Tickets are on sale at the museum for our Dinner Theater, Thurs. Sept. 19. Local historian and storyteller, Gene Cornell will be presenting “Tales of LaCharette. Tickets are $20.00 for members and $25.00 for non-members. Doors open at 6:00 and a catered meal will be served at 6:30 p.m. Contact the museum at (636)456-3820 for more information or to purchase tickets.
This summer’s exhibit at the Warren County Historical Society Museum from July 5 September 8 features an exhibit highlighting the history of the Binkley Manufacturing Company. The Binkley Company has a very interesting history it was on April 4, 1933 that the company began operations in a small building at the intersection of Highway 47 and Old Highway 40, now Veterans Memorial Parkway. Imo’s Pizza and Legacy Drugstore occupy this lot at the present time.
William J. (Bill) Binkley and his wife, Lil, came to Warrenton in 1933. He had a business in Chicago that failed during the depression. Binkley was 32 years old and broke at the time, but he had a dream, ambition, and lots of “know-how”. Mr. Binkley started Binkley on April 4, 1933. He knew sheet metal and layout work, so he rented a building in Warrenton for $7.50 a month and began to make stove pipe and adjustable elbows. This building was owned by McGee Service. Mr. Binkley hired a few local men to help him with production. When they had made up a batch of stovepipe and elbows, they would take the back seat out of his old Chevy, pile all they could get into the car and take them to St. Louis. Once there, they would sell the merchandise just in time for payday.
In the fall of 1933, the young business was moved to a slightly larger building. In April
of 1934, the business moved again to what was then known as the Sievert Ice Plant. The
building was purchased, the company incorporated, and the Binkley Manufacturing
Company was under way. The small company started making furnaces. Binkley did not
have the necessary machinery to make a round furnace, so he made his furnace more in
the shape of a square. He had an emblem on the front of the furnace that read: Binkley
furnaces, Built on the Square. The manufacture of furnaces proved to be a worthwhile
and money making project. Still today many of the old homes around Warrenton and neighboring towns may have “The Binkley Furnace”.
Along with the furnace business, Binkley got into the manufacture of power line and electric line equipment. Binkley made a lot of roller die machines and the company was noted for taking on hard-to–fabricate jobs; jobs that no one else wanted to try. These customers remembered Binkley when they had other work of a more conventional nature.
Interesting enough, the first drill press the company had was made by an employee, Lon
Swarts, from a small motor he had removed from his washing machine.
The Iron Product Company for Lacrosse, Wisconsin, consolidated with The Binkley
Company in 1940 and moved into a new building. After the machinery from Iron
Products arrived by rail, it was cleaned up, painted and positioned in the new machine
shop and foundry. About the time the foundry got started, the company got into the
building of component parts for over-the–road trailers.
The employees had just gotten settled in their new building when the country found
themselves in World War II. All employees were “frozen on the job”. You couldn’t move
to another factory or job unless the War Labor Board said you could. Wages were frozen
at about 49-one half cents per hour. The Wright City plant began operations in 1941 and many of the war products were manufactured and assembled at this operation.
Binkley contributed a lot to the war effort. The company made a roller die machine for
C–47 planes. Truck parts were made for Fruehauf Army trucks. Pump impellers and
other much-needed castings were made for fire-fighting equipment. This equipment was
installed at sea on some of the old “Battle Wagons” the United States had from World
War 1. They didn’t have incendiary bombs during World War I so these ships had to
have these pumps on board to take care of this new type of threat. They also made parts
for B-25 bombers, mine detectors, torpedo rings, and various other needed parts for the
Navy. During the years of 1941 through 1945, the company was producing exclusively
for the National Defense Program and War Effort. The Wright City plant began operations in 1941 and many of the war products were manufactured and assembled at this operation. During the years of 1941-1945 the company was producing exclusively for the Nations Defense Program and War effort.
When the war ended, it became evident that converting to products for civilian use called for more expansion. The “ Y “ plant ( Highway 47 and 40 junction produced traverse rods, picnic boxes, office partitions, acoustical suspensions, grocery shopping carts, and even material for a building in Washington and Warrenton, Missouri.
In 1947, the foundry was moved to Wentzville, MO. The people of the city helped build the building in order to bring manufacturing to their city. The building served as a foundry and machine shop for about six years. The product line of the company changed from high line equipment, pumps, and pipe fittings to a full line of over-the-road trailer fabrication parts, including aluminum landing gears and aluminum
In 1950, the company mailed their first catalog to the truck body, truck trailer industry.
The business from this industry grew and accounted for 60 percent of Binkley’s total volume in1958. In 1953, the company purchased the Ely Walker Plant in Warrenton to house the welding department and the landing gear manufacturing. They also constructed a building containing 84,000 square feet to house the expanding roller die operations. The late 50’s saw the development of landing gear in conjunction with the rocket and missile program where the gear was used for stabilizing jacks.
In September 1959, a St. Louis group purchased the assets of The Binkley Manufacturing
Company. The company’s name was changed to The Binkley Company and Aaron
Fischer became the Chairman of the Board of Directors. Under the new management, the
company continued to grow. The company’s sales grew to $8,500,000 in 1963. This
growth was partly associated with concentration in three areas of marketing: 1) the Truck
Trailer Industry, 2) the Building Product industry, and 3) the Custom Roll Forming for
industry in general The Building Products Industry was a new division that specialized
in the selling of products to the commercial building industry. This included siding and
roofs for factories, schools, malls, etc. ‘This division no longer exists at the company we
In 1966 an addition was added to the Warrenton plant. This addition added 106,000
square feet to the facility, or a 40 percent increase in area. Binkley personnel designed the
building and many of the company’s own products were used in the addition. It was also
in 1966 that Bill Binkley, the founder, passed away.
Beginning in 1966, the company began to concentrate its efforts toward a
predominant truck/trailer focus. Binkley became the largest landing gear manufacturer in
the United States and, in addition, introduced new products such as tandem sliders and
In 1991, the Holland Hitch Company in Holland, Michigan purchased The Binkley
Company. The addition of the Binkley Company to the Holland Hitch organization brought together two major forces in the transportation industry.
SAF acquired the HOLLAND Group on December 18, 2006, becoming one of the world’s
only global suppliers of trailer and heavy duty powered vehicle systems and components. Today the company is a valuable asset to Warrenton and Warren County.
This story was provided by the Warren County Historical Society, which is funded by donations and run by volunteers. Information listed is from the collection of Randy and Karen Roetemeyer who recently donated Binkley items to the Warren County Historical Society and Museum.
The museum is located at 102 W. Walton in Warrenton, and is open from 10 to 4 p.m. Thursday, Friday and 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday.
For more information, to attend an event or to make a donation, call 636-456-3820 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
In 1991 the Holland Hitch Company in Holland, Michigan purchased The Binkley
Company. At that time, Holland Hitch employed 800 people worldwide at facilities
throughout the United States, Canada, Australia, Germany, Japan, and Malaysia. They
are manufacturers of fifth wheels, pintle hooks, landing gears, and kingpins for the heavy
duty and light commercial transportation industry. The addition of the Binkley Company
to the Holland Hitch organization brought together two major forces in the transportation
In June of 1996 a new state-of-the-art manufacturing facility was opened in Warrenton.
The new 120,000 square foot building represented the ongoing commitment to the
Warrenton area and the truck trailer industry by the Binkley Company and the Holland
Group. That year, Holland Binkley Company remained the world’s largest producer of
truck trailer landing gear.
In 1999 The Holland Group purchased the Neway Anchorlock International Company
headquartered in Muskegon, Michigan. This acquisition made the Holland Group a
major market force in air ride suspensions and pneumatics for the transportation industry.
TODAY – A new Company and a new beginning.
Forming a leading global supplier of value-added trailer, tractor and truck components
and systems SAF-HOLLAND S.A. was incorporated on December 21, 2005 for the
purpose of acquiring the SAF Group, a transaction completed on March 31, 2006. SAF
acquired the HOLLAND Group on December 18, 2006, becoming one of the world’s
only global suppliers of trailer and heavy duty powered vehicle systems and components.
Prior to these acquisitions, SAF and HOLLAND were each independent leading
developers and suppliers of premium heavy-duty vehicle systems and products in their
respective core markets – Europe for SAF, and North America for HOLLAND – with
both also being active in other key markets.
We are the leading global supplier of value-added trailer, truck, tractor, bus and motor-
home components and systems with:
- Broad and differentiated product offering
- Customer-focused creating longstanding relationships
- Truly global footprint
- Dominant market position
Our product range includes premium axle and suspension systems, fifth wheels, kingpins,
couplings, and landing gears. We sell our products‘ on six continents to original
Through the years Warren County has witnessed several serious railroad accidents.
Two freight trains collided just outside of Truesdale and both engines and 18 cars were wrecked. Seven men were killed and several wounded. Of eight palace cars, laden race horses, en route to the Kansas City races, two were wrecked and seven men in charge of the horses were reported killed. Fifteen horses were also killed and a number of trainmen injured.
Cars and engines were intermingled in one large mass of debris from which screams came of the wounded and dying. One jockey was buried under shelled corn from which it took several men three hours to extricate him. A force of men worked from 2:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. at the scene. There were eight dead and twenty-five wounded.
Both engines were compete wrecks and about six palace cars were demolished. It was impossible to find out how many horses were killed at that time, as there were a great many still underneath the wreck. It is estimated the loss of the company was $200,000. There were 70 horses on the train.
Wabash Route Wreck, 1943, Wright City, MO
Twenty-seven cars of a St. Louis-bound Wabash freight train were derailed one half mile west of Wright City, Saturday morning about 6 0’clock, attracting hundreds of motorists along nearby Highway 40 who came to see a spectacular wreck and remained o gaze hungrily as the wrecking crews neatly stacked hue side of beef along the right of way.
The derailed cars included six refrigerator car of dressed beef, 10 cars of shelled corn, one car of barley , one car og see potatoes, one car of empty beer bottles and kegs, two cars of equipments for the U. S. Army and one car miscellaneous merchandise consisting mostly of butter, lard, and dog food. The total loss in damaged merchandise was estimated at $40,000.
Approximately one one eighth mile of track was torn up by the wreck, but Wabash officials were able to reroute their trains over the Burlington line’s tracks. Several cars were badly wrecked after telescoping and splintering as they left the rails. One rail was bent into a half circle.
MKT Wreck, 1943 Marthasville- Augusta, MO
Eleven freight cars and four tank cars derailed. Local section men were called to the Katy wreck. They put in a lot of time Saturday and Sunday clearing the tracks.
As an aside, beloved Warren County school teacher, Miss Polson, for an assignment had two students from Holstein write up the accounts of the Katy train wreck. These accounts were printed in the school paper, the 3R’s, a paper published by Miss Polston. Who were the young news writers? Phyllis Meyer and Glen Huenefeld.
Burlington Wreck, 1966. New Truxton, MO
On July 13, 1966, excessive heat supposedly caused the railroad tracks at New Truxton to expand which caused the derailment of 24 cars of a Burlington freight train. The train was headed to Kansas City from East St. Louis. The wreck occurred after the engine and first car passed over the overheated rail. One of the derailed cars was balanced on top of two other cars high above the level of the engine. There were no injuries.
“The wreck is one of the most spectacular train wrecks that I’ve ever seen. Overheated rails are rare,” said, I. G. Toland, division superintendent at Hannibal.
This story was provided by the Warren County Historical Society, which is funded by donations and run by volunteers.
The museum is located at 102 W. Walton in Warrenton, and is open from 10 to 4 p.m. Thursday and Friday and 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday.
For more information, to attend an event or to make a donation, call 636-456-3820 or email email@example.com. Website: warrencountymohistory.com
“Who Do You Think You Are? – Bill Paxton” Season 6, Episode 7 – Aired April 19, 2015
It was Wednesday, October 15th. Warrenton locals began lighting up Facebook with questions about the sighting of a famous movie star sited in the downtown area of Warrenton and at Walgreens. If that weren’t enough, a caravan of three or four SUV’s was also seen driving up and down Main Street several times during the afternoon. So what was up? Rewind several months….
I think it was August, and The Warren County Historical Society President, Jan Sutherland, was contacted by representatives of the popular reality show “Who Do You Think You Are?” She was told there was a Hollywood celebrity who had an ancestor buried in southern Warren County and some of the information pertaining to the individual was located in our historical society library in the museum. The representative wanted to know if they could shoot scenes for the show at the museum. However, one of the stipulations was that no one outside of the historical society board of directors could know anything about it. Everything had to remain secret until the time came when they would give us permission to tell others what was going on.
If you’re not familiar with “Who Do You Think You Are?” it’s an Emmy nominated, hour long, reality show that researches the genealogy of various celebrities, and then films them traveling from place to place learning about their ancestral heritage. The show first aired, on NBC in March 2010, and then recently jumped to TLC on cable.
Jan was eventually given the days the production crew and celebrity would be filming at the museum; however we would not know who the celebrity was until he walked in the front door of the museum the day of the filming, Wednesday, October 15th. Weeks before filming show reps came to the museum to check out potential places to film inside the building.
The night before they were to film, Jan received an email that included the filming schedule for the next day. Even on the email the celebrity’s name was not mentioned, only his initials. BP! So who was BP? Brad Pitt? No, his relatives were in Southwest Missouri. Bill Pullman? Brad Paisley? Turns out quite a few celebrities have the initials “BP”.
On the 15th, the film crew of twelve arrived at the museum early to set up all the equipment. It was fascinating to watch all the preparation the crew went through to get ready to shoot, as it turned out, in the library. They brought in all sorts of cases and boxes from their van. Lights and sound equipment were set up, furniture rearranged, and monitors set up in the room next to the library. Members of the crew, mostly young twenty-something’s, were very friendly and accommodating, wanting to know our names and always concerned about not getting in our way or rearranging things that they thought we might not want moved.
We were finally told the name of the celebrity was who would be coming through our door at any moment. It was Bill Paxton, actor, producer, director, who has starred in many movies such as “Twister”, “Navy Seals”, “Weird Science”, “Titanic”, “Aliens”, and “Apollo Thirteen”, and “Night Crawler” to name just a few. On TV he’s been seen in “Big Love”, “Hatfields and McCoys”, “Tombstone”, and “Agents of Shield” as well as many others. He’s been nominated for four Golden Globes, one Emmy, and many other awards. We discovered that Paxton was one of the film crew’s favorite celebrities, because he was so approachable, friendly, and down to earth. From what we understood, each day’s destination was a surprise to Paxton.
Mr. Paxton’s arrival was the culmination of nearly a week of travelling to several locations in the eastern part of the country. When Mr. Paxton arrived he went directly to the library to begin filming with Mr. Gary Kremer, the Director for the State Historical Society of Missouri. While the cameras were running Kremer guided Paxton through the original will, which is part of our collection, of his four time great grandfather, Benjamin Sharp, who fought in the Revolutionary War and moved to Warren County in 1816, which at the time was St. Charles County. His grave is located in a wooded area near Holstein.
Between shooting, I heard Paxton and Kremer discussing the famous, artist, and Missouri Regionalist, Thomas Hart Benton. I approached Paxton and asked if he had ever seen Benton’s mural at the Missouri state capital. He said he had and that his grandfather, who had been a neighbor of Benton’s in Kansas City, was in the mural. Benton painted him as the man looking at the dancing girls in the saloon. Both Paxton and his father personally knew Benton.
The afternoon was spent mainly recreating shots like Paxton entering the building, Paxton leaving the building, Paxton entering the library, Paxton leaving the library, close-ups of documents, outdoor shots, and shots of Paxton driving down Main street to the museum. It was late afternoon when Paxton and a few members of the camera crew were wrapping up the long day of filming on the east sidewalk. The rest of the crew was busy packing and loading their travel van. Everyone, including Paxton, was pretty worn out from the week of traveling and shooting each day. I asked one of the producers if we could get a group picture of the crew, but she didn’t know if they could break away from the packing. A few moments later Paxton walked in the office door, looked at me, and asked, “Guy, do you want a picture with me?” (He actually remembered my name!). Jan and I took him around the corner and we took a few pictures together in front of the big safe. The crew was right, Paxton was friendly, and personable. I guess you’d say, a regular Joe.
Thursday, was their last day of shooting and it took take place in a wooded area near Holstein. Jason Schoppenhorst, who lives in southern Warren County, was their guide to the gravesite. That day, Jan and I were in the museum office when she got a phone call from Mindy Ward, who lives near Holstein. Mindy was excited, because members of the film crew were in her house eating lunch and using her facilities. I think the crew probably left out the fact that there was a celebrity in the area. She was looking for more information about what was going on. I remember Jan saying, “You probably have a movie star in your bathroom, right now!” Mindy, an editor for The Missouri Ruralist Magazine, recorded her experience with the Hollywood visitors and had it printed in the magazine which has been included in this issue of the newsletter.
This season of “Who Do You Think You Are” is scheduled to begin this March on TLC. The Paxton episode will air Sunday, April 19, at 9 pm.