Plano Business Directory in 1872

Published in the Kendall County Record, August 8, 1872
Edited and compiled by Elmer Dickson

Drove over to Plano Monday afternoon on an errand. The most inviting hitching post found was in front of Owen Lathrop's store. Found Owen resting, and enjoying the breeze. Owen is getting corpulent, almost stout enough for a city father. He has a nice hardware store, well stocked. The most prominent article we found was a fine large stove called the "Inland Empire," one of the best cook stoves made. Owen has a good-looking tinner who makes and repairs tin ware.

By and by, Beebe dropped in to get someone to witness a paper for a "pension claim." Never saw Beebe but when he was busy with his claim or insurance business. Fact is Beebe attends to his business and people know it, they go to Beebe when they want anything done.

Wandered around the corner, across the track, and into Benedict's store. "Doc" and Mr. Moore had their books down looking up the profit an loss account. Smoked with Doc. This is a nice store with nice goods. You can buy a barrel of sugar or a box of Wright's pills, a sheet of tea or a pound of salts. Fact is they have a fine stock of groceries and drugs. Doc got tired of having us around and we left. Next door saw Lon Conklin the popular merchant, who with his partner Givens, is rapidly getting rich. Saw William Erwin, a great big, fine looking man, who could take a common man by the ear and throw him across the street. As a sheriff, William would be number one. He has every qualification for the office.

Passed a few words with W. T. Henning and Rounds. Learned from them that Greeley had no friends among the Republicans of Plano.

Hearing a commotion over to the factory, dropped in, and found the iron department running with a full force. In the room where they plane, drill and turn iron, saw several acquaintances to which we said "Nice day." Without stopping their work, they looked up and said, "Yes!" Here the conversation flagged, but the machinery went on. Saw William Hall with his hand done up in cloth. Thought we had an item of the "Sad Accident" kind, but was disappointed. William had only jammed it a little and didn't feel mad a bit. Went over to where there was a young man sitting before a punch and holding little bits of thin iron under, out of which "washers" were made. The machine ran as easy as a sewing machine, and cut the iron neatly as if it were paper. Stood there some time for an item, but so nicely did the workman handle the scraps that he never lost a finger. Saw nearby the young man Walrath, who does the fine thing for the Mirror. He runs a lathe, and peals off a big piece of iron as easily as we would a ripe peach (if we had one.) From there we went to the blacksmith shop, but as we have such things in Yorkville, passed on to the casting room.

Did you ever see molders at work? Well if you never did, drop in some day when you are by yourself and see them. Don't take anyone with you, for there isn't room for many loafers. The room down in the basement is delightfully cool, and the floor is covered with old castings, flasks, tools and black sand or mould. The "flasks" are frames in which patterns are molded. Everyone is busy, for they are nearly through and want to get done casting before dark.

Over yonder in the corner is a man who has just taken off the upper half of a flask. He has a long, light mustache, and when dressed and washed up is doubtless a handsome fellow. He sings a little ditty while filling up bad places in the mould. The pattern he has just molded is the sides of a heating stove, and the beautiful figuring and name of the patentee, "G. G. Hunt," stands out beautiful in the black dirt. The foundry has an order to make 1,000 of Hunt's Dakota stoves, and will get them out in style.

Near the middle of the shop is a man, stout built, and busy, with auburn chin whiskers and a slight brogue when he speaks, finishing the molding of a heavy ring. Deftly he handles the little brass tool as he fills a place here or rubs down a protuberance there. With wretched carelessness, it looks to us; he scoops out holes for the metal to run in without disturbing a grain of sand from its proper position. There is a fascination in watching. We look from one to another, and take no note of time. The last flask is filled, the clamps put on, and the "blast" started. Boys with shovels put the dirt in a pile, and an attempt to "tidy up" is made. Everyone feels free. Work is suspended, and judicious skylarking prevails among the workmen.

Over there in a little nook is a tall boiler looking concern, it is the cupola or furnace. It has been filled from the top with a mixture of iron and hard coal. A fire has been lighted beneath, and the "blower" set to work. This is a rotary fan set in motion by the engine. A pipe runs along the ground through which the wind is conducted into the furnace. It acts in the same way as a blacksmith's bellows, only a hundred times more intense. As we approach to look there is an immense roar. Fire and flame, fly from an orifice in the bottom of the furnace. From this opening the melted iron is drawn. The pyrotechnic display is beautiful (and hot), bright sparks of metal in beautiful stars are driven to the opposite wall. A bright piece of coal shoots out, and all the time the blue flame issues from the orifice, giving the effect of a huge Roman candle. The men are getting the pots ready to carry the metal. They heat them by the furnace, and stand by to wait the word. Presently a few drops of liquid metal begin to issue forth and fall to the ground. The attendant with a long poker clears out the slag and cinders from the spout. Now the metal runs faster. The man makes a ball of fire clay and puts it on the end of a stick. The red fluid runs more freely, and by a quick motion, with the ball of clay, the hole is stopped and the Roman candle is extinguished. The short, stubbed man that is looking into everything, and directing the matters in general, is Mr. Crumb, the "boss." He is a thorough workman, and knows all about casting. In a few moments a hole is made through the ball of clay with an iron bar. An earthen crucible or pot is set beneath the spout, and the beautifully red stream runs like molasses. The metal is carried to the flasks, poured into the holes prepared until they are full, and left to cool.

And now, bless me! It is six o'clock, and we promised to be home to supper. Tearing ourselves away from the fascinations of this dingy old room, we return to the aforesaid hitching post to find the "old Dick" has broken his bridle and bit. Got a new bit from Owen, tied up the fractures and "light out," reaching home in due season.

Last Modified on 2012-12-20 01:50:57-0600 CST by Elmer Dickson