What's a Hoosier?

Mysteries abound in the engine-selling history of Flint and Walling


| August 2006



08-06-010-PAGE13.jpg

Hoosier engines were indeed versatile, as shown in this vertical engine/pumping attachment combo.

When the name Flint & Walling is mentioned, you will probably hear a lot about windmills and pumps. After all, they are best known for inventing the "Star" windmill in the late 1870s. What you might not hear much about are their engine sales.

Looking at engines in Flint &Walling's catalogs from 1901-1930 can be somewhat deceiving, leading one to think these engines were made by F&W. However, there has been a lot of speculation that F&W actually sold re-badged Alamos and Woodpeckers.

The beginning

According to an article published in the Kendallville (Indiana) News-Sun, the company traces its beginnings back to a Canadian, Simeon Flint, and a New Yorker, David C.?Walling, who moved to Kendallville, seeking work. The article states, "What they found would become one of the leading manufacturers in windmills, pumps and water systems in the world, the Flint &Walling Mfg. Co."

The men bought a share in a small foundry, opened in 1854 by William Hildreth and Henry McComskey. In 1866, the company was reorganized as Hildreth, Flint &Walling Mfg.?Co. and it was enlarged to handle an increasing production of agricultural implements. In 1871, Henry I. Park of A.B. Park & Bros. acquired Hildreth's one-third interest in the company and it became Flint &Walling Mfg. Co.

The article also states that Flint concentrated on?windmills, while Walling made improvements to single-acting, three-way and double-acting force pumps. The company sold its products under the names Star, Hoosier, Galvazink and Fast Mail. The company was incorporated in 1886 for $90,000. Flint died in 1894 and Walling followed in 1914.

In the early 1900s, the company began manufacturing a variety of items, such as light towers, storage tanks and washing machines. It even manufactured steam engines. Two thoughts could be taken from this fact: Either we believe that since the company made steam engines, it is not so far off to believe it made gas engines; or since there is mention of many other items made by F&W and no mention of gas engines, we believe it did not. Either way, we're guessing and the mystery remains. Did F&W build its own engines?