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Sheldon Manufacturing Company (Nehawka, Neb.)


RG4074.AM:  Sheldon Manufacturing Company (Nehawka, Neb.)

Records:  1899-1965
Nehawka, Cass County, Neb.:  Manufacturer of cement mixers and other farm tools
Size:  Approx. 10.0 cu.ft.

BACKGROUND 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.

SCOPE AND CONTENT NOTE

This collection consists of six boxes, three oversize bundles, and an oversize drawer of manuscript material arranged in seven series: 1) Correspondence, 1899-1931; 2) Administrative and Legal Records, 1916-1965; 3) Financial Records, 1915-1948; 4) Advertising Materials, 1915-ca. 1925; 5) Blueprints and Drawings, ca. 1916-ca. 1922; 6) Diaries, 1911-1959; and 7) Miscellany.

The bulk of this collection relates to the business conducted and products made by the Sheldon Manufacturing Company of Nehawka, Nebraska. Particular emphasis is placed on the first invention and best-seller of the company, the Sheldon Cement Mixer. The collection reflects, first, the growth and optimism of the Company, led by George C. Sheldon in the years immediately preceding and following World War 1 and, then, the problems encountered during the business slump of the 1920s which culminated in the company's declared bankruptcy in 1923.

The correspondence, 1899-1931, of Series 1, deals primarily with the business conducted by the Sheldon Manufacturing Company. Most of this series is comprised of outgoing correspondence of the company covering the years 1913-1914, 1920-1923, and 1931. This material provides explanations on the operation of the Sheldon Cement Mixer; suggestions on uses for the machine; discussions on business operation procedures; information on orders placed with suppliers; ideas on the marketing and advertising of Sheldon products; information on new products, such as Sheldon Hog Crates and the Sheldon Saw Rig; and sales figure tabulations. By 1922 the Sheldon Manufacturing Company was facing financial hardships and the correspondence reflects George Sheldon's ultimately unsuccessful attempts to deal with creditors and suppliers. Testimonial letters, 1912-1921, written to Sheldon praising the Sheldon Cement Mixer, and a small amount of Sheldon family correspondence is also included in this series.

Administrative and legal records of the Sheldon Manufacturing Company, 1916-1965, can be found in Series 2. Included are the company's articles of incorporation and by-laws; minutes of board and stockholders meetings, 1921-1941; patents, 1916-1923; copyrights, 1923-1924; trademarks and labels, 1920-1936; contracts, 1916-1963; stock offering materials, 1920-1926; bankruptcy papers, 1923; and documents relating to the settlement of the Sheldon estate, 1965.

Series 3 is comprised of financial records, 1915-1948. Included are sales books, 1915-1919, which provide a daily record of products sold and money taken in. Information on money paid out for material, advertising, commissions, and other sorts is also noted. Cash books, 1919-1920, which list accounts and show credit and debit amounts; sale records, 1920-1921, arranged on a monthly basis which show dollar amounts taken in by dealers, jobbers, export, and through mail order; and payroll records, 1919-1943, listing employees, dates and hours worked, pay rate, and amount paid. A financial report on the Sheldon Corporation, 1946, and miscellaneous financial notes, 1917-1948, can also be found in this series.

The advertising materials of Series 4 consist of catalogues, circulars, fliers, advertisement layouts and artwork, newspaper advertisements, invoices for advertising orders, and an address book which records advertisement materials mailed to customers. This particular series provides excellent information on how one particular company, the Sheldon Manufacturing Company, promoted its products to its market during the years 1913-ca.1925. In a larger historical context, this material is valuable as documentation of the growth in and importance of advertising as that industry flourished in the 1920s.

Series 5 consists of blueprints and drawings, ca. 1916-ca. 1922, which provide detailed sketches of parts and machinery, and specifications in the Sheldon Manufacturing Company's factory. Larger drawings and blueprints showing the factory's floor plans and views of parts and assembled concrete mixers are also found in this series.

The diaries of George C. Sheldon, 1911-1959, in Series 6 contain very little information on the business of the Sheldon Manufacturing Company. Although a few of the diaries from the early years do note business calls made, many of the entries from the late 1920s and after detail weather and crop conditions, work done as a hauler of materials to and from local farmers, and Sheldon's business as a Kelvinator dealer. By 1929 Sheldon's Kelvinator trade appears to be a more important source of income than the cement mixer operation. Although Sheldon's cement mixers were made until at least 1959, it appears that they were manufactured on a per job basis.

Series 7 contains a variety of topical material designated as "Miscellany." Included are materials relating to the Sheldon Manufacturing Company's exports; fair participation; other lines of products; sales letters; jobbers material; and price lists. Also included in this series are catalogues and advertisements from competing manufacturers of cement mixers.

Note:  The photograph portion of this collection [RG4074.PH] contains 395 prints and 50 negatives relating to the Sheldon Manufacturing Company of Nehawka, Nebraska. For additional information about the Sheldon Manufacturing Company, see:

Paul, Andrea, "Sheldon Manufacturing Company, Nehawka, Nebraska." Nebraska History, vol. 68, no. 3, pg. 104

DESCRIPTION

Series 1 - Correspondence, 1899-1931

Box 1
Folder
  1. 1913, Feb.-Dec.
  2. 1914, Jan.-Mar. 16
  3. 1914, Mar. 17-Apr.
  4. 1914, May-June
  5. 1914, July-Aug.
  6. 1914, Sept.-Oct. 5
  7. 1914, Oct. 6 - Nov. 9
  8. 1914, Nov. 10-Dec.
  9. 1915-1917, Keystone Pattern Works
  10. 1915-1917, Isaacson Company Iron Works
Volume
  1. 1920, June 10 - July 17
  2. 1920, July 17 - Aug. 21
  3. 1920, July 17 - Aug. 21
Folder
  1. 1921, Nov. 14-17
  2. 1921, Nov. 18-22
  3. 1921, Nov. 23-28
  4. 1921, Nov. 29 - Dec. 1
  5. 1921, Dec. 2-6
  6. 1921, Dec. 7-10
Box 2
Folder
  1. 1921, Dec. 12-16
  2. 1921, Dec. 17-22
  3. 1921, Dec. 23-29
  4. 1922, Jan. 16-18
  5. 1922, Jan. 19-24
  6. 1922, Jan. 25-30
  7. 1922, Jan. 31 - Feb. 3
  8. 1922, Feb. 4-9
  9. 1922, Feb. 10-15
  10. 1922, Feb. 16-20
  11. 1922, Feb. 21-25
  12. 1922, Feb. 27 - Mar. 2
  13. 1922, Mar. 3-8
  14. 1922, Mar. 9-14
  15. 1922, Mar. 15-20
  16. 1922, Mar. 21-24
  17. 1922, Mar. 25-30
  18. 1922, Mar. 31 - Apr. 4
  19. 1922, Apr. 5-10
  20. 1922, Apr. 11-17
  21. 1922, Apr. 18-22
  22. 1922, Apr. 24-28
  23. 1922, Apr. 29 - May 5
  24. 1922, May 6-11
  25. 1922, May 12-17
  26. 1922, May 18-23
  27. 1922, May 24-29
  28. 1922, May 30 - June 2
  29. 1922, June 3-9
  30. 1922, June 10-17
  31. 1922, June 19-22
  32. 1922, June 23-29
  33. 1922, June 30 - July 5
  34. 1922, July 6-11
  35. 1922, July 12-19
  36. 1922, July 20-25
  37. 1922, July 27 - Aug. 1
  38. 1922, Aug. 2-9
  39. 1922, Aug. 10-16
  40. 1922, Aug. 17-24
  41. 1922. Aug. 25-31
  42. 1922, Sept. 1-12
  43. 1922, Sept. 13-18
  44. 1922, Sept. 19-27
  45. 1922, Sept. 28 - Oct. 4
Box 3
Folder
  1. 1922, Oct. 5-10
  2. 1922, Oct. 11-18
  3. 1922, Oct. 19-26
  4. 1922, Oct. 27 - Nov. 2
  5. 1922, Nov. 3-9
  6. 1922, Nov. 10-16
  7. 1922, Nov. 17-22
  8. 1922, Nov. 23 - Dec. 2
  9. 1922, Dec. 4-8
  10. 1922, Dec. 9-14
  11. 1922, Dec. 15-22
  12. 1922, Dec. 23 - 1923, Jan. 3
  13. 1923, Jan. 4-9
  14. 1923, Jan. 10-16
  15. 1923, Jan. 17-26
  16. 1931, Feb. and Aug.
  17. Testimonial Letters, 1912-1921
  18. Incoming Correspondence queries on Sheldon Products
  19. Sheldon Family Correspondence, 1899-1929; 1937-1940 and 1947

Series 2 - Administrative Records, 1916-1965

Box 3
Folder
  1. Articles of Incorporation and By-Laws
    Debtor's Petition
    Articles of Dissolution
Volume
  1. Board and Stockholders' organizational materials
    Minutes of Board and Stockholders meetings, 1921-1941
    Authorization to issue and sell stock
Folder
  1. Patents, 1916-1923
  2. Copyrights, 1923-1924
  3. Trademarks and labels, 1920-1936
  4. Contracts, 1916-1963
  5. Stock Offerings, 1920-1921
  6. Stock Offerings, 1920-1921
  7. Stock Offerings and certificates, 1920-1926
  8. Bankruptcy materials, 1923
  9. Sheldon estate sale, 1965

Series 3 - Financial Records, 1915-1948

Box 3
Volume
  1. Sales Book, 1915-1916
  2. Sales Book, 1918-1919 (see oversize)
  3. Cash Book - November 1919-May 1920
  4. Cash Book, May-September 1920 (see oversize)
  5. Sales Records, 1920-1921 (see oversize)
  6. Payroll, 1919-1923 (see oversize)
Folder
  1. Reports of Sheldon Corporation, 1946
  2. Financial Notes, 1917-1947
  3. Financial Notes, 1920-1948

Series 4 - Advertising Materials, 1913-ca. 1925

Box 4
Folder
  1. Sheldon Mixed Concrete for Better Buildings, 1920
  2. The "Know-How of Concreting," 1921
  3. Catalogues, 1917 and 1920
  4. Circulars, Catalogues, Fliers, Advertisement Lay-outs, and Art Work, 1915-ca.1925
  5. Circulars, Catalogues, Fliers, Advertisement Lay-outs, and Art Work, 1915-ca.1925
  6. Circulars, Catalogues, Fliers, Advertisement Lay-outs, and Art Work, 1915-ca.1925
  7. Circulars, Catalogues, Fliers, Advertisement Lay-outs, and Art Work, 1915-ca.1925
  8. Circulars, Catalogues, Fliers, Advertisement Lay-outs, and Art Work, 1915-ca.1925
  9. Circulars, Catalogues, Fliers, Advertisement Lay-outs, and Art Work, 1915-ca.1925
  10. Circulars, Catalogues, Fliers, Advertisement Lay-outs, and Art Work, 1915-ca.1925
  11. Circulars, Catalogues, Fliers, Advertisement Lay-outs, and Art Work, 1915-ca.1925
  12. Circulars, Catalogues, Fliers, Advertisement Lay-outs, and Art Work, 1915-ca.1925
  13. Circulars, Catalogues, Fliers, Advertisement Lay-outs, and Art Work, 1915-ca.1925
  14. Circulars, Catalogues, Fliers, Advertisement Lay-outs, and Art Work, 1915-ca.1925
  15. Circulars, Catalogues, Fliers, Advertisement Lay-outs, and Art Work, 1915-ca.1925
  16. Circulars, Catalogues, Fliers, Advertisement Lay-outs, and Art Work, 1915-ca.1925
  17. Circulars, Catalogues, Fliers, Advertisement Lay-outs, and Art Work, 1915-ca.1925
Volume
  1. Scrapbook of advertising materials, 1915-1925
  2. Scrapbook of advertising materials, 1913-1920s (see oversize)
  3. Scrapbook of advertising materials, 1920s (see oversize)

Drawings, plans, lay-outs, publications carrying Sheldon Advertisements (see oversize)
Art work for circulars and advertisements (see oversize)

Box 4
Folder
  1. Advertisement Invoices, 1915
  2. Advertisement Invoices, 1915-1916
  3. Advertisement Invoices, 1916
  4. Advertisement Invoices, 1917
  5. Advertisement Invoices, 1917-1918
  6. Advertisement Invoices, 1918-1919; also Notes on advertising returns, 1921-1922
Box 5
Volume 4 - Address book of literature mailed; advertisement accounts, 1914

Series 5 - Blueprints, ca. 1916-1922

Box 5
Folder
  1. Blueprints and drawings
  2. Blueprints and drawings
  3. Blueprints and drawings

Large blueprints and drawings (see oversize)

Series 6 - Diaries, 1911-1959

Box 5
Volume
  1. 1911
  2. 1916
  3. 1917
  4. 1918
  5. 1919
  6. 1920
  7. 1921
  8. 1922
  9. 1923
  10. 1924
  11. 1925
  12. 1929
  13. 1930
  14. 1931
  15. 1932
  16. 1934
  17. 1935
  18. 1936
  19. 1937
  20. 1938
  21. 1939
  22. 1940
  23. 1941
  24. 1942
  25. 1943
  26. 1944
  27. 1945
Box 6
Volume
  1. 1946
  2. 1947
  3. 1948
  4. 1949
  5. 1950
  6. 1951
  7. 1952
  8. 1953
  9. 1954
  10. 1955
  11. 1956
  12. 1957
  13. 1958
  14. 1959

Series 7 - Miscellany

Box 6
Folder
  1. Exports
  2. Fairs
  3. Hog Crate Material
  4. Electric Saw Rig
  5. Shovel-loader; Spreader Loader; Seed corn offer; Notes on future business possibilities
  6. Sales letters
  7. Jobbers material
  8. Other companies' cement mixer advertisements and catalogues
  9. Other companies' cement mixer advertisements and catalogues
  10. Other companies' cement mixer advertisements and catalogues
  11. Other companies' cement mixer advertisements and catalogues
  12. Price lists, stationery, order blanks, bills
  13. Price lists, stationery, order blanks, bills
  14. Deeds, Mortgages, Plat map

 

ADDED ENTRIES:

Cass County (Neb.) -- Businesses
Industry -- Nebraska
Nehawka (Neb.) -- Businesses
Sheldon Manufacturing Company (Nehawka, Neb.)
Sheldon, George Clinton, 1886-1965

 

Revised 04-14-2008   TMM

 

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