|Source: NMHS Newsletter, November 1988
THE BOOM HAS STARTED
(reprinted from The Journal, March 22, 1888)
The Excelsior Manufacturing Company with a capital stock
of $10,000 has been organized here inside of a week.
While the enterprise has been contemplated for
some time no definite action was taken until a week ago,
and since that time the stock has all been subscribed,
the officers and directors elected and a site chosen for
A meeting of the stockholders was held Monday
evening for the election of directors which resulted in
the choice of the following gentlemen: G. W. Lawrence,
Jacob Harter, S. A. Argerbright, B. Oppenheim and A. C.
these the officers are as follows; G. W. Lawrence,
president; A. C. Mills, Secretary and Treasurer; S. A.
Argerbright, Superintendent of factory.
It is the intention of this company to
manufacture a general class of furniture of all grades
and as the capacity of their works is increased to add
other branches of the wood working industry.
Of course at this time it will be impossible to
give anything like a true estimate of the amount of men
employed or work turned out.
The ground for the factory has been purchased of
Harter’s on the south side of west Fourth Street and
laying along the west side of the Wabash railway track.
The piece contains about an acre and a half, and
work will be begin at once on the large brick buildings
for the factory.
This enterprise is in the hands of a company of
energetic and successful business men who know how to
make a success of everything they undertake, and the
town has cause to congratulate itself on getting this
The best and most complete machinery for wood working
purposes will be put in, and as the facilities here are
as good as any point in the State, the Journal
feels sure that it will take but a short time to
establish a large and profitable business.
Help it along and make the boom generate.
The Excelsior, the new furniture
factory here began work last week.
The appointments in the building are complete,
unless it may be that some small machines may be found
necessary as work goes on.
The scarcity of dry lumber suitable for use
compels the employment of but a small part of the men
who will be needed when supplies are attainable.
The men now at work are getting material out for
a lot of six hundred bedsteads as a starter.
The factory has secured the contract for the
manufacture of a wooden split pulley patented by D.
Argerbright, of Troy, Ohio, brother of S. A. Argerbright,
The pulley is said by those competent to judge to
be a device of great merit and bids fair to
revolutionize the pulley making business.
The patentee is the inventor of a device in buggy
attachments that has made the fortune of an Ohio,
manufacturing company already, and the pulley he regards
as by far the most useful invention of the two.
Taken altogether the new factory starts out with
most flattering prospects which bids fair to bring its
stock to a premium very shortly.
Source: NMHS Newsletter Feb 2002
Memories of the ablest of the
old timers is dim when they are questioned about
the Excelsior Furniture factory that antedated
the Peabody Seating company, corner of Fourth
and Beckley. It was started some time between
1880 and 1884, A. C. Mills being one of the
active local men in the organization that
brought it here. Lots were sold in the A. C.
Mills addition to provide funds to interest out
of town promoters. The best information
obtainable seems to indicate that John Hewett
came here from Chicago to head the company. He
is said to have been accompanied by another, a
big man physically, whose name is lost in the
ashes of the past. Hewitt was a brother of the
president of the Miehle Printing Press company,
and it was while he was here that an
acquaintance was formed with W. H. Warvel,
better know locally as "Squire" Warvel, which
later developed in Warvel becoming legal advisor
for the printing press company.
Folding beds was one of the
outputs of the factory, but they did not seem to
go any too well. Right at that time stories were
rife of people being killed by folding beds
folding up while occupied and nervous folk were
poor customers. Some say that excelsior for
packing was one of the products and that was the
reason for the name. Others say nothing of that
kind was made. W. H. Sharpe, who in later years
came to be the cussed and discussed editor of
the Wabash Times-Star came from the Pullman
shops as a cabinet maker for this factory. Later
he worked in a woodworking shop operated by
Herschel Leffel on West
Second Street. He did
finishing work in a number of houses, among them
being the quartered oak wood work on the John
Mills house, later the home of John Fultz on
Hard times, coupled with
little demand for the folding beds, finished the
bed factory dream.
The Stickler Furniture
company came in to manufacture occasional
furniture, finally closing the plant some time
after 1894. This company continued operation
with a extensive factory at Grand Rapids,
Following the departure of
the Stickler company the buildings were
unoccupied until the Peabody company took charge
Research Update: "Stickler" above should read "Stickley".
Please see the Stickley Furniture article under
Click here to read more about STICKLEY.