Hagerty Brothers Company dates its presence in Peoria to 1855, six years before the outbreak of the Civil War when the 32 year old Saul Hagerty moved to Peoria to work as a millwright for I. G. Reynolds. By 1860, the year of the firm’s founding, the Peoria City Directory listed Saul Hagerty, Millwright, located at 187 N. Adams St. In the 1895 PORTRAIT AND BIOGRAPHICAL ALBUM, he was described as a millwright “thoroughly understanding his trade and excelled by none in the reliable manner in which all his business transactions are conducted and contracts are fulfilled.”
It was noted in the Album that every distillery in the city, except one, had been erected by Hagerty.
In 1871 the firm was Lind, Hagerty and Co. The name changed to Hagerty, Hunter & Co. in 1879, and by 1900, the company had changed its name to Hagerty, Graber & Co., which advertised it would “furnish plans and estimates for roller mills, elevators, and distilleries of any capacity.”
After Saul Hagerty died on January 11th, 1903, the firm became known as Hagerty Brothers Co. and was operated by his three sons, Almon S., Robert S. and H. Guy. By 1905, it had branched out and was dealing with shafting, belting, pulleys, engine packing and had become sole agent for the Columbus gasoline engine.
When the Eighteenth Amendment (prohibition) closed down the nations breweries and distilleries on January 16th, 1920, Hagerty Brothers Company gradually moved into the wholesale steel and mill supply business, supplementing their existing inventory with that purchased from Cummings and Emmerson. During this period, they manufactured a toasted oak chip that was probably used to turn grain alcohol into bourbon. This evidently was very profitable until the repeal of prohibition.
Hagerty Brothers Company survived depression, strikes in the industry, prohibition and economic downturns to be today Illinois’ largest downstate Steel Service Center and Industrial Supply House.
In the late 50’s and early 60’s, Hagerty’s moved into its steel warehouse and offices in East Peoria, which have been expanded several times since on the company’s property which covers 25V6 acres on both sides of Interstate 74.
The present management line of Hagerty Brothers derives from the 1915 marriage of Myrtle Hagerty to John Harvey Flora. Flora’s son John Hagerty “Ted” Flora is Chairman and President, and the company, founded in 1860 by the 32 year old Saul Hagerty, celebrates its 125th year.