Saturday, September 24, 2011

International Shoe Factory - Mt. Vernon, Illinois

I have been shamefully absent from my blogs the past month for a myriad of excuses, first vacation, then a death in the family, stresses at work and finally just plain laziness.  I was going through a number of old postcards I have purchased and this particular one struck me as I remember my Grandmother, Doris Wade Smith, telling me how she went to work at the Shoe Factory when she was just fifteen years old.  This would have been around 1928, I believe when her father, Joseph Wade, lost his job with the "Car Shops" in Mt. Vernon and she had to leave school and get a job to help out her family.  It appears, however, by the 1930 Census of Madison County, Illinois that Joseph had moved his family to the Village of Madison and secured a job as a machinist at the Car & Foundry Co. and my grandmother was back in school.

International Shoe Factory, Mt. Vernon, IL
I remember seeing this old building all my life, it is located at 19th Street and Perkins in Mt. Vernon, IL.  It was owned by the International Shoe Factory and produced many famous lines of shoes.  According to an article in the Mt. Vernon Register News, April 15, 1964 in the text of a speech given by M. R. Chambers, President of the International Shoe Factory, "the production of the 75,000 square foot building was finished and production started in 1920."  By 1963 the factory had made over 31,755,000 pairs of shoes and at one time employed over 800 people.  Sometime In 1968 it announced it's closure of the factory; In July 1969 in another Register News story, Florsheim Shoes stated their intention to take over the factory and keep on many of the 350 employees.


  1. I am in the building this very moment!

    1. How very interesting - I have driven by many times in my life but have never actually been on the property. Perhaps you will tell me about it!

    2. I was in there today. It is currently the home of Phoenix Modular Elevators.

  2. My ancestors were from Mt. Vernon. My grandmother also worked at the shoe factory around the same time as your grandmother. I wonder if they knew one another - Icle Francis Jackson Reynolds. My father and his siblings were born at Elk Prairie and spent most of their young live (1920-30s) living in Nason. I visited Mt. Vernon many, many times in the 1950s-60s-70. Very fond memories. I too am conducting genealogy on the Reynolds family from Jefferson County.


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