Donaldson Bros. Foundry, circa 1890s - 1900

Mount Clemens - Clinton - Harrison Journal | Published November 23, 2015


MOUNT CLEMENS — William S. Donaldson established a blacksmith shop on Front Street in Mount Clemens in 1862. This business is what grew into the Donaldson Bros. Foundry in 1865 when William partnered with his brother, Andrew.

Their first shop was a small wooden building where they primarily worked at horseshoeing, repairing and carriage building. Mount Clemens grew and so did their trade. They expanded the building along with their manufacturing. They started to make wagons, buggies and sleighs. In 1871, the brothers erected a foundry where they could produce their own castings. With this ability, they were able to make all sorts of agricultural implements. Business increased so much that it required them to build yet another new foundry in 1875. In 1883, they added on an extensive addition; it was three stories high and fronted Front and East streets.

In 1890, a new woodworking and machinery shop was also added. The tremendous growth of their property required the brothers to purchase more property elsewhere, as they had no more room to grow at that location. Donaldson Bros. Foundry manufactured 27 varieties of plows, 12 different cultivators, and everything from corn planters to bobsleds. Output was sent all over this country and shipped off to many others. The foundry became the leading productive industry in Mount Clemens.

William S. Donaldson was the son of James and Isabella of the Emerald Isle. They came to Mount Clemens shortly after they wed. William’s father purchased land near Cady’s Corner. He was an excellent blacksmith and taught William the craft. Unfortunately, James passed on at the young age of 38. William was learning in the district schools up until that point. That’s when he started to work odd jobs to help with the family.

William was married twice. Sadly, Sarah Leonard passed away in 1869, just 4 years after they married. She and William had one son, Arthur L. 

In 1876, William married Eliza Harrington. She was the daughter of Henry Harrington, an early settler of Frederick. Eliza and William had five children: four boys and one girl.

William proved to make his foundry successful. He also became president, stockholder and builder of the Mount Clemens Electric Light Co. He held stock and directed the Citizens Savings Bank. And he helped build our first waterworks and became trustee and treasurer of Clinton Grove Cemetery, where he now rests next to his wife, Eliza.

— From Kim Parr, director of the Macomb County Historical Society & Crocker House Museum, located at 15 Union St. in Mount Clemens