, which is now known as the Crystal Barber Shop (1967) In 1917, the building directly west of the store was purchased and Sowles Grocery was moved into that location. Soon as there appeared a community need for a dry goods store in the city, a number of businessmen organized the W.J. Sowles Dry Goods Company and the new business was opened on 217 First Ave. The two stores operated independently for some years until it was felt that they should become one. The building at 204 W. 2nd St. was purchased from Claude Melvin thereby making it possible to have the stores connected with an archway cut between the two buildings. After several years passed, it was decided to discontinue the grocery store operation. So the two buildings were used only for dry goods and ready-to-wear.
With the passing of W.J. Sowles Sr., in 1931, the young son, who at that time was employed at Bradley's clothing in Sterling, took over the operation of the Sowles' business. As the depression days were left in the background and the community xpanded in trade, additional space for the store became necessary. The building at 211 W. 2nd St., at that time housing the Henry Goldfus men's clothing store, was purchased. After considerable remodeling the ready-to-wear was moved into the new room and the dry goods section was enlarged. The need for a children's department prompted the purchasing of still another building directly west at 213 W. 2nd St., at that time owned by Joe Sullivan, where an enlarged infants and children's department was incorporated into the store. Under the ownership of W.J. Sowles Sr., the store initially operated with a total of three ful-time employees. Now occupying three buildings, the store has increased its employment to 17. This year the Solwles' clothing store will celebrate its 62nd anniversary under the same family ownership.
STAGE COACH ROUTE
Frink and Walker was a familiar name on stage coaches which were operated in the 1830's and 40's over routes passing through Illinois, one of them being the Rock Island road which extended from Rock Island through Prophetstown, what is now Rock Falls, and up to Dixon, entering and leaving by the road near the Rainbow Inn in west Dixon. The establishment of the stage line through the village of Albany in 1844, then a town of 1,000 population, was an epoch in the history of the old Mississippi river town, which commanded much trade through its mercantile establishments. The sound of the stage horn was a signal for the gathering of many to see what the stage brought in. The stage firm of Frink and Walker operated its route from Chicago to Galena, passing through Buffalo Grove (now Polo) on to Galena, and from there passage had been by water down the Mississippi to Rock Island (formerly Fort Armstrong), later made an all land route. Years ago there stood a giant cottonwood tree at a fork in the road leading to Prophetstown. This tree was blown down and destroyed by a high wind storm. A successor to the old landmark has never been set out on the spot, which was noted as the "lone tree." It has been told by oltimers that the stage coach drivers kept a jug of beverage in a hollow in the fork of the tree. Whey they arrived at it, they would reach down for the jug and imbibe from it, return the jug to its repository and drive on. [Sterling Daily Gazette July 25, 1967]
The Sterling Burial Case Company was organized in 1873, with a capital of $40,000, the works occupying an area of thirty-eight thousand two hundred and forty feet, at Nos. 413 to 423 inclusive, on Third street. The company manufacture coffins, caskets, and burial cases, the business amounting to one hundred thousand dollars annually.
The Sterling Distillery was started in 1864 by the late John S. Miller, and is the second largest distillery in the United States. The buildings consist Of the distillery proper, malt house, bonded warehouse, cooper shops, Corn bins, and cattle sheds, and an office in a central position, and are all situated on the bank of the river just east of the Fair Grounds. The cattle sheds are of sufficient in size to feed two thousand head, and that number is fattened by the proprietors each year. The buildings cover over five acres of ground. The capital employed in the business is three hundred and fifty thousand dollars. Two thousand bushels of grain are used each day, making an aggregate of six hundred and forty thousand bushels annually. All of this grains ground previous being used. Eight thousand five hundred gallons of alcohol are made daily, aggregating about three million gallons yearly, upon which a government tax of over five thousand dollars is paid per day, making the sum annually the United States Revenue Department nearly two million dollars. One Hundred and seventeen men are employed in and around the distillery, to whom an aggragate sum of six thousand dollars are paid weekly, making an annual outlay to the operatives of three hundred and twelve thousand dollars, nearly all of which is placed in circulation in Sterling. The alcohol made is shipped primarily to Europe, and South America. Shipments are made directly to Genoa, in Italy, Geneva, Switzerland, and Constantinople, Turkey, in Europe, and to Buenos Ayres, Brazil, and other ports in South America. The price paid for the grain used at this distillery is nearly always somewhat in advance of that paid by other parties, and hence furnishes not only a sure, but good market for the farmer. The requisite number of United States officials are engaged here. John S. and William A. Miller, are the present proprietors.
The Sterling Manufacturing Company use steam for their motive power. The business now carried on by them, was in part commenced as early as 1855, but the company was not incorporated until 1870. The capital stock is $30,000, and it is the oldest manufacturing establishment in the city. The company manufacture sash, doors, blinds, church seats, butter tubs and boxes, stair rails, newel posts, harrows, clothes line rods, and sell hard and soft wood lumber by the car load, or in smaller quantities. They turn out about twenty-five hundred butter tubs in a week, and seven hundred harrows in a year. They also do scroll sawing, and planing, having improved machinery of the best designs, and engage extensively as builders and contractors. The present officers are: John D. Tracy, President and Treasurer; and James F. Platt, Vice President and Superintendent. Besides these gentlemen there are experienced and well-educated mechanics in every department.
The Sterling Mineral Paint Company was established in 1871. Sidney T. Osmer, Charles M. Worthington, and John A. Ladd, being the principal incorporators. The works of the company are located on the river at the foot of Mulberry Street. The main building is four stories high, each story being over eighty foot deep. The mineral is obtained from a bed on the farm of Grove Wright, in Coloma township. although a stratum underlies the country in and around Sterling and Rock Falls. Joel Harvey found one several feet thick while digging his artesian well in Sterling. The mineral is dug out in the summer and thrown upon the ground, where it is partially dried. In the winter it is brought over the river to the works, and placed in large heaps, where the action of the frost breaks up the large lumps. It is then taken to the dry house, from thence passes through the several processes, until the paint is ready for the market The color of the paint as it comes from the mill is a dark brown and for some time this was the only color made. The company manufacture a red paint in addition, which retains all the painting qualities of the brown. The advantage of this paint over the other so-called mineral paints, is that the latter are merely dirt or clay paints, while this is mineral. The analysis of Prof. Mariner, of Chicago, shows that it contains a large percentage of peroxide of iron, which gives it color, body, and durability. Nearly all the railroad companies now use it to paint their freight cars, shops, and depots, and it is extensively used for general painting throughout the country, being sold as far east as New York, and to the west as far as the Pacific States. It bears heat better than any other known paint. The present officers of the company are: Sidney T. Osnier, President and Superintendent; and J. P. Penrose, Secretary- Treasurer.
The Sterling Pump Works are situated on the water power, and originated from a private enterprise of Mr. M. C. Bowers, who commenced making pumps for the retail trade in Sterling, in 1863. In 1871 a stock company was organized, with a capital of $50,000, the following gentlemen being the first officers: Aaron J. Hull, founder of the Sterling School Furniture Company, President and Treasurer; and M. C. Bowers, Secretary. Immediately after the organization of this company, the manufacture of pumps for the wholesale trade was commenced, the retail trade being also kept up. During the first year of the company's existence sixteen hundred pumps were sold, but so rapidly did the trade increase that over seven thousand were sold in 1877. The company has improved their pumps from time to time until they are recognized as the best. The sales extend principally through the Northwestern and Western States. The company also manufacture Hulls Patent Double Surface Washboard to a large extent over five hundred being made a day, and yet this number no morethan fills their orders. The manufacture of these wash-boards commenced two years ago. They are shipped to all the Western States and Territories, and Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Indiana. The present officers of the company are: Aaron J. Hull, President; William A. McCann, Secretary and, Treasurer, and William McCune, Superintendent.
The present Sterling School Furniture Company was organized as a stock company, April 3, 1869, by virtue of an act of the General Assembly of the State, granted the March previous. The Company was then known as the Novelty Iron Works Manufacturing Company. The first buildings were erected, and the land and water power purchased by A. J. Hull and F. T. June, in the summer of 1868, their object being to make sewing machines, and other castings. Their attention was drawn to the feasibility of manufacturing school furniture, by making some castings for that kind of furniture for a Chicago firm, and the result was the placing of the "Sterling Seat" upon th e market. The seat at once became popular, and very soon the factory was over-run with work, necessitating more land, buildings, and capital. These were secured, and A. J. Hull elected President of the Company; F. T. June, Secretary, and A. J. Hull, F. T. June, Charles H. Presbrey, W. A. Sanborn, and Edward Thomas, Directors. The capital stock was then $16,000. In 1871 this was increased to $50,000, and upon the resignation of Mr. Hull as President, F. T. June was elected in his place, and A.A. Terrell, Secretary and Treasurer. In 1873, the name of the Company was changed to the Sterling School Furniture Company, so as to better represent the business. The capital stock was also increased to $100,000, at amount it still continues, with a large amount of surplus fund. In the spring of 1873, Mr. June severed his connection with the Company, and W. L. Patterson, who had become a large stockholder, was elected President. In 1874 the company made the Secretary the General Manager of the works, and business, and since that time A. A. Terrell has had full charge of both. The present officers are: H. G. Harper, President; and A. A. Terrell, Secretary and General Manager. The buildings and land of the Company are located on the north bank of the river, are convenient to the depots of the Northwestern Railroad, and cover over thirty-five thousand square feet of ground. The goods manufactured consist of school, church, office, and lodge furniture, porcelain work of all kinds, stove pipe registers, pump cylinders, stove reservoirs, gray enameled ware and small castings of every description. The material purchased by this company is the best that can be obtained, and is thoroughly prepared before being used. The work in every department is done by skillful and experienced hands, and when once turned out is unequaled for strength, durability, and beauty of finish. The reputation of the Sterling School Furniture Company is already National, and the amount of manufactured articles turned out by them simply immense. They have a branch house at Albany, New York, and one at San Francisco, California, where their goods are kept.
STERLING WAGON & SLED WORKS
The Sterling Wagon & Sled Works is owned by E.C. Bassett. Mr. Bassett came here in 1881, establishing a shop in the old Industrial building in Rock Falls, occupying section 4 of this building. Several years later he moved to this side of the river and is now located at the foot of First avenue. He manufactures the Sterling wagons and bob sleds, which are well known throughout this part of the State and Eastern Iowa. During the summer months the shop has been running light, but the manufacture of sleds for the winter season has been commenced, and it is expected that a full force will be put on soon. Mr. Bassett is a practical workman and his work received his rigid inspection before it leaves the shop. As a result of this the concern has always enjoyed a good business and the confidence of the trade. Mr. Bassett derives power from a Charter gas engine, to propel his machinery.
SUMMIT STOVE FOUNDRY (Morrison, IL)
Early Telephone Service Sterling - Rock Falls and Nearby areas
The first telephone in the Sterling-Rock Falls area was put into service in May of 1880. The Sterling Gazette for May 15 reported a telephone operating between the Keystone Manufacturing Company in Rock Falls and the Galt Brothers Bank in Sterling. On May 22, 1880, the Gazette reported, "The telephone line between the Keystone Manufacturing Company and the Galt Bros. Bank works admirably, and has saved many steps already. Preparations are being made to run lines to the Central office... from the following places; Galt House, Reed & Son, Sterling Gazette Company, T.A. Galt's reisdence, Keystone Co., Rock Falls, Galt Bros. Bank, Dr. Gordon's office and probably from both depots." The first Sterling-Rock Falls telephone exchange, opened in September 1880, was located at 8 W. Third Street, Sterling on the second floor. It wsa operated by the Northwestern Bell Telephone Company of Clinton, Iowa, with Simeon S. Crieder as the first telephone manager. By January 1881 there were 28 telephone working in Sterling-Rock Falls, and the number was growing rapidly. On August 9, 1881, a line was opened to Morrison, Illinois, and other lines to Erie, Prophetstown, Lyndon and Tampico were operating by the end of 1881. During the later part of the nineteenth century, the Bell System company serving Sterling-Rock Falls went through two reorganizations, First the Iowa Union Telephone Company succeede dthe northwestern Bell Telephone Company and then in 1899, the Central Union Telephone replaced the Iowa Union Company. While the name of the bell company was changing, competition was developing from two independent telephone companies. in 1895 the Harrison Independent Telephone Company began serving Sterling-Rock Falls customers from an office at 114 E. Third St. Sterling. In 1900 the Farmers Mutual Telephone Company opened a small switchboard on the second floor at 207 W. Second St. Sterling. The Farmers Mutual service served about 40 farmers south of Rock Falls. Competition meant a duplication of facilities in many homes. Having more than one phone in your home now is a convenience but from 1895 until 1919 it was a necessity for anyone who wanted to be able to reach all the telephone customers in town. In late 1901 the Interstate Independent Telephone and Telegraph Company purchased the Harrison Independent Tele. Co. and installed a new switchboard on the second floor of the Bickford Building, 306 First Ave. Sterling. During this peirod both the Central Union Tele. Co and the Union Tele. Co. and the Interstate Co. had wire circuits across the Rock River, on top of the old First Avenue iron bridge. The Interstate Co and the Central Union Co. both served the Rock Falls area until 1919, when the Central Union Co. purchased the Sterling-Rock Falls properties of the Interstate Co. At the time of the consolidation, Central Union served 2538 telephones and Interstate 697. On February 25, 1901, the Central Union Co. had moved across the street, from 8 W. Third St. to 7 W. Third St. Shortly after purchasing the Interstate Co. the Central Union Co. leased the second floor fo the building next door, at 3 W. Third St. The two buildings were connected on the second floor. The name "Illinois Bell" came to Sterling-Rock Falls on December 1, 1920..... [From the Daily Gazette Sterling - July 25, 1967]
Todd's Factory manufactures (Sterling) pruning shears, and hedge trimmer's. It was started a number of years ago in the frame building erected in 1856 for a planing mill by some parties from Cincinnati. This business did not prove a success, and the building was afterwards used for different purposes until it fell into the hands of Mr. Todd. The pruning shears, and hedge trimmer's,of excellent design and make, and their manufacture now one of the well established industries of Sterling.
Old TOLL BRIDGE Sterling - Rock Falls
It was in the year 1862 that J.J. Allison, father of Mrs. H. L. Brewer of Rock Falls, who for many years ran a bottling works in this area, walked mot of the way from Milwaukee Wis. to Sterling to work on the old toll bridge which was being constructed across Rock River from Sterling to Rock Falls, at the east end of what was called Picnic Island. Afterhe had worked several months on the bridge, Mr. Allison returned by train to Wisconsin and brought his family back to this area. The family later occupied a house in Rock Falls, in the vicinity of the Rock Falls cemetery. Mrs. Brewer then pursued her studies in the old red brick schoolhouse on the Dixon road, east of Rock Falls. Backin those early days, Mrs. Brewer recalled the time when the Deacon Arey house, an inn for travelers, stood on First Avenue just north of the river. The old Merrill house, built by Isaac Merrill and a stone barn were the only two other buildings west of the canal. Across the canal Robert McNeil had built a home shortly before. The Rock Falls lady was well acquainted with Mr. Fulton, the first collector on the toll bridge and also with his wife, who was the first lady to weave carpet in the vicinity. She wove a number of rugs for Mrs. Brewer's mother after they came to Sterling. William Rae, father of Mrs. Charles Allen of Rock Falls, raised the flax and twisted the rope for the first ferry across the river. Many were the times that Mrs. Brewer's parents have driven a team of horses across the river at Cook's ford, which was located near the government locks. A family by the name of Cook lived in a house near the ford and that is where the ford derived its name. [The Sterling Gazette July 25, 1967]
The Victoria Flouring Mill, (Lyndon) on the same water power, was built in 1873 by Poole & Putnam. It is a two and a half story frame building, fifty feet long and forty feet wide, with stone basement, and cost $18,000. The mill uses one thousand inches of water under a head of eight feet. supplied by the Lyndon Hydraulic Company and manufactures seventy-five barrels of flour, and six hundred bushels of feed per day. In 1875 Mr. Putnam sold his interest to Alexander Wilson, and the mill is owned and conducted by the firm of Hoole & Wilson
Wahl Clipper Manufacturing
Wahl Clipper Corporation is a leading manufacturer of hair clippers, beard trimmers, and electric razors. In modern times, the company has expanded to making animal grooming devices. Based in Sterling, Illinois, Wahl has operations in the United States and ten foreign countries; its products are distributed in 150 countries. The history of the company may be traced to 1911, when Sterling high school student Leo J. Wahl, invented a handheld massager with an electromagnetic motor. His uncle, a doctor, started a company to market the massagers, and their clients included doctors' offices and barbershops.
The Williams & Orton Manufacturing Company (Sterling) was organized in June 1871, with a capital stock of $100,000. The basis of the organization were the foundry and machine shops of Williams & Orton, which were situated where the present manufactory stands. At the organization of the Company Mr. Williams was elected President, and Mr. Orton, Secretary. Present officers John Charter, President and Treasurer, and G. M. Robinson, Sec'y. The buildings of the Company are situated on the water power, and are four in number. The main building, which is the largest used for manufacturing purposes on the Sterling side of the river, is 60 by 150 feet in size, and three stories high; the second building is 30 by 50 feet, and one story high; the third is 40 by 150 feet in size, and also one story high, and the fourth, 40 by 50 feet in size, and two stories high. The articles manufactured are, mill machinery, and general machinists goods. The manufacture of these is very heavy, and the goods are sold all over the country, giving the utmost satisfaction. The Company is also preparing to make the celebrated Williams' Reaper and Mower, and will have them in the market next season (1878). These machines are the invention of Dyer Williams, and for the past ten years have been manufactured at Syracuse, New York. They are extensively used in that State, and cannot fail of becoming so here now that the manufactory will be in the West. The Company have a large frontage on the river, and sufficient water power to more than double their capacity for manufacturing purposes.
Immediately upon the finishing of the dam and race in 1853, Messrs. Joshua V. and William McKinney built the stone mill, (Sterling) it being the first erected on the water power for the manufacture of flour. It is now owned by Church & Patterson, and makes two hundred barrels of flour per day. A little later Lukens & Bye built the one now run by U. T. Elliott, and known as the Commercial Mills, which also manufactures two hundred barrels of flour per day. The Pacific Mills were afterwards erected, and make one hundred and fifty barrels of flour per day; Dillon & Bowers, the proprietors, also do custom work, and grind feed, the mills being the only ones at which custom work is done in Sterling.
Bent & Wilson's History of Sterling, IL
History of Whiteside County by Davis, 1908
Much of this data comes from "The Sterling Standard" Dec. 11, 1896
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