The History of The Racine Woolen Manufacturing Company

 

The Racine Woolen Manufacturing Company was organized to take over a business that was founded in 1863 by L. S. Blake and John S. Hart and was conducted under the name of Blake & Company at Bridge and Ontario streets. They started business on a small scale in a little building, but the trade steadily grew and in 1877 the business was incorporated with L. S. Blake as the president, John S. Hart as treasurer, James J. Elliott and A. W. Tillapaugh as stockholders and directors. At that time the plant was known as a two set mill, having about fifteen looms. Afterward the business was incorporated under the name of the Racine Woolen Mills, Blake & Company as proprietors. The company originally made shawls and blankets and in later years extended the scope of their output to include cloth for clothing. Their shawls were sent out under the name of the Badger State Shawls, which became famous, being recognized as a standard of manufacture for the United States, their sales extending throughout the entire country. Various changes have occurred as the business has developed, not only in the goods manufactured but also in the processes used. Today their output includes Indian shawls and blankets and they have become the largest manufacturers in this line in the country, selling to all Indian traders throughout the United States. The factory covers forty-five thousand square feet of floor space and in normal times they employ about one hundred and fifty people. They handle exclusive lines that cannot be duplicated elsewhere and their goods include a large variety of designs and patterns brought out in the most attractive colors and most durable materials.

Mr. Blake remained president of the company until his death, which occurred in 1894, when he was succeeded by L. J. Elliott, who continued as president until 1911. John S. Hart was treasurer until 1895, when he was succeeded by his son, Sands M. Hart, who occupied the office until 1911. In 1912 the business was reorganized, with Sands M. Hart as president, associated with his two sons, Harold H. Hart, treasurer, and John S. Hart, secretary. With the death of Sands M. Hart on the 23d of December, 1915, Harold H. Hart became the president, with John S. Hart as secretary and treasurer. The Hart family has taken over all of the stock of the company and is active in the management of a business which has become one of the leading manufacturing interests of Racine.


Source: Racine, Belle City of the lakes, and Racine County, Wisconsin : a record of settlement, organization, progress and achievement; Chicago: S. J. Clarke Pub. Co., 1916, 1216 pgs.

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