Gene Stratton-Porter’s Company

Kendallville Broom and Brush Company, incorporated from 1914 to 1926.

The object of this company was to manufacture brooms and brushes in the town of Kendallville, Indiana. This company was started by Gene Stratton-Porter, a very popular novelist and naturalist from northern Indiana in the early 20th century. There are copies of the incorporation papers, amendment papers and annual reports for the company in this file. The first papers are the Articles of Incorporation filed on May 14, 1914. It is interesting that her husband, Charles D. Porter, did not sign on as a director at the inception of the company as he did in the subsequent years.

There are various annual reports signed by the directors from 1914 to 1926. Besides the Porters the directors were Gertrude Lay Sumption and her husband Rinaldo Sumption, Wells S. Murphy, and John E. Jellison. Rinaldo Sumption was listed in the 1910 Federal Census as a General Merchant and Gertrude had no listed occupation. Wells S. Murphy was listed in the 1910 Federal Census as a Railroad Yard Marker in Cadillac, Michigan, and was listed as a manufacturer of brooms in Kendallville in the copy of his WWI registration. He was also the company’s secretary. John E. Jellison was listed as a laborer in the 1910 Federal Census, and was listed as manager of the broom company in 1920. Gene was listed as a writer of fiction in the 1920 Federal Census, and her husband as a bank manager in Rome City.

The Amendment papers for the company on January 20, 1921 increased its Capital Stock from $15,000 to $100,000. By that time the Porters had moved to California, where these papers were signed. Its interesting that all of the company’s directors had also moved to California by then. Gene was involved in producing films of her novels while in California, but was killed in an auto accident in December of 1924.

The last set of papers in this file is the Corporation Report of 1926. It looks like some investors from Pittsburg, Pennsylvania had bought the broom and brush company by then. Arthur A. Auer of Kendallville, Indiana is listed as the Vice-President of the company. Auer’s occupation listed on his death certificate in 1967 was as a manufacurer of brooms and brushes in Kendallville, so maybe the company started by Gene Stratton-Porter stayed in business in Kendallville for many years after she died.

by Robert F. Gilyeat, an Indiana State Archives volunteer

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