Moline Plow Company

Moline Plow Company

The business that eventually grew into the Moline Plow Company was originally started by Henry Candee and R. K. Swan. Associated with them were Mr. L. E. Hemenway, J. B. Wyckoff and others. They manufactured successfully fanning mills and hay-racks, in a wooden building located on the present site of the magnificent plant of the Moline Plow Company. This business was started in 1865, and shortly after Andrew Friburg associated himself with the company, and the manufacture of plows was taken up. In 1866 Mr. George Stephens added enough capital to the business to make him an equal partner with the others, and for a number of years the business was carried on under the firm name of Candee, Swan and Company, Mr. George Stephens being in charge of the woodworking department; Mr. Friberg of the blacksmith shop and iron work; Mr. Swan did the business and attended to the sale of the product, and Mr.Candee kept the accounts. The business proved a profitable one, and in 1870 was incorporated under the name of “Moline Plow Company” with an authorized capital of $400,000, about $300,000 of which was paid up. Several other parties became interested as stockholders in the concern, prominent among them being Captain Good, A. L. Carson, S.W.Wheelock and A. R. Bryant. The first president of the corporation was Mr. R. K. Swan; the second president Mr. S. W. Wheelock, who died in 1891. After the death of Mr. Wheelock, Mr. George Stephens was elected president. His son, Mr. George Arthur Stephens, and son-in-law, Mr. F. G. Allen were made co-managers and given entire charge of the business. The company at that time had a paid up capital of $800,000, which has been increased from time to time until it now reaches the enormous sum of $6,000,000, the manufactured product having in the meantime in-creased proportionately until Moline plows are known the world over. In 1884 they brought out the Flying Dutch-man sulky plow, which revolutionized the sulky plow business the world over.. Previous to that time all sulky plows had been of the two wheels variety, and in this respect are followers of the world-famous Flying Dutch-man. The sale of this plow did a great deal towards the building up of the business and making the line manufactured by the Moline Plow Company popular with the farming community. In 1886 the Moline Champion corn planter was bought out and produced a revolution in the manufacture of the corn planter almost equal to that produced by the Flying Dutch-man in sulky plows. Up to the time they began the manufacture of the Moline. Champion corn planter, the company had never built a corn planter, and in a very short time they were the leading manufacturers of this class tools. Beginning as plow manufacturers, they have from time to time taken on the manufacture of cultivators, harrows, disc harrows, pulverizers, potato diggers, stalk cutters, cotton planters, cane tools, sugar beet tools, and in fact, practically everything used in the way of agricultural implements excepting grain drills and harvesting machinery. The present branch house system was inaugurated after Mr. George Stephens was elected president. Prior to that time the product had been sold partially through traveling salesmen, partially through the jobbing trade and partially through some jobbing arrangements, of which the Plow Company was part owner. The first branch house of the present system was started at Kansas City, Missouri. in 1892; was followed very shortly by one at Omaha, Nebraska, and since that time branch houses have been organized at Minneapolis, Minnesota; Dallas, Texas; St. Louis, Missouri; Indianapolis, Indiana; Stockton, California; Salt Lake City, Utah; Winnipeg, Canada; Denver, Colorado;fNew Orleans, Louisiana; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Portland, Oregon, and the Dakota-Moline Plow Company, Sioux Falls, South. Dakota, making in all fourteen magnificent branch houses, all of which, with one exception, the Moline-Bain Company, at Portland, Oregon, are owned and controlled by the Moline Plow Company. In addition to the ‘ enormous trade developed in the United States, their foreign trade has grown until it is a very considerable business in itself. The Moline Plow Company and its branch houses employ about two hundred traveling men in the United States. The office force of the Plow Company and the branch houses consists of in the neighborhood of three hundred, and about 1,200 men are constantly employed in the shop. In addition to the goods manufactured by the Moline Plow Company, the branch houses are jobbers of vehicles, wagons, grain drills, seeders, hay tools, feed mills and other classes of agricultural implements. A very large portion of the vehicles and wagons are manufactured by the Mandt Wagon Company at Stoughton, Wisconsin, and the Henney Buggy Company, of Freeport, Illinois, both institutions are branch factories of the Moline Plow Company, they having been merged with that institution September 24, 1906. Previous to the merger they were owned principally and controlled by Moline Plow Company stockholders. Moline Plow Company stock was issued holders in the Henney and Mandt factories in lieu of stock in those concerns, and for this purpose the capital stock of the Plow Company was increased from $4,000,000 to $6,000,000. This increase represented the combined capitalization of the branch factories. The wagon factory employs about four hundred men; the buggy factory about three hundred, and both are kept busy producing high grade goods which find a ready market through the branch house of the Moline Plow Company. Mr. George Stephens who was elected president in 1892, departed this life on the 12th day of July, 1902, full of years and honor, a man respected and loved by all who knew him. He died in his eighty-third year and was succeeded as the president of the company by his son, Mr. George Arthur Stephens, who has proven a worthy successor to his father. Mr. F. G. Allen was at the same time advanced to the office of vice-president; Mr. C. R. Stephens, another son of Mr. George Stephens, is secretary and superintendent; C. A. Banister is treasurer. The company’s business at the present time is the largest in its history, and is steadily growing, with every indication of continuing to do so for years to come. The business policy, including the branch house system adopted by the co-managers, Mr. Stephens and Mr. F. G. Allen in 1892, has proven successful in every respect and indicates that the judgment of Mr. George Stephens in placing the business in the hands of these men was good. Perhaps he builded better even than he knew.


City of Moline 


Source: Historic Rock Island County, pub. Kramer & Company, Rock Island, Illinois, 1908

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Pin It on Pinterest

Scroll to Top