Tom Snodgrass of Shannon, Ill., has plenty to
be proud of in regard to his Ziegler-Schryer engine. While the name
Rawleigh-Schryer is one known to many people, the history and
companies leading up to that name are not widely known. Tom’s 4 HP
engine is one of only five known to exist, and its serial no. d1798
makes it the oldest.
Ziegler-Schryer Co. appeared in the 1909-1911 Freeport, Ill.,
directory under the manufacturers of windmills and gas engines
title. Rawleigh-Schryer Co. appeared in 1912-1915 as a gas engine
manufacturer. And 1916 was the only year the Rawleigh Co. was
listed. But let’s dig deeper.
Oscar Ziegler and a man by the name of Roy Bennethum formed The
Freeport Windmill & Mfg. Co. around the turn of the 20th
century. The two were formerly employed by Stover Mfg. & Engine
Co., Bennethum as works manager and Ziegler as superintendent of
manufacturing. Another Stover employee, Paul Schryer, who assumed
Ziegler’s job when he left, joined the pair in mid-1909. The name
was then changed to the Freeport Windmill & Gas Engine Co. Two
months later, in August, the name was changed to Ziegler-Schryer
The 1910 History of Stephenson County states: “No new
company ever began under more favorable auspices.” The company was
evidently successful from the beginning because of the experience
of the men. They specialized in horizontal gas engines. “In
addition to the engine business the company does a general machine
shop work and makes high grade gray iron castings. The company puts
out an attractive line of goods and is meeting with such success
that it has already become necessary to enlarge the plant and
increase the output. Eighty men are employed at present and the
number is constantly increased.”
However all was not positive as the company was apparently held
back by a lack of capital, which led W.T. Rawleigh to buy out the
controlling share of stock at the end of 1912. The company name was
changed to Rawleigh-Schryer Co. and in February of 1916, it became
Rawleigh Mfg. Co. Bennethum, who served as secretary for
Ziegler-Schryer went back to Stover where he served as vice
president and eventually president.
According to Michael McCracken, who began a Ziegler-Schryer,
Rawleigh-Schryer and Rawleigh engine registry a couple of years
ago, Ziegler also went back to Stover, at least that is what people
say. But his name was not listed in the Freeport directory after
1911. More research is needed to find out what really became of
Ziegler, as in 1911 he was still listed as president of the
Ziegler-Schryer Co. At the time, however, he did hold a patent on a
money transfer. This was used to transfer money from one part of a
building to another through ropes and pulleys, much like the vacuum
tubes of today’s bank drive-thrus.
On Jan. 12, 1917, the Rawleigh factory burned, losing all of its
records and just less than $200,000 in estimated loss. The company
would never make another engine.
The only difference in the Rawleigh-Schryer line of engines is
the governor, which was changed from a single-weight striker type
to a double weight. Owners of engines built by this ever-changing
company can easily estimate a manufacturing date, as
Ziegler-Schryer built engines from Aug. 25, 1909 to Dec. 12, 1912;
Rawleigh-Schryer built engines from 1912 to 1916; and Rawleigh
built engines from Feb. 17, 1916 to Jan. 12, 1917.
Tom can certainly be satisfied that he has an engine with a
noteworthy history. He found this engine in northern Michigan and
brought it back to Freeport to restore. He sincerely hopes more of
these rare engines surface.
On a side note, The American Thresherman Assn. 48th Annual
Steam, Gas and Threshing Show will be featuring the
Rawleigh-Schryer line of engines at the 2007 show Aug. 16-17, in
Pinckneyville, Ill. Then the road leads to Freeport in 2009 for 100
years of these engines.
For more information on the Rawleigh Co. see the
January/February and March/April 1985 issues of Gas Engine
Contact Tom Snodgrass at:
Michael McCracken has gathered historical information as
well as started a registry with 104 engines currently registered.
Contact him at: 7879 State Route 309, Galion, OH 44833; (419)
Some information for this article was gleaned from an
article written in 1969 credited to Vergil Gerdes, Roy Bennethum,
the Stephenson County Historical Society and the Freeport Chamber