Business History

By the early 20th century the city of South Bend and Mishawaka were the leading industrial manufacturing centers of the Midwest. One of the main reasons factories started or were founded in South Bend was because of the East and West Races.


Although the idea of digging a mill race was put forth in 1835 it was not until 1843 that a dam and the East and West Races were construction along the St. Joseph River downtown South Bend.  These races provided water power for factory machinery prior to steam, electricity, and petroleum based power sources.


Below is a listing of just a few businesses that called South Bend and Mishawaka home.

The Oliver Corporation

The company started by James Oliver, the creator of the Oliver Chilled Plow.

Abstract & Title Company

Started by South Bend resident Andrew Anderson.

A.C. Staley/Stephenson Mills

One of many woolen mills located on East Race in South Bend.

Studebaker Manufacturing Company

The world-famous wagon and car manufacturer.

bendix drum
Bendix Manufacturing Corporation

World famous for braking systems and automobile starting systems.

The Birdsell Manufacturing Company

What is a clover huller? Click Read More to find out.

Campbell Box&Tag Company

Makers of cardboard and wood shipping boxes and labels.

C. E. Lee and Company

Suppliers of paint, wallpaper and interior decorating supplies since 1872.

Indiana&Michigan Electric Company

This local power company was started by a former school superintendent.

Meyer's Hardware Store

Founded by G.E. Meyer, a native of Germany.

The Dodge Manufacturing Company

Established in 1878 by Mishawaka’s own Wallace Dodge.

Kamm&Schellinger Brewery-Mishawaka

One of the more popular breweries in St. Joseph County.

Mishawaka Woolen Company

Eventually renamed Ball-Band Rubber Company.

Wheelabrator - Frye Company of Mishawaka

Creators of the first successful airless blast cleaner.

Amplex/Simplex Motor Car Company

Yes, there was another car manufacturer in St. Joseph County.

Muessel/Drewry's Brewery

A local brewery that was taken over by a Canadian brewer.

O'Brien Paint & Varnish Company

Patrick O’Brien was a carriage painter for Studebaker.

Sibley Machine Tool Company

Makers of industrial drills and machining equipment.

Singer Sewing Machine Company

Singer’s cabinet manufacturing plant was located in South Bend.

South Bend Brewing Association

Another brewery in South Bend producing Hoosier brand beer.

South Bend Chilled Plow Company

Believe it or not, there were two chilled plow companies in South Bend.

South Bend Woolen Company

Not to be confused with Stephenson Woolen Mills of South Bend.

South Bend Bait Company

Makers of the famous Bass-Oreno artificial fishing lure.

N.P. Bowsher and Company

Makers of the finest feed mills money could buy!

Paper Mills in St. Joseph County

Several paper mills were located throughout St. Joseph County.

Miller-Knoblock Wagon Company

Developed into much more than a simple wagon company.

South Bend Toy Company

Early manufacturer of croquet sets and other children toys.

South Bend Watch

Makers of South Bend and Studebaker pocket watches.

Ellsworth's Department Store

One of the earliest department stores in downtown South Bend.

Robertson's Department Store

One of the favorite department stores in downtown South Bend.

Bantam Bearings Company

The first U.S. company to produce a catalog for bearings.

South Bend Range Company

Started as the Malleable Steel Range Company.


Do you have a question about any of the businesses you’ve seen here or possible products they produced? Contact Travis Childs, Director of Education at
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