KITTEN ENGINES:

Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow


| January/February 1997



Kitten steam engine

Reprinted with permission of The Ferdinand News, Ferdinand, Indiana. Thursday, October 12, 1995 issue.

A banner year for Ferdinand was 1906. The town's railroad began operation after years of planning; Ferdinand Bottling Works would soon begin making carbonated beverages under management of the Haug brothers and, after two months the pressman for the recently established FerdinandNews, Mr. Henry Haake, took over as publisher and editor-in-chief.

That year also saw a changing of the guard of The Kitten Machine Shop. Florenz Kitten, who founded his empire in 1868, turned the operation over to his only son, Joseph F. Kitten. Though he would live another 14 years, Florenz was undoubtedly ready for a rest when he retired at the age of 66.

At this time the foundry was located at Eighth and Missouri, while the Machine Shop adjoined Florenz Kitten's home at the corner of Ninth and Virginia. In the huge (for its time) two story building a crew made steam engine powered equipment, including threshing machines, grain separators, clover haulers, and corn separators, as well as other steam-driven equipment like saw mills for the lumber industry.

The manufacturing plant continued successfully, but in 1908 Joseph sold the business to John Hassfurther and John P. Reinecker, who changed the name to the Ferdinand Foundry and Machine Works.

Joseph took the plant back over in 1914, but his death in March, 1918 ended the Kitten dynasty. In an age when women were expected to stay home and raise children, Joseph's wife Elizabeth and her father, Tony Buschkoetter, successfully managed the business. Eventually Elizabeth and Joseph W. Bickwermert bought the company.