H.P. Nielson History

Nearly ruined by 40 years of neglect, this piece of history is under new ownership


A door leading into a room in the H.P. Nielson factory.

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Having researched years ago on the subject of Hans Petter Nielson's factory for C.H. Wendel's American Gasoline Engines Since 1872, my information comes out of St. Joseph, Mo., city records.

Many times we drove by the area recorded as the site of H.P. Nielson's factory, but we could not get a look, as a 6-foot tall, solid fence got in our way.

Our son Randy is into buying and restoring old St. Joe houses, and he bought the old Nielson factory.

I had an H.P. Nielson engine for many years, and now we have the home and factory. But it is over 100 years old and was not maintained for the last 40 years.

Old Hans was an oculist, or in modern terms, an eyeball adjuster and glasses fitter. In 1902, his office was in a prestigious location of downtown St. Joe (Suite 1 of the Missouri and Kansas telephone building).

He had many sons with professional jobs: a cabinet-maker, coach driver, physician, railroad worker and machinist were recorded.

This 80-foot-by-100-foot brick building was built the old way: four layers thick and interlaced together, possibly two-story. Because of the trees, it was mostly toted away to the dump in trash containers. I just bet it would cost more to haul the materials away than it cost to build it in the early days of 1900. Just makes a person cry to see this piece of engine history hauled to the dumps.

Contact Wayman Griggs at: 14150 state Route NN S.E., Stewartsville, MO 64490.