Historic Tour #6 – Jewett Typewriter Company


Jewett Typewriter Company from The Midwestern, vol. II, no. 10, p. 10, 1908.

At 212 3rd Street, was the Jewett Typewriter Company.  George Jewett financed the company which sold one of the first commercially successful typewriters, the Jewett typewriter.  Jewett typewriters were sold world wide and had their headquarters in a three story building on 3rd Street.  The building was built by the Des Moines Commercial Club, an early version of the Chamber of Commerce.  The Commercial Club raised $200,000 to build the building as an incentive to keep the Jewett Typewriter Company in Des Moines.  In 1912 the Jewett Typewriter company was purchased by the Underwood Typewriter Company and moved to Ohio.

Additional fun fact:  Fred and August Duesenberg, who later became the famous automobile builders and racers, were typewriter repairmen for the Jewett Company.  Have you heard the phrase, “That’s a duesey?”  Well, the Duesenbergs made such fine automobiles that they contributed their name to American slang.

Excerpt from:

Hunter, Dan. “Des Moines Confluence of People and Resources.” 1982: Public Library of Des Moines.

3 Responses

  1. Great story

  2. To learn more about the Jewett Typewriter Company and George Anson Jewett, check out the book, George Anson Jewett: Pioneering Iowa Entrepreneur, published by his descendent, Tom Jewett.

  3. Are you a member of the Jewett Family of America? Was George Anson Jewett related to any of the Jewett Family in Indianola? I am a descendant of that family. My gg grandfather was Rev Timothy Jewett, a Methodist Circuit Rider in Minnesota until 1868, when he retired and moved to Indianola to live out his days as a farmer. His son, Albert Follett Jewett, was my gt-grandfather. He graduated from Simpson College as a member of the first or second graduating class. He married his college sweetheart, and they had 12 children. One of his sons, Philip Nathan Jewett, was my grandfather. Philip survived the 1918 pandemic flu, but his heart valves were severely damaged by that illness. He moved to Florida in 1926 (where one of his sisters and her family had moved) for health reasons and to escape the harsh Iowa winters. My father was his oldest son … he, too, became a Methodist minister.

    I have in my possession an old portrait of a small child (taken by Woltz Photography) which I obtained from an antique dealer at The Dutch Valley Antique Mall in Knoxville, TN. I do not recognize the child, but the photo indicated that Woltz was located in the Jewett Building in Des Moines. Was that building known as the Jewett Building because that’s where the Jewett Typewriter Company was located? Perhaps it is a portrait of a Jewett child. If so, I would like to ID it and give it to a descendant of that child (who is probably in the same generation as my grandfather or father, born in 1915).

    I am the Jewett family genealogist for my generation (there may be others, but we have not communicated or shared info). Please contact me by email (bjpcla@yahoo.com). Thank you, Barbara Jewett Paulson

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