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Archibald Galbraith (1846-1927)
Founder of World's Star Knitting Co., Bay City, Mich.

1905 biography - Added Dec., 2010

History of Bay County, Michigan - Gansser 1905.


World Star Knitting Company, one of the great industries of Bay County, was organized in the spring of 1895 at West Bay City by its present officers, members of the Galbraith family. The story of its rise, from an experiment conducted within the confines of the domestic circle, to the building of great factories and the equipping of them with modern machinery, in order to meet the world's demand, in one of the most interesting connected with the growth of this city's many giant concerns. Archibald Galbraith the founder of the business, still services.

Mr. Galbraith was born in Ayrshire, Scotland, December 25, 1845, and is a son of Donald and Catherine Galbraith, who came to Canada in the boyhood of their son. They settled near Toronto and there Archibald was reared and attended schools of Durham District. The father engaged in lumbering, but the son preferred a less active life and engaged in business in a grocery store at Bowmanville. Later he embarked in a dry goods business for himself, at Guelph, which he continued until 1892. He was gifted with natural mechanical ability and it was during his mercantile life that he saw what might be accomplished if a high grade of hosiery could be places on the market at a reasonable price and manufactured without a large outlay. He entered upon the business as an experiment, with hand knitting machines, and manufactured a very superior article for his own retail trade. The business increased rapidly, the experiment proving a success so much so that in 1890 he disposed of his store and devoted all his energies to the manufacture of hosiery for the wholesale trade. He was prospering and a bright future seemed before him, when the financial panic of 1892 brought embarrassment upon him as to the number of large concerns which he carried on his books, and the result was absolute failure.

Mr. Galbraith then came to West Bay City. He still had faith in the line of business that he had developed, and started in again with a few hand knitting machines, all of the business being confined to the family circle. One member disposed of the product by canvassing from house to house and met with most encouraging success. The capital with which Mr. Galbraith and family began operations at West Bay City consisted of two hand knitting machines and $100, and the product had to be finished by hand. Within the first six months the orders exceeded the capacity of the workers and it became necessary to employ help, this being but the beginning of the expansion which has continued to the present day.

Early in January, 1899, the business was moved to Bay City and a store was opened at No. 410 Washington avenue in which to retail the finished product, but two years later the store was discontinued as that room was required for additional manufacturing purposes. In the spring of 1901 the company built an addition to the store and soon was obliged to rent an adjoining store at No. 412 Washington avenue, all the space for factory purposes. In July, 1902, the company purchased the McDonald flouring mill property. This they remodeled to suit the requirements of their business, equipped it with the best of modern machinery which enabled them to still turn out the best of goods with less cost of production. The business still continued to expand, making necessary, in 1905, still larger additions. The company has a main building 96 by 108 feet, with three stories and basement, and the machinery is operated by electricity. The company has a modern power plant for generating electricity which is conducted to the individual motors connected directly with each machine. This does away with shafting and belting and not only materially adds to the cleanliness of the work and surroundings but also to the safety of the employees. This plant furnishes employment to 200 operators, while 500 salesmen are required to carry on the finished product to consumers, the policy of the house continuing the same as at its beginning, the selling of the product directly from factory to home, one which the remarkable growth of the business has shown to be satisfactory to all concerned.

The company has recently opened another department, installing machinery in its newest mill for the knitting of underwear. Each garment is custom made, built according to the measurements of the purchaser. This promises to be one of the most appreciated departments, people of taste gladly supplying themselves with garments so perfect in fit and finish. The company has been so well managed that there has been little or no friction. It has been generous in providing comforts and conveniences for its employees, facilities being afforded for providing hot meals at the factory, and a rest room has been set aside where all the luxuries of a home may be enjoyed during the periods of relaxation, including the supplying of periodicals and other literature. A cordial feeling of mutual esteem makes this great hive of industry like one big family.

One of the main factors in the almost unparalleled success of this company has been the maintenance of the quality of the goods without fluctuation in price, regardless of the cost of material. Another has been the marketing of the goods through agents directly to the consumer. In 1899 the business was incorporated as the Bay City Knitting Company and under this name its goods have gone all over the world. For this very reason the name became a matter of policy. Thus it came about, that in 1905, the old name was abandoned and the present one World's Star Knitting Company was adopted, which is more in consonance with the great territory covered by the company's sales. Through all the changes and growth of this great industry, Mr. Galbraith has been one of its leading spirits and to his courage, perseverance, judgment and ability, much of its success is due. He continues the master mechanic of the mills.

Mr. Galbraith was married in Canada to Angeline Van Camp, who was a daughter of Thomas Van Camp, a resident of Durham District. She died in 1880, leaving two children; Clarence A. and David Leonard. The former was born March 24, 1873, and has been associated with the business since its inception. He is now the capable superintendent of the factory. He is a well-known citizen, respected in business circles all over the country, and is a member of the Knights of the Loyal Guards. The second son, David Leonard, was born April 24, 1877 and he, too has always been connected with the family concern. He is now the secretary and treasurer of the company, and in addition has charge of the office and manages the selling force. He is a member of the Knights of Loy Guards; Eden Tent, No. 225, Knights of the Modern Maccabee, and is an official in Lodge No., 88, B. P. O. E. He married Helen Pearl, who is a daughter of Anton Pearl, of Bay City, and they have one son, Stuartt Dranoel.

In 1882 Mr. Galbraith was married to Elspeth MacRobb, who was born at Oshawa, Ontario. They have one son, Frederick Norman. The family has always been identified with the Presbyterian Church. Mr. Galbraith belongs to the Canadian Oder of Foresters.

Additional Notes.

    1900 - Census: Bay City, Mich.

  • Galbraith, Archibald b. Dec. 1846 Scotland.
  • Elsie, wife b. Jul. 1853 Canada
  • Clarence A., son b. Mar. 1873 Canada
  • Leonard D., son b. Apr. 1877 Canada
  • Frederick N., son b. 1884 Canada

    1907 Michigan Marriages: Bay City.

  • Clarence Galbraith married, March 6, 1907, Mabel E. Russell, daughter of George Russell and Mary A. Hunter.

    1927 - Bay County Genealogical Society.

  • Archibald Galbraith died Sept. 12, 1927, burial at Elm Lawn Cemetery.

Related Pages/Notes

Archibald Galbraith

David L Galbraith (son)

Related Pages:
World's Star Knitting Co.
People Referenced
Galbraith, Archibald (subject)
Galbraith, Catherine (mother)
Galbraith, Clarence A. (son)
Galbraith, David L. (son)
Galbraith, Donald (father)
Galbraith, Frederick (son)
Galbraith, Stewart D. (g-son)
Hunter, Mary A.
MacRobb, Elspeth (2-wife)
Peral, Anton
Pearl, Helen
Russel, George
Russell, Mabel E.
VanCamp, Angeline (1-wife)
VanCamp, Thomas
Subjects Referenced
Ayshire, Scotland
Bay City, MI
Bay City Knitting Co.
Bomanville, Can.
Durham Distric, Can.
Elm Lawn Cemetery
Guelph, Can.
McDonald Flouring Mill
Tornoto, Ont.
West Bay City, MI
Worlds Star Knitting
WRITINGS: History As It Was Written Then.