History of the Globe Iron Works

Gasoline Engine

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4169 Rustic Place St., Paul MN 55126

The following traces the history of the Globe Iron Works Co. from the original founders to its finish. Many hours of research from newspapers and books went into this history, as no company records were available. Any additional information would be welcome.

The history starts in 1879 with Mr. Edward J. Kimball's name showing up in the Minneapolis city directory. Mr. Kimball is shown as working for the Farmers and Merchants Bank as a teller from 1879 until 1886. In 1884 Mr. Clarence O. White came to Minneapolis from Ohio, his occupation being machinist, and he was listed as being in partnership in the firm of White and Johnson general machine work. Mr. White started designing and experimenting and had applied for three patents by the end of 1884. In 1885 a family by the name of Gemlo appears in the city directory. The family had three sons: Charles, James, and John, who with their father, David, were all four employed by the Pray Manufacturing Co. as machinists and patternmakers.

In 1886 Mr. Kimball became cofounder in a bicycle and tricycle shop known as Heath and Kimball. Mr. White left his partnership and went to work as a machinist for the Minneapolis Plating Co. In 1887 the company changed its name to the Minneapolis Plating and Manufacturing Co. with Mr. White as proprietor. The Gemlos left Pray Manufacturing and founded the Enterprise Manufacturing Co. working as manager, machinists, and patternmakers. This lasted a short time and in the same year the Gemlos formed Gemlo and Sons Machine Shop, general machine work.

The year 1888 brought one more name change for the machine shop to that of D. W. Gemlo and Sons. In the same year Mr. Kimball left the bicycle business and went clerking for different companies. In 1892 Mr. Kimball worked as a clerk for the Enterprise Machine Co. while Mr. White started his own business called the C. O. White Manufacturing Co. The Gemlos moved to St. Louis and returned in 1893, working as machinists and patternmakers for different Minneapolis firms. Mr. Kimball became an agent in trust for the E. M. Wilson estate located in the Globe Bldg. in Minneapolis. The Gemlos started working at the Island Iron Works Co. located at the lower end of Nicollet Island in Minneapolis. It is not known if the Gemlos started this company or not but all four were involved as manager, machinists, and patternmakers.

In 1895 Mr. Kimballstill as agent in trust for the E. M. Wilson Estate became the manager and bookkeeper for the Gemlo Iron Works Co., formerly the Island Iron Works Co. Mr.White stepped down to become vice president of White Manufacturing Co., formerly C. O. White Mfg. Co. In 1896 the Island Iron Works Co. name was changed to the Globe Iron Works Co. In the directory ad Mr. Kimball is listed as manager, and the ad states that the company did foundry work in addition to being machinists and engine builders. Mr. White is listed as a machinist in the directory. In addition he had 19 patents to his credit by this time. In 1897 the directory ad stated 'Globe Iron Works Co., Makers of White gasoline engines and Excelsior machines'. Mr. Kimball was manager at Globe, Mr. White is listed as a machinist and also proprietor of the Clarence 0. White Plating Works. The Gemlos continued to work for Globe on and off until 1902 when they finally left the company for the last time.

From 1897 until 1902 when they first incorporated the Globe Iron Works continued to grow, but with growth problems emerging. Unions started to organize for the machinists, the city taxes increased, and foundry costs rose. In 1903 the directory listing reads: Globe Iron Works Company, Manufacturers of White gasoline engines: automobile and truck, stationary, portable, and marine; also boats; President C. O. White; V.P. and Treasurer E. J. Kim-ball; Secretary M. W. Matteson; Asst. Treasurer L. J. Skinner. 1904 is the last year the Globe Iron Works was listed in the Minneapolis city directory. Both Mr. White and Mr. Kimball are listed as moving to Menomonie, Wisconsin.

Menomonie, Wisconsin

During the latter part of the 1800's wood was king in the upper half of Wisconsin. Many towns depended on their lumber trade as a sole support for the towns as well as its inhabitants. Menomonie was one of these towns and owed much of its livelihood to Knapp, Stout, and Co., a large lumber and paper concern. As the 1890's rolled to a close the lumber industry was hurting due to over-harvesting of the once vast resources. In 1899 Knapp, Stout, and Co. closed its doors putting many people and towns in bad financial ways. This started Menomonie looking for new industry to fill the gap left by the lumber mill's closing.

In late 1903 with labor problems and foundry costs rising Mr. Kimball and Mr. White went in search of a place to build a new plant. At the same time the Advancement Committee of Menomonie went in search of industries to build in Menomonie. In January of 1904 Mr. Kimball, Mr. White, and the Advancement Committee met with the Menomonie City Council and it was decided that if the city could subscribe $200,000 in stock and the Globe Iron Works Co. books and business practice was in order, Menomonie would be their new home. All was in order with Globe, the city got businesses and individuals to subscribe $200,000 in stock and in July of 1904 the building of the plant was started. The Iron Works started production in October of 1904 employing 50 men and turning out close to 4 units daily. All the needed personnel and equipment were in one building: foundry, pattern shop, machine shop, and paint room, with operating officers' rooms up front. Mr. Kimball hired a friend, Albert Dollenmayer, for advertising and an engineering consultant, Mr. J. J. Flathers, head of the department of mechanical engineering for the University of Minnesota. Mr. White made changes in the engine and applied for the patents as such.

By 1905 Globe had over 100 men working, turning out 12 units a day, but problems followed from the Minneapolis plant. Unions formed and in April the men struck over the poor ventilation in the factory's foundry area. The problem was remedied for a time, but then in May a strike was called again due to poor ventilation. The answer this time was the discharging of 60 of the striking workers. This upset the stockholders so much that Mr. White was forced to resign as president and Mr. Kimball was installed. In 1906 the plant was struck again. This time the shop work had been changed to piece work pay instead of pay by the day. Mr. Kimball stepped down as president with this strike and Mr. J. J. Flathers was named as the new president. Mr. Kimball became a traveling agent for the company and left Globe in 1909. Not much was heard of the Globe Iron Works after 1907 besides an occasional change in the officers or a board of directors meeting.

During the life of the Globe Iron Works Co. two major factors played a big part advertising and design. The advertising was handled by the A. Dollenmayer Advertising Agency in Minneapolis. Even with many ads being run in papers across the country and in foreign lands most of the sales occurred in the local five state area. Mr. White handled the design and patents on the White engines with the last one being applied for in 1901. When Mr. White resigned as president in 1905 he also left his post as head of the board of directors and his name never again appeared in the company reports. Mr. J. J. Flathers was on the board of directors for Globe from 1904 until their last corporate report in 1913. It is believed that Mr. Flathers made design changes in the White engines and this led to the eventual downfall of the company.

In 1907 the company had big export dealings in Australia and New Zealand. The export models had changes in the ignition system that the receiving agencies were dissatisfied with and shipments were returned. These later models may have been called 'the Gopher' engine as many of the parts are identical to the White gasoline engine. One interesting fact is that Mr. Flathers was still head of the mechanical engineering department at the University of Minnesota when the engineering classes went through design, foundering, and building of Gopher outboard motors for their class work.

Globe Iron Works Co. remained a corporation until 1913 although no engines were believed built after 1910. The factory buildings were sold to a different company in 1913 after sitting idle for three years and changed hands until the last owner closed them in 1958. Five White or Gopher engines are known to exist at present.