If not for a sewing machine salesman who convinced Shelbians to invest in a new American industry, Shelby might have remained a crossroads. But Jonas Feighner had faith in his employer, Henry Lozier, general agent for New Home Sewing machines in Cleveland. Lozier was also part owner in Lozier and Yost Bicycle Manufacturing Company in Toledo. Bicycle tubing was imported and expensive. Lozier determined that a steel mill should be built in America.
In 1890, Lozier and Yost traveled to England and obtained a job in a steel mill to learn the trade. Lozier reutrned to America and challenged his New Home agents that he would build the factory where they could find the most investors.
Feighner and businessman Capt. David Lockwood Cockley began to secure subscriptions. Even though “there weren’t but two men in the whole town who could give $2,000 apiece” they raised $37,500, enough to win the challenge. True to his word, Lozier built the steel mill in Shelby.
The factory was incorporated in 1891 as Lozier-Yost Seamless Tube Works; within six months the name was changed to The Shelby Steel Tube Co. Cockley became president of the company.
A year after the mill was built, Cockley and stockholders formed the first Shelby Cycle Manufacturing Co., on Smiley Avenue between the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad and the Blackfork River. No records exist that bicycles were built by the company.
As bikes became more standardized, the tube company began to make bicycle parts in addition to the raw tubing.
The seamless tube company still exists today as ArcelorMittal.
© Christina Yetzer Drain