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About the Round Oak Stove Co:
D. (Philo D.) Beckwith (1835-1889) was the founder of Round
Oak Stove Company (later officially known as the Estate of P.D.
Beckwith Inc.) and Mayor of Dowagiac, Michigan.
Born in 1835 in New York, Philo D. Beckwith settled in
Dowagiac, Michigan in 1854 and opened a foundry. His
experiments with heating stoves in the 1860s led to the reshaping
of his foundry business from the roller grain drill to the heating
stove. Beckwith cast his first stove around 1867 to heat his
struggling foundry and shortly after, the Michigan Central Railroad
ordered the heaters for its depots between Detroit and Chicago.
By 1871, Beckwith had made heating stoves his primary product
(though he would continue manufacturing grain drills until his death)
and the Round Oak Stove Company was born.
Beckwith's company provided relatively high wages for the times
and the, then, nearly unheard of benefit of sick pay. The town was,
as a result, relatively insulated from the labor struggles occurring in
the larger cities at the time.
Beckwith, was a committed freethinker who wanted to "make the
townsfolk aware and appreciative of those of his personal
pantheon of heroes and heroines whom he considered to be the
true benefactors of the human race".
The company expanded and Beckwith became a very popular
man in town. He served as mayor for much of the 1880s and he
invested a great deal of money and energy into various
philanthropic activities. Beckwith died in January 1889 at the age
of 54, leaving the management of the firm to his son-in-law, Fred
Round Oak Stove Company officially became the Estate
of P.D. Beckwith Incorporated after Beckwith’s death and
continued expanding into the early 1900s. The company
added new products, like furnaces and cooking stoves,
and Round Oak produced a wide array of advertising
materials. The success of the firm can be attributed to solid
products and quality advertising