|December 31, 1871||Daily Commercial||(Leavenworth, Kansas)|
Leavenworth is largely favored in its natural advantages for a large and varied manufacturing industry. In addition to its inexhaustible supply of coal, it is surrounded by a vast agricultural country, capable of supporting a large city population. Upon the Missouri bottom the finest timber--oak, walnut, elm, hickory, and other hard woods--grows in abundance. Iron, from the iron region in Missouri, can be obtained by a cheap water carriage. The finest fire clay, adapted for stone-pottery and oven-brick, underlies the coal deposit; and heavy strata of limestone are found at the base of the bluff which overlooks the Missouri, and this formation crops out in hundreds of places around. Besides these advantages the system of railroads extends in all directions, and the facilities of transportation are being rapidly increased. The city is beautifully and salubriously situated, and the educational advantages are surpassed by those of no other city. With such opportunities it is only natural toat(?) an extensive manufacturing industry should have been developed, and we will proceed to enumerate some of the leading establishments.
But previous to doing so, we give the following careful statement of our manufacturing industry during the last year:
|Machinery and general casting||$ 225,000|
|Stoves, furnaces, heating apparatus, &c.||175,000|
|Cabinet ware, church and school fixtures, &c.||110,000|
|Wagons and pleasure vehicles||225,000|
|Saddlery and harness||30,000|
|Soap & candles||25,000|
|Trunks, valises, &c.||8,000|
of this city. The original projectors of this enterprise were animated with the idea that a fortune was to be made in the manufacture of woolen fabrics. They saw the fleeces of New Mexico and the Pacific States flowing past here to the looms of the eastern cities, and they saw the clothing and blankets into which this wool was transferred, returned here at a greatly enhanced cost for transport and manufacture. To locate such an industry here seemed the most natural thing in the world, and the saving of expense in the costly carriage would afford profit enough to make the thing a success. The Eagle Woolen Mill was built, machinery put up, and hands set to work. But the profit never came in. One proprietor after another tried it, and after sinking money enough to cool his enthusiasm, gave it up. It was found that the smallness of the operations and the want of skilled operatives more than counterbalanced the advantage of location; and when the piece of cloth was produced, the eastern goods brought in by our merchants drove the home product out of the field. The woolen industry of Leavenworth was in this unpromising condition, when a company of English mechanics, the Messrs. Firth, Senior &Co., happening in this city, were led to make another attempt, and leased the building for a mere song. They went to work understandingly. Recognizing the fact that the great strain is to get over their first year, they determined not to waste their means in getting the business started. So, with the Yorkshire thrift, after their looms were erected, they and their wives went to work, and thus saved the burden of wages. They were progressing favorably, and their fabrics were finding a market, when a balmy spring zephyr last April blew down their building, and wrecked their entire machinery. This did not daunt them, however. Having a cash reserve, they purchased what remained of the building, and then lost the spring in reconstructing mill and machinery. A recent visit paid by our reporter to this factory shows that this enterprising company have at length triumphed over all their difficulties, and have now entered upon the path or success. The entire floor is filled with looms run by steam power, among them two broad looms manufactured in England, which have recently been put up for weaving pilot and Indian cloths. Several thousand yards of heavy cloths, have been made at this mill for Mr. E. H. Durfee's Indian trade, and the probability is, that when they shall have remedied some trifling defects in the make of this article, this gentleman will be a large consumer and keep several of their looms constantly running. The manufacture of this line of goods--pilots, chinchillas and Indian cloths--was never before attempted in the west, and the Eagle Mills proprietors' experience in this novel industry has been successful enough to induce them to extend their operations. Upon their shelves they exhibit some very fine specimens of cassimeres, tweed, domestic blankets, woolen shawls and similar fabrics. Our city jobbers speak in the highest terms of the products of this mill, and give the preference, when price and quality are taken into consideration, to the products of our home factory over those brought from the east. This woolen factory, therefore, may now be pronounced an assured success.
Another useful industry recently started in this city in the manufacture of carpets. The origin of this enterprise is not without interest. Dr. S. F. Neely, while spending a vacation in Philadelphia recently, was struck with the anomaly of the coarser wools of New Mexico and the Western Territories being sent to those distant looms to be manufactured into carpets. Sam Patch's noted axiom occurred to the mind of our fellow-townsman: "Some things can be don as well as others;" and he set himself to inquire into the details of the business. The result of this quest was, that on his return to Leavenworth he made known his plans to several of his friends, and after some figuring and correspondence, a joint stock company was formed with a capital of $30,000, consisting of the following members: Dr. S. F. Neely, Messrs. W. McNeill Clough, Ed. Russell, James A. McGonigle, J. W. Crancer, John Hannon, Alexander Repine, W. R. Davis, P. J. McDonald and Thos. Jones.
Looms and skillful operatives were procured from Philadelphia, and a building leased on Delaware street (between Sixth and Seventh streets) for the factory. Towards the latter end of November, two looms were erected, and a few yards of three ply carpet run off, just to show a sample of their skill. This was exhibited at Root & Davis' store, and excited general interest, as being the first piece of carpet made west of the Ohio river. It is the intention of the company to erect ten looms, which will give a daily product of 150 to 200 yards. Four are already put up, and carpenters are now busy making the frames for the remainder. The industry is not fairly started yet, as the manager of the factory desires to get a stock of patterns and styles on his shelves before he offers his goods for sale. The patterns already turned out are much admired for their brilliancy of color and tasteful design, and the quality is pronounced excellent. The corporators speak with the greatest confidence of the success of their enterprise, and declare that as soon as they shall be ready to take orders, a tide of business awaits them that will keep their looms going through the entire season. Wherever practicable, this bringing the grain-field and the work-shop into close proximity, is a movement in the right direction, and we wish abundant success to every such enterprise.
The great demand in the west is for lumber, and the man who can supply that in greatest quantity is a benefactor of his race. The well known saw mill of W. S. Plummer is situate at the foot of Dacotah street, and during the summer months is a scene of busy industry. The appetite of a saw mill is proverbially insatiable, and to keep those savage looking going, requires the labors of quite a number of men. In the timber lands in the northern portion of this county, parties of lumberman are kept steadily at work getting out logs to raft down the river, which, when quietly moored at the saw mill dock, are snaked up the chute by a strong chain and submitted to the process of partition with a rush and rapidity that would make the beholder's head swim. About 15,000 feet of lumber and timber are turned out daily at this mill, a large portion of which is used at the coal shaft, and another large portion is also consumed by our neighboring farmers. In addition to this prosperous enterprise, we find our indefatigable miller putting up a flouring mill by the side of his saw mill, and fitting it up with machinery that surpasses anything in the west. In carrying on this branch of the business Mr. Stephen L. North has been associated, who devotes his time to the purchase of grain, and the sale and shipment of flour. In our annual business review we have mentioned the largely increased activity which has been infused into the flouring operations of the city, and we are pleased to learn from Mr. Plummer that his new enterprise is proving successful. The brand of the Monitor Mills is taking a high standing. Mr. Plummer is an instance of what can be accomplished in the west by hopeful industry and business aptitude. Starting here when the city was in its infancy, with no capital but his hands and a resolution to win, he has placed himself at the head of a profitable and growing business, and can feel that his labors have been useful to his fellow citizens.
About the largest cigar manufactory in Kansas is carried on my Messrs. Simmons & Staiger. Their place of business is on Delaware street between Fourth and Fifth streets. Some of their brands of cigars have attained a wide celebrity among those who find comfort and good humor by the indulgence of the fragrant weed. The famous "Sultana" cigar is made by Simmons & Staiger. Smokers everywhere call for it, and these gentlemen are sometimes pushed to their utmost capacity to supply the trade demand for this one brand of cigars alone. During the summer season, and often in winter, this firm gives employment to 25 or 30 skillful cigar makers. Of course, most of the cigars manufactured go to supply retailers and modest wholesalers in Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and Colorado, but the trade of Leavenworth City is in itself no small item. Simmons & Staiger lead alike in the wholesale and retail business of their class. The department of their establishment which accommodates he retail demand is arranged in an excellent manner and its location gives prominence to it. Aside from the cigar trade strictly speaking, they carry a very complete and fine stock of pipes, tobacco, and everything belonging to that grade of business. The members of the firm always take a liberal hand in every measure of public enterprise, and realize that the success of their own business depends upon the advancement of Leavenworth. The sum of money annually disbursed by this firm for revenue stamps and employees' wages is enormous. The former item forms no considerable portion of the revenue receipts of this District.
Among the most useful and successful manufacturing establishments of Leavenworth, the cabinet manufactory of Dilworth &Co. deserves special notice. It is located on Cherokee street between Second and Third, and was established by Mr. J. R. Dilworth, in June, 1867. The business first consisted of the manufacture of spokes and felloes, plow beams, axe, pitchfork and hoe handles and other similar articles. But after much capital had been invested in machinery, and a large stock of goods accumulated in the hands of agents living all over the State, it was found that the business was not likely to prove profitable, and a change of front was determined upon. Throwing aside the old machinery, and consigning the stock to a hired warehouse, this indefatigable tradesman went to work to refit his workshop, and very soon had it in trim for the production of cabinet ware. Taking in a partner--Mr. James C. Lyle--the firm hired a new set of hands, and commenced the manufacture of bedsteads, bureaus, cabinets, extentsion tables and other fine ware. Great facilities exist in this city for the prosecution of such an industry, as the finest walnut logs are cut on the Missouri bottoms, and the demand for such goods as are turned out in this establishment is always ahead of the supply. The experience or Mr. Dilworth in starting a useful industry is similar to that of all others who have made the same attempt. To adopt a French proverb, it is the first step that costs. There is always competition from the east to encounter, and the distrust of the community in home made goods to remove. At first starting, too, it is hard to obtain a supply of stock just such as you want, and skilled industry it is almost impossible to obtain. With such difficulties mistakes will be made. Goods leave the bench with a crudity that stamps them with a home look, and material will be spoiled in spite of constant care. This painful probation necessarily discourages many, and a number of others find their means give out before they have any return to look for.
These difficulties our enterprising neighbors have now passed. A visit to their workshop will show some as elaborately finished work as is sent to us from Boston and Philadelphia, and the business is so systematized that the workman's time is put to the same profit as in the larger establishments of the eastern cities. Our city dealers purchase largely of this firm, and speak highly of the advantage of having such an industry in our midst, as they are able to have orders filled with more accuracy and greater promptitude. Recently they have extended their facilities by the addition of another building, and the former inconvenience heretofore experienced for want of room is thus remedied. But they are still crowded with orders. The spacious warehouse is being constantly depleted to fill pressing demands, and the proprietors' great ambition to get a stock of goods ahead is indefinitely delayed. "If we had but capital," exclaimed Mr. Dilworth to our reporter, "to fill the field that is open to us, we would astonish the people of Leavenworth by running an establishment that would be beaten by but few in the eastern cities." But all in good time. There are occasions when the way to gain a victory is to know how to wait for it. These men are young yet and have indomitable energy. Their progress has been rapid in the last few years; and with the experience they have gained to aid them in the future, it is fair to predict that their business is yet destined to attain extensive proportions.
It is not unworthy of mention that the basement of the factory is devoted to the manufacture of hominy, the profit upon which pay the cost of fuel to run the machinery, and affords our citizens a wholesome article of diet at one fourth the price they have been accustomed to pay. The lesson learned from these gentlemen's experience teaches that notwithstanding success awaits every useful industry that may be started in this city; still this success is to be patiently and hopefully worked for, and the means that are best to accomplish this result are diligence, economy and a thorough knowledge of the business.
The firm of Hershfield & Mitchell is everywhere recognized as one of the institutions of Kansas, and a house in which Leavenworth takes especial pride. It is the oldest manufacturing jewelry house in the State, and the largest wholesale jewelry establishment between St. Louis and San Francisco. Messrs. Hershfield & Mitchell organized the firm in November , 1856, and since that time have made remarkable progress. In February, 1865, the building which contained their stock of jewelry and machinery was destroyed by fire, but by energy, industry, and the prompt outlay of money, they recovered from the disaster speedily. At first they commenced the manufacture of jewelry for the accommodation of the local trade; but by and by their manufactured articles gained prominence throughout the Stake of Kansas, and in many other States of the Union. It is a fact probably not overlooked by out citizens, that jewelry manufactured by the firm, here in Leavenworth, has been sold to retail jewelers in every city of prominence from New York to San Francisco. In quantity the orders have not been trifling, for in the manufacture of certain articles in the jewelry line the firm has achieved quite a prominence. Orders from New Orleans, Boston, Pittsburg, New York and San Francisco are frequently filled, and in nearly every instance the utmost satisfaction has been given. They derive their trade chiefly from Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, Colorado and Nebraska, but California contributes orders frequently. The establishment throughout, including the manufactory, wholesale and retail departments, gives employment to thirty or forty persons. Messrs. Hershfield & Mitchell are not only liberal patrons of the press, but are foremost in every measure of public enterprise. In short, they are liberal and progressive; hence their success.
The name of H. W. Gillett is one of the best and most favorably known in Kansas business circles. The present large wholesale wine and liquor establishment is the outgrowth of a small wholesale house opened in '59 under the firm name of H. W. Gillett & Co. The company being Hon. A. C. Wilder, afterwards representing Kansas in Congress. About three years since, Mr. Gillett, who had been then for some time, sole proprietor, moved to his present quarters--No. 209 Delaware street, in one of the finest blocks in the city, the entire four stories of which is filled with one of the most extensive, finest selected stocks of foreign and domestic wines, liquors and cigars, in Kansas, or the West. Mr. Gillett rectified the first barrel of whisky ever taken through that process in Kansas, and he is largely engaged in the rectifying business at present. He has been very prosperous, and deservedly so, for he is one of our most popular and estimable citizens. At some time during the war his annual sales amounted to considerable more than a quarter of a million of dollars. Though war prices are no longer obtained, Mr. Gillett's business is still very extensive and profitable.
The commercial cities of Europe long strove for the East India trade, but to Leavenworth is assigned the honor of ascendency in dealings with the Red man. The extent of Messrs. Durfee & Peck's business in the Upper Missouri region, where the warlike Sioux wage unceasing warfare with the buffalo and other savage prey; and in the Indian Territory, where the influence of civilized neighbors is not sufficiently strong to restrain the nomadic aborigine from treading in the footprint of his fore-fathers, is already known to our readers. Every summer the spoils of these primitive Nimrods are gathered by the daring employees of this firm at their various posts in the Upper Missouri waters, and despatched to business headquarters in this city. These shipments continued during the season, result in an accumulation of hides and peltries in their warehouse which may be numbered by thousands. In the fall these furry spoils are carefully assorted and baled, and shipped to New York for sale. Notwithstanding the constant encroachment of the white man upon the immemorial hunting grounds of the Indian, and the threatened extermination of the buffalo, we are informed by Mr. Durfee that no diminution in his business is yet apparent. Another important branch of the business of this house is the keeping of sutler posts at the many military stations on our western frontier, by order of the Secretary of War. This renders them large purchasers of liquors, groceries, dry goods, cutlery, etc., and it is greatly to the credit of Mr. Durfee that whenever he can make his purchases of the merchants and manufacturers of this city, he invariably gives them the preference. We mentioned in our notice of the Eagle Woolen Mills, that establishment were running off cloths for Durfee & Peck's Indian trade. In addition to these important branches, this enterprising house is also an extensive owner of the Northwestern Transportation Company's stock, and several of the finest vessels that stem the turbid waters of the Upper Missouri were built by this house. We may mention that this firm is deservedly popular throughout the West, as fairness and liberality characterize all their dealings. The location of their headquarters in this city is also a great advantage to Leavenworth, as their business affords employment for many men, and their disbursements among our merchants are quite liberal.
One year ago, the above firm purchased the interest of Philip Koehler, in what was then known as the Elkhorn Mills. It was then regarded as one of the best flouring mills in the Missouri Valley, but the new firm intended to make it one of the most complete in all its appointments west of St. Louis. How well they have succeeded it is only necessary to pay a brief visit to the establishment to determine. They more than doubled its capacity to begin with, and in additions and improvement in other particulars have expended over $10,000 during the past year. They now have six run of burr stones constantly grinding wheat, and one run of stone for cornmeal. There is no cessation in the running of the mill night or day, and it has been idle from unavoidable causes, not more than ten days since the firm of Hensley, Skelton & Co. assumed possession. It turns out, every twenty-four hours, 800 barrels of flour, and has paid on in a single day at times during the past season, as high as $2,500 for wheat. They have manufactured into flour, since the change of proprietorship, about 200,000 bushels of wheat, and have shipped large quantities of flour to the St. Louis market. The arrangement of this mill is perfect. From the eighty-horse power engine, Estes' patent, (a Leavenworth institution, and a very creditable one by the way), to the smutters and separators in the third story, everything is perfect. Every grain of wheat is ground three times, and traverses the entire building by the aid of machinery, two complete trips. From the time it disappears through the front door in the hopper car an is dropped into the bins, it never is seen again till it appears in the shape of flour. The bran is spouted into the warehouse after every atom of flour is separated from it. Indeed, so perfect is the separation of flour from the bran, that a man dressed in black broadcloth might wallow in it without being perceptibly whitened. Hensley, Skelton & Co.'s mill is a Leavenworth institution, of which her citizens may well be proud.
The building of pleasure vehicles is an important industry in this city, and a large proportion of the handsome carriages which line our streets and avenues on a fine day, are the handiwork of our own tasteful workmen, Messrs. Cretors & Potter are among the foremost of our carriage builders; their light and elegant vehicles being on exhibition of the State, and never failing to carry the blue ribbon. Both are practical mechanics, and are devoting their energies to establishing a home(?) for honest work, which will redound to the credit of the city. We may mention that a park phaeton, built by Mr. N. J. Waterman, of this city, is a specimen of vehicular architecture that is but rarely surpassed. We are pleased to see that such honesty and devotion are attracting due recognition. Their shops are always filled with skillful workmen, and orders come in faster than they can be filled. Their factory is on Delaware street, between Fifth and Sixth.
Among the leading retail grocery houses of this city that of Smith & Bro., No. 206 Delaware street, holds the front rank. Some two years ago they reorganized their business by giving up their wholesale trade, in which they found collections slow, and adopted an exclusively retail business. To render this change successful, they offered to the private consumer goods at the same price they had formerly sold to dealers. This practice being honestly carried out and extensively advertised through the papers, brought such an immense trade to their store that their customers could not be waited upon. A revolution in the city grocery trade was the result of this innovation. Where rival merchants compete for public patronage, he who offers the best advantages is the one who succeeds. Their dealings, also, are characterized with undeviating fairness. Their prices are uniform, and a child sent on an errand the that store is served to the same advantage as the most exacting adult. We are pleased to see such a system rewarded with public patronage. A. T. Stewart made a fortune by pursuing just such a course. It may be added, they have a commanding location, carry a heavy and well selected stock of goods, and attend to their business with an assiduity which commands success. Seest(?) thou a man diligent in his business? He shall stand before kings.
This firm is one of the oldest mercantile institutions in Kansas, having been established in 1855. At first the firm dealt exclusively in cigars and tobacco, but in 1858 a large stock of wines and liquors was added, and Messrs. Haas & Co. then became classed as wholesale liquor merchants, and moved from Cherokee street to Main street. They now occupy the entire building at No. 62 Main street, and carry an immense stock of the purest liquors and finest cigars. In 1858 and 1859, while the Colorado gold excitement was at its greatest fervor; the firm had a branch establishment at Denver and carried on a flourishing business. Subsequently they consolidated the Denver stock with the Leavenworth stock, and are now giving their entire attention to the store in this place.
The reasons for the success of Messrs. Haas & Co. are obvious--they ever keep a varied and extensive stock, and always sell cheap. They are honorable and liberal in their dealings, and are besides exceedingly pleasant and affable gentlemen to trade with. They are likewise possessed of that untiring energy which chrracterizes (characterizes) the Leavenworth wholesale merchant, and continue to reach out for still more business. Since the opening of the Atchison & Nebraska Railroad. Messrs. Haas & Co. have secured much of the business that formerly enriched the dealers of St. Joseph. Since the extension of the iron rail northward from this city into the fertile country of Southern Nebraska, the merchants of St. Joseph have been obliged to relinquish their hold on a trade that once was profitable to them. This is chiefly due to the fact that merchants of Nebraska can receive their goods much quicker from Leavenworth than from St. Joseph. Goods shipped from the latter point are delayed on account of difficulties which attend the transfer across the Missouri River, and in the winter season these delays are prolonged, and very disasrous (disastrous?) to the country merchant.
the oldest hardware establishment in Leavenworth and one of the pioneer firms of Kansas. The foregoing sentence alone indicates success and a business of the most substantial character. Their place of business is in the three-story brick building on the southwest corner of Delaware and Third streets. The firm has not changed members from the start, and will probably remain as J. F. Richards & Co. as long as John Richards and Col. Conover live. Next year they will enlarge their business by taking out the two-story brick which intervenes between the main building and the alley, and build up even with their own store room. The addition will be used as a sample room for the display of wares, and a business office.
In the hardware business Leavenworth does not follow but leads. J. F. Richards & Co., and Brace & Baker sell more hardware in Kansas than either St. Louis or Chicago, and twice as much as Kansas City. It is conceded by dealers throughout Kansas that Leavenworth is the best hardware market in the west, and that the hardware houses of this city carry the best assorted and most extensive stocks to be found anywhere in the Great Valley.
Of J. F. Richards & Co. too much cannot be said. The members of the firm are not only fair and honorable business men who have exhibited the greatest degree of energy, but they have been first and foremost in every measure of public progress. The noisy boasts of rival towns do not shake their faith in Leavenworth. They go on the same as ever, soliciting orders and filling bills. They find a market for their wares in Colorado, in Utah, in Wyoming, in Texas, in Missouri and in Nebraska. Last September, while visiting Salt Lake City, Utah, we noticed in the office room of the Townsend House an elegant Macneale & Urban safe with the name, "J. F. Richards & Co., Leavenworth, Kansas," gilded upon the front plate. On inquiry we ascertained that John Richards had been there receiving orders. The advertisement alone which Leavenworth receives by such enterprising firms benefits the city in no small degree.
Speaking of these safes, we understand that Messrs. Richards & Co. have sold one hundred and fifty during the past year. They have been sold in Jacksboro, Texas; Denver and Fort Lyon, Colorado; Cheyenne, Wyoming; Corinne, Utah; Kansas City, Mo., and in all towns of note in the west. This hardware firm is also agent for Fairbank' Scales, and in this line has done a large business.
The gentleman whose name heads this sketch, is doing a large business handling fruits. He is a thorough going western man, having made his home in Texas in 1859, and in Colorado at a later date. In 1866, after looking over the advantages possessed by the different western cities, he settled down in Leavenworth, and commenced selling fruit and confectioneries in a modest stand on Fifth street. From the beginning, prosperity attended his efforts, and he enlarged his stock and secured more commodious quarters at the corner of Cherokee and Fifth streets. Within the past two years his trade in fruits--apples especially--has assumed vast proportions, and rendered a still further enlargement of quarters necessary. Therefore he has decided to erect a spacious building next year, on the site now occupied by his store, in order to accommodate the trade which his enterprise and honorable dealing have secured. In order to show the prominence of Leavenworth as a fruit depot, it is only necessary to recite the fact that Mr. Cribbs' sales in Denver, Colorado, alone, last season, exceeded the sum of ten thousand dollars. All the prominent towns along the Kansas Pacific L. L. & G. and M, K. & T. R. R. have been supplied in the same proportion from his fruit establishment.
conduct a real estate and land agency in the First National Bank building, on Fourth street. The firm was organized August, 1868, although Mr. Howell has been a resident of Leavenworth ten years or more, and is well posted on Kansas lands. Mr. Jones has had vast experience in the real estate business, and altogether the firm occupies a high position in real estate circles. Their lands are situated in all parts of Kansas. They are agents for some of the finest farms in Leavenworth, Douglas, Jefferson and Jackson counties, and report their transactions of a character most gratifying. In city property Messrs. Jones & Howell do a very large business, buying and selling constantly, and industriously representing the advantages of Kansas soil and climate to capitalists abroad. Of the future the gentlemen of this agency speak very encouragingly, and predict a lively demand for city lots on the immediate completion of the bridge. They active representative citizens, and have contributed their full share to the general prosperity of Leavenworth.
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