YorksPast

Part of the USA Today Network

#29 Keystone Farm Machine Company in York; in the Factory Buildings that formerly housed the Empire Car Works

Keystone Farm Machine Company Buildings in early 1900s (From Company Letterhead with Annotations in Blue added by S. H. Smith, 2013)
Keystone Farm Machine Company Buildings in early 1900s (From Company Letterhead with Annotations in Blue added by S. H. Smith, 2013)

In my post Late 1800s Factory Inspection Reports Assist in Identification of an East Prospect Photo  I wrote about finding these reports in the State Library of Pennsylvania.  For this series on the Top 50 York County Factories at the end of 19th Century, I’m using data from the 10th Report of the Pennsylvania Department of Factory Inspection.

The 10th Factory Inspection Report is for the Department’s year ending October 31st 1899.  I ranked the 479 York County factories by numbers of employees; #50 has 47 employees, on up to #1 with 510 employees.  In the coming weeks, on Monday and/or Tuesday, I’m counting down to the top employer in York County at the end of 19th Century.

At #29 in the count down of the Top 50 York County Factories at End of 19th Century is the Keystone Farm Machine Company in York.  The 1899 York City Directory lists the address for this company as 154 N. Beaver Street.  I have indicated the location of 154 N. Beaver St. in the drawing of the Keystone Farm Machine Company buildings, appearing in their letterhead.  These are the factory buildings that formerly housed the York plant of the Empire Car Works.

 

 

The 10th Factory Inspection Report notes that on March 2nd 1899 the Keystone Farm Machine Company in York has 87 employees; all male.  Of these 87 employees, 11 are under 21-years-old; of which one is under 16-years-old.  The goods manufactured are recorded as “Farm Machinery.”  The York County Heritage Trust in York, PA and the Hagley Museum and Library in Wilmington, DE contain nice collections of catalogs, letterheads and ads from this company.  The other part of the company letterhead from the early 1900s lists the types of farm machinery produced.

KeystoneLetterhead

One might question the quantity and size of the buildings shown in the company letterhead, at the beginning of this post, for only 87 employees.  The answer lies in the earlier history of this company and those factory buildings.

The Keystone Farm Machine Company Limited was established in 1890 by Caleb Kepner (President), Harry K. Fox (Secretary & Treasurer) and Benjamin M. Root (Superintendent).  The original location of this company’s factory in York was along York Street, just east of North Queen Street.

The 1892 York City Directory listing is, “Keystone Farm Machine Company, Ltd., H. K. Fox, Chairman; F. T. Root, Supt.; M. Schall, Jr., Secretary and Treasurer, York, cor. Queen.”  M. Schall, Jr. is Michael Schall, Jr., the son of the Empire Car Works’ Michael Schall.  In 1891, Michael Schall, Sr. went bankrupt; it is assumed that Michael Jr. worked for his father up until that point.

The next available York City Directory is from 1894-95; the listing is, “Keystone Farm Machine Works, Michael Schall, proprietor, s w c Beaver and Gay al.”  After his father died in 1893, Michael Schall, Jr. (and/or his investors) bought out the other owners of Keystone Farm Machine Company and he became sole proprietor.  Michael Schall, Jr. (and/or his investors) acquired the former Empire Car Works plant with the address ‘south west corner of North Beaver Street and Gay Alley’, i.e. 154 N. Beaver Street.  The Keystone Farm Machine Works is moved from their factory along York Street to the facilities along N. Beaver Street by 1894.

The next available York City Directory is from 1898; the listing is, “Keystone Farm Machine Co., Ltd., Henry C. Niles, Chairman; James H. Schall, Sec. & Treas.; Michael Schall, Mngr.; 154 N. Beaver.”  Michael Schall, Jr. served as Manager of the Keystone Farm Machine Company, while his brother-in-law Henry C. Niles was President and his brother James H. Schall was initially Secretary and Treasurer.

Therefore the quantity and size of the buildings shown in the company letterhead, at the beginning of this post, are the buildings of the former Empire Car Works.  The Keystone Farm Machine Works will grow into using more and more of these facilities as their workforce increased.

The following ad, for the Keystone Farm Machine Co., Ltd. of York, PA, shows the earliest types of products manufactured by this company.

KeystoneFarmAd

The company incorporated October 17, 1901 as the Keystone Farm Machine Company.  Company officers were Henry C. Niles (Chairman & President), James H. Schall (Treasurer), Edward H. Hauser (Secretary) and Michael Schall (Manager).

George Prowell’s 1907 History of York County has this to say about Keystone Farm Machine Company on page 764 of Volume I:

The Keystone Farm Machine Company was incorporated in October 1901, and since then has been in active operation, employing 150 men in the manufacture of Harris cultivators, corn planters, corn shellers and weeders.  The company owns a foundry in connection with the works.

George Prowell’s 1907 History of York County has this to say about Henry C. Niles on pages 28 & 29 of Volume II:

Mr. [Henry C.] Niles was married in 1886 to Miss Lillie Schall, a daughter Michael Schall, of York.  To this marriage was born one son, Michael Schall Niles.

Mr. Niles has never aspired to a political career.  He is a man of varied interests, and holds many positions of trust.  Though he is still in middle life, he has achieved distinction in his profession, being senior member of the law firm of Niles & Neff, counsel and director of the Maryland & Pennsylvania Railroad Company, and president of the Keystone Farm Machine Company.

George Prowell’s 1907 History of York County has this to say about James H. Schall on page 657 of Volume II:

James H. Schall, treasurer of the Keystone Farm Machine Company, York, Pa., was born in that city, son of the late Michael Schall, a well-known and influential citizen.  After duty availing himself of the privileges of the York County Academy our subject continued his studies in the Cheltenham Military Academy, at Ogontz, Pa., and the Bryant & Stratton Business College, Philadelphia.

After completing his school work he was for a time employed as bookkeeper in his native city, after which he assumed the position of secretary and treasurer of the People’s Electric Light Company of York, this being the first company of the sort organized in the city.  After retaining this position three or more years Mr. Schall became private secretary to his father, and later he engaged in the manufacturing of confectionery, to which line of enterprise he gave his attention for several years.

In 1895 he engaged in the insurance-brokerage business in his home city, and in that line he continued operations for the ensuing three years.  Being thus occupied at the time of the outbreak of the Spanish-American war, he forthwith manifested his intrinsic patriotism, being mustered in as a private in the 8th P. V. I., and proceeded with his command to the front.  He was made a second lieutenant of Company A, in which capacity he served eleven months, or until the close of the war, when he received his honorable discharge.

[Continuing to passage concerning Keystone Farm Machine Company] Mr. Schall is treasurer and was for some months (after the death of the former manager [his brother Michael Schall, Jr.]) acting manager of the Keystone Farm Machine Company, representing one of the most important industrial enterprises of York.

The Keystone Farm Machine Company was in existence through about 1920, per York City Directory listings.  After looking through catalogs of their products, I’m sure my Grandfather Emanuel Barshinger had a hand-crank Keystone corn sheller that I remember using.  Check these links, where readers provided photos of Invincible and Economy Corn Shellers produced by Keystone Farm Machine Company.

A review of my count down, thus far, of the 50 top factories in York County at the end of 19th Century follows.  As a group, these 22 factories provided employment for 1,395 people in York County during 1899.

Reading the Headlines: A Quick Index to All YorksPast Posts