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Manufacturers Index - Great Western Manufacturing Co.

Great Western Manufacturing Co.
Leavenworth, KS, U.S.A.
Company Website: http://www.gwmfg.com/
Manufacturer Class: Wood Working Machinery & Steam and Gas Engines

Last Modified: Nov 21 2015 2:34PM by Jeff_Joslin
If you have information to add to this entry, please contact the Site Historian.

This business was established in the spring of 1857 as Maison & Willson, consisting of A. E. Maison and E. P. Willson, with Philip Estes as foreman of the machine works. It appears that Mr. Estes became a partner early on and the business became Maison, Willson & Co. or Maison, Willson & Estes (evidence is contradictory). Their early product line consisted of woodworking and metalworking lathes and drill presses. In 1860 Mason left the firm and then in 1865 D. F. Fairchild purchased an interest in the firm which became Willson, Estes & Fairchild until 1869 when John Wilson joined the firm and then name changed to Great Western Manufacturing Co. By this time the product list included steam engines and flour mill machinery.

As of 2015, the company is still in business, specializing in sifting and screening machinery.

Information Sources

  • Listed in the 1874 work, Wiley's American iron trade manual of the leading iron industries of the United States: "President, E. P. Wilson; Vice-President, P. Estes; Secretary, D. F. Fairchild; Treasurer, John Wilson. Iron foundry and machinery.
  • American Steam Engine Builders: 1800-1900 by Kenneth L. Cope, 2006 page 104.
    The works of this company is situated on the corner of Second and Choctaw Streets, Leavenworth, and was established by E. P. Wilson and P. Estes in 1858. These gentlemen commenced with a small iron lathe, a wood lathe, and a drill, and claim to have made the first steam engine and to have cast the first stove in Kansas. They now manufacture Estes' patent steam engines, which have the advantages of the Corliss engine, Tremain's balance valve, flour and quartz mill machinery, and have a special trade for the gold machinery of Colorado and Montana, iron frame saw-mills, water-wheels, pumps, architectural iron, and general machinery, besides stoves and hollow-ware. Their works occupies an area of 250 by 300 feet, and includes a machine foundry, stove foundry, machine shop, milltone filing room, forge with seven fires, and two store-houses. The works employs 200 hands, with a pay-roll of $10,000 monthly, and uses forty horse-power to drive the machinery, which consists of nine lathes, three planers, three drill presses, one punch, one shearer, one screw cutter, and two cupolas. The capital is $200,000 with a product of from $400,000 to $450,000, and a consumption of 2,000 tons of iron. They have lately built a fifty horse-power steam engine for the St. Joseph Flouring Mill, and built the large engines for the Leavenworth coal mines, besides saw-mills for Salt Lake City, and the architectural iron work for the Leavenworth court house. The success of this company shows what enterprise and energy may accomplish in our far Western States.
  • Early History of Leavenworth City and County, by H. Miles Moore, 1906.
    Perhaps, one of the most striking illustrations of what pluck, energy and excellent business management will accomplish, is the case of The Great Western Stove Works, and The Great Western Foundry and Mill Machinery Works. In the spring of 1857, A. E. Maison and E. P. Willson, started a small foundry and machine shop in a small frame building, on the south side of Cherokee street between Second and Third streets. In a short time, business so increased that a brick building was added and Mr. Estes, the foreman of the machine works, became a member of the firm, known as Maison, Willson & Estes. In due course of time, Mr. Maison sold out his interest to Mr. Willson, and returned to New York state. Mr. Willson continued to push and expand the business, by adding the stove manufacturing business to the foundry and machine works. In course of time, Mr. John Wilson, one of our leading merchants, became a member of the firm, Mr. Estes went out. The new firm of Willson & Wilson, added new capital and increased energy to the rapidly expanding business. In a few years the combined enterprise of stoves, and foundry and mill machinery and steam engine building had assumed such huge proportions that it was deemed advisable to divide the business. Mr. E. P. Willson took Mr. N. H. Burt with him and they took up the stove works, establishing the Great Western Stove Works, one of the largest stove foundries in the West. John Wilson organized the Great Western Foundry and Mill Machinery Works, second to none in that line in the country. Thus it will be seen that in a few years from a small frame shop employing four or five men and a few hundred dollars capital, has grown up an immense enterprise covering two blocks of the city with foundries, machine shops, warehouses, office buildings, etc., and employing nearly or quite 800 men and over a million of dollars of capital invested.
  • The History of Kansas, by A. T. Andreas, 1883.
    The Great Western Manufacturing Company was established in 1858, as Maison, Willson & Co., the firm consisting of A. F. Maison, E. P. Willson and P. Estes. In 1860 Mr. Maison retired, Willson and Estes continuing the business. In 1865 D. F. Fairchild purchased a third interest, and the style of the firm name became Willson, Estes & Fairchild until 1869, when John Willson became a partner, and the present style of ‘Great Western Manufacturing Company’ was adopted.” The output of the company consists of flour-mill machinery, stationary and portable engines, sawmills, pumps, mining machinery, ironwork, water wheels, and general mill furnishings.