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 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.


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