History of the Globe Iron Works

By Staff
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A Globe Iron Works ad from the Dunn County News.
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'Gopher' engine owned by Rodger Hutchinson, a collector from Victoria, Australia.

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.

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