Furst & Bradley Manufacturing Company
Life Span: 1873-TBD
Location: Block bounded by Jefferson, Fulton and Desplaines streets
History of Chicago; Its Commercial and Manufacturing Interests and Industry, I. D. Guyer, 1862
Whatever tends to divert the attention and interests of men from war, and attract them towards peace, by displaying or developing the greater nobleness and utility of peace pursuits, is a civilizer. Man is nobler this day, over half of Christendom, with scythe, or hammer, or axe, or plow in hand, doing honest, useful toil, than was ever lawless cavalier, or crusader, rioting around the holy sepulcher. The grain fields to-day rank before the battle field, the builder of steam engines before the forger of Toledo or Damascene blades, the manufacturer of labor-saving Agricultural Implements, before the manufacturer of implements of war. Each step taken to increase the home comforts, the individual independence, and the general prosperity through peaceful industry, strengthens the empire of peace. Ignorance and misapprehension have done much to retard the civilization and happiness of man, by clinging blindly to the present. The farmer struggled to save his ruder implements from the grasp of science and labor-saving machines. The noblest revolutionizers of society, instead of being generously accepted, have often been most bitterly opposed, either by selfishness of those whose inferior inventions they threatened, or by the prejudice of classes who think that whatever answers a purpose, in any way, is good enough and must be let alone. Whatever invention abridges labor, is naturally regarded in cities, or dense communities where labor is in surplus without machinery, as the enemy of labor. It was a long time after their invention before the old farmers would touch the iron plow the side-hill and sub-soil plows the horse rake, patent threshing machine, corn sheller, cultivator, and hundreds of other noble improvements in the farming implement line; and the great reason for their stubborn conservatism, was that they could do all their work in the old way, and these new-fangled machines would deprive them of good hard toil and make them idlers. If hard work with head and hands were the only object and pleasure of life, it would be cruel to disturb the race in slavish toil from ten to eighteen hours per day. But the machinery that helps the farmer to more leisure, abridges his labor, is a blessing, and the men who by invention and manufacture of Agricultural Implements suited to the advance of the age, are doing more to advance civilization and develop the agricultural interests of a nation, than any other class of men in the community. In Chicago, the manufacture of Agricultural Implements has become a distinct and leading branch of trade of vast proportions. No men in Chicago, perhaps, are more favorably represented on the prairies of Illinois and adjoining States, than Messrs. Furst & Bradley, the only manufacturers of Agricultural Implements in Chicago. This firm produces a superior article of Old Land, Stubble and Sod, Michigan Double, Cast-iron, and Corn Plows, also Single and Double Shovel Plows, Corn and Grain Cultivators, for one and two horses, Harrows, Horse-hoes for cultivating corn, Sulky Hay Eakes with spring teeth, Hay Rakes of all kinds, Garden and Railroad Wheelbarrows, and almost every implement used upon the farm. They are introducing an improved Cultivator, claiming for it superior advantages overall others hitherto offered for sale for putting in grain or tending corn. Its great merit consists in performing more work, and in a more acceptable way than any other similar implement, hitherto introduced to the public.
About nine years ago, this firm commenced business in this city, with a small capital, and by the enterprise and industry of its proprietors, it has attained a magnitude and importance which may well be called a representative business, illustrating one of the great manufacturing interests of Chicago. They give employment to from forty to fifty hands, employing a large capital; their trade extending over the North-Western States. They are extending their facilities in order to meet the rapidly increasing demand for their goods.
Within a comparative few years the demand for Wagons of a peculiar construction has elevated the business of Wagon making into the rank of manufactures. The wheelwright and the blacksmith are no longer able to supply the wants of Express and other similar purposes, and establishments are required that can purchase lumber and iron in large quantities, and which are provided with all the requisite machinery and appliances for turning out heavy vehicles with expedition and rapidity. This establishment have the facilities for making Buggies, Express, and heavy Lumber Wagons in the quickest possible time. If they say an article is good, the public have faith in its quality. Messrs. Furst & Bradley’s manufactory is located at Nos. 56 and 58 Jefferson Street, and their salesroom at No. 90 West Lake Street.
The Land Owner, August, 1873
OUR CHICAGO MANUFACTURERS.—THE GREAT WORKS OF THE FURST & BRADLEY MANUFACTURING CO.
The wonderful development of the farming interests of the Great West has given an impetus to the manufacture of every description of agricultural implements. Chicago, as the great business centre of the trade of this vast section, has not failed to devote her mighty energies to the business of production in this department of mechanical industry. In this connection, the illustrations of the immense works of the Furst & Bradley Manufacturing Co., of this city, present a subject of unusual interest. The first idea in mechanical contrivances for tilling the soil, was the use of the plow, in a form as crude as one can well imagine; but the experience of different races and ages has at last developed an implement which, with reference to the choice of materials in its manufacture, the style of construction, and its adaptability to different soils, localities and special requirements, is a triumph of human art and skill. The invention of the rake and the harrow closely followed that of the plow, while it has required the developments of many subsequent centuries to produce the reaper, the harvester, the cultivator and many other of the higher classes of implements.
The Works of the Furst & Bradley Manufacturing Co., Jefferson and Desplaines Sts., Chicago.
The company above referred to are engaged in the manufacture of a general variety of large and small agricultural implements, besides a great number of farm conveniences and of machinery for their manufacture.
This firm was originally established, in 1854, and commenced business on a small scale on Randolph street, near Clinton. In 1860 they purchased a building on the premises where they are now located, and owing to the rapid development of their business, an addition of considerable extent was made in 1861. Again, in 1868, a further extension of the works was made, and again, in 1871, they completed their great warehouse, 80 by 160 feet, and six stories high. Some idea of the extent of the whole establishment, as it now stands, is realized in the fact that it covers i=over six acres of flooring, as seen by our bird’s-eye view. In addition, their stables, lumber sheds and other buildings cover an area of over half an acre. The establishment is located as follows:
- With a frontage of 200 feet on Jefferson street, 160 feet on Fulton, 80 feet on Desplaines, 200 feet on an alley running east and west.
The warehouse and offices have their entrances on Desplaines street.
The offices are superbly fitted up in solid black walnut, highly finished, ornamented with ground glass, and furnished in eleganyt style, being also supplied with every modern convenience.
Every material used in their business is worked up from its crude state to the last degree of finish. They use twelve hundred tons of iron and steel annually, and keep constantly in stock nearly one million feet of seasoned lumber. Within the limits of this article it would be impossible to describe fully the almost innumerable processes through which the raw material must pass before it attains its final shape. It is to the uninitiated a matter of interest to know how great a degree of judgement and experience is required in the selection of different kinds of iron, and the knowledge and proportions of the same as required to produce an implement perfectly adapted to the uses for which it is intended. This establishment has devoted rare pains and the results of careful study to the selection of materials and their various uses.
The Blacksmithing Department has an area of 50×200 feet, employs 60 men, is fitted up with a furnace, 40×125 feet, for making castings, steam forges, punches, trip hammers, power presses, and every description of approved machinery required.
The Fitting Department, which is designed to prepare the iron work for being fitted to the wood, is 50×200 feet, and is fully supplied with the best machinery.
The Grinding and Polishing Room is 60×175 feet, and presents a busy scene. This is the most interesting of all the departments, and the thunder of the machinery, and the vivid flash of millions of sparks, convey some glimmering perception of the Plutonian regions. Each of the four floors of the Wood Working Department is 60×175 feet, and has a full complement of planning and wood working machinery, and employs a large force of skilled workmen.
The machinery is run by a beautiful steam engine manufactured by the firm upon their own premises, and is a model of mechanical beauty. It is 160 horse-power, and runs with such precision and smoothness as to have required no repairs whatever during four years use. Another engine is used as a motive power for the elevators.
The Painting Department is one of peculiar interest. A large number of the most skilled artisans are employed, the choicest materials are used, and no pains or expenses are spared to produce the artistic finish and beautiful general appearance which is so great a desideratum in the production of first-class agricultural implements. These rooms are respectively 50×160 and 60×100, and 35×40 feet in area.
The immense warehouse, the dimensions of which are elsewhere given, is a model of convenience. It has a 16-foot driveway through it, of a capacity for loading five trucks at one time. The first floor is the stock room. It has two floors for plows, and two floors for cultivators and rakes. An elevator of immense sustaining capacity is used for the conveyance of the stock and implements.
A Joint Stock Company Formed.
This establishment was, in 1872, reorganized by a joint stock company, known as The Furst & Bradley Manufacturing Company. The paid-up capital stock is $600,000. The full complement of men employed is upwards of 300. The business of the past year amounted to three-quarters of a million dollars. They have manufactured yearly, on an average, upwards of 25,000 of various styles of plows; 8,000 two-horse cultivators; the 4,000 sulky rakes; 5,000 railroad scrapers; 2,000 garden wheelbarrows; 2,000 harrows, and a vast number of field rollers, straw cutters, lawn rollers, power punches, drop presses and other machinery—all of which are already well known to this community. The trade of the house is extended almost everywhere, throughout the Western and Southern States and Territories, besides a considerable business in New York and Vermont, and shipments of these implements have been made to Prussia, Japan and South Africa.
We have in the present article endeavored to give some figures. These serve to illustrate an establishment whose vast proportions and immense business are a crowning glory to the men who, for many years, have been identified with so important a field of mechanical industry, and of whose enterprises and successes the city of Chicago has reason to be proud.
Our Views of the Works.
Our artist has been at great pains to show these extensive works in our accompanying illustration, their large extent, and number of separate buildings rendering a perspective view impossible. He has succeeded, however, in conveying a general idea of the premises, by means of a very careful bird’s-eye view. This establishment is pointed to The Land Owner as eminently illustrated to foreign capitalists what can be done here in manufacturing. This company use Sargent, Greenleaf & Brooks’ locks throughout their large buildings.
The Land Owner, January, 1872
Furst & Bradley Manufacturing Co.
Built Outside of the Limits of the 1871 Chicago Fire
Bradley Manufacturing Company
Robinson Fire Insurance Map
Bradley Manufacturing Company
Greeley-Carlson Company’s Atlas of Chicago
James G. Blaine and John Logan
Chicago Tribune, November 15, 1895
CONCENTRATES ITS PLANT AT BRADLEY.
Bradley Company Transfers Its Chicago Shops to Kankakee County.
The Bradley Agricultural Machinery Manufacturing company has vacated its shops at Nos. 57 to 63 North Desplaines street, and concentrated its entire plant at Bradley, Kankakee County, Ill., fifty-four miles out from Chicago on the Illinois Central railroad. The plan at Bradley is in full working order.
Nine acres of land are comprised in the holding at Bradley upon which buildings aggregating 270,000 square feet of floor space have been erected. The buildings include wood shops and fitting rooms, a warehouse, blacksmith shop, foundry, and power-house, stock houses and lumber sheds.
The company has branch establishments at Minneapolis, Minn.; Council Bluffs, Ia.; and Kansas City, Mo., with all of of which possesses at Bradley improved facilities for railroad communication.
The headquarters of the company, of which David Bradley is President and J. Harley Bradley, Vice-President, remain for the present at No. 57 North Desplaines street.
The America Cycle Manufacturing company is not to be confused with the American Bicycle Company which was formed on September 1, 1899 to take over the properties and business of forty-four manufacturers of bicycles and bicycle parts, including most of the best-known concerns in the bicycle business, and comprising about 60 per cent of all the bicycle manufacturers of the United States and Canada. This co-op ended in 1902.
Chicago Tribune, April 18, 1897
A New Industry in an Old Location
Since 1860 the factory of the David Bradley Mfg. Co. at Desplaines, Fulton, and Jefferson streets has been familiar to Chicago’s citizens. This factory being vacated, the America Cycle Manufacturing company was attracted to it on account of its being but a few blocks from the center of the city and also on account of its convenient construction, having light on all sides of each department. Here we recently visited the America Cycle Manufacturing company, and we enjoyed a trip through one of the most modern, complete, and commodious bicycle factories in existence. Hundreds of skilled mechanics are employed over the 75,000 feet of factory space. The demand for the America is such that a night force is also kept busy.
The improved appliances, skill, and thoroughness found throughout the factory were a revelation. The special features of the 1897 America are the patent truss frame, two-piece cranks and axle, permanently adjusted bearings in both crank hanger and hubs, as well as many others of equal value. In the shipping department we found evidence of the America’s popularity. Large numbers were being sent to Europe and Australia, as well as to the principal cities of the United States.
J. Harley Bradley, well known as a manufacturer, is President: E. M. Graham, who has a long and creditable record as a bicycle mechanic and inventor and patentee of the truss frame, is the Superintendent; J. B. Tucker, Treasurer; and F. A. Hastings, Secretary. These officials give the business their active attention and guarantee to customers the best possible satisfaction.
The carrying capacity and durability were demonstrated when they taught the world’s heavyweight champion rider, Leonard H. Bliss, (“Baby Bliss”), that an America would carry his 500 pounds over all sorts of roads. Their retail department, in the Trude Building, just north of Marshall Field’s, No. 71 Wabash avenue, is one of the best in the city and is conveniently located, being near the Randolph street station of the elevated road, and is passed by all the State street and Wabash avenue cable lines. They have been represented on the West Side for the past three years by the well-known concern, the John M. Smyth company.
Success succeeds.Their well-known trade saying, “As good as its name,” has been exemplified in the quality of the America, hence its popularity and patronage with those desiring the best of bicycle quality,
The Inter Ocean, January 24, 1897
The America Bicycle Company also employs the national colors in the make-up of their decorations at Chicago’s great cycle show in the Coliseum. The background consists of a pretty shield, topped by the big sign upon which stands prominently the name “America.”
Chicago Chronicle, May 2, 1897
Sanborn Fire Insurance Map
Inter Ocean, January 10, 1910
President Julius Rosenwald of Sears, Roebuck & Co. confirms the reported purchase by that corporation of the David Bradley Manufacturing company at Kankakee, Ill., which manufactures agricultural implements. The new property will form an additional part of the extended manufacturing system. The company owns from one-half to all of the interests of the majority of the concerns whose products it sells.
Sears, Roebuck & Co., Spring, 1911
David Bradley Manufacturing Company Legacy.
J. Herman Hardebeck succeeded in bringing the David Bradley Manufacturing Co. to North Kankakee in April of 1895. On July 13, 1895, the village name was changed to Bradley City, and then in March of 1896 to just Bradley. In 1958 the name was changed to the George D. Roper Corporation. In 1962 Sears merged the David Bradley Mfg. Co. and the Newark, Ohio, Company into a single unit. The Bradley plant became known as the Newark, Ohio, Co., Bradley Division. In 1964 the Newark, Ohio, Company is merged with the George D. Roper corporation. In 1982 the Bradley Roper plant is given to the village of Bradley. In 1986 fire destroyed 6 buildings of the Bradley plant.