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Manufacturing Companies

Bobbs Merrill Co. | Wm. Burford & Co. | Indianapolis Chain & Stamping Co.
Indianapolis Electrotype Company | Polk Cannery

Bowen-Merrill Company/Bobbs-Merrill Co.

Bowen-Merrill was a publishing company based in Indianapolis. The company grew out of an Indianapolis bookstore, owned by Samuel Merrill, and initially focused on publishing law books. In 1883 Bowen-Merrill began publishing popular books by authors such as James Whitcomb Riley. When Bowen-Merrill began publishing the works of two other Indiana authors, George Ade and Meredith Nicholson, it became a nationally-known publisher. In 1903 the company was re-named Bobbs-Merrill, reflecting the leadership in the firm of William C. Bobbs. The company entered the area of educational publishing in 1908.

  • "Bobbs-Merrill Company." Encyclopedia of Indianapolis. Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1994.

William Burford and Co.

William B. Burford was a manufacturer of stationary products. William Braden founded the business in 1860 with Burford as a silent partner. Burford became sole owner in 1875. He carried a full line of blank books and stationery. He also carried a line of specialty items such as, sets of books and supplies for banks, insurance companies, and other commercial corporations to "whom permanency and durability are of such vital importance."

Burford owned a six story factory and warehouse at 17-24 West Pearl Street. He took orders for typographical work, copper plate printing, lithographing, engraving, photogravure work, and more. He had the sole license for manufacturing Miller-Megee Patent Flat-opening Blank Book for the State of Indiana. It had the "official endorsement from the US Government as being the strongest and best blank book ever placed on the market." He also had a contract with the state of Indiana to furnish all lithographing, blank books, stationary, printing and binding for the state. Sometime around the turn of the century the company moved to 38 South Meridian. M.R. Hayman, author of Hayman's Handbook, declared it to be one of the oldest and largest printing establishments in the city. In 1907 Burford had approximately 250 employees working in various departments. The business extended throughout the mid-west.

  • Indianapolis of Today. Indianapolis: Consolidated Illustrating Co., 1896.
  • Hayman's Handbook of Indianapolis. Indianapolis: M.R. Hayman Company, 1907.

Indianapolis Chain and Stamping Company

Indianapolis Chain and Stamping was the first company in the United States to specialize in the manufacturing of bicycle driving chains. Improved chains, like the Diamond Cycle Chain, were in great demand due to the increased popularity of cycling. A plant was erected especially for the purpose of manufacturing these improved chains. It was a two story brick and stone building with two annex wings at Georgia and Senate Ave.

The product was patented as was the machinery used to make it. The machinery was operated by 20 electric motor aggregating 226 horse power. The facility was well ventilated and lit throughout by electricity. In 1896, between 800 and 1000 employees supported the international business. 1896 sentiments of the company were summed up in this quote, "By an universal opinion the company is accorded the palm as being the foremost cycle chain manufacturer in the world." The company is known today as Diamond Chain.

  • Indianapolis of Today. Indianapolis: Consolidated Illustrating Co., 1896.

Indianapolis Electrotype Company

Indiana Electrotype Company, 23 West Pearl Street, was founded in 1893 by several local businessmen, with J. H. Hutton as active manager. The printing company had contracts with the Indianapolis News, Sentinel, Journal, and several other large commercial houses. Their work included printing books, wood cuts, standing advertisements, bill heads or any other type of publication. The company's specialty was the production of nickel-types and duplicating half-tones. The operation was sustained by the latest equipment at the time, including an 85 horse power gas engine. Business spread throughout Indiana, into Ohio and Illinois.

  • Indianapolis of Today. Indianapolis: Consolidated Illustrating Co., 1896.

Polk Cannery

At his son's request, J. T. Polk started a canning business. The father-son team were pioneers in the canning business in Indiana. They started with a small shop which grew into one of the largest green crop canning factories in the country. In 1877 Polk erected a factory in Greenwood. Additions to the factory were continually made until 1906, when it was destroyed by a fire. The factory covered six acres of land, and employed 1,000 men and women during the canning season. The factory produced thousands of crates of canned tomatoes, peas, corn, beans, bottled catsup, tomato soup and other specialties. J. T. Polk was also the owner of Polk's Jersey Milk.

  • Indianapolis Star, December 13, 1906 p 3 c 1.