Chicago Tribune, August 20, 1858
In to-day’s columns will be found the advertrisement of Messrs. William H. Turner & Leverett B. Sidway, manufacturers of Saddlery, who have, for upwards of eleven years, been engaged in the business in the city of Alton. Messrs. T. & S. are old and experienced Saddlers, and well known throughout the West as being second to none in the quality and style of their work, whilst, from the fact of their being manufacturers, they are enabled to sell at from 10 to 15 per cent less than the same goods can be sold for which are purchased of Eastern manufacturers. They have established the first exclusively wholesale house in their line in Chicago, and we greet them as an other evidence of our city’s growth and return to prosperity.
Chicago Tribune, January 30, 1862
The manufacture of military accoutrements in this city is a branch of industry recent in its inauguration, and though strictly the offspring of a necessity, has developed to a magnitude and indicted resources and excellencies which point to a permanent character and wide-spread patronage.
As we witness to-day the departure of regiment, well-armed, thoroughly equipped and excellently uniformed, it recalls recollections of the earlier days of the war, when our troops left us, unprovided in any of these respects. When Cairo, the great strategic point of the west, was threatened, Government called upon our citizens to aid in expelling invaders and crushing the rebellion. The people of Illinois, in common with loyal men everywhere, obeyed the call with alacrity. Though the forces were raised and numbered by the thousands, their numbers and courage availed them little while they were destitute of military equipments and ammunition. That eventful Sabbath will never be forgotten in our municipal annals, when the first detachment of troops departed to defend an important avenue of travel near Cairo—with the exception of some of our citizen soldiery—destitute of accoutrements, uniforms and ammunition.
The necessity of furnishing so large a body of troops with the habiliments of war, and the impossibility of obtaining needed equipments from former sources of supply, compelled the establishment of manufactories in our midst, which have supplied cavalry and infantry equipments in immense quantities, and amounting in value to over one million dollars. In this connection we propose to speak of this branch of business as operated in this city, interesting as one of the elements of prosperity appertaining to Chicago in common with all the manufacturing cities of the North.
Quality of the Goods.
The quality of the goods manufactured here, particularly in the line of cavalry equipments, has been pronounced by competent judges, decidedly above the average. A lot was manufactured by the house of Condict, Wooley & Co., furnished to Farnsworth’s Cavalry Regiment, and taken to teh Potomac, where the work was brought into comparison with that manufactured in the best Eastern manufactories, and for excellence of stock, superiority of workmanship, and adaptability to the peculiarities of the service, was pronounced unequalled.
The business of manufacturing army clothing so far as this city is concerned, will be treated of in another article.
What Is An Infantry Equipment?
Infantry equipage, strictly speaking, consists of uniforms, arms and accoutrements, but for the purposes of this article it will be treated as consisting of five articles, viz.: a cartridge box of leather, with two tin boxes of an oblong shape, about two inches wide by four inches long, placed therein to preserve the ammunition from dampness; a box of leather for percussion caps; a bayonet sheath, shoulder belt and waist belt, all of of strong harness leather.
What Is A Cavalry Equipment?
A cavalry equipment consists of a saddle, a pair of holsters, breast-plate, spur, curry-comb, brush, girth, surcingle, carbine boot or socket, halter, watering bridle, bridle, valise, and feed-bag. In all fourteen pieces. Cavalry equipments are of two kinds—the “Grimsley” and the “McClellan” equipment.
The Grimsley Saddle.
The Grimsley Saddle is an invention of Co. Thornton Grimsley of St. Louis, who obtained a patent sixteen years ago for his invention. Two years since, when the patent expired, not anticipating any extraordinary demand, he neglected to obtain any renewal of it, and the manufacture is consequently free to all. Parties in Chicago, Racine, Columbus (Ohio) and St. Louis are largely engaged in this manufacture, and in supplying army contractors. The tree of this saddle is covered with raw-hide, from a high pommel of convenient shape for supporting the holsters and a high cantle to support the valise; is made of black leather with quilted seat; heavy brass stirrups and brass cantle mountings.
The McClellan Saddle.
The McClellan” saddle is a combination of the Russian, Turkish and Spanish saddles, invented by Gen. McClellan, after his return from the Crimea, and is very durable and light. The tree is covered with raw-hide, and the leather is all attached to it with screws. It is without leather seat, and trimmed with the Spanish girth, and wooden stirrups. With the saddle no holsters are used, the rider carrying his pistols in his belt.
Turner & Sidway, No. 208 Randolph Street.
Among the houses engaged in the manufacture of military equipments is that of Turner & Sidway, No. 208 Randolph street. This firm have for the last three years, and previous to the rebellion, been engaged in the general saddlery jobbing trade, making all articles in their line upon their own premises, with the exception of whips. In May, 1861, they abandoned their legitimate business and entered exclusively upon the the manufacture of military equipments. The first contract filled was one for Capt. Barker’s Dragoons, on an order from the Quartermaster’s Department of the State of Illinois. Since that time they have manufactured and sold 12,260 full sets of cavalry equipments, of which number 5,000 were the “McClellan,” and 7,260 the “Grimsley.” Of these 1,156 sets were furnished the 11th Cavalry, Col. R. I. Ingersoll, on an order from the United States; 1,156 went to the 3rd Iowa Cavalry, Col. Cyrus Bussey, on an order from the same source; 400 to the 2nd Iowa Cavalry, Col. Elliott, upon a Government order; 200 to the Iowa 1st Cavalry, Colonel Fitz Henry Warren; 200 to the 36th Illinois Regiment, Col. Greusel; (this was an Infantry Reginment with two Companies of Cavalry attached;) 453 to the 3d Wisconsin Cavalry, Colonel W. A. Barstow, o an order from Capt. Trowbridge, U.S. Quartermaster; 176 to the U.S. Quartermaster’s Department at St. Louis, on the order of the late Colonel Webb; 500 to the State of Ohio; 1,110 to Col/ Dickey’s 4th Illinois Cavalry, on the order of the U.S. Quartermaster; and 6,909 to ex-Governor Wood, and by him distributed to the several Illinois Regiments. Officers’ equipments have been furnished, among others, to Generals Prentiss, Paine, Pope, Palmer, Hurlburt, Colonels Wyman, Barstow, Ingersoll, Dickey, Greusel, Wood, Parker and Marsh. The amount received for ordinary cavalry equipments is $32.25 each. Officers pay from $75.00 to $95.00 each, according to the degree of ornamentation bestowed. They have furnished 1,000 sets since the 1st of January, 1861, at $29 per set—two dollars less than the army regulation price, as revised November 5th, 1861; and they are also at work on a contract for 5,000 more, for supplying regiments and parts of regiments now being raised in different parts of the State. These are the “McClellan” equipments, and are furnished at the reduced rate above mentioned, showing a reduction to the State of the neat little sum of $12,500 from the regulation price.
At the commencement of their operations, saddlery hardware was purchased of eastern manufacturers; but they subsequently induced Chicago mechanics to make what they needed. Messrs. Letz & Co., Crane & Bro., and L. I. Todd made their bridle bits, L. I. Todd the spurs; C. E. Cook, of Chicago, and Thomas Falvey, of Racine, the saddle-trees, which were previously manufactured at St. Louis, and by prison convicts at Columbus, Ohio; and S. D. Childs, the engraver, the breast-plates, bridle and valise ornaments, all of which were furnished by these mechanics at Eastern prices. Knapsacks, haversacks, blankets and gun accoutrements were mostly delivered to the order of the Quartermaster General, Ex-Gov. Wood. The contract price for knapsacks was $1.35 each, except a lot of 2,000 were furnished for Gen. McClernand’s Brigade at $2.50. Baggage horse collars brought $2, and were delivered to the United States Quartermaster’s Department at St. Louis on the order of Capt. Callander, United States ordnace officer at the Arsenal. Besides these, they have furnished 15,000 blankets at $2.75 each, to accompany the above equipments.
The contract price of an Infantry equipment, consisting of five pieces is $3.30. This firm have also a contract for 12,000 sets at $3.35. The total amount of sales for military purposes to this date is $530,630.96.
The greatest number of employees during the season was 461, average number 400; amount paid for wages for 1861 $69,522.85. Of employees, from fifteen to fifty at different times have been females, who in consequence of the war, and the stagnation of general business have been thrown out of employment. They prepare work for the sewing machines and operate them, and do much of the labor heretofore performed by men. There are fifteen Singer Sewing Machines and two of Taggart’s and Farr’s used in their shops. There are four work shops now occupied; two floors over their store; one in rear of 209 Randolph street; one on Washington street, between Wells and Franklin streets; and one in Lloyd’s Block, corner of Wells and Randolph streets. In the latter are used the three entire upper floors, 55×100, and the operative force in each is worked day and night.
It may be proper to add that, about a month ago, an army officer of experience from Washington was detailed to visit the establishment og Messrs. Turner & Sidway and report upon the capabilities of their works, and the quality of their equipments, who returned with enlarged and exceedingly favorable opinions of Chicago manufactures, as is evidenced by a letter to this firm, recently received from Headquarters.
Condict, Wooley & Co., No. 52 Lake St.
This firm previous to the war were well known as extensive dealers in Salary Hardware, and in that branch of trade had secured an extensive business and acquired an excellent reputation as dealers. On the breaking out of the rebellion in addition to their regular trade they turned their attention to the manufacture of military equipments, in which they have been singularly successful. They have secured extensive contracts, and obtained the recommendations and good will of all whom they have furnished. Of the quality of the goods manufactured, principally cavalry equipments, it is impossible to speak too highly. So well did they fulfill their contracts that orders were received from many points not legitimately seeking Chicago as a manufacturing and contracting point; and this firm are now represented in their manufactures in almost every division of the army in the Potomac, in Missouri, in Ohio, in Kentucky, and wherever our troops have been stationed; it is patent to all judges that their equipments do not suffer by comparison. The equipage of that splendid regiment, the 8th Illinois Cavalry, Co, Farnsworth, entirely furnished by them, has been especially noted by army officers as the perfect of military manufacture. It will be remembered that this regiment was ordered to the Potomac where the quality of the work and its general adaptability to the service was brought into comparison with that made at all the principal Eastern manufacturing points, and few equalled, and none excelled them.
Some of the regiments supplied were:
- Col. Farnsworth’s regiment with 1,200 full sets of cavalry equipments;
Col. Brackett’s 1,080 sets;
First Iowa, Col. Fitz Henry Warren, 750 sets;
100 sets for Fremont’s body guard;
600 sets for U.S. Quartermaster’s Department at St. Louis;
100 sets for the cavalry company attached to Col. Wilson’s regiment.
They have also furnished a large number of officers’ equipments, among whom are Cols. Farnsworth, Brackett, Warren, and several of the officers attached to the 12th Wisconsin.
They have now on exhibition at their store a magnificent saddle and accompanying equipments for Col/ Cuming of the 51st Illinois volunteers, ordered by the officers and privates of his command, which for general excellence and beauty cannot be surpassed. It is the best set of officer’s equipment ever manufactured in this city, and is valued at $125 complete.
They also manufactured for Childs, Pratt & Fox, of St. Louis, the contractors for Gen. Fremont, 600 sets worth $18,000.
The “Grimsley” trees used were manufactured to some extent in this city, and were equal to those made at St. Louis. Besides the 3,000 knapsacks and a large number of infantry accoutrements were furnished by the Union Defense Committee. During the height of the manufacturing season, three hundred and fifty men were employed, and the force was worked night and day. We were unable to learn the exact total of sales to Government and contractors to date, but the amount will fall far short of $400,000.
Gustave Leverenz, 57 West Randolph Street.
This gentleman, who is one of our oldest and best known German citizens, was one of the earliest in the field and contracted largely with the Union Defense Committee. He has confined his attention principally to the manufacture of Infantry equipments, although he has made a large number of baggage wagon harnesses, and 500 sets of Cavalry equipments. His sales to the Government for military purposes exceed $50,000. The sales of infantry equipments were 8,000 sets at $3.00 each; 400 sets of harness for baggage wagons, worth $48 per set, or $12 each; and 500 cavalry equipments at $35 each. The saddle tree used was of the “Grimsley” pattern, and manufactured in St. Louis. He employed between 50 and 60 men; and sold 4,000 sets of infantry equipments to the State of Illinois; 1,000 for the Union Defense Committee, and the balance to the United States Quartermaster at St. Louis. Those contracted for the Union Defense Committee were furnished to the Northwestern Rifle Regiment, Col. Knobelsdorf.
Ward & King.
These gentlemen have furnished their manufactures to the Government, the Union Defense Committee and the State of Ohio. The first contract was with the Union Defense Committee for 1,110 sets of infantry accoutrements at $38, and 800 sets for the State of Ohio at the same price. Another contract was taken from the Union Defense Committee at $2.85. The total value of sales for military purposes was $10,000.Twenty men were employed, to whom was paid in wages a total of $2,500, or a weekly average of $18. The stock used was bought in Chicago.
D. Horton, 80 Randolph Street.
This gentleman has made 4,500 complete Infantry accoutrements, 2,000 of which were for the Union Defense Committee, and the balance for the United States Quartermaster’s Department at St. Louis. Of Cavalry equipments he has manufactured none, except for officers. Total sales of military accoutrements, about $15,000 (estimated); workmen employed, twenty.
Besides the firms above enumerated, nearly every harness-maker and saddler in the city, at different times, has been employed upon contracts for the Union Defense Committee and others.
The aggregate of these contracts we have no means of determining, as we have no access to the books of the Union Defense Committee. It may be safely be set at $150,000. Assuming the estimate to be correct, the aggregate of manufactures of military accouterments—Infantry and Cavalry, in this city, during the year of 1861, and to date, amounts to $1,155,000.
The above exhibit shows conclusively the manufacturing resources of this city, and establishes the fact—which is true of nearly all classes of articles, that military goods can be produced in this city as cheaply and excellently as in the Eastern manufactories.
History of Chicago; Its Commercial and Manufacturing Interests and Industry, By I.D. Guyer, 1862
The horse has always been regarded as the noblest of the brute creation, and he has from the beginning, vindicated his claim to the affection of man. He has mingled with the sympathies, and affected the fortunes, of the greatest and the best of men. So matchless is he in his proportions, so undaunted in his courage, so lofty in his bearing, so firm in his love, so defiant in his pride, and so sublime in his power, that he seems to impart to man, when he bears him on his back, a glory man cannot impart to him. No wonder he has been thought worthy of being richly caparisoned. From the early periods of the ancient world, all nations have been proud of clothing the horse in rich attire; and every man of true dignity and appreciation would spend his money with greater pleasure in putting a fine harness upon his noble steed, than he would in putting a fine garment upon himself. Through all languages, in all literatures are strewn the records of the wonderful achievements of this companion of man, who seems to have been created especially to be worthy of rendering him the highest service, and commanding from him the most endearing affection. On the art of caparisoning the horse, the attention of every age has been bestowed. The conquerors of nations, and the builders of empires; the chieftains of state and the masters of art and poetry have considered this subject worthy of their best attention. Alexander rewarded the man who caparisoned his Buchephalus appropriately and well, with his treasure and his love. Caesar gave a farm to the Roman artisan who had made trappings for his horse that went through the campaign of Gaul; and Washington wrote grateful letters to the man that made the saddle in which he rode through so many battles. The art of saddlery is not an ignoble one; and the man of generous qualities looks with pleasure into the windows of a saddler’s shop, and on the art of clothing the horse, for the road or the battle-field. The manufacturer of saddlery in this country is distinguished from that in any other part of the world by the immense variety of styles and qualities which are produced. We are informed by a leading manufacturer, that of Saddles there are probably not less than five hundred various styles and qualities, with a proportionate quality of Bridles, Bridle Mountings, Martingales, Girths, Circingles, Stirrups, Leathers, Saddle Bags, Medical Bags, etc. Of Harness for Coach, Gig, Dearborn, Sulky, Stage, and Omnibus, there are perhaps three hundred styles and qualities; while in coarse Harness, for Carts, Drays, Wagons and Plows, there is also great diversity.
In the manufacture of these articles, Chicago is justly proud of the house of Messrs. Turner & Sidway, located at No. 49 Lake Street, who represent the largest and most reliable firm engaged in this business in the North-West.
Previous to the opening of their establishment in 1858, there had been no attempt made to manufacture Saddles in Chicago for the wholesale trade. The dealers here depending on manufactories in the east for their supplies, were unable to offer to the trade sufficient inducements either in price, variety or quality of goods to draw more than a very small part of that business that naturally belonged to Chicago, and among the large buyers in the country, hardly any one thought of coming to Chicago to make his principal purchases; consequently the trade had to be attracted here from other points, and although times were hard and money scarce they soon succeeded in getting a paying trade.
Confining themselves to Saddles, Horse Collars, Blankets, Whips, Bridles and Patent-Leather work making no Harness they were enabled to keep ahead of competition from those whose attention and capital were less concentrated than their own, as they generally afforded better goods for the same price, than could be by those who sold eastern goods.
From season to season business increased until the spring of 1861, when the break-in out of the war prostrated all business, until there was a demand for army goods, when Messrs. T. & S. were among the first to receive orders from Quartermaster General Wood, for Knapsacks, Haversacks, Gun accoutrements, etc., and when the call for cavalry was made they received the first order given for equipments, which were for Capt. Barker’s Chicago Dragoons now Gen. McClellan’s body guard. This order was soon after followed by one to equip Capt. Shambeck’s company, the Hoffman Dragoons. The quality of these goods, the reasonable price, and the promptness in furnishing them, soon gave them an enviable notoriety, which resulted in orders pouring in on them from all sections, until the middle of August; orders were received for thousands of cavalry equipments that they could not supply, although at the time they were making from six to eight hundred per week. Several commanders of regiments coming to the city and remaining for days trying to induce them to undertake the equipping of their command; but an understanding with Quartermaster General Wood, that the State of Illinois should receive their supplies, in preference to all others, prevented; although the prices offered were generally larger than those paid by the State, and in many cases payment was offered in gold on the delivery.
This rush of business continued until January, 1862, most other manufacturers having stopped in October, November, or December. Messrs. T. & S. keeping constantly employed from two to five hundred workmen, and making in all about fifteen thousand complete sets of Cavalry equipments; ten thousand Knapsacks; forty thousand Haversacks, six thousand Gun accoutrements, Cartridge boxes, Belts, etc., etc., which in the aggregate amounted to about $600,000, being much the largest business, in this line, ever done in the United States in the same length of time.
The business of army supplies being over, they have resumed the business of manufacturing Saddles, Horse Collars, etc., for the trade, at No. 49 Lake Street, with increasing facilities, and intending to make it better for dealers in this line to buy in Chicago than any other place east or west.
Turner & Sidway, No. 49 Lake Street
Comdict, Woolley & Co., No. 52 Lake Street
D. Horton, 80 Randolph Street
Chicago Tribune, May 5, 1867
Turner & Sidway, tanners, on Elston road, blew whistle on Friday at 4 o’clock. In fact, the tanners and curriers throughout the city, have adoprted the eight-hour system
History of Chicago, A. T. Andreas, 1886
Turner & Ray.—This well-known house was founded in 1859. In that year William H. Turner and Leverett B. Sidway commenced a wholesale leather and saddlery business at No. 208 Randolph street. In 1864 they sold their saddlery department to A. Ortmayer & Co., of which firm Mr. Turner and William V. Kay were members. In 1865, Turner & Sidway sold the leather business to Turner, Bristol & Co., the partners in the latter firm being William H. Turner, Charles Bristol and William V. Kay. Then Messrs. Turner & Sidway formed a stock company known as the Turner & Sidway Leather Company, Mr. Sidway being president and Mr. Turner secretary of the corporation. They operated a large tannery on the west side of the Elston Road, south of Division Street, for a number of years, and finally disposed of their interests in that line to the Union Hide and Leather Company, which is yet in operation. In 1867, Fred A. Ray bought out the interests of Mr. Kay in the firm of Turner, Bristol & Co., and the name was changed to Turner, Bristol & Ray. It so continued until 1872, when Mr. Bristol died, and the name was changed to Turner & Ray, so remaining to the present time. Thus it is that this firm has been closely allied to the history of Chicago for the past twenty-five years, and during that time no house has maintained a better reputation than that of Turner & Ray. When Turner & Sidway sold to Turner, Bristol & Co., the business was transferred to No. 49 Lake Street, where it remained until the great fire of 1871.Turner & Ray now occupy two floors at No. 236 Randolph Street, thirty by one hundred and seventy-five feet in size. They carry a heavy stock of leather and shoe findings, and aim to have everything necessary to supply a shoe dealer or manufacturer. So absolutely important it is for dealers to keep fully abreast of the ever-changing modes and styles, that it tries the ability of the most experienced buyers to supply their needs. But Messrs. Turner & Ray are gentlemen of lengthy experience, practical in every detail of their business, and fully alive to the demands of their trade, which now aggregates $200,000 annually.