Saturday, July 5, 2008

Round Oak Cylinder Stoves - A History


Welcome to the Good Time Stove Company’s Round Oak Stove Section.

Sara and I hope you’ll spend a spell and check out our Round Oak inventory as well as travel back in time to learn a little bit about the history of the Round Oak Stove and the Round Oak Stove Company in Dowagiac, Michigan.

I can’t wait to share with you some spectacular stoves in our inventory, so let’s go browsing.


This article contains the following sections:

1. Good Time Stove Co.
Current Antique Cylinder Stove Inventory

2. Antique Round Oak Stoves in Homes; Happy Customers

3. Vintage Round Oak Catalogs

4. Vintage Round Oak Trade Cards

5. Vintage Round Oak Advertisements

6. History of the Round Oak Stove Company

7. The Founder - P. D. Beckwith




P.D. Beckwith’s Round Oak Stove Company published stove catalogs that featured Indian lore stories.

The stories centered around the life of a young Indian brave named Doe Wah Jack. (not so coincidently that is the pronunciation of the Michigan town where the Round Oak Stove Company was located - Dowagiac.)

According to Indian lore, Doe Wah Jack was named by chief Pokagon. Doe Wah Jack had gone out fishing, having learned the skill by the old chief.

When Doe Wah Jack returned to his village with enough fish to feed the hungry tribe, chief Pokagon called out to the young brave that he would now be called, Doe Wah Jack - “he who catches many fishes.”

P.D. Beckwith honored the Indian heritage of the Dowagiac Michigan area by using Doe Wah Jack and local Indian lore and images as primary elements of the stove company’s marketing campaign.

Below are excerpts from Round Oak Catalogs written in the early part of the 1900’s.

“No other stove has ever equaled the Round Oak in burning any kind of fuel, both wood or coal with economy, success and satisfaction to the user.”

“The phenomenal success of the Round Oak Stove is due entirely to its faultless design of construction, perfect workmanship in fitting and high quality of material used.”

“Insist upon seeing the name Round Oak on the leg of the stove and you will get what you expect and pay for - a perfect heating stove.”
Contemporary Round Oak Publications

There are at least two books written about Round Oak Stoves. The one below is from the Southwestern Michigan College Museum.

Click here to go to their site

This book, is a history of Round Oak by Leland M. Haines.

To order a copy send your name and address along with a $17.50 check made out to Round Oak Company at the address below.

Round Oak Company
63100 County Road 111
Goshen, IN 46526


Stove companies used a wide variety of means to market their heating stoves and kitchen ranges. Trade cards, catalogs, calendars, rulers, ash trays, matches, hat pins, thimbles, pocket mirrors, puzzles are all examples of ephemera used to market the stove companies’ products.

The more entertainment value the marketing tool could garner, the better. Some companies wrote short stories and poems to sell their stoves, other companies wrote sheet music to promote their product.

Following are two examples of Round Oak trade cards. Move cursor over the card to view the back side.


Advertisements like the two below were found in the magazines of the day including the Saturday Evening Post, Lady’s Home Journal and Country Gentlemen.

The local hardware store was a popular place to go and purchase your Round Oak Stove. The price of the handsomely crafted and superior heater? Less than a hundred dollars. Some were even less than $20.00.

Click on ad for larger image


The Round Oak stove was first manufactured in the early 1860’s. The stove was first sold in 1872 and it wasn’t long before The Round Oak Stove Company put the city of Dowagiac, Michigan on the map.

The factory in Dowagiac, Michigan employed over 50% of the male population in town.During the nearly eighty years the company was in business it sold over five million stoves nationwide.

The Round Oak stove company survived both the Great Depression and World War II before closing its doors in 1947.

Today the complex of Round Oak buildings in Dowagiac, Michigan house the Ameriwood Furniture Company. Several local companies in the Dowagiac area came about because of the Round Oak Stove Company including: Rudy Manufacturing, Premier Furnace Company, Dowagiac Steel Furnace and Dowagiac Manufacturing.


The story goes that P.D. Beckwith started out in the stove manufacturing business by building himself a heating stove because he didn’t have the money to buy one. He originally made his Round Oak stoves for railroad waiting rooms.

It didn’t take long for passengers to admire the handsome stove and appreciate the efficient heat and soon folks were inquiring how they could purchase a Round Oak stove for their homes.

P.D. Beckwith gave the stove its named because a good-sized chunk of oak could fit into the stove without splitting.

Oak trees are handsome, stately trees and that is an image that he wanted associated with his stove.

P.D. Beckwith gave the stove its named because a good-sized chunk of oak could fit into the stove without splitting. Oak trees are handsome, stately trees and that is an image that he wanted associated with his stove.

We hope you have enjoyed our Round Oak Stove section.

There are plenty of other informative and fun sections to check out, so we hope you’ll make yourself at home here at the Good Time Stove Company.

My beautiful daughter will be delighted to assist you in any way.

Sara, the stove princess

Thanks for visiting!

Hope to see you again soon.

No comments: