Moline Wagon Company
The Moline Wagon Company is indisputably the largest firm in the world
devoted exclusively to the making of wagons. From a nucleus which embodied
but a repair and wagon shop which was capable of producing but one hundred
wagons annually, this company, under the masterly hand and prolific
judgment of its legitimate founder, Mr. Morris Rosenfield, succeeded with
a rapidity unheard of, and forged to the front rank of industrial
enterprises not only in Moline, but in the United States.
In the mere shack in the eastern end of Moline, where James First trudged over the forge and anvil for fifteen years for a mere living, the Moline Wagon Company was inspired and given life by Morris Rosenfield. Mr. First had opened the shop in 1854. Mr. Rosenfield, in the year of 1869, perceived the vast territory in which wagons were a crying need, and the golden opportunities offered by the energetic, hustling and rapidly settling west.
In that year, he formed a partnership under the name of Benser, Rosenfield and Company, Charles A. Benser having been received into the company. The newly formed company at once erected a two-story brick building on the present site of the now world-famed manufactory, and employed fifty men from the start. In 1871 prudence suggested an enlargement of the buildings, and an increase in the working capital, and a stock company was formed and incorporated under the laws of the State ,of Illinois, and was named the Moline Wagon Company. Mr. Rosenfield was selected president and manager of the new corporation, an office he held up to the date of his death.
Immediately after the Company's new formation, new buildings were erected, more wagons were built, and its trade extended to every portion of the United States. The high standard of merit of its product which had been previously painstakingly observed, was faithfully and zealously maintained until the name of the Moline Wagon Company became accepted as the synonym of good material, scientific perfection and superior workmanship.
Branch houses were established in every part of the Union, the fame of the Moline light running wagons spread with the rapidity that characterizes all worthy and reliable ventures or products, and the company, not-withstanding the additional spacious buildings it had erected, the vast amount of modern machinery it had installed, or the prodigious increase in its working force and increased capital, soon found it difficult to keep pace with the orders which poured into their office, and which still continue to strain every facility and resource of the great plant.
Aside from the mammoth buildings, a lumber yard, everywhere dotted with great dry sheds, and covering fully ten acres, is maintained in conjunction with the factory. The company has branch headquarters from the farthest point east to the farthers point west; they meet the keenest competition or wagonmakers everywhere, and their farm, truck and spring wagons, known respectively as "The Moline," and "The New Moline" light running wagons, are celebrated in every civilized clime.
The present officers of the company are: Walter A. Rosenfield, president; Morris Geismer, secretary and treasurer. That these gentlemen are dully qualified to manage the gigantic business is best illustrated by the continued prosperity the company is enjoying, the increased business which is theirs, and by the rapidity with which the enlargement of the company's facilities becomes imperative. The Moline Wagon Company is now capitalized at $600,000, and its average output is 30,000 complete wagons per annum. Its working force has been augmented until now it numbers approximately four hundred workmen, among them the most skilled mechanics in their particular line to be found anywhere. The ground occupied by the buildings covers over five acres, the buildings are of brick, six stories high, four hundred and fifty feet in length, and two squares in width. They are prodigious to impressiveness; they have been constructed with an eye to sanitation and convenience for the men employed, are well heated and lighted, the up-to-date machinery is amply protected, to insure safety to life and limb of operatives, and no friction between employer and employee has ever arose to mar the pacific relations of master and man.
Source: Historic Rock Island County, pub. Kramer & Company, Rock Island, Illinois, 1908