Domestic Sewing Machine Company History

The following is a summary of information I have collected about the Domestic Sewing Machine Company history. It comes from a variety of sources, including advertisements, newspaper articles, trade magazine articles, business directories, books and court cases. There is some conflicting information and I have noted where I had to resort to speculation. I would be pleased to hear from anyone who has additional documented information.


1860 - 1869    The Early Years

William A Mack began manufacturing parts for sewing machines in Seville, Ohio in 1860 .

In 1863 and 1864, Mack patented improvements to sewing machine design and began manufacturing complete machines, which he sold under the name “Domestic Sewing Machine”. He built the first batch of 12 machines by himself and they were reported to be not very attractive, but they performed well enough to attract attention.

Mack’s design was the first high arm sewing machine. Considering that the main competitors at the time were Singer’s Model 12 (transverse boat shuttle), Wheeler and Wilson’s No 1-4 (rotary hook with very thin bobbins, curved needle), Grover and Baker’s Double Chain Stitch (curved needle, very low arm), and Howe’s Model A (reciprocating boat shuttle), it was quite an improvement in sewing space and bobbin capacity.

Mack began using the business name Domestic Sewing Machine Company as early as 1864. Some respected sources state the business name as Wm A Mack & Co. The only reference I could find in newspapers under that name was a shoe factory in 1875 in Norwalk, OH. This obituary states that Mack did have a shoe factory in Norwalk for some time. I could not find Wm A Mack & Co in any business directories.

During these early years, Mack sought out investors to help with production costs and after making machines on his own, he contracted out manufacturing. By 1864, his machine was being manufactured and sold by G. W. Crowell & Co of Cleveland, OH. G. W. Crowell ads stated that it was warranted to do the work of all other machines currently on the market.

In 1864, Mack moved to Norwalk and began building machines at the N S C Perkins Shop on Whittlesey Avenue. Perkins licensed and manufactured sewing machines and attachments. He made the Gardiner and the Moore, the latter was reported to be so popular that the larger manufacturers crushed its production. The timing was right in 1864 when W A Mack approched Perkins with his Domestic machine designs and they had a successful partnership for several years manufacturing Domestic machines in the "Perkins Shop". After Domestic production moved elsewhere, Perkins manufactured the Dauntless sewing machine for a few years.

By 1866, there were many advertisements for sales agents in newspapers around the country. The machine was claimed to be suitable for harness, boot and shoe making as well as household sewing and could be used to hem, tuck, gather and braid. They stated it was the only sewing machine with a hardened cast steel shuttle. An 1868 ad claimed that “the heaviest leather and the most delicate fabrics can be sewed with the same needle if desired”.

That sounds like quite a machine! Unfortunately, they are extremely rare. The only photo I have ever seen of the 1860s machine is in Carter Bays book, The Encyclopedia of Early American and Antique Sewing Machines, 2nd edition. It is not in the 3rd edition. It looks very similar to the later rectangular base high arm machine.

We know that they had a wheel feed, which was shown in the 1863 and 1864 patent diagrams. Mack was sued for patent infringement for the wheel feed and other features in 1866 and a ruling was finally made in July, 1868. Complainants were members of the Sewing Machine Combination (AKA Sewing Machine Trust): Orlando Potter, Nathaniel Wheeler, Wheeler & Wilson SMCo, Grover & Baker SMCo, and Singer SMCo. The last member in the Combination, Elias Howe, was not mentioned in the article, possibly because his patents had expired by then.

Judge Sherman of the US Court, Northern District of Ohio ruled that the Domestic Wheel Sewing Machine, manufactured at Norwalk Ohio, was an infringement of the 1856 Allen B Wilson patent. The judge ordered that Mack reimburse the complainants for the profits, gains, and advantages he received from the infringement. A perpetual injunction was issued against Mack from further infringement.

Apparently a licensing agreement was reached, because a few months later newspaper ads described the machine’s features and stated it was improved and now fully licensed. Touted features included: it can sew a wide range of work as well as three sizes of competitor’s machines, thread thickness can be changed without adjusting tension, working parts can never get out of time and never need adjusting, ease of operation, quiet, simplicity, cases of inlaid wood, and frames ornamented with carved medallions. Some ads said it was “Improved” but there is no indication what was changed in the design.

William’s brother Frank Mack began selling the Domestic machines by wagon in 1866. In 1867, Frank became the general selling agent for the company and continued in that role for several years. In 1872, Frank left the company to form Mack Brothers with his brother Miles.

Click here for more information about Frank Mack, William A Mack, Mack Brothers, and the start of the Standard Sewing Machine Company.

The Domestic Sewing Machine Company of Norwalk, OH filed for a certificate of incorporation on December 24, 1868, with $100,000 capital in shares of $500 each. The corporators were W A Mack, N S Perkins, F Mack, M P Smith and James H Perkins.

In 1870, the Domestic factory in Norwalk, OH employed 80 men working 10 hrs a day. They were paid an average of $2.75. Ads proclaimed that the “Improved Domestic” was best due to its simplicity, ease of use, ability to sew everything from fine fabrics to leather, and durability. It was also “fully warranted” for an unspecified amount of time. In 1870, some ads mentioned “drop feed”, so they had moved on from the wheel feed by then.

1870 – 1893    Domestic Sewing Machine Company – The Blake Years

Meanwhile, in Scranton, PA, the firm of George Blake & Co were agents for the Domestic sewing machine. The “& Co” was George’s brother James, who had patented a sewing machine table with a drop leaf in 1869. In 1870, they advertised the Domestic sewing machine with the Blake’s patent auxiliary table, which was claimed to more than double the space for supporting work. The ads stated that the Domestic was from “the West” (Ohio!) where it was fully tested and widely popular. The ads also sought sale agents for Domestic and some said to write to the DSMCo at a Scranton lockbox.

James reportedly brought the idea of investing in the Domestic to the attention of his brothers. At some point, George and James, along with their brothers David, Eli and Robert, bought the Domestic Sewing Machine Company. According to an anecdote in the Sewing Machine Times, the Blakes beat out another potential investor by one day. It is not clear exactly when that happened. Articles in the Sewing Machine Times make it sound like the Blakes formed the company in the early 1870s and moved operations to New York, but clearly the company was already incorporated and manufacturing machines on a commercial scale before the Blakes got involved. Some sources say that the company was incorporated in 1870, so perhaps that is when the Blakes took over and vastly expanded the business.

William A Mack was an inventor, and he was likely glad to find someone else to provide capital and run the business end of things. Mack patented numerous inventions throughout his career and reportedly did all of the experimental and constuction work himself rather than employing mechanical assistants. He was also one of the first to recognize the importance of attachments for household machines. He stayed with the company until 1884, when he and his brother Frank left to form the Standard Sewing Machine Company. There he was instrumental in the development of the Standard Rotary sewing machine.

The Blake brothers were involved in the company in various ways. David Blake was president for the first 7 years, then vice-president. George Blake was vice-president from 1870-1877, then secretary. James was secretary of the company for several years. Robert and James patented several of the inventions that were used in the machines. Eli seems to have been the money man at first, but he was company president from 1877-1890. Cousin James Woodruff “JW” Blake was the general manager of the executive offices for about 15 years, up to 1893.

This claim in a lawsuit states that William A Mack organized a corporation called the Domestic Sewing Machine Company on November 5, 1870. Since the company had already filed for incorporation almost 2 years earlier, again, perhaps this is the date control was passed to the Blakes.

By March of 1871, the company headquarters had moved to Toledo, OH and they had contracted with Providence Tool Company to manufacture 100,000 machines at a cost of $16 each. This work was done under the supervision of Cyrus B True. Initial production was reported to be 600 machines per week. There were apparently rumors that that Domestic could not meet the orders because they placed a “To Whom It May Concern” notice in the newspaper stating that they “have enlarged their capital and manufacturing facilities, and are supplying the increasing demand for their Celebrated machines faster than ever, all the miserable lies of interested parties to the contrary notwithstanding”.

I have not found anything to indicate where cabinets were made while the machines were being manufactured at PTC.

On April 8, 1871, Mack applied to register the name “Domestic” as a trademark for the company. The application was granted on August 1, 1871. By this time he also sold attachments, including a “ruffler, pleater, braider, gatherer, tucker, embroiderer, quilter, button-hole adjustable table and other sewing-machine attachments.” They also sold needles, silk, thread, oil bottles and other goods.

In the trademark application, Mack stated that the business was being reorganized and that machines would thereafter be manufactured by the new company. The application was witnessed by George and David Blake, two of the new investors. David Blake is listed as company president in a trademark application in November of 1871. The Domestic Sewing Machine Company is listed in the 1871-72 New York City Directory. It is not listed in the 1870-71 Directory.

To complicate matters further, in the book From the American System to Mass Production, author David Hounshell states that it was actually Singer who formed the DSMCo. He says that Singer wanted to compete in the lower priced market, but felt that a lower priced Singer would hurt the sales of their brand name. To get around this, they formed the DSMCo, and while not directly owning it, they controlled the company. They acted as a middleman between manufacturing and sales and took $3 from the sale of every machine. He says it was Singer who contracted with Providence Tool Company to manufacture Domestic Machines. The book references cite several letters found in the Singer archives between Domestic, Singer, and PTC about this contract. Some of the letters were to or from "D Blake" of DSMCo. There were disputes between Domestic and PTC about the workmanship and uniformity of the product, and Singer eventually canceled the contract in mid-1873. The book says that Singer and DSMCo then set up the Domestic Manufacturing Company to make Domestic machines starting in 1874. DMCo began manufacturing using special machines, tools and gauges bought from PTC in 1873. The book does not say when the association of the companies ended.

We will see later that court records from a lawsuit in 1897 say the Domestic Manufacturing Company was actually formed in 1881, not 1874. As with the claims that the Blakes started the company, we know that W A Mack and colleagues incorporated DSMCo in 1868 after using that company name for 4 years. So, there are conflicts between other sources and the Hounshell book. It is not clear how Singer got involved. Did Singer invest in Domestic before, with, or after the Blakes? Why would the Blakes have wanted Singer to be involved at all? Why is the Singer connection not mentioned in the company history in any other sources that I found, including lawsuits?

The early 1870s will remain murky until more information is uncovered. In any event, if Singer did help the DSMCo expand, in retrospect it seems like it was not a good move to help create a future competitor.

The Blakes moved the company headquarters from Toledo to 96 Chambers Street in New York, NY and proceeded to build a grandiose building to house the company. They chose the site of the Cornelius Roosevelt estate at the corner of 14th and Broadway, as well as part of a neighboring lot, and leased the land for $20K/yr. They tore down the historic mansion to build an 8 story ornate cast iron building that dwarfed everything in the vicinity at a cost of over $250K, some sources say $300K. The building was to be returned to the property owner at the end of the 21 year lease.

They expected to occupy the building in November of 1872 , but the open house to reveal the business to the public did not happen until June of 1873. The open house was an elaborate affair that attracted thousands of visitors. There were a number of displays, including a Domestic machine run with a steam engine using No 20 cotton instead of a leather belt. Many visitors rode the elevator to view the city from the rotunda. It was reported that several hundred people were employed in the building.

The Blakes added a line of paper patterns to their product line by May of 1873. The pattern business occupied the second floor of the new building. They also started publishing The Domestic Monthly, a fashion magazine featuring their patterns, sometime in 1873.

Also in 1873, DSMCo searched for a location to build their own factory. Coincidentally one of the candidates was Norwalk, CT. The company location requirements were ready access to New York, and a healthful and attractive location with thrifty people, houses and cheap land. They claimed they would employ 2000 workers, which would increase the population by at least 5000 people. In the end, the company chose Newark, NJ and their first factory was the corner of Orange and High Streets.

The extravagent expenditure on the Domestic building was ill advised for the new company, and when the Panic of 1873 hit, they ended up in financial trouble . They advertised to rent out most of the space in the building. They laid off 225 workers in Newark, where they were building their new factory.

In November of 1873, "irregularities" were reported at the Mercantile Bank, where Eli Blake was president. Eli was a principal stockholder in the DSMCo as well as brother of DSMCo president David Blake, and had advanced DMCo large sums of money without knowledge of the other directors. It was reported that he had also loaned money to himself and others, and the money had not been paid back due to the panic. The bank examiner got involved and Blake resigned from the bank. Later reports stated that the DSMCo financial issues were due to stringency in the money market and that they had assets is excess of $1 million over their liabilities. One report stated that the new building was already paid for.

April 1874, DSMCo resumed operations after being closed in “the panic”. A news report said that manufacturing had previously been done in Providence, RI, but in the future it will be done at the new factory in Newark, NJ.

Steven A Davis was assigned the task of modernizing the sewing machine design and setting up the new factory in Newark to manufacture it. He worked for the company for decades, working his way up to Foreman, then Assistent Superintendent, then Superintendent of the factory in 1888. He patented many design improvements over the years and several models were referred to as his inventions. Reminiscing with the SMT, Davis stated that the first factory began in one 20 foot square room and he was the first mechanic. The business increased rapidly eventually the iron works alone employed 1200 men and turned out 400 machines a day.

DSMCo bought the Grover and Baker Sewing Machine Company in 1875 or 1876. I don't have any other details on this.

In 1880, the Newark factory was moved to larger facilities at the corner of Warren and High streets, where it remained until the company moved out of Newark. Before 1881, DSMCo owned property in Newark, but the firm of James R Blake & Co leased it and manufactured the machines under contract with the company. Other departments doing other work were run by different people. In 1881, the board decided to increase the facilities and consolidate operations under one management organization for greater efficiency. To accomplish this, the Domestic Manufacturing Company was founded on May 3, 1881. Officers were Eli Blake, John Dane, Jr, Robert Blake and James Blake (4 of the 5 directors of DSMCo).

Early in 1890, production was down and there were rumors of dissension among the board of directors. Later that year, there was a contentious board meeting that resulted in a management change . President Eli Blake and Secretary James Blake, plus the Treasurer were ousted. David Blake was elected Treasurer and George Blake (former VP) was elected Assistant Treasurer and Secretary. It appears there was significant conflict between the brothers.

Even though the company business offices had moved to New York in 1871, the DSMCo remained incorporated in Ohio. In 1891, management announced that it was inconvenient to conform to technicalities there and would be advantageous to combine their business and manufacturing operations under the laws of one state. On April 3, 1891, the United Domestic Sewing Machine Company was organized in New Jersey. The plan was to acquire all the property, assets and liabilities of the DSMCo of Cleveland, OH. There was no change in the business or management, and they continued to do business under the name DSMCo. The Blakes were still involved at this point, with David Blake as vice-president and George Blake as Secretary.

In 1892, the extravagant Domestic Building reverted to the landowners as specified in the lease.

In May through October of 1893, DSMCo had an exhibit at the Columbian Exhibition in Chicago. The SMT described their display as one of the neatest and most artistic in the immense Manufacturers and Liberal Arts Building. It consisted of two rooms with lavish decorations, including and embossed star on the ceiling lighted with electricity. There were displays of elaborate needlework done on DSMs. Of course, there were sewing machines being demonstrated, and the chain stitch looper and button-hole worker were featured. They won awards for “Family Sewing Machine” and “Sewing Machine Work”.

From 1893-1895 there were numerous newspaper reports of a Sewing Machine Combine involving several of the major sewing machine manufacturers, including Domestic. It never came to pass, but there were apparently a lot of rumors about it.

Click here for more details about the Sewing Machine Combine that didn't happen.

1893-1899    The Receiver Years

On May 19, 1893, two attachments were placed on DSMCo based on suits placed by Astor Place Bank in NY. On May 23, 1893, executive offices of DSMCo were suddenly moved from 853 Broadway, New York to Newark, NJ. The company claimed they had been contemplating the move for some time due to excessive taxation and legal disadvantages of being a foreign corporation. The announcement said that only a branch office would be maintained in NY.

The company was forced to declare insolvency . On June 2, 1893, Judge Andrew Kirkpatrick was appointed receiver of the Domestic Sewing Machine Company and on June 6 he shut down all company operations in Newark, throwing 700 employees out of work. It was expected that the shutdown would be of short duration. On June 20th, Judge Kirkpatrick issued a statement about the company finances.

On June 24, 1893, Judge Kirkpatrick was granted power to resume operations, and on June 26, the factory reopened and began producing 150-200 machines per day with about two thirds of the usual workforce. Machines were sold for cash to pay for production expenses. The plan was to find new capital to get the business going again.

Although ownership of the Domestic Building reverted to the Roosevelt estate at the end of the lease in 1892, some elements of the DSMCo remained in the building as tenants. In late February of 1894, the new owners announced drastic rent increases and the remaining departments, including the Domestic Fashion Company, had to hastily find new offices . They moved a short distance down 14th street before March 1.

For the next few years, there were news reports that the factory was busy and the receivership was going well.

Eventually, Judge Kirkpatrick was successful in bringing the Domestic Sewing Machine Company back to solvency. On April 1, Judge Kirkpatrick was authorized to sell the DSMCo and Domestic Mfg Co. The sale ended the receivership. The Domestic Manufacturing Company had been operating since 1893 and the DSMCo was not involved with sales. Six secured creditor banks bought the company and unsecured creditors and owners of preferred and common stock got nothing.

1899-1903    New Domestic Sewing Machine Company Years

In April of 1899, the new owners incorporated the New Domestic SMCo in NJ. The new company acquired both the Domestic Sewing Machine Company and the Domestic Manufacturing Company.

The new management promptly began updating and improving the factory and planning new products. Stephen A Davis was still the superintendent. In September, the business and executive offices were moved back to New York and housed together with the export offices for greater efficiency. An advertisement that month listed 28 countries that Domestic machines were exported to. In April of the next year they moved again into a bigger office space.

In 1901, Domestic had an exhibit at the Pan Am exhibition in Buffalo. NY. They had a good location at the corner of two aisles and aggressive sales people. The booth featured the recently introduced New Domestic model with its chain stitch looper and 5 stitch ruffler attachment. The New Domestic won a gold medal for “Best Family Sewing Machine”.

In March of 1901, it was reported that George Todd had replaced Stephan S Davis as Superintendent. At this time, the factory was running full time, and management was reported to be advanced and progressive. Domestic was one of the few companies at that time to make their own cabinets and they made their own machines starting from raw materials.

1903-1910   The Domestic Sewing Machine Company, Again

On January 23, 1903, the New Domestic SMCo was sold to the Domestic Sewing Machine Co. of Newark, NJ. The company headquarters was moved back to Newark. The article stated that the purpose of NDSMCo was to reorganize the company for the purposes of sale and that this was the plan since the receivership and that this “clears the business from all the embarrassments of the earlier concerns”. The work of the NDSMCo modernizing the factory was successful and the new company had plans for expansion to increase production and a new power plant. Manufacturing operations would continue without pause. The factory was reported to be a model of efficiency. The final inspection was done by “women experts who apply every test of practical sewing to each machine”.

For the next few years, business was booming , including good export sales all over the world. In 1906, Steven A Davis returned as factory superintendent after a 5 year absence. I am very curious why he left for those 5 years. A dispute with the new owners, maybe?

In 1909, a dealer in Springfield, MA did a special display of New Domestic machines and had three attached to electric motors, which attracted a lot of of attention. This is the first reference I found to electrifying Domestic machines.

The Domestic D was introduced in September of 1909 as the new flagship model, with 6 new patents granted or pending. The advertised it as being "Distinctly "Old Domestic" in Principle", which seems kind of odd considering their previous leading model was called the New Domestic.

1910-1915   The Foley and Williams Years (Chicago)

In 1910, the Domestic Sewing Machine Company borrowed large sums of money from Kidder, Peabody & Co, bankers in Boston. The bank placed Herman Huke in an executive position with the DSMCo. Huke decided to sell the company to Foley and Williams, Inc. of Illinois. This sale included the trade name, goodwill, trade marks, patent rights, and all property of the DSMCo as well as all stock, except for stores and property in NY reserved for Benjamin Crass.

image source

Foley and Williams promptly incorporated the Domestic Sewing Machine Company of Maine.

This was not widely announced in the press. The announcement in the Sewing Machine Times merely stated that the company was transferring their machinery, stock, sewing machines and sewing machine business to the DSMCo, Chicago with large factories in Kankakee, Ill where Domestic sewing machines would thereafter be manufactured. There was no mention of Foley & Williams. This was very different than the Domestic financial troubles in 1873 and 1893, which were widely reported in newspapers across the country.

Superintendent Davis, foremen and skilled workers were transferred to Kankakee. The company also discontinued retail stores that had been opened in several large cities in recent years, allowing them to be taken over by their managers.

There was another article that stated two companies closely identified with the interests of DMSco, the Standard and Progressive Manufacturing Companies needed more manufacturing space and formed the Eagle Company and purchased and moved into the Newark factory.

The Chicago location was stated to be advantageous for shorter supply and distribution lines. A good stock of machines on hand was expected to prevent shortages during the move. Production likely moved into existing F&W factories, but a new Domestic factory was also built, described in June 1910 as “a mammoth affair that will give employment to hundreds of men.” In October, with the work of installing the business in the new factories completed, Steven A Davis retired.

In May, 1911, Benjamin Crass made a deal with Gimbels to sell DSMs. This was important enough for President Foley of DSMCo to travel to NY to consult in the deal. Later that year, Crass made a similar arrangement with Gimbels in Philadelphia, which was believed to be the largest dept store retailer of sewing machines.

In 1911, Domestic began making the Franklin VS sewing machine for Sears. In 1913 , they replaced Davis as the manufacturer of the Minnesota A and introduced their first rotary machine.

June 1913, Foley & Williams and several other manufacturers protested the removal of the tariff on sewing machines. The tariff was removed, and this article stated that it became cheaper to buy sewing machine heads and mechanical parts in Germany and assemble them at the Kankakee plant at 2/3 the cost of manufacturing the entire machine in house. W. C. Foley contracted with German companies and laid off most of the Kankakee workers. The World War I broke out and the German contracts fell through, resulting in the company going bankrupt. Whatever the cause, in October of 1914, it was announced that DSMCo was again being placed in the hands of a receiver.

1915-1923   The King/Sears Years (Buffalo)

Trustee Len Small conveyed property and assets to Harris Brothers Company of Chicago. In May of 1915, Harris Brothers conveyed all assets to Sears Roebuck & Company of NY. This included the 15 acre factory property in Kankakee and the good will and trade name of the Domestic Sewing Machine Company.

The Kankakee factory contents were auctioned off on July 14, 1915. The auction ad listed the Good Wills and trade names of Foley and Williams and mentions several of their models. Domestic Good Wills and trade names were not listed because they had already been sold to Sears. The auction included the "models, dies, jigs, fixtures and patterns of the Domestic Sewing Machine Company". This indicates that the new owners had no plans to continue manufacturing the current Domestic models, but what about the Franklin and Minnesota A?

In December of 1915. Sears Roebuck created the Domestic Sewing Machine Company of New York. They moved Domestic manufacturing into the King factory in Buffalo.

Click here for information about the King Sewing Machine Company and their connection to Domestic and Sears.

Similar to when Foley & Williams bought Domestic, there was virtually no press coverage that I can find when Sears bought Domestic.

Several new King, Domestic and Sears branded models were introduced in the next few years, which will be covered in detail on the Domestic Models and Dating pages (coming soon!).

In 1923 or 1924, White bought Domestic. Katie Farmer reported that White company records say it happened in 1923. The first White made Domestic Rotary was introduced in late 1924, which fits the timeline for a 1923 ownership change. This investment ad from 1926 says the White Sewing Machine Company contracted with Sears to buy the Domestic SMCo and parts of the King SMCo in 1924 and the consolidation happened in January of 1925. This deal gave White the contract to produce all of the Sears sewing machines until 1935.

I refer the reader to Katie Farmer’s White Sewing Machine Research Project for information about Domestic after that time.

Company Headquarters and Factory Locations

As you have read, the DSMCo chaned business names, headquarters and factory locations a number of times over the years. Click here of a chart showing a summary of those changes, plus some information about the factory locations.

Miscellaneous Interesting Tidbits That Don’t Fit Anywhere Else

The Domestic factory in Newark was located at 98 Warren Street. This 1901 map shop shows the numerous buildings and that it was located on the Morris Canal. Canal plane #12 was directly behind the factory. This undated photo shows Canal plane #12. The Morris Canal was originally built primarily to haul coal, and largely fell out of use with the expansion of railroads after the Civil War and was obsolete by the early 1900s, so was probably not used for shipping of sewing machines.

Image source: Newark Public Library      Click here for larger image

DSMCo employed 2 blind seamstresses , Misses Cecelia and Bernandina, who had been trained at the New York Institution for the Blind. The two women were quite expert with most of the attachments and did demonstrations at fairs and art exhibits all around the country for about a decade beginning in 1874. Cecelia was at the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia in 1876 and hundreds of thousands of visitors saw her work.

In 1873, the balloon for an attempted transatlantic balloon flight was sewn by 12 seamstresses using Domestic machines in the new Domestic Building. The balloon was said to be constructed of about 8 miles of seams in over 4000 yards of fabric. This is an account of the flight, which was one of 17 unsuccessful transatlantic balloon flights. The first successful flight did not happen until 1978! This is an account of the flight.

In 1873, a crowd gathered on the sidewalk to watch as a carrier pigeon named Ariel was released from the roof of the Domestic building. The pigeon was expected to travel to Connecticut.

In 1892, Domestic ventured into the typewriter business with the Williams Typewriter . It somehow marked the letters on paper without a ribbon and was innovative in that the typed words could be viewed by the typist. Other points of interest were ease of operation, perfection of work and durability. In 1894, the sold the manufacturing tools for the typewriters to the Williams Typewriting Company. Ironically, the Williams Manufacturing Company of Plattsburgh NY, makers of the New Williams and Helpmate sewing machines, also manufactured typewriters. Theirs was called "The Wellington".

In December of 1893, Domestic seamstresses using Domestic machines helped to sew dresses for 5000 dolls to donate to children in New York City.

Domestic owned the National Sweeper Company.

William A Mack did very well financially from the sale of DSMCo to the Blakes. In 1872, he donated a $2000 pipe organ to the Univeralist Church that he helped to found. In 1875, Mack built one of the finest homes in Norwalk, Ohio at 166 W. Main Street. The house had modern innovations such as fire hoses in several locations and a burglar alarm.

Domestic did not buy Mason in 1916 as reported in Charles Law's book and on many websites. According to Katie Farmer of the White Sewing Machine History Project, White began making Mason machines in 1903 after selling off Mason's existing inventory. Domestic was never involved.

Questions Still to be Answered

Did William A Mack use the business name W A Mack & Co concurrently with Domestic Sewing Machine Company? Or was W A Mack & Co just the Shoe Business?

If Singer was instrumental in forming the DSMCo, why are they not mentioned in the complany history in any of the lawsuits, or apparently in any other references? Does anyone have more information about this?

When exactly did the Blakes take over DSMCo? Why do documents talk about incorporation in 1870 when papers were clearly filed in December, 1868? There may be some period of time after filing the certificate of incorporation for paperwork to get processed, but I can only see that going into early 1869, not for 2 years. Does anyone know how to look this up in historical records? I searched the business database on the Ohio Secretary of State website and did not find anything.

Why did Domestic buy Grover and Baker?

The articles about Domestic moving from Newark to Kanakakee mention other Domestic plants in Torrington, CT, and Marion, IN. I have also seen fires at factories in New York City mentioned in a forum. Can anyone provide documentation of any of these factories? Up until the move from Newark to Kankakee, articles made it sound like all of their manufacturing since 1873 took place in Newark.


If you clicked on the reference links, you saw that most of my references were news accounts. As we know, newspapers are not always entirely accurate, especially when they are reporting plans vs. events that happened. However, my opinion is that most contemporary news accounts are probably more accurate than historical summaries and reminiscences written years later. I marked the news clips with their publication date. I marked Sewing Machine Times articles SMT plus the date. Some of the SMT articles are from years after the events, so I did not trust that information as much as contemporary articles when information such as dates did not match.

I consider the court records from lawsuits to be my most accurate sources since they contain sworn testimony and documentation, but even they contain some vague details on events far in the past. If you want to read these lawsuits, here are the links:


I want to thank all to the collectors who have sent me information, photos and documentation of their machines, filled out my surveys, and generally been helpful and encouraging about this project over the years. Special thanks to

  • Jon H, who has an eagle eye for ads, articles and sales listings containing important information, and who introduced me to the Sewing machine Times.
  • Jim S, who pointed me to the New York Supreme Court case that answered so many questions.
  • Katie Farmer, with whom I have had many email communications over the years as we discussed the connections between Domestic and White and the machines that were made by both companies..