By OnMilwaukee Staff Writers   Published Sep 03, 2003 at 5:32 AM

If you live in Milwaukee, or the United States for the matter, you know that arguably the world's most beloved motor company is celebrating its 100th year anniversary this year. But did you know that 2003 marks major anniversaries for several big names in Milwaukee?

It seems that exactly 100 years ago Milwaukee was a fertile industrial field ready to foster the growth of companies and societies that have shaped Milwaukee culture as we know it today. Here's a historical glance to add some significance to a few Milwaukee cornerstones with big b-days this year.


We begin our historical trip with the start of MSOE, a highly regarded engineering university in Wisconsin and the world, created 100 years ago by a 23-year-old German immigrant. Oscar Werwath, studied in Germany to receive degrees in both mechanical and electrical engineering and in reward convinced his father to pay for a trip around the world after graduation.

And where does one begin such a trip? With a cousin living in Milwaukee, Werwath decided Milwaukee was the logical choice. Seeing the industrial potential in Milwaukee caused Werwath to call off the rest of his trip and call Milwaukee home.

Werwath got a day job manufacturing electrical controls and engines and with a lack of prime-time television, spent his evenings gathered with friends to discuss the coming electrical age. He was such a natural leader that his friends encouraged him to teach and eventually, he did. In 1903 Werwath started teaching classes in electrical engineering to a small class of seven students.

And that, they say, is history. Reaching its 100th year as the Milwaukee School of Engineering, the university today has roughly 2,600 students, almost 18,000 alumni and a 15-acre campus.

To commemorate it's b-day, MSOE will publish a 150-page coffee table history book in autumn and has created a centennial Web site with historic photos, a history of the university, timelines, alumni updates and other useful information


The Milwaukee Turners also have foundation back in the old country, when Frederick Ludwig Jahn founded the Turn Verein Association in 1811 to "prepare youth, both mentally and physically, for resistance to Napoleonic domination, and later for other anti-democratic forms of government," according to the Milwaukee Turners website.

The name Turner stems from the German word for gymnastics, turnen. Gymnastics forms the basis for the Turner Society, with their motto, "Sound Mind in a Sound Body." The "gymnastics" taught to the earliest of Turner members in Germany were actually quasi-military exercises designed to help overthrow the German government in 1848.

The first Turner Society in the United States began during the same year by German immigrants called "48-ers." Attempts to form the society in Milwaukee in 1848 were made, but citizens found the group very radical so soon after the German revolution.

In 1853, the Turner Society began to meet at Phillips Tavern on Market Street in Milwaukee, behind the current City Hall. After several moves, the Turner Society has made their permanent home on 4th Street in 1882. They are the oldest continuous Society to be located in the same building in Milwaukee. To date, Milwaukee Turners continue in their history of gymnastics, hold civic activities such as the 4th Street Forum and Cream City Sessions, hold the best darn fish fry at the historic Turner Restaurant and are currently trying to raise funds to restore the Turner Hall ballroom, built in 1882.

The Turner Society will celebrate its 150th birthday with a party on


The largest four-faced clock in the world, the Allen Bradley clock, stands proudly on the southern end of the city of Milwaukee. The clock tower first illuminated Milwaukee streets on Halloween night 1962. With octagon shaped faces emulating the company's original logo, the clock also symbolizes of one of Milwaukee's most respected and long-standing founding companies, Rockwell Automation.

In 1901, Dr. Stanton Allen saw potential in a young Lynde Bradley, enabling him to develop an electric current controller designed to run a crane motor. The design was completed by Bradley only one day before his 21st birthday. With their new patent, Bradley and Allen began manufacturing in the Pfeiffer and Smith machine shop in Milwaukee but needed the support of a larger operation to make their business a success.

And so, in December of 1903, Lynde Bradley and Dr. Stanton Allen formed the Compression Rheostat Company to manufacture "Allen-Bradley Devices," and entered in negotiations with the American Electric Fuse Company in Chicago.

Brother Harry Bradley joined the operations a year later and one of the first commercially manufactured crane controllers designed by the group was exhibited in the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair. The fair garnered the young company's first large order for 13 crane controllers.

In 1909 the Bradley bothers and Dr. Allen had a fall-out with the AEF Company and decide to venture on their own in Milwaukee, continuing production at the Pfeiffer and Smith machine shop and changing their name to the Allen-Bradley Company. The company saw boosted sales through contracts with the US government during World War I, had 150 employees, and was able to buy the Pfeiffer & Smith building in Milwaukee in 1917 and add an addition the next year.

In 1928 the company showed some love for its employees by adding another addition to the facility, which included a rooftop area where employees could participate in some lunchtime dancing, sunbathing, badminton and golf.

Despite some shaky times during the Depression, the Allen Bradley company was able to climb its way through by focusing on new technology and research and by 1937 the company's employment level had risen and sales reached an all time high.

Lynde Bradley died in 1942 and his brother Harry was appointed president. The Bradley family began a tradition of community giving this year by establishing the Lynde Bradley Foundation and gave its first gift of $12,500 to Milwaukee's Community fund (a forerunner of the United Way).

The Allen Bradley Company continued to think of its employees in the 50s by establishing a state of the art on-site medical center to serve health care and physical therapy needs. The company branched into showbiz with a growing popularity its noontime entertainment group, the Allen Bradley Orchestra which performed at the Milwaukee headquarters. The group set out on a nationwide tour in 1954, and went on to continue for 12 more tours.

Allen-Bradley went global in 1969 by opening a manufacturing facility in Bletchley, England and then formed A-B International in 1973, which expanded its sales to all over the world. In 1985 Allen Bradley was sold to what would become its parent company, Rockwell International. Rockwell International then purchased electric motors and mechanical power transmission products company, Reliance Electric in 1995.

The combination of Allen-Bradley and Reliance Electric brands created Rockwell Automation, once of the world's most respected companies in factory automation. In 1998, Rockwell International moved its headquarters from Cosa Mesa, California to Milwaukee and changed its name to Rockwell Automation in 2001. Rockwell now has 450 offices in over 80 countries and continues to provide the quality that made Allen Bradley a success in a small machine shop in Milwaukee 100 years before.


Last, but certainly not least is Milwaukee's biggest, and loudest, anniversary celebration this year. That of the Harley Davidson Motor Company. It all started in, you guessed it, 1903 when William S. Harley and brothers Walter and Arthur Davidson built their first three motorcycles in a tiny wooden shed decorated with the words "Harley-Davidson Motor Company" on the door in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Only a few years later, the third Davidson, William A., left his job as a tool foreman for the Milwaukee Road railroad and joined his brothers to build arguably the best motorcycle company in the world.

By 1909 Harley and the Davidson's introduced the V-Twin engine and in 1912 began construction of a headquarters and factory on Juneau Avenue in Milwaukee. The company showed its patriotism over the next several decades when they went on to produce 20,000 military motorcycles to aid the US in World War I and then 90,000 motorcycles in World War II.

The first leather jacket, a must-have for any true hog, was sold in 1947. The 70s marked a decade of new models including the FX Super Glide and the FXRS Low rider, also introducing factory custom design. In 1983, the first H.O.G., not the animal, owned a Harley with the establishment of the Harley Owners Group (incidentally, over 500,000 Harley owners became member of this group by 2000).

It was only five years ago when Harley-Davidson bought the Buell Motorcycle Company and opened the doors of a new factory in Menomonee Falls (also opening a final assembly plant in Kansas, MO). That year also marked the ultra-huge celebration when Harley Enthusiasts like Jay Leno and 140,000 others came to support HD's 95th Anniversary.

Harley-Davidson has continued to put more leather-clad, bandanna wearing Harley riders in hog heaven over the next five years. Which brings us to 2003, when an expected record breaking amount of Harley riders will turn out to show their Harley pride during Harleyfest, the 100th year anniversary of the meanest motorcycle around.