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ANDREW J. PHILLIPS, one of the most prominent citizens
of Fenton, and one of the leading manufacturers of the State, was born in Hartland Township, Livingston County, Mich., October
9, 1837. His father, Charles B. Phillips, who was a new York farmer, came to Michigan in 1835 and became a pioneer in Hartland
Township. He is now spending his latter days in Fenton as he has passed his eightieth milestone. He was the son of a seafaring
man who did a good mercantile business on the seas for some years. The mother of our subject bore the maiden name of Mary
E. Morse. She became the mother of seven children, and died in 1850. Andrew was born in a log house which was erected by his
father, and until he was seventeen attended the log schoolhouse but after that time was sent to the Union School in Milford.
At the age of twenty he went to Calhoun county, where he worked for a pumpmaker, whose methods in machinery he was to greatly
improve. About the same time he was engaged for several years in operating a thresher during the season.
In 1861 Mr. Phillips was married to Miss Julia Bullard, and the following
year he removed to Milford, where he engaged in the manufacture of reapers and mowers in partnership with Wells Bros. As the
machinery at that time was almost entirely of iron and steel, the complications following the Civil War impaired the success
of his business, and he returned to the manufacture of pumps. He sold out his outfit in the fall of 1869 and came to Fenton,
where he enlarged his business and purchased steam power, adding milk safes to his output. About this time he invented and
made the first bent snow shovel ever made, and in his endeavor to perfect this invention he boiled the timber for the fist
shovel in a boiler in his own kitchen and thus was able to bend the wood. This novelty sold from the start and his trade in
it increased until he sold seventy-five thousand a year. About this time he also invented a new style of adjustable window
screens of which he now manufacture a large stock.
In 1888 our subject organized the firm of A. J. Phillips & Co., with
capital stock paid up, and took his two sons, Judson B. and E. Ashley, and also his brother, Judson B., into the firm. They
have several large buildings, the one built last year containing more than twenty-six thousand square feet if floor and another
is four stores high with dimensions of 80X100 feet. From seventy-five to one hundred men are here constantly employed and
the product of this establishment is shipped to every State of the Union. The young men of this firm are active and enterprising
and each has charge of a separate department in the business. They manufacture goods too the extent of $150,000 annually and
they utilize over fifty-thousand square feet of floor space. One million five hundred thousand feet of wire screening are
used by them annually, and between three and four million feet of lumber. They employ traveling salesmen and pay over $10,000
a year in frights.
"Not how much, but how well," is the motto of this firm, as it shown by
the fact that they have the reputation of making the best goods in the market. They have a free library for the use of their
workmen and look after the interest of those who are their helpers. They have now four warehouses and have recently purchased
seven acres of land, to be used for storage.
The three children of our subject are Winfield B., E. Ashley and Harry
J., and to each has been given a good commercial education. Mr. Phillips is a Republican in politics and was on the common
council for several years, besides being a member of the Water Works Commission which put in the fine water works at Fenton.
He has for a number of years been a member of the Masonic order. He visited in Europe at the time of the Paris Exposition.
In 1890 he erected one of the finest and most imposing residences in Genesee County. He is prominent and well respected and
is a liberal contributor to any enterprise tending to the upbuilding of Fenton and his business is a great advantage in every
way to the town.
1892 Portrait & Biographical Album of Genesee, Lapeer
& Tuscola Counties, Chapman Bros.