Charles Keller and the Bloomer Machine Works
A brief history of Charles Keller and his Bloomer Machine Works
608 Winchester Drive Douglas, Georgia 31535-7220
This is a picture of long ago, of the Bloomer Machine Works owned by my uncle, Charles Keller. The picture is enlarged from a picture postcard sent to my mother in 1913 or 1914. The location is Bloomer, Wisconsin, the hometown of many of my relatives and where I lived for several years around 1920-25.
Charles Keller owned the company for a number of years including when the picture was made. I cannot be positive, but the man in the picture with the suspenders appears to be Uncle Charlie. His background, briefly, consists of being born in Sweden about 1865. He had the usual good basic education of the Swedish schools at that time, followed by several years of technical schooling. He knew and practiced blacksmithing, pattern making, the machinist trade, the foundry business, and was somewhat of an inventor.
In the picture you can see the cupola of the foundry on the building next to the main shop. The foundry was used to make castings for steam engine and other machinery repair, as well as the castings for the line of Keller gasoline engines, ranging in size from about one horsepower up to eight or nine horsepower. He later moved his operation to Eau Claire, Wisconsin, where he continued to build engines until after WWI. He had a contract with the government that caused him some grief, as he had built engines under the contract and when the war ended they terminated the contract with no notice leaving him with a large inventory of engines and parts that he was financially unprepared to carry. He survived that period and, as he had also been part of the team that was starting up the Gillette Rubber Co. tire plant, he managed to keep his business going. He continued to operate the Keller Tool and Machine Works in Eau Claire until his death in 1949.