A (very) Brief History of Sandwich Manufacturing Company

This brief history of Sandwich Manufacturing Company begins in Elgin, Illinois. In 1840 Augustus Adams operated a machinery repair shop in Elgin. In the summer of 1841, he built a small iron foundry and machine shop, and engaged in the manufacture of agricultural machinery. At that time, it was the first foundry west of Chicago. Customers came from

Rockford, Freeport, Galena, and other places. While in Elgin he began developing a portable power corn sheller, this unprecedented idea would later transition his company into the largest independent producer of corn shellers in the world in the 1880’s. In addition to his growing success as a machinery repair specialist, his political career was beginning. He never ran for office but nonetheless, he was selected and served the citizens wholeheartedly. In 1847 he was chosen as a delegate to the Illinois Constitutional Convention and was electedHe also served as a Kane County Senator from 1855-1863. Also in the senate at that time was Wm Patten from SandwichPatten convinced Adams to come to Sandwich and open his Foundry and machine repair shop in Sandwich. The rest is history.  

In 1855 Mr. Adams, still living in Elgin, transitioned his business to Sandwich as A. Adams & Sons. His corn sheller was the initial foundation is his operation. Here he continued to develop the idea of creating a practical, portable power corn sheller. In 1857 Adams moved his family here and fervently continued his work as fast as his means would permit. By 1861 the reputation of the Sandwich-Adams corn sheller spread throughout the land and calls for these machines came in from all over the northwest. To supply the demand, he hired on 100 men, thus becoming the first factory in DeKalb County. With the continued success of the company and with ever increasing sales, in 1867, capital at home was readily found to combine with the firm of A. Adams and Sons and increase the manufacture of these machines and The Sandwich Manufacturing Company was organized. They produced a full line of shellers, their small “Corn King” portable one-hole sheller up to their 8-hole horse drawn power sheller  With their good reputation spreading rapidly, and due the increasing trade demands, more room was needed so they commenced to build a spacious and complete set of shops. These buildings and yards now cover about two blocks of ground with railroad tracks running to every point, so all supplies are unloaded from the car to where it is needed, and all outgoing shipments are loaded directly onto the rail cars from each department. At this point, the paid-up capital is $250,000. The Adams family hold multiple patents for corn sheller improvements, and other equipment. Their gas engines, introduced in 1914, are still recognized by collectors as machines of the highest quality. The products they manufactured were shipped all over the world. The company continued to flourish, they provided gainful employment for many people for over 70 years. What the company meant to the community of Sandwich is summed up in a 1909 article in the local newspaper, the Sandwich Free Press. The article begins by telling the readers that the annual sales of Sandwich Manufacturing are nearing a million dollars. (That is over 32 million today) The final statement of the article gives us a glimpse of how the community perceived the company. “The Sandwich Manufacturing Company. To a stranger that might not mean much, nor could it convey the important part the company plays in the commercial life of Sandwich. But to our people, it means all, and more than a few of the residents realize it”  


Augustus Adams was the driving force for this Company, here are some highlights 

  • 1840’s he operated the first foundry west of Lake Michigan 

  • Elected to the 1847 Constitutional Convention  

  • 1851 1853 served in the Illinois House of Representatives 

  • 1855-1863 served as a Senator  

  • Corresponded with A. Lincoln  

  •  Started the first factory in DeKalb County 

  • Sandwich Manufacturing Co. operated in Sandwich for over 70 years 

  • Sandwich Manufacturing shipped their products all over the world 

  • Some of the machines they produced  

  • Harvesters 

  • Binders 

  • Mowers 

  • Corn Shellers 

  • Hay presses (balers) 

  • Hay loaders 

  • Side delivery Hay rakes 

  • Hit and miss gasoline engines  

  • Ear corn slicers 

  • Horse powers 

  • Feed grinders 

  • Farm utility carts 

  • Bucket elevators 

  • Twine 

  • Barbed wire 

  • Manure spreaders 

  • Reel type lawn mowers 


1 comment:

  1. Very interesting. Hope to read more in the future .


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