Transcribed from History of Wyandotte County Kansas and its people ed. and comp. by Perl W. Morgan. Chicago, The Lewis publishing company, 1911. 2 v. front., illus., plates, ports., fold. map. 28 cm. [Vol. 2 contains biographical data. Paged continuously.]


CHAPTER XXXIX.

MID-CONTINENTAL INDUSTRIAL CENTER.

Part 1


THE BEGINNING OF FLOUR MILLING - ELEVATORS - THE LIVE STOCK MARKET - MEAT PACKING INDUSTRY - GREAT SOAP MANUFACTORIES - COOPERAGE AND BOX FACTORIES - FOUNDRIES AND MACHINE SHOPS - IMPLEMENT FACTORIES - THE COTTON INDUSTRY - MANUFACTURE OF COTTON PRODUCTS - THE CEMENT INDUSTRY - AN OIL DISTRIBUTING CENTER - A GREAT STEEL PLANT - UNITED ZINC & CHEMICAL COMPANY - WHERE FIRE ENGINES ARE MADE - BAKING COMPANIES - ICE MANUFACTURING COMPANIES - OTHER MANUFACTORIES - FUTURE POSSIBILITIES.

Not one in one thousand of the settlers who came this way fifty to sixty years ago gave a thought to the possibilities of the region round about the mouth of the Kansas river as a manufacturing center. The vast territory lying west of the Missouri river and along the Kansas river was looked upon by the settlers as presenting possibilities for farming and cattle raising. Manufacturing was not considered as a part of the industrial and commercial activity of the region. Yet in a few years there were those far-seeing men who regarded the choice of location, with reference to supplies of raw materials, labor, fuel and the means of marketing manufactured products, as of some little importance. Thus it was that Kansas came not only to its own, as foremost among the states in the production of farm products, but also in a few years began to attract attention as a manufacturing state, and the metropolis of Wyandotte county advanced to the exalted position, by the year 1900, of seventeenth among the manufacturing cities of the United States.

This growth of manufacturing and commercial activity can truly be said to be neither the result of accident or design. It came about as a result of the natural fitness of the location, with reference to traditional lines of communication - the railroads from all directions eonverging at the point where but a few years before the old trails, came to meet the steamboats that brought up supplies for the prairie settlers and took back cargoes of home products. This was the gateway to the southwest, the west and the northwest.

In a way the growth of industrial life at Kansas City, Kansas, and on the Missouri side of the state line was in the face of a determination that it should not be so. The Pacific Railway of Missouri had extended its line from the east on to Leavenworth, at an early day, and boasted that it would make Kansas City nothing more than a whistling station. Cutoffs were built to Lawrence and St. Joseph, from points east of Kansas City, with the same intent. The Leavenworth, Pawnee & Western built from Leavenworth to Lawrence, avoiding Kansas City, and the Santa Fe did not fill up its gap between Lawrence and Kansas City for several years after that road was first put into operation. But there were some conditions that no amount of effort could counteract. In the first place, most of the settlers came by steamboat across Missouri for the first few years, and, as has already been seen, the proximity of the Santa Fe trail to the west and the military road south, made the town an objective point for the settlers on that account. Naturally they desired to get their provisions as near their new homes as possible, and, as supplies could be brought from St. Louis by boat in about five days, its trade was soon growing rapidly.

Another thing that helped along the growth of this city, even in the early days of its settlement, was the fact that the bulk of the emigration soon after the war was to the Kansas prairies, rather than to the towns farther up the river; it was also aided by the fact that there were no towns in the southern part of the state of Kansas for a long time that had the benefit of railway connections such as would enable them to become distributing centers. Then when the emigration began in earnest to Oregon and California, passing this way as the shortest route by rail or trail, as the case might be, and taking supplies from the country surrounding it, the growth of Wyandotte, or Kansas City, was rapid and permanent. The fitness of the location was soon apparent to the financial world, and the railways were soon either seeking it as a terminus, or, as in the case of the older roads, extending their lines to meet the trade that it commanded. So much for the advantages. The effort was for a good many years confined to the extension of the importance of the town as a trading and distributing point, and in the meantime the competing towns, disappointed in that respect, were building up their manufacturing interests in all the lines that the conditions of the new country demanded.

THE BEGINNING OF FLOUR MILLING.

One of the first manufacturing ventures of this section was the building of a flour mill after the war, and, with the growth of the country, the output of the flour mills in the county gradually became important. At times in the early history of the mills they had to go into Missouri instead of into Kansas for the wheat to grind into flour, and the town did not for many years display any unusual activity in this line of manufacture. With the introduction of hard wheat by the Mennonites from Russia, who settled in Kansas in the seventies, the supply of wheat became dependable, and while the progress was slow the possibilities of building up a milling business here were better than those of the other towns in the wheat-raising belt. The hard wheat did not become a practical factor until late in the eighties, so that the growth of the milling business in Wyandotte county received this stimulus at practically the same time that other industries were enlarging their capacities, and the movement toward centralization began to place manufacturing in all lines on the present basis.

The advantages of location and trade that have been outlined made Kansas City an especially favorable location for flour milling as soon as the exportation of Kansas flour began (about 1880, or possibly a little earlier) to surrounding states; and to the fact that the city is the objective shipping point for a large share of the product that is not ground in the wheat belt, must be given credit for much of the recent development. In 1890 the production of wheat began to assume its present proportions, and since that time, and particularly in the later nineties, the largest of the flour mills have been built on the Kansas side of the state line in Kansas City and Rosedale. At the present time the mills of these cities have a daily capacity for about 11,000 barrels of flour. The principal mills and their daily capacity of barrels are as follows: Rex mill, operated by Southwest Milling Company, 4,000; Southwestern Milling Company's Armourdale mill, 2,500; Ismert-Hincke Milling Company's mill, 2,000; August J. Bulte Milling Company's mill, 1,500; and Arms & Kidder mill at Rosedale, 1,000.

The Rex, Southwestern, Ismert-Hincke and Bulte mills are of modern construction. They stand in a group along the Kansas river valley in Kansas City, Kansas, and together stand among the finest and most modern flour mills in America. With a total capacity of 11,000 barrels daily, they represent an investment of more than $1,000,000 and constantly use nearly as much more in working capital. They supply more than eighty per cent of the output of flour annually that is manufactured at this point. Bonner Springs has a small flour mill that has been operated for several years.

In spite of a tendency toward a wider distribution of mills as near as possible to the wheat fields, the milling interests at Kansas City, Kansas, continue to grow, having doubled their capacity in the last six years; and as long as Kansas maintains the quality and quantity of wheat that has been sent to the mills in the last decade those interests will continue to grow; hence it is predicted that the capacity of the Wyandotte county mills will reach 20,000 to 25,000 barrels daily.

ELEVATORS.

Coincident with the production and marketing of Kansas wheat and the erection and operation of mills was the building of large elevators to handle the grain. Twenty years ago there were only two or three small elevators at Wyandotte; now there are seventeen in Kansas City, Kansas, and Rosedale, with a combined storage capacity of 6,500,000 bushels of grain. These elevators are located along the railroad yards in the valleys from the mouth of the Kansas river to Turner and out the Turkey creek valley in Rosedale. The elevators at those points, with their storage capacity are here given:

Elevators Bushels
Capacity.
 
Santa Fe 1,000,000
Rock Island, 750,000
Maple Leaf, 500,000
Argentine, 500,000
Ismert mill elevator, 100,000
Standard mill elevator, 250,000
Union Pacific, 1,000,000
Old Santa Fe, 750,000
Frisco, 600,000
Memphis, 450,000
Old Rock Island, 120,000
Rosedale, 100,000
Bulte mill elevator, 60,000
Rex mill elevator, 225,000
Arms & Kidder mill elevator, 60,000
Southern mills elevator, 10,000
      Total storage capacity 6,475,000

The Kansas state department maintains its headquarters in Kansas City, Kansas, for the inspection and weighing of bulk of the one hundred million bushels of wheat raised annually in the state and sent to the market. Of the seventeen elevators named in the above list seven are public warehouses for the handling of grain at terminal railway points.

THE LIVE STOCK MARKET.

The live stock market at this point had its beginning forty years ago in a little stock yards on Kansas soil lying between the Kansas river and the state line, on the south of the Union Pacific and Missouri Pacific tracks and at the east end of the Kansas river bridges. Prior to that time the city had been the center for the live stock traders and thousands of cattle were annually trailed in and loaded on the cars for shipment to eastern markets. It was inevitable that the live stock industry should be the first to engage the attention of the pioneer invaders of the great prairie country to the west and southwest. It afforded the easiest, and well nigh the only means of gaining a livelihood outside the chase. Cattle of Spanish origin abounded in the far southwest, whence they had come from old Mexico. Grass, which furnished sustenance for cattle the year round, and put on flesh rapidly in the summer season, covered the prairies of Kansas. Cattle in the far southwest were cheap, and the grass for developing and fattening them was to be had for the taking. The result was that long before the first railroad penetrated this section many thousands of cattle were annually trailed from Texas to Kansas. In fact it was the revenue which the handling of these cattle offered that induced the first railroad to penetrate this cattle grazing territory, and gave to Kansas City its first means of communicating with the section from which the bulk of its trade comes today. It is no exaggeration to say that this city owes its present greatness more to the live stock industry than to all other industries combined.

It was in 1871 that the present Kansas City Stock Yards were founded. A little group of railroad officials and live stock traders, headed by Colonel L. V. Morse, superintendent of the Hannibal & St. Joseph Railroad, were the pioneers in the movement. Five acres were fenced off and divided into eleven pens, fifteen unloading chutes were constructed and one small pair of wagon scales was installed. That was thirty-five years ago. The first year's receipts were 120,827 cattle and calves, 41,036 hogs, 4,527 sheep and 809 horses and mules, a total of 6,623 cars. Today the stock yards cover two hundred and seven acres, about two-thirds in Kansas and one-third in Missouri, and the receipts for the year 1909 were 2,341,879 cattle, 308,474 calves, 3,090,968 hogs, 1,645,702 sheep and 67,811 horses and mules. The value of all live stock shipped to this market in that year (1871) was $4,210,605. The value of the 7,454,834 animals sold, in 1909, was in round numbers one hundred and thirty million dollars.

Not only are the Kansas City Stock Yards the center of the movement of the live stock of commerce in the southwest, but they are the center of the pure bred live stock industry for the territory west of the Mississippi. Here is held annually the greatest exhibition of pure bred live stock the world has ever known - the American Royal Live Stock Show, which attracts exhibitors from half the states and territories of the union and visitors from all of them. At the show of 1909 1,500 head of pure bred cattle, horses, swine and goats were on exhibition, and $30,000 in premiums was distributed. The attendance was nearly 60,000.

THE MEAT PACKING INDUSTRY.

The meat packing industry was one of the first manufacturing enterprises to make its appearance. In 1868 Edward W. Patterson, who had the year before established a small slaughter house at Junction City, formed a company with J. W. Slavens of Kansas City and the first packing house, at this point was erected. In one year its record was 4,209 cattle killed. It was the first beef packing in the city, although two or three small houses for slaughtering hogs had been operated. In 1869 Mr. Slavens sold his interest to Dr. F. B. Nofsinger. Thomas J. Bigger, formerly of Belfast, Ireland, in 1868, began the packing of hogs for the Irish and English markets the first enterprise of the kind started after the war. In 1869 Mr. Slavens formed a copartnership under the name Ferguson, Slavens & Company, whose business was afterwards sold to the Morrison Packing Company. These, with the exception of two or three small houses built for local trade, were the pioneers of the great packing industry.

In 1870 Plankington & Armour rented the packing house of Patterson & Nofsinger, but in the following year they started a plant of their own at the state line in Kansas, and thus laid the foundation of a packing plant which now is the largest of its kind in the world. The firm had already two large houses, one in Milwaukee and one in Chicago. From the date of the establishment of their business at this point the steady and rapid progress of the great interest represented began. In 1884 John Plankington retired from the firm and the corporation of Armour Brothers Packing Company was formed. The brothers represented in the packing firm were Simeon B. Armour, Alexander W. Armour and Philip D. Armour. Later the plant was placed under the corporation known as the Armour Packing Company and thus it was continued until in the autumn of 1910, when the corporation name was discontinued and the Armour packing plants at Kansas City, Kansas, Chicago, Omaha, St. Louis, Ft. Worth and Milwaukee, as well as their several hundred branches, passed under the general control of Armour & Company.

The Fowler Brothers, with packing houses in Liverpool, New York and Chicago, began a beef and pork plant and lard refinery at Kansas City, Kansas, in 1881; Swift & Company began operation there in 1888 and Kingan & Company, in the same year, built a great plant on the site of the present Cudahy Packing Company's establishment on the bank of the Kansas river at Kansas avenue. Afterwards this was destroyed by fire, the site and ruins were purchased by the Cudahy Packing Company and the present great plant erected. Schwarzschild & Sulzberger of New York, in 1892 purchased the old packing plant at Adams street and Osage avenue, in Kansas City, Kansas. It was originally built in the early eighties by the Western Dressed Beef Company, as a part of the great scheme of the Marquis de Mores to have his corporation produce cattle on its own ranches, slaughter them at this point and in its own packing houses and sell the products in its own wholesale houses in New York, Baltimore, Boston, London and Paris. The plan failed. The plant was operated for a time by Morris, Butt & Miller. Then it was sold to the Schwarzschild & Sulzberger Company, now the Sulzberger & Sons Company. Nelson Morris in 1903 erected a model packing plant on the Kansas river which is now being operated under the corporation name of Morris & Company. About the same time the National Packing Company, organized by the "Big Four" packers, purchased the old Ruddy packing plant in Armourdale, also the Fowler plant, and proceeded to operate them as independent concerns. Then came the American Dressed Beef and Provision Company about 1904. The St. Joe Packing Company, Cochrane & Son, J. C. Bertram and the Holmes Packing Company, operate small houses in Kansas City, Kansas.

There was no lack of cattle for a basis of beef packing. It is estimated that at the close of the Civil war there were in Texas literally millions of cattle for which there was practically no market. The only way to reach Chicago, at that time the principal northern center was to drive the herds through Kansas and into Missouri to some railroad terminus.

The opening of this great cattle raising region by the railroads soon made Kansas City an important shipping point. It is already the second hog and cattle market of the great west, and has already outstripped St. Louis, Cincinnati, New Orleans, and all the rest except Chicago. The reason assigned for the development of the market so rapidly was the competition of the southwestern railways that entered Kansas City.

This was the situation at the time of the perfection of the refrigerator car system, which has made it possible to ship fresh meats to all parts of the world, and as soon as the cars were proven to be practicable the Chicago, New York and Boston packers began to look about for a western location for their houses. It was about this time that the citizens of Omaha, Nebraska, succeeded in interesting some outsiders in the establishment of a cattle market and packing center in that place, and in 1884 a stockyards company was organized with a million dollar capital which controlled, so it is reported, an investment of some fifteen millions of dollars in American cattle and grazing lands. Then, in 1885, G. H. Hammond & Company, a Michigan corporation, began the erection of a packing plant at Omaha, followed in the next year by another that the stock yards company was erecting under contract for the Fowlers, who had already built packing houses at Atchison and Kansas City, Kansas. Then, in 1886, Sir Thomas J. Lipton, the well known English pork packer, built a plant in Omaha, which, in the following season, be sold to P. D. Armour, of Chicago, and Michael Cudahy, of Milwaukee. In 1890 Armour sold his Omaha interests, devoting his time to larger interests at Kansas City. Although the eastern packers were hardly established in Kansas City by 1890, the census for that year shows six packing houses representing nearly nine millions of dollars and handling nearly forty million dollars' worth of finished products. In that year only about one-third of the cattle that came to the Kansas City stockyards were sold to the packers, the rest being re-shipped to Chicago and St. Louis. By 1895, however, the Kansas City packing houses were consuming about half the million and a half head of cattle that the stockyards received annually, and by the time of the twelfth census nearly two-thirds of the cattle that came to Kansas City were slaughtered there, while very few hogs were shipped out of it.

The amount of capital invested in the packing houses had increased nearly seventy per cent in the decade, and represented about fifteen millions of dollars, while the number of packing houses had increased from six to eight. The value of the packing-house products in 1900 was more than seventy-three millions of dollars, or more than the combined value of all the manufactured products of both Kansas City, Kansas, and Kansas City, Missouri, for the year of 1890. The ten years from 1900 to 1910 showed an enormous growth of the business. The number of establishments were increased from eight to fourteen according to the United States census. The amount of capital invested was then $32,667,000 and the total value of the output for 1909 was $148,459,000, while 10,650 employees were on the payrolls, receiving in wages for the year amounting to $6,693,269, or an average of $557 for each employe.

This great centralization that has been accomplished in Kansas City has practically been the result of twenty years' work, for before 1890 the industry was comparatively small. It is the consequence of conditions partly peculiar to the industry itself, but in part the result of conditions which led to the growth of other lines of manufactures in Kansas City in the same period. It is but just to give to the rapid growth of the packing industry part of the credit for the attraction of other activities, for prosperity in any line, whatever its cause, cannot but attract others. At any event, before the census of 1890 the activity of the two Kansas Citys was beginning to be noticeable in manufacturing, and in the census year they had some seventeen hundred establishments, producing about seventy-six million dollars of finished products. Kansas City, Kansas, at that time had little else in a manufacturing way than its packing houses, the product of its other industries aggregating only about four million dollars annually. Until 1886, on the Kansas side of the line, was, however, a group of independent towns, with no combined strength such as the union into one municipality, in 1886, was the means of enacting. Since that time it has quadrupled in population, has added to its list of industries, mills and elevators, foundries and machine shops; has multiplied its packing houses, until now it produces more manufactured articles than any other city in the United States according to population, and practically double the amount of the Missouri side of the town.

The meat packing companies operating plants in Kansas City, Kansas, at this writing are as follows:

Armour & Company.

American Dressed Beef and Provision Company.

Baum-Adler Company.

Swift & Company.

Morris & Company.

Sulzberger & Sons Company.

The Cudahy Packing Company.

The Fowler Packing Company (National Packing Company).

Ruddy Bros. (National Packing Company).

Holmes Packing Company.

August Fruend.

Cochrane & Son.

J. C. Bertram.

St. Joe Packing Company.

THE GREAT SOAP MANUFACTORIES.

Contemporaneous with the growth and importance of the live stock market and the meat packing industry is the development of large soap manufacturing plants in Kansas City, Kansas. Two of these plants are among the largest institutions of their kind in the world. The oldest of these is the Peet Brothers Manufacturing Company, organized some twenty years ago. A large plant in the Armourdale district, at Adams street and Osage avenue, built up by degrees until it represented an investment of one half million dollars, was destroyed by fire in 1910. The company lost no time in building a new and much larger plant at Seventeenth street and Kansas avenue, which now is complete and in operation. The company now has a paid-in capital stock of $375,000.

The Proctor & Gamble Company, of Cincinnati, purchased ground in the Kansas river valley west of Armourdale in 1903, and during the next year its large one million dollar plant was placed in operation. The company has a capital of $750,000. Now the plans are ready for an addition to the plant of a building one hundred by four hundred feet and four stories high. The corporation employs two hundred and fifty persons and has an annual output of about $3,000,000.

These two, with the Kansas City Soap Company, are supplying an output of soap equal to one-fourth of the amount manufactured in the United States.

The Standard Rendering Company, manufacturing lubricating oils and other rendering products, has a capital of $1,000,000 and operates a large plant in the stock-yards district.


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