Hess and Hopkins Leather Company History


Rockford, Illinois 1877 - 1960

The Hess & Hopkins Leather Company was founded by Luther M. Hess & Theodore F. Hopkins after the Civil War in 1877. A Freeport Civil War Veteran, Luther M. Hess had primarily brought a businessman's background to The Hess & Hopkins Leather Company and Theodore Hopkins was a bookkeeper and farmer in the Rockford, Illinois area. The Hess & Hopkins Leather Company was incorporated in 1882 with an operating capital base of $50,000.00 and the Corporate Officers were Samuel L. Jones Company President, Luther M. Hess Company Vice President, and Theodore F. Hopkins Company Secretary & Treasurer. Also in 1882, the Hess & Hopkins Leather Company began construction on their Tannery and Factory at 1101 Acorn Street, which was added to in 1887, 1889 and 1891. In approximately 1891, The Hess & Hopkins Leather Company employed 65 men with an annual payroll of $37,000.00 and yearly sales of $130,000.00 a year. By the year 1900, the Company operated from a 6 Acre complex with a 200,000 square foot tannery and manufacturing facility, specializing in Saddles, Harness, Tack and a multitude of other leather goods. At the peak of operation, the Hess & Hopkins Leather Company employed 450 individuals and tanned 350 plus steer hides per day.

Mechanized farming and the automobile eroded the Hess & Hopkins Company's clientele base over the coming years and although the company was very versatile in adapting to various market changes the company closed in 1960 following the death of Arthur T. Hopkins, the son of Theodore F. Hopkins.

Hess and Hopkins Leather Co. makers mark Hess and Hopkins Leather Co. makers mark

Hess and Hopkins Leather Co. makers mark

Hess and Hopkins Leather Co. makers mark

Hess and Hopkins Leather Co. factory