Nearly from its beginning, Batavia was an industrial city. Farm implement and windmill factories provided employment for many. The first products manufactured in Batavia (flour, ice, lumber, paper, stone) found markets in Chicago.
Batavia’s significant companies are identified below. Click on any of the names above for the history of the company.
On March 25, 1857, the first meeting of the U. S. Wind Engine and Pump Company was held in the office of the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad in Chicago. For three years, windmills invented by Daniel Halladay had been manufactured by the Halladay Windmill Company in Ellington, Connecticut. John Burnham was the company’s general sales agent. He made his headquarters in Chicago to be nearer the windmill market.
Burnham introduced to farmers the use of windmills for pumping water for livestock and to the railroads for supplying water for the locomotives. In that way, he became acquainted with John VanNortwick. These men decided it would be better to manufacture the mills closer to where they were used and so the United States Wind Engine & Pump Co. was formed. In 1863, the owners moved the business to Batavia and erected stone buildings where they manufactured Halladay windmills, pumps, feed mills and railroad fixtures.
By 1881, the company was called the largest institution of its kind in the world.
Salesmen carried samples of windmills as they toured the west by train, wagon, and later trucks, visiting farmers and extolling the virtues of windmills made in Batavia. The salesman took an order and telegraphed it back to Batavia. After the mill was manufactured, it was shipped in pieces by train to the customer. It would have to be assembled on the farmer’s land.
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