by Terry Konkle
For over ten years the basement of our old museum has been the home of a 2,500 pound safe that came from the Hessler Building in downtown Rockford (southeast corner of Courtland and Main). We did not have any place to display it in our former building but now we do! Last week it was moved to its permanent place in the new museum. It sits proudly against the south wall and has the honor of being the first artifact to be on display. When we were given the safe, my wife Jan researched its history and the next few paragraphs are going to be written by her.
In order to get information about the safe, I contacted the Mosler Safe Company which still existed in 2001. I found that they did have good records and by using the serial number on the safe’s handle, they were able to share their knowledge with me.
In a letter from the company they stated that the two door safe was built in Hamilton, Ohio between July 20 and July 28, 1905. It was then shipped to B & Cook Company in Mexico. The Mosler Company gave two possible reasons for the shipping to Mexico. One was that the safe was sent there to be filled with cement. The other was that B & Cook bought the safe. The Mosler people did not know exactly why the safe ended up in Mexico.
My research did not find an answer to the Mexico shipment, nor am I certain of how the safe made its way to Rockford. I was told by some folks here in Rockford that the government sold some surplus safes after World War II., and that a couple of those ended up here and are still being used. Someone suggested that perhaps that happened with our safe, but I do not know. We do know that as long as Claude Langridge owned the drug store, our safe was there. Perhaps someone can help with whether it was there before that.
We were fortunate to have the combination to the safe and after several attempts, we were able to open it. The inside has another smaller safe compartment along with a large storage area. Someone built wooden dividers and drawers in the large area and also put a small carpet piece on the bottom. We are anxious to explore the safe further and to see how useful it will be. We might keep some of our Rockford Area Historical Society records in it, but one thing is certain! The public can now view and enjoy another neat artifact from our area.
My thanks to my wife for her work and comments. So, on Tuesday, April 9, 2013, a safe found a new home. Two hardworking young men from Hoogerhyde Safe and Lock in Grand Rapids came to Rockford with their truck, trailer and moving devices and in a driving rain carefully muscled the 108 year old artifact to its new location. What a positive moment!