Smith Brothers Manufacturing (former), 526 South Howard Street
Historically, this was the location of the Big Smith overall plant, after it moved from its original location at 4th and Garrison in the former Hall Livery building in April 1917. Founded by Clayton and E. O. Smith, Smith Brothers Manufacturing operated in Carthage until 2000. The complex of buildings either side of Howard Street is currently owned and operated by Leggett and Platt.
Backstory and Context
Between 1916 and 1940, the company expanded, establishing branches in Neosho, Webb City, and St. Joseph, Missouri, and Iola, Kansas. The Smith Brothers weathered the Depression in the 1930s, and by 1940, nearly 1000 employees worked in its factories.
The Smith Brothers regularly hired women to work on its factory floors. During World War I, the company contracted with the U. S. Army to make coats and paid women workers $3.50/day to make them. By 1938, the Carthage factory counted nearly 350 women among its workers.
In 1999, Wall Industries purchased Big Smith, and shortly thereafter, in 2000, the Carthage factory closed. Leggett and Platt purchased this property and continues to use it for storage operations. Part of the complex of former Big Smith buildings, spread over several blocks, includes the original Platt Plow Works at 5th and Grant (southeast corner; see Clio entry for C. D. Platt Plow Works).