Michael Schall’s Empire Car Works; plus his Family
As seen in this letterhead, by 1883 Michael Schall’s Empire Car Works had expanded to shops in four locations within Pennsylvania: York, Glen Rock, Middletown and Dauphin. In this post, I’ll continue to examine the Empire Car Works plus I’ll also look at Michael Schall’s family; some of them figure into my Countdown of Top 50 York County Factories at the end of 19th Century.
Related posts include:
- Two Railcar Manufacturers were in the City of York during the Civil War; plus Origins of the Empire Car Works
- #29 Keystone Farm Machine Company in York; in the Factory Buildings that formerly housed the Empire Car Works
- Car Building in York County during 1876
- INDEX of RAILCAR Related Posts
At the end of the Civil War, rail car manufacturer Ilgenfritz & White evolves into the Empire Car Works after Michael Schall buys out Thomas White’s part of the York County businesses in York and Glen Rock. Alfred Gartman served as the intermediary for this transaction. The original factory in York was on the east side of North Beaver Street and then in 1873 moving to a new larger factory on the west side of North Beaver Street. The following fire insurance map details size and locations of the buildings within the new factory.
A York Daily article of April 4, 1873 notes, “The new brick car shops of Michael Schall’s Empire Car Works on the west side of Beaver Street is about complete. There are three distinct buildings.” Red on a fire insurance map indicates a building is of brick construction. The newspaper article contains the names of the gentlemen in charge of the various departments:
- Arthur King is General Plant Supervisor
- A. W. Moore is Head Clerk
- Samuel Peters is Drafting Supervisor
- Eli Sprenkle is Car Erection Foreman
- Emmanuel Rinehart is Framing Department Foreman
- Reuben Hildebrand is Woodworking Foremen
- James Bonner is Planning Mill Foreman
- Jacob Forrest is Blacksmith Shop Foremen
- Henry Deitch is Machine Shop Foreman
- Samuel Shaffer is Engine Room Foreman
A York Dispatch article about Michael Schall’s shops appeared in the October 10, 1876 issue, it notes, “ There are 140 employed at the York shop and 50 at Glen Rock.” The Glen Rock shops were located east of Water Street next to the railroad.
In 1879 Michael Schall and Arthur King purchase and re-open the Middletown Car Works, which had been idle since 1874; becoming the third Empire Car Works plant. Michael Schall establishes a fourth plant in Dauphin during 1883.
During the 1880s Michael Schall also become involved in banking, stock broking & roller mills, among other business dealings, in addition to his four railcar factories. In 1891, as the result of over speculation, all of Schall’s business interests were either sold or bought out to pay creditors.
What happened to the four Empire Car Works plants? At the York plant, rail car manufacturing ceased; the shuttered car works would eventually become the home of the Keystone Farm Machine Company. At the Glen Rock plant, rail car manufacturing ceased; the buildings became the Glen Manufacturing Company, followed by Norrish Burnham & Company. At the Middletown plant rail car manufacturing continued after Arthur King acquired complete control. The Dauphin plant was sold at Sheriffs Sale on April 1, 1891.
Michael Schall died August 30, 1893. His obituary appeared as a full column on the front page of the August 31, 1893 issue of the York Dispatch; part of that obituary follows:
The death of Michael Schall removes from the scene of life one of the most prominent men in Southern Pennsylvania. By the death of Michael Schall one of the important personages in the upbuilding of York passes into history. His career in life was eventful and his success in business pursuits was remarkable and reads like a romance. He was the son of James Schall and was one of ten children, only one of whom survive, Mr. J. D. Schall, the oldest child. The subject of this sketch was the second child. He was born on Oct. 8, 1828, on North George street, in property now owned by Charles Devers. During his childhood his father moved to Wrightsville and assumed charge of the Union hotel, where he resided several years. Michael Schall was the architect of his own fortunes. He started on his business career a penniless young man. He entered the employ of Tyler, Klinefelter & Co., dealers in groceries and hardware, on the site of the Colonial Hotel, where he was engaged as a clerk.
From there he went into the employ of P. A. & S. Small, and became their purchasing agent. On his retirement from the employ of this firm commenced a busy and eventful career. He got into business for himself and his interests became varied and extensive. He received financial support and assumed charge of the Empire Car Works, owned by Geo. Ilgenfritz and Alfred Gartman, and by infusing new life into the enterprise soon established a prosperous business and ultimately erected new and extensive car works on the opposite side of Beaver street. Mr. Schall branched out from this business and soon became one of the prime movers in organizing numerous enterprises that gave employment to men. He associated himself with the firm Schall, Steacy & Denny, who resurrected the old York rolling mill and converted it into a profitable concern. He was the founder of the People’s Electric Light Co. He was a large stockholder in the Wrightsville Iron Co., and the Columbia rolling mill, and was the principal of the firm Schall & King, operating the Middletown car works, and Schall & Shoop, operating the Dauphin car works. He was also interested in the Taylor Manufacturing Co., of Chambersburg, and a member of the banking house of Schall, Danner & Sperry, afterwards known as Schall & Danner.
He was a Knight and Sir Knight in the Masonic fraternity, a member of St. John’s Protestant Episcopal Church, was president of the York County Agricultural Society several years, at one time a director of the York County National Bank, and was chairman of the Republican county committee during the Garfield campaign.
His name and support were given to various business enterprises, and from a poor boy he advanced to be one of the foremost citizens of York and was also considered one of the wealthiest men in the county. Reverses came later and what it took years of toil and struggling to accumulate were swept away. His voyage on the sea of life was filled with struggles and the stormy experiences through which he passed following him to the last as though fate decreed it.
He leaves a wife and five children, who have the sympathy of the entire community in their affliction.
The following Michael Schall family history details come primarily from the Schall Family History File # 3417 and Schall Vital Record Cards at the York County Heritage Trust.
Michael Schall was born in York, PA on October 8, 1828. At the age of 25 he married Charlotte Virginia Connellee on November 9, 1853 at St. John’s Protestant Episcopal Church in York. Charlotte was born September 19, 1829; she is the daughter of Col. James S. Connellee. Michael and Charlotte had 6 children. Michael Schall died August 30, 1893 and Charlotte V. Schall died November 15, 1901; they are buried in Prospect Hill Cemetery in York, PA.
Their 6 children are:
Maria Virginia Schall was born September 3, 1854. Maria V. Schall died November 6, 1860; she is buried in Prospect Hill Cemetery in York, PA.
Sarah Elizabeth Schall was born April 15, 1856. At the age of 26, Sarah married Horace Keesey in 1882. Horace Keesey was born during June 1853. Sarah Elizabeth Keesey died February 24, 1905.
Eliza Kate Schall was born April 3, 1860. At the age of 26 Lillie married Henry Carpenter Niles on February 17, 1886 at St. John’s Protestant Episcopal Church in York. Henry C. Niles was born during June 1858. Henry C. Niles was President of the Keystone Farm Machine Company. He was also the senior member of the law firm of Niles & Neff, plus counsel and director of the Maryland & Pennsylvania Railroad Company.
Mary Isabella Schall was born November 21, 1863. Mary I. Schall died November 30, 1910; she is buried in Prospect Hill Cemetery in York, PA.
James Houston Schall was born February 17, 1866. James is a veteran of the Spanish-American War. He was Treasurer of the Keystone Farm Machine Company for most of its existance, Treasure of the York Water Company, Vice President of the Farmers Fire Insurance Company and a member of The Lafayette Club. James H. Schall died January 10, 1959; he is buried in Prospect Hill Cemetery in York, PA.
Michael Schall, Jr. was born December 6, 1869. He became affiliated with the Keystone Farm Machine Company when they were located on the corner of North Queen and York Streets in York. After his father died in 1893, Michael Schall, Jr. bought out the other owners and became sole proprietor; he acquired the former Empire Car Works plant along North Beaver Street and moved the Keystone Farm Machine Works there by 1894. After the move, Michael 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. Michael Schall, Jr. died September 19, 1904; he is buried in Prospect Hill Cemetery in York, PA.Reading the Headlines: A Quick Index to All YorksPast Posts