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Manufacturers Index - Wilson & Hendrie

Wilson & Hendrie
Montague, MI, U.S.A.
Manufacturer Class: Wood Working Machinery & Steam and Gas Engines

Last Modified: Jun 11 2018 8:14AM by Jeff_Joslin
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Wilson & Hendrie's 1886 band sawmill

In 1870 James D. Wilson and Malcolm Hendrie established the foundry and machine shop of Wilson & Hendrie; their factory was known as the Montague Iron Works. Early date is scarce but certainly by the 1880s they were making gang sawmills, circular sawmills, and steam engines. In 1886 they had introduced to the market a new band sawmill that was based on the design of that from J. R. Hoffman & Co. This was at a time when band sawmills were in their early development. It appears that Wilson & Hendrie's offering did not achieve any success. In contrast, Wilson & Hendrie's large marine steam engines were quite successful and were a common sight on Lake Michigan.

At some point in the early 1900s Hendrie died and was replaced by M. G. Hausler from Chicago. The business survived until 1916 but seems to have disappeared close to that time.

Information Sources

  • We learned of this maker from a mention in a 1910 history monograph by De Witt Clinton Prescott: "In 1886 Wilson & Hendrie, of Montague, Mich., tried their hand and Band Mill construction. Their mill as shown here is an enlarged copy of the Hoffman mill, but having a cast frame of apparently large dimensions. Locally this mill may have gone into use to some extent, but it found no market among saw mills generally."
  • October 1872 The Lumberman's Gazette, in an article on "The Manufactories of Montague and Whitehall": "It may not be out of place to notice the iron works of Wilson & Hendrie, which is a large brick building, 70 x 100 feet. They work up about four tons of iron every week, and employ sixteen men. The company have finished a pattern shop, 22 x 62 feet, where they manufacture all their patterns for their works. They also cast in brass."
  • 1877 State of Michigan Gazetteer & Business Directory lists, under Montague, "Wilson & Hendrie (James D Wilson, Malcolm Hendrie), founders and machinists."
  • 1888 Farm Implement News Buyer's Guide lists Wilson & Hendrie of Montague, Mich., as a maker of portable saw mills, stationary engines, and wood sawing machines.
  • 1890 The Railroad, Telegraph, Electric and Steamship Builders' Directory lists Wilson & Hendrie, Montague, Mich., as a maker of boilers, steam engines, and machinery.
  • 1892-08-29 Montague Observer has a text ad: "Wilson & Hendrie / Montague Iron Works / Manufacturers of / Stationary and Marine Engines and Boilers. / General Mill Machinery, Gang, Circular and Band Saw Mills, Edgers, Fuel cutters, Iron and Brass Castings of all Kinds. / Repairing Promptly attended to. / Montague, Mich."
  • 1896-97 The Railroad, Telegraph, Electric and Steamship Builders' Buyers' Guide lists Wilson & Hendrie, Montague, Mich., as a maker of steam engines.
  • The 1916 book, Beeson's Marine Directory of the Northwestern Lakes, by H. C. Beeson: "JAMES D. WILSON. Of Montague, Michigan, who in 1870, with a Mr. Hendrie, under the firm name of Wilson & Hendrie, founded a marine engine building plant which grew to be one of the largest marine engine producing plants in the country. Scores of engines with the plate of Wilson & Hendrie attached are still to be found in steam vessels on the Great Lakes. A few years ago Mr. Hendrie died and Mr. M. G. Hausler, of South Chicago bought up his interest in the plant known as the Montague Iron Works."
  • The 2001 book Lake Michigan Passenger Steamers, by George Woodman Hilton, describes the 1892/3 outfitting of the Holland, Mich., ship, City of Holland: "She was towed to Ottawa Beach, where her machinery was installed; it had been built by Wilson & Hendrie of Montague and shipped down by rail... The engines were installed during the first week in May." Elsewhere the original engine is described as "High pressure", and an 1899 replacement engine from the same maker was a "condensing steeple compound, 18-inch + 36x28 inch / 300 HP". Wilson & Hendrie also provided the firebox. Also mentioned is the City of Louisville, whose engines were "replaced in 1896 by fore-and-aft compound 20-inch + 40x30 inch, Wilson & Hendrie, Montague / 400 HP". The H. W. Williams was built in 1888 with engines "fore-and-aft compound, 18-inch + 36x30 inch, Wilson & Hendrie, Montague / 375 HP".
  • Mentioned in C. H. Wendel's Encyclopedia of American Farm Implements & Antiques as a sawmill maker, with a date of 1892.