After a most interesting journey among the steel firms, including Bocklow & Vaughn of Middleborough, John Brown at Sheffield, and others, Reuben Harris and George crossed over into busy Belgium, and thence they journeyed via historic Cologne to Westphalia, Germany. Here are some of the most productive coal measures on the earth, which extend eastward from the Rhine for over thirty miles, and here one wonders at the dense network of railways and manufacturing establishments, unparalleled in Germany.
At Essen are the far-famed Krupp Works, one of the greatest manufacturing firms on the globe. These works are the outgrowth of a small old forge, driven by water power, and established in 1810 by Frederick Krupp. His short life was a hard struggle, but he discovered the secret of making cast-steel, and died in 1828. Before his death, however, he revealed his valuable secret to his son Alfred, then only 14 years of age. After many years of severe application, Alfred Krupp’s first great triumph came in 1851 at the London World’s Fair, where he received the highest medal. At the Paris Exposition of 1855, as well as at Munich the year before, he also won gold medals.
Abundant orders now flowed in for his breech-loading, cast-steel cannons. In severe tests which followed, the famous Woolwich guns were driven from the field. The Krupp guns won great victories over the French cannon at Sedan, which was an artillery duel. At Gravelotte and Metz the Krupp guns surpassed all others in range, accuracy, and penetrating power, and Herr Alfred Krupp became the “Cannon King” of Europe. Americans remember well his gigantic steel breech-loading guns at the expositions held in Philadelphia, and Chicago.
Alfred Krupp, however, delighted more in improving the condition of his army of employees. He provided for them miles of roomy, healthful homes. He formed a commissariat, where his employees could secure at cost price all the necessaries of life. He also established schools where the children of his employees could receive education if desired in technical, industrial, commercial, and mechanical pursuits, and in special and classical courses as well. He devised a “Sick and Pension Fund,” for disabled workmen, which scheme Emperor William II. has made a law of the German Empire. He likewise created life insurance companies, and widow and orphan funds. The golden rule has been Alfred Krupp’s guiding star. He was always kind and considerate, and never dictatorial.
When asked to accept a title, he answered, “No, I want no title further than the name of Krupp.” Alfred Krupp died July 14, 1887, in the 75th year of his age. His request was that his funeral should take place, not from his palatial mansion, but in the little cottage within the works, where he was born, which is to-day an object of great reverence to the 25,000 workmen who earn their daily bread in the vast Krupp foundries.