How Your Hobby Started Part IX


| July/August 1970



200-hp Stirling

Engineer Meijer worked 22 years to make this 200-hp Stirling prototype possible.

3904 47th Ave. S., Seattle, Washington 98118

The small hit and miss, pop skip and pop engines performed a good pioneering function for the American farmer. We might say he cut his teeth on the single cylinder gasoline engine as he learned the principle of the two and four cycle internal combustion engines with these early machines. His knowledge of these engines prepared him for the first gasoline engine tractors, as many were powered with single cylinder engines when they were marketed. These tractors increased his capacity in being able to till more land and increase his earnings, so he was able financially to buy and know how to operate the automobile when they made their first appearance in the country.

In the vicinity of the state border between Wisconsin and Illinois came a large production of some of the most popular gasoline engines. In Rockford and Freeport, Illinois, and in Beloit, Wisconsin, was located the nation's largest gasoline engine manufacturers. At Rockford was located the National Engine Company and the Savage & Love Manufacturing Company. Then at Beloit, just across the state line in Wisconsin was Fairbanks, Morse & Company, Beloit Works, and at one time another company known as The J. Thompson & Sons Manufacturing Company.

Freeport, Illinois, is located in Steph-enson County where a fine museum under the name of this county is housed in a pre-Civil War period, beautiful, stone home known as 'Bohemiana.' This site was donated by the family of Oscar and Malvina Taylor, and within its spacious grounds are located many species of trees in the arboretum, together with a farm exhibit of early Americana and a display of the Stover Manufacturing and Engine Company.

The founder, Daniel C. Stover, was born at Greencastle, Franklin County, Pennsylvania, in 1840. With his parents, they settled in Lanark, Illinois in 1864. Daniel came to Freeport in 1866. His career started here by going into the manufacturing of farm cultivators, wind mills, barb wire and nail making machines. Early catalogs and stationary of his company indicate that Daniel Stover started in business, before coming to Freeport, in the year of 1862.

The company was well established as Daniel was of an inventive nature and his first company was known as the Stover Experimental Works. Some years later in 1893, the Stover Engine Works was started as a separate organization. They built various types of gasoline engines in stationary and portable designs, and also made one to operate on alcohol. The company employed about 250 men. D. C. Stover was President, with Fred Smith as Secretary, Wm. J. Freidag as Superintendent. New additions were added to the factories from time to time, and in 1890 a 45 acre tract north of Henderson Street was purchased. Here the large plant was constructed.