Welcome to the Granite City Historical Pages
We are establishing a "historical" section about the city of Granite.  If you would like to submit
any photographs, articles or items of interest, please email us at
The Eddleman & Kite Collection
A collection of vintage photographs of familiar and unfamiliar Granite City places
The Eddleman & Kite Collection
A collection of photographs of the tornado of 1981

Granite City - A City Built By and For Industry - 100 Years Ago

“Among the many German immigrants who came to St. Louis in the 1850’s were the
Niedringhaus brothers, Frederick G., age 18, and William F., age 20, natives of Westphalia,
Germany.  They became tinners and earned $4 a week, selling their wares on the street.  By
1857, the brothers had saved enough money to open their own business.  They had to
cut the tinware by hand and solder it together.  After learning about a new French machine,
which stamped out kitchen utensils from a single sheet of tin, the brothers imported
the equipment and a workman to operate it.  The business thrived, and in 1866, they
incorporated the St. Louis Stamping Works.  William became exhausted and nervous from
overwork.  In 1865, the doctor told him to take a rest, travel to Europe, and forget
his business.

In a store window in a small village in Germany, William saw kitchen utensils that were
coated with a glossy, white element.  For $5,000, William was able to purchase the process of
making graniteware.  He lost no time returning to St. Louis, where the first piece of
graniteware was made on April 10, 1874, using ground granite as the basic material.  They
patented their process and their enameling business became one of the major industries
in the United States.

Until 1877, the St. Louis Stamping Company imported sheet iron, used in the production of
graniteware, from Wales.  After the mill in Wales was destroyed by fire, the brothers
constructed the Granite Iron Rolling Mills in 1878 and made their own sheet iron.  Workmen
were imported from Wales to operate the mill.  Granite City Steel Company traces its history
back to 1878, when those mills were opened in St. Louis.

But their steel industry had problems competing with cheap tin place imported from England.

As a result, Frederick decided to become active in politics.  He was easily elected as a
United States Representative from Missouri.  He served on the House Ways and Means
Committee, and favored high tariffs to protect smaller industries.  The McKinley Tariff Bill of
1890 was passed by congress, and the duty on tin plate was raised from $22.40 to $49.28 a
ton.  Two months after this bill was passed, the Granite City Iron Rolling Mills in St. Louis
began to produce tin plate.

With this legislation in place, the brothers had a tremendous increase in business.  Because
there was such a demand for tin plate, they made plans to expand.  They decided to buy
cheap land near St. Louis and develop a city.  In August 1891, William and his son, George,
took a ferry across the Mississippi River and came to a little farming community called
Kinderhook.  They found many advantages in this location, including an abundant water
supply, cheap electric power, moderate taxes, good roads, and ample shipping facilities by
railroad and river.

In 1892, the Niedringhauses returned to Kinderhook and employed Mark Henson, the village
school teacher, as their land agent.  He obtained options on three thousand five hundred
acres, which the brothers purchased period.

When the city was incorporated, in March 1896, family members wanted to name the city
Niedringhaus, but William and Frederick named the city Granite City, commemorating the
graniteware which was the basis of their company.”

(Granite City, A Pictorial History, Georgia Engelke, Linda Sperry Mizell, Art Menendez, Robert
W. Stevens, Michael E. Parks, Nancy Sanders, Elizabeth Briggs, Larry Zotti)
Check back often for updates!