|In the matter of public credit, Lee County has always sustained an
unquestionable reputation, as may be seen in the ease with which her
bonds have been refunded at a lower rate of interest. The be- ginning
of the bonded debt dates back to January 1, 1857, when the county
issued bonds to the amount of $450,000, bearing 8 per cent interest per
annum, to aid in the construction of certain railroads. The people of
that day may have made a mistake in voting this indebtedness upon the
county, but it must be remembered that there was a crying need for some
outlet for the county's products, and the construction of railroads
seemed to be the logical solution of the problem. Perhaps no better
history of this bonded debt could be written than that contained in the
county auditor's report for the year 19 1 3, in which he says:
"The County of Lee originally became indebted, and issued its
negotiable bonds in the sum of $450,000 under date of January 1, 1857,
bearing 8 per cent interest payable semi-annually, in aid of certain
railroads. The indebtedness above mentioned, together with the costs
and unpaid interest accrued, amounted to $1,078,415.63, of which amount
$252,415.63 was settled for in cash, and the payment of the balance was
made by an issue of compromise bonds to the amount of $826,400 bearing
date of March 1, 1870, with interest at the rate of 6 per cent per
annum. The balance of the Lee County 25-vear 6 per cent compromise
bonds, amounting to $660,000, matured on March 1, 1895.
"Under date of March 1, 1895, said $660,000 of 6 per cent bonds were
refunded by a new issue of $660,000 4^2 per cent bonds, maturing on
March i, 1915, redeemable at the option of the county after March 1,
"On March 1, 1900, there were $550,000 of the issue of March 1, 1895,
still outstanding, $110,000 of this issue having been paid off and
cancelled. At this time it was deemed advisable and to the best
interests of the county, that the remaining $550,000 \Y 2 per cent
bonds be refunded by a new issue of serial bonds bearing 3^4 per cent
interest per annum, thus effecting a saving in interest.
"Accordingly, on November 16, 1900, the board of supervisors entered
into a contract with N. W. Harris & Company, of Chicago, Illinois,
for the refunding of the said $550,000 outstanding \V 2 per cent
Compromise bonds. The accrued interest on the
above issue has been paid up to December 1, 1913. Bonds to the
amount of $315,000 of the above issue have been paid off, leaving a
balance of $235,000 outstanding on January 1, 1914."
On August 1, 1910, the board of supervisors issued $50,000 in bonds to
refund certain outstanding obligations incurred in the construction and
repair of bridges. The bonds, known as "bridge funding bonds," were
made payable at certain stated times, and on January 1, 1914, there
were still $35,000 of this indebtedness outstanding, making the total
bonded debt of the county $270,000.
And what security has the bondholder for the ultimate payment of his
claim against the county? The answer is that these bonds constitute a
lien upon all the taxable property of the citizens of Lee County. That
property is assessed for taxation at about one-fourth of its actual
value. Even at that low figure the assessed value of the property in
1913 was $11,075,302, distributed among the several municipalities and
townships as follows:
|City of Fort Madison
|City of Keokuk
|Des Moines Township
|Green Bay Township
|Pleasant Ridge Township
|Van Buren Township
|West Point Township
In the above table the assessments of the incorporated towns are
included in the townships in which they are located and the assessment
of Madison Township is included in that of Fort Madison city.
Notwithstanding the custom of assessing the property for taxation at
about twenty-five per cent of its real value, the tax duplicate for
1913 shows that the county has nearly five dollars of collateral for
each dollar of bonded indebtedness. If the actual value of the property
be taken into consideration, the collateral amounts to nearly twenty
dollars for each dollar of outstanding bonds.
The first bank in Lee County was opened at Keokuk in 1846 by George C.
Anderson, in connection with his wholesale grocery and supply house on
the corner of Second and Johnson streets. It was a private bank and was
at first conducted as a sort of broker's office, but after a short time
Mr. Anderson devoted his entire attention to the business of the bank,
continuing in that line of activity until his death in 1867. Alexander
Barclay & Company then succeeded Mr. Anderson. Mr. Barclay died in
1871 and the affairs of the bank were soon afterward liquidated.
In 1852 Charles Parsons opened a bank in Keokuk. His first place of
business was on Main Street, two doors east of Second. Later he removed
to the southeast corner of Second and Main streets, where he continued
until his bank was forced to suspend in the panic of 1857.
Late in the year 1852 or early in 1853, Granville B. Smith &
Company opened a bank in Keokuk. Fitz Henry Warren, A. D. Green and E.
H. Thomas, of Burlington, were members of this firm, which carried on a
successful banking business in Keokuk until in January, 1856, when the
original founders of the institution were succeeded by the firm of A.
L. Deming & Company.
Other early financial institutions of Keokuk were the banking houses of
Ford, Graham & Ford, which began business in June, 1856; Chapin
& Lee, who came from New York; Hatch & Thompson, from Kentucky;
Ficklin & Lucas, all of whom began business prior to the financial
crash of 1857, when most of them wound up their affairs and went out of
On February 4, 1858, the banking house of Rix, Hale & Company
opened its doors for the transaction of business and continued until
March 3, 1862, when Mr. Hale was elected cashier of the Keokuk branch
of the Iowa State Bank and the exchange and deposit department of the
concern was discontinued.
Keokuk Banks in 1914
In the year 1 9 14 there were four banks in the city of Keokuk, to-wit:
The State Central Savings Bank, the Keokuk Savings Bank, the Keokuk
National Bank, and the Security State Bank.
The State Central Savings Bank is the successor of the old Keokuk
branch of the State Bank of Iowa, which first opened its doors on
September 25, 1858, with Samuel F. Miller as president and J. W.
McMillen as cashier. In 1865 it was reorganized under the national
banking laws as the State National Bank, with a capital stock of
$150,000. James F. Cox was the first president of the reorganized bank
and O. C. Hale continued as cashier. The bank was again reorganized in
1885, when it became the State Bank of Keokuk. In 1893 it was
consolidated with the Central Savings Bank, which had been organized in
1890, when it adopted its present name. The officers of the bank in 1 9
14 were: William Logan, president; George E. Rix and Wells W. Irwin,
vice presidents; C. J. Bode, cashier; H. T. Graham and H. B. Blood,
assistant cashiers. The capital stock of the bank at that time was
$200,000, the surplus an equal amount, and the deposits amounted to
On December 19, 1867, the Keokuk Savings Bank was incorporated under
the laws of Iowa, and it opened for business on February 10, 1868, with
an authorized capital of $100,000, one-half of which was paid up.
Edward Johnstone was the first president and William Thompson the first
cashier. A statement of the bank's condition, issued on September 1, 19
1 4, shows a capital stock of $100,000, surplus and undivided profits
of $185,000, and deposits of $1,065,000. The officers at that time were
as follows: A. E. Johnstone, president; Howard L. Connable, vice
president; F. W. Davis, cashier; Howard W. Wood, assistant cashier.
The Keokuk National Bank was organized on June 15, 1872, with William
Patterson, president; Edward F. Brownell, cashier, and a paid up
capital stock of $100,000. It is one of the substantial institutions of
the City of Keokuk, as shown by its statement of September 12, 1914,
when the capital stock was $100,000, the surplus and profits, $62,748,
and the deposits, $752,000. The officers then were: E. S. Baker,
president; A. E. Matless and Ira W. Wills, vice presidents; John A.
Dunlap, cashier, and E. R. Cochrane, assistant cashier.
The Security State Bank is the youngest in the city. It was organized
on February 15, 1913, with a capital stock of $100,000 and on September
1, 1914, reported undivided profits of $28,410. Its deposits at that
time amounted to about $220,000, and the officers were: W. B. Seeley,
president; J. B. Weil and Alois Weber, vice presidents; E. A. French,
cashier, and E. G. Weismann, assistant cashier. The bank occupies a
neat building at the corner of Eighth and Main streets.
Fort Madison Banks
In 1914 there were three banks in the City of Fort Madison, viz. : The
Fort Madison Savings Bank, the German-American Bank, and the Lee County
Savings Bank, all operating under the state laws.
The first bank in the city was established in the year 1854, as a
branch of the banking house of E. H. Thomas & Company, of
Burlington, with a Mr. Merrick in charge. Two years later the business
was purchased by John H. Knapp and George P. Eaton, under the firm name
of Knapp & Eaton, and they continued the business until the
institution was made a branch of the State Bank of Iowa in 1858. The
affairs of this bank were wound up in 1865, when it was succeeded by
the Fort Madison National Bank, which began business with John H.
Winterbotham as president and Clark R. Wever as cashier. On January 30,
1872, the national bank charter was surrendered and the concern was
reorganized as the Bank of Fort Madison under the state laws. The
stockholders of the reorganized bank were A. C. and Henry Cattermole,
John H. and J. R. Winterbotham and Clark R. Wever.
The First National Bank succeeded to the business of the Bank of Fort
Madison in 1888. In August, 1890, the same stockholders organized the
Fort Madison Savings Bank and the two banks were operated in connection
until 1895, when the First National was discontinued, the Fort Madison
Savings Bank taking over the business.
From a statement issued by the bank on September 1, 1914, it is learned
that the paid up capital is $30,000, the net surplus and profits amount
to $35,344, and the deposits were over $865,000. The officers at that
time were: D. A. Morrison, president; James C. Brewster, vice
president; J. A. S. Pollard, cashier; W. H. Rose and A. M. Lowrey,
The German-American State Bank was first organized as the
German-American Bank in April, 1876, by Henry and Arthur Cattermole,
George Schlapp, Joseph Deiman and H. D. McConn, with a capital stock of
$50,000. Henry Cattermole was the first president and H. D. McConn the
first cashier. In April, 191 3, it was reorganized as the
German-American State Bank, with a capital stock of $100,000. The
officers of the bank in 19 14 were as follows: Dr. Maurice Wahrer,
president; E. F. McKee, vice president; H. J. Kennedy, cashier; E. T.
Einspanjer, assistant cashier. Since its reorganization the bank has
accumulated undivided profits of $4,125, and in September, 1914,
reported deposits of about five hundred and sixty thousand dollars.
In 1888 the Lee County Savings Bank was organized with Samuel Atlee as
president; William G. Kent, vice president, and George M. Hanchett,
cashier. In 1914 William H. Atlee was president; W. N. Blackinton, vice
president; George M. Hanchett, cashier; Carl E. Stoeckle and Albert R.
Benbow, assistant cashiers. The original capital stock of $25,000 has
been increased to $50,000 and in September, 1914, the bank reported a
surplus of $10,000 and •deposits of $700,000.
The oldest bank in the county, outside of Keokuk and Fort Madison, is
the private bank of W. N. Blackinton, at Denmark, which was established
in 1894. As tms is a private institution and publishes no tatements
showing the condition of its business, it is impossible to give the
amount of capital or deposits.
In 1898 the Citizens Mutual Bank of Donnellson was founded with a
capital stock of $15,000. The officers in 1914 were: W. B. Seeley,
president; W. E. Dickey, vice president; G. W. Mattern, cashier/ At
that time the bank reported a surplus of $15,000 and deposits of
The next rural bank to be organized in Lee County was the Montrose
Savings Bank, which began business in 1903, with a capital stock of
$20,000. H. R. Younkin was president of the bank in 1914; C. H. Curtis,
vice president, and J. E. Lamb, cashier. At that time the surplus and
profits amounted to $2,000 and the deposits to $150,000.
Second Street Looking East From Market Street
Fort Madison, 1914
The Farmers and Citizens Bank of West Point was established in 1908,
with a capital stock of $15,000. The bank has a good patronage among
the neighboring farmers and in 1914 was officered by F. N. Smith,
president, and John Shepherd, cashier.
The Farmers Savings Bank of Wever was also organized in 1908, with a
capital stock of $12,000. On July 1, 1914, the officers of this bank
were as follows : H. E. Hyter, president; S. J. Hilleary, vice
president; A. J. Huebner, cashier; Emma D. Huebner, assistant cashier.
At that time the surplus and undivided profits amounted to $3,000 and
the deposits to $190,000.
In 1909 the Mount Hamill State Savings Bank was organized by some of
the citizens of that town and the immediate vicinity and began business
with a capital stock of $12,500. R. S. Pease was president of this bank
in 1914 and F. M. Geese was cashier. The surplus then amounted to
$1,400 and the deposits to $60,000.
The Pilot Grove Savings Bank was organized under the state laws in 191
1. The capital stock of this bank is $10,000, the surplus and profits,
$1,770, and the deposits, $102,000. The officers in 1914 were: B.
Dingman, president; Theodore Schinstock, vice president; John Hellman,
The Donnellson State Bank, the youngest financial institution in the
county, was organized in 191 3, with Henry Meinhardt, presi- dent; H.
C. Knapp, vice president; J. E. Krieger, cashier. These officers were
still in charge of the bank in 1914, when the deposits amounted to
about thirty thousand dollars. The capital stock of the bank is $25,000.
From the above statements it will be seen that the people of Lee County
have approximately eight millions of dollars on deposit in the local
banks, all of which are conservatively managed by experienced
financiers and command the confidence of their patrons and of other
bankers throughout the country.
Tilling the soil and raising live stock have always been the principal
occupations of the people of Lee County. From the small clearing in the
timber or the sod cornfield of the prairie in the latter '30s, the
county has gradually developed along agricultural lines until in 1913,
according to the Iowa Year Book, there were 2,009 farms, with an
average size of 136 acres. Figures are not always interesting reading,
but the story of a community's progress can often be better told by
statistics than in any other way. Adopting that method for the purpose
of showing the county's agricultural status, the following table has
been compiled from the reports of the principal crops as published in
the year book above mentioned:
Of the 277,242 acres in the 2,009 farms, 131,106 acres were given over
to the crops above enumerated. In addition to these products there were
approximately three thousand acres planted to orchards and about twice
that area devoted to the production of vegetables and small fruits.
The number of domestic animals on hand on July 1, 1913, included 12,401
horses, 714 mules, 47,580 hogs, 15,061 dairy cattle, 1,983 other cattle
and 17,487 sheep. Over nine thousand sheep were sold during the year
and the wool clip amounted to 44,946 pounds. Lee County ranks high as a
poultry raising community, reporting 238,946 fowl of all varieties, and
during the year 191 3 the production of eggs for the market reached
The State of Iowa, by the enactment of liberal laws, has done much to
encourage the agricultural and stock raising interests of the state.
One of these laws is that of 1907 regarding farmers' institutes. By
this act it is provided that: "When forty or more farmers of a county
organize a farmers' institute, with a president, secretary, treasurer
and an executive committee of not less than three outside of such
officers and hold an institute, remaining in session not less than two
days in each year, which institute may be adjourned from time to time
and from place to place in said county, the secretarv of the State
Board of Agriculture, upon the filing with him a report of such
institute and an itemized statement under oath showing that the same
has been organized and held and for what purposes the money expended
has been used, shall certify the same to the auditor of state, which
state auditor shall remit to the county treasurer of such county his
warrant for the amount so expended not to exceed seventy-five dollars,"
The act further provides that no officer of the county institute shall
receive any compensation for his services and that all reports must be
made to the secretary of the State Board of Agriculture by June 1st of
each year, or no money will be paid by the state to such institute as
fails to report.
Under the provisions of this act a farmers' institute has been
organized in Lee County, of which Joseph Carver was president in 1913,
and E. C. Lynn, county superintendent of schools, was secretary. The
meetings of the institute have been well attended, as a rule, and by
the interchange of ideas the farmers of the county are becoming more
and more up-to-date in their methods. Through the medium of these
institutes the influence of the agricultural college is being felt by
hundreds of farmers who are unable to attend the college in a regular
course of study, and the business of farming is gradually being placed
upon a more scientific basis. Other industries may be established and
flourish, but it is quite certain that for many years to come corn will
still be king in Lee County.
Probably the oldest manufacturing concern in Lee County, in point of
continuous operation, is the Fort Madison Plow Company. As early as
1847 S. D. Morrison came from New York to Fort Madison and began the
making of plows by hand. In the spring of 1854 J. H. West became a
partner and the firm of West & Morrison began operating on a larger
scale. This partnership lasted but about a year, when Mr. Morrison
withdrew and started in the business for himself. In 1865 his two sons,
J. B. and D. A. Morrison were taken into the firm and ten years later
the elder Morrison retired. In 1883 the Morrison Manufacturing ompany
was formed, and a few years ago the business was incorporated under the
name of the Fort Madison Plow Company. .The factory buildings cover
practically the entire square east of Broadway, facing the Mississippi
River, on the site of old Fort Madison. From fifteen to twenty thousand
plows of different varieties, cultivators and corn planters are turned
out annually. Most of these implements are sold in the states west of
the Mississippi River, though large shipments have been made to South
American countries. The company employs from one hun- dred and fifty to
two hundred men and the value of the annual out- put approximates four
hundred thousand dollars.
In 1854 Winterbotham & Jones began the manufacture of farming tools
in Fort Madison. They were succeeded by Soule, Davis & Company, who
enlarged the plant and extended their trade over a larger territory.
This firm was in turn succeeded by Soule, Kretsinger & Company and
in 1874 the Iowa Farming Tool Company was incorporated. Special
attention was then given to the production of three hand farming tools,
viz. : Forks, hoes and rakes. Since the year 1900 the business has
practically doubled in volume and the goods made by this company are
shipped to every state in the Union, Australia, Japan, South Africa,
South America and several European countries. The concern is now a
branch of the American Fork and Hoe Company, employs about three
hundred men and turns out about two million forks, hoes and rakes
Another early industry of Fort Madison was the manufacture of brick and
tile, an abundance of fine clay being found in the immediate vicinity
of the city. Among the pioneer brick makers were Reichelt Brothers,
Frederick Brothers & Adriance, Herminghausen Brothers, the
Wiggenjost Brick Works and Bartel & Stellern. The most important of
those in 1 914 were the Stellern yards, on the Denmark road just
outside the city limits, owned by Henry Stellern, and the Reichelt
Pressed Brick and Tile Works, a mile from the city on the Burlington
road. Julius Reichelt, proprietor. This is the oldest yard in the
vicinity of the city, established in 1867. in the last named yards the
Reichelt rotary pressed brick machines are used. These machines are
manufactured by Reichelt & Willmesmeier and shipped to brick makers
all over the country. The capacity of the Stellern plant, when running
full time, is 25,000 brick and tile daily. That of the Reichelt plant
is 10,000 brick and 15,000 feet of tile.
About 1870 Soule, Davis & Company began the manufacture of chairs
in connection with their farming tool works. In 1876 this branch of the
business was reorganized as the Fort Madison Chair Company. The
original half-dozen patterns were increased to about one hundred and
fifty different styles and employment was given to 150 people in the
factory, besides home employment was given to quite a number of boys
and girls in "caning" the seats and backs at their homes. The market
for the products covers the whole Southwest and the annual product
amounts to about one hundred and seventy-five thousand dollars.
Shortly after the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad was
completed through Lee County the Fort Madison Iron Works were
established in the western part of the city for the manufacture of car
wheels and carried on a successful business for a number of years, when
the concern was absorbed by the wheel trust. The Fort Madison factory
was then closed and the buildings stood idle for some time. In 1914,
through the influence of the Fort Madison First Association, the Acme
Manufacturing Company, makers of chandeliers and novelties in brass
work, took possession of the old plant and remodeled it to adapt it to
the new line of business.
Top photo is Pine Street Looking South to the River
Bottom photo is Pine Street looking toward river from Second Street
Taken in the latter 1870s
The Brown Paper Company was formed as the Fort Madison Paper Company in
1882 and buildings for the manufacture of straw wrapping and building
paper were erected in the western part of the city. Several additions
have been made to the original mill and after the completion of the
Keokuk dam, electric power was introduced, the current being supplied
by the Mississippi River Power Company. About thirty or forty tons of
straw are used daily, producing from twenty to twenty-five tons of the
Some years ago the Fort Madison Packing Company erected a fine packing
house, but, owing to the tendency of the great packers to concentrate
their business in the larger cities, the plant continued in operation
but a short time. Subsequently the Charles Wissmath & Son Packing
Company, of St. Louis, obtained control of and thoroughly remodeled the
plant, making one of the best establish- ments of the kind on the
Mississippi. It opened under the new management in September, 1906.
There is one manufacturing concern in Fort Madison that cannot be
passed over, and that is the sawmill and lumber business of Samuel and
J. C. Atlee. This business was started by the late J. C. Atlee in 1852.
Two years later he built the first steam sawmill in Fort Madison and
this was enlarged until the annual cut of lumber was 20,000,000 feet.
The saw and planing mills and lumber yards cover thirty acres of ground
in the southwestern part of the city and the firm owns three steamboats
that are used in towing logs down the river from the northern pineries
or in carrying lumber to other mar- kets. The Atlee sawmill is the last
on the Mississippi River below St. Paul to continue in operation, but
with the building of the great power dam at Keokuk the river has been
backed up until the water interferes with the mill and no lumber was
sawed during the year 1914.
One of the latest manufactories to be established in Fort Madison is
the Fort Madison Shoe Manufacturing Company, which was brought to the
city through the efforts of the Fort Madison First Association in the
summer of 1914. At a meeting held at the Commercial Club rooms on
August 9, 1914, the Popel-Giller Building at the corner of Union and
Santa Fe avenues was secured for the factory, and a week or two later
the company was organized by the election of A. P. Brown, president; H.
F. Stempel, Jr., vice president; Henry Heying, secretary, and J. E.
Hoffman, of Chicago, manager.
In the spring of 1912 W. A. Sheaffer, of Fort Madison, began the
manufacture of fountain pens. For a time his factory was located on the
third floor of the building at the northeast corner of Second and Pine
streets, but in 1914 a new building was erected at the corner of Front
and Broadway, expressly for a pen factory. The products of this concern
are sold all over the country and the business is constantly increasing.
Other Fort Madison factories are the Fort Madison Button Company, which
uses from one thousand to one thousand five hundred tons of mussel
shells every year in cutting button blanks, which are sent to
Burlington to be finished; the Boekenkamp foundry, at the corner of
Vine and Water streets; several cigar factories; a horse collar
factory; a canning factory, and a number of minor concerns producing
The first stove made in Iowa and the first locomotive built in the
state were manufactured in the City of Keokuk. In the spring of 1855
Atwood & Estes established a stove factory, which employed about
thirty men, and the first stove was finished on July 4, 1855. The
factory had a capacity of about four thousand stoves annually.
The locomotive was built at the shops of the Des Moines Valley Railroad
and was completed in October, 187.5. Every particle of it was made
under the supervision of the master mechanic and it was distinctly a
Keokuk product. This locomotive weighed twenty-four tons and the cost
Other Keokuk factories established along in the '50s were the furniture
factory of Kilbourne & Davis, which employed at one time seventy
men; Knowles' wagon shops, which employed thirty men and boasted "a
wagon a day;" Thomas Wickersham & Sons' foundry and machine works,
which made a specialty of sawmill machinery and employed about sixty
persons; the boiler factory of Edward Welchman.
In the fall of 1849, $• S. Vail & Company began operating a foundry
and machine shop on the corner of Sixth and Blondeau streets. About a
year later Aaron Vail became a member of the firm and in 1856 the works
were removed to new buildings on the corner of Ninth and Johnson
streets, at which time the name was changed to "Buckeye Foundry."
Several changes in ownership, or in the personnel of the firm, occurred
during the next decade. From 1865 to 1870 the plant was conducted under
the management of Vail, Armitage & Company, which firm was
succeeded by Sample, Mc- Elroy & Company. Still later the concern
became known as the McElroy Iron Works. The plant is now operated by
the Keokuk Hydraulic Tire Setter Company, which manufactures the Little
Giant tire setter, steam generators, metal tanks, fire escapes and
The Irwin-Phillips Company, located at the corner of Second and Main
streets, employs a large number of women and girls in the manufacture
of shirts, overalls and corduroy clothing. The capital stock of this
company is $350,000 and the products of the factory are shipped to all
parts of the West and South.
Several years ago the Decker Manufacturing Company located in Keokuk
and began the manufacture of curry combs, hog rings, ringers and
hardware novelties. With the expansion of their trade the old quarters
became too cramped and in 191 1 a new, three-story brick building, with
21,000 square feet of floor space, was erected at the corner of Third
and Blondeau streets. It is one of the substantial and model factories
When the American Rice & Cereal Company commenced business in
Keokuk, making rolled oats, grits, cracked rice, etc., it employed
sixty people and consumed two carloads of corn and one of oats daily.
It has been superseded by the Purity Oats Company, which employs more
than twice the number of people as its predecessor and ships cereal
food products to all parts of the country. The works are located on the
levee near the foot of Johnson Street.
One of the largest manufacturing concerns of Lee County is the Huiskamp
Brothers Shoe Company, of Keokuk. This business was established in
1854, by B. F. Moody, in a comparatively small building on Main Street.
Mr. Moody was succeeded by the firm of Huiskamp & Hambleton, which
in turn was succeeded by Huiskamp Brothers. In 1887 the business was
incorporated under the name of the Huiskamp Brothers Shoe Company. The
Keokuk factory occupies the large building at the corner of Second and
Johnson streets, and the company also has another factory at Warsaw,
Illinois. The two factories employ about nine hundred people. Forty
traveling salesmen cover practically all the United States, except New
England, and the annual product of the two establishments amounts to
The Mills-Ellsworth Company, makers of buggy shafts and bent wood
products, was formerly located on ground that became overflowed when
the power dam was built across the Mississippi. Arrangements were under
way to remove the works to some other city when the Keokuk Industrial
Association came to the rescue, secured a new location for the company
on Commercial Alley, and contributed to the erection of a new factory
building, thus preserving the industry to the city.
Through the influence of the Industrial Association, the American
Cement Machine Company was brought to Keokuk from Madison, Wisconsin,
and permanently established at 1020 Johnson Street. This company makes
machines for mixing concrete and contractors' equipment, and although
in Keokuk but a short time arrangements were being made in September,
1914, for the erection of a large addition to the factory.
Another recent addition to the factories of the city is the John DeWitt
Washing Machine Company. Mr. DeWitt was formerly the manager of the
Keokuk Industrial Association. While working with that organization to
secure new factories he became interested in the manufacture of washing
machines, and to show his faith in the representations the Industrial
Association had made to other manufacturers, he located in Keokuk.
In addition to the establishments above mentioned, there are a number
of smaller factories in the city. Among these are the Thomas Brothers
Company, which makes gasoline engines and does a general machine shop
business; the Hawkeye Pearl Button Company, which employs about two
hundred people during the busy seasons in the manufacture of button
blanks; the Keokuk Canning Company occupies a large plant on Johnson
Street and employs quite a number of people in the production of
pickles and canned goods; the Ayer Manufacturing Company, which makes
certain classes of agricultural implements; August C. Wustrow's wagon
shops; and the Keokuk Brick & Tile Company, which turns out large
quantities of the finest building brick and thousands of feet of tiling
Keokuk also manufactures kitchen cabinets, cream separators, brooms,
proprietary medicines, paper boxes and mailing tubes, cigars, cooperage
and numerous other articles. Many of these products are shipped to other states, while a few are made only in small
quantities for local consumption.
Keokuk and Fort Madison are the manufacturing centers of the county.
The Keokuk Industrial Association and the Fort Madison First
Association, are composed of active, energetic citizens, who are always
on the alert for an opportunity to secure the location of a new
factory. Their labors have already begun to bear fruit and the
probabilities are that the next decade will see the manufacturing
interests of both cities make substantial gains.
of Lee County,
Iowa, by Dr. S. W. Moorhead and Nelson C. Roberts, 1914