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Sheldon Manufacturing Company, 1920

By Thomas Berry

Collection Overview

Title: Sheldon Manufacturing Company, 1920

ID: 1/101/1819

Creator: Sheldon Manufacturing Company (1913-1923?)

Extent: 1.0 Items

Arrangement: Group 1, Machinery Records, is arranged by subseries, record format and record type.

Languages: English [eng]

Scope and Contents of the Materials

This collection consists of sales literature discussing the company’s products and history.

Biographical Note

George Clinton Sheldon, a native of New York residing in Nehawka, Nebraska, demonstrated his first concrete mixer at a local picnic in the fall of 1913. During that first year in business, six machines were produced. The following year, Sheldon manufactured mixers at a small shop behind the Nehawka post office. By 1919 Sheldon boasted that 4,138 of his concrete mixers had been sold. That same year, a 64 foot x 108 foot steel factory building was erected.

George Sheldon described his concrete mixer as "...a common barrel so mounted in a frame with the aid of castings of my design, as to be rotated to perform the mixing operation and tilted to allow dumping into a wheel barrow or other receptacle." Sheldon's plan was to sell his machine directly to his intended consumer - the farmer - who could use the mixer for small jobs on the farm, such as foundations, floors, culverts, water tanks, troughs, well curbs, and platforms.

The Sheldon Manufacturing Company was incorporated on April 1, 1920, with authorized capital stock of $250,000. From the first year total sales figure of $153,000, sales had climbed to an average of $50,000 per month in 1920. In the early 1920s, business remained good as the Sheldon mixer was exhibited at various state and county fairs and agricultural conventions and additions to the factory were made so that parts, previously purchased from outside suppliers, could be produced on-site. In 1921 George Sheldon was able to boast that the Sheldon mixer was being used more extensively on American farms and by small contractors than all other available mixers. In addition, the Sheldon mixer was being exported to a large number of foreign countries, including Argentina, Australia, Ireland, and Venezuela.

During this period Sheldon added hog crates to his product line. The Sheldon Trusty Hog Crate was advertised as the only crate on the market that conformed to the railway express companies' size requirements. He also developed and sold saw rigs, loaders, and over-sized mixers custom-made for gold mining. Sheldon suggested, too, that his original mixer could be used for the mixing of a timely product during this period of prohibition - home brew.

By 1922 financial problems were beginning to beset the company. With money tied up in advertising, Sheldon's papers reflect his great interest in the use of advertising to sell his product - Sheldon was having trouble making payments on various loans. The recession of the early 1920s, plus the advent of ready-mix concrete, dealt crippling blows. In 1923 the Stover Manufacturing Company of Freeport, Illinois, took over the marketing of the entire output of the Sheldon Manufacturing Company, leaving Sheldon to concentrate on the "manufacturing end of the business." Apparently, this did not help as the Sheldon Manufacturing Company declared bankruptcy that same year.

After this, Sheldon continued to operate his business in a small way, assembling units one at a time on a per job basis. This he continued to do well into the 1950s, though his income came primarily from his work as a Kelvinator dealer, through a bottled gas business, and from farm property.

During World War II various pieces of machinery from the Sheldon factory were leased to a Dallas, Texas, firm for $1,500 annually. The factory building was used briefly by armament manufacturers as well. A 1957 proposition to sell the shop to a feed manufacturing business failed.

George C. Sheldon died in Nehawka, Nebraska, on March 27, 1965.

(From Nebraska State Historical Society finding aid, collection RG4074.AM, viewable online athttp://nebraskahistory.org/lib-arch/research/manuscripts/business/sheldon-manufacturing.htm)

Administrative Information

Access Restrictions: There are no restrictions on this collection.

Acquisition Method: This is an artificial collection comprised of records from multiple accessions. Initial records in this collection were received in the Judd Griffith Collection, Accession 2000-0113 (received Sep 22 2000).

Box and Folder Listing

Group 1: Machinery records, 1920Add to your cart.
Series 1: Sales literature, 1920Add to your cart.
Subseries 1: Judd Griffith Collection, 1920Add to your cart.
Item 1: Sheldon Batch Type Concrete Mixers, 1920Add to your cart.
Sheldon Manufacturing Company sales literature: Catalog and parts book discusses hand-cranked and powered stationary concrete mixer and portable concrete mixer; Stover Manufacturing & Engine Company 202 gas engine; wheelbarrow; and concrete tools. Includes testimonial letters from and illustrations of First National Bank, Omaha, Nebraska, and Omaha National Bank; numerous customer testimonials; George C. Sheldon autobiography; company history; essays on advantages of concrete construction for farms; cover letter; and freight rate chart. Photograph subjects include factory, construction views of Cushman Motor Works, Lincoln. Nebraska; and mixers disassembled for shipping. Cover letter cites William H. Ziegler Company (later Ziegler Cat) as their dealer in Minneapolis, Minnesota.