F.W. Schultz Road-Scrapers
Patent No. 155, 759.
Patented Oct. 6, 1874.
F.W. Schultz
per Alexander Amason, Attorneys
Henry N. Miller
C.L. Evert

Click to view the Patent.

Patent signed by: Friedrich Wilhelm Schultz.
Witnesses: Jno. S. Woolson, T.L. Beers.

1892 Sanborn map,
showing where the factory was located in Mt. Pleasant.

Click to view larger image.
May McClure Kelley, Written September 13, 1945.

The story of the founding of the Western Wheeled Scraper Co. 1877.
Now the Austin-Western Manufacturing Co.
As the last remaining member of the original group of families old enough to remember, I feel it devolves upon me to tell the interesting story of the foundation and start of the Western Wheeled Scraper Co., the discovery and purchase of the patent, the formation of the company, and the original owners. A story so interwoven with family history, of life-long friendships and loyalty.

It is necessary I think, to go back a bit in this to the coming from Kentucky with his young wife from North Carolina as pioneers to the territory of Iowa in 1835, of Asbury Porter. He was one of three men who met and formed the little town they named Mt. Pleasant from the ascent from the Mississippi River. The little town grew and flourished. Asbury Porter became a member of the territorial legislature and rode on horseback to Iowa City to attend the sessions. His family flourished too, for unto him was born three sons and four daughters.

In the course of time Emily, the eldest daughter, met and married a young doctor fresh from the University of Pennsylvania Medical School, Dr. A.W. McClure. Young men in the young town were numerous, and Luzenia, the second daughter, married Warren Beckwith of Rochester, New York, out to seek his fortune with the new railroad. Luzenia lived to bear five children and died, and after a few years Mr. Beckwith married the third daughter Sarah Elizabeth, and much later Jane the youngest married James P. Bean of Ohio, a young civil engineer on the C. B. Q.

When the Civil War broke out and continued after the first ninety days, the Governor of Iowa commissioned Asbury Porter as Colonel to organize and equip the 4th Iowa Cavalry, and in that regiment was his son Capt. Watson B. Porter, Captain Warren Beckwith son-in-law, Dr. A. W. McClure, surgeon with rank of Major, also son-in-law, and Captain Charles H. Smith. These men fought through the War and came out of it with the close intimate ties of friendship that fighting for a worth(y) cause brings. The friendship lasted through-out their lives; a friendship as close and dear as brothers.

The reunions of the “4th” were the big events through the years in this small town. All three homes kept open house, entertainments were arranged, meetings with speakers and songs, dances in the town hall and Captains energy and enthusiasm made them all outstanding events, the children too took part, and Martha McClure made her first public appearance and spoke when she responded to the toast, to “the daughters of the regiment”, and reading it over today it is a fine, witty and worthy effort. Martha McClure, interested as all the family in Republican politics, spent 17 years in her state as Vice Chairman of the State Central Committee and 14 years as Republican National Committee woman.

In Dr. McClure’s practice, he took care of a family named Shultz, living down the hill not far from his home, Herman Shultz was a dying man and worried over the outlook for his family after his death. He told the doctor that he had built and patented a wheeled scraper for railroad work that if he could sell his patent his family would be safe and he could die in peace.

Dr. McClure, noted for his kind heart, at once started out to relieve his patient by selling the patent. He called young Jim Bean down to examine it and Jim took fire at once and rushed off to see Captains Smith and Beckwith, who called in another contractor Jesse Stubbs and the patent was bought and Company formed. Jesse Stubbs was in but a short time, he failed on one of his railroad contracts and was obliged to sell his stock.

Dr. McClure had money in bank waiting to buy a farm. Beckwith & Smith knew of it and wanted him to buy the stock to keep the bank from getting it. Now, a doctor is seldom a business man and Dr. McClure was no exception to the rule; his heart was in his profession. On the other hand, the Doctor’s wife Emily, and Warren Beckwith’s wife Sarah were both bright women with keen mind; so Dr. McClure left the decision to his wife who had faith in the men and saw a bright future ahead, and Dr. McClure became the third member and owner of the new factory.

The first building was a small, brown frame building with open stairway just north of the depot. I mention the stairway and landing because when the factory became a growing concern, the McClure and Beckwith girls, just coming into womanhood, got the jobs of mailing out the catalogues when we were not on the stairs watching the incoming passenger trains. Our young Aunt Jane, being left a widow, had become a stenographer and was Mr. Smith’s secretary. She would often call us into work with the warning “You’ll lose your jobs,” at which we just laughed, as we knew Mr. Smith wouldn’t discharge us.

As the factory grew, room for expansion was necessary, better buildings, more ground, better shipping facilities and it was decided to move the plant to Aurora in 1891, where it now stands a monument to these three enterprising men and their descendants, who have carried on.

In the early days in Aurora, Wm. Fitch Kelley, husband of Dr. McClure’s daughter May (myself) was asked by Mr. Smith to become legal advisor to the firm. Mr. Kelley was in practice of law with an older lawyer (sic) Zenio M. Labert. An old, experienced man who had been assistant secretary of the treasury under a Republican president, he was happy in his work and with a happy social life in Lincoln, Nebraska, and he declined the offer and Judge Washington Irving Babb, a warm personal friend of all three men, was given the position, which proved to be fortunate for all concerned.

Mr. Smith in Aurora purchased a lovely home where with his talent for friendship and for hospitality he kept open house. Nothing was too good for his family and his friends and Mrs. Smith, a tiny lovable little woman, kept the great house going with guests always in the house in a marvelous way; the three girls had a governess in the house till they went away to Eastern Schools. Mr. Smith had a box at the Chicago Opera always filled with the families, numerous dinners and theatres in the city, and one time in 1893, World’s Fair year, he took us all to the Fair on a tally-ho coach. The day proved cold, so by the time we reached the grounds, he had to hurry us to the White House Inn and filled our aching bodies with hot food.

Dr. McClure and Mr. Beckwith died in 1905, a month apart, and Mr. Smith died in 1910, and Judge Babb was elected to the presidency to fill his place and the Board of Directors was composed of the nine women, wives and daughters of the three founders, a remarkable thing in the history of any firm and much publicized.

It was under Judge Babb’s regime that Charles Sencenbaugh, husband of Stella Smith, came into the picture as a liaison man between the Western and the Austin, a competing firm that had been purchased with Mr. W. T. Beatty heading that factory at Harvey, Illinois, and he was heart and soul for the Austin, with which he had been connected. Judge Babb was a man of rare humor. He loved a joke and he loved to keep an eye on W. T. and surprise him by knowing of what was going on at Harvey before W. T. saw fit to tell him, and he expected Charlie to help him in that way.

The meetings of the Austin in the Wrigley Building were really social affairs. Mr. Beatty was a cultured, gracious man and we were as apt to talk of books or the opera (his sister was Madame Louise Homer, whom we all admire) or politics, as of business.

Judge Babb died and Mr. Atwood took his place. Mr. Atwood was a pleasant, considerate but conservative man with little initiative, but the factory was still running under the impetus Mr. Smith had given it; so it still flourished.

Mr. W. T. Beatty died in 1933, and his brother S. F. became president of the Austin, and in 1934, the two factories were consolidated under Chas. Sencenbaugh, who succeeded Mr. Atwood.

The Austin moved to Aurora with business offices in the city.

At the election of Chas. Sencenbaugh occurred the only unpleasantness in the whole life of the factories. Mr. S. F. Beatty and Mr. Sencenbaugh were both aspirants for the presidency. The McClures held the balance of power, but as a united firm, it had never been used in that way.

The Beckwith sons had all held positions several times each, and none had cared for business. My sister and I now felt McClure Kelley should have his turn. He was a highly educated young man holding diplomas from St. Albans preparatory school, Princeton University, the summer course at the old 12th Century University at Grenoble, France, the Sorbonne and a law degree from George Washington University, Washington DC. He was licensed to practice in the Courts of the District of Columbia, as well as before the Supreme bench, had held a position in the Department of Justice for two years, was married and one child, so I felt he should have a position in the factory and I was prepared to fight for it.
Mrs. Beckwith’s idea was to elect S. F. Beatty president and Dennis Grady to be given a responsible position; she would not hear of anything else. I went to Mr. Sencenbaugh and told him our vote was his, if he would give my son the chance, he himself had had. Mrs. Beckwith was angry, but very soon the trouble faded and friendship prevailed.

After Mr. Sencenbaugh, Mr. S. F. Beatty became president where he remained until he felt his health needed attention and retired to his estate in Virginia. Mr. Sencenbaugh was chairman of the Board and it was during his presidency that Mr. Foulke’s death and then (a) treasurer’s in a matter of ten years.

The friendship of the three founders had never been marred by their descendants. Of the children of the founders, only three are living: Warren W. Beckwith of La Jolla, California; Stella Smith Sencenbaugh and myself. But the third generation is represented by the grandson of one of the founders Dr. McClure; and his children, Joyce, Andrew McClure and Alexander Kelley are continuing the friendship, and I , their grandmother are looking forward to the time the two Kelley boys follow in the footsteps of their father and their grandfather.

Before closing this story, I want to speak a word in memory of the faithful men in the Mt. Pleasant shop who followed the factory to Aurora and remained with it till death. Mr. Frank Worthington, for many years our trusted treasurer. Mr. Till Bereman, who was bookkeeper and he and his family warm personal friends. Mr. Chas. Rukgaber and the newer ones, Mr. McClay and Mr. Foulke.

Of the workmen there were many loyal, true, but they are all gone now to their reward, but not forgotten by those of us left to carry on.
May McClure Kelley
Transcribed by Alayna Vantiger, UNI intern, April 2021.
The Western Wheeled Scraper Company was a huge employer in Mt. Pleasant, then moved to Aurora, Illinois in 1891, taking the business and many employees with them.

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