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Industrial enterprises of Atchison County, so far as manufacturing and jobbing interests are concerned, are confined exclusively to the city of Atchison. There are no mills or factories or large manufacturing institutions in any of the smaller towns of the county.

Outside of Atchison the labor and industry of the citizens are directed in agricultural pursuits; the tilling of the soil, the breeding of livestock and the development of all the other arts of husbandry, but in the city of Atchison there are a number of establishments which give employment to labor, and which in a number of instances ship their finished products to all parts of the United States and into the ports of foreign countries.

Atchison, however, strictly speaking, is not a factory town, nor a great manufacturing center. There have been times in its history when it was more important, commercially than now, but that was in the days before the great onrush to Kansas City. Yet the town today is a substantial, solid community, where much wealth and enterprise abound, and where there has been a steady, healthy commercial growth.

The largest manufacturing plant is the John Seaton Foundry Company, and the Locomotive Finished Material Company, an associated enterprise, established by the late John Seaton, who moved to Atchison from Alton, Ill., in 1871, having been induced to come to Atchison by a handsome donation from the citizens of the town. Mr. Seaton originally manufactured much architectural work; iron and brass casting, boilers, jail, and sheet iron work. For a while, it was conducted under the firm name of Seaton & Lea, but shortly before the death of Captain Seaton, a few years ago, the Locomotive Finished Material Company was organized to put the finishing touches on castings and at the death of Mr. Seaton, H. E. Muchnic became president and general manager of the company, with John C. Seaton, Clive Hastings, W. S. Ferguson and G. L. Seaton as associate directors. The average number of employees is about 226 when the total horsepower is 500. They have a payroll of over $14,000 a month and are doing a large business with railroads and other big industrial plants throughout the country.

The Manglesdorf Brothers Company is one of the oldest establishments in the city. It began in 1875 as a sideline in connection with the retail grocery business, by August and William Manglesdorf, and is now conducted by the sons of the founders. It is one of the largest seed houses in the West. The business was incorporated in 1887, and the officers in 1916 are as follows: August Manglesdorf, president: A. F. Manglesdorf, vice-president: Ed. F. Manglesdorf, vice-president: F. H. Manglesdorf, treasurer, and F. W. Manglesdorf, secretary.

The business has grown to such an extent that it was thought advisable to close out the retail end of it and it is now conducted as an exclusively wholesale seed house. The new warehouse, which the firm now occupies, was erected last year and gives it one of the largest and most complete plants in the West. The new building is modern in every way, strictly fire-proof, and provides an enormous space for storing and handling the stocks, which are accumulated for the spring trade. The seed line, perhaps more than any other, is a seasonable one, and by far the greater proportion of the year’s business must be crowded into a few spring months. It is necessary, therefore, to move goods quickly and in large quantities, when the season is on. For this purpose, the warehouses are equipped with suitable machinery and devices, which are kept up to the highest possible efficiency for handling and cleaning the seed. The stocks are obtained in all parts of the world. When crops fail in one part of the country, it is the business of the seed dealers to supply the deficiency from some other sections, where conditions have been more favorable. Thus, the source of supply and the outlet for it are constantly shifting and it requires keeping in touch with the progress of the crops and market conditions in many different producing districts.

The firm does a considerable export business also, particularly in bluegrass and timothy, which are produced here, cheaper and in better quality than they are in Europe. During each year the firm’s travelers cover the States of Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, parts of Nebraska, Colorado, and Texas. Its line of garden seeds may be obtained from the local merchants in nearly every town in this territory.

The Bailor Plow Company, of Atchison, organized in 1910 with an authorized capital of $50,000. J. M. Schott, president; Charles Linley, vice-president; W. P. Byram, secretary; E. V. Jones, treasurer, and manager. Manufacturers of a two-row cultivator. S. E. Bailor, then of Beatrice, Neb., some twenty years since built and began experimenting with a two-row cultivator. About 1905, the late David Rankin, of Tarkio, Mo., placed fifty Bailor cultivators in use on his 25,000–acre farm near Tarkio, giving them a thorough test for efficiency. The result was such that he induced Bailor to build a plant for their manufacture at Tarkio. In 1910 the Atchison Commercial Club, which had previously investigated the possibilities of Bailor’s factory as a valuable addition to this city’s industrial institutions, induced him to locate his business in Atchison. The Bailor Plow Company was promoted and incorporated by the following successful businessmen: Balie P. Waggener, Henry Klostermeier, T. R. Clendinen, at that time president of the Commercial Club; O. A. Simmons, vice-president of the First National Bank; E. V. Jones, J. M. Schott, W. P. Byram, Charles Linley, at that time treasurer of Atchison county, and S. E. Bailor, inventor of the cultivator. During the year 1910, the first year of operation in Atchison, one hundred cultivators were sold. The year 1915 shows an output of product valued at about $250,000. The company’s plant has a floor space of 25,000 square feet; forty men are on its payroll and it disburses in wages over $50,000 per annum.

The National Poultry and Egg Company. This institution is one of the largest of its kind in the West and is located on the corner of Fourteenth and Main streets. Under the able management of G. E. Hanna, it has steadily increased its capacity and enlarged its business operations until at the present time it employs an average of fifty-four men and women a month and pays out in wages almost $30,000 each year. The plant and machinery represent an investment of about $70,000 and its sales are over a half million dollars a year. It is engaged in buying and selling poultry, eggs, and butter, and ships fancy-dressed poultry to eastern markets.

Deer Creek Creamery Company. This company has a capital stock of $10,000; employs eight men and four girls, with an annual payroll of $8,000. In addition to the employees in the local office, it also employs twenty men in the country to operate its numerous cream stations. The company manufactures over a half million pounds of butter a year, and it puts up and sells in Atchison from 80,000 to 100,000 gallons of milk every year, in addition to 6,000 or 8,000 gallons of ice cream. Over $125,000 annually is paid out to Kansas farmers for cream; about $25,000 of this amount going to farmers in the immediate vicinity of Atchison. It is one of the growing institutions of the city, and the excellence of the products it turns out is the cause for its constant increase of business.

Atchison is also the home of two large manufacturers of saddlery. The Atchison Saddlery Company is the successor to Louis Kiper & Sons and occupies a large building on Kansas Avenue between Fourth and Fifth Streets. Its officers are George Diegel, president; George T. Lindsey, vice-president, and Henry Diegel, secretary-treasurer. It has a capital stock of $150,000; employs seventy-nine people. It ships its products into many States of the West and has been doing an exceedingly large business in the past few years.

Kessler-Barkow Saddlery Company was incorporated several years ago, with G. T. Bolman, president; F. A. Barkow, vice president, and H. B. Kessler, secretary, and treasurer. This company has a capital and surplus of $85,000, and employs sixty-five people, and has an average annual payroll of about $40,000.00. It manufactures harness and saddles for the jobbing trade exclusively and has large accounts with the Blish, Mize & Silliman Hardware Company, Montgomery, Ward & Company, and Sears, Roebuck & Company.

The Atchison Leather Products Company is another growing institution of Atchison, the officers of which are the same as that of the Kessler-Barkow Saddlery Company. This company are producers of cut leather parts of all kinds and are large buyers of scrap leather. It has a capital stock of $7,000.00 and employs fifteen people. Its sales for 1915 amounted to over $65,000.00, and it also handles various leather specialties and automobile accessories.

Atchison is also the home of three large mills. The Blair Milling Company, the Cain Milling Company and the Lukens Milling Company, and these mills handle an average of 20,000 to 25,000 cars of grain annually, and ship out finished wheat and corn products of 4,000 to 5,000 cars every year. The Lukens Milling Company has recently erected cement storage tanks for storage of grain, of the capacity of 125,000 bushels, and the Blair Elevator Company, which is operated by J. W. and W. A. Blair, in 1915, also erected cement storage tanks to the capacity of 200,000 bushels. The growth of the mills of Atchison is logical, for they are located in a rich agricultural section, and consequently the mills are among the most important enterprises in the city. In each case the mills of Atchison are being operated by the sons of its founders. The Blair mill was established by E. K. Blair, in an early day of the history of Atchison, and is now managed by his sons, J. W. and W. A. Blair. The Lukens mill was founded by David Lukens, who came to Atchison in 1857. He operated a sawmill and raised corn in Missouri bottoms until 1877, when he built the Diamond Mills, now conducted by his sons, Arthur Lukens, Edwin Lukens and David Lukens. The original Cain Mill Company was established by John M. Cain and Alfred Cain, and its successor, the Cain Milling Company, is operated by Douglas M. Cain, the son of Alfred Cain.

Atchison is also the home of two of the largest wholesale hardware stores on the Missouri river, both of which began operations here at approximately the same time. The operations of the Blish, Mize & Silliman Hardware Company are the largest of the two companies. This company travels thirty men and has an office and store force of eighty-eight men and women. It has an annual payroll of $115,000.00. It was founded by D. P. Blish, E. A. Mize and J. B. Silliman, who were all related by marriage. The company began in a small way as a successor to J. E. Wagner & Company, and has branched out in its business until it covers several States and territories. It occupies a magnificent re-inforced concrete fire-proof structure at the corner of Fifth and Utah avenue, and its business has been increasing from year to year.

The A. J. Harwi Hardware Company is owned and controlled largely by F. E. Harwi, the son of its founder, and a full account of its operations appears in a sketch of the life and career of A. J. Harwi in this history.

Atchison is particularly proud of the fact that it is one of the best jobbing centers in this part of the country, and in this connection the wholesale grocery business is well represented in the two splendid firms of the Dolan Mercantile Company and the Symns Grocery Company. The Dolan Mercantile Company was established by W. F. Dolan, one of the pioneers of Atchison, who started in a small way as a retail grocer merchant, and died leaving a splendidly established wholesale grocery business, which is now conducted by M. J. Horan and Leo Nusbaum. This house, under the able management of these two young men is rapidly making for itself a big reputation among wholesale dealers and grocers. In addition to jobbing regular lines of merchandise this company has recently installed its own plant for the manufacture of fluid extracts, baking powder and pancake flour, and also roasts its own coffees. It has a large traveling force, visiting the States of Nebraska, Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma, and the Dolan brands are well known throughout this whole territory.

The Symns Grocery Company was established by A. B. Symns, who came to Kansas from West Virginia, with his three brothers, in 1858, where he settled in the town of Doniphan and engaged in mercantile pursuits, until he removed to Atchison in 1872. He opened a wholesale and retail grocery here in that year, and continued in business without a partner until March, 1878, when the firm became Symns & Turner, under which name it was run until 1880, when it was changed to A. B. Symns & Company. It was subsequently incorporated into the Symns Grocery Company, and at the death of A. B. Symns, the business was run by J. W. Allen, J. E. Moore, C. A. Lockwood and Tom Gray. It operates in about the same territory that the Dolan Mercantile Company operates in, and its present enterprising management is keeping up the splendid reputation established by its founder.

The Odell Cider & Vinegar Company is a new institution in Atchison. A. Leo is manager, and $30,000.00 is invested in the plant and equipment here. This company pressed out over 200,00 bushels of apples in 1915, and made 650,000 gallons of vinegar. Forty men are employed during the pressing season, and over $30,000.00 a year is paid out for apples, which are converted into 150,000 gallons of vinegar, which is shipped to various points in the United States during 1915.

The Stevenson planing mill employs twelve men, with a payroll of about $10,000.00 a year and annual sales aggregating $27,000.00. S. R. Stevenson, who for many years was employed by the old Atchison Furniture Company, is at the head of this business. He settled in Atchison in 1865, and learned cabinet-making with Dickinson & Company, of this city.

It would require a volume to properly elaborate upon the operations of the various commercial enterprises of Atchison. What has been given is the merest outline of the industrial activities here. The brief reference to the several business houses and manufacturing plants is made merely for the purpose of showing the character of the industrial life of the county.

In addition to those enumerated there are other jobbing and manufacturing interests operating, in some instances on as large a scale, and in other instances on a smaller scale, but which in themselves are just as important. Reference has not been made to the Klostermeier Hardware Company, one of the largest jobbers in hardware in northeastern Kansas, or to L. W. Voigt & Company, large shippers of fruit, vegetables, and produce, or to Kean & Tucker, operating along the same line; neither has the James Poultry Company been mentioned, which is one of Atchison’s growing concerns. There are also manufacturers of cigars, brooms and barrels; large distributors of automobiles and automobile accessories, and candy manufacturers. The Railway Specialty Company, manufacturers of gasoline-propelled railway track cars is making substantial progress. From a small beginning, it has forged ahead, under the able management of Clive Hastings, until it has reached a point where it will soon take its place among the leading track car manufacturers of this country. Already the company has shipped its cars to foreign parts, and it has also supplied many of the large railroads of the United States with its cars. The Weiss Cornice Company is the latest arrival in Atchison. This company makes metal cornices, window frames, and other builders’ fire-proof specialties. It recently moved here from Kansas City and is already a large employer of labor. The Washer Grain Company, established by Maj. S. H. Washer, does a large grain business and is still managed by Major Washer, who recently passed his eightieth birthday. He is ably assisted by his son, W. R. Washer, who is also otherwise prominently identified with the commercial and shipping interests of the county.

Atchison also is a fine retail center and draws trade from the surrounding territory for a distance of from fifty to seventy-five miles. It has fine dry goods stores, which carry the latest merchandise; good shoe stores, millinery shops, grocery and hardware stores and shops of all kinds, all of which are run by enterprising merchants. Atchison is a good town in which to live; a city of beautiful homes; fine paved and well-lighted streets; a good water system and adequate street car service, and a fine, prosperous set of people. The future of Atchison, as a commercial center, is particularly bright, and it may look back with a justifiable pride to what has already been accomplished, and forward to a better day that is yet to come.