Muscatine County, Iowa
Muscatine Journal & News-Tribune
Centennial Edition
31 May 1940

Section 6 - Page 20, Submitted by Shirley Plumb, June 12, 2012

Pioneers In Wood Work

Photo ~ These men worked at the Huttig factory back in 1896 when President Cleveland was in the White House and everyone conceded that the automobile never would replace the horse. Old-timers are able to identify a number of the faces. Among those in the top row are Israel Kintzle, William Eutsler, George Butz, Louis Epperly, Art Chaudoin, Phillip Nischwitz, Sam Mark, August Platte, John Hoffman, Ralph Peck, and Mr. Bishop, who is at the extreme left.

Among those in the second row from the top are Wayne McKinney, Frank Kintzle, Henry Hessler, William Ripson, Jack Richardson, John Pauley, Ed Bretz and William Schad.

Charles Figg is in the third row from the top and Andy Wettendorf is at the extreme left in third row. Men identified in the front row are Bill Hiezel and John Fick.

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Two Veteran Wood Workers Are Convinced
Old Adage Concerning Rolling Stone Carries Truth

There’s truth in that old adage—that a rolling stone gathers no moss—Gus Kolmerer and William Martin believe. For the two, who have been employed at the Huttig Sash and Door factory continuously for 56 year periods—and they are the oldest men in point of service of any of the workers at the plant—have been rewarded through promotions for their tenacity in sticking to their jobs.

Mr. Kolmerer was just a boy of 14 when he asked for and was given a job at the factory. Now he’s foreman of the glazing department. Mr. Martin, foreman of the frame department, has held that responsible post for many years.

Mr. Kolmerer did a little reminiscing on the subject of more than a half century spent on the job when visited by a Journal reporter at his home at 711 East Sixth Street. For the working days covering 54 years, Mr. Kolmerer has been located in the same room in the factory. He’s seen many changes take place in the manufacturing processes there and has been in the midst of all of the memorable and exciting events that have occurred there.

“I’ve noticed that these young fellows who work a while at one job, then quit and get another and do the same thing over and over every few months, seldom do get anywhere. Maybe we men who have worked at the factory for a half century aren’t wealthy, but we do own our own homes” he declared.

Two events in his long service record stand out foremost in the memory of Mr. Kolmerer. The biggest disaster occurred in 1900 when flames of undetermined origin swept the warehouse, burning all three floors of this building, creating much havoc in the rear of the building and sparing only portions of the front end. A member of the volunteer fire unit known as the Huttig Hose Company, he recalls they were able to get their two-wheel cars and strings of hose into action in time to do some good in checking the flames. The automatic sprinkler system which has been installed since that time would prevent such a fire occurring again, he believes.

The other incident was the work of a prankster. Just three weeks after a fellow workman had fallen down the elevator shaft, Mr. Kolmerer, working near the foot of the shaft, heard a scream and what he believed to be a man land almost at his feet with a resounding thud. But it proved to be a dummy, made up of a pair of overalls and shirt stuffed with straw and a couple of bricks. He’s still looking for the jokesters.

Three other men, aside from Mr. Kolmerer and Mr. Martin, have worked at Huttig’s for a half century or more. They are Frank Kintzle, who has been at the plant for 52 years; C. S. Wood, who has worked there 51 years; and Gustave Oeter, a veteran of 50 years of service.

Mr. Kintzle, who works in the office, is impressed by the great improvements that have been made in the efficiency and speed of the machinery and tools during the rest half century. Today, with the modern tools at the plant, it is possible to do as much in one operation as could be accomplished with two or more operations years ago. In the early days of the plant, steam power was used altogether and many belts were required to convey the power. This plan was much more dangerous than the present system in which there are small electric motors at each machine.

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Year 1885 Marks Founding of Firm

The Davenport Machine and Foundry Company, established in 1885 by a group of Davenport business men, has furnished steel and iron for various apartments, garages, and other buildings in Muscatine. The firm does business within a radius of 150 miles of Davenport.

Growth has been such that certain lines of manufacturing have been added in order to keep the plant busy. This is in addition to regular products that the firm has always manufactured. Most of the stockholders of today are descendants of the original founders. The office and works are located at 1628-66 West 4th Street in Davenport.

The firm manufactures structural and reinforcing steel, ornamental iron, gray iron castings for street, sewer, and building works, and designs and builds special machinery of many types.

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Lutheran Homes Were Started in Year 1894

In the same year that a group of Muscatine residents conceived the idea of an Old Ladies Home, the Rev. H. Reinemund started a movement which resulted in the founding of the Lutheran Orphans home on the Burlington road south of the city.

The Rev. Mr. Reinemund opened the home in 1894, when he took three parentless children into his residence here. But much of the credit for the development of the institution goes to Mrs. Elizabeth Hershey, former prominent Muscatine woman who generously supplied funds for the advancement of the work.

The home on Burlington road was donated by Mrs. Hershey for use as an orphans’ and old people’s home. Originally it had been intended as a summer home for the Hersheys, but they never used it and later turned it over to the organization together with five acres of land.

The original home was erected in 1905 at a cost of $ 35,000, and during the early years it housed an average of 40 children during the winter months. From the outset, the home operated largely through funds provided by the German Lutheran synod, the controlling body.

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Dewey Portland Cement Company Started in 1906

The Dewey Portland Cement company was organized in 1906, its first plant being located at Dewey, then Indian territory, now the state of Oklahoma, and was named for Admiral Dewey, a national figure and hero. The company has operated 33 years under the management of its first and only president and general manager, F. E. Tyler.

A site on highway 61 east of Muscatine was selected for the site because raw materials ere readily available, fuel requirements could be supplied, railroad facilities, and possibilities of consumption of the products within a reasonable distance were good. Initial steps for this plant were taken in 1916 when the property was purchased. Construction was delayed until 1926 because of the World War and unsettled general conditions. The plant at present has a capacity of some 1,800,000 barrels of cement annually or in excess of 7,000,000sack. It represents an investment of some $4,000,000 and averages of some 250 people are on the payroll. At least the mill part of the plant, including the kilns, runs 24 hours a day, Sundays and holidays included, when the plant is in operation. The one other plant of the Dewey Portland Cement company is located at Dewey, Okla.

Credit for the discovery of Portland cement is given an Englishman in the year 1824. The color of the product he made resembled closely the color of stone from the Isle of Portland, so in his patents he used the name Portland Cement.

There are some 80 separate operations to making Dewey Portland Cement. More than 600 pounds of raw materials exclusive of fuel are necessary to manufacture one barrel or four sacks containing 376 pounds of cement. A plentiful supply of water is very necessary to cement plant operation, and the Mississippi River, of course, offers an inexhaustible supply, as well as possibilities as a transportation medium.

An invitation is extended by the Dewey Portland Cement company to all visitors. The plant is located about 23 miles east of Muscatine on highway 61.

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Residents of Louisa County held a railroad meeting and passed resolutions favoring a railroad between Keokuk and Dubuque on the west side of the Mississippi River on this date. They also name 16 delegates to Iowa City meeting called to further the project. The delegates were instructed to favor any move to memorialize congress for appropriation of land to aid railroad building.—January 29, 1848.

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