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King Stove & Range Co., Martin Stove & Range Co.

King Stove & Range Co., Martin Stove & Range Co.

William and Charles Martin started their cast iron legacy in the early 1900s. The brothers established the King Stove & Range Company of Sheffield Alabama, the Martin Stove & Range Company of Florence Alabama, and the Martin Stove & Stamping Company of Huntsville, Alabama.

The three companies merged in 1974 to become Martin Industries, Inc. While the consolidated businesses had a short run of prosperity, in 2003 the company declared bankruptcy and closed.

Backstory

King Hardware purchase Lizzie Lowman Stove Co; birth of King Stove & Range

King Stove & Range Company of Sheffield Alabama was known as the Lizzie Lowman Stove Company prior to its purchase by King Hardware in 1905. 1

Tue, Mar 22, 1898 – Page 5 · The Tennessean (Nashville, Davidson, Tennessee, United States of America) · Newspapers.com

King Hardware purchased Lizzie Lowman for $9,000 – via 157 shares of King Hardware and $33.33 in cash. 2 William H. Martin – a retail salesman and stock manager for King Hardware since 1891 – was sent to Sheffield to manage the new concern – now named King Stove and Range – as its President.

Fri, Sep 29, 1905 – 1 · The Florence Herald (Florence, Alabama, United States of America) · Newspapers.com

Thu, Oct 12, 1905 – 4 · The Weekly Herald (Wetumpka, Alabama, United States of America) · Newspapers.com

Union Troubles at King Stove and Range

King Stove & Range Company had its share of labor disputes, which was not uncommon for the time. Many foundries had employees go out on strike; the companies opposed efforts of foundry workers to unionize. There were widespread reports of striking employees “strong-arming” non-union workers.

The labor unrest at King Stove & Range even resulted in a “street duel!”

Fri, Jun 28, 1907 – Page 3 · The Tennessean (Nashville, Davidson, Tennessee, United States of America) · Newspapers.com

In an act widely suspected to be arson at the hands of union workers, the King Stove & Range plant was set on fire. 


Fri, Nov 1, 1907 – 10 · The Montgomery Advertiser (Montgomery, Montgomery, Alabama, United States of America) · Newspapers.com
Fri, Nov 1, 1907 – 1 · The Leighton News (Leighton, Alabama, United States of America) · Newspapers.com
 The Montgomery Advertiser
09 Nov 1907, Sat
Page 8

William and Charles Martin buy King Stove & Range

William Martin and his brother Charles purchased King Stove & Range from King Hardware in 1917.

George E. King (founder of King Hardware) was named President of King Stove & Range. William Martin was named vice-president, treasurer, and manager.

The King Stove & Range Company manufactured “Martin” coal and wood heaters, stoves, and ranges. Accessories for stoves such as cast iron hollow ware were also produced to be sold alongside the stoves, as was common at the time.

King Stove and Range spider with lid. Collection of Brad Stuart. Photo courtesy Brad Stuart. 
Close up of the King Stove and Range trademark on the bottom of the spider. Collection of Brad Stuart. Photo courtesy Brad Stuart. 
Sat, Jan 8, 1921 – 20 · The Tampa Times (Tampa, Florida) · Newspapers.com

king stove range sheffield ksr martin old antique vintage cast iron sad iron identify who made history logo trademark
King Stove and Range sad irons from the collection of Jonathon Davis. Photo courtesy Jonathon Davis. Top row: King Stove & Range sad irons. Jonathon believes these are the earliest ones made by King Stove & Range. Middle row: irons have handles marked “SHEFFIELD.” Full set of sizes 4 – 8. Bottom row: handles marked “KING.” 
Thu, Jan 18, 1940 – 8 · The Tampa Tribune (Tampa, Florida, United States of America) · Newspapers.com

William and Charles Martin purchase Florence Foundry; renamed Martin Stove & Range Co.

The Martin brothers expanded their holdings in 1918 when they purchased the Florence Foundry. 3 The foundry was located in Florence Alabama, just across the Tennessee River from Sheffield.

The Florence foundry was reincorporated as Martin Stove & Range. Martin Stove & Range manufactured coal and wood stoves, cast iron hollow ware, skillets, and sad irons.

Wed, Dec 31, 1930 – 20 · The Tampa Times (Tampa, Florida) · Newspapers.com
king stove range martin skillet sauce pan fry fryer frying old antique vintage cast iron 5 6 7 8 9 identify who made history logo trademark
Complete collection of Martin sauce pans with lids. Aren’t the handles gorgeous? Numbers 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9. Collection of Jonathon Davis. Photo courtesy Jonathon Davis. Jonathon was kind enough to provide early assistance on this article. Thank you, Jonathon! 
martin perfection 8 lid cover florence ala antique vintage cast iron identify who made history logo trademark
From the collection of Jonathon Davis. Photo courtesy Jonathon Davis. 
king stove range martin skillet pan fry fryer frying old antique vintage cast iron 10 identify who made history logo trademark hamburger heat smoke fire ring lid cover small large monday morning high dome
From the collection of Jonathon Davis. Photo courtesy Jonathon Davis. L to R as identified by Jonathon: #3 hamburger, #3 Monday morning, #8 high dome skillet lid, #5 hamburger, #7 high dome Dutch oven lid, #9 round griddle, and #8 double skillet lid. 
martin griddle ballard company louisville kentucky pancake flour skillet pan fry fryer frying old antique vintage cast iron identify who made history logo trademark
Two advertising griddles made by Martin. Collection of Jonathon Davis; photo courtesy Jonathon Davis. 
king stove range martin skillet pan fry fryer frying old antique vintage cast iron 10 identify who made history logo trademark hamburger heat smoke fire ring
Collection of Jonathon Davis, photo courtesy Jonathon Davis. The four variations of the Martin no. 10 skillet. L to R as identified by Jonathon: unmarked smooth bottom with inset handle, unmarked heat ring, heat ring hamburger logo, smooth bottom hamburger logo.

Third Enterprise Added: Martin Stamping & Stove Co.

In 1939, the Martin brothers further expanded their interests when they bought a manufacturing plant in Huntsville, Alabama at an auction. This company was renamed the Martin Stamping and Stove Company, and produced a small line of unvented gas heaters.4

Fri, May 5, 1939 – Page 11 · The Tennessean (Nashville, Davidson, Tennessee, United States of America) · Newspapers.com

War Efforts

During World War II, King Stove & Range and Martin Stove & Range manufactured magazine heaters for the military. Martin Stamping made bomb crates and other strategic materials.5 

Sun, Nov 24, 1940 – Page 10 · The Tennessean (Nashville, Davidson, Tennessee, United States of America) · Newspapers.com

Merged and reorganized as Martin Industries

On January 1, 1974, all three companies (King Stove and Range, Martin Stove and Range, and Martin Stamping) merged and became Martin Industries, Inc. 

During this reorganization, the Sheffield plant (fka King Stove and Range) discontinued its foundry operations, and was converted into a stamping and fabricating plant.

The Florence plant (fka Martin Stove and Range) became a highly automated foundry.

The Foundry of the Shoals acquires Florence Plant

In 1987, Martin Industries, Inc. sold the Martin family’s interest in the Florence plant to a partnership of employees at the facility.  Operation continued at the foundry under the name “The Foundry of the Shoals.”

Sun, Mar 13, 1994 – 64 · The Montgomery Advertiser (Montgomery, Montgomery, Alabama, United States of America) · Newspapers.com

The Foundry of the Shoals shut its doors in 2002. It was sold for scrap in 2007.

Wed, Feb 28, 2007 – 13 · The Montgomery Advertiser (Montgomery, Montgomery, Alabama, United States of America) · Newspapers.com

Martin Industries files for Bankruptcy

Troubled times were also ahead for Martin Industries. Martin Industries announced its intent to file for bankruptcy protection at the end of 2002. 

Wed, Jan 1, 2003 – 30 · Pensacola News Journal (Pensacola, Escambia, Florida, United States of America) · Newspapers.com

Martin Industries closed on March 7, 2003. The US Bankruptcy Court approved the sale of Martin Industries to Monessen Hearth Systems for 3.7 million dollars. This was less than Martin Industries owed on a secured bank debt to AmSouth.

A sad ending to a long run started by the two enterprising Martin brothers.


Sat, Mar 8, 2003 – 28 · The Montgomery Advertiser (Montgomery, Montgomery, Alabama, United States of America) · Newspapers.com

Additional reading:

Forgotten Foundry: Martin Stove & Range Co., Southern Cast Iron Magazine blog (March 14, 2018). Article was published in the Spring 2017 edition. Features interview with collector Jonathon Davis. 

Martin Industries, Inc. – Company Profile, Information, Business Description, History, Background Information on Martin Industries, Inc Reference for Business.

Sun, Jul 29, 1973 – Page 29 · The Anniston Star (Anniston, Calhoun, Alabama, United States of America) · Newspapers.com



  1. Lizzie Lowman began business in Sheffield in 1898.
  2. The Metal Worker, A Weekly Journal of the Stove, Roofing, Cornice, Tin, Plumbing and Heating Trades, Volume 61, Issue 1 (1904).
  3. The Florence foundry had been in business since 1888, but was failing at the time of purchase by the Martin brothers. There is an interesting write-up of the Florence Stove Company by M.C. Fesmire, which you can access here. In part, the article states:

    The Foundry became the Florence Stove and Manufacturing Company when Henry H. Theole moved his company to Commerce Street in 1888 from Evansville, Indiana. An important businessman in Florence, Thomas Jefferson Phillips partnered with Theole. Phillips owned many entrepreneurial ventures in the Sweetwater area of Florence.

    When the Florence Stove Company commenced manufacturing, the factory produced stoves, heaters, wash pots, skillets, “sad” irons for ironing, and “dog” irons for fireplaces in a 150,000 square foot warehouse facility. Theole specialized in machine and jobbing work for repairing brass and iron molding and pattern work. Theole would hire local former slaves who became well-known locally for casting. The artisan former slave Pompeii worked at the company and cast sets of dog irons which can be seen at the W.C. Handy Museum in Florence. Workers who worked at the Florence Stove Company lived in a group of red frame houses owned by the company due south of the foundry on “Theole Row”. Theole also employed convicts at the Florence Stove Company as operators and common workers in the foundry.

    M

    M.C. Fesmire, University of North Alabama, “The Foundry/Florence Stove and Manufacturing Company.” 

  4. Martin Industries, Inc. – Company Profile, Information, Business Description, History, Background Information on Martin Industries, Inc., Reference for Business.
  5. Martin Industries, Inc. – Company Profile, Information, Business Description, History, Background Information on Martin Industries, Inc., Reference for Business. 


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