A Brief History of The Chamberlain Machine Works


| December/January 1988



Chamberlain logo

Modern day Chamberlain logo.

1920 Franklin Street, Waterloo, Iowa 50703. 

Chamberlain Machine Works was founded by Andrew Mark Chamberlain, who was born February 24, 1855, in Dover, Illinois. Mr. Chamberlain's father was Mark Andrew Chamberlain, who married Mary Bartholomew. Dr. M. A. Chamberlain, a physician, came to Iowa in 1859, and settled in Winthrop, where he died in 1905. Andrew Mark Chamberlain grew up in Winthrop and ran a general store with his brother and father. About 1889, A. M. Chamberlain built the second creamery in Iowa, in Winthrop. He later owned and operated a number of creameries at various points in this state, and became known as the best butter maker in Iowa. The first creamery in Iowa was started by John Froe-lich in Froelich, Iowa, about 1885 (Froelich is located at the junction of 18 & 52, between McGregor and Monona.) The third Iowa creamery business operator was Leonard Johial Powers in Powersville, about 1892, later in Nashua. All three of these men relocated to Waterloo, and went into business. Froelich brought the gas traction engine to Waterloo in 1892, and after an unsuccessful attempt at manufacturing relocated to St. Paul, Minnesota where he manufactured washing machines and other items.

Powers located in Waterloo in 1902, to manufacture horse collars, and the business he started is still in operation today.

Chamberlain is credited as one of the prominent figures in the development of the cream separator industry in Iowa, and located in Waterloo in 1898. He married Ida Almina Pulis, of Winthrop, a woman with whom he had two children; Floyd L., and Marjorie. Chamberlain and son Floyd established themselves in Waterloo in 1898, as traveling salesmen of creamery supplies.

A little history of cream separators here is important. The discovery that centrifugal force would separate cream from milk belongs to an obscure German chemist in the late 1850's. He died without knowing that his discovery would revolutionize dairying methods. Also a Danish horse doctor named Jensen experimented along these same avenues. It was a German engineer, Lefeldt, working on this idea starting about 1874, who was able to put together a machine in 1877. Lefeldt's machine was a large separator that would spin only 800 rpm, and was to be used by creameries.

The continuous cream separator was invented several years later-the first one was a Danish-Weston, made by Neilson &. Petersen. Others followed like the DeLeval, Lefeldt, Fesca, and others; all were European inventions, and imported into this country. By 1885, these companies were getting their products made in America because of import duties.