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Manufacturers Index - Rock Island Manufacturing Co.

Rock Island Manufacturing Co.
Rock Island, IL, U.S.A.
Manufacturer Class: Metal Working Machinery

History
Last Modified: Oct 6 2019 12:20PM by Mark Stansbury
If you have information to add to this entry, please contact the Site Historian.

Rock Island Manufacturing Co., of Rock Island, IL, was organized in 1906 by Frank G. Young, C. J. Larkin, and Carl E. Shields. Rock Island's products included vises for machine shop and foundry use, a blacksmith's drill, tool grinders, power grinders, grist grinders, stock waterers, and concrete tools. In 1907 Rock Island bought the vise business of Jacobson Machine Manufacturing Co., Warren, PA, giving them a start in the business. By 1913, their principals were Carl E. Shields, President, S.E. Hamilton, Superintendent, and Oscar J. Shields, Special Representative.

Rock Island's plant was at First St. and Fifteenth Ave., near the Mississippi River. A 1907 stock offering allowed them to build a machine shop 80x150 feet, foundry 70x120 feet, fireproof pattern storage building 30x40 feet, and other buildings. They added another building in 1917. Surprisingly, the buildings were still standing in 2016, with the business name still visible in faded white paint on 1533 First St. The foundry furnace was visible just past that building and behind it.

Birtman Electric Co. of Chicago acquired Rock Island Manufacturing Co. on Jan. 12, 1930. Birtman Electric made vacuum cleaners, irons, toasters, and other household electric products until merging with Whirlpool-Seeger Corp. in 1957. The Rock Island plant continued to make vises and other tools until closing in 1959. The Michigan Manufacturer and Financial Record, Volumes 103-104, 1959 stated, “Production Tool Supply Co., of Warren, Michigan, announces the purchase of the Rock Island Vise Co. The entire inventory of the Illinois firm will be moved to Warren, said D. D. Kahn, Production Tool president.”

Information Sources