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History of Stephenson County, Illinois : a record of its settlement, organization, and three-quarters of a century of progress (Volume v.1) online

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Freeport and the surrounding country. On October 5th of the same year the
first meeting was held and Robert P. Eckert was elected president of the or-
ganization. The object of the County Club as stated in its charter was "to
advance the science of political Economy ; to promote friendly and social re-
lations between its members ; to levy and collect dues ; to exert such influence
and render such service as it can in behalf of good government, and to promote
the growth and spread of the principles of the Republican party. The forty-
one members whose names were affixed to the original document were:

James E. Taggart, Robert P. Eckert, William H. Foil, J. R. Young, Louis
H. Burrell, Homer F. Aspinwall, Oscar E. Heard, B. H. Brundage, J. L. Mey-
ers, W. A. Stevens, R. W. Burton, A. Grier, F. C. Held. H. W. Bolender,
James B. McCool, C. L. Snyder, J. H. Firestone, G. A. Huenkemeier, J. F.
Fair, E. L. Stewart, Horatio C. Burchard, C. P. Leitzell. James Rezner, W. A.
Schwarze, L. M. De Vore, James R. Cowley, G. S. Kleckner, Dwight B. Breed,
Louis McGovern, J. E. Adatnson, Henry Gilbert. W. B. Peck, R. M. White,
F. P. Waite, W. H. Crotzer, J. M. Fox, Charles F. Rieger, Charles Hall, L. W.
Lyon, C. J. Wells, A. W. Hershey.

The first step taken by the club was the securing of suitable club rooms
for the use of the members. A suite of room on the second and third floors of
the building over Barrett and Emerick's Jewelry Store was engaged and has





Dexter A. Knowlton, Sr



Dexter A. Knowltmi. Jr





August Bergman



Loyal L. Muiui



PROMINENT BUSINESS MEN OF FBEEPORT



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OF THE

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HISTORY OF STEPHENSON COUNTY 505

been in use ever since. The membership of the club is somewhat larger than
at the beginning, but has remained throughout an exclusive organization. The
officers of the County Club for the current year are : President, C. W. Harden ;
first vice president, James E. Taggart; second vice president, W. W. Krape;
third vice president, J. R. Young; secretary, T. M. Kaufman; treasurer, Boyd
P. Hill.

DEMOCRATIC CLUB.

The Stephenson County Democratic Club, which is analogous to the County
Club, and represents the interests of Democracy in Freeport and the county as
the former does the interests of Republicanism, was founded in April, 1903.
On the twelfth day of that month, the leading democrats of Freeport and the
county gathered together and elected F. Goodwin president of an organization,
the object of which should be to promote the best interests of the Democratic
party in this section of the state. Twenty-four names were affixed to the orig-
inal charter, among them all the prominent democrats of Freeport.

Rooms were secured in the T. K. Best building on the corner of Chicago
and Stephenson streets, and fitted up as club rooms. These rooms have ever
since been maintained and form a rendezvous for the good democrats of the
city to meet each other in a social and fraternal way. They contain billiard
and pool tables and card tables, and are in charge of Thomas Beeler, who acts
as custodian.

The membership of the club comprises now between three and four hundred
democrats. Regular meetings of the club are held previous to all elections and
during campaigns. The present officers of the club are as follows: President,
H. B. Witte; vice president, Oscar E. Stine; secretary, Charles Straub; finan-
cial secretary, Al Emerick ; treasurer, Ed. Seeker ; directors, H. Poffenberger,
Douglas Pattison, Robert Bruce Mitchell, William Milner, and Christopher J.
Dittmar.

CITIZEN'S COMMERCIAL ASSOCIATION.

While the Citizen's Commercial Association, as such, has only been in ex-
istence a short time, its precursor, the Freeport Business Men's Association,
dates back as far as 1901. On June 7 of that year, a meeting was held, at-
tended by the leading business men of the city, at which steps were taken to
form and incorporate an organization to be known as the Business Men's
Association of Freeport. A short time later, an election of officers was held
and the following were given posts of honor: C. W. Harden, president; D. C.
Stover, vice president; F. M. Gund, secretary; R. D. Kuehner, treasurer.

This organization was for a time a very lively one. An inducement was
made to get new factories and business firms to locate in Freeport, and some
very gratifying results were accomplished along this line. In the main, how-
ever, nothing of importance was done, and the Business Men's Association
gradually but surely declined in activity and importance.

On October i, 1907, a revival was accomplished at the regular meeting held
on that date. It was decided to employ a regular paid secretary to give his
services to the association, with the understanding that he should transact all



506 HISTORY OF STEPHENSON COUNTY

the business formerly entrusted to the directors. Wilbur Coons was chosen
for the position, at a salary of $100 per month, with the agreement that he was
to be employed for six months, and, at the end of that time, if his services had
proven satisfactory to the officers and directors, he was to be retained as sec-
retary at such salary as should be arranged for by the association.

From that time dates the activity of the Citizen's Commercial Association,
although the name was not changed until over a year after that date. The
activities undertaken by the association have been many and varied, and the
two secretaries who have been in charge since the establishment of the custom,
have succeeded in doing a great deal for the welfare of Freeport. Their work
has been carried on rather quietly and without much publicity ; hence it is
somewhat difficult to enumerate the various public services which the associa-
tion has succeeded in rendering Freeport. They have really done much more
to promote the growth of the city than would seem apparent from a mere
statistical report. Among the various achievements and activities of the past
two years have been the securing of several new manufacturing establishments
for Freeport, and a large amount of improvement and change within the city
itself.

The latest acquisition to the roll of factories and manufacturing plants has
been the Freeport Casket Co. The Commercial Association aided the gentle-
men interested in the organization of this concern to obtain a factory site on
Jackson street in East Freeport. The plant will be immediately erected, and
will soon be one of the most prosperous of Freeport's mercantile establish-
ments. The association also bought the property of the Freeport Novelty
Company, on Hancock avenue, and in the buildings formerly occupied by that
company, they found quarters for the new manure spreader factory. This
property as well as some of the adjoining territory was purchased from Miss
Millie Baumgarten, and will be immediately laid out in factory sites. The
section of the city south of Taylor avenue was platted out and organized en-
tirely through the efforts of the Commercial Association, and it is probable
that before many years this will become the principal manufacturing section of
the city.

The Moline Plow Company, also, whose Freeport branches are among the
largest and most important factories owned by that mammoth concern came
to Freeport invited by the Commercial Association. Through their agency, the
Moline Company bought the defunct Robinson Mfg. Company, and turned it
into the Freeport Carriage Company, a branch of the Moline Plow Company.
An immense new addition to the old factory testifies to the present prosperity
of that institution. The Moline Plow Company was also induced to buy the
Henney Buggy Company, and has since made improvements and additions so
extensive that the Henney factories now occupy the whole of the block bounded
by Chicaga, Spring, Van Buren, and Jackson streets. The building of the
Jackson street switch, from the Illinois Central tracks along Jackson street
to the Henney plant, was fostered by the Commercial Association, and has
since proved an invaluable asset to the factory.

Besides the larger factories, a number of smaller concerns have been induced
to locate in the city, such as the Freeport Quilting Company, now located on



HISTORY OF STEPHENSON COUNTY 507

Van Buren street. Negotiations are at present under way which will doubt-
less result in the securing of more of these concerns, which, though compara-
tively unimportant when compared with the Stover and Moline Plow Company
factories, still give employment to a large number of individuals.

The Citizen's Commercial Association has also been active in other direc-
tions. One of their achievements was the inauguration of the rest room, now
located in the old post office rooms of the Wilcoxin block. The rest room is
intended for the accommodation of out-of-town visitors, and especially the
farmers who come to Freeport for the day. It is well patronized, and contains,
in addition to the rest room itself and the woman's rest room, a restaurant,
conducted by F. H. Bear, and the offices of the Commercial Association. The
Freeport Woman's Club has also extended its aid to the rest room project.
The ladies of that organization have always been interested in the civic wel-
fare of the city, and at the solicitation of the association they agreed to raise
the money to furnish the room.

The cooperative shop course now in effect at the Freeport high school,
in accordance with which the boys of the city may gain an education, and at
the same time work in the shops and acquire the practical experience necessary
for the pursuit of their chosen trade, was originated by the Commercial As-
sociation in consultation with Professors Fulwider and Raines. The plan fol-
lowed enables the boys to go to school one week and work in the factory the
next. They work in pairs, one section going to school and the other to the shops
for one week, while the next week the order is reversed. The system has been
eminently successful in Freeport and has since been adopted in other high
schools, being known as the "Freeport Idea."

Recently the Commercial Association has been successful in having a sub-
postal station established. The new station is in the Third Ward at Iroquois
Square, at the junction of Iroquois, Adams and Williams streets, and is in
charge of A. J. Robson.

A step has also been taken in a social way. Last winter the society min-
strels were held in the Grand Opera House, under the direction of Mrs. Flor-
ence Magill Wallace, of Moline. The object of the entertainment was to pro-
vide funds for the maintenance of the rest room, and a large amount was
raised. The society minstrels were so well attended and so heartily applauded
that it is planned to make the winter festival an annual event. The program
consisted of a minstrel entertainment and songs, dances and choruses exclu-
sively given by home talent. The cafe scene, which formed the basis of the
minstrel show, brought together on the stage several dozen of Freeport's popu-
lar society people, all of whom manifested the greatest interest in the project,
and were present in a body either appearing in the performance itself or in
the audience.

Mr. Coons, the first paid secretary of the association remained in the city
for over a year and left in December, 1908. Just before he left the name of
the organization was changed from the Freeport Business Men's Association
to the Citizen's Commercial Association, which name it has retained up to
the present time. Mr. Coons was succeeded by Herbert Shearer who remained
in Freeport for only a year. During Mr. Shearer's administration rapid prog-



508 HISTORY OF STEPHENSON COUNTY

ress was made and today the Citizen's Commercial Association is an estab-
lished fact, and is regarded by all as the cause of Freeport's rapid growth
during the past few years.

The latest and one of the most important achievements of the Commercial
Association has been the securing of Colonel Roosevelt to speak in this city on
September 8, 1910. The event has not come off yet, but the Citizen's Com-
mercial Association is almost entirely responsible for the enthusiasm which
has been aroused over the coming of our ex-president. Rockford was very
anxious to secure him for speaker on the same day, and it took a great deal
of strenuous correspondence, and a good deal of hard work to persuade Colonel
Roosevelt to come to Freeport instead of the larger city. It is quite certain
that if the Citizens' Commercial Association had not directed its efforts toward
bringing the colonel to Freeport, we should not have the pleasure of antici-
pating his visit on September 8th.

At present Mr. C. H. Wright is secretary. The membership of the organ-
ization includes about one hundred and sixty individuals and corporations, all
of the prominent business firms of Freeport being represented. Mr. Jacob
Weiss is president and a very able and efficient head of the organization.

BUSINESS ENTERPRISES.

STOVER MANUFACTURING COMPANY.

Probably the concern which is doing the largest business of any in Freeport
is the Stover Manufacturing Company, makers of the Samson Wind Mill and
the Ideal Feed Mill. Their plant is located in East Freeport on Henderson
street, near Fairview avenue, near the city limits. It is a mammoth factory,
and the various additions and enlargements which have been completed dur-
ing the past few years make it more certain of its title than ever before.

The Stover Manufacturing Company celebrates its fiftieth anniversary this
year. It was founded in 1860 by Daniel C. Stover, Freeport's late financier
and inventive genius, who began his business in a small way on the corner of
Stephenson and Cherry streets, where the Y. M. C. A. building stands today.
The original name of the firm was the "D. C. Stover Experiment Works," and
by 1880 the business had become so large that it was deemed advisable to in-
corporate the company under the laws of the state of Illinois. This was forth-
with done, and the plant was moved to the corner of Spring and Mechanic
streets. Soon after the old carriage shop of F. S. Taggart was purchased, but
the growing concern rapidly became too large for the new buildings. The
site of the present Stover Engine Works were bought, on East Stephenson
street and the river, and the present shops were erected. These have stood
almost unchanged until this year. A large new addition to the west wing
has just been finished, and this constitutes the first large addition to the engine
plant.

In 1890 the tract of forty-five acres on Henderson street, where the main
shops are located today, was purchased, and the buildings erected. They per-
formed the service required of them until 1908, when the foundry was found



LIL.

OFTHE
UNIVERSITY Of ILLINOIS



HISTORY OF STEPHENSON COUNTY 509

to be of insufficient size to turn out the proper number of castings. Additional
buildings were then constructed, and the original foundry was turned into a
machine shop. Shortly before that a power plant had been built with a ca-
pacity sufficient for generating a supply of electricity for both wind mill fac-
tory and gas engine works.

So greatly has the business of the Stover Company increased that the day
is evidently not distant when entirely new factories will be built. The high
quality of the goods turned out accounts for the popularity of the article among
farmers. Nearly all of the farms about Freeport are equipped with Samson
windmills, and even in the remote parts of the United States the Stover product
is to be found doing duty. Not only has the domestic business increased ap-
preciably, but the foreign business is very large. The foreign trade of the
Stover Manufacturing Company, although it is of recent growth, has already
assumed such proportions as make it necessary for the plant to occupy larger
quarters. The greatest care is given to every detail of the manufacturing.
The plant is equipped with a chemical laboratory, and all mixtures are made
by analyses, all of the metals, steel, wire, etc., that enter the goods are care-
fully analyzed, and a high standard of excellence is thereby secured. The
company is constantly on the look out for new and improved machinery, it em-
ploys a number of mechanical geniuses on its force, and the business done
is steadily increasing. The windmill output averages forty thousand of the
machines annually, while a force of about four hundred workmen are em-
ployed.

The Stover Manufacturing Company was formerly connected with the
Stover Motor Car Company, an institution which was organized to manufac-
ture gasoline engines for automobiles. The business was continued for about
a year, and about thirteen months ago it was discontinued. The Motor Car
Company plant, a large and modern building, in East Freeport, near the Stover
Engine Works, has since been utilized by the latter concern for the manufacture
of gas engines.

STOVER ENGINE WORKS.



Forty years ago, in 1870, the Stover Engine Works was established. It
was an outgrowth of the Stover Manufacturing Company, inasmuch as the
same men were connected with both companies, but as far as the organization
was concerned, the two companies were entirely separate concerns and have
always so remained.

The Stover Engine Works manufacture a variety of engines, including
stationary, portable, and pumping varieties of the horizontal engine, and in
addition to the gas and gasoline engines a make which is run by alcohol is in-
cluded in their manufactures. Like the windmill factory, the market of the
Stover Engine Works is the whole civilized world. The foreign output has
so increased of late years that an addition to the East Freeport plant has be-
come an absolute necessity. The result has been the commodious west wing,
a handsome building of red pressed brick, which is to contain also the offices
of the company. The Stover Works employ about two hundred and fifty hands



510 HISTORY OF STEPHENSON COUNTY

on the average. The output of engines is very large, and is increasing annu-
ally. The time is evidently not far away when an entirely new plant will be
the inevitable outcome. The officers are: President, P. S. Stover; secretary,
J. Fred Smith; superintendent, William F. Freidag.

ARCADE MANUFACTURING COMPANY.

The forerunner of the Arcade Manufacturing Company was a small concern
known as the Novelty Iron Works, which was founded as early as 1868. The
men interested in the organization of the Novelty Iron Works were E. H. and
Charles Morgan, composing the firm of "Morgan Brothers," and the first fac-
tory of the company was built on the corner of Chicago and Jackson streets.
Here they continued to do business for nearly twenty years. The company first
occupied two small brick buildings and a total of ten hands were employed.
In 1874 the old buildings were torn down and more commodious quarters, con-
sisting of a machine shop, foundry, engine room, and offices were erected on
the same site, at a cost of about $25,000. In 1877 J. P. Easter became a part-
ner in the concern but retired in about a year and the old firm name was re-
stored. During Mr. Easter's stay, the company began the manufacture of
plows on a large scale.

Pumps, windmills, iron pavements, store fronts, and a variety of castings
were manufactured by the Novelty Iron Works. The company went out of
business in 1885, and the Arcade Manufacturing Company was then and there
organized with E. H. and Charles Morgan and Albert Baumgarten as the
original promoters.

The buildings of the Novelty Iron Works were utilized for a brief time
only. They quickly became too crowded, and a move was soon made to a
new factory erected especially for the purpose in East Freeport. From there
the company moved, in September, 1891, to another site, and took possession of
a building which had beep recently vacated by the Emory and Williams Can-
ning Company. This building was fitted up with suitable machinery, and a
prosperous business start had just been made, when, on July 24, 1892, the
factories were burned to the ground and all the new equipments lost. It was
suspected at the time that the plant had been fired by an incendiary. How-
ever that might have been, the entire factory with all its appurtenances was a
total loss, and the Arcade Manufacturing Company, which had of late enjoyed
such pleasant prospects, gloomily faced a deficit of over $20,000. Not only
this, but about 40,000 coffee mills, finished and in the process of manufacture,
were burned, and the new company was unable to fill its first orders.

The fire was a severe blow, and any but the most zealous of men would
have been profoundly discouraged. Not so the new Arcade Manufacturing
Company. Hardly were the ashes of the fire cold when negotiations were un-
der way for the purchase of a new factory site in East Freeport. A large
square of land, formerly belonging to the Keller- Wittbecker farm was bought,
and part of it was divided up into lots. The newly platted section of East
Freeport was known as the Arcade Addition, and on part of the land, the com-
pany erected its new offices and foundries. In February, 1893, the new factory




William Walton





lion. I). C. Stover



'/.. Harwell



I'UOMINENT BUSINESS MEN OF FKEEl'OUT



OF THE
UNIVEKSI1Y OF ILLINOIS



HISTORY OF STEPHENSON COUNTY 511

had been completed, and the Arcade Manufacturing Company was ready to
begin over again. This time success crowned their efforts. The buildings
which were constructed then are in use today, with a number of alterations and
additions. The main building is a large brick structure, 200 x 40, while the
foundry is 100 x 70. Besides the two lager factories are a number of smaller
buildings, occupied by foundries, machine shops, drying houses, warehouses,
general offices, etc. The plant is up-to-date in every respect, employs a large
force of men, and turns out a variety of products.

In 1893 L. L. Munn became a partner in the firm. In December of that
year, he invested heavily in the company, and thenceforth became the principal
stockholder. For many years he filled the office of president, and, on his death,
his interest in the concern was taken up by his son, L. L. Munn, Jr. Albert
Baumgarten subsequently retired from the firm to found a factory of his own,
the Freeport Novelty Works. This factory, the offices of which were located
on Hancock avenue, in East Freeport, ceased to do business at Mr. Baumgar-
ten's death, and its buildings are now occupied by the Freeport Manure
Spreader Company.

The Arcade Company has always made a specialty of coffee mills, but it
turns out a variety of goods. Besides the dozens of coffee mills of different
designs the Arcade plant turns out hinges, screen door hinges, stove pipe
dampers, lid lifters, cork extracters, corkscrews, and numerous small notions
and novelties. A large number of children's toys have also been manufactured,
such as toy coffee mills, miniature trains, swings, doll carriages, etc.

In whatever new department of manufacture the Arcade Manufacturing
Company chooses to venture, its results are sure to be attended with success
and its products are invariably the very best. Everything is made from the
finest material obtainable, and by skilled workmen. The road agents and trav-
eling salesmen of the Arcade Manufacturing Company are to be found in every
state of the Union, and wherever their articles are introduced, they are sure
to find a popular market. The affairs of the company are in the best of con-
dition at home, financially and otherwise. The concern has been forced by
circumstances to pass through a number of exceedingly trying situations, not
the least of which was a prolonged strike which aroused a great deal of agi-
tation about a year ago, but it has come through them all successfully, and
would seem to be enjoying at present a well earned season of prosperity. The
officers of the institution are : President, Edward H. Morgan ; vice president,
Charles Morgan ; secretary, Loyal L. Munn, Jr. ; treasurer, E. H. Morgan ; su-
perintendent, Chas. Morgan.

MOLINE PLOW COMPANY.

The Moline Plow Company owns and operates two large plants in Freeport:
the Henney Buggy Company, and the, Freeport Carriage Company. The former
is a very old concern, which has done business in Freeport for nearly half a cen-
tury, and has but recently passed into the hands of the Moline concern. The
Freeport Carriage Company, under the name of the Robinson Manufacturing
Company, did business in a small way for many years before it was absorbed



512 HISTORY OF STEPHENSON COUNTY

by the new company. Its founder and president, J. L. Robinson, began the



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