217 years ago today, May 10, 1806 Augustus Adams, the man that would introduce life changing machinery to farmers across the country and alter agriculture forever was born in Cayuga County, New York. In 1856 he came to Sandwich, where he opened a small machine shop that would become the Sandwich Manufacturing Company. They would become the world's largest manufacturer of corn shellers in the world in the 1800's . His factory employed hundreds of people for over seventy years. Sending these products throughout the world, the Sandwich-Adams corn shellers quickly became the standard for reliable, dependable operation in all conditions.
There is so much to be said for what the Adams family meant to Sandwich in the mid 1800's. They were well respected in the community, the State of Illinois, and throughout the Midwest. Sandwich Manufacturing provided steady employment for decades. There are numerous stories about employees that worked there for many years.
A few highlights of his many accomplishments
1838 - Came to Elgin from NY. Started the 1st foundry west of Lake Michigan
Selected to represent Kane County at the 1847 ILL Constitutional Convention
Though he never sought office, Kane County voters elected Adams, as a Whig to the Illinois house of Representatives. He served in the Illinois House from January 1851 to June 1852. In 1854, Adams won election, as a Republican to the Illinois Senate, serving in that body from January 1855 to February 1857.
1854 Meeting in Bloomington, Adams was present and assisted in forming the Republican party along with notables Lovejoy, Palmer and Lincoln
Corresponded regularly with Lincoln
From the Scientific American – In 1850 Adams and J.T. Gifford of Elgin built “Probably” the first hand binding harvesting machine. What made this machine different was men rode on the machine. No need to follow behind to stoop and pick up the bundles. Little was done with this machine. In 1853 he built a similar machine, but with his patented jointed cutter bar.
In 1856, Mr. Adams transitioned his business to Sandwich as A. Adams & Sons, a partnership with his three oldest sons: Darius, Joseph Phelps and Henry.
In 1867, A. Adams & Sons incorporated as The Sandwich Manufacturing Company
Started the first factory in DeKalb County
Operated in Sandwich for over 70 years. Joseph Phelps served as Secretary-Treasurer until his death in 1904. Henry Adams served as Superintendent until he retired in 1910, and as Vice Chairman until his death in 1917. Darius died in 1872 and Augustus in 1892.
They shipped their products, Harvesters, Binders, Mowers, Corn Shellers, Hay presses (balers), Hay loaders, Side delivery Hay rakes, Hit and miss gasoline engines, and many more, all over the world.
Quality of products and their trademark “Sandwich Manufacturing Company, Sandwich, Illinois” made the company and the town known and respected throughout the agricultural world.
1909 Free Press – Annual sales nearing a million Dollars over 32 million today. Also, from the same paper, the following excerpt tells us how important the company was to Sandwich back in the day. “The Sandwich Manufacturing Co. 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.