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Manufacturers Index - Valley Iron Works, Smalley Brothers & Co.

Valley Iron Works, Smalley Brothers & Co.
Bay City, MI, U.S.A.
Manufacturer Class: Wood Working Machinery & Steam and Gas Engines

Last Modified: Oct 16 2016 9:24PM by Jeff_Joslin
If you have information to add to this entry, please contact the Site Historian.
Valley City Iron Works, from the 1889 book, "The Industries of the Bay Cities"

The Valley Iron Works was established in 1866 by James E. Like, Warren E. Ellsworth, and an as-yet unidentified Mr. Campbell. The partnership operated as Like, Ellsworth & Campbell. Only a few months later, Mr. Campbell was bought out by George Bergan, the revised partnership being Like, Ellsworth & Bergan. Only a month after that their premises were destroyed by fire. The works were rebuilt and eventually had fifty employees. In 1868 Thomas Munn became half owner of the work for a short time but we don't know if the partnership was renamed. In about 1871 ownership passed to brothers Darwin C. Smalley and William Smalley—William had been a long-time employee of woodworking machinery maker Silsby Manufacturing Co.—plus Abel D. Catlin, operating as Smalley Bros. & Catlin. Catlin was soon succeeded by Charles E. Lewis and the name changed to Smalley Bros. & Lewis. About 1875 Lewis sold out to another Smalley brother, J. S. Smalley and the name presumably became Smalley Bros. In 1878 J. S. Smalley was succeeded by his son, William T. Smalley and the name became Smalley Bros. & Co. By 1883 they had eighty employees. In 1900 James B. Smalley bought the interest of W. T. Smalley. D. C. Smalley having passed away, the owners in 1900 then were Wm. Smalley, the estate of D. C. Smalley, and J. B. Smalley.

From 1887-88 Polk's Michigan State Directory

In 1903 a new business was organized to take over the Marine gas engine business of Smalley Bros. & Co.: the Smalley Motor Co., Ltd., which eventually became Smalley-General Co., Inc. Meanwhile, the rest of the Valley Iron Works was purchased by Michael Garland and his wife, Maude G. Garland, and re-organized as the Valley Wind Engine & Iron Co., with Michael as president, Maude as secretary and treasurer, and W. H. Shapley as vice-president; Shapley was co-owner of Brantford, Ontario windmill maker Goold, Shapley & Muir Co., Ltd., from whom Valley Wind Engine was licensing a windmill design. Valley Wind Engine & Iron Co.'s products included windmills, grain grinders and pumps. (Some reports and histories give the company name as "Valley Wind Engine & Iron Works" but we have never seen that name in ads or articles.) This is as far as we have been able to track the company history. In any event, by this time the company was no longer making engines or woodworking machinery.

Information Sources

  • The Directory of Bay City, Portsmouth, Wenona, and Bangor, for 1868-9, published by W. H. DeLisle, lists in Bay City, "Like, Ellsworth & Bergan, Valley Iron Works, Saginaw, bet Tenth and Eleventh, office S. Water." The partners were James E. Like, Warren E. Ellsworth, and George Bergan.
    The Valley Iron Works
    of Messrs. Like, Ellsworth & Bergan
    These works commenced operation in the fall of 1866, under the firm of Like, Ellsworth & Campbell, which continued until April of the following year, when Mr. Bergan bought out Mr. Campbell's interest. In the month of May, of the same year, while the business was prospering and all hands fully employed, the works were consumed by fire, with all their machinery, tools and patterns—on which there was no insurance. This disaster did not seem to rob the firm of any of their energy, however much it must have diminished their means, for in the following July, they had the buildings rebuilt and their works in full blast, with business on hand. Enterprise like this brings its own reward, and the Valley Iron Works, consisting of moulding shop, machine shop, boiler works, heavy and light smithery, etc., has become one of the indispensable institutions of Bay City. They give employment to about 50 men, who are always sure of steady work at remunerative wages. The Works cover about an acre of land, fronting on Saginaw street, and have turned out several new boilers and a new engine since last winter, besides doing a large amount of repairing in all branches of business done by the firm.
  • 1875 Michigan State Gazetteer and Business Directory lists Smalley Bros. & Co. as "founders and machinists".
  • From the 1883 book, History of Bay County, Michigan.

    Valley Iron Works—These works were started in the Fall of 1866, by the firm of Like, Ellsworth & Campbell. The following Spring Mr. Bergan bought out Mr. Campbell's interest, and in May, about a month later, the entire works were destroyed by fire. There was no insurance on any of the property burned, but by July the buildings were rebuilt and the works in full blast. For some time the business prospered and gave employment to an average of fifty men. About 1871 the property passed into the possession of D. C. and William Smalley, of Seneca Co., N. Y., who were experienced and practical business men. The firm at first was Smalley Bros. & Catlin, and afterwards Mr. A. D. Catlin being succeeded by C. E. Lewis, and the firm was changed to Smalley Bros. & Lewis. About 1875 Mr. J. S. Smalley succeeded Mr. Lewis, and in 1878 he retired and was succeeded by his son, W. T. Smalley. The firm name is now Smalley Bros. & Co. They manufacture steam engines and saw mill and other machinery, and deal extensively in gas pipe, tubing, etc. They do a business of upwards of $175,000 annually, and employ on an average about eighty men. The capacity of the works has been greatly increased, and further enlargements are being continually made. The works now occupy six lots and every inch of space is thronged with activity. The proprietors are gentlemen of great business energy, and their sagacity is demonstrated in the pronounced success that has attended their operations, which contribute a liberal share to the growth and prosperity of Bay City.

    William Smalley, who gives his personal attention to the practical part of the business, is a machinist of long experience. He is a native of Seneca Co., N. Y., and for several years was superintendent of the Silsby Manufacturing Company's works, at Seneca Falls. In 1871 he came to Bay City and engaged in business as above stated. Mr. Smalley attends closely to the management of the manufacturing. He is a member of Board of Water Works Commissioners, but as a rule pays less attention to public affairs than to the interests of the firm.

    D. C. Smalley is a native of Seneca Co., N. Y., and followed farming in his native county for several years. In 1871 he came to Bay City to engage in business with his brother William. In carrying on the affairs of the establishment he has given his attention to its financial management, in which branch of the business he is particularly efficient. He has held the office of alderman from the Fourth Ward, and for several years has been a stockholder and director in the Second National Bank.

    William T. Smalley is a son of Mr. J. S. Smalley, formerly a member of the firm. He is also a native of Seneca Co., N. Y., and came to Adrian, Mich., with his parents in 1855. In 1874 the family came to Bay City, the father succeeding to an interest in the firm, and William going into their employ as book-keeper. In June 1878, he succeeded his father in the business above stated. He still has charge of the books of the firm, and is a young man of thorough business habits.

    The institution of this firm is an important factor in the industrial interests of Bay City, and in amount of work turned out is one of, if not the biggest, in the Saginaw Valley.

  • The 1889 book The Industries of the Bay Cities.

    Smalley Bros. & Co., Valley Iron Works
    Manfrs. Steam Engines, Saw Mill and Salt Works Machinery—205 Saginaw St.

    One of the most extensive, best equipped and widely known iron industries in the Saginaw Valley, is the Valley Iron Works, owned and operated by Smalley Bros. 8: Co. It is a representative enterprise of its kind, and enjoys an extended reputation for the excellence of its products. The works were first established about 1870, by the firm of Smalley Bros. & Catlin, to which the firm of Smalley Bros. & Lewis, subsequently succeeded. The latter continued in the management of the concern until 1874, when the present firm, composed of William Smalley, D. C. Smalley and W. T. Smalley was organized, and has since directed operations with results that have given to the works a position of prominence, and a reputation extended and invaluable.

    The plant is located at No. 205 Saginaw street, a superb site for the purposes of the business, and occupies a large area of territory convenient to trade centers, and fully equipped for shipping, receiving, and the storage of goods. It includes the machine shop, a building 60x160 feet in dimensions, supplied with boring mill machinery, steam hammers, drills, lathes, planers, key-seating machines, gear cutters, etc. The foundry, at the rear of the machine shop, is 60x80 feet in size, and equally complete in its equipments. They also have large storehouses adjoining, and in 1888 completed the erection of a four-story white brick building, 60x75 feet in dimensions, to be used for office and salesroom purposes, also for the storage of valuable patterns used in the business. Their specialties are salt-well machinery, Craney’s patent mill dog, etc., also building steam engines and saw- mill machinery of every grade and description, and carrying in stock all sizes of engine governors, steam pumps, inspirators and patent boiler injectors, gas pipe and well tubing, brass goods, etc., which are supplied to the trade at prices that compete with those of any similar establishment in the country. They employ a force of from sixty to seventy-five operators, and do a large business locally, and in the Valley, in addition to responding to demands for certain lines of their products from all parts of the United States.

    The members of the firm are men of the largest experience and a thorough understanding of the business, in all its departments and branches, and the facilities enjoyed for supplying engines, mill and other machinery to the trade, entitle the works to the prominent and enviable position they now occupy among the industrial interests of the State.

  • The 1892 book, Portrait and Biographical Record of Saginaw and Bay Counties, Michigan.

    THOMAS MUNN, of Bay City, is a manufacturer of all sorts of sawmill machinery and supplies, such as edgers, lumber trimmers, lath and bolters. He also manufactures a rotary gang, which he invented and patented, and which is the only one made in the United States. Lumbermen are just beginning to appreciate the value of this machine, the more so as they are now discussing the saving of timber. Besides this Mr. Munn makes many other improved forms of machinery, among them Munn's improved four-roller gang, and also the pendulum slide, both of which have an increasing use in the manufacture of lumber.

    Our subject began his manufacturing interests in Bay City in 1868. He was first interested as half-owner in the Valley Iron Works, but selling that finally, he built his present factory at Twenty-third Street, at the Flint & Pere Marquette Railroad crossing. Thomas Munn was born in Philadelphia, January 25, 1829, and is a son of Samuel O. and Sarah (Gardner) Munn. He received his early education under the beneficent influence of the Quaker city, but picked up a large amount of practical, common-sense knowledge in his after career. He came West with his father when about fourteen years old.

    A natural mechanical genius, Mr. Munn soon made himself master of the millwright business. He followed that exclusively for over eighteen years coming to Bay City in 1861. He put in the Kawkawlin mill, the O. A. Ballou and the Shaw & Williams Mills of Saginaw. He also superintended the Atlantic Salt Works at Bay City and a mill for John L. Woods & Co., and indeed much of the work of this class in this portion of the country has been the outcome in one way or another of his busy and fertile mind. Finally Mr. Munn confined his attention to perfecting his own inventions and settled down to manufacturing for himself in Bay City, which has been his home since 1861. Since devoting himself to the work in which he is now interested and which includes a machine shop, foundry and brass works, giving employment to a large number of men, he has greatly increased the mechanical facilities of his shop.

    For eleven years Mr. Munn has served on the Board of Education and for three terms was its President, He has been greatly interested in the development and improvement of the methods employed in the city schools, believing our educational policy to be the anchor and life of the Republic. With that in view he never loses an opportunity to forward public education. Aside from these interests which he does not consider necessarily allied to the political issues, he has refused municipal offices. In 1890 he was nominated State Senator by the Labor party, which nomination was endorsed by the Republicans, but the times were unpropitious to the claims of the labor party and he failed to secure the election. Once before he was nominated to the same position and friends and political opponents alike conceded him the election,- but by mistakes and fraud he was debarred from qualifying, being counted out by thirteen votes.

    Our subject has for four years served as President of the Temperance Reform Club, and feels that the movement has been of great benefit to this vicinity. He was reared in the faith of the Methodist Episcopal Church. His aim in life has been peculiarly pure and single-minded and has been wholly to better the condition of his fellowmen, especially of the laboring classes. He feels that the time is not far distant when there shall be more universal fellowship and money shall not be the standard of social and political rights to the degree that it now is.

    January 13, 1852, Mr. Munn was married to Miss Sarah E., daughter of Cornelius Willegar,one of the prominent early pioneers of Port Huron,Mich. Our subject and his wife are the parents of three sons and one daughter. Of these George H. and Frank G. are in business with their father; Charles is in the drug business in Bay City; Edith is the wife of E. Q. Ingersoll, of Canton, Ill., and has one son, Max.

    A lithographic portrait of Mr. Munn accompanies this sketch.

    Regarding the "rotary gang" mentioned in the first paragraph, a patent search failed to turn up any such patent associated with Mr. Munn. Patent 333,882 was issued in 1886 to Charles A. Merrill of Bay City, who assigned one half to Michael Garland. This circular gang saw was manufactured by the M. Garland Co. of Bay City.
  • The 1893 Polk's Bay City Directory lists "Smalley Bros & Co (Wm, Darwin C and Wm T Smalley), Proprs Valley Iron Works, 205-211 Saginaw."
  • The 1905 book History of Bay County, Michigan and Representative Citizens, by Capt. Augustus H. Gansser, lists Valley Iron Works as employing "35 men". It lists Michael Garland as the major stockholder.
    In July 1903, Mr. Garland and wife purchased the Valley Wind Engine & Iron Works, the product of which is windmills, grain grinders and pumps, and here also is a splendid foundry and machine shop. This plant covers a space of 375 by 100 feet. The business was incorporated October 28, 1903, with Mr. Garland as president; Mrs. Garland as secretary and treasurer; and W. H. Shapley of Toronto, vice-president.
  • 1908-04-10 Motor Boat.


    The marine engine world was interested by the news that the former Smalley Motor Co., Bay City. Mich., manufacturers of the widely known Smalley marine gas engine, had been reorganized under the name of the General Machinery Co. This item of news was particularly of interest to both maker and buyer because of the enviable name that Smalley motors have won all over the country. Wherever you hear of noteworthy performances in fuel economy tests, endurance runs, racing feats, etc., you will very often find the Smalley engine mixed up in the “stunts somewhere. It is not too much to say that there is not a better known engine in the marine’ field to-day than the Smalley motor, made in Bay City, Mich.

    It is for these reasons that the announcement of the change in management, personnel and name of the old Smalley Motor Co. carried a note of distinct interest. The company has been entirely rejuvenated and new and enthusiastic blood infused into its methods and policies, but that is practically as far as the change goes. The motor itself will be manufactured with its old high standard of excellence, and it will remain the same reliable, hardworking, never-break-down, economical engine. And inasmuch as its construction will be just the same, the present owners of Smalley motors can still obtain parts to fit exactly, from the General Machinery Co. The new company invite all present owners of Smalley engines to correspond with them if in need of any parts or repairs.

    The General Machinery Co. report a large and encouraging Spring business, and state that catalogues will be sent upon request.

  • The 1909 Farm Implement News Buyer's Guide lists "Valley Wind Engine & Iron Co., Ltd., Bay City, Mich." as a maker of "Wind Mills (Pumping)".
  • Footnotes on a local history site Bay-Journal provides some useful post-1900 data points.
  • The 1985 book, A Field Guide to American Windmills, by T. Lindsay Baker, provides some background on W. H. Shapley, vice-president of Valley Wind Engine & Iron Co. The Brantford, Ontario firm of Goold, Shapley & Muir Co., Ltd., was a windmill maker co-founded by W. H. Shapley. In 1901 or '02 they introduced the "Imperial open back-geared still mill", which "won the famous 1903 windmill trials held by the Royal Agricultural Society of England. After that victory, the mill was manufactured by... the Valley Wind Engine and Iron Company, Limited, of Bay City, Michigan." It says elsewhere this the Valley Wind Engine version of the Imperial mill was sold as the "Garland".