Tuesday, January 12, 2016

The Hoge Brush Company Files, Vol. 3

Click to enlarge

[Note: For background on the "Hoge Brush Company Files" series, click here; to see all the entries in the series so far, click here.]

Our latest letter from the Hoge Brush Company files is this 1945 dispatch from the Elwing Implement Company of Campbellsport, Wisconsin (a town I believe I drove through during a 2014 road trip, although I have no specific memory of it).

The very nice John Deere letterhead is a standardized design that Deere made available to all of its authorized dealers during this period.

It's interesting that a John Deere tractor dealer would also be selling brooms. At first I thought, "Well, I guess it all falls under the heading of 'farm equipment,'" but some research reveals that brooms were apparently Fred Elwing's principle business, while the farm implement company was just a side operation. This 1952 article from The Campbellsport News mentions, "The largest broom factory in Wisconsin is operated here by Fred Elwing." Additional details are filled in by this 1977 article from The Fond du Lac Commonwealth Reporter (here's the jump), which indicates that Elwing Broom was founded in Milwaukee in 1900, moved to Campbellsport in the late 1930s, and was sold by the Elwing family to new ownership in 1977. In 1981 The Milwaukee Sentinel reported that Elwing Broom was still going strong under the new ownership, but some additional research shows that the company was sold again in 1984. I'm not sure when it was closed, but it doesn't appear to be in business anymore.

So why was Fred Elwing writing to Hoge Brush on John Deere letterhead? This Campbellsport town history includes an entry for "Elwing Implement John Deere Co" that reads as follows: "Fredrick Elwing built the cement block building [at 512 South Fond du Lac Avenue] and after one year in business he sold to Herman Beuchel and he operated it until November 22nd 1949 and then sold to Rolland Jacak." So it appears that this letter from Fred Elwing to Hoge Brush was written during the very narrow time slot in which Elwing was running the Deere business in addition to his broom factory.

Meanwhile, a simple whitepages.com search reveals that the Elwing family is still well-represented in and around Campbellsport.

(My continued thanks to Joanna and David Zwiep for sharing the Hoge Brush Company letters with me.)

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