influence of German Migration
great influence affecting German migration was the "Giessener Gesellschaft"
- an immigration
company that chose Missouri as its
New World destination. After
of the German Revolution in 1830, many of the educated by necessity fled
their homeland. But
preferring a free state,
Illinois. Belleville was the center of the first
important German settlement in the State of Illinois. Belleville welcomed
and soon an estimated 90% of the city's population was either German born
or of German descent. The influence of Koerner, Hilgard, Bunsen, Abend
and Engleman was long felt in law, journalism, education, science and
industry. It was not only the educated who fled, however. The mechanically
inclined emigrated also. (Centennial History of Illinois, pub 1920 Vol
II, p 391) Bornman,
Braun, Gundlach, Eimer, Knoebel and Brosius were mechanical geniuses who
involved themselves in all manner of community improvements. In 1870,
their "smokestack industries" made Belleville the second largest producer
of manufactured goods in the state (tied with Peoria and second to Chicago).
Early Yankee and German industrialists contributed significantly to the
industrial movement in Illinois and left their mark on local, state, and
national history by establishing some of the earliest and largest manufacturing
facilities and registering hundreds of patents.
After the Civil War, the foundry industry gravitated towards stove casting. The Labor & Industry Museum is proud to present 26 stoves dating from 1881 to 1940, including a wide range of heating and cooking styles - all made in Belleville. The production figures and the wealth generated from the stove foundry industry has given Belleville the moniker, "Stove Capital of the World". Belleville continues to produce high-quality stoves and heating products for today's market. That industry continues today because of the quality of workmanship available in today's labor market. It is believed that industrialists of Belleville enameled the first stove in America and came up with the idea of the "Jacketed Stove".
The Coal Industry
An immense deposit of bituminous coal was the impetus for railroads pushing across the state. St. Clair County alone held 400,000 acres of workable coal land. By 1874, some farmers had become coal mine operators, and 100 shaft mines were in operation in the vicinity of Belleville. One of the leaders of the area mining industry was William Brandenberger of West Belleville.
West Belleville, an independent community until it merged with Belleville in 1882, was a coal mining town. Belleville industrialists didn't import coal; many of them owned a coal mine. Kloess used his coal to make brick. Yoch used his coal to make nails. Gundlach used his coal to make grain drills. Other prominent names of Belleville's industrial movement include Goalby, Stolberg, Harding, Wilson, Reineke, Braun and Bornman. (See 1874 St. Clair County Atlas for further information)
Another mineral industry that had tremendous impact on the area was that of cement production. Illinois had large deposits of natural cement materials at Utica on the Illinois River. But artifical cement, such as Portland, was developed and challenged the natural cement industry. Artificial cement is produced by means of a process of burning limestone and clay in a kiln.
Afflec, a patternmaker, cabinet maker, architect, building contractor,
alderman and assessor came to Belleville as an orphan in 1818. His son,
Benjamin, became a millionaire cement magnate and served as President
of Universal Portland Cement, Chicago. He returned to Belleville to attend
the opening celebration of the newly paved West Main Street.
this website for future installments on Belleville's historic highlights.
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Historical information for this web site has been pulled from public records and archives available at the Belleville Public Library Reference Department.
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