The McHenry Pickle Factory

Through most of its existence, McHenry County has been an area focussed on agriculture. In the late part of the 19th century, pickle factories became something of a fad in the county. Woodstock, Crystal Lake, and Nunda were just some of the local towns to have them. By 1880, McHenry actually had two pickle factories. The first one was built in the summer of 1874 by a group of farmers.

1892 Map of Pickle Factory
Map from 1892, showing the location of Pickle Factory along Waukegan Road (now Rte. 120). It was roughly at the location of where the Advance Auto Parts is today.

The McHenry Pickle Factory cost about $8000 to build, measured 40’x80’ and had two stories. It included an additional 50’x125’ wing for “salting purposes”. This wing would include 50 tubs, each 8 ft. tall and 10 ft. in diameter for the purposes of pickling the cucumbers. Each tub cost about $40. The operation was up and running in August 1874 and received over 1000 bushels of cucumbers by the end of that month. Expecting success in its initial year of operation, the factory signed up for over 200 acres of cucumbers to be grown in the area.

By 1876, the factory was operated by two men named C. B. Curtis and a Mr. Walker, and ran under the name Curtiss, Walker & Co. The business did well and was regarded as one of the best factories in McHenry County. They even contracted a cooper, B. W. Austin, to make the barrels on site to store and transport the pickles. When Walker died in 1880, Curtiss sold his shares of the company to W. A. Cristy who ran the business under the name Cristy, Walker & Co. Cristy would go on to run the company for almost twenty years.

 

1893 Pickle Factory
Section of 1893 Sanborn Map showing the layout of the Pickle Factory.

 

When W. A. Cristy took over the business he planned a large renovation for the factory. He put up two new buildings: a Boiler House (16’x20’) and a Vinegar House (24’x40’). For the company’s vinegar, Cristy used a corn and malt formula that gave the pickles a better flavor than traditional formulas. Also for the making of vinegar, Cristy bought a 25-horsepower engine that would make it cheaper to produce. When started the engine produced 700 gallons of vinegar daily. All told the renovation cost about $40,000. However, this paid off, as the factory would produce about 20,000 bushels of pickles a year and distribute them throughout the United States.

Cristy went on to have a very successful career here in McHenry. He sold the pickle factory to R. W. Stafford in May 1899. He ended up in Joplin, Missouri until his death in 1924.The pickle factory itself would thrive well into the 1920’s.

Sources

“Pickle Shipping.” McHenry Plaindealer 5 Dec. 1877: 5. Newspapers.com. Web. 18  May 2017.
“Pickle Seeds.” McHenry Plaindealer 19 Apr. 1876: 5. Newspapers.com. Web. 18  May 2017.
“New Roof For Pickle Factory.” McHenry Plaindealer 17 Dec. 1890: 5. Newspapers.com. Web. 23 May 2017.
“Change of Ownership.” McHenry Plaindealer 18 Apr. 1880: 5. Newspapers.com. Web. 18  May 2017.
“Cooper Shop Connected to Pickle Factory.” Woodstock Sentinal 12 Nov. 1874: 5. Newspapers.com. Web. 16  Jun. 2017.
“Cooper Shop Sold.” McHenry Plaindealer 19 Jul. 1876: 5. Newspapers.com. Web. 23  May 2017.
“Pickle Factory Enlarged.” McHenry Plaindealer 17 Nov. 1880: 5. Newspapers.com. Web. 15 Jun 2017.
“Pickle Factory Improvements.” McHenry Plaindealer 29 Aug. 1877: 5. Newspapers.com. Web. 18  May 2017.
“Pickle Factory Construction.” Woodstock Sentinal 20 Aug. 1874: 5. Newspapers.com. Web. 18  May 2017.

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Red Faber Pitches in McHenry

In the summer of 1935 St. Mary’s softball charity game proved to be a memorable one. It pitted teams from the McHenry Elderly Men and St. Mary’s Holy Name Society and featured a bonus game that between the Married Men vs. the Single Men.  People were really looking forward to the game as it featured Major League Baseball Hall of Famer, Red Faber. Faber spent over twenty years pitching for the White Sox and was a crucial part of the 1917 World Series team. The recently retired Faber owned a home in Pistakee Bay and was in town for the summer.
Red Faber
Photograph of Red Faber taken in 1917, from the Library or Congress.
The umpire was a famous wrestler of the time, Charles Peterson. Like Faber, Peterson was in town as he owned a vacation home in Pistakee Bay. It was thought that the event was to be so well attended that extra stands were built just for the game. The game did not disappoint as over 500 people were in attendance. Faber, who won 250 games in the major leagues, won 12 to 10 against the team led by St. Mary’s Msgr. Charles S. Nix. In the second game, the single men won against the married men, 9-8. Faber and Johnson weren’t the only big names playing in the game. Some names that played are still known in town today. Freund, Miller, Justen and Altoff just to name a few.

Sources
“Red Faber To Pitch” McHenry Plaindealer 25 Jul. 1935: 1. Newspapers.com. Web. 7 Mar 2016.
“Red Faber Now A Local Resident” McHenry Plaindealer 1 Aug. 1935: 5. Newspapers.com. Web. 7 Mar 2016.

The Everett Phonograph & Music Store

The Everett Hunter Manufacturing Company was a staple in McHenry for many years. Everett Hunter’s boat making business started in 1889 when he immigrated to the US from England. In 1919, business was booming and it was decided that they would expand into producing phonographs as well. What put phonographs on the map was that they were designed with two needles, one for recording and one for playing music. This looked like a great industry for the Hunter Company to invest in.
ehm-ad-3-4-1919
Advertisement from the Plaindealer on 3 Apr 1919.
In March 1919, the Everett Phonograph was introduced to the public. The Everett sold so well that the Hunter Company put out ads looking for workers to help construct them. Phonographs were interesting to make, as they required the mechanical components that made or recorded sound. However, these components were housed in attached cabinets to make them more attractive for people to have in their homes.
everett-music-store-ad-17-10-1920
Ad from Plaindealer on 7 Oct 1920
During the first ten months of production, the Everett was sold out of the warehouse at the Hunter Manufacturing Company. However, with business doing so well, the Everett Music Store was opened in January 1920. Located on Green Street, it was run by Everett Hunter Jr. This also opened the door for the business to sell other musical merchandise, mainly records. The music business took off. Sometime in 1921, the Hunter Manufacturing Company stopped making the Everett Phonograph and became a dealer for Brunswick Phonographs and merchandise. In 1922, the Everett Music Store expanded it’s location in McHenry and branched out, opening a store in Woodstock. The success was short-lived however, and by 1924 the Everett Music store was bought out by the Nye Music Store. Yet, for a short moment in history, McHenry had its own manufacturer of phonographs represented by the Everett Hunter Company.
Sources:
“Big Free Display” McHenry Plaindealer 6 Apr. 1922: 1. Newspapers.com. Web. 15 Sep 2016.
“Change At Music Store” McHenry Plaindealer 17 Feb. 1921: 1. Newspapers.com. Web. 15 Sep 2016.
“Drop In” McHenry Plaindealer 15 Jul. 1920: 1. Newspapers.com. Web. 15 Sep 2016.
“Factory Needs Help” McHenry Plaindealer 1 Jan. 1920: 1. Newspapers.com. Web. 15 Sep 2016.
“Free Concert At Boat Factory” McHenry Plaindealer 4 Dec. 1919: 1. Newspapers.com. Web. 15 Sep 2016.
“Has Neat Quarters” McHenry Plaindealer 26 Feb. 1920: 1. Newspapers.com. Web. 15 Sep 2016.
“Is Branching Out” McHenry Plaindealer 30 Nov. 1922: 1. Newspapers.com. Web. 15 Sep 2016.
“Music Dealer In New Territory” McHenry Plaindealer 30 Jan. 1921: 1. Newspapers.com. Web. 15 Sep 2016.
“Music Store Expands” McHenry Plaindealer 9 Jun. 1921: 1. Newspapers.com. Web. 15 Sep 2016.
“New Quarters For Music Store” McHenry Plaindealer 29 Jan. 1922: 1. Newspapers.com. Web. 15 Sep 2016.
“Repairing Building” McHenry Plaindealer 29 Jan. 1920: 1. Newspapers.com. Web. 15 Sep 2016.
“Saxophone Demonstration” McHenry Plaindealer 30 Mar. 1922: 1. Newspapers.com. Web. 15 Sep 2016.
“Will Open Retail Store” McHenry Plaindealer 22 Jan. 1920: 1. Newspapers.com. Web. 15 Sep 2016.