Arlington Stove Works (Jos. Bell & Co.) in 1886
— from THE WHEELING DAILY INTELLIGENCER, " Special Natural Gas Edition", September 14, 1886.
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The Arlington Stove Works.
By our Old Employe.
The business of this establishment is carried on by the firm of Joseph Bell & Co. The company consists of Joseph Bell, David Bell and Charles H. Senseny. The senior partner of the firm is one of the few men of his age, born and raised in Wheeling under the old regime who grew to manhood free from the tenets that were generally ingrained in the very nature of those to whom an all-wise Providence vouchsafed the privilege of being Indigenous to the sacred soil of the Old Dominion. From his early youth his life has been spent in and about business connected with the manufacturing interests of Wheeling. His long experience in the iron business fully prepared him for the enterprise undertaken in 1863, with a view of building up a reputation for Wheeling stoves. This he realized could only be done by making their manufacture an exclusive specialty. In 1863, then, in connection with Robert Campbell, he purchased the old Eagle Foundry, located on the corner of Main and 4th streets, North Wheeling, which had formerly done a general foundry business. The value of that property and its business may be measured correctly by the price paid for it, to wit: eight thousand dollars, which sum paid for the foundry building, the lots belong thereto, together with the patterns and other equipments, and all the manufactured and other stock on hands. At that time the leading patterns were the West Virginia, the Tropic, the Pluto and Defiance stoves.
Mr. Campbell's health failing him, he soon withdrew from the business, and it has since been conducted under the title of Joseph Bell & Co. These gentlemen immediately set about enlarging the capacity of their works.
The cook stove is the great conservator of the health, and comfort and in a great measure also, of the very happiness of the household. It should be deservedly one of the most ornamental pieces of furniture. The Company realized its status and the importance of its responsible duties being properly performed. They have spared no pains, nor study, nor expense to bring it to that degree of perfection which its importance demands. That their efforts have been properly appreciated is evidenced by the rapid growth of their business, which has grown to more than ten times its original proportions. Having adopted the name, Arlington, all their stoves are classified under that title. Their extensive sale of the Arlington Cook Stove in all sections of the country sufficiently attests it popularity and its merit. Its symmetrical proportions give it an elegant appearance unsurpassed by any other stove, while in the performance of its duties it is without a superior. In August last by a disastrous fire the company suffered the loss of a large proportion of their works, with many of their patterns. The disaster seems, however, to have only widened the field of their activity. New and more various patterns have been obtained and the works have been rebuilt on a vastly extended scale. They commenced business on one small moulding floor, now it covers an area of twelve thousand square feet. From three or four stoves per day in the beginning, their daily product now numbers fifty stoves. Their largest building extends back to West street and is four stories high, and their entire buildings cover five full city lots. A large portion of this extension is devoted to the fitting, and the labor of a large proportion of their employes is engaged on this particular branch of the business. In the early days of the stove manufacture, and in fact until within the last few years, the proper fitting of stoves together was a matter that received but little attention. Here and there a dab with a cold chisel, or a little touch with a file, and the stove went together very much as it came out of the sand. Now, every uneven spot is brought to perfect line upon grindstones or emery wheels. Owing to the special attention given this department, it has become possible to make stoves light yet solid and strong. All this beauty and this perfection of convenience has been of slow growth. The neatness, order and comfort which make the kitchen of the thrifty housewife her special pride, and even commends it to the admiration of her worthy spouse, is the result of long and careful study. Men, with all the selfishness attributed to them by the strong-minded, have in a most practical manner acknowledged the rights of the weaker sex to all the facilities best calculated to lighten their share of the partnership duties of married life.
Those who now enjoy the fullness of this greatest of modern household conveniences, have little knowledge of the [ film scratched ... ] with the culinary department in an era that is yet within the memory of some of our oldest citizens. Perhaps it may add to their appreciation of it to go back a little in the history of its progress. In the day of small things when the foundry business was carried on by Neel & Allen and by Mr. Cooper and by Cuthbert & Co. and by the late Thos. Pollock, it would have been an impossibility to manufacture such stoves as we have now. In that day iron was melted in the primitive air furnace, the modern cupola with its powerful machine blast was unknown. One can scarcely believe that within the memory of living persons the very existence of coal in the hills around this city was unknown, or if known, it was to but few.
Wood was the only fuel used both for heating and cooking purposes, and the kitchen fire place was nearly of the dimensions of a small bedroom. The great brick oven and the iron Dutch oven were the perfect arrangements of that day for baking and roasting, and they roasted the cooks almost as much as the meats. Any of our modern cooks who are obliged temporarily to cook on a grate, regard that institution as an invention of the evil one. What then must have been its power to destroy the peace and happiness of our tidy grandmothers who were compelled to use it for a long time, for the ever increasing scarcity of wood admitted of nothing else. Every want stimulates invention to supply it, and the first step toward the modern cook stove was a sort of iron oven placed at the end of the grate. For sometime a sickly sort of happiness was afforded by that improvement, but we may say that even such meager comfort was lost in the first stoves that came into use. These early specimens were not much either for beauty or utility, they were ill looking and more illy constructed, small in size and great imperfections. Some of them smoked and gave the kitchen the appearance of a lampblack factory; others would not bake, and they all burned too much coal. These imperfections were not surprising when we reflect that the stoves were made in the same establishment and by the same workmen who moulded plough points, wagon boxes, dog irons and all the odds and ends of iron mongery, usually made in such establishments. All perfection comes by means of specialities, and to the fact that Joseph Bell & Co. have given their exclusive attention to the stove business, is Wheeling largely indebted for her favorable reputation in this line, and we, for the Arlington Stoves.