The Shelby Museum Of History
 
 

 
 
Shelby Electric Company - 1902 and beyond
 
John Chamberlain Fish
&
Adolphe Alexander Chaillet
 
 
 
The Shelby Electric Company under the guidance of John C. Fish, continued to expand production and soon required additional space.
 
 
The Shelby News - February 28, 1902
 
 
 
An examination of the Sanborn Fire Insurance maps (on the previous page) shows there were several small building additions between the years 1899 and 1904, however the large addition mentioned in the above article must have been completed and in operation between the 1904 and the 1911 maps.
 
 
 

Buildings as they appeared prior to the large addition mentioned in the above article. c. 1901
 
 

 
 
The Shelby Daily Globe - August 29, 1902

 
 
 
Note that at this annual meeting of the Shelby Electric Company stockholders all the old company directors were re-elected with the exception of Adophe A. Chaillet. The most likely reason for this action would be Professor Chaillet relenquishing his position of employment at the Shelby Electric Company more than a year previous and moving on to an employment position in Buffalo, New York. This would be his last official association with the Shelby Electric Company, but he was not finished with the production of electric lamps. (More later).
 
 
 
 
Click image to enlarge

Shelby Lamp Works - c. 1903 - 1904
 
 
The above picture was taken approximately one year after the previous one. Note the addition of the water tower and the wing to the north (left side of picture). This would have been the state of the facility prior to when the following newspaper article was published.
 
 
Click image to enlarge

The Daily Globe - April 2, 1906
 
 
 
 
Click image to enlarge

Shelby Lamp Works - 1907
 
 
Another two story addition has been made on the front (west side) of the previous structure. Note the addition of a graded drive crossing the sidewalk into the company lot and the added growth of the small trees that were first seen in the previous picture. The interurban tracks first seen in this picture were probably present when the previous photo was taken, (The interurban service from Mansfield to Shelby was started in June, 1901.) however the picture was framed in such a way as to exclude the tracks from view.
 
 

 
 
By 1907 the "Lamp Works" growth had been rapid and the production demands continued to increase. The building space had been enlarged to meet the increasing demands, however . . .
 
 
By 1907, local ownership apparently had slipped because in that
year, Mr. Fish announced the National Electric Company with
controlling interest planned to expand the plant with the result an
additional 125 employees, mostly girls, would be needed. The payroll
was $2,800 every two weeks and would be in excess of $4,000 if the
expansion went through. The “If” centered around whether Shelby
had sufficient housing for such an increase.

J.B. Crouse, president of National Lamp Company, later in the year
told Shelby that the entire expansion program for the company’s 48
plants would be centered here if labor would be available. There
immediately started a great promotion for construction of more
houses, a need that cropped up periodically through the years.

The Daily Globe wrote “What we need is a real estate company
with the capacity of laying out an addition of 100 lots and of building
on them at once. Every businessman in the town should be interested
in this movement.

In 1908 one reads that a fine feature of industrial progress was the
establishment of a restroom and the granting of a 15-minute recess
every forenoon and afternoon to employees.

Nucleus of Industry

The Shelby plant became the nucleus of a vast combination of all the
electric lamp companies in the United States, which was called the
National Electric Lamp Association, N.E.L.A. division of the General
Electric Company of which immediately upon its formation Mr. Fish was
made first president, with headquarters in Shelby."
(1)
 
 
Articles like the following appeared in The Daily Globe lauding the rapid growth of the Shelby
Electric Company and the fine management that was responsible for these impressive results.
 
 
Click image for entire article

The Shelby Globe - June 11, 1908
 
(Two days after the publication of this Globe article, John C. Fish's brother "Ferd" passed away.)


To prepare for this expansion mentioned in the above article, the building was again enlarged.
 
(As an aside, histories of the development of the incandescent light bulb generally attribute the General
Electric Company as being the first to patent the use of a tungsten filament in a light bulb in 1906. It
would seem that the Shelby Electric Company had much to do with the actual development of the
filament and due to the close association through N.E.L.A. perhaps G. E. gained the knowledge for the
patent.)
 
 
Click image to enlarge

Shelby Lamp Works - c. 1909
 
This view shows the large addition on the south end of the building and the company's final
configuration that appeared in the 1911 Sanborn map shown on the previous page.
 
 
 
Click image to enlarge

Lamp Works Service Room - c. 1909
 
 
 

 
 
Then another tragedy struck:
 
The Daily Globe - April 16, 1909

 
 
The Daily Globe - April 20, 1909
 
 
The following are excerpts from the more than five column obituary for John C. Fish in the April 20th, 1909 edition of the Shelby Daily Globe:
 
 

 "The funeral of the late John C. Fish was held from the family home on South Broadway Monday afternoon at 2:30 o'clock. A special train from Cleveland carried about seventy-five employees of the National Lamp Company to Shelby. An interurban car brought fifty Elks from Mansfield, while other trains brought representative men from various parts of the United States, who gathered with his sorrowing neighbors and friends to pay tribute to his memory. The body lay in state from 9:00 until 12:00 o'clock and it is estimated that 5,000 people passed through the home to look for the last time upon the man whose death came to us as a calamity and as a benediction. While it racked our hearts with pain, his passing away taught the people of Shelby what friendship is and sent thankfulness into their hearts to realize that Shelby had such a man even in death."

"The casket was completely covered by tributes from friends who loved the sleeper. As the friends of the departed looked upon his face for the last time they began to realize that a good citizen, a warm friend, a great organizer, and a man of executive ability was lost to them forever."

"A constant stream of sorrowing friends visited the home and at 2:30 o'clock when the service was held the home was filled and hundreds lined South Broadway on both sides north to Main Street. In harmony with his life, the service was simple, methodical but very beautiful. "

"The grief of an entire community and the respect to one of their honored dead were never more fully exemplified in Shelby than yesterday during the funeral exercises over the late John C. Fish. The wheels of industry, the affairs of tradesmen and the institutions of learning were all closed as a mark of respect, allowing survivors to pay their last tribute to one who was so closely allied in every way to movement, public or private, during his lifetime."

"The broken threads of his business relations will be taken up by other hands, now that the last sad rites are o'er, but not so as life or memory shall exist in those of adult age who knew the man, will his ability or endearing qualities be forgotten."

"We know no better way of closing this memorial than by quoting one of his own expressions. He said: 'I would rather make men than lamps.' The hundreds who have been directly connected with him know what efforts he made to guide the erring into better way, or what patience and perseverance he exercised in bringing out that best which lies dormant in every human being until it is given a chance to develop. Every citizen knew him in some capacity, but only those who were closest and met him oftenest knew him best, and appreciated to the fullest extent his worth to themselves, to the institutions with which he was connected to the community, and in fact to affairs at large throughout the nation. Rest in peace." 

 
 
 
Click image to enlarge photo c. 1910

The Shelby Electric Company about as it would have appeared at the time of John C. Fish's death.
 
 
 
The is a view of the last addition on the south end of the building. The photo was taken from a position along Mack Avenue, south of the intersection with Tucker Avenue. Note the absence of the Autocall building. The Autocall was established in 1906, however the first portion of the existing building was erected on the extreme east side of the current building lot, and therefore the western portion (which would have obstructed this view) had not been built at this time.
 
 
 

 
The Shelby Electric Company had become the center of many electric lamp companies in the United States, however after the death of John Fish things began to change. As the article above (1) indicates, Mr. Fish had been recently made the president of the newly formed National Electric Lamp Association, N.E.L.A. division of the General Electric Company and was trying to organize and combine many of these diverse widely scattered manufacturers.
 
 
In the amalgamation of the companies, every outside unit was moved to Cleveland where one colossal plant houses them all. Mr. Fish died before that was accomplished, however, even as he was in the midst of pioneering in the tremendous new industry which is know as N.E.L.A. in Cleveland today.
 
After the death of Mr. Fish in 1909, directors met and elected G. M. Skiles,
president; W. H. Myers, sales manager; T. J. Green, vice president; W. W. Van Horn, factory manager.
 
On March 19, 1912 one reads that the General Electric Company took over the Shelby Electric Company. The factory in years previous had operated under the name of Richland Mazda Lamp Company but the sales department, managed by W. W. VanHorn, had operated as the Shelby Electric Company, which after March of 1912 was to be called the Shelby Lamp Works.
 
After General Electric moved the manufacturing end of the old electric away in 1915, the sales division continued to exist for many years on Mohican Street, with Mr. Van Horn, C. C. Skiles and Howard Sotzen among the managers. (2)
 
 
 
Shelby Lamp Division
Will Move to Buffalo, New York in June, Taking Several Families From City.
 
C. C. Skiles, manager of the Shelby Lamp Division, informed The Globe today that he has received instructions from the head office to the effect that the local offices will be moved to Buffalo, New York. The exact date of closing the Shelby offices has not been fixed but it is expected that the change in location will be made about June. It is with much regret that The Globe records this item of local history as the change will mean the loss of a worthwhile concern to the business interests of Shelby as well as the removal of several families from our city. It is estimated that the company does a volume of business amounting to $1,000,000 annually and this item will no longer go through our local institutions. The Shelby Lamp Division has also been one of the big customers of the Shelby Post Office, their postage bill amounting to something like $1200.00 per year. In addition to this, the company gave employment to fifteen people. C. C. Skiles, Howard Sotzen and Walter Soll who have been connected with the office for years will remove from Shelby to Buffalo. Just how many other employees will leave Shelby has not at this time been announced. The three gentlemen mentioned all have homes here and expect if possible to sell their properties before leaving. The offices have been located at the Doty Building on Mohican Street since their removal from the electric building which is now known as the Shelby Industrial building. The change to the present quarters was made in May, 1917. The purpose in removing to Bufflao is the opportunity offered for increasing the local business. The company employs six salesmen and there will be no change in this force and no change in the district offices or the territory. (3)
 
 
The above changes occurred as the result of a Federal Court anti-trust ruling against the GE Company in 1911. It was discovered that over the past several years GE had owned 75 % of the stock in the National Electric Lamp Company (NELA) as a silent partner. GE was ordered to dissolve the company and at that point most of the previously "independent" NELA manufacturers became a part of GE. To make these divisions more efficient they and some of their employees were often moved to and combined with an existing GE facility. I find it interesting the Shelby Electric Lamp Division was moved to Buffalo, New York, the same city where Professor Chaillet lived after leaving the company in 1901/1902.
 
 
This concludes the story of the Shelby Electric (Lamp Works) history in Shelby, Ohio.
 
 
What remains to tell is the conclusion of the stories of the Chaillet and Fish families. Choose pages 4, 5 or 6 on the links below.
 
 
Page Index to Shelby Electric Company Information
Page 1 :  Shelby Electric Company - Formation
 Page 2 : Shelby Electric Company - Growth and Change
 Page 3 : Shelby Electric Company - 1902 and Beyond
 Page 4 : Researching the J. C. Fish Family
 Page 5 : Researching the A. A. Chaillet Family - Part I
 Page 6 : Researching the A. A. Chaillet Family - Part II

 Shelby Electric Company Article - (written in 1999 )

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(1) The Daily Globe
(2) The Daily Globe
(3) The Daily Globe - March 20, 1923
 
 
If you have comments or questions, please contact :
 
The Shelby Museum of History
% Sally Maier
76 Raymond Ave.
Shelby, Ohio 44875
 
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