QUILT HISTORY STORIES

                        

 ELGIN, ILLINOIS

RIVER FOREST, ILLINOIS

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS

BECKET, MASSACHUSETTS

PAWTUCKET, RHODE ISLAND

Collingbourne Mills and Virginia Snow Studios Story

Book 1 and Book 2

Berkshire and Becket Silk Company

Book 3

Dexter Yarn Company

Book 4

Boag Ribboncraft, Boag, Inc., and Boag Studios Story

Book 5

Rudolph Petzelt Connection

Book 6

LeeWard Mills and LeeWards

Book 7

 

Susan Wildemuth, Atkinson, IL

Timeline of a Family of Needle Art Companies

Elgin, Illinois

(1902-1994)

1902            Western Thread and Dye Works incorporated with the State of Illinois in 1902.  This company was located in the State of Illinois (Chicago, Illinois), but not at the Elgin, Illinois location yet.

1908-09       Western Thread and Dye Works name was changed to Western Thread Company.  The exact date it was changed to Western Thread Company is unknown. The State of Illinois recognizes 1908, but does not have the exact dates on file.

The name Western Thread Company first appears on December 1909 State of Illinois paperwork.

1910   Western Thread Company, a thread and yarn manufacturer, opened for business in Elgin, Illinois.

1912  (est.)   A. B. (Albert) Collingbourne was hired by the firm and eventually acquired a controlling interest in the Western Thread Company.  The names Western Thread Company and Collingbourne Mills (without the Inc.) were used interchangeably during the early years, but officially the company’s name remained Western Thread Company until 1924.

1913   “Virginia Snow Studios” first began appearing on Collingbourne Mill’s embroidery, crocheting, and knitting instruction books around 1913. The name continued to be used until the late 1930s.

1924    Western Thread Company’s name was officially changed to Collingbourne Mills, Inc. on March 17, 1924 when they filed incorporation papers with the State of Illinois.

1924-25   Albert Collingbourne purchased the plant and business of one of the oldest manufacturers of pure silk thread in the United States, the Berkshire and Becket Silk Company, located in Becket, Massachusetts.

1926   Virginia Snow Studios was built adjacent to the main plant and operated as a modern needlework plant.  As a marketing strategy to stimulate demand for their different lines of thread, Virginia Snow Studios began producing stamped embroidery patterns and kits.

1927   The name “Grandma Dexter” came into use in the Collingbourne line after The Dexter Yarn Company of Pawtucket, Rhode Island was purchased by Collingbourne Mills, Inc., March 1, 1927.

1928    The 1927-1928 Elgin City Directory lists a George H. Brown – Commercial Artist – Lithographer as an employee of Virginia Snow Studios.  It lists a Miss Edith Miller and Miss Gertrude Watson as employees.

1936   Hoping to add to their line, Collingbourne Mills purchased Boag Studios of River Forest, Illinois, who manufactured ribbon, needlework novelties and pillow tops.

Late 1930s   The Depression took a toll on Collingbourne Mills, leaving the company with no other choice but to close their doors or sell to another company. The “approximate” year the company went out of business under Collingbourne management is 1938-39.

Late 1930s-Early 1940s   Parker F. McMahan, Attorney-at-Law was managing the “shell” of Collingbourne Mills, Inc.

1943    McMahan’s Collingbourne Mills, Inc. and Rudy Petzelt’s Mid-City Engineering Company merged. The company’s name changed to Dexter Mills, Inc. (not Dexter Thread Mills, Inc.) in Chicago, Illinois and became incorporated with the State of Illinois on April 8, 1943.

1947   Sidney C. Fink and Ralph A. Fried opened up Leeward Products LTD. of Chicago, Illinois and incorporated with the State of Illinois on January 4, 1947.

1948   Fink and Fried changed the name of their company to Dexter Thread Mills, Inc. (Not Dexter Mills, Inc.). The company is still located in Chicago, Illinois. They purchased some of the leftover inventory from Collingbourne Mills, Inc.

1950   Under Fink and Fried’s leadership, Dexter Thread Mills, Inc. added a catalog division called LeeWard Mills. The company was still located in Chicago, Illinois at the time of this name change.  The first LeeWards catalog was mailed to 25,000 households in the fall of 1950. 

1952-1954   LeeWard Mills (and Dexter Thread Mills, Inc.) moved to Elgin, Illinois.

1956   LeeWard Mills became LeeWards.

1962     LeeWards opened up their first retail store at the 840 N. State Street, Elgin, Illinois.

1968-69   Sidney C. Fink and Ralph A. Fried went into talks with General Mills, Inc. to purchase the company.  Lee Anderson, General Mills, Inc. came to work for LeeWards.

1969   General Mills, Inc. purchased LeeWards from Fink and Fried.  The brothers-in-law stayed on with the company for a short time to help with the transition and then retired from the art-needlework hobby business. 

1969-1976   Lee Anderson became President of LeeWards.

1971   LeeWards built a corporate headquarters at 1200 St. Charles Street, Elgin, Illinois.

1977-1983   Larry P. Kunz became President of LeeWards.

1983-1985   Dennis Johnson became President of LeeWards.

1984   Sidney C. Fink passed away.

1985   John Popple became President of LeeWards. Munford, Inc. of Atlanta, Georgia purchased LeeWards in August 1985.

1988   Munford, Inc. sold LeeWards to an Elgin-based management team and outside investors.

1991   Ralph A. Fried passed away.

1994   LeeWards’ main competition in the retail craft arena, Dallas-based Michaels Stores, Inc., bought the LeeWards chain in the summer of 1994.

 

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BACK TO COLLINGBOURNE MILLS AND VIRGINIA SNOW STUDIOS

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BACK TO BERKSHIRE AND BECKET SILK COMPANY

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BACK TO DEXTER YARN COMPANY

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE

BACK TO BOAG RIBBONCRAFT, BOAG, INC., AND BOAG STUDIOS

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE

BACK TO RUDOLPH PETZELT CONNECTION

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BACK TO LEEWARD MILLS AND LEEWARDS

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