Eclipse Wind Mill Co.

[Eclipse Wind Engine Works]

Company History
The Eclipse windmill was invented by Rev. Leonard Hemenway WHEELER in
1867 (Patent No. 68,674, September 10, 1867). He manufactured the windmills in Beloit under the firm name of L. H. WHEELER & Son and died in 1872.
On May 13, 1873, S. T. MERRILL and C. B. SOLOMON bought the patent
rights from Rev. WHEELER and his son and formed the Eclipse Wind Mill Co. (The WHEELERs had stock in the new company.) At the time of the incorporation of the company, 2,000 windmills had been manufactured. At the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial, the Eclipse windmill was considered to be the best manufactured.
On February 11, 1880, the firm was reorganized as the Eclipse Wind Engine
Works of Beloit. Charles H. MORSE of FAIRBANKS, MORSE & Co. purchased about a fifth of the company's stock. FAIRBANKS, MORSE & Co. became the general agents for the sale of Eclipse windmills.
In 1890, FAIRBANKS, MORSE & Co. assumed control of Eclipse Wind
Engine Co., and after a few years the windmills were no longer made in Beloit.
The Eclipse Wind Engine Co. is considered a founding industry of Wisconsin. Both
the Eclipse Wind Mill Co. and the Eclipse Wind Engine Works are now defunct corporations.
The first frame building in Beloit was known as the DEARBORN residence and
bakery. In 1852, A. B. CARPENTER purchased this building; about 1854, he opened an exchange and banking business in the building. Later, that buildling's site was the location of the Eclipse Wind Mill Co. factory.
A windmill factory was built by W. H. ALDRICH, where he manufactured
windmills under his own name; he later was employed by Eclipse to manufacture their windmills.
According to an obituary for Isaac Valentine HOLMES, he "constructed the first
Eclipse Windmill Plant" in Beloit. [Beloit Daily News, May 1906]
By 1875, the Eclipse Windmill Factory was a 4-story brick building, 40x96',
capable of making 1,500 windmills annually. The street in Beloit on which the factory was built became known as Eclipse Avenue.
Employees (incomplete list)
Employee Position Year(s) Source
ALDRICH, W. H. contracted manufacturer pre-1879 biography
CLINCHY, Robert H. employee 1880 - 1884


director of erection of railroad watering stas.

1884 - 1894
FORD, Henry ----- ? - 1893 - ? brother's biography
GATELY, J. H. foundry foreman ? - 1879 - ? biography
HANAFORD, A. W. machinist ? - 1879 - ? biography
LANE, Rufus superintendent Dec. 18, 1878 - ? biography
MERRILL, S. T. president 1873 - 1879 - ? biography
NEWTON, Edward R. shipping clerk ? - 1889 - ? father's biography
RACE, Frank E. contracted painter pre-1879? biography
ROSS, Spencer D. general agent ? - 1889 - ? father's biography
SALMON, C. B. founder May 1, 1873

secretary/treasurer 1873 - Jan. 5, 1876 - ?
manager 1873 - 1879 - ?
SPARKS, G. W. bookkeeper ? - 1879 - ? biography
WHEELER, W. H. superintendent 1873 - pre-Dec. 18, 1878 Evert's 1873 Atlas


Dec. 18, 1878

Lithographs of the company can be seen at the top of the 1890 map of the city of Beloit.

Other windmill companies in Rock County:
  • W. H. ALDRICH - Beloit (pre-1879) [in connection w/ Mr. PARKER]
  • O. B. OLMSTEAD & Co. - Beloit (pre-1879-?)


Southwestern Pioneer Windmill Association
American Wind Power Center & Windmill Museum*, Lubbock, TX
Beloit College*

Books & Magazines

  • Field Guild to American Windmills by T. Lindsay Baker (order here*)
  • Guide to U.S. Windmill & Wind Engine Patents by T. Lindsay Baker (order here*)
  • North American Windmill Manufacturers by T. Lindsay Baker (order here*)
  • Windmiller's Gazette
    • Back Issues* (Eclipse articles listed below)
      • Vol. 1, No. 1 (Winter 1982) - Special Eclipse issue
        • "History of the Eclipse Windmill and Its Production"
        • "The Paint Formula for Eclipse (Cow Patty) Green"
        • "1882 Price List for 'Eclipse' Windmills"
        • "24 Reasons Why [to Buy an "Eclipse" Windmill]"
      • Vol. 2, No. 2 (Spring 1983)
        • "The Story of the Railroad Eclipse"
      • Vol. 19, No. 3 (Summer 2000)
        • "Hard Times and Hard Feelings: The Untold Story of the Early 'Eclipse' Windmills"
        • "How to Identify Pre- and Post-1888 Eclipse Windmills"
      • Vol. 20, No. 2 (Spring 2001)
        • "The Eclipse Copies: Eclipse-Style Windmills Made by Firms Other Than Fairbanks Morse"
      • Vol. 20, No. 4 (Autumn 2001)
        • "The Railroad Eclipse Copies: Railroad Eclipse-Style Windmills Made by Firms Other Than Fairbanks Morse"

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