William Galloway – Mail Order Magnate


| March 2009



Moore_catalogcover

The cover of the 1917 Galloway mail order catalog.

William Galloway was a big name (at least in the Midwest) in the farm implement field during the first two decades of the 20th century.

Galloway was born in 1877 on a farm near Berlin, Iowa, attended local public schools and studied at Monmouth College in Illinois. He began his career by traveling from farm to farm selling notions and specialty items from his buggy, before going to work for an implement dealer at Reinbeck, Iowa. Eventually Galloway became a traveling salesman for implements and farm equipment, learning the machinery business from the ground up.

Galloway moved to Waterloo, Iowa, in 1901, and started a farm implement dealership selling (as was common at the time) many lines of machinery and vehicles. Galloway, however, wanted to build his own machinery and started the William Galloway Co. in 1905 to manufacture harrow carts and manure spreaders.

Other implements were added and everything was sold by mail order. No jobbers, dealers or salesmen were employed. Galloway touted this method by calling his firm “The House that Divides the Melon with its Farmer Friends,” instead of “Splitting Up Your Share with the Middlemen.” The 1913 Galloway catalog cover showed Galloway holding half a watermelon marked “Manufacturer’s First Cost & One Profit” and a smiling farmer holding the other half marked “Farmer’s Share.”

The 1913 catalog had 146 pages and contained engines, pumps, sawing outfits, manure spreaders, cream separators, portable elevators and well drilling outfits. There were litter carriers, incubators and brooders; sprayers, grain drills and corn planters; plows, harrows and cultivators; harness, saddles and buggies, as well as Galloway wagons, which were famous for their high quality. The wagon gears were constructed of white oak with either wooden or steel wheels, while the boxes were made of thoroughly seasoned “long leaf white pine,” well ironed and painted and equipped with a patented Comstock folding tailgate.

One could order belting and pulleys, and for the shop, tool grinders, post drills, anvils and forges. In addition, there were steel grain and water tanks, windmills, pitless scales, fanning mills, and feed grinders and cutters.

For the missus there were washing and sewing machines, stoves, baby buggies, ice boxes, furniture of all kinds, kitchen cabinets, rugs, curtains, blankets and mattresses. There were watches, paints, dinnerware, fencing, roofing and wallboard, along with clothing for men, women and children.

The “Little Wonder Vodaphone” and records such as “The Parson and the Turkey,” “I Want a Girl,” “When I Was 21 and You Were Sweet 16,” and “Ragging the Baby to Sleep,” promised to “Open Your Doors to a Whole World of Entertainment.” There were firearms, baseballs and gloves, tennis rackets and roller skates, as well as bicycles in men’s and women’s versions, with or without coaster brakes.