Warwood Tool Company, Wheeling West Virginia

Date added: September 04, 2017 Categories: West Virginia Industrial
General view of the east front 1990

Henry Warwood, founder of the Warwood Tool Company, was born in Staffordshire, England in 1823. Warwood learned the art of making miner's tools and garden implements while employed by Brade and Company at their steel works near Birmingham, England. Warwood emigrated to the United States in 1848, settling first in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio. Shortly afterwards, Warwood moved to the Pittsburgh area of Pennsylvania where he was employed in the manufacture of forks. Henry then made tools at several locations in the Pittsburgh area over the next couple years.

Henry Warwood returned to Ohio in 1854, settling in Martin's Ferry. Here, he paid John Wallace $300 for lot No. 52 in Wallace's Addition in March 1854, where he established a shop on the corner of Fourth and Locust streets. Already extant on the lot were tin and blacksmith shops. Warwood transformed the tin shop in to his home and used the blacksmith shop to make wrought iron rakes, hoes and miners' tools.

By the late 1860s, Warwood's business had already outgrown its manufacturing facilities. Thus, in May 1867, Warwood bought two lots on the Ohio River from John McCloskey for $2,200. Warwood's new factory was located on First Street (Front Street) and Walnut Street (Cadiz Road). The factory, completed by 1868, featured steam powered trip hammer, a combined shear, punch and press and other tool-making machinery. The principally products of this new foactory were miners' tools such as sledges, picks and wedges. In addition, Warwood also specialized in making garden rakes which were reportedly of the highest quality and widely sold.

The Warwood Tool Company remained in Martins Ferry until January of 1892 when the company was sold following Henry Warwood's retirement. It was purchased by Daniel L. Heiskell and relocated it to Wheeling, West Virginia. Warwood Tool moved into the factory formerly occupied by the Standard Axle Manufacture Company. This was lot 65, located on McColloch Street in Caldwell's Addition, just east of the La Belle Iron Works. The purchase price was $2,250.

The Warwood Tool Company was incorporated by the State of West Virginia on May 14, 1892. The scheduled fifty-year incorporation was for the express "purpose of manufacturing and selling coal miners tools, agricultural tools and implements, and hardware specialties; and doing a general manufacturing business..." Warwood was capitalized with $12,500 of stock, with the "privilege" of increasing capitalization to a maximum of $100,000. The Warwood Tool Company incorporators were Daniel L. Heiskell, Florence Maude Heiskell (his wife, nee Eccles), S.J. Eccles, William P. Burke, and H.T. Collins.

In September of the same year Heiskell "sold" Warwood Tool to B. Walker Peterson and associates for the sum of $10,000 for "all engines, boilers, machinery, tools, stock and other personal property." The Wheeling City Directory for 1892-93 lists the company under the heading of the Warwood Tool Works and manufacturing picks, etc, with Heiskell as president. The directory Supplement for 1893, lists the company under the heading of the Warwood Tool Company with Daniel Heiskell still president. Evidently, Heiskell remained involved with running the company following the sale to B. Walker Peterson. Warwood Tool is listed as manufacturing "mining, farming and track tools."

Between 1893 and 1896, Warwood Tool had moved its factory and office to Market Street, between 28th and 29th streets. Warwood Tool was then making coal miners' tools, picks, mattocks, grubbing tools, sledge hammers, crow bars, various wedges, and the like. The new Warwood Tool factory was laid out in three wings: the first wing was the tool shop where tools were forged; the second wing was the tool finishing shop; and the third wing housed tool painting, tool packing and the plant office. It is unclear exactly want kind of machinery was used at this location. The 1902 Sanborn Insurance Map does reveal the existence of grinders, a tumbler (presumably for tool cleaning prior to finishing) and heaters. The heaters were probably furnaces used to heat stock prior to forging operations. Warwood Tool continued operations at this location until shortly after the turn of the century.

During the fall 1903 and spring 1904, the Warwood Tool Company began purchasing land north of Wheeling along the Ohio River near Glenn's Run. (Originally, the Warwood area was used for truck gardening, growing vegetables for local markets. The lands had been owned by Alexander and Thomas Garden, Jacob Lasch, John Stenger, Chauncy Dewey and John Culbertson.) The first parcel was purchased in September, and the second and third parcels purchased in March of 1904. The land acquired was used to establish the new Warwood Tool Company factory and a company town on its current site.

The Warwood Tool Company's new factory began operations in 1905. The town of Warwood which took its name from the company, grew up around the factory. Interestingly, Walker Peterson, Warwood Tool's president, attempted to promote the growth of the town by granted public access to all of the company town's roads, avenues and lanes in 1905. In addition, Warwood Tool subsidized the building of a water works which furnished water for town of Warwood.

In 1916, Warwood expanded its line of coal miners' tools with the addition of a machine which could twist bar metal into coal augers up to ten feet in length. Additionally, Warwood made a whole line of mining machine bits. These bits were sold unhardened. Tempering was to be done in the field, to meet local conditions. During the 1920s, Warwood offered many tools other than those used in the coal mines. Some of these tools included crow bars, mauls, wrecking bars, sledge hammers, mattocks, picks, garden tools and many others.

In about 1922, Warwood Tool added a quality control department to test steel bars and other raw materials for flaws as well as finished products.

In 1942, Warwood's charter was amended to "to manufacture, sell and deal in tools, implements, machine, machine parts, and forgings and generally, and without limitation...to manufacture, process, compound, assemble, buy, sell, lease or otherwise acquire, hold, use and dispose of any and all manner of devices, products, mechanical appliances, compound, article of mechanism, materials and supplies." Additionally, capital stock was increased to $200,000 at 2,000 shares of $100 each. The amended charter was to be perpetual.

Today the Warwood Tool Company still makes virtually the same tools they did eighty-five years ago, when they moved to Warwood. Thirteen tools account for seventy-five percent of Warwood's tool production. Namely, the No. 1 Cutter Mattock, No. 2 Pick Mattock, No. 30 Railroad Clay Pick, No. 80 Square Head Wedge, No. 85 Oregon Splitting Wedge, No. H-121 Wood Choppers Maul, No. H-124 Short Hand Drilling Hammer, No. H-126 Short Striking Hammer, No. H-127 Long Striking Hammer, No. H-134 Double Face Sledge, No. 161 Wedge Point Crow Bar, No. 165 Post Hole Digger and Tamping Bar, and No. 166 Warwood Standard Wrecking Bar. All of these tools come in various weights, although some weights are more popular than others. (For example, the eight pound sledge outsells the sixteen pound sledge). Warwood is capable of making more than 400 tools with a system of interchangeable dies. Warwood makes many other tools, including adzes, tongs, chisels, drift pins, and punches, and garden tools such as hoes.

The Warwood Tool factory has changed very little since 1905. The factory is laid out on a rectangular plan with the raw materials entering the southern end of the plant, the forging operations on the central floor of the factory, and finishing operations including painting, boxing, and shipping in the northern end. The factory office is also located in the northern end.30 The only major change to the factory was the replacement of the lineshaft system which powered the machines with individual motors for each machine. Another interesting feature of the early factory was the isolated electric plant (basically a very large electric generator) which furnished electricity for the tool company. Now Wheeling Power furnishes the plant with electricity.

The operations involved in making tools are still very labor intensive. Forgings are hand loaded into the heating furnaces, hand carried from the furnaces to the forge and hand manipulated in the forging operations. This is also true for heat treating, inspection and finishing operations.

Eventually, Warwood Tool will change from forging tools with drop and tilt hammers to high speed hydraulic presses, but it will be some time before this will occur.

Visit the Warwood Tool Companys website